The Work of the Eyes

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Rainer Maria Rilke once wrote, “The work of the eyes is done.  Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.”

Coy Caballes, among so few, lighted and stoked the embers that started a revolution.

That’s a lot to say for someone.  The word “revolution” has been so abused here that anyone can come up with something mediocre, and call it something grand for the sake of rhetoric or maybe even marketing.  But Coy – my friend, my fellow blogger, my client – came up with something that truly fits the mold of revolution.

In simple terms: Coy came up with social media marketing in the Philippines.  Yes, he was one of the first client-side social media managers in the Philippines.  And it’s an honor and a privilege to have been part of that journey.

I think it was way back November 2008, when I worked for a company that was once called NetBooster – when I walked into the Globe Telecom offices to meet Globe’s new social media manager.  It was on that day that a professional relationship was born, and a personal friendship grew.  There were five or six of us in that meeting: a meeting that, in part, probably helped start it all for community management in the Philippines.

I’m not one to call the task “pioneering” or anything like that.  It was just a meeting, probably.  Social media management – maybe branded Facebook pages – were around long before either Coy or myself got started with making projects named after StarCraft characters.  Back then, the role of the “social media manager” was a gamble: could brands use social networks for marketing?  What does it mean?  What does it give my brand, or my organization?  “What is this ORM?”

*     *     *

It was a mad hustle for people like me, Andre, ES, Bim, and Peter – to name a few – to get the clients that get business moving.  More so for someone like Coy, who worked for one of the country’s largest telco companies.  This was still new back then, when digital had small budgets (or if any) and the risk coming into the venture was too high.  There were no command centers: we had to work in sleeping bags, cramped coffee tables, and clunky Blackberries to get the dice going.

Think of today’s community management department, get rid of all its tools, its trappings, and its devices.  No command centers, no specializations: just three people, spread thin, doing things manually.  Make it invent its own process, and work from there.  Blackberry blinks red at two in the morning, and you had to respond to all those complaints.  Someone posted a sex story on one of your assets, and you had to go to the back end and take it down.

You had to report your findings to the leaders of the Digital Marketing Team, and think of ways to make it better.  And all through that, you had to report back to your bosses to look at how profitable the endeavor was.  Then, and only then, would you have the budget to give away not an iPhone 3GS, but a Modu.

That’s what we did, almost 24/7.  And what we did, Coy breathed and lived for his brand.

*     *     *

And it was profitable.  Successful: award-winning, talked-about, and perhaps more importantly, the service was used by people.  People saw the value of talking to a brand, of sharing the love, and yes, complaining.  The great reward of those sleepless nights and occasional arguments was to see people use what we helped built together, with Coy at the helm.

Those things we helped build, maintain, and monitor became so successful, that listening tools were procured to make the ubiquitous “intelligence reports” of today.  Coy fought for it, and we got the things we dreamed of.  Entire processes were made: everything from escalation protocols to job descriptions to new positions and, eventually, agencies and vendors that started to offer social media services only.

Better still, brands started to be on Facebook.  Brands started to be on Twitter.  Social media became profitable.  For many, it became a priority.

You can thank the people I mentioned above.  Most of all, you have to thank Coy.  He made it happen.  He made social media management cool.  More importantly, in an industry that always looks out for the next new thing, he made it necessary.  And here we are: the role of the community manager was legitimized, thanks in great part to the things Coy did.  And while no single man can take credit for everything, Coy’s role in it cannot be denied.

Coy, among so few, started it all.  Still the same way it’s done today.  Only with things we could only have dreamed of.  Yes, that was Coy: digital native.

*     *     *

Through it all, and above all, Coy is my friend.  Yes, Coy – that Coy, that CokskiBlue – who started video blogging in the Philippines.  That Coy who put the Visayas on the map when it comes to blogging.  That Coy who has trained so many community managers over these few short years.  That Coy who was my friend, my Wednesday lunch buddy at that chicken place in the old Globe Pioneer offices, the Coy who can wake up the audience of 200 people I put to sleep on a talk about social media with a better-crafted presentation, and a more enthusiastic disposition.  That Coy – Philippine Blog Awards Coy.

That Coy who, despite all the eating at Fluxion or Globe or our office, always had that show-the-jawline pose ready for a camera (despite the double-chins we all grew over the years).  That Coy, who gave me the kindest dressing-down of any client after showing the results of a marketing experiment gone wrong.  That Coy, who gave me the kindest praise from any client after showing the results of a marketing experiment gone right.  That Coy who treated us as equals, as partners, as friends.

That Coy, who told to get me to the part of the lechon Cebu nearest the head.  That Coy, who shared with me the wonders of siomai sa Tisa.  That Coy, who put up with my thalassophobia in an island-hopping tour.  That Coy, who probably invented the selfie if arguments are to be made for it.  That Coy, who would probably read all that high praise and say, in his low voice, “Kahiya naman, team natin yan no.”

Yes, that Coy: a client, a fellow blogger, a friend.  The Coy who doubles his handshakes over.  That Coy.  Cokskiblue.  Coyah.  Phillip Marco Caballes: arguably the country’s first client-side social media manager.

Years later, after multiple roles and agencies, I left that client servicing side and moved on to different places and roles.  Coy stayed, and continued being the social media manager of Globe, and kicked off things that probably didn’t have the badass codenames.  It’s been a while since we last talked; my regret being that I reneged on that Christmas celebration Kring, Fritz, and Faith organized for him.

Then it happened today.

*     *     *

What we do in life is just that, the work of the eyes. The things we see, the work we do to make this world a better place, the families we sustain, the friendships we build. Often it’s the heart-work that’s done when we pass on: our imprints, our outputs, our love, and our memories.

It’s when we close our eyes that final time, when the work of the heart begins. Not the beating of our own, but the pulse we leave in everyone else.  The pulse you left in all of us will forever be missed.  Rest in peace, partner.

(Images via Facebook, from Miong Pelimon)

4 comments on “The Work of the Eyes”

  1. Reply


    • marvin
    • January 18, 2014

    oh my, what caused Coy’s death?
    this came as a big surprise. ang bata pa ni coy.

  2. Pingback: A new normal without you. #ThankYouCoy for everythingTouched by An Angel | Touched by An Angel

  3. Pingback: Philip Marco “Coy” Caballes | Jehzlau Concepts

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