At the height of COVID-19 pandemic, Chito Samontina (@ChitoSamontina) launched a campaign in partnership with online food delivery app, Food Panda, to deliver food packs to the front liners of Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC). “In times of calamities, I always feel called to organize relief operations. And this time, I have been thinking of a way to help the front liners, especially the medical practitioners, but the call is to stay safe at home,” says Chito. “Definitely, I wouldn’t want to send someone out and do errands because we know the risk we run when we go out at this time.”
And as though the heavens heard Chito’s search for an opportunity to help, Food Panda communicated with him for a promotional campaign.
“I know how blessed I am. I am staying here at home but I still earn. Then I thought, why not convert their payment in the form of relief for the front liners.” With that idea, Chito’s fee for this stint was converted to 100 food packs for the SPMC team.
It was that fateful time in 2016 when Chito created a video for his personal consumption and posted it online for his friends to see. When he woke up the following day, Chito’s post had gone viral. He had found for himself a following that kept growing over time and they kept asking for more contents from Chito. This breakthrough online made Chito decide to go back home to Davao City who had built his career in the bustling Metro Manila.
“My blog about the Mindanao Martial Law led me to open an online community but later it developed into a travel and lifestyle blog. And in 2017, I landed on a hosting job for Byaheng DO30.”
When this prolific online personality was asked what for him is his biggest challenge, Chito said, “Maulawon kaayo ko sa personal (I am usually very shy),” he confesses. “Being in social media, I know I always have to be careful with my thoughts and actions. You know what they say that you can do a lot of good things but just one mistake will blow everything off. I feel the need to express my thoughts in a way that people can understand.
And though bashing used to hurt me, I have grown past it. I have come to accept that not everyone will agree with my opinion. Bad mouthing no longer affects me; those who bash don’t know me personally, they are basically against my opinions and though I appreciate criticisms and opposing views, I choose not to debate,” Chito says. He shares further that he also finds courage when netizens would send Chito a message to tell him that he is inspiring them and making them happy.
With the word “influencer” Chito, expresses his reservation to this particular word. “This label is a misnomer. Actually, everyone who is on social media is an influencer. You don’t really need to have tens of thousands of followers just so you can use your influence for a good cause. If you’re online, why not seek to inspire others? There are countless ways to inspire.”
As for his lessons in his online career, Chito bears in mind that everything is temporary. “I am this regular guy on social media who happens to have a following. So I always make it to a point that I use my influence to help. All the community outreach posted on my page are paid videos which I converted as help,” he shares. “I do this not to brag that I am able to help but I mainly do this to invite influencers and social media personalities to do the same. There has to be a ripple effect in what we do.”
Such is the feat of @ChitoSamontina, a self-made Dabawenyo who hails from Los Amigos, Tugbok District – and not the least shy about it.
Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan is a teacher at Tuburan Institute, Inc. She is also a wife and a mother of two. For questions and comments, feel free to drop her an e-mail at email@example.com or visit her Facebook page, Joan Mae Soco.
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