MANILA, Dec. 6, 2013—After organizing the most massive mobilization using social media in Philippine history, the acknowledged organizer of the Million People March against the Pork Barrel calls social media and social networks “the great equalizer.”
“Social media serves as an equalizer for people like us, you, me, who find it hard to access the mainstream media,” said Peachy Rallonza-Bretaña at one of the impact sessions of the Catholic Social Media Summit (CSMS) version 2.0 last November 23.
According to Bretaña, who was working in the advertising industry before becoming the unwilling figure head of the first major initiative against the Priority Development Assistance (PDAF) system, social media and social networks have “democratized and made real one of the most important freedoms that we should all exercise, the freedom of speech.”
The wave of anti-pork barrel demonstrations that followed the Million People March in Luneta; the subsequent arrest of Janet Lim-Napoles; and the Supreme Court’s declaration of the unconstitutionality of the 2013 PDAF are proof that using social media for mobilization on political issues is possible and effective, she explained.
“Our rants, our opinions, including our stupidity, ignorance and shallowness, it gets amplified by social media because we get to have a louder voice. In social media, we are not alone,” Bretaña added.
Speed and commitment
According to her, social media and other online platforms have definitely played a role in the evolution of how socio-political issues are discussed and the speed at which developments take place.
“What used to be a soap box or a stage and a bullhorn or a microphone for venting, social media has replaced and this actually makes for a lively discussion,” Bretaña added.
The political unrest over the misuse of taxpayers’ money, she noted, would normally take years to reach a boiling point, but because of social media, quickly turned into concrete actions and commitments from private individuals, organized groups and sectors.
In disbelief, Bretaña recounted how it took just two weeks to set up and call people to the Million People March.
“[Social media] is one of the easiest ways to recruit members into groups, different people from all walks of life to join your own brand of protest or movement, for that matter. Actually, social media helps bring people in cyberspace together,” she added.
The CSMS was held from November 23 to 24 at the Colegio San Juan de Letran. [Nirva’Ana Ella Delacruz]