Post Liwanag Reflections

Some Thoughts Of A Communication Scholar

By Ruth G Mercado

Last September 24, the Liwanag World Festival opened in Cebu for a three-day
meeting. Among the civil society catalysts who attended the meeting in Cebu were
environmentalist and civil society leader Nicanor Perlas and singer and songwriter Joey Ayala.
Speaking through teleconference from Wisconsin, USA was political analyst Walden Bello.
The powerpack gathering of speakers were to share their journey with societal movements to
over 100 delegates and participants who were mostly involved or had a hand in organizing
various societal movements.
The discourse method in discussing and identifying social problems and problem
construction was called bahay-bahayan or playhouse. It is narrative in content but theatrical in
form. A situation is presented and participants act or create a script and plot structure about
the situation. Analysis of the situation is through narrative or story telling similar to focus
group discussion. Presentation is done in storytelling as team members act out certain parts
while the audience participates by acting out other parts.
On Day 1, it was my intent that I would attend the meeting with three-fold roles: as a
communication scholar, as a communication practitioner, and as a communication professor.
On Day 2, my roles melted into the movement and found myself become the specimen of the
theoretical communication transformation as it takes place and works in advocacy. Advocacy
was in fact, a word that was rarely said. Mostly the crowd of civil society movement catalysts
used the words journey, space and joining journeys and sharing spaces. Distinction was also
made with message and meaning of the words social transformation as against societal
transformation. From the inputs that I gathered from Sir Nick and Sir Walden, social
transformation is when there is inner and outer social change in a person that eventually
translates and resonates to certain groups. Societal transformation is when entire communities
and societies transform into a different order and thus transforming a status quo. The
transformed order becomes the new order for societies to conform, follow and become a way
of life. I took an open mind to these definitions, despite the definitions I learned as a doctoral
student of Doctor of Communication.
In my two-days that I attended the event, I noticed that the message framing, agenda
and construction were addressed in “societal movement” lingo. As I saw myself melt and
transform into the movement and having lost my communication scholar personality
somehow, I came to the realization that civil societal movements need to understand more or
at least need to configure message framing, learning, design, reception and effect as to
mobilize audiences to societal transformation stages. Even then when humanism gets in the
way – such that the inner motive for joining a movement is humanistic, the desired societal
transformation may be vulnerable to undesirable outcomes.


Ruth G Mercado
Dean, Dept of Development Communication
Cebu Eastern College
Communication Scholar
Doctoral student,Doctor of Communication, UP Open University

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