I’ve been meaning to write an entry about a seminar that I attended about two weeks ago entitled Social Media though Social Change, which is the third leg of the move.ph chat series sponsored by Rappler.com, a revolutionary news website together with its partners the Philippine Association of Communication Education, Philippine Fullbright Scholarship Organization, Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo, as well as the Far Eastern University where the event was held. But I just couldn’t find the words to equal the level of inspiration I got from the group of speakers that the talk had. I decided to wait until I was inspired anew to share what I learned. This happened today, after I attended a film seminar by Director Rahyan Carlos and the branding seminar of talk show host and PR guru Mr. Boy Abunda.
SOCIAL MEDIA FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
In a nutshell, the talk was a rundown of how the social media is changing the face of society and its effectiveness and speed compared to traditional media such as print, radio and television — what role it plays in reshaping society and mobilizing people into action. Among the speakers were veteran news anchors such as Al Jazeera English’s main anchor Veronica Pedrosa, former ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs chief and CNN correspondent Maria Ressa (currently Rappler CEO), who is among the figures in media that I truly look up to, as well as investigative journalism legend Ms. Cheche Lazaro, Rappler’s Editor at Large, who moderated the open forum after the presentations.
I was truly inspired and awed by how quickly the face of media has changed in the past year and a half that I have been out of the industry (I was a reporter for a major daily and am now with the academe). Young multimedia correspondents schooled me on how twitter, facebook and the IPhones are used to shoot, edit and send news when I was more used to a recorder and my trusty notebook. After their talk, I felt truly old school and wondered whether if I decided to return to the industry, there would still be a place for me in the rapidly shifting landscape.
But I learned a lot and found true inspiration when the older journalists spoke, especially when it came time for Maria Ressa to take the floor. One of the concepts she introduced in her talk was the idea of spreading behavior through engaging one’s audience, which is actually based on an Harvard study on obesity she did a feature on, which social media has the ability to do. This, she said empowers everyone to use ideas to create positive change. She said that social media, which they are now exploring, has the power to bring people together through information to change the world.
What’s great about the talk is the open acknowledgement of the bigwigs that they too are still in the learning process. This as they explained their commitment to the cause, which is quite ambitious but entirely doable given the current scenario. This actually gave me some courage that I could still learn to cope and to effect change, even in my own way, even by words that I write on this blog.
What moved me was Ressa’s sincerity in wanting to make a difference and her genuine aim of sharing their gains to schools where the young people are to empower them to be citizen journalists and to be participative rather than passive members of society. This, along with the responsible use of social media is an advocacy and positive influence that I wish to spread as well in the future.
MAKING IT BIG IN FILM AND TELEVISION
When I attended this seminar with my friend Mae, I was actually expecting a more technical seminar on how films are broken down and analyzed (which I thought would be helpful in improving my film reviews). However, I was surprised that instead of technicalities, horror director/writer Rahyan Carlos spoke about practical experiences he went through while pursuing his passion for writing, and eventually directing.
While he is already a big shot director now, I appreciated his humor and his genuine effort to connect with his audience, often with reference to the students as anak (“children”). He encouraged the audience to figure out what they really want to do and pursue it through hard work and great effort, which he also went through in the early stages of his career. Aside from his freelance directing work, he also trains actors and teaches part time at DLSU-D.
Here are some nuggets I got from his talk:
1. Ask if you don’t know. This was a lesson he related when he was a new director saddled with a sudden project that he was still ill equipped to handle. Direk Rahyan said that he, being the director, asked the gaffers, cameramen and PAs to help him out and show him the ropes since it was going to be his first time directing. A lesson in humility and dealing with co-workers.
2. Do not whine if you’re a newbie. This he related when he was left with new actors and minimal time to shoot his first horror feature. Lesson: Make do with what you have rather than spending time complaining about what you don’t.
3. Invest in relationships with people. This, Direk Rahyan said has to deal with talking time out of one’s busy schedule to connect with the people he works with, whether it be in the form of a simple thank you or praise for a job well done. He also said that compromising with actors is also a great way to establish good working relationships. Lesson: Be a good example to people and treat them with respect and you will get it in return.
4. Know yourself so that you would not be swayed easily by the negatives or the positives. This he said about professionalism and not getting a swelled head with minor victories. Lesson: Nothing is really permanent so continuously improve on your strengths and develop other strengths as well and maintain composure in the face of the cutthroat industry.
Basically, Direk Rahyan made success in film and television seem very feasible but with the caveat that all this needs to be coupled with hard work and determination.
BRANDING THE STARS: STARSTRUCK TO STARDOM
Branding the Stars is another seminar I attended today to listen to award winning television host and talent manager Boy Abunda. How does one make a brand? And how does one make a star?
I already expected to be wowed by a professional such as he and I was not the only one having the same expectations. Everyone in the venue was on pins and needles, waiting in breathless anticipation for what knowledge Tito Boy was going to impart. Little did I know that more than a talk on branding, it would be a life lesson in embracing one’s individuality and knowing the fact that despite not being the same as everyone else (clique), one is OKAY.
Tito Boy (as he is usually called on television) was not stingy in sharing his life story in the time that was allotted. He used his personal experiences as a take off point for developing one’s own “brand.” According to Tito Boy, one’s uniqueness should be the core of developing one’s brand. Blending, which is always seen as a positive in society is actually a death trap in the industry if one seeks to succeed. Tito Boy said that there are many others that are capable of doing the things one does but there are unique facets to one’s character, or origins that sets him apart from the rest.
Another thing I learned from Tito Boy today is not be be swallowed up by insecurities. “Do not do anything from the point of view of weakness,” he said, because this will defeat one’s potentials from the onset of the journey.
Another phrase that stuck with me is his statement: “Create the highest vision of yourself because you become what you believe.” I know that this really was not what I came to the seminar to listen to but these are the actual stuff that resonated within me, because I am no stranger to hang ups, which hinder me from pursuing the dreams that I still have. It is great, especially for young people to hear about the trials that one has to face and the hard work it entails to get to the top of the food chain, and how it is possible for them to succeed even without the conventional requirements that society dictates. It brings them hope and it makes sense of the issues they sometimes go through in their young lives.
Truthfully, I am amazed by these people for their ability and openness to share not only their experiences but a part of themselves to their audience, which are mostly the youth of today. This smacks of humility and generosity that are much too rare these days. I envy their ability to motivate and inspire people to challenge themselves and become better and I wish I had the same talents to move people as they have. But for now, with the tools that I have, I hope I have taken a positive step by sharing some of what I have learned from them to you.