Thursday, 11 October 2012

EDITORIAL: MWBuzz marks first anniversary

THIS EDITION of your news tunnel MWBuzz - the 24th - marks the end of the first year that this cyber news service has been online. 

Struggling to put two editions a month – on kinsenas basis - it has assumed a self-appointed role of providing bits of news to internet-hooked Mambulaoans who are in Mambulao, elsewhere in the Philippines and those overseas.

We say: So far, so good. We already have topped the 6,000-mark pageviews every month, out of the expected 10,000 by close to about 15,000 cyber Mambulaoans worldwide. 

This means that we are able to disseminate on a modest scale news and information about our hometown Mambulao to news-hungry kababayan in the Philippines and overseas.

And whether or not this online public service is appreciated by our kababayan remains beyond us. 

We have observed that while they browse the items we carried in its two monthly editions, our readers are just too passive to react to, or comment on, what we report here, unlike when they interact and react on Facebook postings.

Between its first launching on November 9, 2011 for the first edition, and the launching today for the 24th, a lot of things came to the fore, including the problem of sourcing Mambulao-sourced news stories and pictures worthy of cyber-exposure.

We have had difficulty of accessing relevant information from the local government of Jose Panganiban, particularly that of the office of Mayor Ricarte Padilla and the relevant units (offices) under it.

In one of our direct communications with Padilla, we explained to him that there was a heap of information on the workings of the local government unit that would be of great interest to all Mambulaoans – the overseas citizens in particular – who have been away at length and were all clueless on what was going on mostly in their hometown.

Like for instance, stories on the health and sanitation situation in the municipality, and what Padilla was doing about it; the peace and order situation in the community in light of growing drug abuse and the proliferation of illegal firearms believed to have been stashed away in some local residences by unscrupulous individuals and what Padilla was doing about it; the livelihood and employment situation and what Padilla was doing about it; the progress of whatever town projects funded by the local and national government and what Padilla would say about this; the status of the drive to rehabilitate the rubbish-plagued beach at Baranggay Parang and the continuous degradation of the Mambulao Bay as a result of the unregulated gold mining operations in the municipality, which are the source of mine tailings-and-silt pollution in the bay, and what Padilla was doing about this.

Politicians are politicians, as we came to confirm time and again in this particular instance, who would always say: “Yes … we will let you know the latest from your local government …” 

“Labas sa ilong, eka nga” is the best way to describe Padilla’s promise to update MWBuzz on the goings on in his government and to properly inform his “kababayan” across the globe about his governance. 

But it never happened, thus forcing overseas Mambulaoans to discuss among themselves things Mambulao on Facebook. 

But in so doing, such exchanges were boiling down to just one thing: speculations, innuendos, gossips and “tsimis” on events and acts based on what they heard from their families back in Mambulao. 

All this, therefore, are depriving them the right information to form an informed decision or impression as what was really going on in their community.

It is not enough for Padilla to piggyback on his high-flying road cementing project to enable him to properly and adequately serve the needs of his constituents and those Mambulaoans overseas, who are sending hard-earned money every month to their families back home so that they won’t become another heavy load on the mayor’s shoulder and a burned hole in his pocket – financially-wise. 

These overseas Mambulaoans are very much interested in knowing if their families back home are doing well (translation: safe and free from harm and troublemakers) under the governance of Padilla, their mayor.

That’s why they wanted to read MWBuzz, because it is the only one that bothers to provide unbiased news reports from their hometown.

Deprived of vital information about the governance of the top government executives in their hometown, our overseas Mambulaoans feel frustrated and disappointed, to say the least. 
Saddled with this reality of dealing with bureaucratic honchos, MWBuzz did its best to be creative in sourcing out information that eventually morphed into informative, unbiased and informative news stories, thus benefiting our kababayan.

Sourcing out information was the first problem the would-be editor brought up when the idea of publishing a cyber newsletter for Mambulaoans came to light, proposed by co-founder Michigan-based Mambulaoan Percy A Ostonal (JPHS Batch ’66).

With Alfredo P Hernandez as the editor/founder (JPHS Batch ’65) based in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and Ostonal in Michigan, USA, what were the chances of getting the news right from the source – Mambulao -- that would be of importance to a Mambulaoan?

The editor and his co-founder Ostonal, who also doubles as MWBuzz director for marketing and advertising, decided to forget about this issue and forged on to launch the first edition on November 9, 2011.

We invited every Mambulaoan to come on board for their stories, anecdotes, activities and events that were worth reporting as news stories. 

Some came forward over time and we thanked them for helping us get by through the 23 editions that followed in the next 12 months.

We owe much gratitude to Mambulaoans Norma Dizon (Batch ’66, Toronto, Canada) and Anton Prima (Angeles City, Philippines) for propping us up during the first few editions with their worthy contributions such as essays and pictures that became a major feature of MWBuzz; to Eric Espana, for his wonderfully shot images of Mambulao that gave Mambulaoans another perspective of their hometown; to Sonia Banares, for her articles on the history of the JPHS and its alumni association; and to Dr Emma P Valencia (Metro Manila), for sustaining MWBuzz with her interesting stuff until the final edition for the first year despite her hectic professional schedule as a public health researcher, health instructor and simply an ordinary citizen doing charity work for the less-privileged Filipinos.

Likewise, MWBuzz is grateful to our unnamed Mambulao-based correspondents who went out of their way to dig for information from their sources in the community, thus affording us lots of news stories to report to our beloved readers.

MWBuzz would like to pat its shoulder for bringing to the consciousness of many Mambulaoans the sad state of the community beach in Parang – a natural resource that has been laid to waste by the onslaught of rubbish and gold mining silt pollution. 

Our reports on the activities at the municipal’s gold mining district pointed to one direction – that there’s no way for the bay to be saved right now from dying naturally as gold mining pollution has remained unabated.

Mambulaoans would now think hard when praising the “beauty of Mambulao Bay” especially the shoreline water in the vicinity of the poblacion, particularly that stretch of the beach behind the town hall, because this bay – our bay – as it is now is practically no more – clear-water-wise and fish-wise. 

The bay water is brown and muddy and the bay has been over-fished, forcing local small fishermen to venture outside the 15km fishing zone of the municipality.

We also pride ourselves for being able to report positively and extensively on the road cementing program of the JP-LGU, thus generating in more ways than one interest from among overseas Mambulaons to help Padilla push this project by sending their contributions of bags of cement.

We are all aware that the local government would be hard put to finish this project using its limited funds. 

Thus, overseas Mambulaoans and friendly companies and certain groups came forward with their assistance.

With all this litany of frustrations as well as sense of modest accomplishment, MWBuzz erects an important first milestone in its young life.

At MWBuzz, we know there’s a lot to report from Mambulao.

Just give us time to unearth them.

You would be gritting your teeth to know about how much information is being withheld or hidden from you by Mambulao Mayor Padilla and his minions.

Worse, you would feel cheated realizing that you have been deprived of something you ought to know now and not later.

After all, you are Mambulaoans deserving no less from your mayor.

Maybe 20 to 30 years ago, keeping to themselves as much as possible important information and news bits on the pretext that dissemination was difficult because the services of radio and television were inaccessible, did the trick
But these days, the advent of the internet that spawned Facebooks, blogs, online news, cyber chat rooms, and many more has negated all justifications to withhold information that the people rightfully deserve to know.

They want to know about it now; they want to know what happened, when it happened and as it happened.

Not in a month or so from now.

-- A P Hernandez

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