26 January, 2021 9:31 AM

Championing the Voices of the Marginalised: Why Social Journalism Matters

Curious how you can make an impact to your community through social journalism? Take it from Camille Joyce Lisay & Joaquin Victor Tacla, participants of the first-ever ASEAN Youth Social Journalism Contest in 2019. With 80 infographics, 20 videos and multimedia articles created, they managed to get 77,000 Facebook followers in just 5 months! 

As youth, we are expected to be the future nation-builders. We are expected to move beyond our limits and cross the line for those who need our voices and stances. 

As youth gleaming with hopes and aspirations for a better future, we are called to give service to our community, to take part in social discussions, and to contribute to the greater good. 

This is what ASEAN Youth Social Journalism (AYSJ) Contest has taught us, that in the advent of social media we can utilise it extensively to deliver relevant information and to bring the stories of the marginalised to the fore.

Our social journalism project 4Ps for the Philippines aimed to raise awareness on the country’s poverty alleviation program - Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) which provides conditional cash grants to the poorest families for the healthcare & educational needs of their kids. 

In response to the contest’s theme — the importance of responsive and transparent government — our team conducted a closer study on how the country’s human development measure is performing, especially if it is reaching its goals, particularly reaching out to its target stakeholders: those who live below the poverty line. 

We published more than 80 infographics about the programme. We published around 20 videos and multimedia articles shedding light on the stories of Filipinos who expressed their interest to be members of the program. Five months after the campaign was established, we garnered a big traction - 77,000 followers - which transformed a humble social journalism campaign into a massive campaign with an active discussion group. Aside from our official Facebook page, our Twitter and Instagram are likewise active in promoting our campaign. At the moment, we have more than 130,000 followers already. 

But what was most fulfilling about this journey is that we got to see the real lives of those who are impoverished. We visited their communities and saw firsthand that poverty is rampant and that it is depriving many people of some basic human rights we enjoy. But to see their lives upon closer inspection and to discover their struggles from an emotional standpoint is altogether a different story whose lessons we will always take with us forever. 

From visiting the marginalised outskirts of Tondo, Manila, to the relocation sites of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan - we documented their lives and published them online to show the many faces of those who are still left behind by the programme. 

Social journalism allowed us to move beyond figures and data by also looking at the actual persons behind these statistics. We came to know their plight and gave spotlight to their stories, so that in this way we can help initiate a discourse about the real state of poverty in the country and therefore contribute, in a little way, to its elimination. 

What we realised in this campaign is that indeed, there are still many marginalised who are yet to be part of this social development programme - which implies that there are families who still are struggling to make ends meet while education and healthcare still remain inaccessible to their kids.  

But somehow, through digital platforms, we can champion the voices of the marginalised. 

With the pandemic still looming in the horizon, we need social journalism now more than ever. And as youth, we are called to move beyond limitations and cross the line for those who need our voices most. 

AYSJ gave us an avenue to share our advocacies for a better future. It encouraged us to render service to our community, to take part in social discussions, and to champion those who are left behind so that we can contribute to the greater good. 




Got an idea that can help the community? Join ASEAN Youth Social Journalism Contest 2021 and share us your essay and campaign idea! 

This contest is open to ASEAN youths. Make a team of 2 and submit your idea before 14 February 2021 at this link.

Top 20 selected teams will participate in a virtual social journalism workshop to finetune their strategy plan, and receive a USD 200 stipend to support the implementation of their campaign. The best performers will be awarded USD 1,000 for the first winner, USD 750 for the second winner and USD 500 for the third winner to maximise the reach of their campaign! 

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