MANILA, PHILIPPINES — From walking messengers to Facebook Messenger, community development worker Corazon Constantino has seen first-hand how changes in technology have improved the lives of government workers like her.
“Gone are the days when memos or papers are sent to you via a messenger. These days, papers and other kinds of communications from the Department of Social Welfare and Development are sent to us digitally,” said Corazon, who has devoted 25 years of her life to community work. “It is really important for us to know how to use our smartphones and social media, because without them we cannot read these memos.”
As community development worker, Corazon is in charge of taking care of the seniors in her area, and making sure they can access the barangay’s various senior citizen services. These include senior citizen discounts and allowances, among others.
At 62, Corazon is now a senior citizen herself. She was among the attendees of the Smart Millenniors session held in Brgy 576 Zone 56, Sampaloc, Manila, where they learned more about smartphones, mobile data, social media, and video streaming, as well as the basics of smartphone photography, internet safety and online information literacy. They were assisted by young volunteers from their barangay and Smart.
“Without technology, we’d have to go to the office ourselves. That takes time, effort, and money. But when you know how to use your smartphone, everything is just so much easier. I can react right away, and I can disseminate the information to my fellow seniors instantly, too,” she added.
For Roberto Galon, these digital platforms are essential to community-building. “Tools like these are important to communities like ours. We can get news and information, not just from communities in the Philippines but from other parts of the world as well,” he said.
Barangay secretary RJ Burce, one of the youth volunteers, was among those who assisted the barangay seniors, including her mother Tess. “You can tell that our seniors really learned a lot from this session,” she said. “My mother really enjoyed learning more about using her smartphone, as well as Facebook and Messenger, in particular.”
Millennior Lilia San Jose, on the other hand, enjoyed the portion on video streaming the most. “When I was younger, I really loved watching movies. Now, I just have to go to YouTube to watch my favorite action stars,” she shared.
Fellow Millennior John Bangit, meanwhile, appreciated his interaction with his youthvolunteer the most. “I am really thankful to my volunteer because she was really patient with me and my questions. I still have a lot to learn about technology, and I’m glad she was able to answer my queries,” he said.
Corazon, Lilia, John, and the seniors of Brgy 576 Zone 56 are the latest additions to the growing ranks of tech- and social-media savvy Millenniors across the country. Launched by PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications in 2017, the program received an Award of Excellence at the 17th Philippine Quill Awards for its efforts in teaching seniors about technology and engaging the youth in their areas. Since 2017, it has held programs with seniors around Metro Manila, Laguna, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and General Santos City.
“We are now in the age of social media. Even as seniors, we have to learn, so we don’t get left behind,” said Corazon. “Thanks to programs like these, we can confidently say we are not behind the young when it comes to technology.”