The First Baguio Blog Conference
I started writing online way back 2007, you could say i was at my limit when it comes to looking for other sources of income. In 2008 i was introduced to blogging and how people could express themselves through this online media. Setting up a blog is free and if you cannot afford to pay a monthly fee for your domain you could always use a sub-domain, so i started blogging with the hopes that i would be earning something from it. Two years passed and my adsense was at $20. I was discouraged and am already thinking about abandoning this endeavor.
Fast Forward to 2010
In October 2010 i got the chance to join Wordcamp in Manila, i was so lucky to be able to register. During the Wordcamp i observed that there is much to learn about blogging, online marketing and wordpress itself. I was so overwhelmed with information and was eager to apply it to my blog. During the event there is one thing that stuck in my mind and that is “When you blog, do not blog for profit, blog your passion, write about what you are passionate about”.
In all honesty i forgot the name of the blogger who gave that advice, however it got me thinking, what am i passionate about? What would i like to blog about? Then i thought to myself, i love the City of Baguio, i was born and raised here and never settled outside the City. I have been in three different addresses in the City and have grown to love the pine scented air. Even with the current urban decay i think Baguio City is not really bad as how others have perceived it.
The Lakbay Baguio Project
So after deciding what i should blog about, armed with only a free voucher which i won during word camp, five hundred pesos and lots of “lakas ng loob” (courage) i started to blogging about Baguio City. Thus began my adventure around the city of Baguio and even the Ilocos Region (the place i consider as my second home). I just started blogging about my adventures, going to restaurants, and the different tourist destinations as well as blogging about the different events in the City of Pines and for what its worth i am enjoying every minute of it. Just in case you will be asking, yes all of my adventures’ expenses came out of my own pocket.
Its already been more than two years since i started the project, and last year i realized that businesses in Manila use bloggers to promote their products and services, i think what makes bloggers as effective promoters online is because of their convincing power and their conviction of honestly blogging about something. I believe that you cannot force a blogger to blog about a product or a place showing only the positive side, bloggers give their honest opinion about anything and everything.
The First Baguio Blog Conference Project
When i attended the Wordcamp i fell asleep in one of the talks to be honest, i did not know what the guy was blabbering about, but i politely positioned myself so as not to make it obvious that i was taking a doze. I was very tired because i had to travel from Baguio to Manila on the same day as the event. Then thought to myself “I wish these kinds of tech events would happen in Baguio”, all i saw in Baguio City are those “networking” seminars, get rich quick schemes and call center trainings but never a true tech event like a Blog Conference, Startup Weekend, Google Business Group, Google Development Groups and Hackathons. I may be wrong, maybe some events were already held in Baguio but most of the tech events are confined in the academe. I wished for a tech event that would cater to everybody from the Government Down to the Academe inviting not only professionals but those who would really benefit from it.
It was in 2010 while on my way back to Baguio City that i really thought that why not bring such tech events in Baguio City? Baguio City is the central hub for education in North Luzon anyway. So i did a little research using my website, i asked around for Blogger groups in Baguio and i even searched and commented on different blogs about Baguio inviting them to join me in forming a Baguio Bloggers’ group. The search was rather frustrating, i have learned that some blog sites promoting Baguio City are not from Baguio they are operating outside of Baguio, some have gone inactive and went to Manila where bloggers are seen to be a good part of the online community. But it was not that all futile, i met Gemma who is a Baguio Blogger but is focused mostly in her work as a programmer, but i thought to myself this is a start.
In 2011 i started to intensify my blog trying my best to join every event in Baguio City. I contacted the Panagbenga Secretariat and they gladly accommodated me again this is voluntary, i applied for a photographers’ id for the Parades and was very appreciative of their support, although i got a staredown from other people after knowing i am just a blogger, but who cares i got my id and I was able to promote Panagbenga 2011 well. A lot of people from other parts of the country gave me thank you messages as well as inquiries, most of their inquiries were, where to stay in Baguio, cheap accommodations in Baguio and tourist destinations in Baguio City. I was overwhelmed with inquiries regarding accommodation and i could not turn a deaf ear so i created a Baguio Transient Directory Page where i could list down ANY Transient House who wants to be listed.
