Try WikipediaBy Philip Dominguez Mercurio
Have you ever heard of Wikipedia? Well if you haven’t, I implore you to check it out.
Wikipedia is the web’s solution to the encyclopedia. This online encyclopedia is free, made from the collaborative efforts of hundreds of volunteers willing to spend their precious time, contributing and editing hundreds of articles in an effort to make the world’s most comprehensive resource. It’s an amazing achievement. With the help of only amateurs, this online reference source was able to approach one and a half million articles.
Now, what really has made Wikipedia so interesting it that anyone can edit it. Really, anyone. For instance, using my knowledge of musical instruments, I’ve contributed about 14 or so articles to Wikipedia extensively dealing with Philippine instruments like the dabakan to the kutiyapi, a Philippine boat-lute.
Articles relating to the Philippines don’t just stop there. All kinds of Philippine-related topics have been contributed already. From extensive articles relating to the history of the Philippines to detailed articles about topics like eskrima and even recent-events like the Hello Garci-scandal, many Philippine-related articles have already been written or are in the process of being written.
Some of these articles, like those about Metro Manila’s LRT and MRT to Mount Pinatubo, have even been rated as featured articles - the highest ranking an article on Wikipedia could achieve.
And you could also find Filipino or Philippine-related topics on Wikipedia in other languages such as German, Italian, Espanol - and (would you believe) even Filipino languages. There are now hundreds of topics written in Tagalog, Ilokano, Cebuano, Waray, and Kapampangan just to name a few.
Because the “anyone can edit” policy could leave Wikipedia and its topics open to vandalism, Wikipedia has created a unique solution to combat the problem. Users could “watch” articles literally (like a neighborhood watch group), given them an up-to-the-minute view of any changes anyone makes to articles on their watch list. Anything that doesn’t fit into their protocol or is considered off-topic could be quickly removed and reverted back to its previous state.
Now this doesn’t mean that all of the information that ends up as part of Wikipedia is considered correct. Questionable information in the articles is usually the subject of debate. When dealing with such unverifiable information, Wikipedians would have discussions on talk pages attached the articles in question, debating whether or not certain points should be included or removed.
Even I’ve been involved in the act.
For instance, one statement on the Philippine page stated that, “The Philippines is the third-largest Christian nation, after the United States and Brazil.” I argued that it was a “highly suspicious” claim since the United States and Brazil weren’t the only populated countries in the world with large Christian populations. Researching other stats on more populated countries on Wikipedia itself, Mexico, the 11th largest country was 95% Christian making it have a Christian population of 101.65 million people. Even Russia had a 58% of its population that were Christian, given them a total of 83 million people adhering to Christianity. Since, only 92% of the Philippines is Christian (that would be 76.4 million people (out of 83 million) that are Christian), it make us only the fifth largest Christian country.
Another instance where I found something incorrect was a statement on the “Filipino American” page, where it was stated under the subtitle, “Settlements and little Manilas”, that “San Francisco also has a large Filipino American community, mostly concentrated in the Pacific Heights section as an estimated 65,000 Filipinos live in that city.” I argued, just from experience, that Filipinos definitely weren’t concentrated in the neighborhood of Pacific Heights but in substantial numbers in places like Excelsior, Oceanview, SOMA, Mission and Sunset Districts.
As of the writing of this piece, the former has been addressed while the latter suggestion has not.
Indeed, there are things in need of change and considerable editing but that’s part of the growing process of producing an online encyclopedia that hundreds and hundreds of folks could participate it.
At this point, it stands as an incredible resource for Filipinos trying to learn about themselves, their own culture, their own heritage and I encourage anyone, especially Filipinos, to help out.
And who knows? You may have some valuable to contribute. - PDM
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