Monday, August 10, 2015

Event Post: Metro Online Influencers Kapihan 2015 at Wheatberry Cafe

Last July 31, 2015, the first Metro Online Influencers Kapihan was held at Wheatberry cafe along Roces Avenue, Quezon City. I was invited by Mr. Paolo Florenda, an esteemed PR and Marketing Manager. The event was a gathering of prominent personalities in politics and the social media sphere who were there to discuss some of the most popular topics circulating around the online sphere. These people are Sen. Antonio Trillanes, Manila Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno, Atty. Karen Jimeno, Abs-Cbn News Anchor Ms. Lynda Jumilla, Social Media Specialist Ms. Janette Toral, and Social Weather Station Research Specialist Dr. Ana Tabunda. Each of them had their own take on their perception of the current social media landscape and its use to their respective occupations as important influencers of society.

To lead off the discussion, Sen. Antonio Trillanes III announced the importance of social media. He recounted an experience wherein he used the then burgeoning social media site called Friendster to field his political campaign as a candidate for Senator. As a result, his popularity as a viable candidate without his physical presence in actual rallies and events due to his temporary detention.

On the other hand, Mr. Isko Moreno recounted the advances of technology which were beneficial to his urban development project as the vice-mayor of Manila. His tech-savvy policies involved the use of Facebook, internet connected CCTV's, Twitter, and email. He used these platforms to monitor the health and safety of Manila's streets, as well as provide data to his constituents regarding class suspensions, garbage disposal, crime prevention, and accountability checks of public officials. He claims to have seen the success of electronic media to achieve these ends.

Ms. Janette Toral explored a different page of social media, notably e-commerce. She noted that  developments in this field will be improved by physical economic developments such as a poverty alleviation program spearheaded by the government, tax incentives and reduction, Internet speed and connectivity improvements, and establishment of electronic payment systems. Through these processes can the Filipino e-commerce field become a dominant market player in the future.

Ms. Lynda Humilla, on another note, explored the importance of accountability in maintaining an online persona. With the protection of anonymity online, anyone can express anything and even utter irresponsible and baseless dialogue. She urged the listeners to practice accountability and transparency in maintaining an online presence. She also recognized the need to exercise discipline in expressing views online. 

Dr. Ana Tabunda explored the statistics of increasing internet use in the country. She noted the rapid spike of users and data bandwidth transfers originating from the Philippines. With this exponential growth rate in usage, she only hopes for the best in the development of the social media sphere.

Lastly, Atty. Karen Jimeno summarized the previous speakers' points. She also tackled questions and doubts regarding the cybercrime law and the data privacy act. She claimed that these laws improve the penalties against persons who use the electronic sphere to commit crimes such as hacking and online libel. In her answers, she noted that the new law closes the lacunae of electronic publication that isn't within the ambit of the 1935 libel law in the Revised Penal Code. She also dispelled the fears posed by a blogger that the laws threaten the freedom of speech and do little to solve the problem of hate speech. Instead she focused on the laws' power to help regulate the online sphere and prevent abuse.

In conclusion, the event showed the members of the media that the internet has a variety of uses, particularly in enhancing one's presence and promoting advocates. But with this power must come an understanding and practice of discipline that will enable an online citizen to become a responsible and beneficial member of the virtual community in the internet.

The story in pictures:

(Left to Right) Lynda Humilla, Ms. Janette Toral, Sen. Antonio Trillanes III, Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno, and Dr. Ana Tabunda

Another shot

Atty. Karen Jimeno - Moderator for the day

Special Thanks to 

Mr. Paolo Florenda for the invite
Mr. Arnold Yew of for the pictures
Metro Online Influencers Kapihan Facebook Page for the pictures

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