When I first ran in 2004, I didn’t have a Facebook account, I didn’t have a Twitter account, nor Instagram or a blog. I campaigned the traditional way – speaking at rallies, attending various caucuses and meetings with various groups.
In 2010, I ran for re-election. By then I had a Facebook and a Twitter account but my Facebook was private and there really weren’t too many Filipinos on Twitter yet.
This year is another election year. I am not a candidate but in the last few years, I have been very active on social media. I tweet daily, I share pictures on instagram and I still blog, although not as much as I would like given that I haven’t had much time the last year, mostly due to the debates on the RH bill. I also have an official website and Facebook account.
My participation on Twitter has given me much more direct contact with my nationwide constituents. I regularly get feedback on pending legislation and national issues. Most of the time, I get the news online too.
Late last year, I met the executives of Google and we came up with the idea of sponsoring a forum where we could discuss the benefits to politicians of reaching more of their constituents online. After much planning, the event “Public Engagement 2.0” was launched.
We invited the members of Congress, both from the Senate and the House of Representatives to come and hear from the experts. Staff of senators and congressmen as well as campaign managers attended the event to learn more about how to maximize digital connectivity in order to reach more constituents. As pointed out by Narciso Reyes, the country manager of Google Philippines, “We want to help our public servants learn how to reach the Filipino people through the Internet by understanding the digital landscape in the Philippines and the online behavior of Filipinos.” He adds that the better way to engage with Pinoys about issues is to meet them online, given that Filipinos are techonologically savvy and there are already 33 million Filipinos online. That’s easily 1/3 of our population.
I did a Google hang-out demo with Pinoys in the US to illustrate how politicians can communicate and engage their constituents from various places. This was first used by President Obama of the United States, later used by Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia and others.
Given that we are a country with over 7000 islands, its physically impossible for a candidate to visit every province, city or municipality. But with the use of social media tools, we can interact better. And as access to the internet increases, reach even more of our constituents.
Meanwhile, I will be busy with my advocacy work that involves health issues like maternal health and reproductive health, as well as campaigning for my brother Senator Alan Peter Cayetano … please like his fb page 🙂
and of course a few other candidates I believe in…
I will be going around the country on some days. Wherever I am, you will hear from me on-line.
****Related article: Inquirer