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Hongkong Media Forum

Last Saturday night on my way home from Hongkong, I was worried while airborne at 38,000 feet on board PAL’s PR307 that I would miss my connecting flight from Manila to Davao to catch up with an event I did not want to miss.




INFLIGHT WIFI -- Last Saturday night on my way home from Hongkong, I was worried while airborne at 38,000 feet on board PAL’s PR307 that I would miss my connecting flight from Manila to Davao to catch up with an event I did not want to miss. But PAL's in-flight wifi eased the tension. I was getting periodic text messages from the ground that yes; PAL as usual would be late. Thanks to in-flight wifi! Cool! And thanks to PAL for being late as usual! (Hahaha). By the way, in fairness to PAL, it's mainly the congested air traffic at the antic NAIA that is causing all this!

MEDIA FORUM -- A few days ago, during the 2014 International Conference of the Asian Congress for Media and Communication held in the CITY UNIVERSITY OF HONGKONG, I shared my thoughts on the topic "Fostering the shift: from conflict reporting to peace journalism". I got the feeling that we in the Philippines are way ahead in this regard, although security problems and peace challenges are commonly shared by many countries in the Asean region. Sharing experiences especially learning lessons from our own mistakes so others would not repeat them are always worth doing.

HONGKONG PROTEST -- The night outing after the forum brought us to the famous MONGKOK shopping-night market area in downtown Hongkong. Although I had been in that area in the past, this time we (Ariel Sebellino of the Phil. Press Institute and Prof. Joey Alagaran of Miriam College in Manila) did our own social investigation of sorts at the "barikada" area of the protesters there. The place was like a tent city at night, although quiet and subdued with protesters sprawling on mattresses or squatting and making miniature yellow umbrellas symbol of their struggle for reforms against Beijing. One high schooler sprawled on his mattress told me he had been there for 20 days and did not yet know when their mass protest actions would end. I saw uniformed policemen chatting at a corner while tourists and curious shoppers were milling around, listening to some demands of the demonstrators, although most were interested in the usual photo ops and "kodakan". One hawker told me that contrary to what others said, business is more brisk because the protest activities, aside from being peaceful were attracting tourists. Interesting!

Back to the media forum, I was glad I attended the biennial event of ACMC. There were interesting research outcome presentations that caught my attention -- and fancy.

ONLINE DATING -- For example one break-away session dealt with digital media and the prevalence of "on-line dating". One lonely soul can just click a site to find a suitable partner. Dr. Tony Chalkley of the Deaken University, Geelong in Australia prepared a paper entitled ”ON LINE DATING: IS A DIGITAL KISS AND VIRTUAL WINK THE NEW WAY OF FINDING LOVE?" He postulated that this new way of finding one's partner will "encourage you to reflect on your own values and expectations around the concept of "public" and "private" self. He said there are also indications that although many on-liners are not portraying their real selves through their blogs or postings, there are also many who are living "closet lives" in real lives who give or reveal their own true selves on line.

ON INDON TEXTING- Two Indonesian researchers showed how modern day texting using the cell phone’s "short message services" or SMS not only corrupted the students' English spelling. But significantly, the cultural trait of respect, deference to elders or superiors are lost in the process -- a clear erosion of long cherished Asian values. One study showed how even respect to classroom teachers or instructors suffered. Case in point: students usually send text messages to their classroom instructors explaining why they are absent or late from class or inquiring about assignments. Worse they end their messages usually with "CU" instead of "SEE YOU", showing familiarity bordering on disrespect. It becomes worse when the teacher texts back: "CU too. Ty"! ( Hahaha! ) They found that the use of SMS changed Indonesian youth's language habit impacting on the change of politeness in Indon culture.

ON EXTRA-MARITAL AFFAIRS -- Two Filipino communications researchers (Chadwick Co Sy Su and Joeven R. Castro) presented a report entitled "Of women muting women and men getting away scot-free: extra-relational affairs and their depictions in recent Philippine mainstream cinema". One of their findings is that there is now a resurgence of sexually charged films in Filipino cinema. They reported about their study of three recent popular movies that dealt with alluring mistresses, the suffering but forthright wives and the philandering husbands. They saw a pattern of women in extra-relational affairs (a.k.a. mistresses) portrayed as strong but dependent and usually are at a losing end and the inequitable sharing of the burden favoring the males; hyper sexuality is noted in the "subsequent partner" and women tend to "mute" their own kind: women. One of the findings being that media today still reinforces the inequities of the status quo.

CELEBRITY CANDIDATES -- A Jesuit researcher from Sri Lanka ,Theodore Fernando, did a report on women celebrities in Sri Lanka getting elected during elections just cashing in on their popular status or as widows or daughters of dead politicians. His paper was entitled "Media Portrayal of Sri Lankan Women Celebrities in the Political Sphere". He found that grieving widows or bereaved daughters of known assassinated politicians draw votes better than others not similarly situated. He also found in his research that actors or actresses try to re-invent themselves when they run for public office, changing their attires or manner of speaking or downplaying previous nudity and controversial issues of their past.

PHIL RH LAW — There were other interesting topics including Manila-based Jim Duran who did a research on the media issues surrounding the approval of the Reproductive Health law and the way forward considering that those opposed to the RH law, like the predominant Catholic Church are still opposing the law and monitoring closely its implementation.

ON RUSSIAN WOMEN --- A former Soviet citizen of USSR but now an educator in the US, Prof. Elise Kiregian of the TCI College of Technology did a paper on how Russian women had broken through difficult barriers of gender issues and had shown great progress in business. Although admitting that the level of women participation in politics in Russia is still wanting, the fact that Russian women are now making waves in the financial and business fields augers well for the future. Prof. Elise briefly talked about how she was made to start literally from scratch when she migrated to the US to start a new life -- leaving behind in Russia her advanced studies and credentials and papers. She recalled that while at the border on her way out of Russia, she was made to make a choice, the Russian immigration officer telling her when she insisted on bringing along her papers and credentials that were work of a lifetime: "Take that door (out) or your credentials." She chose the door to freedom , without looking back. She is now an accomplished communications educator in the US. The rest is history.

Dr. Azman Azwan Azmawati , ACMC head did a paper on women and gender issues. She is the deputy dean of the School of Communication of the Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang.

University of the Philippines Rachel Khan was the principal organizer of the event.

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