Virtual marks, real change

Ayee Macaraig

12:0:0am August 27, 2011

5:27:43am November 2, 2011

MANILA, Philippines -- In what seemed like a huge tweetup (i.e. meet-up of people on Twitter), the Philippines' top netizens gathered in the Globe Tatt Awards to honor the best personalities in virtual networks and push for change in the real world. 

The first Tatt Awards recognized ten individuals who made a strong impact on social media in fields ranging from technology, governance, fashion, art, music to humor. The awarding ceremony was held at the Peninsula Manila hotel on August 26, Friday. 

A panel of judges called the Tatt Council chose the winners from 500 nominees. The judges' scores made up 90% of the results while the other 10% was from online voting. 

The Tatt Awardees are: 

The One (most influential and popular social media user) - Filipino Freethinkers of www.filipinofreethinkers.org, @ffreethinkers on Twitter

Word Slayer (witty and humorous blogger) - Loi Reyes Landicho of www.professionalheckler.com, @HecklerForever on Twitter

Tech Junkie - Mark Macanas of www.techpinas.com, @techpinas on Twitter

The Advocate (social media user with a cause) - reproductive health advocate Elizabeth Angsioco of dswp.org.ph, @bethangsioco on Twitter

The Artiste (visual art creator) - Jin Joson of www.jinjoson.com

The Ballbreaker (opinionated, ballsy social media user) - actress and singer Lea Salonga, @msleasalonga on Twitter 

Stylisimo (fashion trendsetter) - Laureen Uy of www.breakmystyle.com, @laureenuy on Twitter

#Thought Mover (creator of a popular Twitter hashtag) - TV host Bianca Gonzalez, @iamsuperbianca on Twitter

Video Slinger (viral video maker) - Mikey Bustos of www.youtube.com/MikeyBustosvideos 

Indie Rocker - the band Up Dharma Down of www.updharmadown.com

Special awards were also given to comedian Vice Ganda (@vicegandako) as the "Tatt Most Likable Personality" for having the most "likes" on Facebook, Arjohn Gilbert and Maria Aragon as "Tatt Viral Rookies" for their videos that became a hit online, and socialite Divine Lee as the "Tatt Trending Personality" for promoting the hashtag #tattawards.

Leading the social media revolution 

Seasoned broadcast journalist Maria Ressa, who was part of the Tatt Council, stressed the power of social media users to change the real world. 

Ressa cited the Arab spring as an example of how citizens use online networks to topple dictators. Yet, she pointed out that the London riots showed how the same tools can be used to plot anarchy. 

The former ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs chief called on Filipino netizens to lead efforts to maximize the use of social media for nation-building. "It can help in governance. It can help change behavior and infuse new meaning into political processes. For countries like the Philippines, there's a great opportunity for journalists and the people to come together and help identify needs and push for solutions." 

"Remember, we should be at the forefront of this revolution because we are officially the social media capital of the world according to ComScore."

Globe Tattoo Head Dong Ronquillo said the Tatt Award winners are already leading the way. "The reason why we have Tatt Awards is to recognize how these people make use of social media responsibly and for a cause. It's more of how do we bring social media to a higher level. It's not just about tweeting. It's about expressing yourself. It's about being relevant, making an impact on society." 

The start of action 

In classic heckler style, Landicho expressed his gratitude for the award through a blog entry (http://professionalheckler.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/thank-you/). "After the win, my friend said, 'Thank everyone who supported you. Hold a press con next week!' Ano ako?DOJ secretary?"

Angsioco was equally thankful, telling Move.PH that the award was unexpected. She admitted that even if she is not a techie, she learned how to use social media to push for her reproductive health advocacy and reach the youth. 

"If you notice, I rarely tweet personal things. I almost always tweet things that are related to the issues that I care about: reproductive health bill, governance, and things like those because to me, the information that I get is important and therefore should be shared with others, and also to gather the perspectives of others in relation to those issues." 

Uy meanwhile initially got on the social media bandwagon to promote her online business. She said it eventually became an opportunity to do more things. "I started to inspire young entrepreneurs and young fashionistas. That also inspired me to continue a blog. I just wanted to inspire people and through social media, I was able to do that, to have my business, to inspire people, and to educate them also." 

For the Filipino Freethinkers, social media was a jumping board to organize. Red Tani said the group started as a mailing list in 2009 and grew into a forum, a website, and then a ground-based organization. The Filipino Freethinkers is a group of non-believers and progressive believers pushing for a secular Filipino society by promoting reason and science. 

"We want to emphasize social media should only be a start and not the end of action. Action should always be out there in the real world," said Tani.