I may be biased but let me put this out here at the onset: ALL MOMS ARE INFLUENCERS.
“Life always has different chapters. You just can’t be in the same chapter forever. You’ll get stuck.” ~ @WilzKanadi
This quote jumped out at me as I was checking my Twitter timeline. I did not exactly think of my life in terms of chapters but when I look back, I can indeed see the “chapters” and how they have led me to where I am now and what I will be doing down the road.
Chapter 1 – The Driven Life of a Type A Person
In this article, it says “Type A personalities experience a constant sense of urgency: Type A people seem to be in a constant struggle against the clock. Often, they quickly become impatient with delays and unproductive time, schedule commitments too tightly, and try to do more than one thing at a time, such as reading while eating or watching television.”
That pretty much summed me up during my growing up and early corporate years. I lead a very academic- and career-oriented life. Graduating at the top of my class in high school and college were the fruits of that labor. I was just as driven when I joined SGV (over 15 years) where I was exposed to financial audits, research, lectures and training, computer audits and IT consultancy.
In between projects abroad and local work, I also took a 2-year hiatus and went to Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania where I earned my MBA degree under a scholarship from SGV.
June 30 is Social Media Day – a day when millions of people all over the world celebrate the advent of technological advancements that have shrank the world and allowed people who live on opposite sides of the world, whether they know each other in real life or have met virtually through a common forum, social networking site, or some form of online community.
The world is indeed so small today with social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Plurk – the 3 more active sites I am on. On Facebook, I have rediscovered my elementary and high school classmates and touched base again with my closest college friends. On Twitter, I get to engage with celebrities, newspeople, bloggers and ordinary folks like myself in discussions that range from intellectual and political discussions to mundane tweets like ranting about the weather or what one is doing for the day. And Plurk is my haven, my closed community, where I get to share things not meant for Facebook or Twitter. Each of these social media sites have a purpose.
My world now revolves around social media. From the time I get up to the time I sleep, I am almost always online. Even when on the road, I feel uncomfortable when I am unable to check back into the internet to see the latest tweets, check if someone sent me email, or what the latest Facebook messages have been.
But it has not all been just socializing and making virtual friends. I have seen the power of social media in public service and in being an influencer. As part of Blog Watch, a citizen watch group that was formed in the months running up to the 2010 Philippine elections, blogger friends and I harnessed the technology and social media sites to bring voter education closer to the online community. To this day, we continue to use all the social media techniques available to us to continue our advocacy for transparency and good governance in government.
Okay, here I am typing this while sick and in bed. I missed Christmas celebrations with the family and will most likely miss New Year’s too. But that is not what makes a bloggable event, right? A bloggable event is something that isn’t run-of-the-mill (although I wouldn’t call my cough and colds run-of-the-mill). It has to have some outstanding (or really deranged) essence in it for it to qualify as bloggable. Something that stands out, oftentimes not repeatable. Must have some meaning in one’s life. In that case, I do have one and nothing beats it hands down –and that is my being part of Blog Watch (a blogger group that was formed without any prior intentions or political intent but became one of the most visible social media groups during the May 2010 elections). One day in September last year, my good blogger friend Noemi (who everyone online knows as momblogger) just asked me out of the blue. “Jane, do you want to join me & some other bloggers to possibly write about the coming May 10 elections?” In my younger years, I saw a lot of action during elections. I was part of the Systems Committee of NAMFREL’s Operation Quick Count (OQC) during the 1984 presidential elections (when Imelda ran for President) and during the 1986 presidential snap elections. But motherhood
dampened tempered my civic enthusiasm somewhat and I felt that my days of citizen activism were over and it was time to settle down to something quiet, boring and unbloggable. But here was Noemi, a mom like me, with no political inclinations, wanting to do her share for the country. How could I refuse? Fast forward to October 2009. A handful of us bloggers met to talk about what we wanted to do as a group, what to write about, and what to call ourselves. I think we all agreed we would write on voter education and spread awareness of candidates’ platforms. We actually spent more time thinking what to call ourselves. After a lot of brainstorming, we decided it would be a 2-word, 1 syllable name so it would be catchy and short. Noemi contributed the word BLOG and I contributed WATCH. For ever and ever, Noemi and I will be in the annals of Blog Watch history for that. Hahahahaha….. Our first exciting adventure event was a demo of the PCOS Machine by COMELEC. Then we began reading up on speeches by the candidates to see how we could put their platforms into a format easily understood by the public.This was followed by a PCIJ training on how to cover the elections plus some election-related fora like those at AIM with some candidates in attendance. But Blog Watch was meant for a bigger role in the scheme of things because before we knew it, Noemi was able to arrange our first interview with a presidential candidate – Manny Villar! To cut the long story short, that first interview led to interview after interview until we eventually covered 7 of the 9 presidential candidates, some vice-presidential candidates, senatoriables and local government candidates as well. This foray into the unknown world of politics and media coverage was really a trial and error thing for bloggers like us who were comfortable behind a laptop but were suddenly thrust into the limelight. We suddenly became interesting news – this small group of bloggers who were interviewing candidates & broadcasting the interviews raw and live via livestream. Blog Watch was invited a few times to ABS-CBN as well as a segment on radio.
