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“The Ripest Peach is Highest on the Trees.”

– James Whitcomb Riley

Davao Digital Influencers Inc. (DDI) is a Davao-based organization of bloggers, video bloggers and social media influencers who promotes local tourism, lifestyle and culture. But for me DDI is home.

My blogging career jump-started when I became a contributor for a local online blog site Davao Eagle Online (DEO). I produced contents and articles about the happening in the city. For someone who sees the success of the DEO, he/she might infer that I was good enough. But behind its staggering statistics and reputation was a struggling writer – or blogger, in that sense.

I considered myself a blogger wannabe– a frustrated one. I was a headache to my editors because of grammatically erroneous articles. It was a turning point when my Editor-In-Chief convinced me to join DDI. In my mind, perhaps, he wanted me to learn the craft from the experienced fellow. But it was overpowered by the feeling of intimidation. Am I even worthy to be there? I think I can’t keep up with the bloggers in the organization. I didn’t want to join at first because of these overthinking but it was a point of no return because my editor paid for the membership.

The first time I met the people of DDI was during the first Twitter party for the launching of Kadayawan 2016. The group was commissioned by the City Government of Davao to be its official social media arm for the festival. I was a bit intimidated and aloof. I know no one. Much more when I was introduced by DDI’s President and founder Glen Santillan. I got more intimidated because most of them have been blogging for about eight to ten years. I was just 20 years old that time, the youngest (and the freshest) among the group.

Photo credits: Davao Digital Influencers Inc. FB page

However, their warm welcome made me feel comfortable. That is something I didn’t expect from the people who were now in their field and who’ve been recognized by different entities locally and internationally.

That seemingly a test on the water created a ripple of memorable experiences.

In just 12 months, we go places. One memorable moment was when the DOT – SOX invited DDI to cover the 1st Bangala Fashion Show, a fashion flare of hijabis from the BIMP-EAGA region in Cotabato City which at that time is celebrating the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival. For someone like me who’s overwhelmed with the stigma of going to the western side of the island, it’s an achievement unlocked. I never thought I can go beyond my fears.

Photo credits: Glen Santillan FB page

I really had a great time roaming the cultural city of Cotabato and at the same time learning from their rich history. It was even more enjoyable because I was with the fun people of DDI. The fears I had inside was taken off by the uplifting stories of our veteran travel bloggers about the city.

DDI has also been an avenue for me to witness significant events that I’ll be forever grateful. Because of DDI, I was able to learn from the leading people in their respective industries, eat appetizing food from some of the culinary world’s best, see celebrities in their shining moment and hear from the most valuable personalities who build our society. That one year is not just an ordinary one. It was one, lasting journey.

Being part of the growing family of DDI and as the youngest among the group, I was enriched with advices and life lessons from my so-called mentors in DDI. They helped me improved my writing skills and taught me how to influence people positively. They filled me up with encouragement to push through my chosen path. They have become my support group in times of gloomy days. They are my cheerleaders during victories and triumph. Their experiences in the blogging industry have become my guiding path to reach the top.

One year has passed and I hope our bond as a family will still stay the same. I can still remember how we enter a food place and make ‘chismis’ then we suddenly laugh at the top of our lungs or go to Roxas and take a food trip. Flashing back on the day when I first met the people of DDI, it was a humble start and now we are here staying on top and will continue to be at the top keeping our mantra; to engage, to influence and make a difference.

Photo credits: Davao Digital Influencers Inc. FB page

In my one-year journey with these folks, there are a lot of opportunities that came my way. I went to places I’ve never been before, captured picture-perfect moments, ate a plateful of sweet memories, break social stigmas, and conquered life-long fears. DDI has transformed me into someone who was once broken and now has built a firmer and stronger self.

(Also, because of DDI I have improved so much… I mean physically).

DDI would like to thank the following sponsors for their love and support:

Platinum: Smart Communications, Inc., AirAsia, FWD Life Philippines
Gold: PLDT Home
Silver: Jolly Canned Fruits and Vegetables
Bronze: Abreeza Ayala Mall
Benefactors: Lachi’s Sans Rival Atbp., Cecil’s Snack Inn & Restaurant, Seda Abreeza Hotel, Marco Polo Davao, Park Inn by Radisson Hotel Davao, M Magazine.