JesCom makes history

Mari Bianca Orenciana

Jesuit Media SummitHistory was made from October 23 to 25. More than 50 participants attended the Jesuit Media Summit: Like. Comment. Share. at the ISO conference rooms in the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) organized by Jesuit Communications. The summit on social media ethics was the first time that the Departments of Communications of Jesuit Universities and Colleges gathered in one event. Delegates came from Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan, Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu, Ateneo de Davao University, Ateneo de Iloilo – Santa Maria Catholic School, Ateneo de Manila University, Ateneo de Naga University, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, and Xavier School; the representatives were composed of professors, instructors, department chairs, and staff from basic education to tertiary education levels.

Dr. Severino Sarmenta, Jr., Chairman of the Department of Communication of the Ateneo de Manila University officially opened the three-day event with his keynote address. In his welcoming address, Fr. Antonio Moreno, SJ, Provincial Superior of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus, stressed the need for the Jesuits and their academic intuitions to be united, and accept the advantages and challenges of the digital era. The summit had five major parts highlighting the various effects of social media on society as well as the academe. Group dynamics in between sessions were creatively facilitated by Mr. Bong Billones of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA).

On the first day, Dr. Queena Ngo Lee-Chua shared the results of her study and her professional experience on the psychological impact of social media and how technology shapes students nowadays. Dr. Raul Pertierra, on the other hand, discussed the effects of the digital world on the societal level. Atty. Jesus Disini, Jr. enlightened the participants with common cases and issues involving the existing Cyberspace law.

Since the aim of the summit was to empower each school to create their own digital communication and social media protocol, the topics for the second day provided the participants guidance and skills for this common goal. Rowena Azada-Palacios shared some possible philosophical foundations for media ethics. Chi Almario-Gonzalez from ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs cited examples of how mainstream media addressed the challenges of digital communication and social media. At the end of the day, the participants were assigned into groups to craft digital communications and social media guidelines for their schools that would cover the behavior of administration, faculty, staff, and the students.

On the last day of the summit, these policies were presented to Jesuit Basic Education Commission Chairman Fr. Antonio Pabayo, SJ, Vice President of ADMU for Basic Education and Jesuit Higher Education Council Representative Fr. Karel San Juan, SJ, President of Ateneo de Zamboanga University who commended the proposals. The collated work of the participants would serve as guide when they design and implement the communications protocol in their respective institutions. Jesuit Communications Executive Director Fr. Emmanuel Alfonso, SJ formally concluded the event with high hopes that this will just be the start of a strong relationship among the different Communication units of the Jesuit academic institutions in the Philippines. (See full closing remarks here.)