Blog Fatigue

bloggerJoeAm has been blogging for three and a half years now.  This is his 625th blog. Hundreds of thousands of words, some good ideas, and a lot of silt over the Philippine dam of opinion mongering.

(Brief Digression. Is an American living in the Philippines an “Am-Phil”?)

Trends are noticeable.

There are readers of blogs, and there are writers.


Readers come and go. The lifespan of a reader generally ranges from one second to six months.

The one-second reader quickly comes upon something that rubs him wrong, like an American who puts “I” and “Filipino” in the same sentence.

The six-month reader generally “gets” JoeAm and finds that Joltin’ Joe crystalizes or inspires his thinking along paths that they were already forming. Many are overseas or are internationally endowed, or have traveled a lot, and for sure do a lot of reading. It takes a reader to grasp some of Joe’s satiric or literary moments.

The long-distance readers, those who have been here since the getgo, are few and far between. They last because they don’t overdose on JoeAm. They go away for a month or two or six, then stop back in to read and comment.

Therein lies a certain truth.

A marathon is tiring.

The gun sounds and you stride energetically for a block or two, then settle into a pace that is comfortable. But eventually you get to the wall of exhaustion and either go through it and finish, or the wall finishes you. After the wall, the pace is a mindless trudge. It’s rather like meditation with a thump.

Well, JoeAm for many is an interesting read. He offers a straightforward and clear examination of topical or interesting issues, word play, sense of humor, good perspectives, and inventive ideas. But his style is ego-centric with a lot of personal experiences strewn about and always opinions to be thrust forward, like the relentless flapping of a howler monkey’s yap. Often his view seems heavy on generalizations or rude in some way. Outsiders can be that way.

Readers hit the wall and move on. They stop reading. Sometimes they stop by for a visit but most often they just disappear.

Other readers move in. Overall readership inches up.


Writers are marathoners, too. Some plod steadily with a blog a week. Others go in spurts, blogs coming whenever the mood strikes them. Some are tag teams with a number of article-writers. Most are solo workers.

I’ve noticed of late that there has been a fading of pace in the entire Philippine social/political blogging sphere. It’s as if we’ve all gotten a little tired of this relentless investigation into the reason politics is so weird and examining the souls of Filipinos from the barrios to the palaces.

Leo Alejandrino of the blog “Wired” retired a couple of weeks ago. Raissa Robles has been traveling for a month and before that was dealing with a health issue. She did a lot of republishing of her husband’s humor articles rather than her typical thoughtful investigative work. Her fan base is the best and has sustained the blog, but Raissa really has not brought much new to the discussion scene for a long time.

The Observers has not fulfilled its promise. Bright young writers, but little product.

Pro-Pinoy is spotty.

The Philippine Blogging Awards appears to have bitten the proverbial dust.

Even JoeAm drifts to uninspired work from time to time, as if he were forcing topics rather than relishing them.

So we aren’t exactly offering up a dynamic community here.

I say that with some wry amusement, because I recall writing a blog maybe a year ago that envisioned the development of a blogging community where writers reinforced each other, and it got stronger and stronger and became a meaningful advocacy. But that has not happened. Writers rarely reinforce one another. It’s like they are in competition with one other rather than striving to make a community.

So Filipino, eh?

And, plainly, it gets exhausting dealing with the failings of our socio/political world. Even our heroes disappoint now and then. And how many ways can we say the same thing? “Please give us more individual accountability, more pre-planning, less scurrilous behavior, less nonsense.”

I often feel I am writing in circles.

So I think we bloggers are at the marathon wall now, presumably working our way through it.

Socio/Political Blogs

I run the Philippine Blog Center as a side enterprise because I don’t like having a blog roll in the right column. It is rather confining, and hard to maintain. The Blog Center also provides little snippets highlighting what each article is about. It is picking up readership, too; it’s a useful tool.

