Learning, living in digital Mindanao

YouTuber Marie Sousa of Cotabato City started taking videos in 2015 to record her activities and special events.

“I uploaded the videos on my channel, not for everyone to see, but for me to look back on those memories. I had no idea one could make a living out of vlogging!” she exclaimed.

Five years and over 10,000 subscribers later, her YouTube channel, “It’s Pretty Marie,” covers a wide variety of topics catering to her viewers’ many interests—from make-up tutorials to “mukbang,” an online broadcast wherein a host samples food and chats with the audience.

Better connectivity has also made teaching easier for Alnadzma Tulawie and learning more engaging for her students at Sulu State College.

“With access to the Internet, my students are able to expand their research and delve deeper into their assigned topics,” said Tulawie, who teaches Master in Filipino Language at the Graduate Studies Department.

“Reading my students’ papers, I now glean greater knowledge and wider perspective…Because they are now on the information superhighway, they are no longer behind their city-based peers,” Tulawie added.

Sousa and Tulawie are among those whose lives have been changed for the better by access to better connectivity in Mindanao.

“Youtube is a huge community to be explored. You have to know your niche and get a pulse on what your viewers are looking for; they’re your audience,” said Marie.

To get a feel of what her viewers are interested in, Marie presented a wider variety of content. “I now also do travel vlogs, which I enjoy because not only do I get to go places, I also get to help my viewers plan their itineraries according to their budget,” she said.

But the one destination she enjoys vlogging about the most is her hometown, Cotabato City.

“I love showcasing my city and giving tips on what places to visit, what foods to try. It’s the least I could do to promote by hometown and correct negative notions about the city,” she exclaims. Ï believe that Cotabato City is one of the best places in Mindanao, where you could meet great people.”

She has also used her YouTube channel to reach out to victims of recent earthquakes in Makilala, North Cotabato. “They say that when you help, do so quietly. Well, I decided to vlog about community service because I wanted to encourage others to lend a hand,” said Marie. 

True enough, in response to her video, offers of help poured in from everywhere. “Through the Internet, my viewers from different parts of the world were able to send help,” she shared.

Indeed, having a good internet connection has helped Marie share her experiences and build an online community. “Behind every successful YouTube channel is a strong internet connection,” she said.

She considers her generation fortunate because everyone has access to the Internet; and she is making the most of this valuable resource to “spread positivity” through her YouTube channel.

“Thanks to the Internet, I constantly meet interesting people; I get to express my creativity, and even help change lives,” said Marie. “With connectivity and Smart LTE in Mindanao, the possibilities are limitless. I look forward to producing more quality content,” she enthused.

Meanwhile, Tulawie’s fellow faculty members are also active online, and the Sulu State College itself now has an online presence. “Deans would make announcements online, and the information would reach faculty and students via Facebook, for example,” she said. “We hope this service would be available to more people in Mindanao,” she said.

With its continuous network upgrades across Mindanao, PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. will see to that.

As of end-2019, Smart has upgraded to LTE more than 100 towns across Mindanao, including towns in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, Cotabato, Sarangani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Customers in Calanogas and Saguiaran in Lanao del Sur, for example, can now reach out to their families and loved ones, access social media, watch videos or play games on their phones using Smart’s newly fired-up LTE network in their area.

“This is part of PLDT-Smart’s mission to provide world-class connectivity and access to all Filipinos, wherever in the country they may be,” said PLDT-Smart senior vice president for Network Planning and Engineering Mario G. Tamayo.

As of the third quarter 2019, Smart has increased the number of LTE base stations by 34% compared to end-2018 and deploying these in more areas of the country. Underpinning Smart’s network deployment is the continued expansion of PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, which grew by 26% versus end-2018 to more than 307,000 kilometers nationwide. This unmatched fiber infrastructure is a critical advantage for Smart.

The sustained improvement of the PLDT-Smart network has been supported by a stepped-up capital expenditures program that includes investments in network and IT systems, including investments in increased LTE coverage and capacity, expanded fiber transport and new international cable networks.

Topics: Marie Sousa , YouTube , It’s Pretty Marie , PLDT-Smart , Alnadzma Tulawie
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