Smart has partnered with the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (PBCWE) and the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce (PLCC) for its diversity and inclusion initiatives, particularly in esports. PBCWE launched in 2017, through a partnership between the Philippine Women’s Network (PhilWEN) and Investing in Women, an initiative of the Australian Government.
In its pilot run, #GameForAll – the workshop led by PBCWE together with the PLCC – aimed to help the professional players in the Smart Omega Mobile Legends team learn and understand the importance of diversity and inclusion.
The organization brought in PLCC Chair Ronn Astillas and PBCWE Program Manager Amor Curaming to educate the team’s players regarding gender diversity.
“Gender diversity is a reality that exists and must be embraced by all. Social media is an area where such reality matters, as more people, young and old, utilize the online platform to interact with other individuals,” said Astillas.
“People and communities are connected every time we use social media to express our thoughts, pursue our interests, and simply bring out a part of our personality,” he added.
With their massive following, Astillas bared that it is very important for these young esports athletes to be knowledgeable in the said topic. According to him, this could help the public to be more accepting of the LGBT community.
“It is therefore important for our young athletes, such as e-sports players, to be aware of gender diversity as they become role models for their followers who look up to them and mimic their values and actions,” expressed Astillas.
“They are agents of positive change by influencing the greater population to be more accepting of their fellows, no matter what their SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression) may be. We do this by guiding and educating our young athletes on gender sensitivity as an essential core value to professionalize and embrace diversity in e-sports,” he added.
Prior to the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League-Philippines Season Eight, Omega Esports rising star Duane “Kelra” Pillas figured in a controversy following his distasteful comments towards Blacklist International players Johnmar “OhMyV33NUS” Villaluna and Danerie “Wise” Del Rosario, and IDNS’ Chareeny “Ramellabah” Ramella.
Curaming commended the organization for its swift action regarding the matter. Moreover, she believes that this initiative will help the esports scene as a whole to become more inclusive and professional.
“It was a welcome surprise for me, personally, since I have two gamer teenage sons and I have heard about the news of what had happened. It is very commendable of SMART Omega to not only recognize and respond to the players’ behavior but also go the distance of asking the whole team to undergo a gender awareness program. That’s what real accountability is, not just in words with their apology, but doing something to rectify the situation,” said the PCBWE program manager.
“When we designed the program, we had to understand the situation that led to this initiative. Then we asked about the background of the players and also got some insights on the culture of gaming and esports. It was a breath of fresh air to work with young ones and share with them the need to understand what diversity and inclusion meant. It was a bit of a challenge to use words that can easily grasp the concepts of people’s uniqueness and how society had molded us into certain beliefs and practices,” she added.
For his part, the 16-year-old gold laner, who received a two-week suspension from the league and a one-month salary fine from the Smart-backed squad, bared that he learned a lot from the training.
“Ayun nga yung sa gender sensitivity, hindi mo dapat i-judge yung ibang tao dahil sa gender niya,” said the reigning Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Southeast Asia Cup MVP.
“Natuto naman na po ako sa mga nangyari, naging lesson po sa akin yun. Iniisip ko na lang na okay na rin po na nangyari sakin nang mas maaga para nalaman ko yung mga tama at mali saka marami ring natuto sa pagkakamali ko,” he added.
Omega Esports team captain Patrick “E2MAX” Caidic echoed Kelra’s statements, saying that gender sensitivity training was a huge help for the team, especially to the young players.
With the knowledge now in their hands, the pride of Valenzuela City hopes that the entire team can help spread awareness about gender diversity while also serving as role models to the millions of fans watching the MPL Philippines.
“Yung seminar sobrang ganda rin nung epekto nun samin kasi parang natulungan kami na mas maintindihan yung mga bagay bagay kasi dati parang wala namang nag e-explain sa amin tungkol sa mga ganung bagay,” said the 25-year-old support player.
“Ang laking tulong nung seminar para mas maintindihan namin yung mga ganung bagay sa gender para marespeto natin yung isa’t isa saka para makatulong tayo na mas matanggap pa dito sa mundo kasi alam naman natin ayun nga sa tagal tagal na hanggang ngayon may mga issue pa rin yung iba sa ganun, maganda naman na nangyari samin na dahil nasa prime kami ng kasikatan ngayon and maraming sumusubaybay so importante talaga na alam namin yung tungkol sa gender sensitivity para maging aware rin yung mga kabataan na sumusubaybay,” E2MAX further expressed.