MANILA, July 20, 2012—While some parents may regard online games as nothing but demonstrations in violence and aggression, some young participants at the recent 1st Catholic Social Media Summit eagerly anticipated exploring another kind of online games upon the prodding of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle – bible-based games.
Asked how she and her companions found the summit, 15-year-old Alina Zano said it was interesting and didn’t make them feel sleepy at all – especially when online games were mentioned.
“Katulad nung mga bible games, I would ‘like’ them but I did not try playing them. Pero ngayong nalaman ko na [mukhang maganda] pala, eh di i-ta-try ko na.”
The prelate during his keynote speech at the event broached the idea of game developers coming up with more games based on virtues rather than on vices.
“I hope there are more games based on the Bible in the internet. Why don’t (game developers) create games based on the Beatitudes where the more hungry people you feed, the more thirsty people you quench with drinks, or more prisoner you visit in jail, the more successful you become?” he asked.
Another speaker, Fr. Stephen Cuyos, MSC of the Communications Foundation for Asia, mentioned a particular game called “Journey on Jesus: The Calling,” which is available on Facebook, and urged summit participants to play Bible games and install Bible apps in their gadgets.
University of the Philippines student John Juat said he was aware that social media could be used as a tool to evangelize “but I didn’t really use it to evangelize – more of for academics and games. But now I learned that you can also learn new things by playing bible games.”
Juat uses the internet also to store his pro-life poetry on his blog and share it with others (“I evangelize in my own way siguro by inspiring others through my poems”), but he said he could do more after being inspired by all that he saw and heard during the two-day event.
“It’s very, very helpful, very inspiring, and I actually made a promise to myself that I will start reading the bible more, because how can you give to others what you don’t have?” he said.
“I’ll start reading the bible again because I haven’t done so for the longest time – mga five years na. I just read the readings for the mass, that’s it. That’s the challenge, my resolution after this.”
Ging del Rosario, a homeschooling mother of 5, said she was no “techie” and admitted a certain laziness in learning the workings of social media and digital apps.
“But I know once you get the hang of it, it will be easy. And that’s actually my resolution after this – to sit down with someone who will teach me how to do all these things, so I can guide my children and so I can spread whatever I think would be good to share.”
She had been spending a good deal of time reading documents to aid her in making online life more productive and substantial. “Even the Holy Father admits that we can make good use of these social media, spread the good. We just have to be well-formed,” del Rosario said.
Boosting formation, self-discipline
To other parents who hesitate to get better acquainted with social media, “To use John Paul’s idea, ‘fear not. Be not afraid, have faith. But we also have to do our part. We try to form ourselves well first, because how can we help others if we ourselves lack the necessary formation?”
Jam Serquina, who heads the Youth Commission of the Last Supper of Our Lord Parish in Paranaque, actively uses Facebook and Twitter mainly to communicate with friends. Attending the summit with her group, however, was geared toward the task of evangelization.
“Social media is a big part of our life now. So for us to be able to communicate with this generation as well, [it would be important to] use social media to inspire them to become good Christians,” she said.
An active user of Facebook and Twitter, Serquina admitted experiencing the occasional overuse of the internet, pointing to what Tagle had mentioned in his speech as a common pitfall among active communication technology users.
“Sometimes the moment you wake up, you check if you have messages, like what the bishop said. I find that happening to me sometimes, but as much as possible I don’t make it as ‘addicting’. More on moderation – kailangan mo lang talaga ng control.”
Christine Gomez, active in youth training, appreciated the event and agreed with the Manila Archbishop’s take on social media’s potential to bring about a lot of good.
“At least for us Catholics and Christians, it’s a reminder of how to contribute positively to cyberspace, to make a difference with your online presence. Because like any instrument it’s indifferent. You can use it for good or for bad. It depends on the intentions and the dispositions of the user.” (CBCP for Life)