May 23rd, 2010 Interviews: Avel Manansala

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I’m excited to resume our series of interviews with people making their marks in the local blogosphere. And what better way to kick it off than with GenSan Blogger Avel Manansala. I’ve known Avel since 2008 when we had our very first Davao Food Appreciation Tour (DFAT). Since then he has been making waves in his community through his blog, GenSan News Online Mag, and received several awards in recognition of excellence in his craft. Here is our interview:

avel-manansala Describe your life before you got into blogging.

Avel: Early on at the start of the 21st century, I was an OFW and worked basically around Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea. I came home during the SARS crisis purposely for a vacation but stayed longer as my present employer asked me to be his Private Secretary. I wasn’t able to leave again after that time up till now. So what pushed you into blogging?

Avel: Having been out of the country where I was frequently hungry for news about my hometown, General Santos City, it was frustrating to find through my Google Searches that all the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS) on my beloved city were mostly negative news from the online editions of traditional media. GenSan has always been summed up with far-flung and notorious trouble spots in Mindanao although it is basically a peaceful place.

That led me to discover BLOGS and BLOGGING and how it could help change people’s perception of something, be it a product or a place. That’s when the idea of a blog about the positive developments of my city came into my mind.

My initial post was published in November 2007 on Blogger. It was basically a picture of a Banana Snack Vendor at our City Oval Plaza. Then I called the blog Bariles Republic, since Bariles is my pen name. From being a simple photoblog, it started featuring newsbits about GenSan and her neighbors. Eventually, I started reviewing dining places, posting about upcoming gigs and events among others, and as its “fame” grew, organized blog contests and eyeballs. That was when I decided to buy my own domain name ( and name the blog “GENSAN NEWS ONLINE MAG”. Would your life have gone a different direction had you not chosen to blog?

Avel: I think so. Blogging gave my life a second wind. Were it not for it, I see myself walking through life like a zombie. The SOCCSKSARGEN bloggers group is one of the most active, cohesive, and vibrant community of bloggers in the Philippine blogosphere, can you share with us how your group started? What are your group’s future plans?

Avel: Even when I was just starting to blog in the later part of 2007, I made an effort to seek other bloggers in GenSan and in outlying areas. I managed to find 5 individuals whom I share a common vision, which is to blog about the real Soccsksargen and give a balanced perspective about the region to negate the usual and unfortunate play-up of Mindanao’s security problems by traditional media. These are Bro. Vince Celeste, FMS (a Marist Brother); Ariel Lalisan (a teacher from Sarangani); Job Oberio (a web programmer and developer), Mark Aethen Agana (a student leader from Koronadal) and Hectory Minoza (a UN consultant). Together, we formed the Soccsksargen Bloggers to include bloggers not just from GenSan but South and North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani Province. In 2008, your group organized one of the biggest and most successful blogging events in Mindanao. What advice can you give to those who plan to hold similar undertakings?

Avel: You must mean the 2nd Mindanao Bloggers Summit. For one, get the backing of the LGU. We were fortunate to be able to entice GenSan Mayor Jun Acharon and Representative Darlene Antonino-Custodio to help us. They gave their all-out support during a time when the words “blog” and “blogging” were mostly unheard of in these parts. That opened a lot of doors. Then, I was telling everyone, all our sponsors, including the Department of Tourism, the GenSan Tourism Association, among others, that this gathering, if it becomes successful will produce more than a 100 positive blog posts about GenSan and give their companies priceless maximum exposure on the web. It was easy soliciting for supporters after that, because we knew that we in GenSan, need all the good news we can get from as many sources as possible. The MBS2 was the right venue to give us that. Name 3 bloggers that you look up to. Name one each from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Avel: From Luzon, that would be Aileen Apolo because she makes it look so easy and is like a “nanay” and “ate” to all of us fledgling bloggers. I do not know anybody from Visayas, sorry. I have so many blogger idols from Mindanao that I couldn’t pick out just one. Let us just say that I look up to any blogger who in one way or the other make a conscious effort to write positively about his community. But if I really have to pick one, then that would be my brother, Orman, whose blog, has already earned a good following at eight months old. Credit goes to his funny, scathing, no-holds-barred and bare-naked style of story-telling in Taglish. You are a multi-awarded blogger and an esteemed leader of your blogging community. How does one get from being a newbie blogger to being a successful blogger like you?

