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Pre-requisite Read: Understanding PH Chairmanship and the ASEAN Community

Update (8.7.17 ) ASEAN 2017

In the midst of the ASEAN 50 festivities, new issues came up so I thought of updating this old post and share “my opinion” on the following issues:

  • A foreign journalist claimed in a tweet that media movement is better in Lao
  • A print media published an article about bloggers being given access to cover events at the expense of mainstream media
  • An online media published an article questioning the access given to bloggers to resources allocated for them, i.e. lunch buffet, media night.
  • A twitter convo claimed the info campaign about ASEAN is ineffective

Before proceeding, we escalated the issues above to the concerned Gov’t officials so the thoughts I’m sharing reflect their responses too, well most of it because there are security measures that I can’t disclose for obvious reasons.

On Curtailed Press Movement

The National Organizing Council (NOC) would not take any chance on the security of our visitors– dignitaries, delegates and press alike. Their safety is our primary consideration.

USec. Noel Puyat of PCOO, Chair of Senior Officials Meeting Responsible for Information (SOMRI) and Committee on Media Affairs and Strategic Communications (CMASC) said

“We are strictly following protocol. All movements to venues are through media pool and sign up sheets. No one is allowed to loiter around PICC. That is why the IMC was made so that they can have full coverage from here of ALL events.

We are guaranteeing no ambush interviews. Although the respective Embassies can announce their own Press Cons and can actually use the facilities at Conrad.
That is really the norm, we have not restricted any form of access to media. I am not privy to the arrangements of Lao PDR when they hosted.”

However, some adjustments is up for discussion, this, to provide more opportunity on the November ASEAN 2017 summit for press briefings, if the international leaders want to do so. But definitely, no “ambush interviews”.

On Bloggers Taking The Space of Mainstream Media

I’m one of the bloggers who was given a media pass, but I went thru same registration process and submitted requirements. On two occasions, I received email instruction to change the profile photo with white background. The guidelines applied to mainstream media were also applied to me.

Bloggers being present in government events is not new, this was first done by Comelec for the 2010 elections; then on the early part of PNoy administration (they discontinued the practice). A few bloggers applied and was given accreditation by Comelec to cover the 2010 elections. Same thing with the PNoy admin, we were given pass to cover his inauguration, 1st SONA and People Power celebration.

The present PCOO, however, is planning to institutionalize blogger and social media coverage, thus, there is an on-going development approved blogger/ social medial accreditation policy and guidelines.

Before the present administration assumed office, Sec. Andanar met with different bloggers in different occasions to share his vision for PCOO, and engagement of citizens thru social media is one of them. The present officer who does the coordination is doing a good job, not limiting invites to PRRD supporters. Change of guards may happen though, with the creation of social media office.

Now with the issue of blogger presence in government fora and activities like ASEAN. My presence is not meant to assume the role of mainstream media, but to cover the event using the lens of the community I represent. We amplify the message akin to eating fish- “we eat the meat, and set aside the bones”. We communicate the message in a manner understood by our community, and return the bones (give feedback) to the sender, to improve the message and/or give insights of the people’s reaction”


For the ASEAN 50, out of the 1,700 1,245 approved accreditation, there are 13 less than 15 bloggers, or less thanjust 1% of the total approved. These 1% cannot displace mainstream media. Besides, these bloggers are not covering daily, they have to attend to their day job or biz. And those who flew-in from other countries? They paid for their own expenses.

On the insinuation that bloggers are a waste of taxpayers money? I’m a professional who happens to enjoy blogging. Since I pay my taxes, as Jane rightfully puts it, my money help fed mainstream media when they cover government initiated fora and activities. Juned also addressed this in his blog post.

Engaging citizens who are stakeholders in government services in various ways is not a waste on taxpayers money. A waste of people’s money are those “spotted” sleeping or playing games while pressers are on-going at the International Media Center (IMC).


Aside: You may read the blog post of Noemi Dado about her own experience going thru the registration process and covering of events. Likewise, this article by Pia Ranala can provide context, since she met a blogger from the US, a Duterte defender who happens to be a physical therapist:  A good conversation with a Duterte supporter.



On The Alleged Ineffective ASEAN Info Campaign

Success is relative, but I will leave it to your judgement whether the efforts of the Committee on Media Affairs and Strategic Communications (CMASC) is not enough. For purposes of transparency, I was part of this group as consultant until July 5, and we helped out in conceptualizing both content and communications strategy, managed activities and amplified the ASEAN message in our social channels and communities
Please scroll down the old post so you can see the initiatives rolled out by PCOO for the last 6 months. But I will add below activities that were not mentioned in my old post.

