MANILA, Philippines – Ripples of change begin when communities unite and take action.
In 2019, communities cut through the noise and pursued collective action to bring about positive change.
At a time when polarizing issues and disinformation muddle conversations in digital platforms, people have shown that social media remains to be a platform to engage communities for social good.
Here are some memorable stories that stirred hope and inspired courage this year, as people used social media for social good:
When low prices and oversupply left Benguet vegetables rotting, online grocery store Session Groceries quickly set up a plan to help farmers.
In the spirit of bayanihan, the online grocery store called for help on Facebook on January 10 as it looked for a way to connect with farmers and bridge the gap between buyers. (READ: As crop prices drop, netizens call to support farmers)
The next day, it posted a photo selling cabbages, carrots, and radishes for as low as P25 per kilo, with one call: “Let’s help out farmers.”
Questions started pouring in with queries about how to buy vegetables from the farmers through the online grocery store.
Although Session Groceries is an online grocery store based in Baguio City, it opened its service to accept orders from Metro Manila. In Session Groceries, the farmers get to decide the price. (READ: What you can do to help Filipino rice farmers)
This isn’t the first time that Session Groceries has reached out to the public to help communities. When Typhoon Ompong submerged Baguio City and other nearby areas in floods, the online grocery store also released a call for donations.
In February 2019, 8-year-old student Jan Kim Enario warmed the hearts of many after a photo of him circulated online. In the photo, he was seen using a ballpen made out of a ballpen ink chamber and tip, rubber band, and a piece of wood, while doing his class exercise.
It was his teacher, Maricor Baculanta who shared the photos on Facebook after she saw Jan Kim’s determination to finish his schoolwork even with the absence of a decent pen.
Soon after the post went viral, netizens expressed their desire to help Jan Kim. (READ: VIRAL: Grade 2 student from Samar uses makeshift ballpen for school)
Donations quickly poured in to help the 8-year-old student. These were spent on slippers, bags, paper, ballpens, pencils, and Jollibee meals for Jan Kim and his classmates at the Union Elementary School in Sta Rita, Samar.
Aside from Jan Kim and his 21 classmates, 235 students from their school also received help.
To mark Earth Hour on March 30, the Venice Grand Canal mall at McKinley Hill in Taguig City planned to sell floating lanterns to the public. However, it canceled its plan after drawing flak from netizens and environmental advocates.
People found it ironic that while the event meant to be aligned with the global movement on climate change, it was going to generate more trash.
In a Facebook post two days before the event, Venice Grand Canal said: “Yes, we hear you! No lights and no more floating lanterns.”
While the sale of floating lanterns was dropped, Venice Grand Canal’s Earth Hour event still pushed through with the switching off of lights.
The frustration in the eyes of 76-year-old fruit vendor Solomon Alfanta was evident when he was paid a fake P1,000 bill at the New Market Place, Minglanilla in Cebu City on April 21.
This happened after an unknown customer bought P100-worth of bananas from him using a fake P1,000 bill. Alfanta didn’t realize he was paid with a fake bill until he used it to purchase meat.
Six hours after the incident occurred, Angelie Mabanta, a resident of Sibunga, Cebu, took to social media to document what happened to Alfanta.
Mabanta recounted that she went to the market and noticed the number of people surrounding the old man. She then went live on Facebook calling help for Alfanta and thanking those who did.
After the post went viral, Alfanta received monetary donations from concerned citizens, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the United States. He said he received a considerable amount of donations, and some more was promised to him.
Mabanta also purchased a cellular phone for Alfanta from the monetary donations given to him since he didn’t own one yet.
The heartwarming story of why Antonio Detablan was selling homemade banana cakes on the streets of Calamba, Laguna touched the hearts of Filipinos, as a photo of him with his child and baked goods went viral online late June.
Detablan started selling homemade banana cakes at P120 each in the hopes of raising P1.6 million for his son’s estimated P1.6-million liver transplant.
His one-year-old son, Baby Aki, was diagnosed last November 2018 with biliary atresia, a rare infantile disease of the liver and bile ducts.
From selling bags, perfumes, shell curtains, to their famous banana cakes, there was nothing that the Detablan family wouldn’t do for their son.
Two months after the photo went viral, they were able to get more than enough donations to fund Baby Aki’s medical needs. (READ: VIRAL: Father sells banana cake for son’s liver transplant)
Donations were used for the operation package, air fare, transportation, lodging, and other supplies.
Although Baby Aki’s long battle with biliary atresia ended weeks after his operation in India, his family remains grateful to the donors who extended their help.
A lot has changed for 52-year-old artist Larry Casinao since he first displayed his artwork on the sidewalk of Jaro, Iloilo.
Casinao has been making a living from selling his art for 25 years now, struggling to make ends meet, given the twice-weekly dialysis sessions needed by his wife.
In late June 2019, Ilonggo student Sal Molinos posted photos of Casinao’s paintings displayed along a corner street near Jaro Plaza – a major thoroughfare in the city.
The viral post encouraged many benevolent people to reach out to Casinao, whom netizens fondly called the lolo artist, to offer help in their own ways.
There were times, however, that Casinao was unable to set up his artwork at the public plaza due to spells of rain. Thankfully, after seeing the viral post online, a local mall offered him space to exhibit his artwork. The Festive Walk Mall Iloilo offered him space at the ground floor, where he could house his artworks for 3 months – just in time for the rainy season.
Casinao said that before his posts went viral, he was able to sell only about 4 charcoal portraits and 3 paintings every month. After the viral post, he received numerous commissions and orders coming from Manila, Cebu, and many other places.
Actress, painter, and known art patron Heart Evangelista herself was struck by Casinao’s story, and called him to personally commission two artworks.
Casinao also expressed his gratitude to Molinos for sharing photos of him and his paintings online.
In a tweet that went viral in July, 21-year-old trans woman Aeron Jade Parena, a research and development manager in a government institution, recounted her experience of discrimination in her workplace when their human resource (HR) manager allegedly reprimanded her for “dressing inappropriately.”
Parena was wearing a skirt and blouse when the HR manager insisted she follow the male dress code.
Seeing her tweet, many netizens expressed their support for Parena to dress however she wants.
After the incident, the HR manager and Parena’s bosses spoke with her and allowed her to wear her preferrred clothing.
Parena expressed gratitude to all those who supported her. She hopes that all forms of gender discrimination in the workplace would soon be eliminated.
“I am really happy that we fought for this, because I might have sparked an opportunity for other trans people in the workplace to speak up and be respected in their own skin,” she said.
In November 2019, teacher Arcilyn Azarcon shared a photo of 16-year-old student Erlande Monter who was jotting down notes on a banana leaf.
Netizens admired Monter’s dedication and perseverance despite the lack of resources.
Since Rappler posted the viral photo on its social media pages, netizens started asking how they could extend help to Monter and to students of Lianga Comprehensive High School.
According to Azarcon, donations poured in when she posted the photo of Monter on social media.
These are just some of the moments in 2019 when people spread ripples of change in their own way. It all starts with one act. What’s your move? – Rappler.com