Avel: Lots of hard work. Since I started, I researched and read a lot about blogging from the professionals. I also checked out a lot of blogs and consulted my blogger friends on a lot of techie stuff. Since mine is a locale or place blog, I kept my eyes open on any news about GenSan, its subject, my city. I also make sure that I blog every weekday or once in the weekend. That gives my readers something to look forward to everyday. Then the Marketing part. I heavily promoted it on Twitter, Facebook, Friendster, Multiply, wherever I can leave the link to my latest posts. I joined forums, googlegroups and yahoogroups and any place frequented by Generals. I helped market concerts and events by running my blog contests. I organized eyeballs and plurk fiestas earning me a lot of blogger friends. And of course, by befriending many bloggers, I also received so many backlinks, which basically, gave my blog more juice.

Avel Manansala blogs at GenSan News Online Mag. View his profile here.

Thanks to correspondent Lyle Santos.

  1. 19 Comments

  2. Lyle said...

    A very insightful interview. Congratulations, Bariles! You’re the man!

    The Mindanao blogosphere won’t be as vibrant and cool without the fishman from GenSan.

    May 23, 2010

  3. Ria Jose said...

    Very good interview. Inquisitive questions and informative answers. :)

    May 23, 2010

  4. orman said...

    if not for kuya avel’s prodding i would have not started blogging seriously. like him, i experienced my second wind because of my blog. kuya avel has continued to encourage people to try blogging. that for me is his one-single most important contribution to the blogging community.

    May 23, 2010

  5. bariles said...

    OMG! Thanks Lyle.

    Did I just say those things? (joke)

    Thanks Ratified.Org for this chance. Thanks Andrew.

    I hope this inspires other people who are into place/locale/destination blogging to continue with their advocacies to promote their respective places, especially in these parts of Mindanao.

    Somewhere, somewhow, someone else is reading your blogs and are encouraged to tour your localities. Just keep on blogging.

    Mabuhay ang Mindanao Blogger!

    May 23, 2010

  6. Brendel said...

    Nice one, Avel. Your efforts made GenSan and SocSarGen more popular than ever.

    May 23, 2010

  7. fahdingding said...

    Avel the GREAT!

    May 23, 2010

  8. sheng said...

    Love this!

    May 23, 2010

  9. Ayel said...

    Congratulations, Sir Avel! Yehey! (banana_dance) Lol.

    May 23, 2010

  10. Faust said...

    Lets give Avel a round of applause!! clap100x..Cheers and Regards

    May 23, 2010

  11. hamel said...

    he deserved what he reap!…and for us GENSANITES…..

    kudos sir AVEL!!

    May 24, 2010

  12. lito said...

    kuya avel makes gensan and soccksargen blogging community colorful and exciting!….

    May 24, 2010

  13. Irene said...

    This is so cool. Helpful, informative and really made me understand and appreciate Avel more. Congratulations!

    May 26, 2010

  14. PinasBackpackers said...

    Congratulations Mr.Bariles, you’re really a one big hero of the Generals. More Power to your Blogging Life.

    May 28, 2010

  15. brVince said...

    Nice work, kuya avel! Congratulations for spearheading the Soccsksargen bloggers’ group! :)

    Jun 10, 2010

  16. Dingexx said...

    Congrats..:-)Nice naman talaga ang Mindanao..

    Jun 15, 2010

  17. Cidy said...

    Congrats Sir Avel! You are the best!

    Nov 7, 2011

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