    • ASEAN Dialogues
      The ASEAN 2017 Dialogues is a three-part dialogue series that aims to increase understanding and awareness of ASEAN’s three pillars: Political-Security, Economic, and Socio-Cultural. The program is presented by the Presidential Communications Operations Office– Committee on Media Affairs and Communications (PCOO-CMASC), branding, messaging, and promotions lead of ASEAN2017 National Organizing Council, in partnership with Asia Society Philippines and in cooperation with Asian Institute of Management – Economics Department.




    • ASEAN 50 Activities – Aside from the usual, press briefers, ads, livestream of activities, broadcast, print and social media engagements… these:

      ASEAN50 Viber Stickers

    • Facebook also had this “One with ASEAN 2017” profile pic. Click this link to get yours

    The Philippine Information Agency also responded to a tweet convo, and shared what their agency is doing.

    We took the liberty to discuss this feedback to CMASC, and the current Chair, USec Noel Puyat responded and explained PCOO’s strategy:

    Sonnie, the 50th Anniversary is a one day event. Asean is not about the lantern and landmark lighting and the Pop Music Concert. These are only commemorative events.
    We, as PCOO, push the awareness projects and initiatives of Asean amongst the 10 Asean Member States. Included in this are all significant decisions and actions of the body.
    We need to focus on the long term goals and inclusiveness of all.
    Thus, our comms plan focused on those using free or minimal data plans, AM radio stations nationwide, Intelligent foras of exchange i.e. Asean Dialogues, School Tour (tie up with Chef and Deped), pushing culture and sports (through NCCA and PSC), OOH ads for those daily commuters who don’t have the resources or a reason to buy a newspaper. We request the President himself to mention Asean in all of his speeches.
    We will not waste money on repeating TV ads for big TV stations, because we would rather invest in better media relations by initiating Press Cons and PRs, man on the street reports, etc and using all available Asean and government (media) resources to the world.
    Content is still key for us to achieve our mission.


    There may be a need to update this post at a later time, until then, let’s be one with ASEAN 🙂


    ### end of 8.7.17 update ###



    #MyASEANStory is not only about witnessing history unfold, but also our effort in helping write the story.


    I’m neither a journalist, a political or travel/food blogger, so this ASEAN post will not be about foreign relations, geopolitics or lifestyle.

    Instead,  as one of the Consultants for the Committee on Media Affairs and Strategic Communications (CMASC) until July 5, 2017, I want to share how the group is helping in writing history with the campaigns being rolled out to explain ASEAN to ordinary folks, and the PH Chairmanship and hosting, the management of the International Media Center (IMC) during the 30th Summit, and the creative and hard working people at CMASC.

    Elevating ASEAN discourse outside ‘social studies’

    One of the tasks of CMASC is to elevate the ASEAN IQ of Filipinos. The awareness level of the majority seems to revolve around who are the member states, and the conflict at the West PH Sea.

    To increase awareness, CMASC is simplifying the ASEAN 2017 message to make it understandable. The video below is a good example of a short but straight forward messaging.


    To get the message across, CMASC is implementing roadshows, school tours, kiosks, publication and distribution of printed materials, and social media campaigns. There are more in the pipeline, like the “ASEAN buzz” and the “Social Media Conference Philippines”, but I will not discuss details yet.

    Above strategy is consistent with the master plan of Sec. Martin Andanar for the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and attached agencies– that is to have a synergized and collective strategy to communicate Government programs, like the ASEAN hosting, in all fronts— on-ground, online, on-print and on-air.

    ASEAN 2017 Roadshow

    The roadshow is an event for local media, LGU, and representatives from different sectors and communities.

    These are being held in cities where an ASEAN senior meeting is being hosted. Aside from PH Chairship, topics like Freedom  of Information, Presidential Task Force for Media Killings, Social Media for Governance, DuterteNomics, and RealNumbersPH can be included. The roadshows are being covered live in tv, radio and social media. Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan is on top of this action plan.

    To date, roadshows has been held at Davao, Zamboanga, Baguio and Bacolod.


    A smaller edition of this program,  KumpaS is being rolled out at barangay level. This is being spearheaded by Dir. Benjie Felipe.

    ASEAN 2017 School Tour

    The School Tour program is similar to a roadshow, but the target participants are students, and discussion is primarily ASEAN. The strategy is to provide a fun way of explaining ASEAN’s vision of one community. The objective is the same– to increase the ASEAN IQ.

    While the school tour can happen in the same week as the roadshow, it can be held stand alone or independent from the schedule of a roadshow or ASEAN major meeting. The school tour is spearheaded by Karl Louie Fajardo.

