Winners of Freedom Vlog 2023 Talk About Their Entries
Written by Aimee Morales
Smart mobility and active transport are what the Friedrich Naumann Foundation – Philippines (FNF-Philippines) would like to highlight with “Ang Kwentong Komyuter Vlog Masterclass”. Through the creative and candid storytelling of the participants, the gaps in the public transport system, as well as possible solutions to these problems, can be brought to light.
“Kung pinapayagan ang malalaking bagahe, dapat na rin bang payagan ang mga bisikleta?” (If big bags are allowed, should bikes be allowed as well?) This is the question being asked by Tress Javier in his vlog entry, “Moving for Freedom”, referring to the LRT (light rail transit) policy on bringing bicycles inside the train. Tress argued that it would be a lot cheaper for commuting bikers to use their bikes part of the way as they travel to and from their destinations.
Tress Javier’s vlog entry is one of the top 10 winners of the “Freedom Vlog: Ang Kwentong Komyuter Ko” competition, which was the culminating activity of the two-day Freedom Vlog Masterclasses. Tress is among several members of the local biking community that have been actively joining and participating in events organized by FNF Philippines in the last 2 years. The workshops and seminars allowed participants like Tress to learn how to effectively communicate their commuting narratives while incorporating their advocacy—the promotion of sustainable transportation in the country.
FNF-Philippines teamed up with the Junior Chamber International - Manila (JCI-Manila) to launch The Freedom Vlog Masterclass 2023. Angelo Balanon of JCI-Manila said that the partnership paved the way for the members of their organization to dive deep into the core of the advocacy on sustainable mobility, calling the experience an “eye-opener” about how sustainable mobility can help improve people’s livelihood. After an intense judging process, the judges revealed the 10 vlogs with the most informative and entertaining content, all packed into a limited run time of 60 seconds.
“The videos produced were proof that the collective efforts of our collaboration (FNF and JCI-Manila) amplified the voice of the commuters,” he continued, adding that they do intend to develop more projects and programs in the future for the benefit of Filipinos.
Divine’s message on the struggles of PWDs
The short vlog entry of Divine Grace Magbanua was the Audience Choice winner in the 2023 competition. In her short video, she showed the struggles of a person with disability (PWD) during a commute.
Divine explained how she got the inspiration, “I had the idea from one of (the) seminars—I was with my professor and he said: ‘May kapansanan ako at eto ang buhay komyuter ko.’ (I am disabled and this is my life as a commuter.) I thought of accompanying him as he took different types of public transport, and that was when I discovered how hard it is for PWDs to commute.”
Rating our transport systems, evaluating Senate Bill 534
In his video blog, Rafael Morales rated the various types of public transport—metro rail systems, jeepneys, buses, UV Express, and motorcycles for hire. He said, “My criteria for rating these transportation systems are based on cost, time efficiency, and sustainability.”
Ednel Bediones asked via his vlog entry if the Sustainable Transportation Act of 2022 is viable. He explored the highlights of Senate Bill 534, saying, “I wanted to focus on the government’s efforts to ease traffic and (our) commuting problems.” Through a short video, he certainly managed to raise awareness about the proposed legislation--which was his goal in the first place--because Ednel believes that if more people support the bill, then that could hasten its passage into law.
The benefits of walking and the cost of movement
Khielroz Purificacion’s vlog entry is a lighthearted take on the various modes of transportation, with emphasis on why he prefers walking (and biking). Khielroz shared that as a broadcasting student, he wanted his blog format to be different so he tried to make the video witty and informative at the same time.
In Sonny Boy Flores’ video entry, his message is clear: Fare isn’t cheap and biking (or walking) saves money. He said that he would usually hear people talk about how much transportation cost back in the day. This gave him the idea to interview people and ask them about the cheapest fare amount they could remember. Sonny Boy’s video entry offers a unique glimpse into the memories of commuters, capturing their stories in a short vlog.
The woes of being a public commuter
Sandei Barrera's motivation to create her freedom vlog stemmed from her curiosity about the contrasting experiences of commuting on public transport versus traveling in private vehicles. As a Filipino without the privilege of owning a car, she deeply empathized with the struggles of time-consuming traffic, long queues, congested vehicles, and expensive fares. Her vlog sought to showcase these issues and shed light on how privilege and socioeconomic status greatly influence the commuting experience. Through her vlog, Sandei aimed to voice out the problems faced by Filipino commuters and advocate for better public transport to serve the needs of all citizens.
Justine Polanco, an "iskolar ng bayan," felt compelled to create her freedom vlog based on her personal experiences as a student commuter. She understood the value of time and money, which were often wasted during her daily commutes. Her vlog aimed to showcase the struggles of student commuters and advocate for better public transportation options that would not hinder their academic pursuits. Justine believed that improved public transport could unlock the potential of students, allowing them to thrive academically and achieve their goals without the burdens of a challenging commute.
Where research breeds reward
Joachim Chavez, a lifelong commuter from Manila, understood the challenges of calculating travel time and dealing with traffic and limited transport options during peak hours. Having mastered all train routes and possible jeepney destinations to his school during college, Joachim felt shocked when he discovered that some of his friends were not as well-informed about public transport. This revelation motivated him to become a content creator dedicated to public transport knowledge. His vlog entry for the Freedom Vlog competition aimed to help people understand the system better and overcome common commuting problems.
Dominicq Pena's vlog entry, on the other hand, sought to reaffirm the value of research. She wanted to convey how the priorities of commuters is crucial in the country’s development and would not arrive at this conclusion without first analyzing and researching the current situation of the country. She said that putting effort into learning about other people's realities is one step towards creating progress and fostering empathy.
For all these talented vloggers, one of the main challenges was communicating their message effectively within the constraints of a short runtime. Condensing their raw experiences, stories, and advocacy into just one minute while maintaining a compelling and cinematic flavor was a tough task. However, they managed to rise to the occasion and deliver impactful vlogs that resonated with the audience and judges alike.
The Freedom Vlog Masterclass 2023 provided a platform for these vloggers to glean insight from various speakers and be able to showcase their own creative storytelling skills while advocating for sustainable transportation and addressing the issues faced by Filipino commuters. Through their engaging vlogs, they contributed to amplifying the voice of commuters and spreading awareness about the importance of efficient and accessible transportation systems in the Philippines. The winners' videos not only received recognition and cash prizes but also inspired positive changes and conversations about mobility and public transport. With their passion and determination, these vloggers proved that a minute-long video can carry a powerful message and be a catalyst for change.
Check out their winning entries here.