IN MANY ways, what is starting to happen on the Internet has been happening in the mobile realm. The mobile phone penetration rate in the country was estimated to hit 75.2 percent in 2010, from only 42.7 percent in 2005, and now text-blasting is being used for everything from campaign messages to volunteer coordination to black propaganda.
As early as 2002, students of media and members of academe were cataloguing and analyzing the relationship between Filipinos and the keypads of their mobile phones. For example, history professor Vicente L. Rafael, then with the University of California at San Diego and now with the University of Washington (Seattle), quoted from and interviewed various members of Jose F. Lacaba’s Plaridel Papers mailing list to write his essay “The Cell Phone and the Crowd: Messianic Politics in the Contemporary Philippines.” It remains interesting reading until now and has the added bonus of capturing the mood of — shall we call it text empowerment? — during the heady demonstrations against President Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada. (And lest we think that texting is another case of “Only in the Philippines,” Rafael recently informed me that the essay has been included in other books on media, in the United States, Italy, and India.)
“PHILIPPINE IDOL” semifinalist Ira Marasigan is not your typical reality-television contestant. She is, after all, a fresh graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University who is living an upperclass lifestyle. That alone makes her an oddity in a television genre notorious for attracting all sorts of desperate characters who compete over cash and careers in show business.
Then again, Marasigan says she saw joining the Philippine franchise of the global TV hit “American Idol” as just having fun: “No one convinced me, I thought it would be quite an accomplishment to make it to Philippine Idol.” It was — considering how many Idol-wannabes auditioned for the show.
IT WAS the perfect formula for another uprising. Factors and forces that conspired to oust a previous president surfaced again to threaten yet another one out of power: a familiar pattern of titillating scandal and media overkill; congressional investigation and official cover-up; street protests and digital demonstrations.
I’M A CERTIFIED Nethead and I can get down and digital with the best of them. But Rochelle Lazarte and her five friends make me feel as ancient as a rotary phone. Formed only seven months ago, their barkada is basking in its newfound friendship that traces its beginnings — the same way that many relationships among young people are being born and nurtured today — in cyberspace.
TOO OFTEN the Filipino youth is viewed with the conventional eyes of our elders: we are the future of the nation, we are the agents of change. The government counts on us to help save the country, civil society exhorts us to be vigilant, the media remind us often enough that we are the hope of the nation. For the most part, however, they are disappointed. Especially when it’s convenient, we remain incomprehensible to our elders, and it’s easy to see why.
THE FUTURE of television is here. At least, its prototype is. Today we use our mobile phones for more than just communicating. We use them to take pictures, play games, share music, and download news and celebrity gossip. More and more, we turn to our phones to kill time when stuck in traffic, while waiting in line, or in the presence of boring company. Nokia, the global leader in wireless telecommunications, has spotted the trend. “Be entertained anywhere” is its new tagline, a radical departure from its roots as a mobile-handset manufacturer.
FORGET receiving text jokes or sweet messages from now till the end of the canvassing of votes — at least if you’re a supporter of presidential candidate Raul Roco. And if Katropa had its way, even those outside the Roco loop would instead be receiving more messages like this right about: “Good day. Join the KATROPA ni Roco Motorcade on Sun, Feb 8 @ 7 am. Assembly @ UP Diliman Oblation, University Ave. Bring ur friends…pls pass, thanks.”