Bloggers gather at Siem Reap for BlogFest.Asia 2012

Nigh time at Siem Reap, Cambodia. (Photo from Wikipedia/Wikimedia)
Nigh time at Siem Reap, Cambodia. (Photo from Wikipedia/Wikimedia)

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA – Bloggers from across Asia, including a number of Filipino colleagues, have started to arrive in droves here in this beautiful part of Cambodia for the BlogFest.Asia 2012 for several days of fellowship, group study, discussion and fun too.

The program covers diverse topics from the basic to advanced, and also aims to discuss issues and concerns that affect bloggers and technologists in the continent. Topics include: mobile blogging, photo blogging, digital comics, Wikimedia Commons, Internet Security, online advocacy, long form writing, the Philippines’ cybercrime law and Southeast Asia media situation. 

This is my second time to attend a BlogFest.Asia event. The first was in November 2009 in Hong Kong where I made a number of new good friends, and shared what Filipino netizens and bloggers did in response to supertyphoon Ondoy (international name: Ketsana). As I prepared for that talk, I blogged:

Right now, a bright sun shines over the Philippines, and it is the active engagement and involvement of bloggers and social media users in providing much-needed relief to millions ravaged by typhoons Ketsana and Parma. Although the two supertyphoons have left the country, there is much work to do and online Filipinos appear to be ready to take on the work of putting technology and themselves in the service of others. A good number of bloggers and online Filipinos have been routinely leaving their computers to repack relief goods and to join mercy missions to be side by side with our people.

This time, I will be sharing how netizens have been taking action to defy and defeat President Aquino’s cybercrime law and its potential impact on blogging, social media and free expression in the Philippines. Fellow Filipino blogger Blogie Robillo would also speak on the topic of online advocacy.

Perhaps the highlight of this event are the country reports where we would have a chance to get a view of what’s happening across many parts of Asia. Inasmuch as we Filipinos wish to share what we have been doing and what we do best, it is always better and great to listen to how our neighbors in Asia are faring.

At the end of this gathering, we should have made new friends and strengthened solidarity among us Asian bloggers, knowing better our common concerns and making social media work for ourselves and our national communities. National boundaries (and controversies over them) may separate us, but our passion for free expression whether thru text, video, photo or the technology bind us together.

This early and for making things happen, kudos to the awesome organizers Chak Sopheap, Kounila Keo, Ramana Sorn, Tharum Bun and Anirudh Bhati. Of course, thank you to all Cambodian bloggers who volunteered to help the organizers.

Helping make BlogFest.Asia 2012 possible are the following sponsors: Spider, U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh, British Embassy Phnom Penh, The Asia Foundation, Global Voices Online, Wikimedia Deutschland, Wikimedia Foundation, and Sabay. Contributors include: Cambodia Center for Human Rights, Open Institute, Rising Voices, Southeast Asia Press Alliance, and the Mozilla Foundation.