APABI Talks with BAIPHIL, Philippines: Adapting Well to Online Format


Holding an engaging online event is like producing a TV show, explained representatives from BAIPHIL during a recent conversation. With an “info-tainment” perspective, they have managed to achieve good engagement online, in some cases better than for physical events.

The entire setup needs to be planned out by the minute. All guests, including VIPs, must fully participate in technical checks. Interactive formats must make full use of features such as poll questions and breakout rooms for group discussions. For informal membership engagement activities, BAIPHIL even uses singers as part of the show.

In May, for the first time, BAIPHIL held its annual convention in online format. They noted that this format makes it easier to secure VIP participation. Speakers don’t have to travel to the convention, making it easier to improve geographical diversity, and they can even pre-record their messages so that events can fit into any schedule. Following the success of this convention, BAIPHIL may consider this format in the future, even in a post-COVID world.

Online classes have also worked well. Due to Manila’s infamous traffic, students are more willing to commit to study plans when they can attend the classes from anywhere.

These shifts in BAIPHIL’s operations also reflect larger social changes as the Philippines has adapted to one of the longest lockdowns in the world. At the beginning of the pandemic, just as the last ABAPI conference was taking place, only 35% of Filipinos had bank accounts or other digital currency accounts that could facilitate online transactions. Concerns about safety, as well as a general lack of education, have held back online commerce.

Late last year, however, the central bank announced that it expected to reach its target to double that number a year ahead of schedule, by late 2022 rather than 2023. This transformation will provide opportunities for small businesses who are exploring innovative business models in response to the new situation.

BAIPHIL emphasized the need for further exchanges during the 2-year period between APABI meetings, so that members can learn from each other’s strengths and experiences. The Philippines has also demonstrated a number of unique strengths in the face of current difficulties.