Sequenced to the MovePH chat series by Rappler, a whole day seminar attended by more than 300 youth and change advocates took place at Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Friday. The seminar bannered the theme “Mobilizing the Youth for Political Engagement.”
AdZU president Fr. Antonio Moreno SJ prompted the morning session by welcoming “the fastest growing network media in the PH (Rappler),” as he defined it, and the rest of the participating organizations and guests. Moreno expressed his gratefulness about having a forum that will engage the youth for political involvement using social networking. He stretched that social networks, however, has a two-edged purpose; “They can bring those who are far, close. But it can also make people who are close, distant.”
The president’s opening remarks were subsequently followed by the other organizations that took part in the #MoveZambo event. Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) – Interreligious Movement for Peace came up first telling the crowd about the main threads where they situate their selves. PAZ speaker, Mr. Ali Ibrahim, highlighted their activity’s purpose to strengthen peace through peace education that would lead to good governance, and by doing collaborations with different sectors. The organization also supports the marginalized people in Zamboanga City. Came next was the Legal Network for Truthful Elections or LENTE. It is the first nationwide group composed of lawyers, paralegals and other great enterprise engaged in election monitoring work. The group showed a video presentation for their profile. The last speaker before the two major speakers for the #MoveZambo morning session came from the Young Moro Professional Network, Ms. Samira Gutoc. She explained that their group’s interests lie in peace and that they were using social media to splay awareness, and fight biases & discrimination. The Young Moro speaker informed the listeners how they used social media to educate Muslims about Ramadhan. Gutoc further said that social media has the capability to change mind sets and that they believe it to be an ingredient for change.
The Melting Pot and the Divide
First major speaker of the #MoveZambo morning session who talked about Nature of Politics in Zamboanga (Political Landscape, Practices, and Voter’s profile) was Professor Mahmur Edding of the Political Science Department in Western Mindanao State University (WMSU).
“Zamboanga is a highly urbanized city.” said the professor. He further explained that an urbanized city has a maximum population of two-hundred thousand inhabitants, then later going over the statistical data of the ten populated areas in the city plus the data on the top 10 household population by ethnicity. Having more than seven-hundred thousand population size as of Aug 2007 NSO data, Edding inferred that the population in Zamboanga City is indeed a Melting Pot. He next presented the profile of Zamboanga city Mayors and Councillors by profession which were, as shown in his PowerPoint table, dominated by Lawyers. Edding also mentioned the triumph of Cesar Climaco in the 1984 elections due to the discordance of his two opponents who are both Marcos allies, and as well as Climaco’s assassination on that same year.
From the history of politics in Zamboanga, Edding’s talk transitioned to how the youth holds a significant number statistically in the Zamboanga politics. He said that 284,753 youth in Zamboanga constitutes the 1/3 number of voters in the city. He believes that change is in the hands of the youth considering them to be dynamic. Edding finished his speech by calling out to the youth to wake up and become socially and politically active.
After a short break and a few entertainments from AdZU students, the second major speaker commenced. Monabelle Blanco-Delgado from the Communication Department of Ateneo de Zamboanga University brought in the Role of Youth in the May 2013 Elections. Delgado’s speech began with information regarding Pimentel’s proposed amendment on allowing journalists to vote before elections or in a precinct where they aren’t registered. Journalist’s task on Election Day is sacred, according to Delgado.
“If you are paid, it doesn’t make you are professional,” Delgado said. Zamboanga Journalists cannot cover everything, then that’s where Citizen Journalists comes in to picture. She stretched that Citizen Journalists are ordinary people reporting about what they know intimately. Delgado furthers that Citizen Journalism gives significance to personal opinions on some issues.
However, Delgado supposed that the problem with elections in ZC is Apathy. People, including the youth, are simply not that interested to get involved. Delgado confirmed her statement with the crowd and got a submissive response. She next spoke of the Ateneo de Zamboanga Issue Facebook page concept where members of the group are free to express their concerns regarding the school. Evenly showing how social media can become a tool for citizen journalism and engagement. Delgado however found that if we use the internet as a platform for Citizen Journalism, the challenge would be digital divide and that a different model is needed on Literacy levels and language skills.
The #MoveZambo morning session’s last part was an open forum addressed to the two major speakers. Participants expressed fervour on the event as they raised their questions.
Chat session with Rappler team
Chat Session 1: Up came first in the afternoon talk was the Rappler CEO Ms. Maria Ressa. Her topic was on Social Media for Social Change. She explained that Social media works in way where one can pull up higher to see the whole picture of the patterns and trends of connection. Ressa showed the audience how they map connecting topics in the social networking site Twitter; later claiming that social media offers a viral connection. She as well presented facts such us how social media has taken over pornography as the number one activity on the internet.
“I believe I was in charge of my own destiny, I was rational. But most decisions are not powered by intellect but emotions,” said Ressa. She then detailed on the Mood Meter principle incorporated in every article in the Rappler website. According to Ressa, if you understand how you feel you are more prone to be rational. She expound that Rappler situates in the middle of Professional Journalism, Wisdom on crowds and Rich media (technology). Ressa believed that nothing beats personal interaction, talking and listening to each other and that is the reason why they came to Zamboanga City.
Chat Session 2: The second spkeaker from Rappler was their Citizen Journalism Director Ms. Chay Hofileña. Furthering with Rappler’s vision for change, she explained that we cannot ignore social media in our reporting and storytelling. She took the “Balls for Peace campaign” as an example. The campaign basically used sports as an advocacy for change. The speaker told the crowd that the campaign began with just one story and how it spread through social media granting the project its request for soccer balls. Hofilena said that media can be the Power of All in terms of spreading awareness.
Chat Session 3: Josh Villanueva, the Social Media head of Rappler went next on stage. He talked about how social media can offer change to the world and eventually save it through Mobilization, Engagement, Building and Action. Villanueva emphasized the significance of creativity in creating news so as it would be recognized. He had a thorough explanation on the features of Facebook and how amazing it can be when used properly. Being able to do a lot of things online such us intelligent discussions indeed is a form of engagement according to Villanueva.
Chat Session 4: Ayee Macaraig next talked about The Challenges of a Multimedia Reporter with a little funny crack with his co-reporter Voltaire Tupaz. Macaraig defined Multimedia Journalism as the art of the Possible. She and Tupaz justified the possibility of multimedia journalism when they showed before the audience how they operate their walking newsroom; how they work with their gadgets in abrupt events and how they sometimes deliver reports as a one-man team.
“This is the hard thing about our generation. We have such a demanding audience on social media. They’re worse than our editors!” Despite claiming that being a multimedia reporter is indeed very stressful, Macaraig said that they are still doing this for the sake of informing people.
Chat Session 5: Why We Tell Stories topic was taken over by the last speaker Patricia Evangelista. She kicked off by talking about the generation “Why” (Why bother?) today. Evangelista shared that her job as a journalist is to imagine and to see. Then, Evangelista brought up the thought that life doesn’t have meaning if there is nothing to fight for, that every people has to have a cause. “Find what’s worth fighting for,” said Evangelista. According to her, “there’s a platform toward change, and it is social media.” But Evangelista supported the latter statement with, “Twitter doesn’t change the world, Face book doesn’t change the world. It is the heart and mind behind it that change the world.” She ended her chat session with a video documentary about the struggles of a particular group of street children.
The whole day seminar finished with a contented crowd and glad speakers taking group pictures. Also, around ten in the morning of the seminar the hash-tag #MoveZambo topic trended number three on trending lists of Philippines.
By: Micco Dolloso