Sometimes, fate has a way of allowing you to find the people you need the most. That is how I view my experience on those two fateful weekends that I spent in Thunderbird Resorts – Poro Point in La Union, and Binangonan, Rizal.

To be honest, I never thought I would find myself in such a summit – the Digital Influencers Marketing Summit – because for a time, I disliked the word “marketing” and everything associated with it. I felt that I did not have the required guts to be involved in anything related to “selling.”

But after years in theater and events, and a full year at a rock bar where I did pretty much everything myself, I realized I have been doing marketing without really knowing it.

When I needed customers to come to my bar and other events, I did marketing. When I needed sponsors for my events, I did marketing. When I met with my suppliers, I did marketing.

I have been doing marketing ever since I have been traveling, “marketing” the places I go to by posting my experiences, my photos and any information related to these places. I have been doing marketing since I put that online retail shop, Kikayism, with my good friend from graduate school PJ Valenciano, now designer and owner of Palamuti– a line of handmade accessories made for women. I have been doing a lot of marketing and I never actually realized it.

I found out about the summit from my friend Ana Locsin, the woman behind Pitaka Lifestyle Billfold, a line of tarpaulin wallets with adhoc Filipino designs, who shared the summit’s poster on her wall. At first I was really just interested in being able to come see Thunderbird Resorts.

There were two venues on two different weekends. One was for February 2, at Thunderbird Rizal, which was quite close to where I lived. Another was for January 26, at Thunderbird Poro Point in La Union – less than an hour away from the surfing capital that is San Juan. At first thought I decided I was going to the one in Rizal because of the proximity. On second thought, I thought going to La Union was also a good excuse to come out there to do some surfing.

I compared the two schedules, modules and speakers and found that they were not too similar, and that I could benefit from attending both. And so I did.

la-union-poster-white-all-speakers-2

Part 1: DIM Thunderbird Poro Point

The Journey:
I took the 6-hr bus ride from El Nido to Puerto Princesa, flew in to Manila, and took the 5 hr-bus ride all the way to La Union, from Thursday til Saturday. I arrived in San Fernando very early in the morning, quite freezing and very sleepy, but very happy to be there. I got to see the sunrise and had delicious coffee with the view of the San Fernando sea.

I was the very first to arrive at the resort and was perhaps, the first one too to the coffee table. I needed it.

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

 

The Speakers:
The speakers were varied, but I loved them all. From the honesty of Vanj Padilla of Pangalatalk.com, admitting how she found it hard to switch from traditional to new media, and how difficult single motherhood was (and how I loved her in every way!)

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union


…to the quirkiness of Vincent Tabor of LakbayBaguio.

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

…to the lively discussion on search engine optimization from speakers Ben Francia and Tof Salcedo.

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

 …to the even livelier talk from Mae Paner – the lady who has found it in herself to advocate change, not just on herself, but in society in general, and has, through Juana Change, produced a 2-volume DVD composed of 31 music videos, shorts, and other presentations, including the “Lupang Hinirang” video which, for me, debuted at the PAG-ASA weekend seminar in 2008.

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

…as well as the talks from Joma Giron and Mannix Pabalan where they shared local industry observations, personal experience, and insight on how the internet is used for commercial and trend setting purposes, how to use social media for customer relationship management, as well as how to become a brand advocate and influencer.

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

…and to the purchase behavior studies presented by Dr. Nick Fontanilla.

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

The talks were all inspiring, motivating, informative, and even challenging.

I had all sorts of ideas running through my head, that inevitably, I was one of the most engaged members of the audience, along with Francis Romero of Spyder and Behind Thick Framed Glasses.

I love Francis. I could probably say that he is one of the best things that happened to me in that summit. I met him over lunch. Being a participant who came alone, I was going to be eating alone, but I happened to have just picked the right table to join – his and Aris‘, the team from Spyder.

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit Thunderbird Resorts, Poro Point, La Union

We knew some people and talked about them openly and sincerely. We laughed a lot. We got along so well that at the end of the summit, we found ourselves together on a jeep bound for San Juan. And we ended spending nearly all of Sunday surfing and lounging under the Bacnotan sun.

The Reasons:
There are a number of reasons why I loved the summit, and they were mostly people.

1. Janette Toral
I salute her for having brought all these people together. I don’t know how long she has been at this but I am grateful for all that she has done and is doing, and look forward to anything she will come up with.

