Tibaldo: Empowering communities through information

AT THE plane bound for Davao City to attend the National Information Convention, I was seated beside a pretty young mother with a crying baby of about 8 to 9 months old on her lap. The adorable toddler cried incessantly and heads turned to our direction.

I attempted to pacify the baby gesturing a Mr. Bean funny look and even sang a bit of the Baby Shark giving that small clapping gesture but to no effect at all. I noticed others nearby scanning files or browsing contents from their smartphones and a lady behind us reached out her mobile unit showing cartoon characters with a nursery rhyme. I even boosted the rhyme singing “na-na-na-nana” but still the baby kept on crying.

A stewardess gave something like a small cup of yoghurt and cup-cake and the other attendant gave an ointment to the lady for the baby to stop crying. On several attempts the mom tried to breastfeed her baby but still all we hear is a loud cry. I directed the cool air from the ventilation nozzle at the ceiling and a Korean or Japanese lady suggested that the baby’s shoes be removed.

Well, the baby, a half American seemingly refused and I noticed tears flow from the mom’s face in desperation. I consoled her by tapping her back and I even offered to carry the baby as suggested by the lady in front who spoke to her in Visayan. I felt a bit uneasy in that situation especially that I often catch her attempting to breast feed her baby.

The male passenger seated next to me by the window even asked the flight attendant and offered his seat if there’s a vacant space at the tail end so the toddler need not have to sit on the mom’s lap. The crying only stopped when the plane moved and started to take off. The moving scenes from the small window may have caught the attention of the baby and we all felt relieved when the baby stopped crying. As the young mother robbed her eyes wiping away the drying tears, I learned that the baby was calm and alright in their first flight from Canada hours earlier and perhaps it was the change to Manila’s warm temperature that made the baby uncomfortable. I just can’t imagine a petite Filipina mother of about 5ft singlehandedly carrying a baby for about over 24 hours including waiting time.

After sleeping at mid-flight, the baby’s wide eyes and his pink cheeks cheered the nearby passengers as we disembarked at Davao’s Francisco Bangoy International Airport. I travelled light without any electronic devices such as laptop, digital camera and audio recorder believing that my smartphone is all I need with all its capability to produce what is expected of me as a post-activity-report.

The National Information Convention which brought about 1,700 communicators and government advocates to Mindanao particularly in the city of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is itself a milestone as I can’t think of a similar event of its kind that happened before. With my participation as a delegate representing the Department of Trade and Industry-CAR and the Association of Government Information Officers-Cordillera, I shared and posted few snapshots with notes at my social media page linking the hashtag #NIC2018 so that followers can be updated on our convention topics especially with the live broadcast and net streams, of PCOO, PTV and Radio Television Malacanang (RTVM) and Radyo Pilipinas.

Believing that nothing beats hard work, I know that preparatory activities such as planning, organizing, venue arrangements, communicating to speakers and participants including flight booking and hotel reservations are among the nitty-gritties in every big events. I fully understand how my wife needed to be in Davao quite often before the event as her office, the Philippine Information Agency served as the lead agency that pulled the activity to a great success. Before cameras finally rolled and organizers said their opening spiels, I estimated that the actual event is just about one fourth of the whole activity.

With Davao City’s tagline “Life is Here” complimenting the convention theme “Spurring National Development and Empowering Communities through Information”, we were basically updated on media trends and enjoined to enrich our mindsets and perspectives to be more pro-active in as far as dissemination of our respective government programs and services. Notable speakers from both government and private sector engaged in communication dwelt on topics that relates to empowering communities by telling a story that frames the national narrative, creates a welcome environment for business and investment and inspires the Filipino people by assuring them that change is happening around the country.

The participants composed of mostly information officers of government instrumentalities were challenged to heed the call of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to help him transform the country and build a nation that provides a comfortable life for all.

The goal of the IO convention is to impress that information is essential to development, and it’s the responsibility of government information officers to effectively communicate timely, relevant, accurate, and truthful information to their stakeholders. It was also stressed that government policy, programs, projects, and services can make a difference in the lives of citizens, especially to those who are marginalized and vulnerable. Further, it is also the role of IOs to ensure that they hear, read, and understand RP’s development message, so that they can benefit from it and improve their quality of life.

In realizing the following objectives, the PCOO cluster of offices encourages communicators to model effective and responsible sharing of information and use their platforms to provide information that will improve quality of life. The participants were likewise encouraged to engage and strengthen partnerships with private communicators with the goal of nurturing a well-informed, empowered and enlightened citizenry.
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