Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Romney's Disaster Plan: Recipe for National Disaster

Disaster-response should not be privatized! Disaster-response should stay in the hands of governments (local, state & federal) because it is their duty to serve and save the lives of their citizens! Privatizing disaster-response will only be filled with corruption and marginalized populations! 

Dissolving FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is a recipe for a national disaster! You need national coordination for storms like Sandy (which covers most of the mainland United States as I write this) and this agency is doing hell of a good job. 

Sorry, Mr. Romney, I disagree with you on this one!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blue Whale

One of my biggest dreams is to be on a one-on-one encounter with one of the largest creatures to ever lived on earth (yes, bigger than even dinosaurs), the gentle giants, BLUE WHALES... There used to be 100,000 of them at one time in Antarctica until large-scale whaling dwindled the population to 2,000 individuals. One of the many reasons why I want to help protect the ocean...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Definition, Definition... So What Really is Modern-Day Slavery?

DC Stop Modern Slavery hosted the 2012 Stop Modern Slavery Walk on September 29, 2012. I have been fortunate enough to become a part of the amazing team that brought thousands to the Washington Monument grounds that beautiful Saturday.

The week before the Walk was filled with human trafficking headlines. The Sunday before the event, Washington Post covered the terrible child trafficking situation in India on its front page. Two days later, U.S. President Barack Obama devoted his speech at the Clinton Global Initiative on human trafficking in front of many world leaders. Then on Thursday (September 27, 2012), USA Today puts the United States' domestic sex trafficking problem on its front page. 

But what is human trafficking? I personally find the official United Nations' definition a bit cumbersome. Just thinking about the official definition makes human trafficking hard to explain to my friends and family, who still have no clue what it is all about.

I had a quick conversation at the Walk with a man from the Caribbean. His comment made me aware that the abolitionist movements needs to work on its language. He said something like human trafficking contributes to slavery. Isn't it generally accepted that human trafficking, trafficking-in-persons is slavery, modern-day slavery? 

A The New York Times editorial article ("To Combat 'Modern Slavery,' October 2, 2012) stated:

'This should be the first of several steps to bolster the attack on the scourge that Mr. Obama described as "modern slavery" in a passionate address on the issue last week at the Clinton Global Initiative.'

Apparently, the editors of The New York Times don't think it is slavery either. They must think slavery ended with the end of the American Civil War, just like most people.

(In the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Washington Post publishes a weekday tabloid that is freely distributed via human distributors directly outside subway stations and the recognizable yellow newsstand boxes on the sidewalk. It is simply called Express.)

There is 'Taken' movie review on the Express on Friday, October 5, 2012. This statement disturbs me:

'The appeal of "Taken," apart from its straightforward, unpretentious approach to otherwise pedestrian material, was Liam Neeson.'

Has sex trafficking become "pedestrian material"?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

RE: Wall Street Journal's "Inside Facebook's Push to Woo Big Advertisers"

1. Is Facebook a really good advertising tool as Facebook touts itself to be?
2. Is Facebook invading our personal privacy when they give their advertising clients snippets of our private conversations, though we remain anonymous according to Facebook executives?
3. Will Facebook survive if its advertising revenue keep falling? 
4. Does Facebook have an initiative in helping non-profit organizations out in marketing? 
5. Is it really difficult to ask each and every single customer or buyer if they were influenced by an ad on Facebook by their purchase?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Communications Today: The Big Dis-Connect

Eleven years ago, I graduated with a bachelor's degree in public relations. It was the dawn of a new century but it would be one more decade before technology revolutionized the way we communicate.

By the late 1990s, almost everyone in the urban world had a mobile phone. In the same time period, email--which is actually a contraction of electronic mail--has become the favored form of business communications. Within the last several years, social media has become a huge integral part of our everyday lives.

I did not pursue a career in communications. Instead, I spent nine years in retail banking. But today, I am finding the same mass communication issues that frustrated me in college.

Video commercials and visual advertising over-hype. "Shock and awe" always captivate attention but the public never seem to go beyond what they glimpse in less than a minute. "Shock and awe" either numbs the audience or gets them too enraged to be able to think clearly.

Look at the 2012 U.S. presidential race... I became a citizen of the United States in 2011 and have only started paying attention to party politics just recently. I am registered as an unaffiliated voter and I choose to remain so. Political observers have noticed that the fight between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney has become highly personal. Campaign staff appear to be always on guard for anything they can attack their opponent with, even if it is very far from the real truth.

Kony 2012,  a movement that was mobilized by a documentary film about the abuses the child soldiers suffered under the hands of the armies of the Central African warlord Joseph Kony. Rumors, which are hard to prove, say Joseph Kony has already been imprisoned and/or crossed the border from Uganda to the Democratic Republic of Congo. It first started as a YouTube video that went viral.

(Viral is a new term popularized by social media. For readers who may not know, viral refers to mostly videos that are shared by Web users so many times that almost everyone in the world has seen it.)

This 30-minute video opened the issue of child soldier to the world. But when the filmmaker was reported to have been caught acting wildly under the influence, the media industry focused on that instead of rescuing child soldiers.

And it gets worst when public health topics are being debated... This past week, Washington, D.C. hosted the largest international AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) conference with 20,000 people in attendance. Stigmas and dangerous myths have stifled strong efforts of the medical community to eradicate the disease. In Africa, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) positive men rape virgin women believing that it would cure them. They remain positive and the poor young girls are exposed to the lethal disease.

Fear is such a strong emotion that its grip can cripple a person and a community. Evoking fear has always been a major tactic used in psychological propaganda. But fear also clouds our thoughts with wrong information and half-truths...

