Farmers and former educators from Magdalena, Laguna are the latest additions to the growing ranks of tech savvy seniors called Smart Millenniors
Edna Diego is excited. She has worked tirelessly on their vegetable farm all these years, growing every crop that the land and the weather in Magdalena, Laguna, could nurture, in order to send her three children to college.
With two of them already working, and her youngest set to graduate with a degree in criminology this year, Edna, now 53, is ready for the next challenge. “I have been attending seminars and workshops to improve myself and my business, so when the opportunity to learn more about smartphones and mobile data arrived, I took it,” she said.
Now she knows there are far greater benefits from using smartphones. “I look forward to posting photos of my harvest online, so I can attract more customers, she said.
For retired educators Lita Rubina and Emma Cube, after decades of teaching generations of Magdalena children, it’s back to the classroom, this time as learners.
The three women are among the latest graduates of the Smart Millenniors program, held recently at the Farmers Information and Technology Services Center in Magdalena, Laguna. Held in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Training Institute, the government unit in charge of upskilling farmers and fishermen, the sessions covered the basics of smartphones, mobile data, social media and video streaming.
“My children always tell me, I should learn about new things like smartphones, so that I wouldn’t be left behind. I used to think that smartphones were just for kids, and that it was enough for adults like me to know the basics like calling and texting,” said Edna. “Now that I know how to use a smartphone, I am definitely saving up for a newer unit.”
Teacher Lita, 73, was doubly thrilled by the role reversal, as one of the volunteer trainers is her former student. “I remember Regelyn Aliparo, she graduated at the top of her class. I’m proud to say that today, it was my turn to learn from her.”
She’s confident that what she learned from her former student will be useful in her day-to-day activities. “I also look forward to sharing these lessons to my fellow seniors, as well,” said Lita, who is an officer of the Magdalena Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (Mosca).
Agriculture students and alumni from the Laguna State Polytechnic University also attended the session as volunteers and helped guide the participants through the different learning modules.
“We always go around the farms to talk to the farmers about their needs. With smartphones and social media, reaching out to them will be much easier—if they need anything, or want to request something, we are just one chat message away,” said Zaira Esperanza, one of the volunteers who also works at the Farmers Training Center.
“Sometimes, when we meet with the farmers, they tell us that they need new seeds, for example. With smartphones, they can tell us ahead of time what they need so we can get these to them faster,” she added.
Teacher Emma, who heads the local Office on Senior Citizens Affairs in Magdalena, was more excited about video streaming. “I now know how to search YouTube for reference videos for our dance performances in the future,” 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.
“We are happy to partner with the DA and the DA-ATI in spreading the knowledge about technology and smartphones to more Filipinos, especially among our farmers,” said Darwin Flores, head of community partnerships at PLDT and Smart.
“With this program, we hope not only to equip our farmers and seniors with the skills necessary to access the wealth of information available on the internet through their smartphones, but also to inspire them to share their own knowledge and expertise to their peers online through 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.