Mommy (and daddy) blogs and bloggers are becoming a force to reckon with in the United States. They can compel multinational companies to pull out ads with a click of a mouse, and have annual three-day conferences that have sponsors scrambling for access to this prized group of consumers and endorsers.
Here, I began to wonder about our own Filipino mothers and their online presence. Most of the time, I hear about food or blind-item bloggers, but I rarely hear about online moms.
Fortunately, all that changed when I had the good fortune of meeting a group of cool and fun mommy bloggers and website administrators the last few months, who gave me a peek into the world of mommy blogging.
I met with Glaiza Tominio, founder of the online support community Avenue for Mommies Online on Facebook, and her co-administrators, naval officer Lt. Olivia Fernandez, Liv Reyes-Emeterio and Mona Lisa Bormate.
The first thing that struck me was their camaraderie and friendship. Considering that their work and most of their communication are done online, I was surprised to see how easily these ladies crossed over from virtual to real friends.
Laughter was abundant and stories flowed all night as the women traded anecdotes and shared personal history, as well as those of their blogs and website, which were obviously just as personal to them.
“My blog began as a way of documenting the milestones of my son because of my husband. I wanted to find a way for him to stay involved despite the distance,” said Glaiza (www.moomymusings.com).
At the time, she had just been back in the office after a two-month maternity leave but, as any new parent will tell you, “two months are not enough.” After trying to balance her career and motherhood a few more months, she decided to become a full-time mom.
Liv (www.tinkerputt.lcoreph.com) had a different start. Going online is second nature to Liv, an IT expert, and having a blog is as casual to her as texting.
She started blogging in 2007 because she always enjoyed sharing stories and travel experiences. In 2011, after giving birth to her first child, she found herself writing about motherhood as well.
Mona (www.pumpkeen.com.ph) had always been a career woman, and when she found herself staying at home more and more with her baby instead of in the office, she knew she had to do something. Inspired by Glaiza, she is now online as an administrator in Avenue, providing support to mothers everywhere, just like the support she enjoyed in her pregnancy when she had no one to turn to. She is also an entrepreneur, creating crafty but reasonably priced hairpieces.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Olivia (www.soldiermomscorner.blogspot.com) is actually Lieutenant Fernandez, a Navy officer. While she has an officer’s demeanor, sitting ramrod straight, somewhere in there is a mom, just like all of us! “I’m fully loaded making reports 24/7 in the military. Having my blog is like being able to have a conversation with another demographic group or a wider range of the populace. The comments can be morale boosters, and it’s nice to know that you are able to influence those around you in a positive manner.”
Despite their different backgrounds, it didn’t take long for these four women to meet in an online forum while they were pregnant.
When the online forum was dissolved, the ladies felt it would be such a waste to simply throw away both the practical advantages of having an online support group and the emotional bonds they had formed.
This prodded Glaiza to form Avenue for Mommies Online, a support group for mothers (of course, fathers are welcome, too) that now has almost a hundred active users posting and answering questions from wherever they are in the Philippines.
“We have moms from all walks of life!” they said excitedly. “We have stay-at-home moms, policewoman moms, lawyers, single moms, even ‘it’s complicated’ moms.”
Hits and misses
From simply wanting to learn more and sharing a few stories, Glaiza, Olivia, Liv and Mona have since moved on to bigger dreams. “I want to help moms make informed and intelligent choices. I share because, when I was pregnant, I looked for first-hand experiences. It’s also because parenting isn’t boring! Especially in this day and age, we have everything we need to be better parents to our families, to be better moms. But we all have our hits and misses, and I believe that sharing, not teaching, even small details, will help us all be better parents,” said Glaiza.
“When there were no blogs yet, all that new moms had to rely on were thick textbooks and, sometimes, old wives’ tales! Pero ngayon, lumalawak na. May kakampi ka,” said Mona.
“However, the Internet can be overwhelming, with the massive number of articles. That’s why if it is from a blog, especially of someone you know first-hand, that’s different.”
Speaking of products mentioned, how do they choose which ones to feature, and how do they balance personal experiences with professional reviews of products? It’s a story we all know too well. What starts as honest-to-goodness personal blogs can end up too commercialized.
The women agreed that this is the blessing and curse of blogging. While it is certainly a perk to be at by-invitation-only events and be tapped by companies to review their products, they also make sure that they maintain their integrity—writing only about what they themselves use and recommend. This is why they constantly remind themselves that the reason they blog is to inspire and help.
“Some blogs are famous because of their giveaways, dinudumog! But if you’re not careful, the essence can be lost in all the giveaways. You become an extension of marketing companies.”
Avenue for Mommies has started making its presence felt beyond the Internet. It has social gatherings such as Christmas parties and play dates. Everything is voluntary and everyone brings what she can. But the administrators make sure that, aside from allowing the moms to get to know each other in the flesh, they also use these events as a vehicle for their advocacies.
The moms reach out to chosen communities through different projects.
One Christmas party had each mom bring about 10 pairs of slippers for children in a Negros town who walked barefoot to school. They were able to send 500 pairs through the Philippine Army.
The women offered advice to would-be bloggers. “You must always blog with purpose. Don’t prioritize earning money and having ads. Focus on what you can give your readers. You have to remember that they don’t have to read your blog, they can always Google, so what can they learn in two to three minutes from you, versus Googling other sites?” Glaiza said.
“What you are giving your readers is an interpretation of how something became applicable to you. Remember that not all will be pleased, there will always be bashers, that’s part of honest blogging, but just treat it as constructive criticism,” Olivia added.
Mona pointed out a valuable reminder: “Remember your privacy. When you blog, your life becomes an open book and that can have security risks, so know your limits.”
Blogging isn’t just a diary or record of your daily events. Blogging is serious business, which takes time, attention to detail, research and experience. If you plan to join these women or be your own mommy blogger, you will be in good company. And for as long as you have something relevant to say and offer your readers, they will be there to support your site.