:: Tuesday, June 28, 2005 ::
ART AND MOBILE TECH::
'Hello, hello Garci...will I still lead by 1M?'
This statement was the opening of the taped conversations between Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Commissioner on Elections Virgilio Garcillano, which claim to prove Arroyo arranged to have the 2004 elections rigged. When the documentation went public earlier this month, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) fell under criticism from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for broadcasting the audio recording, and was banned from continuing airplay. At this point Philippine citizens arranged a technological revolt by customizing the phrase into mobile phone ringtones and distributing them throughout the country to call attention to the issue.
According to Anthony Ian Cruz, organizer of the group TXTPower, at a 'national day of protest' against the current administration last Friday, there had been over 350,000 downloads of the 'Hello, Garci' ringtone since it was first posted on June 17, 2005. Cruz stated, "Each of the 350,000 people who downloaded the ringtone have most often passed them on to their families and friends," citing e-mail reports from volunteers and sympathizers across the country and forum discussions on the now-popular website. In a text message to INQ7.net, Cruz stressed that the downloads were mainly in the Philippines, 'but there were some from abroad due to [reports on] websites like INQ7.net, CNN, Reuters, AFP, and BBC.
There are now numerous versions of the 'Hello, Garci' ringtone, many available for download at the TXTpower website. There are remixes of the ringtone with the music from Eminem (Without You), Masculados (Lagot Ka), Billy Joel (Honesty), Lipps (Funkytown), Vanilla Ice (Ice Ice Baby), among others. A website call HelloGarci.com, which has also been launched as a result of the phenomenon, and features additional ringtones and commentary on the issue.
Yesterday the Filipino mobile activist movement paid off, when, 'in an unprecendented act of public contrition,' President Arroyo admitted it was she who was talking in wiretapped phone conversations about an alleged conspiracy to tamper with the results of the 2004 elections. Finally caving in to demands for her to speak out about the politically explosive tape, Ms Arroyo broke her 22-day silence and told the nation that what she had done was a "lapse in judgment" and that she was taking full responsibility.
However, Arroyo indicated in her address that she had no intention of resigning. Strangely, throughout her statement, President Arroyo did not make a single direct reference to former Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano. Garcillano has denied being the male voice on the tape. His whereabouts remain unknown.
As of today, the Philippine Senate has filed an impeachment complaint against President Arroyo.