Communication is powerful. So let’s talk about it!
The Owls Oya, Joza, and Mika look back on the first season of Give A Hoot. Join their discussion of the three mini-series: call-out culture, hope-based communication, and the masa.
MIKA: If we are really so serious or sincere about the change we want to do, we have to accept that we can only do it together. Kumbaga walang heroes dito. Lahat tayo part of it. And that’s part of parang communicating for social change eh. It’s knowing that everyone is part of the change.
OYA: Hi I’m Oya.
JOZA: I’m Joza.
MIKA: And I’m Mika.
OYA: We are WiseOwl.
MIKA: WiseOwl is a consultancy firm that specializes in communication for social change.
MIKA: With pioneering Philippine podcast network PumaPodcast, we created this show that you’re listening to. Give A Hoot! Because we believe communication is powerful. And so, we’ve been talking to strategists, advocates, academics, creatives, and others about precisely this. Making impact through communication. In today’s episode, we’ll do things a bit differently.
Join the three of us Owls as we recap and process what we’ve learned over the past nine episodes.
MIKA: We started with our first mini-series — three episodes about call-out culture.
“Our faces were seen, and our thoughts were heard, and we were calling out the highest person in the country I think yun yung isa sa pinaka dahilan kung bakit ang mga tao bumilib sa Babae Ako eh. Kasi wow, ang tatapang ng mga babaeng ‘to ah.”
MIKA: Our pilot was with Mae Paner also known as Juana Change. And we talked about #BabaeAko which was in 2018 one of the internet’s most influential people or movements. And we talked about you know how do you start a movement, what propels you to do it? And then the lessons that we can take from from her group’s story.
“Ang sa akin kasi, if somebody is offensive or says something that offends you, parang before you get mad at that person, what I’ve learned to think about is why does it offend me that this message is said in this way?
And that’s why what I’m calling for is a kind of space that we build where we can have uncomfortable conversations, diba. Even if we just sit and be quiet and awkward around each other, diba. Dahan-dahan.”
MIKA: After Mae Paner we also talked to Nash Tysmans who’s a community specialist and we talked about the different kinds of concepts when we’re reaching out to community when we’re having these kinds of conversations in particular ito ngang call-out culture or cancel culture where online in particular people feel empowered enough to call out bad things quote endquote.
OYA: Ang ang nagstrike sa’kin dyan sa first mini-series about call-out culture yung point ni Nash and actually even Mae mentioned it no? Yung accountability.
So your accountability as the one who calls out but also when you’re calling for accountability from people, you have to be accountable yourself.
MIKA: You also have to be prepared to continue that conversation with the person you’re calling out or with the community or the institution ganyan.
OYA: Yeah because nga as parang qinuote ni Nash if you don’t have that accountability you might turn into that monster that you hate. Tapos yung of course yung point ni Mae na actually building courage is really one small brave step at a time na una maliit na bagay tapos marerealize mo na merong ay may iba pa ‘tas you become bolder and then mamaya talagang tumutulong ka na, nag-act ka na. And you’re living what you believe in. Yun. Nagstrike sa’kin. tapos second mini-series naman natin was about hope-based communication we talked to Thomas Coombes who was the founder of Hope-based Communications.
“What Hope-based Communications is about is we need to not just say here’s what you shouldn’t do, we also need to say here’s what you should do instead.”
OYA: Yung nagstrike sa’kin dun sa mini-series na yun is yung importance of telling your own story instead of merely reacting to somebody else’s story. And also kasi when you react, you’re actually reinforcing their stories rather than putting forward your own. Tapos always showing what is that world you want to build and showing that it is possible. Parang definition nya ng hope is hope is the belief in better alternatives that are completely possible.
MIKA: That particular series is interesting to me because we recorded this like at the height at the peak of the lockdown. Suddenly we were isolated. We didn’t know what was gonna happen. And then we produced a mini-series on hope. And so it was such a striking thing kasi it’s so parang counter to what you were feeling internally na meron pa bang pag-asa? I don’t know, I’m scared or I’m angry.