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit Thunderbird Resorts, Poro Point, La Union

2. Mannix Pabalan
I worked for a marketing company for a week or so, and met him at the lobby. It was, apparently, his last day at the office, when I saw him and other participants of the La Union summit too.
And through a shared background, having both come from the same university, and other shared interests in marketing and digital media, we have come to be friends.

3. Francis Romero
What is it exactly that brought us first together? I would have to say JJ. And that is all I will say about that. And everything else follows. Our shared humor and interests coming a close second and third.

4. Vincent Tabor
We may not be close enough in terms of interests, because I have not actually been to Baguio in 6 years, and at that time I was just passing by on my way to Sagada. So make it 17 years. The last time I really went around Baguio and explored it was in 1996 and I was thirteen. But I like Vincent simply because he was nice enough to help me out with a marketing contact. I appreciate people who are not selfish, and he certainly isn’t.

5. Ben Francia
I get in touch with Ben Francia a lot these days – because I am a fan of his Digital Mastermind group concept and a believer of his advocacy. If there is anything I learned from my rock bar venture, it is that it is never good to be alone, in anything. Someone has to be there to tell you what you are doing is right, and more importantly, someone has to tell you that what you are doing or want to do IS WRONG. I would have appreciated someone telling me what to do, because a lot of times, I was either lost or too busy or sleepless to think properly.
Ben Francia

Ben Francia

6. Mae Paner
I first met Mae in the Nick Perlas-led event PAG-ASA weekend conference in Tagaytay back in 2008. Other than the fact that she, Raymond Lee (of Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, Zombadings: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington and Endo) and I were in the same work group, we share the same birthday – May 24, all seven years apart.

Though Raymond and I have kept in touch through the years, through connections in the film industry, I lost contact with Mae. Last time I heard from her was when she was about to launch the first ever Juana Change video on YouTube. Or maybe it was even Raymond who gave me the link, I don’t remember anymore. Though Mae and I have more than enough connections in the theater industry, Uleb Nieto and Nicco Manalo to name a couple at least, we have not worked together or met again, until the summit.
It was nice to see how much weight Mae has lost, and how so many things have changed but her humor is even more marvelous.

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit Thunderbird Resorts, Poro Point, La Union

 7. Nick Fontanilla

His research is just awe-inspiring. I always love it when there are numbers, facts, and thorough research behind every idea or activity. With an undergraduate degree in Biology, and trained in research and writing, I appreciate when thoughts are put into writing through numbers, graphs, and devoted study. Looking at his slides and his research, I could not help but think, “If I can be this thorough about my own thesis, I would be fine. I could even be publishable, which is more than fine.” I was really quite inspired to go back to a field that I actually enjoyed – research writing.

8. Joma Giron
The face of Thunderbird Resorts, at least for me, Joma has that face you would be happy to see in any crowd. And I am always happy to see him, with that big smile of his. Even if his favorite word is “actually”, which is actually, one of my old favorite words, until someone pointed it out to me. Joma has a geniality that one can emulate.

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

Baccarat at the Fiesta Casino at the end of the day

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

Just hanging out at the Fiesta Casino VIP lounge

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union
Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

At the end of the day in Poro Point, I met so many people that I look up to and ask for guidance every now and then. And how fitting that is, because for me, marketing has never been just about the sharing of information, or the selling of the product, it has always been the people. It has always been about the people: what I can give other people, and what they can get out of it. Just as in teaching, I do not just want to give the lessons out of the text book, I want to give a learning experience that they can use outside of the classroom. In marketing, I do not just want to sell a product, I want to sell an experience.

And as part of who I am as a person, I do not sell just any product, I only “sell” something that I use myself, that’s why I can recommend it, or something that I love, that’s why I would, and could, recommend it.

There is still so much to learn, so many people to meet, and so many ideas to share. My world is becoming more and more interesting, more challenging as I meet more and more people that are inspiring in the things they do. I look forward to becoming more a part of this new world, this new group of people, that I have found through Digital Filipino and the Digital Influencers Marketing Summit. I look forward to learning more and sharing more – sharing what I know, what I have experienced, and what I can become.

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit La Union

 

Part 2 of this blog will be on the Digital Infuencers Marketing Summit in Thunderbird Resorts Rizal.

For photos of our mini-tour of Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, click HERE.

Share: