Just like everything else. There’s a growing need to make the things we build more intentional, and that comes with the awareness that technology has the power to inform rather than dissuade. For the Philippine 2019 Elections, the student-led team behind Iboto.ph is making sure of that.
Last December 2018, Developh launched the Build Fellowship to connect student developers and creators with mission-based projects. Aside from partnerships with NGOs and companies to build on existing projects or provide services, an interesting aspect of the Fellowship is its ability to support ventures from the ground-up. Through this, from conceptualization to teambuilding to development to launch, Developh creates along with the student team. Any resources, monetary and publicity needs of the like are are supported along the way.
As part of the Build Fellowship’s first cohort, Iboto.ph quickly launched and mobilized itself as a voter education tool for the Philippine 2019 Midterm Elections. Campaigning for progressives, the website serves as an accessible resource to highlight and collate information about different senatoriables in the midterm race. In a period cluttered with buzzwords, advertisements, and a severe lack of clarity–all we really need is information, straight-up.
Iboto.ph’s landing page greets you with a minimal list, reading “putting progressive candidates forward.” Each senatoriable’s page is filled with information and sources on their political stances, a summary of their work, detailed information on their platforms, experiences, biodata, and other noteworthy highlights (such as important campaigns and causes they’ve espoused). The website also provides direct links to where you can volunteer for their campaign–information that is generally harder to find if you’re not too entwined in the senatoriable’s intimate support groups already.
For underrated candidates, Iboto.ph is invaluable. Of the 62 candidates in the running for Senate, less than 10 have a functional website dedicated to their cause: this would be a bare minimum expectation in many other countries. It’s easy to get clouded in campaign jingles and tarpaulins, but that can only convey so much about a candidate. When you drop an iboto.ph link, you’re greeted with a candidate’s preview and are brought to a foundation that can bring you to learn so much more about them–raising their voices and (hopefully!) furthering their campaign.
By focusing on (subjectively chosen) progressive candidates that embody platforms and programs supported by proven experience and track record, Iboto.ph differentiates itself through intent. The voices and faces that we champion on social media need to be carefully considered. By driving conversation to many underrated yet impactful candidates in a heavily skewed race, the team behind the project seeks to enliven their cause to the masses–in a time where it is more necessary than ever.
Politics has always been palated as something conversational–something that can’t live in dinner tables and should be avoided altogether. Part of the goal behind Iboto.ph is to rethink that view. Ignorance, and at worst–apathy, towards politics has driven us into an age of spectacle-driven politics in love with populism. That sentence in itself is possibly a death sentence, but it’s a hard truth. Avoiding politics in technology has led to a lot of dangerous implications with the things we build; from the neglect of diversity across our societies or ignorance towards the ethics of machine learning and artificial intelligence–what right do we have to build if not without considering the political?
Aside from the voter education platform, Iboto.ph also offers online tools that allow people to generate their own “kodigos” (cheatsheets) for elections that they can use to campaign for candidates they believe in. With a growing social presence, the team has also been active with a blog and on different social channels, sharing live news, campaign updates, and electoral controversies.
Currently, Iboto.ph is worked on by the following: Carmen Castro, Chiara Amisola, Carol Anne Balita, Christine Dizor, Gabby Gomez, Josh Valentin, Leo Jaminola, Philly Tan, and Moira Vergel de Dios.
The project started with one individual and scaled up immensely, with fellows from Developh and all around the Philippines.
Iboto.ph garnered over 70,000 hits in its week of launch.
For more information on how Developh supports student ventures, see developh.org/ventures.