“One of our posts that garnered more than ten thousand likes was the post on Butchoy. Butchoy is a deaf-mute and he is a padyak or pedicab driver. He returned the five thousand pesos SAP allocation because he has already received one from another barangay. Butchoy has five children, very poor. No padyak is operating now in Tabaco City. He badly needs that five thousand pesos. But he came forward and returned it. And it just generated so much positivity and likes that many others followed suit.”
MIKA: That was Tabaco City Mayor Cielo Krisel Lagman-Luistro.
We did the webinar where we would have conversation with partners, with advocates, with organizations, with communicators even. Who also struggled with the concept of hope at the time of COVID-19 na parang it’s so difficult to kind of get on board.
OYA: Precisely because of that nag-strike ng chord sa’kin din yung sinabi ni Thomas when he likened empathy as muscles. That you have to actually practice.
JOZA: Nung una kong ma-encounter yung concept of hope-based communications, parehas din ako ng I guess a lot of advocates that we’ve encountered and communicators na medyo hindi ako sure kung san papasok yung hope-based communications through the work that we do kasi — for the longest time we’ve been fighting for yung mga bagay na against tayo instead of really saying what we’re for. So in my head I don’t know how to suddenly switch from this POV to something that’s parang inherent naman na you’re fighting because you have hope inside you. Pero hindi mo narerealize na as you do the work nakakalimutan mong icommunicate to other people na actually merong hope inside me
MIKA: But on the flipside sa hope-based communication was if we’re not careful kasi we can play into the narrative of hopelessness. Na parang tayo mismo yung nagiging agents or nagiging communicators of hopelessness and we have to be mindful of that because Thomas talks about this a lot. This is based on brain science. But as advocates we know that that’s not what we want our audiences to feel. We want our audiences to feel like there is something you can do. It’s just that siguro sometimes we get overwhelmed with all of the things we need to fight against na we forget to talk about eto kasi yun eh.
OYA:Yeah. Yung dun sa webinar naalala ko when Michelle pointed out na some people are saying hope is not a strategy, and being a social and behavior change communication expert specialist she said actually now I see hope is actually a plan. It’s goal-oriented. there’s discipline, there’s rigor.
“I saw this really lovely definition of hope in a medical journal and it says it’s actually goal-directed thinking. We’re not saying that empathy and feeling and emotion arenot part of it. But if you hope to get somewhere you start to lay out a plan for it. Right?”
MIKA: That was Michelle Pascual, a behavior change communications specialist for Rare, a nonprofit environmental organization.
We also started talking to partners and advocates who were open to new approaches. I think at the end of it din, while we’re not quite sure, what is this hope-based communication? I have misgivings. Pero Thomas said this eh usually the people who are hesitant, those who challenge hope-based are actually the best advocates for hope-based communication. But the reason why we’re all doing that is because we want to check is this really something we can work with? Is this an approach na now we can use so that we can reach our audiences and create impact?
OYA: Parang ang effect nya is that because we gained that new lens through which to — look at communication, and then suddenly we found na oo nga ang hinahanap nila talaga is a future looking empathetic parang solutions that foster belonging it’s a hope-based approach that they are looking for and that will resonate with them.
MIKA: And as you articulated it with yourself you do see the transformation at least for me as a communicator I see the transformation within. Na I start looking at issues and start looking at what ano ba yung sinasabi nito? Ano ba yung pinaglalaban talaga natin. And because of that change of lens, you yourself have regained hope.
JOZA: Feeling ko ang biggest turning point for me is totoong journey sya seeing our fellow advocates halimbawa si Mae Paner si Juana Change. Go through the journey of hope-based communications din. And coming from the background na nung una din meron syang doubts. Ang ganda nung feeling na magkakasama kayo na nadidiscover how this can work for for our advocacies and for our causes.
MIKA: But also you know on the flipside, in the series that we did Edna Aquino pointed it out. You also have to look at populist narratives at the same time. They do sometimes play on hope-based communication when you look at it. Di ba? They do use that. The way that they framed it na medyo pahope-based, papositive that’s why it also is popular.
Edna Aquino is a human rights advocate. She is also one of the co-founders of #Babae Ako with Mae Paner.
