This is one of a series of blog posts from the third ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are expanding the boundaries of digital news. Applications are open to apply for this year’s fellowship until June 6. Fellow Armie Garde is assistant content editor and multimedia journalist for Sun.Star Publishing, Cebu City, Philippines.
Filipinos are everywhere around the world. I have relatives who work as engineers in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, former schoolmates who work as IT professionals in Singapore, Japan and Australia, and former colleagues who are now based in the United States, Europe and Africa. In total, more than two million Filipinos are working abroad, according to the 2013 Survey on Overseas Filipinos.
Most of them only get the chance to visit their home countries every two to four years. They miss celebrating special occasions — Christmas, New Year’s Eve, festivals — with their loved ones. Responding to their need to keep close ties with their countries, the Sun.Star website marks major news events in the Philippines through live streaming or real-time video reports.
The news site I work for pools news and information from Sun.Star newspapers and networks in 12 major cities around the Philippines. On top of my regular tasks, which include processing the content of our affiliate newspapers for online publication and producing multimedia content, I am also part of the team that handles live-streaming events. Some of those include the Thanksgiving Day of the canonization of Pedro Calungsod, the second Filipino saint, in November 2012; the Sinulog festival in Cebu every January, local and national elections in May 2013, President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) in July 2013, and the Ironman 70.3 Philippines in August 2013.
“Distance is no longer a barrier for us to know what’s happening in other parts of the world and to report what’s happening in the country. We find this platform a big leap in communication.”
Filipinos are known not only for hospitality, but for the faithfuls’ religiosity. Despite the diverse culture, tradition and dialects spoken in different parts of the country, we share a common way of life and practices, like celebrating fiestas or feasts in honor of a patron saint.
Every January since 2009, Sun.Star streams live the Sinulog, one of the country’s grandest festivals, also celebrated in honor of the Sr. Sto. Nino (Holy Child). Many overseas Filipinos, mostly devotees of the Holy Child, visit Cebu City to witness the festival, but those who cannot watch via live streaming. “Devotion to the Holy Child has long been held as one of the cornerstones of Cebuano spirituality … It’s like having front-row seats in the Cebu City Sports complex,” said Victor Daria Jr., who lives in Reservoir, Victoria, Australia.
Sun.Star also live streams the Simbang Gabi, the nine-day novena Mass before Christmas Day. I covered the Simbang Gabi live streaming in 2012 and was overwhelmed by the comments of Filipinos abroad who had been looking forward to seeing these events.
“We are thankful to technology because it makes these things possible. Distance is no longer a barrier for us to know what’s happening in other parts of the world and to report what’s happening in the country. We find this platform a big leap in communication,” said Mildred Galarpe, acting Editor in Chief of the Sun.Star website.
Our live-streaming team typically is composed of a technical staff that handles the set-up and an editorial staff that manages online interaction. There are several online tools that allow you to stream live. We prefer either YouTube and UStream. A replay of the event is also available once the live streaming is done.
Francis June Ygot, Web Tech Support head, also shared a few pointers:
- Test the internet connection first to make sure you can stream video.
- Make sure the streaming area is secure.
- Make sure to set up in an area that is nearest to a power source in case devices need to be charged.
- Try to simulate live streaming ahead of time so you can test your video and audio output, as well any graphics you intend to put on your stream.
Live streaming isn’t just about sharing experiences as they happen, or knowing the news as it unfolds. It’s also about letting the audience connect to each other … and to home.
Fellow Armie Garde is assistant content editor and multimedia journalist for Sun.Star Publishing, Cebu City, Philippines. She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Cebu College.