How Ilonggos take online political chatter to real-life engagement
ILOILO CITY, Philippines – About 100 youth leaders and urban professionals gathered on Labor Day, May 1, along Iloilo’s business district for "Hue Vote: A Social Conversation and Election Mixer" to elevate online conversations about the elections into meaningful real-time, face-to-face engagement.
This is the second leg of the Hue Vote event. The first one was held at the University of San Agustin grounds last April 18, where almost 50 participants, most of whom were students from various universities in the city, gathered.
"We came up with the idea of doing a second run for the event because we wanted to bring it to a bigger stage," Gabriel Felix Umadhay, Chapter Head of Ayala Young Leaders Alumni Association Inc (AYLANGGA), said.
The group, through the Hue Vote initiative, wanted to provide a platform where people can freely and rationally discuss their choice of president, help attendees possess a framework for selecting a candidate by having meaningful interactions, and demonstrate the idea that despite differences in opinion, people can still work together for the benefit of all.
“Hue Vote was initiated because we wanted to bring political conversations offline. We wanted to see if people would have the same passion and commitment when they discuss the same issues in real life," Gian Bermudo of The Outstanding Students of the Philippines-Visayan Individuals Called Together for Region VI (TOSP-VICTORS) said.
He added: "Hue Vote is a social conversation, and with tonight’s discussions, we were able to hear each participant’s side as to why they think their president is the ideal candidate for the position."
Meet, know, compare, decide
Upon registration, the participants were asked to choose their president, or stay undecided. They were accordingly given color-coded name tags based on their presidential candidate.
Participants also signed-up for Rappler’s #PHVote Challenge, where they got to know their candidates based on their stances on key issues, as well as how their candidates stacked up against others. Primers were also given out to expound on candidate backgrounds and track records.
The main event started with an election mixer where the participants were grouped into several categories. After every round, participants were then asked to join another group to promote diversity in opinion. The mixer provided context on material issues, such as peace and order, employment, health services, environmental policies, education reforms, transportation governance, and leadership.
Short video clips were played to give further context, humanize the issues, and help the participants know what exactly was at stake. Then participants had to discuss with their groups, and present the merits of their respective candidate platforms in addressing these issues. Each round ran for 10 minutes, and cards were given for participants to evaluate candidate ratings.
After the final round, the participants were regrouped according to their presidential preference, and were asked to pick one representative to speak on behalf of the group. Each representative was given a minute to tell the crowd why they thought their president was the best choice.
Donnie Jone Sodusta, a teacher from the University of the Philippines - Visayas, who came to the event undecided, was the first person to come up on stage. In his speech representing the undecided group, he appealed to his fellow Ilonggos to help him, and those who were still undecided, to make the best choice.
The group supporting Miriam Defensor Santiago vouched for the senator's educational, professional and moral excellence, while Rodrigo Duterte’s camp emphasized his ideology and political will, citing Davao City as their example.
Meanwhile, Mar Roxas supporters rooted for his role in continuing transformational leadership. No representative spoke up for Poe and Binay.
A fellowship circle followed, where all the participants gathered in one circle as a representation “...that no matter what differences were sown following the arguments and dialogues, we should not forget why we’re doing this – because we love our country and we only hope the best for it.”
SideGate, an Ilonggo band, played Imago’s Umagang Kay Ganda during the fellowship, moving the participants into a solidarity embrace.
“We are very happy that we have this opportunity for communities to come out to talk to each other and feel each other, because that’s what we lack in social media. We need to bring empathy back as an important element in communication,” the organizers said.
Asked if the event helped him choose a candidate, Sodusta said: “I am yet to make the final decision, but the good thing about tonight’s activity is that we got people talking. It got the conversation out. I mean there’s social media and all, but it’s really important that you get a person, face-to-face, and not just a screen and a keyboard."
She added: "It's important to get the conversation going and to ask people to ask their candidate's stand on certain issues. We're banking on their voice to ask these questions back to their candidate. I like the idea of small gatherings where people can have a civilized discussion and a more relaxed way of exchanging ideas.”
The event was organized by AYLANGGA, TOSPAC-VICTORS, in partnership with Junior Chamber International-Iloilo, Rotaract Club International-D350, Global Shapers Community-Iloilo Hub, Megans Society Iloilo, and Rappler's MoveIloilo. - with reports from Russel Patina, Ted Aldwin Ong, Gem Rose Cavalida and Kim Rojas/ Rappler.com
Russel Patina, Tel Aldwin Ong, Gem Rose Cavalida and Kim Rojas are Movers from Iloilo City.