As is observed today, the public relations profession appears to be filled with unethical people. Advertisers make many false claims that almost always blow out of proportion. Journalism ethics seem to no longer exist either. In the world of breaking news, even CNN (Cable News Network)--a very well-respected global news source--can give a false report.

During the Affordable Care Act hearings, CNN mistakenly reported that the Supreme Court of the United States shot down the act when it was the complete opposite. For no discussion was being heard out of the court chambers, CNN was basically interpreting predictions made by politicians and experts instead of announcing the actual court decision.

Even with all the new technology that allows us to keep up to minute news, we still have not been able to get the truth across. We are bombarded by false propaganda and misinterpreted facts. We must find solutions to hold communications professionals accountable. I renew my passion for the communications industry with a strong resolve to uphold the truth; and maintain my integrity based on a principled journalist's code of ethics.

The journalist's role is a public service role. He/she is giving account of issues and event that affect his/her audience. The task is to inform them with valid information. This means that the journalist must check facts and the credibility of his/her sources. He/she should not over-hype anything in the news story. Nor should he/she de-emphasize the seriousness of the situation. This does take a delicate balance of tact, honesty and integrity.

All communications professionals, just like me, must remember that we are truth-tellers not fiction writers...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Frustration with Social Media

The phenomena that social media creates displays how public opinion is based on indoctrination by mass media, governments and other societal institutions like churches and schools. The use of words play a very key role in influencing the formation of opinion. If you read different newspapers side by side, you will see that one paper leans toward conservatism and the other towards liberalism. Each writer has their own unique tone of voice. Even with a very bad writer, you will find an individual personality that is like no other. People may sound alike or read like mirror-images of each other but there will always be tiny details that will set them apart. As a writer, I know I have the power to help educate people on issues. In the past several years, I have already been able to voice out my knowledge and personal convictions on human rights, and that voice was recognized by people who have become mentors and role models. But I have many frustrations when it comes to people who are apathetic and/or not aware of human rights abuses... Talking to people that I have written about human trafficking and female genital mutilation sometimes push people away or I get a barrage of ignorant, miseducated comments that just irritates me: People tell me that it only happens in Asia. Or I get a lot of angry words that I have heard a million times before. I am very disappointed that all the effort I have been giving had not created a dent in anyone's heads. So today, I am in the search for ways to make people more aware and with a much better understanding of the issues that affect the world today. I will work with people who have balanced views on opposing arguments. I will collaborate with organizations who are on a mission to properly educate the world at-large. Comment if you want to help me!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Brief Summary of Ambassador Luis CdeBaca's Keynote Address Morning of April 13, 2012

On Friday, April 13, 2012, I was fortunate enough to hear Luis CdeBaca give the keynote address at the Open Society Foundation's conference entitled "Ending Human Trafficking, or Something Else?" It was an impressive 30 minute (more or less) lecture on the current developments of the U.S. State Department's anti-human trafficking efforts both in the U.S. and around the world. Mr. Cdebaca is the current Ambassador-at-Large of the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

He mentioned that the first sentence in the Trafficking Victim Protections Act (TVPA) says "human trafficking is modern slavery." But he said that when U.S. State Secretary Hilary Rodham-Clinton saw that. She said, "Let's just call it slavery!" Ambassador CdeBaca emphasized that anti-human trafficking efforts must have a victim-centered approach, and not just punishing the traffickers and the exploiters. We must focus on the victims' restoration, giving them a better life so they cannot re-enter the trafficking situations they've been rescued from. He also stressed the preventative approach and victim protection. This would entail working closely with law enforcement.

Ambassador CdeBaca talked about the success of the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-3737-888) operated by the Polaris Project. Experts thought people would only call to ask questions about what human trafficking was. But instead, they found actual victims and witnesses calling that turned into rescues, raids, arrests and criminal charges against the traffickers.

On the international front, he talked how foreign governments are using other laws as an excuse not to take the crime of human trafficking seriously. They'll say it's just labor violations, an illegal immigration problem and/or prostitution. Ambassador CdeBaca encouraged attendees to have the "courage to point" to tell governments and the whole world the seriousness of human trafficking.

Everyone from churches, schools and other institutions must work together to abolish slavery. But people must also remember that only governments can do certain things--to make arrest, to fine and incarcerate criminals, and to make official legislation in jurisdictions. We must work in a way where we should not use euphemisms to dilute this huge problem in our world today. It is very important to use a particular language so when we do talk to others that we know we are all on the same page. But over-using "human trafficking" and "modern-day slavery" will lead into apathy in the general public instead of action.

Ambassador Luis CdeBaca closed his address with the statement "We must advance the fulfilling of freedom for our sons and daughters." I personally think he was talking about what the flag of the United States of America symbolized...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Para Kay Inang Kalikasan

Ang ating munting daigdig ay lubos sa likas yaman. Ang mga yamang ito ang nagbibigay buhay sa atin at sa ating mga lungsod. Mabuti na ito'y libreng inihahandog sa atin ni Inang Kalikasan ngunit tayo naman mga tao... ay pinagsasamantala at ginagahasa ang lupain at karagatan ng napakaliit na planetang ito.

Maganda ang pag-unlad ng ating mga bayan. Humahaba ang buhay ng tao, lalong nagiging masaya ang lahat dahil mas maganda ang nararanasan natin kaysa noong nakaraang isang libong taon.

Sa anino ng kaunlaran ay nakatago ang wasak na mga kagubatan na wala nang buhay. Dati-rati, naririnig mo ang maligayang pag-awit ng mga ibon; nakikita mo ang makukulay na bulaklak ng mga daming halaman... Ngayon, katahimikan, nakakabinging katahimikan ang naririnig mo; kalahating patay na mga puno ang iyong namamasdan...