UPLB student org holds communication students summit

by Jewel S. Cabrera and Michaela Jyra B. Melo  

A student organization based at the College of Development Communication (CDC) in the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) held a communication students’ summit on March 2 at the DL Umali Auditorium inside UPLB campus.

The Communication Students’ Summit (CSS) 2019, which was organized by the University of the Philippines Alliance of Development Communication Students (UP ADS), was themed “Communication: Transcending Limits” and featured nine speakers who talked about television arts, governance communication, online journalism, development communication, creative writing, film, and broadcast journalism.

Around 350 communication students from different higher education institutions in the country participated in the activity.

According to the Facebook page of the summit, this initiative “aims to give the participants different points of view about the concept of communication through the lens of the speakers.”

The nine speakers who talked about their backgrounds and expertise were the following:

  • Director-General Arnold Clavite of the Philippine Information Agency (keynote speaker);
  • Director Lauren Dyogi of ABS-CBN TV production unit (television arts);
  • Vice Mayor Aidel Belamide, of Silang, Cavite (governance communication);
  • Dr. Domingo Caro III of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (development communication);
  • Award-winning writer Eros Atalia (creative writing);
  • Film writer and director Dwein Baltazar (film);
  • Former inquirer.net editor in chief John Nery (online journalism); and
  • News anchors and TV reporters Mariz Umali and Raffy Tima (broadcast journalism

Each speaker’s talk was followed by an open forum during which the participants raised their questions.

In her welcome message, CDC dean Dr. Ma. Stella C. Tirol said that the participants made the right choice of coming to UPLB and advised the students to LAUGH—listen, ask questions, understand the presentation, go the extra mile, and have fun.

Communicating with audiences

The keynote speech of DG Clavite, delivered on his behalf by the director of the PIA Cordillera Administrative Region, Helen R. Tibaldo, emphasized the importance of communication and information in empowering communities.

The read message focused on how the PIA contributes toward social development by fulfilling its mandate of communicating accurate and relevant information from the national government to the grassroots and vice versa using traditional, special, and new media.

Among the key information shared by the agency are various government projects, health initiatives, social welfare, infrastructure development, and livelihood, educational, cultural programs.

Drawing from his experience in television arts, Dyogi talked about the challenges in knowing one’s audience, producing content for specific or large audiences, reaching local and global markets, and holding audiences’ attention. He emphasized the need to keep on experimenting.

“You actually try to experiment until you’re able to find the mass audience that you’re really targeting… Anything that would take away screen time from our audience is already our competition. Is that good? Is that bad? It’s just tougher,” he said.

Guest speaker Lauren Dyogi answers questions during the Q&A portion of his talk as the emcee/moderator Margaux Manalo looks on. Photo by Bjanca Mendiola

For his part, Vice Mayor Belamide talked about the municipal government’s use of Filipino in its operations, including crafting policy and providing social services. He talked about allowing the people to participate in creating solutions to the problems of the community.

“Higit na marami ang hindi nakakapagsalita ng Ingles at higit sila naming dapat na pakinggan. Higit na marami ang hindi nakapag-aral at higit sila naming dapat tulungan. Lalo’t higit na marami ang mahirap at higit sila naming dapat paglingkuran,” he added.

(A larger number [of the people] are unable to speak English, and these are the very people that we need to listen to. A larger number are uneducated, and these are the very people that we should help. Larger still is the number of people who are poor, and they are those in most need of our service.)

Meanwhile, Dr. Caro shared with the students the challenges he faced in breaking stereotypes, keeping up with technical terms, working with high-performance teams, and learning to use technologies. When asked for tips in communicating science to the public, Dr. Caro emphasized the importance of understanding where the public is coming from, being able to meet them halfway, and being creative.

Telling stories

Fiction writer Eros Atalia talks about creative writing during his session at the CSS 2019. Photo by Jyra Melo

In talking about the evolution of writing content and approaching fiction, Atalia encouraged the students to be bold in sharing their own stories . Differentiating between writing in the academe and writing in virtual spaces, he also talked about the importance of knowing one’s audience and writing according to the language of the times.

“Nagkaproblema ba ang mga naunang henerasyon sa kanilang self-expression? ‘Yong pinanggalingan kong henerasyon, bakit ba kami nagsusulat? To please our teachers… Hindi para sa totoong buhay… Kaya kayo, lumikha kayo ng sarili ninyong espasyo,” he said.

Baltazar, who has directed several films, talked about the power of visual storytelling and her techniques in creating films. By showing some of her work, she was able to illustrate the effect of musical scoring in changing the mood of a scene,

She also showed how sound played a role in her film ” Gusto kita with all my hypothalamus,” and how the absence of sound helped telling the story of “Mamay Umeng.”

Meanwhile, Neri talked about what he considered as key points in his career in online journalism: four important strengths/lessons, three weaknesses, two basic principles, and one made-up word.

  • Four strengths: writing fast, writing prepared, writing social, and writing back
  • Three weaknesses that journalists may develop when in an online environment: being forced to chase the viral, the trivial, and the artificial
  • Two basic principles: exercising diligence in writing stories and respect in dealing with people.
  • One made-up word: glocal (global and local)

Broadcast journalists Umali and Tima talked about the role of broadcasting in a nation’s development. Umali discussed the basics of news reporting and how she copes with the challenges of her job, while Tima shared about media and technology and the impact of technology on journalism in the 21st century.

Organizers of the summit pose with broadcast journalists Mariz Umali and Raffy Tima (4th and 5th from left, respectively) as tokens of appreciation were handed out after their talk. Photo captured from video recording of the RTVM.

Touching on current challenges to media, Umali said, “We actually breathe news. Ang (the) problem lately, the very source of our information is under attack. News and its messengers, the media, are under tremendous pressure today to prove their reliance as a good source of information… Kaya nga (that is why) there’s this #DefendPressFreedom.”

Moving forward

Rosemarie de Castro, a BS Development Communication student from UPLB, said that the summit helped her become enlightened of the different fields of communication. She expressed that she now has a better idea about her degree program and that she is now not only enclosed by the field of development communication alone.

She added that the summit gave her a glimpse of the other communication fields as well.

Margaret Quisido, deputy director of the UP ADS, expressed her hopes during the closing remarks that what the students learned during the summit may be applied as soon as they step outside of the venue.

“I hope that what we have heard and learned here inside the DL Umali hall will not just remain in this auditorium. May we take time to reflect and do our part to be change that we want to have,” she said.

The event was held by the UP ADS in partnership with YORP, the Philippine Information Agency, Globe Telecom, and the following sponsors: Choco Vron, Wazzap Pilipinas, Magic 89.9, Astig.PH, and When In Manila.

To view the video recording of the summit, click here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

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