Giving power to the youth through its user-generated content, YouTube mentors three Filipino content creators who use the power of videos for positive change
What started off as a place to find funny cat videos, YouTube has become one of the primary ways young people consume content and educate themselves. With its user-generated content, it also provides young people with a platform to discuss issues important to them.
In partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the European Union (EU), and social change agency Love Frankie, YouTube announced the finalists for the Creators of Change program. For the past three years, the program has given content creators the platform to address social issues they are concerned with, such as cyberbullying and social exclusion.
The three finalists underwent a workshop in Google’s local headquarters. Afterward, they received $5,000 to execute their ideas. After a two-day boot camp in Bangkok where they were taught how to address social issues through YouTube, the finalists were mentored by Google, UNDP, and issue experts for three months as they produced their videos.
“The level of energy, enthusiasm, and dynamism that the creators have brought to this is amazing,” says Chetan Kumar, an outcome lead for peace of the UNDP. “In doing that, they bring people together and show them new ways of working together.”
Manila Bulletin Lifestyle talked to each of the finalists about their experiences with YouTube and how it empowers the youth of today to enact change.
‘I Can And I Will’
“There were so many things I learned from the boot camp, but what really resonated with me the most was how I should handle certain things and situations creatively, effectively, and efficiently when executing my ideas,” says content creator Ella Bulatao, who goes by the name Ella Banana online. When the Covid-19 pandemic occurred in the middle of her production stage, she took the lessons she learned and adapted to the situation. Unable to film the cinematic intro she originally planned, Ella decided to create a short animation instead.
The video “I Can And I Will” highlights the importance of social inclusion. It tells the story of Em Quintana, a part-time nurse diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). With hope and faith, and against societal expectations, Em does not let the disability define her. It is poignantly told, with a magical twist at the end that will warm any viewer’s heart.
“YouTube, being the second largest search engine, can easily attract audiences. If educational and inspirational content outnumbers bad content, if videos that inspire other people are promoted over the bad ones, there’s a greater chance of enlightening and empowering the youth of today to enact change,” says Ella. “As a result, this will push them to contribute and to make the world a better place.”
‘Nasaan si Toto Ong’
The Lex in Motion YouTube channel started as a way to help the next generation of law students and lawyers. Without any well-lit rooms to make a traditional YouTube video, Lex taught himself to draw his videos. A year later, he was introducing himself as an animator in the Thailand bootcamp as a YouTube creator for change.
“We were taught how to bring the impact to social impact,” says Lex. “We were taught ethical filmmaking and how to do interviews on sensitive topics. We were taught how great change can come from the simplest ideas.”
The “Nasaan si Toto Ong” project is a create-your-own-YouTube-adventure that encourages the audience to participate in fact-checking and critical analysis. The colorful animation covers several inter-linked videos that tell the story of police investigator Hannah Yap, who is on a missing person case. The interactive element is a testament to the endless possibilities for young people’s creativity to flourish on the video-sharing website.
“People come to YouTube to be entertained, to find specific information, or to learn something new, not necessarily in that order,” says Lex. “YouTube has made it easier for everyone and anyone with a song to sing, with a lesson to teach, or with the need to make someone’s day better to find their audience.”
“My dream is to democratize education here in the Philippines and, working with limited resources, I know that it’s something I can’t do on my own,” says Jan Angelique Maravilla, known online as Coach Lyqa. After getting the top score in the 2013 Civil Service Exam, she began uploading YouTube videos to help people pass similar exams.
“Reaching and teaching persons with disabilities has always been in my heart,” she says. Overwhelmed with filming and editing, she found little time to caption all her videos. After reaching out to her viewers, she found out that they were more than willing to submit captions. Through YouTube’s Community Contributions feature, all Coach Lyqa has to do is review their work and approve them. “Bayanihan is very much alive and this is proof of that. This also planted a dream in my heart. Imagine if all of the videos on YouTube had, at least, captions.”
The “#BeHeardOnYouTube” video provides a step-by-step tutorial on how to use the platform’s closed captions to make content more accessible and inclusive for the deaf community.
“If there is one thing I learned, it’s that there are so many people who are willing to help,” adds Coach Lyqa. “They just need to know how they can start.”