MANILA, Philippines – While most people went out to cast their votes on election day, Rappler movers went beyond fulfilling their civic duty by playing an essential role in covering the local elections.
Rappler movers are campus journalists, youth leaders, advocates, and activists from partner campus publications and school organizations nationwide committed to putting a spotlight on issues that matter to the community. (WATCH: Why be a Rappler mover?)
MovePH, the civic engagement arm of Rappler, kicked off 2019 with 20 core movers. This number has grown bigger as each core mover built their own local communities. Together, they responded to the challenge to be civic action enablers and doers collaborating towards sustainable progress and nation-building.
Even before the midterm polls, the movers provided updates on the local races in their areas through live tweets, photos, and videos. They also wrote curtain-raisers and political profiles of the local candidates to provide content and context that may help their own communities make informed decisions on election day.
For Rhick Llars Vladimer Albay, a core mover in Iloilo, covering with Rappler for his local community is a privilege. (READ: Brothers-in-law clash over Iloilo City mayoralty seat)
“A lot of mainstream media can be very Manila-centric when it comes to its coverage of the elections. It’s refreshing to see Rappler hone the voices in the regions. To be one of the movers that helped lend a platform to these voices in the communities has been inspiring, to say the least,” Albay said.
Joining the election coverage for the first time, Iloilo core mover Carl Don Berwin shared that his role as a citizen journalist pushed him to go out of his comfort zone. (READ: Homecomings and queues: Ilonggo politicians troop to polls early)
“It made me understand each individual’s unique narrative during the elections. [I get to] be able to share this to others to make them informed and inspired,” Berwin said.
John Sydric Rendeza, a Calbayog core mover, said his experience made him realize that “proper information collection and dissemination is one of the only few ways for a democratic country to achieve progress.”
Although the work put into gathering and reporting information gets exhausting, Naga core mover Abegail Kyla Bilan said that it’s an opportunity that she didn’t want to miss. Given another chance, she’d gladly do it again.
“It was an opportunity that I definitely wouldn’t miss as I felt the satisfaction and fulfillment of being the journalist that I want to become,” Bilan shared.
It’s about the community
For Tuguegarao core mover Earl Jon Taguinod, his experience made him see the significant role that the government, police, poll watchdog groups, volunteers, media, and voters play in the elections.
“Isang napakalaking hamon sa akin ang pag-cover ng isang eleksiyon. Hindi ako isang broadcaster, ni isang manunulat ng balita pero ginawa ko ang buong makakaya ko upang i-cover ang nangyayari sa Tuguegarao,” he said.
(It was a huge challenge for me to cover the elections. I am not a broadcaster nor a news writer but I did all that I could to report the events happening in Tuguegarao)
Leyte mover Oliver Daiz echoed this. He said that covering the elections was an overwhelming experience because he was able to share relevant stories happening in his community during election day.
“I think it is my social responsibility to use social media for social good. I want to make a change,” Daiz said.
Pampanga core mover Allena Juguilon said that her experience motivated her to work harder to serve her community.
“I want to inspire people more about the stories of my fellow citizens, and continue moving the Philippines forward, one story at a time,” Juguilon said.
For Nueva Ecija mover Jhon Oliver Nery, his experience made him more informed of the events and issues in his community.
“Ang oportunidad na makapag-ulat ay oportunidad din para makapag-mulat (The opportunity to report is also an opportunity to enlighten),” Nery said.
Although covering the local polls was fulfilling, the experience wasn’t smooth sailing for all. Palompon core mover Marthy John Lubiano shared that he experienced being bashed online for an article he wrote.
“The online harassment that I encountered…reminded me that one day, I could get killed by a single bullet that would cut through my inquisitive mind,” Lubiano said.
Despite the fear, Lubiano found hope while covering the local elections.
“While covering on the ground, I saw hope in every form. There were electorates who told me they did not allow any candidates to buy their votes. I had movers with pure intentions to amplify what happened during the elections in their places despite the impending threats to their lives. Plus, I am part of a media organization that radiates hope,” Lubiano added.
But the attacks did not just happen online. Tacloban City core mover Cifford Colibao shared how some police officers disrespected him when they learned that he was part of Rappler.
“Kalabang mortal ni Tatay Digs (President Duterte’s mortal enemy) – this was how I was addressed by some police officers when I went to the Provincial Comelec Office. At first, I thought that they were joking around upon knowing that I am associated with Rappler. But then their jokes were transforming into accusations and they even asked for Miss Pia Ranada’s number,” Colibao said.
This and his experience covering the local polls gave him a renewed commitment to push for a well-informed community.
It goes beyond election coverage
Cebu core mover Micole Gerard Tizon shared that despite the fear stoked by allegations of cops harassing supporters of a particular party in Cebu, she was still determined to be a mover. (READ: Crime City? Killings in Cebu rise as mayor, cops feud)
“I should continue to write stories to inform, to educate people, to help them make better decisions. Because when they make better decisions for themselves, they make better decisions for the nation.”
Tizon also added that her job as a citizen journalist goes beyond election coverage.
“Our coverage doesn’t end when the last votes are canvassed. Our coverage will continue until elected officials make good on the promises they’ve made during the campaign,” Tizon said. – Rappler.com