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Pardon this shameless self-promotion :-)

September 15, 2006

WORLDWIDE CONCERN
‘Netizens’ take up cudgels for Guimaras

By HAZEL P. VILLA
Panay News

ILOILO City – Techies and bloggers are using the World Wide Web not only to push for more aggressive action in containing the country’s worst oil spill in history, but also to expose untold stories surrounding the environmental catastrophe.

First to come up with a web site in relation to the oil spill was the provincial government of Guimaras in partnership with the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI), and with fund assistance from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Called Project Sunrise (http://www.projectsunrise.org/), the web site was put up on August 18, or a week after M/T Solar 1 carrying 2.1 million liters of bunker fuel sank in the Panay Gulf, south of Guimaras

Project Sunrise has a situationer, newsflash, web feeds on the oil spill, and posts the account name and number of the provincial government for those who wish to send funds to help residents affected by the oil spill.

In recent weeks, the contents of Project Sunrise has become more assertive with Guimaras Gov. JC Rahman Nava demanding the immediate removal of the 998-ton M/T Solar 1, and appealing for more relief assistance for the 40,000 residents in oil-spill affected coastal areas.

“We have created this web site to bring together compassionate and thoughtful citizens and organizations of the world and take common heroic responses to human sufferings caused by this disaster. We hope to receive your financial, technical expertise and talents needed in mitigating the risks brought by this disaster,” said Nava in a statement posted at the website.

Page visits to Project Sunrise was recorded at 5,500 as of September 13, 2006.

Possibly the most radical and the most visited of the seven web sites related to the oil spill is that of veteran business journalist and lifestyle columnist Stella Arnaldo.

Entitled “Guimaras oil spill: News and views on the environmental catastrophe,” Arnaldo’s blog (https://sludge.wordpress.com/) is the place to go for the latest news stories by print and broadcast journalists, as well as opinion pieces by respected columnists all over the country.

A blog, according to the Webopedia Computer Dictionary, is short for web log or a web page that serves as a publicly accessible personal journal for an individual.

Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author. In the case of Arnaldo, her acerbic comments are usually directed at the ineptness in containing the spill.

Put up on August 25, Arnaldo’s blog had total page views of 17,454 as of Sept. 13, with the highest hits reaching 1,723 page views on September 6.

Arnaldo says she gets comments about her postings as far as the United States and Europe, some wanting to raise funds and help, while others, like those in the Philippines, include “students who just want someone to help them in their assignments on the oil spill. Thank you teachers for helping increase my page visits!”

The seven other web sites or blogs are the Visayas Oil Spill Reports of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, GMA TV’s Petron Oil Spill Reports on gmanews.tv, Petron’s own Ligtas Guimaras, Oil Spill Photo Gallery by Greenpeace International, Blue Screen Oil Spill Photos by photographer Leo Solinap, Lette Teodisio’s blog to raise funds and resources for Guimaras, and the Save Guimaras blog by Spain-based freelance writer Tuesday Gutierrez.

Save Guimaras (http://saveguimaras.wordpress.com/) put up on August 30, describes itself as a “youth action-oriented group which aims to raise awareness on the recent oil-spill tragedy in Guimaras, Philippines and encourage grassroots participation by using available online tools.”

Save Guimaras, a blog, will be a web site next week (www.saveguimaras.com), “so that it can be more effective in delivering help to Guimaras,” said Gutierrez, a Filipina who had visited Guimaras several times when she temporarily worked in Iloilo City in the late ‘90s.

Gutierrez’s blog acts as “middleman” for other organizations wanting to help Guimaras residents, which she in turn links up with Project Sunrise.

Requests for volunteers and relief assistance are also posted in the Save Guimaras blog aside from the requisite news and updates.

Through Teodisio’s blog (www.bunnylette.multiply.com), a donation drive has been set up to raise cash and materials needed for the cleanup of the island.

These are channeled through the Visayan Sea Squadron, one of the more active groups helping clean up the oil spill.

Protective clothing for the workers, specifically rubber boots, gloves, and masks, are personally turned over by the squadron’s key representatives to Guimaras officials.

Arnaldo’s blog statistics show search engine terms used by people using the Internet are “Guimaras Oil Spill” and “Oil Spill in Guimaras.”

(For this and other oil spill stories, click Panay News, Sept. 15, 2006.)

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I CAN never thank you enough dear readers, for continuing to patronize this site. I hope through this blog, the stories have enlightened you on the truth surrounding the oil spill and touched your hearts somehow, enough to give of yourself to help the residents of Guimaras.

Other than the sites and blogs mentioned in the story, there are also other blogs that have discussed the oil spill. Just google them and you’ll find a lot of other insightful views here and around the world about the issue.

Props also goes to local newspapers like Panay News and the Visayan Daily Star for not letting up in the coverage of this vital issue, and for printing only truthful and credible news, instead of just ‘praise’ releases from those entities with large PR budgets trying to contain the news coverage on the spill.

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