Through Internet blogging, Father EmmanuelMijares facilitates discussion and shares his thoughts on currentevents and pressing concerns in the country. Blog readers respond withtheir comments, sometimes rebutting the priest of Kalibo Diocese inAklan province, central Philippines.
"Blog" is a contraction of "web log." Dennis Dayao, online editorfor Monitor, the newsletter of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of thePhilippines (CBCP), describes a blog as a "sort of online diary forpublic consumption" that can contain text, photos, audio, video andlinks to other sites.
Father Mijares has been ablogger since June. The 48-year-old priest currently teaches philosophyat the Focolare Priests' School for Asia, a school for priests that theFocolare movement operates in Tagaytay City, 55 kilometers (about 35miles) south of Manila. He has written articles for Boletin Ecclesiastico de las Filipinas, a bimonthly journal published by the pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Manila.
Asof Nov. 29 noon, his blog at (http://amijares.wordpress.com), which hecalls â€œAnother Angle (In the Perspective of Unity),â€ had registeredmore than 1,800 hits.
While back in Kalibo, 350kilometers (about 200 miles) southeast of Manila, for his diocese'sNov. 14-16 pastoral assembly, Father Mijares spoke with UCA News aboutblogging. He said he pursued it because he found that blogs offeredopinions that he could not find in print, radio and television media.
"Filipinos around the world are searching for messages and ideas that they can find in the Internet," he said.
Thepriest recalled, "I started to blog because I believe the Internet canbe an effective medium of expressing my opinion about current issuesthat concern all of us, particularly the OFWs," or overseas Filipinoworkers.
Also, he had grown "quite worried" aboutpotential misinterpretation of the January CBCP pastoral letterdiscussing the bishops' stand on political issues in the country.
Inhis blog, discussions on his Oct. 22 entry titled â€œFilipino Centralityof the Family: a blessing or a curse?â€ ran for weeks. Father Mijarespointed out that in Filipino society, the family promotes "good humanvalues," but its "centrality" could lead to exclusivity and breedcorruption and abuse.
"Schumey," who contributed tothe discussion on the Web site, described his upbringing as "different"because "they (parents) told me that I do not owe them anything as theyare the ones who chose to have me." In contrast, he said, Filipinoparents generally expect their children to "repay them." In thewriter's view, "parents should never impose on their kids," because"this is what destroys the true meaning of the family."
FatherMijares agreed and drew an analogy with the government. "Ourgovernment," he wrote, "should be like the good parents that you aretalking about," and not abuse citizens' "culture of giving" the waythat some parents do when they "extract from their children, in orderto have more."
Among other entries the priestvoiced his support for the CBCP statement favoring abolition of deathpenalty and advocating a "culture of life."
Kalibochurch leaders at the pastoral assembly resolved to create a diocesanwebsite, Father George Prado told UCA News. The chairman of thediocesan commission on social communications expressed hope that FatherMijares would help his home diocese explore ways to use the Internetfor evangelization.
Professor Rachel Khan of theUniversity of the Philippines' College of Mass Communication considersblogs "revolutionary." She wrote in Blogging, New Journalism aJuly 2005 article that blogs "empower anyone who has something to writeto reach a mass audience, to which only traditional media once hadaccess."
Seven bishops had started blogging before Father Mijares did, some of them as early as 2004.
Inlate November, Monsignor Pedro Quitorio III, CBCP media director, toldUCA News in Manila that the bishops' conference would be hosting thebishops' blogs "soon," and also would be willing to host blogs of otherbishops and priests on the bukal.com website the conference isconstructing.
The CBCP official shared that he wasmotivated when he saw one of the bishops' blog entries published in alocal paper. He also pointed out that when Bishop Leonardo Medroso wentto New York last year, the prelate held an unplanned press briefingwith people who expressed support for his call, made in his blog, forthe return of the bells of Balangiga.
The "bells ofBalangiga" are church bells taken by American occupation soldiers onSamar Island as war booty in 1901, and which are now in Wyoming, theUnited States. Bishop Medroso headed Borongan Diocese on Samar at thetime of his trip. In October he was reassigned to Tagbilaran Diocese onBohol, another central Philippine island.
Internetstatistics indicate more than a billion Internet users worldwide, 7.82million of them from the Philippines. Technorati, a search engine thattracks blogs, claims to have 60 million of them in its database. Atotal of 2,217 blogs were returned recently in a search for "Filipinobloggers."