IN PHOTOS: Miss PH Earth 2017 candidates at Rappler social media workshop

MANILA, Philippines – The 40 candidates of Miss Philippines Earth 2017 visited the Rappler office on Wednesday, July 5, where they were briefed about the importance of using social media for positive change.

MovePH executive director Rupert Ambil II welcomed the candidates and gave a background of Rappler's beginnings. Stacy de Jesus, Rappler's social media head, discussed how the company has used social media to push for change, spark conversations, and pursue projects like #SharePH and the Agos map

Later, Rappler's chief executive officer and executive editor Maria Ressa shared insights on the importance of social media, and her experiences with critics online. 

After the workshop, 8 of the candidates shared what they learned from the talks.

Samantha Acosta of Pulilan, Bulacan said social media issues make us reflect on our ethical and moral standards.

She said: "What I have learned is that there are really two sides [to] everything – the negative side and the positive side. And the negative side of the talk for today is about the propaganda and the bots that are being manipulated by these people.

"The positive side is that social media is really for real change in the world. It just really depends on us how we can use social media as a platform to share our thoughts and our insights." 

Vanessa Mae Castillo of Lobo, Batangas and Jessica Rose McEwen of New Zealand said they were struck by the fact that the Philippines is the social media capital of the world. 

The Philippines, Vanessa said, has the power to use its people for change. She added: "Having social media around us, all these stories – the fake news and the true ones – we really just have to choose which ones to believe and we should really be mindful of the things we share online."

"When I heard that the Philippines was the social media capital of the world, I was actually really shocked," said Jessica. "Because one of the main problems at the moment is with that, [whether] news is really true or not because of all the different ideas and information we get, what to share. The thing we must build on is trust. The trust of the people to share what is actually real and not what is fake news. So think before you click."

As an active social media user, Catherine Tabaniag of Panglao, Bohol said the platform should not manipulate us.

"What I've learned today is that all advantages and disadvantages [of social media] should be balanced, in scale. And it's up to us how to control social media. We should [be in control of] social media and [it] should not manipulate us."

For Cagayan de Oro's Sherlyn Doloriel, a post can make or break a person online. 

"You need to be careful [of] what you gain from the post... because every post you post on social media can make or break you... All you have to do is as what Sam [Acosta] said, think before you click. And always remember it's not about the social media at the end of the day, it's about you."

Kim de Guzman of Olongapo City also emphasized the importance of using the internet wisely: "Being delegates of Miss Earth Philippines, and being influencers today, and having an advocacy, we must be responsible users of the internet."

Other candidates such as Klaidel Concepcion of Marikina and Karen Ibasco of Manila were inspired by the tagline "Social media for social good."

"What really struck me is 'social media for social good' and how Rappler rallies for that. Indeed, there are two sides to the coin – good and bad – on social media. It's up to us to utilize social media for good, and really, for social change," Klaidel said.

"What I've learned here is your main motto – social media for social good. I believe that every person as a candidate is an influencer. You have a responsibility ... to influence people and this is one of the biggest and most powerful [ways] in which you can influence any person," Karen said.

The Miss Philippines Earth coronation night will be on July 15. Tune in as Rappler livestreams the event from the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com