At night, the war room was a big pressure cooker, everyone was working so fast.
LA TRINIDAD, Philippines - What is really our identity? Should we support Cordillera autonomy? What kind of development do we want?
These are the important issues that should be tackled during the 2013 elections in Cordillera, according to the participants of a focus group discussion (FGD) conducted by MovePH, the citizen journalism arm of Rappler. The FGD was conducted in partnership with Benguet State University (BSU) on Monday, February 25, in La Trinidad, Benguet.
Cordillera, home to indigenous peoples collectively known as Igorots, is on its third bid for regional autonomy, an aspiration of its people enshrined in the Philippine Constitution.
Since the late President Cory Aquino created the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), two organic acts have sought to establish an autonomous Cordillera, but it failed to unite tribes, provinces, social movements, and politicians in the region, according to the FGD participants.
"The past two plebiscites failed not because they do not agree but because they have little knowledge about the autonomy," said Almira Bentadan, a member of the Ibaloi tribe, echoing the sentiments of the group.
The group, mainly composed of development communication students and teachers of BSU, stressed the need to discuss the autonomy issues from the community up to the national level because the rich culture and resources of the Cordillerans are at stake.
Citizen journalism and social media
On Tuesday, February 26, the Department of Development Communication of the BSU College of Agriculture will gather a broader group of student journalists and leaders from Baguio and Benguet to equip them with skills and insights on how to help set the tone of development issues in the region.
With the theme, Panag-iwaragawag para iti pagsayaatan iti komunidad (Reporting for community development), the event will take place from 8:00am -12:30pm at the BSU CTE Function Hall, highlighting lectures on emerging practices in journalism that enhance development communication.
Rappler's citizen journalism director Chay Hofileña will give talk about how citizen journalists can do investigative journalism.
Hofileña was one of the founding editors of the investigative magazine Newsbreak. She has written extensively on media issues and authored the book, "News for Sale: The Corruption and Commercialization of the Philippine Media (2004)," published by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. She also co-authored the top-selling book on the 2010 Philippine presidential elections, "Ambition Destiny Victory: Stories from a Presidential Election (2011)."
MovePH coordinator and Rappler multimedia reporter Voltaire Tupaz will speak about "Sparking development through journalism and social media."
Before joining Rappler, Tupaz served as a policy advocacy specialist for various non-profit organizations and an international environmental network, raising awareness about a range of issues that included indigenous knowledge systems, appropriate technology, climate change and other development issues.
Move.PH is an evolving, dynamic and cutting-edge platform on Rappler that sees a convergence of journalists, citizens, and storytellers whose collective wisdom is harnessed to create an impact in communities including those of indigenous peoples.- Rappler.com