Our old alma mater is the only Catholic school in the small and quiet city of Catbalogan (Philippines) of around 90,000 people. Just like me, most of my classmates hail from Catbalogan and other surrounding small towns and barrios. Most of us spent our formative years together— a year in kindergarten, six years in elementary and four years in high school. We knew that our high school graduation was sort of our break-off point. From there, each one of us headed our separate ways, chased separate dreams. I went to Manila, the nation’s capital. It was common for people like us who grew up in the province to move to the big city to study and then work. A few would return home. I attended university at De La Salle University. Some chose to stay in Catbalogan and many of them now work and serve our hometown. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished individually. We are now successful accountants, engineers, doctors, nurses, pilots, educators, judge (youngest in the country), businessmen, politicians (vice mayor of Catbalogan) and many other professionals.
Our Ultimate Social Media Guy
It is seldom that someone brings together 30 or more friends from 20 years back to reminisce the years spent together. That was what Gerry Dasco managed to accomplish for us, his high school batch mates of ‘93 from Sacred Heart College (now called St. Mary’s College). I see updates from classmates and old friends in Facebook almost everyday. I am often just browsing and curious about what they do now and how their families are. From time to time I look at their pictures and am amazed at how older and mature we’ve become and how fate have brought us to different journeys. On a few occasions, when I am able to, I greet classmates on their birthdays and congratulate them on their triumphs. It was always limited, sporadic chance encounters and more often without frills, without conversations… until Gerry brought us together!
I remember Gerry as being a shy, quiet, simple gentleman in school. He was definitely not the type to gather folks together for a party with the promise of conversations, dancing and beer. Gerry waited for his moment and he did the most amazing thing— something most of us wouldn’t dare do or couldn’t do for many years now.
He orchestrated an event conceived so creatively. How he managed it with simplicity amazes me. First, Gerry posted old scanned pictures from his high school photo album in Facebook. He then tagged everyone, wittingly and knowingly inviting us to look.
That started the flow of conversations, sharing, questions, and remembrance. He didn’t stop there; Gerry made a collage of old photos and new photos (picked from Facebook) put them side by side – kind of showing the before and after photo of each one of us. The collage brought even more friends and classmates into Gerry’s organized (virtual) high school reunion. The beauty of it was that he even got us to take it to the next level… all the way to how we would organization the hosting of the alumni homecoming event in 2017.
It’s amazing! A lot of us thanked Gerry for what he did; he clearly gets this social media thing that many of us are still just starting to grasp. Gerry is my ultimate social media guy! He understood that the key to successful social-networking and reunion is to be deliberate.
He understood that the simple concept of Web 2.0 and social media revolves around the convergence and interconnectivity between links, users, and information.
He transformed interactions between his batch mates from just sharing meaningless frivolity to being purposeful and it naturally led to real-time conversations. Gerry was focused and thought about how to capture what is important from the network, and organized our interactions accordingly. Most of all, he created for us our own social space.
Thanks again, Gerry!
I won’t have my usual article this week. I want to use my free time following updates about the flooding in Manila, which happens to be my home country’s capital. The widespread flooding was due to tropical typhoon Ondoy (international codename Ketsana) that brought record-breaking rainfall. The most affected region of the Philippines is the Greater Manila area which has a population of around 20 million people. A state of national calamity has been declared over 27 provinces in 7 regions.
According to PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), the average rainfall in Manila during September is about 390 millimeters. But last Saturday, according to the Philippine Inquirer, the typhoon poured 340 millimeters of rain in a period of six hours. This is more rain than 2005’s Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The six-hour flood surged across Manila and submerged houses, swept away thousands of cars and turned main thoroughfares into raging rivers. It forced residents to seek refuge on rooftops where some waited for more than 24 hours.
Rising Death Toll
According to Philippine Star, the typhoon left the country yesterday, leaving behind a trail of 95 people dead, 29 missing. According to the NDCC (Philippine National Disaster Coordinating Council), the number of affected people across Luzon has swelled to more than 300,000 people. This agency also reports that the partial total number of evacuees has reached nearly 60,000 people in 118 evacuation centers. The Philippine government expects those numbers to rise.
Social media as channel for disaster coordination
I followed updates regarding the flooding from Facebook, where friends and groups posted up-to-date photos and news of what was happening on the ground. Many of those sites turned into assistance centers and channels that ask for and provide support for rescue and relief efforts. Through social media, I saw the resilience of the Filipino people in the face of adversity — showing once again our strong Bayanihan spirit.
I am also overwhelmed by the support of famous people in twitter like Aston Kutcher, Josh Groban, Demi Moore and Paulo Coelho. They have helped rally support for flood victims in Manila. These celebrity twitters have huge followings—Aston has 3.7 million followers online. Below are retweets from their sites.
- @joshgroban RT The situation in the Philippines is becoming very dire. this is a good way to start helping. http://www.redcross.org.ph/…
- @mrskutcher: typhoon victims in Philippines in need of food/clothng. Call the American Red Cross to help. 18004357669 @aplusk RT
- @RedCross: U have mobilized 4 Philippines flooding in a big way. Philippine Red Cross is on the ground. http://www.ifrc.org/
- @paulocoelho @philredcross I already made my donation by bank order. Ur link does not have online donations. Paypal is not an option. Open online link
I have started my own donation drive here in the US starting with my friends. We will be sending voluntary donations through CEMEX Philippines Foundation. This can assist poor families in the evacuation centers who lost their homes and belongings. If you want to help also, please let me know. Our assistance, however small, goes a long way in my country; a dollar can buy half a kilo of rice and some canned goods that can feed a family a single meal while $20 could feed a family for a week.
Thank you for taking time to read this article. I will continue to post updates and news about the aftermath of the flooding and relief efforts of different concerned groups.
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Brings over 14 years of experience in IT management. Possesses extensive expertise in business process and application management, technology services, organizational transformation and project management. Significant experience in large scale IT project development and execution. Has numerous international experience, having participated in projects in Asia Pacific, Europe, Mexico and United States.