February 2001 Archive
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 Azucena. Yesterday I wrote about censorship and how the absence of it during the Estrada administration has really done much to improve Pinoy movies. Well the night after I wrote that piece I watched Azucena, a film directed by Carlos Siguion-Reyna and starring Ricky Davao, Dante Rivero, Glydel Mercado, and featuring the very talented (my wife says "extremely" is a better word) Alessandra de Rossi (the de Rossi who can act). I'm not going do a Nestor Torre here, but I want to highlight the excellence of the entire production - which would not have been possible under more restrictive circumstances.
 Keep the Focus on IT. As I kept saying last year, perhaps the only program of then-President Joseph Estrada that I supported was the development of people for information technology. In theory, this would have meant supplying public schools nationwide with about 20 personal computers each, with special emphasis on those outside of Metro Manila. The Japanese government, in fact, had already committed a few million dollars for the scheme, with the amount supposedly meant to buy 20,000 computers for 1,000 public schools. And of course last year Microsoft chair Bill Gates donated $12 million worth of software, so that the PCs actually run.
 Letter Writing is Dead? The other day while doing some chores I was listening to Kris Aquino's show and I heard Boots Anson-Roa say that letter writing is now a lost art, supplanted by technology like the internet, email, and text. The implication is that people, the younger ones specifically, no longer communicate but instead just send email or text to each other. I simply have to disagree with her view of technology: it has not killed communication but has actually enhanced it.
 No God? Several years ago Jim Bishop wrote in the Miami Herald an article entitled, "There Is No God?"
 IT in Mindanao. The two-day Mindanao Information and Communications Technology (MICT) Congress begins tomorrow, and with it the organizers hope to raise the level of awareness of the business community, the academe, government, NGOs, and other sectors on the field of IT and communications. Indeed, exciting things are happening in this area, with practically something new being introduced everyday. Mindanao simply cannot afford to be left behind since our future depends on how well we can communicate with "the outside world." Information, it is often said, is power, and an informed people is an empowered people.
 Wait and See. The business community appears to be taking a wait-and-see attitude on the new government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. New Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. president John Gaisano said as much when he guested in yesterday's Club 888 forum at the Eagle's Bar of The Marco Polo, Davao. "The problem is not what government says it will do but whether it will translate its vision into reality," Gaisano said. He also said while things have improved over the past weeks since Mrs. Arroyo's installation, the business community has to look at the emerging business environment and adjust accordingly.
 Silicon Paddy. Over the past two days the buzz word in Davao City has been "Silicon Valley," that is, pushing Mindanao to become the Asian equivalent of the area in California acknowledged to be the center of information technology. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Silicon Valley is an "industrial conurbation in west-central California, U.S... (that) stretches for about 25 miles (40 km) from San Jose in the southeast to Palo Alto in the northwest. Silicon Valley occupies the San Jose and Santa Clara valleys and also includes the communities of Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Los Altos, and also Mountain View. It derived its name from the dense concentration of electronics and computer corporations and their factories that sprang up there in the 1970s and '80s (silicon is the basic material of the semiconductor elements in computer circuits). By the early 1990s the economic emphasis in Silicon Valley had partly switched from computer manufacturing to research, development, and marketing of computer products and software. "
 e-Cash Comes of Age. Now they're talking about smart money, or Smart Money, to be exact, a card that can be used for purchases anywhere in the country. It's been around since December last year when Smart Communications launched it, but I think few people in Davao have been using it mainly because there is some confusion on its use (Is it a credit card? Do I need a cell phone to use it? Does my friendly neighborhood taho vendor accept it?). Last Monday during the First Mindanao Information and Communications Technology Congress (MICT) Smart's e-services department head, explained the workings of Smart Money, and one can immediately see that it holds vast potential for Mindanao.
 Today. On Sunday night, October 8, 1871, Dwight L. Moody preached to a large audience in his Chicago tabernacle on "What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?" The message made a profound impression, and at the close he said, "I wish you would all think this question over during the week and come back next Sunday with your decision." Sankey, the musician, felt that Moody made a serious mistake by asking those present to put off the day of decision for another week, so he arose and began to sing: Today the Saviour calls: For refuge fly. The storm of justice falls, And death is nigh.
 e-Cash Comes of Age 2. Putting the whole thing in context, I asked Mon (Ramon Isberto, Smart Communications head of public relations) what Smart Money means for Mindanao. His answer: anything we want. Smart's role, he said, is to provide the platform on which subscribers build applications ("We don't create killer apps, we create killer platforms," he said). In fact, in the second half of this year Smart Money will support micromerchants - smaller vendors like shops and even sari-sari stores - so that one can pay for a bottle of Coke using the cash card. And there would be no setup or connection fee: all they would actually need is a cell phone that would be equipped with a special SIM card. Pretty soon it may be possible to pay for a jeepney ride with a cell phone!
 Spot the Difference. During the four days of EDSA II the question was often asked of me: was it right for media to be so obviously anti-Erap? It could not be denied: the trimedia gave themselves away at practically every turn and to a large extent prompted the people to proceed to EDSA. Even Davao City newspapers were transparent in this: while our news stories were as balanced as we could make them, our opinion pages (save for a few columns) and even our editorials were a bastion of anti-Erapism. For a profession sworn to presenting an unbiased view of events, EDSA II proved to be the acid test. And we failed gloriously.
