The recent APEC summit has no doubt caused a lot of inconveniences to the general public. People were stranded, stuck in traffic or ended up walking several kilometers. Several groups protested on the streets through rallies or vandalism, while others protested through social media. Unfortunately, the way most Filipinos reacted could have also left a negative image on our country.
Just yesterday, journalist James Deakin had a short chat with a fellow passenger at the airport who so happened to be an independent journalist from Chile covering the APEC summit. With all the protests that’s been going on, it’s no wonder this journalist had the impression that the delegates were not welcome. Read James’ story below:
“While sitting at the airport lounge today, waiting for another delayed flight that I should’ve taken 3 days ago, I happened to get chatting to a fellow passenger. Turns out he’s a freelance independent journalist from Chile that happens to have just come from Manila, where he was tasked to report on APEC.
After learning of my 3 day delay, he said, “So I guess you’re one with most Filipinos that hate APEC, huh?” I asked him why he would think that. He told me that he noticed a lot of online hate from Filipinos who were inconvenienced while he was there. Mostly social media, but a healthy chunk from the mainstream media. Playing dumb, I replied by saying “Don’t other nations complain about the disruption as well?” He told me that while it was not unusual to encounter protests during every summit he’s covered, he felt that not only were those directed at policies and deeper issues, but these ‘rants’ were disproportionate to the other member nations that have hosted it.
I apologised for his experience but assured him that there’s an equal if not larger number of people who appreciate and support APEC and see the greater good. I agreed that it could and should have been handled better from a traffic management point of view, but pointed out that despite that, the vast majority of people chose to show their support with silence. In other words, if you read a hundred posts on Social Media complaining, there’s a million Filipinos who haven’t.
I said, “Believe me, Filipinos are not shy about sharing their opinion on social media, so when they don’t offer one, consider that support.” I then showed him the comments on my Facebook post where I asked for some goodvibes and people to show some love through their profile pictures. He was genuinely impressed by it and even asked if he could include it in his story. I said I’ll do him one better. I’ll arrange a group photo just for him and anyone else that feels we’re just a nation of whiners.
So here’s how it works. For those who haven’t already done so, change your picture to the Filipino flag and leave a comment to join the group photo. Any comment. Even just one word so that your name appears in the comment box next to your profile pic of the flag so we can have an awesome screen shot to show the world.
Who is in?
Just to be clear, doing this doesn’t mean you automatically agree with how traffic was handled, nor does it mean that we won’t be having this conversation with our leaders in due time. Those are two separate things. Besides, we will have a chance to send them a message this coming May. Right now let’s send a message to the rest of the world.
PPS. Feel free to share this with any like minded folks. But remember, to join the group pic you need to be in uniform. The ‘group pic’ will be taken around 4am Manila time (another delay in flight) so please make sure you change your profile pic and keep it up until then to be in the shot. Let’s make this epic.”
A lot of people agree with James’ sentiments and have left comments on his post as a sign of unity as well as to show that the APEC delegates are definitely welcome in the Philippines. If you wish to join in, leave a comment on James’ status here – https://www.facebook.com/james.deakin/posts/911960292225250
While the “group photo” with all the profile pictures will be taken at around 4-6am of November 21, I highly suggest that we maintain the profile photo for a few days and use the hashtag #WelcomeAPEC2015 and send the right message to the world.
So… are you in?