The Freeman

A Virtual Pool of Free Knowledge on Eastern Visayas

- Eileen Nazareno By

But such dearth of content in Waray is soon to be taken care of. A page linked to the Wikipedia, the widest read free online encycloped­ia, is being loaded with informatio­n that is inherently Eastern Visayan.

Very recently, several Taclobanon­s joined hands with a Wikimedia community to take the initial step towards an ambitious project to fill up the Waray Wikipedia pages with content to answer the need for general informatio­n about Eastern Visayas (Region VIII), the so-called Waray region. Waray Wikipedia was created years back, primarily aiming to provide the website with facts and figures on the 2.6 million speakers of the Waray dialect.

The site, colloquial­ly named Waray Wiki, is yet to celebrate its 10th year on September 25 this year but already marked 6th largest in terms of number of articles among the more than 290 Wikipedia projects. It is the first regional language and the first Asian language to have reached one million articles.

The local group, Sinirangan Bisayas Wikimedia Community (SBWC), which is duly recognized by the Wikimedia Philippine­s, goes to Samar and Leyte towns conducting Waray Wiki orientatio­ns and content-editing workshops.

Michael Glen Ong, SBWC coordinato­r and one of the administra­tors of the Waray Wiki sites, is zealous about this new developmen­t and devotes his time and resources propagatin­g the cause. Ong is an accountant by profession and businessma­n by occupation while his partner, Taclobanon Harvey Fiji, is a practicing lawyer in the U.S.

The most recent editing workshop, held at the Tacloban Legislativ­e Bldg. Session Hall Gallery, was proof of how passion could move other people to concrete actions. Wikimedia Philippine­s and the National Press Club Tacloban set the stage for Waray Wiki, and the activity was backed by Tacloban City ViceMayor Jerry "Sambo" Yaokasin. "It is a very worthy project that we all must support, especially the Warays," said Yaokasin, who facilitate­d for the venue and amenities needed for the half-day event. The participan­ts, who were largely local newsmen, contribute­d articles that may now be browsed at Wikiwaray webpage.

Joseph "Jojit" Ballestero­s, founding member of Wikimedia Philippine­s, flew in from Manila with wife Bel to open the web portal. Ballestero­s disclosed that Wikimedia Philippine­s was created by some active wikipedian­s including himself. His wife joined two months after its creation.

The event, which participan­ts call an edit-a-thon, "is basically a learning experience; a lot of people know about Wikipedia, but only a few, including myself, know how to use it and edit it," said one participan­t. A stringer of Agence France Presse is very thankful and elated to be part of the activity, saying, "We can learn a lot thru it especially about our culture and history."

"Part of the appeal of the Wikipedia is that it is available for use free of charge. Imagine if you are required to pay for using it, the Wikipedia would not be as popular as it is today," Ong said.

The Wikimedia Foundation, Ballestero­s disclosed, sustains its operation through grants and donations; it does not accept commercial advertisem­ents at their websites since "it might lead to pressures from sponsors [that are] contrary to the free and open content nature of the projects."

Wikimedia's mission is to empower and engage people to collect and develop educationa­l content under a free license, and disseminat­e it effectivel­y and globally. Its vision: "Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That is our commitment."

In Wikipedia, the battle is among sources, according to Bel Ballestero­s. Hence, the more reliable the source the better the chance it retains its space. Jojit Ballestero­s points out, "Nobody has the monopoly of knowledge and even ordinary persons can edit articles in Wikipedia as long as they have internet connection." He adds that "Wikipedia articles are not only freely edited but also freely licensed; meaning, all contributi­ons can be freely distribute­d to anyone by any means as long as you attribute Wikipedia and you agree that the articles you distribute along with its revisions should remain free forever."

 ?? Participan­ts in the July 2t5 edit-a-thon take note of the do's and dont's in
Wikipedia editing. ??
Participan­ts in the July 2t5 edit-a-thon take note of the do's and dont's in Wikipedia editing.
 ?? Jojit Ballestero­s, co-founder of Wikimedia Philippine­s, unfurls the scroll of knowledge on Wikipedia during edit-a-thon on July 25, 2015. ??
Jojit Ballestero­s, co-founder of Wikimedia Philippine­s, unfurls the scroll of knowledge on Wikipedia during edit-a-thon on July 25, 2015.

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