“It is so easy especially with the mass media nowadays to pick up stories that represent the audience interests and package it as if it is the government’s narrative. I think Mocha Uson is a very good representation of that cooptation of stories as she would represent herself as the champion of OFWs or migrant workers.”
MIKA: Nakakadapa lang ng konti yung word na hope. I guess we don’t hear it kasi in very quote and quote serious conversations. But when we do talk about hope it’s really at the end of it about what are we building towards?
OYA: Communicate our vision of the world but also show how we can get there.
JOZA: So ang last series natin is about the masa. So what do they listen to? Kumusta ba sila nung pandemic? And pano sila magconsume ng content? Nagstart tayo nito bago pa maglockdown actually. We started planning, recording, talking about this topic before COVID and then we stopped and went to hope-based communications muna. But then after a while naisip na natin na balikan sya because it’s a topic na really nagresonate sa’tin ngayong pandemic lalo na the masa lahat tayo nakalockdown, lahat tayo nararanasan ang COVID 19. So binalikan natin sya and we talked to Leo Laroza director ng communication and information technology at SWS.
“Well, we have seen quality of life trends go down. Significantly. From December 2019 we already saw the decline in terms of people’s optimism with their personal lives.
We’re still analyzing the data but we see no other reasons for this decline except for the pandemic.”
JOZA: And also to Wati Doctor, president of Thinkscape research to really understand and break down ano ba yung hopes and aspirations nila pano ba mag-isip ang masa?
“They really don’t aspire to be rich as in rich rich. Gusto nila kumportable. Ang thinking nila kasi dun, kapag masyado kang mayaman, or kapag mayaman ka, marami rin namang problema. So for them, basta kumportable, nakakakain tatlong beses sa isang araw, may baon yung mga anak ko, meron tayong kakainin bukas. May pambayad kapag merong nagkasakit, okay na.”
JOZA: Kasi I think andami nating assumptions before this series na akala natin naiintindihan na natin sila. But then when we sat down with them and we talked about the issues na kinakaharap nila, kelan nagiging national concern, kelan nagiging importante sa kanila yung mga issues na naririnig nila, dun pa lang tayo nagstart magbreak yung mga myths na akala natin alam natin about them.
MIKA: It’s also a validation of our responsibility as both communicators and advocates to always listen to our audiences. You said Joza di ba we did a recording right before the lockdown in March. Tapos natulog yung material, we recorded again. Parang months into the pandemic. And there was already a shift, there was already a difference. Not even a year later our audiences have changed.
And so it’s always a constant continuous responsibility for us as advocates and communicators to always always listen.
OYA: In the traditional model ng communication is that once you have a message, you deliver it and then that’s it. It’s a one way thing but we it’s not like that eh. Kasi it’s really it’s dialogue it’s conversations di ba?
MIKA: May back and forth may dance.
JOZA: And ngayon lang din narealize ko na this series itong masa series actualy grounded for me yung hope-based communications. And more than listening, developing empathy for the masa. Na minsan kasi ang daling sabihin na okay maghope-based communications na tayo guys without understanding talaga yung context na ng pinagdadaanan nila. Lalo na in a time na sobrang gulo and sobrang hirap for not just the masa actually for everyone naman.
MIKA: In the next episode, our last for this season, we’ll talk about nine lessons we learned, and how to apply them. Thanks again to all our guests over the season. Mae Paner, Nash Tysmans, Thomas Coombes, Leo Laroza, Wati Doctor, Roby Alampay, Mayor Krisel Lagman-Luistro, Veronica Uy, Edna Aquino, and Michelle Pascual. Thanks as well to the people who made this possible, specifically PumaPodcast, the Spark Project, and our backers. Shoutout to our producer Diosa Quinones, our audio editor Niko Bolante, and Tricia Aquino for editorial support.
OYA: You’ve been listening to Give a Hoot. I’m Oya.
JOZA: I’m Joza.
MIKA: And I’m Mika.
JOZA: Look for WiseOwl PH on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium. You can visit our website wiseowl.ph. We’d love to hear from you. Send your feedback to email@example.com.
MIKA: Use your voice. Give a hoot!