By Gerard Joseph Atienza
The Internet has been increasingly used as a tool by advocates and activists to promote their respective agendas, such as social justice, equal rights, and accessibility, among others. One, though, has to understand how to use such a tool for good causes, and make use of best practices to make sure their messages are carried across to their target audiences.
This was what DAKILA, the Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, is advocating, through its series of Digital Activism workshops, known as the “Digibak” (short for Digital Tibak, which means “activist”) seminars.
DAKILA is a group of artist advocates joining and working together to creatively spark social consciousness formation toward social change. Among its prominent members include Lourd de Veyra, Buhawi Meneses, Tado Jimenez, and Noel Cabangon, among others.
On 1-2 March 2013, I was invited by Autism Society Philippines (ASP) National Office to become its representative for the Digibak Workshop for organizations of persons with disabilities (PWDs). With assistance from The Asia Foundation, the theme of the workshop revolves on a fully-enabled Internet making it a very useful tool for advocates of PWDs.
I, together with representatives of different PWD groups across the country, attended the seminar at the Cocoon Boutique Hotel in Quezon City, which is known for its branding as a “green hotel,” offering luxurious accommodations with a sense of responsibility for the environment.
Among the topics that have been discussed include Digital Tools and Applications where we were introduced to online tools that can be used to promote our advocacies; The Power and Limitations of Digital Media which tackled on cases that had shaped digital activism and tenets that must be observed in using digital media ethically; and Effective Digital Content where best practices and examples on producing content for digital media for advocacy can be put into use for our respective organizations.
It was also during the workshop that I have interacted with other organizations working for PWDs, and also helped me understand where they come from. While at it, I shared with the group the endeavors ASP is doing to promote the well-being of persons with autism and other disabilities, including our recent social-media campaign, 1Pangako, which aims to stop the usage of autism in a derogatory manner.
My involvement and exposure to different engagements such as this one, I believe, has been brought about by me being constantly active in activities of ASP, both within the Cavite Chapters and the National Office, as well as my drive to become an advocate for myself and my fellows on the autism spectrum. I urge my fellow persons with autism and other members of ASP to be active in our advocacy to make rights real for Filipinos with autism, and be able to connect with others and share our experiences.