SPARKS YEAR 5: Love in the Digital Age

FEU Advocate
February 12, 2021 08:32

In this month, love is in the air, but during these trying times, the search for love becomes all the more difficult to find as physical restriction brought forth by corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to pervade. 

During the entirety of this pandemic, the looming virus made it extremely hard to spend time with other people due to the safety precautions that need to be strictly practiced. But with the powerful tool of technology, people can now interact with their loved ones and meet new people virtually despite distance and non-physical engagements.

However, the thing with technology is that it can both be a virus that tears people apart and a cure that brings the people together at the same time.

For this year’s fifth installment of SPARKS with a theme of “Year 5: Facets of Love in a Time of Uncertainty,” Far Eastern University Communication Society (FEU CommSoc) aims to achieve the latter by tackling all kinds and forms of love with the assurance that online social interactions can be  a safe space for everyone who wishes to engage in these digital avenues.

Every year, the FEU CommSoc prepares an event that will cater to the people’s feelings, interests and experiences with regards to love, only this year the difference is as they talk about the safety of online interactions, they will be using technology as its primary medium.

The event does not just highlight one aspect of love—instead, it covers everything on the spectrum ranging from self-love, love for one’s career or education, and even one’s own version and understanding of love. SPARKS aims to be a safe platform for students to show their vulnerabilities and to freely express their bottled emotions.

The main proponents of the event who planned for the themes, activities, and contents of the event were the members of the organization: Public Relations Officer Jonathan Suguitan, Auditor Jesus Antonio Bautista, and Secretary Trisha Mae Salen.

According to Suguitan, the lockdowns, physical distancing, and quarantines are what inspired them to come up with the theme of the event because they wanted to know how everyone was doing in these challenging times and help them cope up in the midst of this health adversity. 

This year, the event’s advocacies are to encourage individuals to have a safe online interaction in such a way they can meet new people, and prove that signing up on dating applications is not a taboo. Its main purpose is to listen to diverse stories of love, to know how they are doing so that they can help them assess their feelings, cope up with their problems, and ultimately help them lend a hand for others as well. 

It may seem as an out-of-the-box idea for some to engage and create new connections through the online realm but the event’s goal is to show how this can be achieved in a safe and proper space especially when the majority are spending most of their time virtually.

Ms. Aileen Santos, a Romance Author, Relationship Coach, and Registered Guidance Counselor, is invited for the talk in the event. According to Suguitan, she was one of the speakers during SPARKS Year 4.

With an event that covers the wide and broad range of topics of love and relationships during a pandemic, it is crucially pivotal to have speakers equipped with the knowledge and skills when it comes to career and relationships to ensure that all the participants are in a safe and light-hearted space.

In the words of Suguitan, Ms. Santos’ discussion last year was “substantial in making the participants realize the type of love and social interaction that they were looking for, and we believe that during this pandemic, she’ll be able to enlighten the participants again on what to do to meet new people online.”

With a handful of events available online, the biggest challenge the organizers faced was to ask the profound question, “What type of love is out there?” Instead of giving a set answer to the participants, the FEU CommSoc aims to keep things interesting by providing a platform for the students to define their personal definition of love.

Compared to the previous yearly events, the biggest change for this year’s edition is its first-ever transition to online set-up which is something to look forward to for everyone involved to see the new changes of technology and its development and if any improvements can be done for future social interactions.

Suguitan believes that combining both love and technology is a double-edged sword but it only depends on how one chooses to use it. The SPARKS would like to show the participants of ways they can utilize and enjoy the different features of the Internet while being able to maintain two fundamental aspects of love in the digital world: privacy and safety.

Love and relationships aside, online interactions are one of the many ways to cope up during these challenging times. “With our homes serving as our school and workplace, it is only proper to have an outlet in releasing the stress that has built up in our homes by interacting with others who can relate to our situation,” according to Saguitan.

SPARKS’ goal is simple and clear: its advocacy is to let participants share their respective stories of love and relationships and understand the true meaning of love while ensuring a safe online interaction in this time of pandemic. 

-Rafa Jane Galeon & Ma. Isabela Manacsa