Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004

About

@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

Written for the Global Voices Community Page

When I joined Global Voices in 2006, my aim was only to blog the underreported stories from the Philippines. Ten years and 3,000 posts later, I’m still with Global Voices; writing stories not just about my country, but also about the Southeast Asian region.

I used the word ‘blog’ to capture the experience of many people like me who recognized the value of blogging as an effective medium to share ideas and discuss politics. Today, social media has replaced blogging, but there was a time when the latter represented the popular and innovative side of the Internet.

As a blogger in 2006, it was easy to appreciate the potential of Global Voices. Here was a global network of bloggers who understood the importance of exchanging narratives, promoting marginalized voices, and defending free speech. Here was a fascinating group of ‘amateur writers’ (remember the journalism vs. blogging debate?) who were maximizing the online frontier to make the world more knowable. Here I found my virtual home.

After a few months of contributing for Global Voices, I realized that it’s not just a website offering opportunities for writing. Because aside from being a pioneering citizen media platform, it’s also a vibrant online hub where collaborations produce outstanding news and feature stories, where every author is regarded as a valued member of the community, and where digital encounters lead to unexpected friendships.

Global Voices has a unique newsroom. Its editors, authors, and translators are based all over the world. We seldom meet, but when we do, we are like old friends who never ran out of stories to tell about each other.

Global Voices played a meaningful part in broadening my perspective as a writer and activist. Before becoming a volunteer author of Global Voices, I wrote mainly to emphasize my views with little regard for the opinion of others. But writing for Global Voices convinced me to change this attitude. Rather than merely being content in imposing my belief on others, the better alternative is to seek multiple viewpoints. It didn’t stop me from writing what I truly believe, but it enriched my thinking habits. For example, it led me to accept that my opinion may be important (and probably correct), but it can always be improved by comparing it to contrary views.

When I became the Southeast Asia editor of Global Voices in 2008, I realized that I had been using the Internet mainly to learn more about what’s happening in the Philippines instead of acquiring a greater interest about other places and unfamiliar cultures.

Thanks to Global Voices, I became an enthusiast of Southeast Asian affairs. I gained a better knowledge of the Asia-Pacific — its politics, economy, and socio-cultural dynamics. I was also able to study the impact of the Internet in the region. When something significant or controversial happens in the politics of the Philippines, I try to find the same phenomenon in other countries of Southeast Asia. And what I realized is that there’s always a regional trend to discover, a shared heritage between two warring countries, a similar political demand among oppressed minorities.

When I became a member of the Philippine Congress in 2009, I continued my work with Global Voices. Looking back, I am thankful that I made this decision because writing for Global Voices allowed me to continue expanding my outlook instead of focusing on Philippine issues alone.

When a repressive anti-cybercrime bill was deliberated in the Philippine Congress in 2011, I opposed it and cited the experience of other countries which are implementing the same legislation. For reference, I studied the in-depth reports of Global Voices Advocacy on cybercrime laws in the world.

After ten memorable years of writing for Global Voices, I am proud that this Internet organization continues to be a fun and welcoming community. I am privileged to be in the company of creative and intelligent individuals whose work and life stories provide a daily inspiration to me and countless others.

What motivates me to write for Global Voices is not only eagerness to help explain the real situation in Southeast Asia. Another reason is to highlight the interesting stories, censored topics, and heroic struggles of various peoples in the region as my special way of acknowledging the diligent work of my colleagues all over the world who are also doing the same thing.

My simple wish is that when they read stories from Southeast Asia, they also get to experience what I always feel from reading their work: that the world may be plagued today by preventable miseries, but there is hope as long as people are doing something to change it. That by naming the problem, by giving a voice to the voiceless, and by documenting the fight for truth, we are making an impact in the lives of many.

Here’s to ten more years of finding more happiness and inspiration through the stories of Global Voices.

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