 Net Cafés and the Future of Mindanao. A few weeks ago I had a short talk with a guidance counselor who was complaining about the proliferation of Internet cafés around her school. It's not the presence of the net cafés themselves that she's riling against, she said, but the apparent indifference of the operators on how their computers are actually being used. For while the establishments bill themselves as providing internet service, most of the time their PCs are used for games and, gasp (yes, she did gasp), accessing internet porn sites. The week before we talked one student was actually kicked out because he was no longer attending class but was spending his time inside a net café playing games. And at the time we were talking another student had been placed under disciplinary action after being caught ogling porn inside another café.
 Leftists. In the front page of last Tuesday's issue of the Mirror was a photo of Rep. Rodrigo Duterte, vice mayor Luis Bonguyan, and councilors Benjamin Duterte and Nenita Orcullo taking their oath into the PDP-Laban party with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel. Nothing special about it (except perhaps for the virtual admission of the team-up of Duterte and Bonguyan for the May elections), so we in the Mirror thought nothing of it. But in the evening we received an email from a certain Delia Dubria of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) who pointed out that all five people in the photo were raising their left hands.
 Pedophile Heaven. The case of the American arrested in Davao City for abusing minors and distributing the photos and video he takes of the acts brings up the question of how he disseminates the material. Unfortunately the easiest way to do it is through the internet, and these days pornography is one of the biggest rackets in cyberspace. It is a safe bet that the suspected pedophile scanned the photos and then posted them in some website or emailed them directly to "customers" around the world. The scary part is that the photos may have already gone around the world, and unbeknownst to us we may already have the tag "pedophile capital of the world." Quite out of step with the award we had just won as the most child-friendly city in the Philippines.
 Love is... A group of professionals posed the question "What does love mean?" to a group of 4-8-year-olds and the answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think...
 What Peace Brings. Yesterday I limped* over to The Barceló Royal Mandaya Hotel to talk with two young people (one from Davao City, the other married to a Davaoeño) who are putting up a business here in Davao City. Sandra Suy, a Manileña, is putting up Café Breizh on February 25 at the compound of The Venue along Quirino Avenue along with Davao-born-and-bred brother-in-law Paul Christian Tee. The first question I asked was, "How do you spell that?" Breizh, you see, is pronounced "brazh" and is apparently a French word that doesn't mean undergarment. It's actually a franchise owned by a Frenchman and his Filipina wife who are based in Boracay. As such Café Breizh offers French cuisine with some Italian flavors, particularly in its coffee.
 Digital Pinoy. I had another lengthy chat with Oliver Robillo, manager of Adcom Virtual Enterprises, but I will tell you what we talked about in a magazine article I am writing which will come out next week. Meanwhile, he wants me to inform you that the DigitalFilipino.com Roadshow will makes its stop in Davao City tomorrow, Friday, February 23. "The Roadshow is being organized by Janette Toral, one of the most active proponents of e-commerce in the country. Her website, located on the Web at www.digitalfilipino.com, is a rich online resource that you will find tremendously informative should you be researching on e-commerce and related technologies. Ms. Toral is also author of the book, DigitalFilipino: An E-commerce Guide for the eFilipino."
 Kill the Messenger. This story would be tragic if it weren't so funny. The Philippine News Agency reported this week that a Tacloban City businessman who asked not to be identified (and rightly so!) had fallen victim to a "computer scam." The PNA report (which I had taken the liberty to edit) goes...
 BLISS. Finally, a city councilor caught on to an idea I had written about a few years ago. Councilor Clemencia Cataluña has proposed the establishment of a high-rise condominium for socialized housing, which she described as "the most practical solution to the perennial shelter problem in the city." She also said high-rises would "lessen the impact of displacement among the urban poor" and "would also be less expensive on the part of government as it would not spend considerable amounts for the purchase of resettlement areas."
 Winners and Losers. A winner says, "Let's find out." A loser says, "Nobody knows."; When a winner makes a mistake, he says, "I was wrong." When a loser makes a mistake, he says, "It wasn't my fault."
 Thank You? Former Defense Secretary Orly Mercado wants to take a little of the credit for paving the way for the resumption of peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) currently being initiated by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Apparently, the "all-out war" policy of former President Joseph Estrada now allows the Arroyo government to negotiate from a position of strength. If you remember (and who can forget?), the military under the direction of Mercado bombed and shelled and fired at many areas in Central Mindanao during the first half of 2000, killing hundreds of soldiers, MILF members, and civilians, and displacing thousands.
 Characters. My e-mailbox yielded this letter from a friend (whom I will not name for reasons that will become obvious): Jon, I would like to ask your help regarding some newsmen who in my understanding are giving your profession a bad name and image. Their modus operandi is to roam around the city and prowl at businessmen. They usually say that may reklamo sa station or sa press office nila and would like to take our side... then they will sell (extort) subscriptions of anniversary issues or their newspaper at exorbitant prices. A lot of my businessman friends are plagued by these people. They usually go in pairs and one is a brother of the owner of a local newspaper company. Please deal with my letter as an anonymous one.
©2001 Jon Joaquin. All rights reserved.