And, for the first time ever, we were reluctantly placed IN FRONT OF a real, live, TV camera when Global Destiny Cable asked us to cover the elections live! (Blog Watch had tied up with 100Araw.com and we called ourselves #juanvote). What an experience that one was. You had to think on your toes. Ok, who says what next? Where do I look? Which camera is on? Let me just say I was relieved when THAT was over!
What makes this a truly bloggable event is the fact that bloggers have made inroads in areas where we are considered newbies and where bloggers have never gone before. We have never interviewed politicians. We have never appeared in front of TV cameras nationwide for such a big event. All we had were our usual blogging equipment (laptops, mobile phones, digicams, videocams) and yet we were able to produce interview podcasts, well-written published articles and beautiful photos chronicling the months in the run-up to the May 2010 elections.
When President Noynoy Aquino was declared the winner in the presidential race, Blog Watch was given the rare privilege of covering at least 4 post-election events.
If you’re wondering how Noemi and I got from Luneta to Malacanang on the same day going from casuals to Filipiniana, let me tell you that it is no joke to look for a clean restaurant so you can do an instant costume change while trying to find Malacanang via Google Maps (as we did not know how the heck to get to the Palace, hahaha). Thank goodness we passed a Starbucks branch on the way to Malacanang (you should have seen the raised eyebrows we got from Starbucks customers when we came out in full Filipiniana attire)! This must be how Superman feels every time he has to go “on call”…
Now that I think of it, 2010 was truly FULL in terms of bloggables. I believe that Blog Watch was able to help manifest the growing power of social media and citizen journalism. Citizen journalism and vigilance was highlighted to the hilt and the present Administration is now trying to see how social media can play a role in helping government keep watch.
Here’s what someone on the PNoy team told me.
At the beginning of the campaigns in late 2009, they placed social media influence at only 2%. By end of the elections, the influence of social media (and I believe a great chunk of this was contributed by Blog Watch) was estimated by them to be at a whopping 16%.
So, watch out 2013/2016 elections. Blog Watch will be there!
And oh, by the way, we just turned ONE! Yippppeeee!
Ever since Pres. Barack Obama was ushered into the highest position of the land in the United States on the back of a campaign built with the help of the internet and new media, the landscape of government has never been the same. The ease of Pres. Obama with tech, new media (bloggers), the web, and social networking sites is showing in the way the U.S. embassies around the world are slowly becoming open to bloggers being included in their events.
Right here in the Philippines, I am witnessing a new openness, a willingness by the U.S. Embassy to engage the citizens of the country they are living in and reach out to the ordinary man in the persons of bloggers. To me this is a delightful FIRST. After all, we bloggers do not hold any outstanding achievement in any political, cultural, academic or artistic arena. We are not part of large media organizations that are normally invited to cover embassy events. All we own is that piece of real estate in the blogosphere we can rightfully call ours where we exercise our right to freedom of speech and thought, where we express our opinions and dreams, and very rarely, rant.
Firstly, my wedding godchild (inaanak sa kasal), Jay de Jesus, became the first ever to join the U.S. Embassy in Manila as their Emerging Media Specialist for Public Affairs. That title is loaded!!! Jay is basically the point person for the embassy’s social network sites (SNS), really raising the bar of SNS as a major communication and feedback tool.
The very first invitation I received as a blogger from the U.S. Embassy was for a reception dinner at the USS Blue Ridge (the flagship of the US Seventh Fleet) when it docked in Manila for a visit.
Last Friday, bloggers got a second invitation. This time, it was a reception for the U.S. Cultural Affairs Attache, Alan R. Holst, and the Assistant Cultural Affairs Attache, Joseph Tordella.
The cozy dinner, hosted at the home of Counselor for Public Affairs, Richard W. Nelson, was meant to introduce the two to Manila’s cultural circuit. Present were people representing their own spheres of influence in the arts, music, literature, sports, theater, education and so on. The Cultural Affairs spearheads, sponsors, and is involved in several projects in these fields. Professional visits and exchange programs between the Philippines and the United States are handled by these officers.
I have not really had time to blog about what I had been doing these past months. It’s been a whirlwind time doing my usual mommy activities while participating in a new advocacy. Since October of 2009, I became part of a group of concerned citizen bloggers who wanted to do something other than our normal blogging. We wanted to push voter education and thought we could do something as there was quite a large online community if we put our readership together.
With my mommy blogger friend Noemi starting the whole effort, Blog Watch was put together. Starting with 16 bloggers, we grew to 31 by the time the May 10, 2010 elections came. By then, we had interviewed 7 of the 9 presidential aspirants (see pics below. I missed out on Bro. Eddie’s interview), some running for VP and senators, and a few local government candidates.