I’ve made some changes to the line-up there. Here’s a quick summary. I’ve:

  • Dropped “Wired” because of the author’s retirement.
  • Moved Jim Paredes into the “Top Blogs” column (“Writing on Air“). He is thought-provoking, varied, and publishes regularly, once a week. His blog is a reprint of his newspaper column so there is not a lot of comment. That is a change to my criteria for a “top blog”. I’ve dropped the “active commentary” requirement because so few blogs actually provoke good discussions.
  • Moved “The Professional Heckler” to the “Top Blogs” column. Indeed, this, today, is the Top Socio/Political Blog of the Philippines. Timely, hilarious, and I believe providing a valuable social function of taking the edginess off the angst of being Filipino. (Wha?) The author Loi Reyes Landicho is a genius, and publishes regularly. Well, because he pens satire, he has a lot of material to work with, eh?
  • Added several lifestyle bloggers to the right column entitled “Specialty”. I particularly like “When the nail sticks out” by occasional commenter “ikalwewe” because it is cross-cultural, like JoeAm’s blog, but is from the perspective of a Filipina in Japan.
  • Dropped Get Real Post from the Blog Center. The commentary there has become so vile that it enters the realm of obscenity, and I don’t want it on my product. When commenters are allowed to advocate assassination without editorial engagement, that is over the top.

I have noted a slight pick-up in activity at “Pro-Pinoy” and I hope that continues. That blog has the best potential to be a legitimate blogging community of rational, intelligent, topical writers. I think those writers at “The Observer” might consider moving over to join the Pro-Pinoy team. Writers at both sites are excellent. But right now both productions lack the kind of volume that inspires reader build-up and loyalty. One bigger, bolder site would have better impact I think.

What are we going to do about it?

We are going through the wall, as Louis Jenkins advocates in his giant little piece entitled “Walking Through a Wall”:

  • Unlike flying or astral projection, walking through walls is a totally earth-related craft, but a lot more interesting than pot making or driftwood lamps. I got started at a picnic up in Bowstring in the northern part of the state. A fellow walked through a brick wall right there in the park. I said, ‘Say, I want to try that.’ Stone walls are best, then brick and wood. Wooden walls with fiberglass insulation and steel doors aren’t so good. They won’t hurt you. If your wall walking is done properly, both you and the wall are left intact. It is just that they aren’t pleasant somehow. The worst things are wire fences, maybe it’s the molecular structure of the alloy or just the amount of give in a fence, I don’t know, but I’ve torn my jacket and lost my hat in a lot of fences. The best approach to a wall is, first, two hands placed flat against the surface; it’s a matter of concentration and just the right pressure. You will feel the dry, cool inner wall with your fingers, then there is a moment of total darkness before you step through on the other side.

So find the pace of reading or writing that works best for you. Concentrate and find just the right pressure. Move on through.

A loud, constructive set of blogging voices can be very important to development of the Philippines. I intend to stick with it, to move through the walls that arise now and then. I hope you are along, too, walking through walls. If not now, later. If not here, there.

Be well.

Be involved.

24 Responses to “Blog Fatigue”
  1. “then there is a moment of total darkness before you step through on the other side.”

    Right now, the Philippines is at this point; ordinary Filipinos are never this cynical towards the 3 BRANCHES of the government.

    “A loud, constructive set of blogging voices can be very important to development of the Philippines.”

    Yes! Raising awareness on the internet is needed, but turning points happen on the streets.

    The million people march is nice, but it needs to evolve into almost a hundred million people march with a lot of angst; civil disobedience (strategically not paying taxes and voting for a certain period of time) would shake and shock and trample the trapo edifice.

    Regarding the trapo edifice, no idealistic and principled elected candidate can resist the temptation of excesses and vices of the current trapo lifestyle. I’m now working for the government. Unfortunately, what I read in political science books seems truer than ever. The effing huge, old wall needs to be struck down, not just step through it.

