Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Can we do something about the Wikipedia article on the "Bicolano People"?

Time and again, I am reminded that nothing comes absolutely for free here in this world. There's always a price for everything; there's always a catch. Wikipedia is one of the hottest things right now in the internet. I myself would browse its pages in search of information needed in my work, research, and personal pursuits. However, I am aware that there is a need to double-check every entry I find in there since all information that it carries can be contributed or edited by anyone who just happened to be registered with it. Even Wikipedia itself admits that "...articles may still contain significant misinformation, unencyclopedic content, or vandalism" and that "(users) need to be aware of this to obtain valid information and avoid misinformation that has been recently added and not yet removed". A studied indifference is therefore needed for anyone who would like to make good use of Wikipedia.

My reading of an entry about Jose Rizal led me to another entry about "Bicolano People". I was surprised that there is but a very short article about the "Bicolano People"-- about us. It almost has nothing on it except the already familiar ones like our penchant for using chili peppers and gata (coconut milk) in our cuisines; the Bicol Express; and that most of us are devout Roman Catholics.

Aside from this, what puzzled me are these lines:

Bicolanos live in the southeastern peninsula of Luzon, now containing the provinces of Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, and Catanduanes. Many Bicolanos also live in the provinces of Masbate, Camarines Norte, and Quezon.
Okay the above passage may be true technically (like saying that a secretariat is a horse), but there's more to it than meets the eye. And my fear is that some people may easily take it as telling them that 1.) Bicol is only composed of the provinces of Camarinse Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, and Catanduanes, or 2.) Masbate and Camarinse Norte are not part of Bicol (there are just many Bicolanos living there right now) - although some people there may already have such notion in themselves, or 3.) Quezon is a Bicol province!

This geographical mix-up reminds of me of a funny incident that happened during one of the JPIA (Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants) conventions (Bicol chapter) that I was able to attend back then when I was still an accounting student in the University of Nueva Caceres. There was this beauty pageant held, which was one of the many programs of the convention apart from the usual Accounting Quiz Bowl, oratorical speech contests, and other competitions, and a candidate was asked, rather strangely, by a Caucasian judge during the question and answer portion, to name five European countries belonging to the European Union. A very unusual question indeed for a beauty pageant that did not have any relation whatsoever to the theme of the pageant or to the entire convention altogether. Understandably, that caused quite a stir in the largely nerdy-looking crowd. But alas, that controversial question got a more controversial answer. The obviously nervous candidate who hails from the host province correctly enumerated, albeit stammering, four countries, but the last country she named brought the house down. She said: "And finally, the Philippines!" with a big smile; arms up and hands open in the air! But this is another story. Oh by the way, before I continue, that candidate won! When I and other officers were just outside the dressing room waiting for our candidate, we heard someone shouting. Later we found out that it was a gay 'handler' of a losing candidate who, perhaps out of disgust of the result, was seen shouting: "Now we have been enlightened! Philippines is part of Europe, and __________ (the name of the host province) is part of Mindanao!" -- sabay dabog daw at layas.

During the rather lively huddles that took place after the pageant, a few critical questions were raised. What went on the mind of that candidate during that time? Was it an honest mistake? Or if it wasn't, was it a reflection of the standard of education we have right now in the region? How come that college student who was supposed to be the "pambato" (the best bet) of the host province in terms of beauty, wit, and intelligence missed that one? And hell yeah, how come she won!?

Onli in da Pilipins eh?

Anyway, moving on, another part of the entry that prompted me to blog about it was the part talking about the "list of prominent or noteworthy Bicolanos". Hereunder are the items (italics mine):

For a list of prominent or noteworthy Bicolanos.

  • Raul S. Roco - was a Philippine Senator from Bombon, Camarines Sur
  • Jorge Barlin - was the first Filipino bishop from Baao, Camarines Sur
  • Francisco Tatad - was a Philippine Senator
  • Gregorio Honasan - is Philippine Senator
  • Joker Arroyo - is Philippine Senator from Bato, Camarines Sur
  • Francisco "Chiz" Escudero - is Philippine Senator from Sorsogon
  • Nora Aunor - a celebrity from Iriga City
  • Eddie Garcia - director and celebrity
  • Honrado Dequiros - columnist
  • Beatriz Saw - Pinoy Big Brother Season 2 Big Winner, Jed's Ex-Girlfriend
Now, first of all, I know the list is not only grossly incomplete, but also worthy to be perused; even the definitions for the people in the list can be improved. But I am not an expert on Bicol and the related areas, so I hope some people out there who know more than me scrutinize this entry and make necessary corrections. I believe that the knowledge that you have right now about Bicol and everything Bicolano gives you the privilege, the right, and the responsibility to serve as vanguards of our culture, our heritage, and our image to the rest of the world. Remember, "to whom much is given, much is required in return".

Also, consider these: Is our culture just "primarily noted for the prominent use of chili peppers and coconut milk in its food"? Don't we have any rich history and tradition to speak of in the mecca of information most visited today by so many people all over the world? And yeah, who in the world is Jed on the first place? I know one Jed way back in college, a nice guy and had been rumored to have actually dated Bea, but I am not sure if he is even worth mentioning here!

In Avenue Square, we usually search the net for entries about "Avenue Square" for two major reasons: 1.) to know how people see us so that we may be able to build on our successes or improve our services when deemed necessary; and 2.) to be on the look out for any wrong information about us so that we may able to counter this and protect our integrity.

I believe people in the proper positions should do the same for our beloved Bicol and for our very selves who are the very "people" this particular article is talking about. Sure, I can do my part; add a tidbit or two; but I can only do so much for this particular case.

In a world where rapid advancement of information technology has been wickedly prevalent, information - regardless whether they are valid, illuminating, helpful or otherwise - can be unleashed, passed around, and can build perceptions that can easily be accepted by other people as realities within seconds; at the strike of a button. Thus, a greater sense of responsibility and vigilance are needed to spot the genuine from the hoax and misleading; and in the process, safeguard us from the ill effects of ignorance, distorted reality, and even unscrupulous propaganda.

We are in the age of information where information is more powerful than ever before. Those who have the information have the power -- and the accountability that comes with it.

So can we?

Here's the rest of the article about the "Bicolano People".


Marc said...

Nice article.. 5 stars. I wonder who that Jed is?

Ducks said...

Thanks Marc.Just curious, how did you come across my blog? Yeah, that's a very funny description..