Thursday, February 03, 2005

Of Centrality and Periphery

Recently, the Philippine Computer Society (PCS, the largest Philippine IT association) was stopped in its track from launching Digital Pinay 2005 -- a so called search for top female IT professional or student in the land -- by a mass on-line protest from the Filipino IT community. The reason? The community believed that what PCS tried to do is plainly wrong. The result? A major program was stopped dead; but not without doing an initial damage both to the community and the leadership of PCS.

This very recent event just portrays another clash of belief system between the central power and the masses in the periphery. However, as long as the periphery does not give up its rights completely to the central power, change is possible.

In the Old Testament, there was a constant struggle between the throne and the masses. The monarchial structure of ancient Israel's government tend to favor just a section of the society -- the nobles and the wealthy. The masses have no representation before the central power. In response, God would send a prophet in the periphery to voice out the poor and afflicted's concerns. His message of hope is delivered to his people with whom he covenanted himself. The prophet Amos is one of these peripheral prophets.

Amos was a shepherd from Tekoa. Shepherds belong to the lower strata of Israelite society. Their profession was one of the despised in their time. They were even considered ceremonially unclean by their own religion. But this lowly shepherd became God's voice -- delivering judgment to erring national leaders and at the same time delivering hope to the marginalized sector.

After PCS announced its plans regarding Digital Pinay 2005, the Filipino IT community through various blogs launched an online protest criticizing this move. It seemed like a David vs. Goliath encounter. However, these lowly bloggers made the difference. They made the mighty PCS retreat.

It happened before, too. February 25, 1986 is an unforgettable date. When the masses in the periphery got tired of the central power in Malacanang, they made history by putting down a dictator in a peaceful way.

That, I think, is distinctly Filipino. Mabuhay!