MANILA, Philippines – Towards the end of 2012, we heard promising news about the Philippine economy. Despite reported recessions in other parts of the world, the Philippines posted a record GDP growth rate of around 7%. This makes it compelling to speculate that conditions may just be right to introduce changes for progress in the country.
Stories are perhaps one of the best ways to empower others and inspire action. I believe some of the best stories shared are those said at an opportune time. A story’s impact is felt ever so strongly when heard by those in similar circumstance.
Attendees undergo screening
Such conditions for story-telling were satisfied during The Game Changer’s forum last Jan 26, 2013 at Colegio de San Juan de Letran. We are at a time when advances in information and communications technology (ICT) allow for borderless collaborations that can result in change. In addition, there exists a large pool of young Filipinos who thirst for change, and the forum’s organizers (Office of Sen TG Guingona, Ateneo School of Government, and Kaya Natin! Movement) gave assurances that they attract and gather such individuals.
Although the event was free, individuals interested in attending the forum had to apply and undergo a screening process. The measure was taken to ensure a diverse and interesting audience. The forum gathered passionate young people hoping that the inspiring stories of the “game changers” will give them enough stimulation to act and change the nation.
The game changers
Five individuals who are leaders, and considered innovators in their respective fields were invited to share their unconventional and creative ideas to achieve the vision of a progressive Philippines. What sets them apart from other leaders is their track record of challenging the status quo to pave the way for progress.
I can still hear the words of Rosario Juan encouraging the audience to not wait for 10 years to do what you want to do because “too much analysis causes paralysis.” She narrated how she and her friends collaborated to start #rescueph during the disaster caused by monsoon rains last August 2012.
It made a significant impact on disaster response, and eventually caught the attention of media and the government. Juan is the founder of TweetupMNL, and was recently appointed Lead for Google Business Group-Makati.
Yves Gonzalez’s journey towards MMDA iOS application started with wishful thinking in 2009 while stuck in a traffic jam: “Sana may Twitter ang MMDA.” (I wish MMDA had Twitter.)
Two years later, he developed the MMDA iOS application. Collaborating with volunteer developers, he was proud to say that developing the app for other android devices did not cost taxpayer’s money. Gonzalez is currently the director of the MMDA Traffic Discipline Office.
“When you have an idea, fight for your idea,” was one of the inspirational words imparted by Rappler’s CEO and executive editor, Maria Ressa. “Social media,” she explained, “gives a God’s eye view” of the world.
She impressed the crowd by graphically presenting the predictive potential of social media and its power to help push change by mapping social network behavior, especially during very critical events.
Bianca Gonzalez, with roughly two million Twitter followers, is perhaps one of the most influential media personalities in the Philippines. She shared important insights on how social media is able to change “the game,” but was quick to remind the youth in the audience to “exist in the world and not just in the World Wide Web.”
Gonzalez was awarded by the World Economic Forum as one of the “Young Global Shapers” of 2012.
The challenge: Be brave
Sen Teofisto “TG” Guingona shared his desire for a nation that is open, innovative and collaborative, and a government that is not afraid and resistant to change. He referred to this as “Democracy 2.0,” and asked 3 things from those interested to join his cause: Take initiative; have the courage to stand up to status quo; and to support each other.
The different stories of the speakers in one way or another resonated with the audience who eagerly stood up to make a vow and sing along the song, “Ako’y Isang Mabuting Pilipino” during Noel Cabangon’s performance.
Cabangon shared his stories to a global audience through his songs. Upon learning about the forum, he approached the organizers and volunteered to perform.
In closing, Sen TG Guingona quoted R.A. Mashelkar: “An innovator is one who does not know it cannot be done.” To challenge traditional ways, and introduce “out-of-the-box” ideas however, require tremendous amount of courage.
This is what the forum wanted to imbibe. It builds on the power of stories to inspire young people to take a leap, and have the courage to begin their “game-changing” initiatives. And social media is one powerful platform to initiate change. – Rappler.com
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