    Mahatma Gandhi has proven the effectiveness of non-violent civil disobedience. Elections, which have adequate voter turnout, signify tolerance for the status quo. P.S. I didn’t vote today so I’m not a hypocrite hahaha. I wont waste time lining for those barangay tagay (Joe, you know the

    I’m not sure what will be the most effective for now. Constitutional amendment. Scrapping presidential and/or congressional pork. New statutory laws. Itemization of lump sum discretionary funds. FOI.

    What matters the most at this point is that the trapos see WHO REALLY RULES THIS COUNTRY– The majority of Filipinos who want a more prosperous, ethical and respectable Philippines.

    • Joe America says:

      I’ve written blogs calling for radical change, but I think it is impractical, and maybe even unnecessary. Young people are the future, they are connecting electronically and will continue to evolve and get more sophisticated, and the old ways of ginning up votes (a little humor there) won’t work so well. I think a few years or ten of good economic growth, FOI, a networked young population. Very different dynamics. Positive forces to counter the current forces of ego and favor. Also, a legitimate middle class will bring in a stabilizing force.

      • I don’t think civil disobedience is so radical. that’s better than a bloody revolution like what those Bayad Muna peeps are advocating. There’s a need for a strong statement, which will reinforce the passage of bills like RH and FOI, and aboltion of PDAF. Exception for presidential disaster contingency is allowable in my book.

        Yes! Cyber connecting is very useful, but I don’t overestimate the sheer number of the sophisticated network of young peeps. Even though there’s the power to connect, some, if not most, cyber-literate youngster won’t and can’t participate in discourse such as this blog– just this time hahaha–, and inculcate the message. It’s another story when it comes to Daniel Padilla and those Korean Pop boys.

        Aside from the slowly rising, legit middle class, which is brought about by the BPO industry, the masa/not-so-educated needs to catch up and be middle class, considering they outnumber the educated middle as of the moment.

        Again, I’m not sure how unless all of them became OFWs ,and see the Phils from the viewpoint of an outsider. In relation, the OFW children should be part of the sophisticated youth network.

        • Joe America says:

          Your skepticism may be more realistic than my naive hope. I must say, I don’t see university students leading the charge. It seems to be an odd collection of activists without much of a core commitment to accomplish something specific . . . like demanding that the three accused plunder senators resign or pass FOI. The pork protests have not been a sustained effort. Just a belch now and then. So, yes, perhaps the hope of youth is overstated. Or it will take 30 years instead of 5 to make social media a force.

          It all underscores how weak the schools are at teaching good values and healthy personal engagements. Following rote instructions and regurgitating information and passing exams does little to develop civic-character or skills or direction. Gadzooks you have thrown me into a downer.

  2. correction: (Joe, you know the Barangay Ginebra, the most popular basketball team in the country. Ginebra is a brand of gin and tagay implies drinking session)

  3. Mel NL says:

    Thanks for naming the other bloggers in Philippine Blog Center, (just visited the website when you mentioned it)as I have never known them except you and Raissa. Will try to read some of them. Sorry if I can’t join and write the thought provoking comments in your article coz I am not whiz in writing. Have a good day, Joe!

    • Joe America says:

      Thank’s Mel. I’d like to think the readers here are not hung up on the fine points of language, and what is more important is the idea. I think I’d have no trouble picking up your ideas. I’d write in Visayan, but that means I’d mostly be writing about food. 🙂 Have a good day yourself.

