I HAD a well spent weekend morning with students from Benguet State University who are taking up Development Communication at my art studio cum media museum. They were actually endorsed by one of their mentors so I spruced up my place that almost looked like a dungeon because of my interrupted home improvement projects before they came.
To test their knowledge on the communication flow, I asked if they knew what SMCRE means and I got sweet smiles and a resounding yes and I said in jest that their professors are giving them the right formulation of the communication process. The acronym stands for sender, message, channel, receiver and effect and I added that if they knew the concept and communication process or flow, they can answer many related questions given during qualification exams of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) for aspiring radio-television broadcasters.
I suggested that they come in two batches so I can have a more dialogic, interactive and personal engagement with smaller groups but as expected, the students were more engrossed with my exhibit items which included two mannequins, one with a vintage gas mask and the other with a typical n95 face mask.
After their selfies and pictorial with my set, I explained that in their social media posting, they should not create a scenario that can relate their image with coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and not to create a hype with my props and pictorial costumes that include a military vest and replica assault rifle. So it was actually a test for this development communicators not to be dragged by the social media-bandwagon of fake news.
The field of Development Communication is not foreign to me as I have spent seventeen years with the Philippine Information Agency and conducted workshops at the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) at BSU before I worked with the national government.
Dr. Nora Quebral defined Development Communication as “the science of human communication linked to the transitioning of communities from poverty in all its forms to a dynamic overall growth that fosters equity and the larger unfolding of individual potential.” Often referred to as the “mother of development communication,” Prof. Quebral is professor emeritus at the College of Development Communication, University of the Philippines, Los Baños (UPLB) and she is a pioneer in the discipline of Development Communication in Asia giving birth to an academic discipline.
To me, a perfect example of a development communicators are those directly interfacing with specific subjects like farmers, fisher-folks, village leaders and even mothers personally engaging in a person-to-person dialog with an honest intention to impart an idea, technological know-how, strategies or methodologies that can effect change to improve the quality of people’s lives. A dev-com practitioner can be an agricultural technologists broadcasting through the airwaves at a time when most farmers are already awake preparing their breakfast but listening to their transistor radios. I knew this as a matter of fact in the barrios as my family was also engaged in farming back in the days and our battery operated radios were our companion even at the farm.
I actually attended Dev-Com classes and almost finished my MA at BSU’s open-university and most of our learning modules were authored by lecturers and practitioners from UPLB which offered the Philippines’ first communication course in 1960, as a major under the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture curriculum. One thing is clear to me with development communication, there is no fake news for as long as all facets of the whole communicative process is done directly with no interference, hear-says or second-hand information, unverified sources and all facts were based on actual consultations, interviews and personal experience of the practitioner himself or herself.
Before, there were times when I see raised eyebrows at the mention of the phrase “dev-comm” and as one who has taught mass communication subjects in two universities, I would say that DevCom is not what other perceive as just another communication arts that is irrelevant of the times and boring. I look at the BSU students who are enrolled in such course as determined, focused and sincere in communicating to the rest of the world with dedication, honestly and responsively which to me is noble for a society that is so much engrossed with social media.