11 October, 2021 4:23 PM

Combatting COVID-19 Misinformation in the Philippines with Jefson and Maria

Jefson Romeo B. Felix and Maria Rosario Isabel D. Seares from the Philippines pledged to fight against false and misleading information online hindering COVID-19 recovery efforts. The duo emerged as the winner of the 2nd ASEAN Youth Social Journalism Contest (AYSJ) 2021 through their campaign on Juan Health PH.


What drives you to join AYSJ 2021?

In a time in which humanity endures the dangers of a vicious yet unseen enemy, the youth now lie awake, knowing that history has its eyes on them. The future is non-negotiable that’s why we need to act NOW!

 Vulnerability to destruction and inaction was brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic to all nations of the world, which is caused by limited mobility, healthcare collapse, and economic setbacks. Despite this, not all hope is lost as these could be countered by response for worldly recovery and eventually, resilience. This has been at the heart of the AYSJ 2021 contest, which encouraged teams all over ASEAN to participate in the endeavor of advancing advocacies amidst a public health crisis.

What did you do through the programme?

During the first week of June and prior to the launch of the campaigns, a series of lectures were discussed with regards to content creation, journalism basics, multimedia formats, and more. Such discussions were made and delivered in such a way that the participating teams are able to pattern their campaigns according to the standards which are catered to the dominance of the online setting in this time of pandemic. Along with these came the birth of the ideas for our campaign, which is entitled: Juan Health PH (JHPH).

The workshop has emphasized the great need for action via advocacy advancement, which is at the core of response, recovery, and resilience. In representation of the Republic of the Philippines, we took into account the main problems plaguing the country with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, which were misinformation and disinformation amplified by inaccessibility to accurate information. The latter problem is one that is brought upon by the general belief that science is a field of excessive jargon and that every piece of information, regardless of source, is credible. This belief is wrong, and it must be corrected.

Can you tell us more about your campaign

Juan Health PH is a youth-led community and public health-centered digital publication/organization which aims to combat health illiteracy, vaccination hesitancy, disinformation, and other public health dilemmas for a better Philippines. It dedicates itself to civic engagements and the dissemination of factual information that is accurate, easily accessible, and comprehensible to the general masses. Staying true to the vision and mission of the organization, we publish simplified health information that is translated into six major languages of the Philippines, news articles, feature stories, editorial/opinion articles in various formats such as texts, images, videos, sound-on-tape, and more.

Moreover, even in just a short amount of time since our campaign has been launched, JHPH was able to successfully encourage a total of 148 dedicated youth volunteers (organization and community leaders, campus and citizen journalists, artists, writers, and activists) from the different parts of the Philippines archipelago. Also, as the Founders of Juan Health PH, we were given the opportunity to lead, inspire, teach, and mobilize our team as we progressively attain our goals and actualize our purpose.


What accomplishments are you most proud of during the programme?

Although JHPH mainly focused on journalistic pursuits and information dissemination, we are honored to say that we have, so far, contributed a lot to the national advancement. We were able to further uphold the fact that public health does not only concern the medical professionals but also the general population, as it is multi-sectoral and trans-disciplinary. In our endeavors, we made sure in each project that each piece of data, information, and knowledge is easily understood by the audiences. It is through information accessibility that people realize that science is a matter of public interest and a driver of policy implementation, which leads them to come up with health-oriented decisions and behaviors.

How would you describe your experience?

Representing the country in an international competition is, in itself, a mark of prestige, but there is no greater honor than playing the role given by such a significant opportunity. Building and sustaining a campaign for the betterment of the nation amidst a public health crisis takes a lot of courage, strength, inspiration, and conviction which are all geared towards the advancement of collective advocacies.

As the leaders of Juan Health PH, with the guidance and opportunity provided by the ASEAN Foundation, we, the empowered youth social journalists, are one with the Filipino people in achieving an effective and efficient response, rapid and progressive recovery, and the resilience that will keep us grounded and hopeful for better tomorrows.

This we pledge in the name of truth, knowledge, equity, and social responsibility!

Edited by: Tiffany Celine Handoko, Communications Intern

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