Sat in on a press conference for the Digital Pinay contest today, along with bloggers Clair, Xenia and Ranulf. Representatives from the media were there as well, with Inq7.Net's Joey Alarilla and Erwin Oliva among them. All in all, a nice eight-man audience.
If you haven't heard about the initial controversy surrounding the contest in the eyes of the online public, then my initial post is here. I would highly recommend that you read it first.
Go ahead. I'll wait.
The Digital Pinay application form and its contents has touched off a firestorm in the last few days. (Clair terms it a "blogstorm", and I won't argue.) After holding an emergency meeting yesterday, the contest organizers - the Philippine Computer Society (PCS) - gave their side of the story in a small press conference held earlier today.
During the conference, PCS stated that the released application form and contest mechanics were a mistake, and that the PCS never meant for the competition to be a "beauty contest" in the first place. PCS apologized for the unfortunate occurrence, thanked the audience for their vigilance, and gave indication that they were amenable to future discussion regarding not only the Digital Pinay issue, but perhaps future endeavors as well.
I am aware that the application forms have since been rectified, with the contest mechanics likely to be amended soon. That would make it fair damage control so far. I have to say that not many people have the guts to admit an error in the face of mounting outrage, and that their handling of the situation impressed me to a certain degree.
With regards to Digital Pinay, it has turned out as a contest that seeks potential IT executive material from the ranks of the females who are currently involved with the industry. The contest thus justifies a search for personality qualities as well as intelligence - after all, a potential CEO should know how to deal with people. The text votes themselves may be seen as indicative of a candidate's ability to raise support for her bid. I figure that the contest sounds relatively logical now, albeit still a little strange.
I have the impression that the contest gave rise to controversy when the Internet audience first noticed the fields for Bust Size, Waist Size, and other physical attributes in the original application form. That elevated certain parts of the contest mechanics to greater attention, most notably a 20% allotment towards a "beauty/presentability" quality and a coronation night that planned the contestants going through such events as a "Business Suit" category and a "Sportswear" category. It was easy for readers to make the comparison to a misogynist "beauty pageant".
At the moment, only the 20% "beauty/presentability" allotment remains, although I'm fairly certain that it'll still be heavily discussed among the public. Personally, I don't like the degree of emphasis that's been given to "beauty/presentability" either, but I'm willing to let this go in favor of seeing how the contest works with it. If the aspect turns out to be too frivolous, then it can always be lessened or removed in favor of the next Digital Pinay competition.
I think that it's good to see that PCS is at least willing to listen to the reactions to the controversy. Frankly, I also think that it's good to see that, despite the knowledge that the contest will forever be marred by this issue, PCS still initiated what damage control they could, and offered sincere apologies for the rest.
More updates to come, I suppose. I'd like to see what the rest of the local blogging community thinks about this. In particular, I'd like to see what Sacha's take on these developments are, once she gets back from her little Kobe excursion.
You're entitled to your own opinion on this issue, everybody. I just try to give you the basic facts.