For Perpekto Samparada, a rice farmer from Magdalena, Laguna, his farm is his pride and joy. “This is our family’s main source of livelihood,” he says, gesturing to the rice field behind him. “I have dedicated my life to this, and I can say that this is our slice of heaven here on earth.”

It used to be that the only ones who could see his farm are those who could make the trip. But after learning how to shoot and upload videos on social media, he can now share the simple joys of farm life to more people through the Internet.

Samparada was among the newest graduates of the Smart Millenniors program in Magdalena, where a group of seniors and farmers learned more about smartphones, mobile data, video streaming and social media with the help of youth volunteers from the Farmers Information and Technology Services Center and Laguna State Polytechnic University.

To test their skills, the participants took on a special “Millennior Vlogger” challenge, and were asked to share a snippet of their lives on video and upload them on Facebook.

Fellow Millennior Romy Javier also shared a video sneak peek into his usual workday in the rice mill. “I almost did not make it to deadline because my wife got sick,” he shares. “But I really wanted to submit a video, so I asked the volunteers who assisted me during our sessions to also help me with it.” His video showed Javier touring the viewer around the rice mill, lifting heavy sacks and demonstrating how to use the equipment there.

Stephanie Viterbo, one of the volunteers who helped Javier with his video, shared that she was proud of their ‘joint project’. “I was inspired by Kuya Romy’s desire to learn and participate in the challenge,” she said.

Like Javier, the other participants also turned to their younger family members for help. “I asked my daughter and grandchild to help me, but I was the one who called the shots,” said 73-year-old retired principal Lita Jocson, adding that she specifically requested for some additional scenes to be shot for continuity’s sake. “I’m really happy they took the time to help me make it.”

Participant Nida Cariño, president of the senior citizens federation in their barangay, also turned to her grandchildren. “This video actually took several takes,” she explained. Mild-mannered and soft-spoken, Cariño said she had to be coached on how to be more energetic on video. “We tried many set-ups-eventually I found that the best way to do the video is standing up. I also tried to make my voice sound livelier.”

“In my more than 20 years as a farmer, this is the first time that my harvest has been seen on the Internet,” said participant Edna Diego. “This wouldn’t have been possible had I not attended this program.”

The video submissions showcased snippets of farm life alongside scenes of active senior citizens doing volunteer work for other seniors at the Magdalena senior citizens affairs office or joining the regular morning Zumba in the Magdalena town plaza.

“Magdalena is 75% agricultural, and with my video, I wanted to share to the world just how rich and beautiful our town is,” Samparada added.

Cecelia Sy, Department of Agriculture Municipal Agricultural Officer in Magdalena, said that a program leveling up farmers’ tech skills is timely. “We’re currently exploring ways for our farmers to be able to use the Internet to sell their produce, and this program is a good and timely foundation for that,” Sy said. “We also believe that this can also be a way to attract younger farmers and say that farming can also be a ‘techie’ industry.”

Herself a casual social media user, Sy said Magdalena’s Millennior vloggers are an inspiration. “Seeing the videos our farmers and seniors uploaded have inspired me to know more about social media myself. I look forward to the other stories our farmers can tell with their smartphones,” she said.

The Smart Millenniors program of PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications aims to teach elder Filipinos about technology, particularly about the basics of smartphones, mobile data, social media and video, with the help of youth volunteers. To honor the best Millennior vloggers, Smart also awarded smartphones to the winners of the challenge as special prizes.

“We are proud to see the fruits of our partnership with the DA and the DA-Agricultural Training Institute in upskilling our farmers,” said Darwin Flores, head of community partnerships at PLDT and Smart.

“We hope that our Smart Millenniors in Magdalena will serve as an inspiration to more farmers and seniors in other areas of the country, and help spread the word on the good things that can be done through technology, smartphones, and social media,” Flores added.

For its efforts in expanding the technological know-how of seniors across the country, the Smart Millenniors program was recently awarded a Silver Anvil at the recent 54th Anvil Awards. Since its launch in 2017, it has already conducted sessions with seniors around Metro Manila, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro.

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