News: Wanted: 10 million voters in support of “a gov’t we deserve”

Abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak: A new movement in search of 10 million voters who will support reform-oriented, pro-good governance candidates in next year’s May national and local elections was formally launched February 3.

At least 300 citizens–professionals, workers, urban poor, youths, former government officials–met at Robinsons Galleria Tuesday evening for the official launch of the Movement for Good Governance (MGG).

“We are looking for 10 million Filipinos who will elect in 2010 a new government we deserve,” declared former Finance Undersecretary Milwida Guevara, chief executive officer of Synergeia Inc., an NGO working to improve access to basic education.

In an interview with abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak, Guevara said the MGG seeks to “enable people to come together so that we can have 10 million votes to support good candidates” in next year’s elections.

‘Juana Change’ on YouTube

The seeds of the MGG social marketing campaign were actually planted last year with the launching on YouTube of four videos of “Juana Change,” a character played by actress Mae Paner. The short clips seek to promote love of country, fight corruption, and promote good citizenship.

Three new short videos were premiered that evening at Indiesine, Robinsons Galleria’s cinema for independent films, which also served as a fund-raising activity for the MGG.

Paner, who has appeared in some TV commercials, was the star at the launch. Wearing a small garterized umbrella on her head, a “Juana Change” T-shirt, and red pants, she asked the audience: “Juana Change (Wanna change)?…. Ang sagot, Juana Change din (The answer is also wanna change).”

She said the videos were produced free of charge by concerned citizens of the Convergence Team, which includes scriptwriter Rody Vera and director Sockie Fernandez.

“We in the Convergence Team are part of the MGG. Our goal is to serve the country. Our objectives cannot be achieved by just one brave person. We need many brave citizens. If we are many, then we can do a lot in 2010,” she said.

From virals to grassroots

Susan Quimpo, a member of the team, said it was time to shift the MGG’s campaign from the virals to the grassroots. As Paner told the audience at the premiere night, “We want to go national, we don’t want to be just in YouTube.”

Paner said she initially thought that the Juana Change scripts were too harsh, but scriptwriter Vera told her they merely convey the “truth” about what’s happening in the Philippines.

The key messages of the first four videos are:

  • Anti-charter change — Juana Change – “ChaCha”
  • Fighting corruption — Juana Change – “Fixer”
  • OFWs as heroes — Juana Change – “Bayani”
  • Arroyo gov’t scandals — Juana Change – “Christmas”
  • She said the sharing of the videos has been able to generate interest in a movement for change, but it needs more supporters and funding.

    “We’re glad with the result of Juana Change. Because you’ve forwarded the videos, they’re being discussed, and so there are many of us here today,” she said. “We want to continue but we need your help.”

    “Juana Change is one of the stalwarts of the MGG,” said Guevara. “We use satire, all forms of strategies to be able to drive home the message that we deserve better.”

    Multi-level marketing

    Ricky Xavier of the Movement for HOPE, said the MGG’s goal is to “recruit, unite, and organize people and groups in order to build up 10 million supporters who will elect candidates of integrity and competence.”

    He said the campaign will use a “multi-level marketing approach” where each new recruit will be asked to bring in 10 other individuals to the MGG.

    “If NAMFREL [National Movement for Free Elections] had 500,000 volunteers in 1986, our goal is one million volunteer-citizens by November 2009. This will significantly affect the results of the election,” Xavier said. “We believe that together, and with divine help, we can change the kind of political leadership and governance we’ve had because we deserve better.”

    New technologies

    Antonio La Viña, dean of the Ateneo School of Government, told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak that one of the challenges of the MGG is how to translate their ideas into action.

    “The challenge is to work hard. Having the right motivation, having faith in the people is a good thing, but you have to translate that into action,” he said.

    “I don’t think the problem is whether the persons are there, but whether we’re able to translate this urge for change, this desire for change into an organization and into numbers. So I’m not saying it will happen because it’s going to take a lot of hard work,” La Viña said.

    However, he said that with new technologies like the internet and mobile phones, it’s much easier now to get people to support a cause.

    “And the one thing that wasn’t there in past efforts was technology to connect people to each other. Before, it was very expensive to organize all over the Philippines. Now, with one video, you can get people to come together,” he said, noting that mobile phone ownership has spread to the grassroots.

    “It’s a first effort to try to really use technology to reach as many people. Our goal is 10 million voters by end of December, which we can say is a reform vote,” he added.

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