The overwhelming response from the online community motivated me to pursue the Blog Conference, but the final push came in when i attended the Google Map Maker Summit Luzon, i met a Bloggers from General Santos City, sir Avel of the Sox Bloggers, he and his fellow bloggers were successful in organizing a blog community in their area one of the few blog communities outside of Metro Manila. They were able to help organizing tech events but one striking accomplishment was that they were able to change the image of Mindanao in the online community. His words were “dati pag nagsearch ka ng General Santos sa internet ang laging lumalabas ay mga negative, pero ngayon with the help of Bloggers that image was changed”. If i am to give him a title i would call him the Online Tourism Ambassador for Mindanao. There are similar communities in Cagayan De Oro and other areas in the South. Now i asked myself is the North capable of doing that? I believe we can.
Never Giving Up
So it was settled, with the pledge of help from fellow Bloggers in Baguio they have decided to help me in my vision. To bring such tech event in Baguio, but just to set the record straight the first tech event that i co-organized was Kat’s Geekcamp Baguio which is the first Geekcamp in the Philippines. I just hope Kat would forego the idea of bringing the event to Manila next year. Anyway, going back, i was very grateful to University of Baguio for helping us with venue problems, one problem down. I tried looking for sponsors sending letters to businesses in Baguio City, i was very hopeful because there are really large businesses in the city who might be able to help a rag tag team of organizers. After doing a lot of leg work its time to look for speakers.
As soon as the announcement of the First Baguio Blog Conference was made many already volunteered their services for free, i am thankful to our speakers for being “game” even if i told them that we do not have any budget to pay for their Professional Fee. I was shocked that sir Avel, Mam Janette, Sir Florencio, Sir Azrael, Sir Antonio, and Sir Fitz all agreed. These are bloggers who are making it Big in the field of Blogging and Online Marketing, not to mention Baguio Bloggers in the person of Ane, Dean and Joven. I think i was able to put together a credible list of speakers.
The Sponsorship Conumdrum
After a week i went to follow-up my sponsorship letters, I was turned down by a big corporation stating their reasons of supporting entrepreneurial social responsibility, i always thought online marketing is technopreneurship would that not count? Another expressed willingness to donate 200 pesos, which really made me so sad. I said to myself rejection is part of it, i must already make myself ready for rejections. I turned to the government for support, when i called up a government office i was being asked for a surety bond, i told them its not a contest, i asked for an audience with them and after thorough explanation i am positive that support through endorsement will be given. The City Mayor’s office secretary asked me what Blog is, and again after explaining it to them i am positive of their support.
Avengers to the Rescue
The problem however, is that in order for a conference to move forward you have to have financial support, which i do not have. I expressed my problems with some of the Bloggers and Manila especially with the speakers and like a lightning and like the avengers the bloggers in manila (whom i’ve not really met in person) went into action. I was flooded with emails and text messages from interested sponsors. I realized that BAYANIHAN can happen anytime anywhere, and blogging communities when activated could really make a BIG nay HUGE nay GARGANTUAN difference. This is the very reason why i envisioned the Blog Conference to Inspire people to blog especially those in Baguio City, CAR and North Luzon. Some of our speakers will be talking about how Bloggers can make a big difference not only in promotion but also in disaster response and helping in Government Projects.
Cordillera Bloggers Assemble!
The support of Manila and Gensan Bloggers was matched by the determination of the Cordillera Bloggers, we are composed of students and professionals and through our own talents and abilities we were able to put together those what we have now. I especially thank Dean, Kat, Ane and Joven for their valuable support. Another special thanks to Joven for creating the posters and the Cordillera Bloggers logo. If we all pitch in together, we all focus on one goal and row the boat in the same direction the Cordillera Bloggers will be North Luzon’s Blog and Tech Ambassadors.
As i’ve said a while ago this event will not be a reality without the support of our sponsors where despite the Cordillera Bloggers name is unheard of and the group could not provide what other Blog Communities can offer they still put their trust in us, investing in an event with no apparent output in sight is what i call nothing short of Faith. Thank your SMART, AZALEA RESIDENCES, UNILAB, SUN CELLULAR, jaypeeonline and Solid Hosting for putting your FAITH in us, we hope that this will be the first of many. Let me also take this opportunity to call for more sponsors.
I was constantly being asked by my Co-cordillera bloggers why i want to push through with this, why stress myself out while in fact i could just blog and promote the city on my own. I always answer it this way, there are a lot of people out there especially in the Cordillera and Ilocos Regions whose got the talent to write, who loves doing what they do and would love to share it to others but they don’t know how to start and where to begin. Baguio City is a treasure trove of english writing and speaking people, who are wasting their time in unproductive endeavor. Many business and even the Government are not well informed about what blogging is, my vision for the First Baguio Blog Conference is to Properly inform and to INSPIRE people to Express their Passion, Animate their Life and Share the Fun.