By the end of the emotionally and mentally exhausting month of May, more than three months ago, I signed out of my Rappler email, closed my laptop and bid goodbye to the company that has witnessed every milestone of my adult life – my second family for almost a decade. It was a difficult goodbye but an inevitable one given the major changes in my personal life.
But as Ms. Glenda Gloria likes to remind us, “once a Rappler, always a Rappler.”
True enough, I am back like I never left. A few days ago, Happy Feraren and I walked the streets of Sydney for our face-to-face turnover – only, it was hardly a formal meeting. Yes, we talked about the membership program, but we also ruminated on our feelings and our connected experiences. We go a long way: as a newbie writer-researcher, I first met Happy in 2013 when I wrote about her NGO. She likes to call me her first Rappler friend. And now, we’re two Rapplers at the land down under who are missing their colleagues, office, and most of all, Filipino food.
During our meeting, we laughed about the fact that our conversation felt similar to the time I onboarded her to the membership program in 2020. “Nagririgodon lang tayo, Raisa! Before you know it, I’ll be back,” Happy joked. I smiled because she’s probably right.
Hi – again! I am Raisa Serafica, returning from my short hiatus to lead Rappler+. If you’ve been around for a while now, you’ve probably read my previous emails when I still headed MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm.
I am extremely proud of what MovePH does. In the months before I left, our team built deep and meaningful connections, helping establish a network of over 100 organizations spanning different sectors to work towards a common goal: make truth spread faster and further than lies.
The story of #FactsFirstPH is still an unfinished one. But what it has achieved so far is nothing short of amazing. It is through this effort that we were able to produce 1,475 fact-check articles and 266 translations. Beyond that, these organizations connected online and built a mesh network of 2,600 pages, groups and verified profiles, generating at least 8,250,000 interactions on Facebook alone, effectively creating a ripple of facts.
While there are a lot of perspectives about community building at a time when hate and disinformation best defines our online landscape, my favorite will always be how communities built on the foundation of genuine connection can be more powerful than inauthentic, propaganda networks.
In my first email as Rappler+ lead, I talk candidly about the power of connections – to summon an old employee, to sustain friendships, and to build communities with impact. This is the same foundation that I hope will strengthen Rappler+. After all, this isn’t just any regular community. Here, we have previous strangers turned friends and/or friendly Titos and Titas, brought together by values they hold dear, sometimes plotting a grand Rappler+ meet up, and most of the time talking about hopes and dreams for a country they all love. (If you don’t know what I mean, come and join us on Telegram! Just follow this link)
So what can members expect in the coming weeks?
- An aggressive push for growth. Since we launched in 2017, active members stayed a little less than a thousand, give or take. We will aim to reach at least 1,500 by the end of the year and, hopefully, much more by next year. But for this to happen, we need all the help we can get. I ask for your help to tap into your own connections: invite or give the gift of membership to your partner, children, family, and friends!
- Creating new experiences. In recent months, Happy did an amazing job building an engaging community on Telegram and sustaining a regular churn of exclusive content through the members-only newsletters like Judgment call. We’ve also opened our comments section for members – something that members can play around with more. In the next months, I hope to introduce new experiences (like making our training modules available on demand for members and sustaining conversations on our comments section at Rappler) and re-introduce not-so-new experiences that members like you have yet to fully maximize.
Make no mistake: I am no stranger to the challenges that come with managing a membership company for a news organization that’s constantly under attack. In fact, this is why, when asked about how I feel about leading Rappler+, I said that I am cautiously optimistic. I remain on my toes because it’s Rappler. Yet I remain fiercely optimistic because I believe in the power of genuine connections.. And precisely because it’s Rappler.
I am looking forward to the amazing things we can achieve together, dear Rappler+ members. If you have ideas, suggestions about the membership program or if you simply have a lot of feelings to share, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I am just an email away.