DLSU CommCon 2.0: How stories, communities can spark change

KD Suarez
DLSU CommCon 2.0: How stories, communities can spark change
'The narrative of a story really changes as more people get involved with it. You don’t even attempt to contain it, it gains a life of its own…so how it is framed (and received) is critical'

MANILA, Philippines – With great information comes great responsibility and when, globally, people demand for change, the responsibility becomes shared and social.

This premise dominated the De La Salle University Communication Conference (DLSU CommCon) 2.0 on Saturday, July 30, where over 700 communication and media students from various universities gathered to discuss the future of social media.

Hinging on the theme, “Revolutionizing the Future of Communication,” speakers from the fields of journalism, film, advertising, and digital media spoke of their experiences in the changing industry.

“Change has come and it keeps going,” JR dela Cerna, ABS-CBN’s social media head, said. “The power of digital is impactful even in our non-digital lives.” 

Dela Cerna added that information used to be contained and stable. Now, it is more fluid and collaborative. 

“The narrative of a story really changes as more people get involved with it. You don’t even attempt to contain it, it gains a life of its own…so how it is framed (and received) is critical,” he said. 

What stories are worth

For Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, the discipline of journalism is more important than ever before. “Stories can spark change. We believe that journalism is at the core of change. You will not have change if you do not have a story,” Ressa said. 

Rappler launched X in 2015. With X, people can publish their own articles on issues they feel strongly about. X presently has content on topics raging from politics to students’ social initiatives. It is a platform through which people may build communities to amplify their advocacies. 

“If you don’t have a community, you won’t develop courage,” Ressa said. And connectivity now, she added, makes the Internet a fertile ground for building these networks.

Asked what she thinks is the solution to seemingly shortening attention spans, Ressa simply said it is a reality we must embrace considering how fast-paced the world has become. She hopes, though, that this does not lead to desensitization.

“The more tech (there is), the faster things go…the more human we have to become.” 

Going beyond words

Advertising and film have also been moving towards social change.

David Guerrero, chairman of advertising company BBDO Guerrero, shared about his previous work with clients such as UNICEF, Philips, and even Sweden’s tourism department.

His company was UNICEF’s partner in its release of advertisements relaying the plight of Syrian child immigrants in short animated videos.

ADVERTISING ADVOCACY. BBDO Guerrero Chairman David Guerrero says there must be a balance between product and impact. Photo by Janelle Paris/ Rappler

Asked how he determines whether to prioritize the product or the impact, Guerrero frankly said, “The decision has to come from the owners of the brand.” If they do choose the advocacy, however, Guerrero said, “They have to live it – the advocacy or stand – it can’t be just something they say. It’s about how they behave.” 

Meanwhile, in a time of short attention spans and exponential information growth, independent filmmaker Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil intends to keep the long form alive. From dabbling in broadcast journalism to advertising, Ongkeko-Marfil found her calling in theater.

“In the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), we really went out into the world. When we did a play about farmers, we lived with the farmers. When we made a film about laborers, we joined the picket lines, and not just joined the picket lines but stayed.”

This is the sort of immersive experience that she tries to achieve in her independent “advocacy filmmaking.” 

Though wrought with the typical problems of filmmaking logistics and promotions, Marfil was staunch to say that her focus is on the impact of her productions. She shared how paramount it is that she gets actual stories from communities. 

Marfil also founded Pelikulove.com.ph, an online platform that releases short, inspiring, and light-hearted videos while also inviting readers to submit their own. In this way, she is able to sustain a community with a common love for film and potentially other social advocacies. 

These insights served to level off CommCon participants for the breakout sessions that followed during the one-day event. Over 30 media practitioners working in design, film, advertising and public relations, and print and online journalism, met with the students for interactive and simulative activities meant to prepare the young media aspirants for the industry. – Rappler.com

A student of Ateneo de Manila University, Janelle Paris is a Rappler intern.

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