(The following is the transcript of the speech I gave earlier tonight at the Pinoy Expat-OFW Blog Awards event held at Teatrino, Promenade, Greenhills San Juan City. Thank you to the organizers and sponsors who made it an awesome event!)
Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. Before anything else I would like to acknowledge the organizers and sponsors of this event. You guys have done a remarkable job and I’m sure it wasn’t easy pulling everything together since for the most part of this year you were all in different parts of the world. For that may I request that we all give them a round of applause.
It is my honor to be invited as the keynote speaker. PEBA symbolizes two things that are very dear to me and my family. First, the OFW program was primarily driven and started by my grandfather, the late Sec. Blas F. Ople. This advocacy is being continued by my aunt, Susan Ople, who is now the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. I see so much of my grandfather in my Tita Toots and I pray that you guys continue to give her your support in her endeavors.
Secondly, Technology. Technology has played a crucial role in building my career and business. Blogging has enabled me to do things I never thought I could ever do. It has blessed me with a career in Marketing and a thriving consultancy business.
In fact blogging paid for the biggest milestone and special moment in my life. To those who don’t know, I just got married this year, August 7, 2010. I married my girlfriend of 10 years.
It also opened windows for me to help the nation. Blogging has empowered me to be part of the national discourse of issues. I can still remember writing that extensive article criticizing the campaign that the DOT wanted to push. The blog entry was featured on traditional media, both local and international as it was even cited by CNN.
There was also another article which I wrote in support of a presidential candidate in 2010 elections. It was shared on Facebook 4,000 times. This resulted to that entry raking in over 50,000 of views. If I spent every day of the entire campaign period trying to physically and verbally convince people to vote for my candidate, I doubt it if I would have reached 50,000 individuals!
Social media and technology are not confined by space or time. These tools allow us to be part of the conversation in the Philippines even if we’re in Jeddah, US, UK, Japan, or whatever part of the world. As long as there is an internet connection, we can be closer to home. This is proven by the popularity of social networks and messaging services like YM and Skype.
I truly believe this next statement with all my heart: God blessed the Philippines when rapid advancements in technology allowed us to have affordable communication channels with our family members in different corners of the world. It is an answered prayer. I would even go a step further and call it a modern-day miracle.
My challenge for you though is to go beyond just Skype and Yahoo messenger. My challenge is for you to be part of the national discourse. Note that I’m not just talking about politics. Through blogs you can share to your countrymen what you see when you are in different countries. You can share with us the good and the bad. Through your blogs, Facebook accounts, and Twitter, you can inspire those you left at home to be better and to strive more. Use blogging and social media bring the best the world has to offer home with you to the Philippines.
To end let me share a story of my friend Melissa. She was an OFW based in Canada. She wasn’t a great writer but she constantly blogged what she saw, her thoughts, and her dreams on her blogger account. Eventually she had to go home because her mother had a terrible illness and she needed to take care of her.
Several months later, her former employer saw her blog. He found her writing style to be “okay”. Not the best but it showed potential. He sent her an email if she wanted to submit articles for him for some of the websites he manages. Melissa started out submitting two-three articles a week. Several months later she now has 30 writers and they submit over a hundred articles every week to various clients all over the world. I invited Melissa to join us tonight but she’s currently in Canada getting more clients.
The rules of the world are changing. Lets embrace that change and move ourselves, our families, and our country forward! My friends, keep on blogging. Keep on learning. Keep on hustling. You will make a difference.
Lastly, I was told that the theme for PEBA 2011 is all about Tourism. I would like to thank and congratulate the PEBA board for this initiative. Another challenge for OFW bloggers is to start writing not just for the people they left behind but for the world. Let’s show them how beautiful our country truly is.
Before I go, let me just say that it’s only fair to also greet our “Kapatids”. The hosts earlier greeted the “Kapamilyas” and “Kapusos” watching but since I am with TV 5 I think it is okay for me to give our “Kapatids” special mention!
Maraming salamat po at mabuhay kayong lahat at ang PEBA!