It takes a village (on Facebook) to find a lost dog or fix a leaky pipe
Ermie Estialbo, a resident of BF Resort Village in Las Piñas City, had been living with the stench of household trash that remained uncollected for two weeks when she decided to take the matter into her own hands.
No, she did not make an angry call to a local government official. Instead, the PR practitioner posted her complaint on the Facebook page of the BF Resort Village Homeowners Association.
With the help of other residents online, Estialbo was able to contact the person in charge of garbage collection in the village. Her stinky problem was solved in five hours.
When the Marikina City government ordered the demolition of the newly installed gates of Twinville subdivision in February, residents became worried because of the rising cases of theft and burglary, as well as street violence involving minors in the village.
As president of the Twinville Homes Association Inc. (THAI), Sunny Pagaduan called for a public hearing, stressing the need for the majority of the residents to be present. His appeal was promptly posted on the group’s Facebook page.
“The result was the biggest gathering of residents ever in our subdivision, with almost 100 percent wanting the gates to remain,” Pagaduan said.
The BF Resort and Twinville homeowners are part of a growing online population who have found social media a potent vehicle for resolving community concerns with unusual speed and often without having to leave their homes or offices.
Whether the problem is domestic (such as a lost pet) or public (like traffic jam, illegal parking, clogged drainage systems or busted water pipes), actions and solutions seem swifter if the initial conversations take place in cyberspace.
For Pagaduan, speed is the main appeal of social media. “Information dissemination through Facebook is fast,” he noted.
Twinville’s Facebook account was created in 2009 by then THAI president Paul Sison, who currently heads the public information office of the Marikina City government.
Aimed at fostering a deeper sense of community among homeowners, the page now has more than 300 members or just 10 percent of the 3,000 residents.
But Pagaduan said the key was tagging the younger residents active on social media who were “quick to relay information’’ to their older family members.
BF Resort Village’s Facebook account was created in 2011 by Mavic Quioge as ordered by the association’s board of directors. Since then, it has been a key communication platform between the officers and residents.
Opened in 1968, BF Resort is a sprawling subdivision whose streets are named after Filipino beauty queens from the 1950s to the 1980s such as Gemma Cruz (1964 Miss International), Gloria Diaz (1969 Miss Universe), and Aurora Pijuan (1970 Miss International).
According to Quioge, the homeowners’ meetings used to be held either at the clubhouse or the residence of one of the officers. But due to their busy schedules at home or at work, many villagers do not exactly consider the meetings a priority.
Organizers also have the “arduous task’’ of scheduling those events, preparing the food and other needs, she added.
“But with Facebook, a resident can serve as the facilitator and there’s no need for all the members to be in one room,” Quioge said.
BF Resort’s FB page has more than 800 members sharing a range of useful information like the schedule of water service interruptions or village sports tournaments. Like Twinville’s site, however, its membership is still a fraction of the total village population of 10,000.
Still, word easily spreads across the subdivision thanks to the young Facebook members who relay the posts to their folks.
The benefits can be very personal like in the case of Micel Arillo who lost her shih tzu inside the subdivision. She simply posted a picture of the missing dog which was returned to her the same day.
Reading message threads on the BF Resort’s Facebook can also offer a peek into collective or individual concerns. When Alfred Ryan Teves posted a photo of a rusty water tank to show how it had become a “community eyesore,” he sparked a conversation that led to it being repainted. The project was even sponsored by a paint company.
Every last Friday of the month, the BFRV association officers hold a meeting—or an “eyeball” in social media lingo—to tackle mostly long-term issues like the water supply, etc.
But the usual, day-to-day concerns no longer form part of the agenda. “We leave that to our Facebook page,” Quioge said.
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