    Below are short video clips of what transpired in previous school tours. The first clip is the singing of the ASEAN hymn by primary students, while the 2nd is a fun game for intermediate students, junior and senior high students.



    ASEAN 2017 Kiosks, Social Media Lounge and Printed Materials

    ASEAN Kiosks are being set-up in places where most people converge, to distribute ASEAN printed materials, and engage passers-by. At Bacolod, the questions we received revolve around economic “opportunities” for retirees and professionals. At Boracay, since some visitors are foreign tourists, the questions are more on the domain of the “what” since they are clueless of what ASEAN is. The ASEAN kiosk is being handled by DG Harold Clavite.

    The  ASEAN 2017 Social Media Lounge, on the other hand, is being set-up near or at the venue of a major ASEAN event. This is to provide guests an easy access to online contents about ASEAN, and to share these easily to different social media platforms.



    ASEAN 2017 Social Media Campaigns

    There are pocket online contests being held in different social media platforms every now and then.  These are meant to generate online buzz and sustain the discussion about ASEAN 2017 and PH hosting. Here’s one of the winners of the most recent contest, #ASEANTrivia.

    Thank you very much @asksonnie @juned67 #ASEANSouvenir #ASEAN2017 #ASEANTRIVIA

    A post shared by lilyangpalayaw (@dyuulaaleii) on

    By the way, there is an on-going contest, dubbed #MyASEANStory. Check out details below. Spread the word and feel free to participate!


    The International Media Center (IMC) during the 30th #ASEAN2017 Summit

    What is IMC? This is somewhat the ‘bat cave’ of both local and international press during the 30th ASEAN Summit. This ‘bat cave’ is cool, and I find it conducive for work. Take a tour with this video and let me know what you think.


    The recently concluded hosting is not perfect, we received few concerns from foreign media. These are minor and CMASC will take this up to National Organizing Committee (NOC) so appropriate adjustments can be done. Credit the almost seamless IMC operations  to  Under Secretary Noel Puyat, Assistant Secretary Kissinger Reyes and Director Howie Uyking, the leadership team supporting Sec. Andanar.


    Sec. Martin Andanar and USec. Noel Puyat giving press briefing at #ASEAN2017 30th Summit

    Sec. Martin Andanar and USec. Noel Puyat giving press briefing


    #ASEAN2017 Boracay Kiosk

    with Director Howie Uyking at ASEAN 2017 Boracay Kiosk. Photo courtesy of Noemi Dado


    #ASEAN2017 ASec Kissinger Reyes Press Briefer

    USec. Noel Puyat and ASec. Kissenger Reyes. Photo courtesy of ASEAN 2017 website

    Likewise, other officers like Pebbles Duque (Social Media), is helpful in making bloggers feel comfortable during the summit. And together with, Simon Pasuengos (Special Projects), they’re able to accommodate bloggers to cover the opening ceremony of the 30th Summit, who are originally not in the guest list.

    Bloggers Covering #ASEAN2017

    Bloggers covering the opening of the ASEAN Summit. (L-R) Jane Uymatiao, me, Noemi Dado, Francis Manalo, Rocky Gonzales, and MJ Reyes. Photo courtesy of Jane Uymatiao


    There are more unamed but equally creative and hardworking staff of PCOO and attached agencies who made the IMC operations secure and almost seamless, and covering and writing history as it unfolds. Thanks also to the student volunteers who assisted.



    Issue with the ‘brown phone’

    The back-pack given to media people has become an issue, somewhat. A not so expensive ‘brown phone’ became the center of controversy online.  Some media people voluntary returned the back-pack after discovering the phone. But because of the online buzz it generated, I heard others were ‘made’ to return the back pack by their mother unit. However, as I heard, the ‘brown phone’ and a few other items inside (some of) the returned back packs are missing. But thanks to Angel Abella, the process of distributing (and accepting the tokens back) were not chaotic.

    Including a gadget as part of the media token is not new, a tablet was also given in the last APEC summit. If my understanding is correct, about 5000 tablets were ordered for the APEC summit compare with the 1000 ‘brown phone’ for ASEAN. Likewise, the reason for the ‘brown phone’ is to highlight a Filipino company, ‘MyPhone’, and the ASEAN app that is pre-installed in the ROM. This app can give access to event schedule, press briefers and other contents helpful for those covering the event.

    I expect the ASEAN budget will be questioned every now and then (which is helpful, I believe, to ensure accountability), but since we cannot ascertain at this time if the budget is being spent wisely, the infographic below can help provide a birds eye view.


    ASEAN 2017 compare with APEC


    Though the 30th ASEAN summit has concluded, PH will still host the ASEAN 50 anniversary celebration on August, and the 31st ASEAN Summit with dialogue partners on November.

    Until then…

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