  4. pussyfooter says:

    Thanks for staying the course at least. Great point about competing with one another, not building a community, as being very (sadly and typically self-defeatingly) Pinoy. I’m 30 myself, female, middle-class, full-blood Pinoy, from the prestigious schools (whatever that prestige amounts to these days), and mostly in despair about this society–or OK, if I narrow it down to firsthand knowledge, Manila society in general. From the humble viewpoint of this nobody in particular, I don’t expect things to become very much better in the next decade or so, if not the next generation or so (depressing I know)–at least in terms of the “blogosphere” (air quotes), because the young people who are in fact putting themselves out there and doing genuinely good stuff don’t really take the time to discuss things online, much less keep up a blog. Mostly it’s just the Filipino Freethinkers (haha I should be curious to know what you think of them–personally I consider them a mixed bag, but a net negative) and the vituperative GetRealPhils and similar other places cluttering up the scene. Not unlike your not-so-friendly neighborhood tambays making a huge mess and ruckus at the corner tindahan, refusing to pay their tab OR clean up their act.

    Goodness that ran on. Haha but srsly, thanks for keeping up this great blog and still fighting valiantly on the Inq comment threads (I deactivate those in my browsers; too little working brain in Pinoys leads to too much blood pressure in me).

    • pussyfooter says:

      Oops just reviewed this thread and I’m not sure I’ve helped your Oct 28 8pm “downer”. Hehe. Take your mind off things na lang and thank your lucky stars you will presumably find it less difficult to GTFO of here than Filipino-born-and-bred citizens like myself. (No I’m not an OFW and in my line of work I’m going to have to do at least another year of postgrad education to transfer to a different jurisdiction–er, I meant country. 😉

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, every once in a while I know I am right to be positive about the Philippines, and it is people like you who are the reason. Good thinking, good character, middle-ground pragmatics, working to earn a good life. Don’t get corrupted by the muddy river in which you swim, okay?

      You are invited to “run on” as often as your schedule permits here, because I think you can keep us on the straight and broad-minded (not straight and narrow).

      Vituperative is an excellent word. I’ve got to add that to my vocabulary.

      I find the Freethinkers somehow disappointing, like they are a hardline group that finds enemies all about. Rather than accepting those who find faith important. But I prefer them to the closed-minded CBCP political bishops of the prior age who speak out of two sides of their face. Maybe the new leadership will pick up better on the spirit of the Pope, the Archbishop of Mania, and Jesus Christ Himself.

      • pussyfooter says:

        Aww, shucks. Gosh I hope I don’t get corrupted (though I’ve gotten quite depressed, for sure).

        I know one or two key people in Freethinkers, but by and large they seem to be your fairly typical upper-class (and/or prestigiously educated) navel-gazer who enjoys being the center of attention a little too much. Smart no doubt, but in this society a little knowledge really can be a dangerous thing. If overinflated egos were a danger.

        But yes, don’t get me started about the CBCP either. It’s all because of them that I’ve gone almost completely off the Church I was–like most Filipinos–born into. They’re like the Anti-Francis. Ugh.

