Adapting Technologies in QC District 3
With social distancing norms and lockdowns limiting mobility, Antonio turned to digital technologies to help address health and economic issues in the district.
BY FRAULEIN OLAVARIO
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROMEO PERALTA, JR.
Chuckie Antonio has taken it upon himself to push for technological innovations in fulfilling his duties as Councilor of the 3rd District of Quezon City, particularly in finding solutions to problems brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With social distancing norms and lockdowns limiting mobility, the 29-year old public servant turned to the use of digital technologies to help address health and economic issues in the district.
For one, he initiated a free teleconsultation program with the Ears, Nose, Throat (ENT) department of The Medical City, making the process of setting appointments with ENT specialists more accessibleand convenient for patients while being safe inside their homes.
To equip public school students with the requirements of distance learning in lieu of face-to-face classes, Antonio started a free tablet program. He sought the help of private institutions and donors from his own network to finance new tablets or donate old ones, which he would bring to a gadgets repair shop that he had partnered with.
Soon, Antonio will be launching jobbie.com.ph, a free job portal that will benefit not only the job hunters but also businesses and employers.
“Once I announce this, it will accept anyone who wants to put job listings, and I have a person who filters those jobs, and then it will also accept people who want to apply for those jobs. So, it’s what we call the dropship model. You bring two sides of the coin together and you’re creating that sort of free portal,” explained Antonio, who personally funded the creation of the online platform.
“I’ve talked to the city administrator about this already. I have a plan to integrate it to the QC ID system, so that we can make sure that all the beneficiaries of these jobs are from Quezon City. All you’ll have to do is enter your QC ID into the portal and it will allow you access. So, all of these are replicable [in other districts],” he adds.
His penchant for turning to technological solutions comes as no surprise.
After earning his political science degree from the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), followed by an entrepreneurial management degree from the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), Antonio completed his Masters of Science Management at the Singapore Management University, specializing in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“I was first exposed to it in Singapore. It’s a very technologically advanced country, and I wanted to sort of use that as a pattern to how I think of programs and how I do things. I would say that maybe it was only brought about by this pandemic, and because of that background, I was able to pursue it,” Antonio says.
Antonio, who’s running for reelection under the local Serbisyo sa Bayan party bannered by incumbent Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, believes in using technology to strengthen the ease of facilitating transactions, whether for health, employment, business or health.
Though he has yet to concretize the plan, Antonio would like to install e-services kiosks in every barangay to encourage citizens with limited or no access to mobile devices to embrace digital transformations.
“That way, they just walk to the barangay and someone would be there. It would solve the problem of ‘di ako marunong niyan.’ Kasi pagpunta mo doon sa e-services kiosk, may tao doon na magtuturo sa‘yo (‘I don’t know how to use that. Because when you go to the e-services kiosk, there are people there to teach you). You don’t have to go to the city, and you can do it remotely from the barangay. Wala kang cellphone? Okay, dito ka sa kiosk, ‘di ba. ‘Yung mga ganoong bagay (You don’t have a cellphone? Okay, proceed to the kiosk, right? It’s those kinds of solutions). It’s really taking advantage of technology to help make everyone’s life easier,” Antonio says.
Even outside his political career, Antonio capitalizes on digital advancements as he runs a technological company that creates mobile applications. He launched a free mobile app called Slip Communities, where online sellers can create their own digital store and accept payments for free, track sales, and withdraw their money instantly with no withdrawal fees.
“So, para kang nagkaroon ng sarili mong (It’s like having your own) website within the app, but you’re not paying anything. So, it helps you sell online, better and faster. Because the pandemic forced us to enter the digital world all of a sudden. So, [I’m all for] technology helping small businesses,” he explains.
However, before being in the position to implement technological solutions for the betterment of his constituents, Antonio had to take on the manual approach to introducing himself, while at the same time, getting to know the needs of his community.
In 2019, then running as an independent candidate for the city council, Antonio would walk the streets of the 37 barangays in Quezon City’s 3rd district, every single day, from Monday to Sunday, for 11 months.
“Inikot ko lahat (I visited them all). I didn’t even see my family anymore,” Antonio says, chuckling.
“I go around just talking to people, meeting new people, talking to them, their problems, etc. And this whole experience really taught me a lot about the people in my district, who they are, the different qualities of the different barangays, different kagawads, captains and their attitudes, etc. So, it really gave me a pulse of the district,” he recalls.
“For me that was very memorable because it sort of defined my direction and my track moving forward. They say that you can’t really lead if you don’t know what the people are thinking, ‘di ba. So, that whole experience really sort of made that holistic for me.”
It wasn’t his first foray into politics as he started his political career in the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) when he was only 15 years old. At 18, he became Quezon City’s youngest kagawad. He was named #1 Barangay Kagawad, serving three terms before running as city councilor.
“When I entered high school, that’s when I started being exposed to a lot of public service work. We used to do a lot of work with Gawad Kalinga (GK). We also used to do a lot of work with our own efforts; I used to run feeding programs with my parents, etc. It was the constant exposure to public service as a young child from my parents, their attitude when it comes to giving back. If you meet them, they really are just the type of people who always want to give back. So, in terms of public service [that experience] molded me. I guess that’s really what started my passion for public service,” Antonio recalls.
His exposure to the local government and his parents’ community service served to strengthen Antonio’s desire to keep serving his community.
“I guess in my head lagi ko nang naisip (I always thought of it) just because I started so young. I mean, during those times, I was in 4th year high school. ‘Yung mga ibang ka-batch ko wala namang ibang iniisip kundi school lang tsaka labas. Ako, I was thinking of school, labas, tapos ‘yung work ko as barangay councilor. So, I guess, it’s always been in my head na itutuloy ko, ‘di ba (My other batchmates used to just think of school and going out. Meanwhile, I was thinking of school, going out, and also my work as a barangay councilor. So, I guess it’s always been in my head that I’ll continue in public service, right?),” he muses.
As a young public servant belonging to the Millennial generation, Antonio is cognizant of the advantages he brings to the table. “We’re ushering in a new generation. There’s been a lot of changes, not just in politics, but also in the way the world works. So, I guess I’m just representing my generation. And then, we bridge the older generation and the greatness of the older generation to the potential of the newer generation. I guess that’s my advantage, to be that representative, to show how we can improve the programs and projects that are already existing. Dagdagan natin ng mga bago na baka mas maka-improve pa (Add modern touches [to the project] to further improve them),” Antonio says. “So, it all boils down to technology and really, as part of this new generation that really grew up with technology, I feel like it’s my job to push that,” he adds.
As the country looks to shift to lower COVID-19 alert levels and transition into the new and hopefully better normal, Antonio commits to continue pitching in and finding ways to make recovering from the pandemic easier for everyone.