Students develop valuable app
Even after a month of vaccinations and over a year of lockdown, we Filipinos still have a ton of uncertainties ahead of us, with barely a pound of clear-cut answers for them. Luckily for us, we have Pablo, and Pablo has us too.
Developed by the youth organization, the Alliance of Public Health Advocates (ALPHA), Pablo is a friendly chatbot open 24/7 to answer COVID-related questions. These include the basic information about COVID-19, how long before we can get our first doses of the vaccine, and even a self-checker tool to assess ourselves vis-a-vis the virus.
“Our main goal was for Pablo to be as accurate but at the same time as inclusive for all,” said the head mobilizers of Pablo, senior high school grade 11 students Erika Tiquis and Gracie Lanting. They, with the rest of the ALPHA executive board, saw the urgent shortage of reliable information that is both digestible for the average person and available around the clock.
Pablo was their answer.
Less robust beginnings
Even if Pablo is a simple everyman tool, its idea wasn’t all that sleek in the beginning. It started last February when ALPHA’s Angat Kalusugan Operations campaign created a mini hotline for immunization through Google Forms. The attempt was less a success and more a learning curve for the organization as it soon found out that the platform was inaccessible to people unfamiliar with Google applications.
This was when ALPHA’s project heads from San Pablo Science High School thought of harnessing the long, powerful reach of social media as their immunization and information hotline.
Juggling different schedules and working with small numbers, ALPHA’s multimedia team succeeded in developing Pablo following their adaptability and commitment to a healthier community.
While Pablo is already impressive, it doesn’t end there. The organization already has a set of improvements to be implemented as early as this week.
“We plan to expand Pablo’s scope to cover more questions and have weekly evaluations so that people can give us comments and suggestions,” Tiquis said. ALPHA is also planning to make the chatbot even simpler to use and easier to understand to accommodate senior citizens.
Lastly, they also plan to partner with health organizations and youth initiatives such as the government’s SK or Sangguniang Kabataan to widen Pablo’s engagements even further.
Messages for Filipinos
Apart from the tremendous help the chatbot gives, Tiquis and Lanting also had their own messages for Filipinos in these trying times.
“The pandemic makes accurate information even more valuable. Let’s help each other not only in terms of material forms but also in information. Let’s be there for each other.” Lanting said.
Her colleague also stressed the value of double-checking our information—“We should be critical. We should be open-minded about the diverse information and not just the information they hear from one source.”
While current events give us uncertainty, ALPHA’s Pablo shows us that the youth’s education, creativity, and struggle for change never stop despite the rocky situations we all find ourselves in, something every Filipino can benefit from learning.
Talk to Pablo, and see what else you can learn today: http://m.me/alphayouth.spc