  5. David Murphy says:

    David and Joe, It seems virtually universal that when wrongdoing is discovered and exposed then people are most critical of the government. And yet, the discovery and the exposure are an indication that progress is being made to correct the problems of the past. An analogous phenomenon is that people protest when their standard of living begins to improve. While they are mired in their poverty they accept their situation, perhaps because they lack hope; when life gets better they develop aspirations and agitate for more. As you said, David, we are in the dark space, passing through a wall, and with a bit of good fortune we will emerge into a brighter day. But for that to happen the corrupt politicians must be prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned. It’s not too hard to predict their defensive strategy: deny, delay, obfuscate. It’s always worked in the past. If they can regain control of the government they can arrange for a favorable outcome, whether having the charges dismissed or being found not guilty. If they retain their offices until 2016 one test will be if they can get themselves re-elected. I don’t anticipate a resolution to this crisis for years, perhaps for decades, and the country will continue to bleed until the guilty are serving their time and the “culture of impunity” ends. If they evade the punishment, my anticipation is for a grim future.
    Joe, I just discovered this site yesterday and spent the majority of my free time reading your most current blogs, leaving the kids to fend for themselves and cook their own instant pancit. It was like getting together with old friends and exchanging ideas, except that there was no beer to cause the discussions to degenerate into boozy nonsense and stupid arguments. I enjoyed so much reading the blogs and the comments and having my own thoughts stimulated and trying to express them in replies that were greatly delayed and will probably never be read.
    One thing that I didn’t express concerns the cash given to congressmen after the chief justice was convicted. I don’t know if the cash was a reward or not but if it was I think it was money well spent. The era of corruption must end and one of the key strategies was to make a start on cleaning up the judiciary, starting at the top. Perhaps P’noy has more political savvy than we give him credit for, anticipating that the payments would become public knowledge and that he could dismiss them with little political consequences simply by pointing out that they came after the conviction. Perhaps one of the best measures of his political acumen is that the general opinion is still that he has none.
    One other idea was sparked by your contrast between Nonoy Aquino, who you feel acts on the principal of public office being a sacred trust, and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who you believe was motivated by a desire for personal gain. My view of what motivated Arroyo is slightly different. Discounting whatever actions Mike Arroyo was responsible for, I suspect that GMA tried to amass a fortune to finance some kind of strategy that would allow her to stay in power, perhaps as the prime minister under a new constitution, perhaps following a term as interim president while the transition to the new constitution was completed. A lust for power is not the most admirable of motives but is perhaps a little less contemptible than pure financial greed. We’ll never know her true motives but it’s an interesting speculation that leads to another: what would have happened if she had succeeded? Aside from the corruption, she was a good president. (Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?) She might have been able to lead the Philippines into a new era. Perhaps in her long-term strategy she intended to amass enough power that she could even eliminate corruption. My own belief is that you can’t eliminate corruption after your have built your power on a foundation of corruption. Still she is a strong woman and she might have been able to resist the temptations and opportunities for abuse that power brings.
    I’m not sure what kind of reader I will turn out to be. I tend to be very erratic and inconsistent in most things and this orgy of reading and responding over the last 24 hours may have left me disinclined to indulge again in the near future. That kind of thing happens as I get older.
    Hasta la vista.

    • Joe America says:

      Well, bro, do what you do. I’m certain it will have quality to it.

      Ms. Arroyo is an interesting lady, actually. Rather a fictional character plopped down into a real setting.

      Aloha. 🙂

    • cha says:

      Hi David,

      Just letting you know that after reading this well thought out commentary, I did go back to some of the previous threads to read your posts. It would have been such a waste to have them go unread. I like that you bring a positive energy to the discussion (and may I mention also @pussyfooter above for the fresh new insight of the young). And thank you for the link to the Worldwide Familia movement.

      I am, I think a little weary indeed from so much bad news and negativity in mainstream and social media from the mother country lately. I have taken to skipping most of the Philippine publications in my reading list except for JoeAm here and also Raissa’s, where the commentary are generally thoughtful and forward looking.

      See you in future threads.

  6. andrew lim says:

    That piece by Jenkins reminds me of my favorite NBA team’s maxim on “pounding the rock” –
    when a piece of rock finally breaks, it’s not the last blow but the hundreds before that caused it.

    And that is what blogging reminds me of. We pound here, we pound on the news forums, on Raissa’s blog, etc, and somehow we affect the direction this country takes.

    The retirement of blogs, the birth of new ones, the continuation of others is a natural process, and it all boils down to content. Who can keep writing interesting topics and fresh perspectives.

    We need not re-state the importance of blogs- just last year, we saw how important its role is during the Corona trial and the RH debates. But no matter how exhilarating it may be, we cannot have hot issues all the time. Nation building will always involve tediousness and repetitive good behavior.

    Keep pounding the rock!

  7. cha says:

    Hi Joe,

    Thought you might want to add this to the blog center. It’s an online magazine (published from the US) called Positively Filipino. It features various articles about Filipinos in the diaspora (OFWs, expats, migrants) , mostly in celebration of the Filipino culture and exceptional Filipinos based all over the world. It’s where I go to when I need a bit of cheering up.

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