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Social advocates talk about youth involvement, digital responsibility

By Francis Ryan Pabiania | News Writer

Vol. XCI No. 7

Sept. 13, 2019

Three social advocates talked about the issues and involvement of the youth in the Philippines during the Digital Summit 2019 last Sept. 9, at the Luce Auditorium.

The summit comprised a series of talks by well-known influencers to advo­cate responsible social media netizenship, according to their official Facebook page.

This year was themed, “Redefin­ing the Insignia of Generation Z Through Digital Responsibility.” It aimed to capaci­tate the youth in instilling the essence of ‘Digital Literacy’ and create meaningful impacts in the ‘Digital Age.’

The event featured Dr. Gia Sison, medical doctor and mental health advocate; Paige Occeñola, unit head of Digital Com­munications at Rappler; and Samira Gutoc, women and peace advocate and 2010 In­quirer People of the Year Nominee.

Dr. Sison talked about the youth as ambassadors of mental health awareness. “Self-care is saying no to the usual thing you are saying yes to,” she said.

She shared several reasons why the youth should take part in advocacies especially on mental health. She said that the youth have the energy and the number to effect change, are inclusive and sensi­tive, understand the complexity of mental health, and adopt tools for efficient advoca­cy work.

She stressed that the youth should educate and also be educated in liv­ing their advocacies every day; they should organize to harness collective power. “Step up, seek up,” she ended.

Occeñola, on the other hand, talked about fake news and social media responsibility saying, “If you want to make change, you must make change in your community first.”

She shared that among the Philippine issues is disinformation, which Claire Wardle defines as ‘a false information that is deliberately created or disseminated with the express purpose to cause harm.’ And to fight it, she said that everyone has to educate themselves, make a habit of fact-checking, engage and correct disinfor­mation.

Meanwhile, Gutoc on Philippine politics and its involvement with the youth, proudly said that she is a “product of the youth movement.”

She mentioned the 1987 Con­stitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Article II, Section 13, which states that “the State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and pro­tect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellec­tual and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.”

She also raised current issues in­cluding climate change. “Climate Change is not fiction or imagination,” she said.

Meanwhile, event chairperson Kylle Christian Saga said that the speakers are “influential in the Digital World.” In tackling the respective issues, they “create an exchange of ideas which radiates a posi­tive impact” not just to the society but also in the Digital World.

According to Saga, a person’s in­fluence plays an important role in creating a powerful impact. “I be­lieve that the set of guest speakers has suc­ceeded [in this] goal,” he added.

“Digital literacy encompasses and is more than just social media eti­quettes. The digital world provides a lot of avenues for individuals especially the youth to educate and fight for certain causes… It is therefore important to step up our game and use technology as an advantage to ad­vocate for certain causes to promote change and progress in our society,” he added.

Dr. Sison, Occeñola and Gutoc expressed their support to campus journalists and shared ideas on dealing with criticisms that are “blatantly incorrect.”

“Just speak the truth and don’t be scared or intimidated … as long as you know what’s true and you’re doing it out of your passion…. Just keep going,” Dr. Sison said.

Gutoc said that [“blatantly incor­rect” criticisms] have to be corrected and the only way to fight fake news is to provide better news that matters.

She added that in the competi­tion of information, “Prevent the fake news by presenting it better… at lalo pa nating paigtingin ang campus union…and the protection of [campus] journalists.”

Occeñola said that expanding online presence of news organizations is about engaging and collaborating with partners, students; giving workshops, in online and offline works.

“You just keep doing your job. It also really helps to build a network of allies, fellow journalists, campus journalists; [it is] really important to come together, rally to­gether to defend press freedom,” she said about oppressions from high­er beings.

Occeñola concluded that it’s a good idea to exercise journalism in social media including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The event was spearheaded by Ang Sandigan, a socio-civic organization in Silliman University.


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