Since the Philippines put an end to the oppressive regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos through a "people power" revolution--probably the first televised popular uprising in the world--in 1986, Filipinos seemed to have perfected the art of mobilization through the use of mass media.
The recent uproar regarding the "insulting" remark of actress Teri Hatcher in the American TV show "Desperate Housewives" is a case in point.
A brief background on this...the contentious part of the TV series showed Susan Mayer, played by Hatcher, being told by a doctor that she may be experiencing menopausal problems. She then cuts off the conversation and demands that the physician present his diploma so she can be sure he didn't just graduate from "some med school in the Philippines".
The episode was the first in the show's current season. Filipino medical professionals in the United States--there's said to be at least one in every hospital--didn't waste time informing and mobilizing their countrymen through blogs and links to YouTube, urging them to denounce the affront and demand an apology from the television network that produced it.
With the furious propagation of information, even Filipinos back home who haven't seen the episode joined the call for ABC to remove the racial slur. Of course, local politicians readily jumped into the fray, insisting that a mere sorry is not enough and that the show's producers should issue an apology in a future episode.
Before ABC knew it, the issue has snowballed into a nightmare, leaving the television network little recourse but to delete the offending remarks and issue a written apology. But it stopped short of saying sorry on air.
Some are satisfied with this gesture, while others are still insisting ABC go the extra mile and retract what has been uttered in the show. But one thing's for sure: Filipinos have once again proved that technology is this century's most potent tool for mobilization.
If you recall, Filipino workers abroad also used blogs to denounce a columnist, a fellow Filipino at that, who wrote a deeply offensive remark about them in a society magazine. In no time, the humbled columnist, Malou Fernandez, was forced to issue an apology. She also voluntarily resigned from PeopleAsia Magazine and the newspaper she was writing for at the time, to spare them from the wrath of the blog mob.
Let's not, of course, forget the fact that another disgraced president, Joseph Estrada, was thrown out of his post through SMS or text messaging--perhaps another first for the Philippines.
Whether this trend is for the good or bad of fellow Filipinos is something that only history can tell. But I'd like to think that it's all for good, since technology is always created to make things better... Well, that's just my opinion.
Meanwhile, Philippine e-commerce merchants and industry enthusiasts are rejoicing after hearing the news that PayPal has agreed to let users based in the Philippines to accept payments with their PayPal accounts.
What's the big deal? Well, it used to be that Philippine-based PayPal users can only send but not accept payments. Why? Because the Philippines was included in the list of nations that are deemed to have a bad record with regards to credit card transactions. This has been an agony for online traders and companies, because PayPal still is the world's most widely used payment gateway.
That's one big score for the Philippines, and eBay.ph, too.