Saturday, October 27, 2012

You lose some, you win some

Now SM is claiming that Sting was fed with “disinformation,” according to various reports in several national dailies. For those who missed last week’s shocker, internationally renowned musical artist and environmental activist, Sting, upon learning of Save 182’s struggle to save the trees on Luneta Hill that are on deathrow for being in the way of SM City Baguio’s expansion plan, decided to join the boycott and moved his concert from SM-MOA to Araneta Coliseum.

First, let us not forget that what the movement did is no different to what SM has been doing, with their unlimited resources, ever since they thought of defacing Luneta Hill for more money: engage in relentless public relations efforts to make the backhoe-ing of trees for a parking and commercial building acceptable to the public. No doubt they’ve managed to convince a lot of people including  journalists and columnists, both local and national, judging from the number of news reports and articles that have come out praising SM to high heavens for having the “heart” to kill the 182 trees slowly via earthballing instead of giving them swift death by simply cutting them. Save 182 cannot match their PR war-chest, so the movement takes advantage of whatever mass communication means available to them – in this case, the internet.

After the online petition was created, Atty. Cheryl Daytec-Yangot wrote directly to Sting’s agents to bring the cause to the artist’s attention – and get Sting’s attention, Yangot did. According to SM-MOA’s representative, the decision to get the concert out of SM-MOA was made by the artist himself. The thing is, we wouldn’t even have known that if not for that statement. So for that, thank you, SM.

Secondly – come on, do you really believe that Sting will make that kind of decision without verifying the facts for himself? This guy, together with his wife, founded the Rainforest Foundation, and not as a mere “Corporate Social Responsibility” charade, but to help fight for communities around the world whose “livelihoods and cultures depend on their natural environment.” You really believe that Sting based his decision solely on the letter that was sent to him? You’ve got to give the guy a bit more credit than that.

But that’s SM’s PR machine at work, no surprise there. And here is where the internet, particularly social networking sites such as Facebook, becomes almost an even playing field. While Save 182 can’t afford expensive professional spinmeisters like the ones working for SM, the movement can take advantage of free public wi-fi connections (yes, including SM City Baguio’s) to air its advocacy on the World Wide Web. While there’s no doubt that through their PR efforts, SM has been able to get the support of most government institutions and officials, most of them defending the expansion project not just in the media but even in court, Save 182 got Sting.

You win some, you lose some.

As for Save 182, we are very thankful and honored that someone like Sting, known worldwide not only for his music but also for his environmental advocacy, supports the protest against the removal of trees on Luneta Hill for SM City Baguio's expansion plan.

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