Yesterday marked the 20th birthday of the Internet in the Philippines. To celebrate, CyberPress or ICT Journalists Association of the Philippines held a talk at the New World Hotel Makati. The speakers were Dr. Bill Torres, Cocoy Claravall, Mon Ibrahim, and Lasse Olesen. The speakers covered different topics such as the trends in the Internet, the Philippines’ evolution in Internet technology, mobile innovation, and the digital currency Bitcoin. The event was sponsored by LG Philippines.
How has Philippines changed in the past two decades?
How did the Internet affect the way Filipinos live?
And did we make significant strides in innovation with the use of the Internet?
These were some of the questions and issues that the speakers tried to answer and explore during the talk.
Dr. Bill Torres, dubbed as the Father of the Internet in the Philippines, claimed in his talk that the Philippines was considered poorer before 1994. He also pointed out that although the country is not free of poverty today, it has undergone a lot of improvement since then. The Internet has been commercialized and brought positive effects in the country’s economy and communication. One of the most noteworthy effects is how the Internet made it possible for Filipinos to become self-employed and work with different clients from all over the world without leaving their homes.
However, Dr. Torres said that Filipinos still need to do a lot of work and must try harder, so that we can even make significant improvements. He acknowledged that the Philippines is ahead when it comes to texting and selfies. But we are behind when it comes to Networked Readiness Index (NRI). According to Wikipedia:
“ NRI measures the propensity for countries to exploit the opportunities offered by information and communications technology (ICT). It is published annually. The NRI seeks to better understand the impact of ICT on the competitiveness of nations.
Last year, the Philippines ranked 86 out of 140 countries.
There are three factors that affect our slow progress when it comes to NRI: corruption, bureaucracy, and infrastructure. Dr. Torres encouraged the audience to try harder and tackle bigger problems using the available technologies such as the internet and mobile gadgets. He said, “We need to change the way we do things. We can’t have progress by working individually.”
Another notable changed in the Philippine’s internet landscape is the staggering growth of Internet adaption. Cocoy Claravall of Globe Telecomm discussed the progress of the infrastructure that makes Internet connection in the Philippines more efficient. He also pointed out that more and more rural areas have Internet connection every year.
The fast adaptation of the Internet is also made possible by mobile innovation such as tablets. Right now the median cost of tablets is at P9000. He predicted that this cost is going to get even lower in the next few years. With access to affordable tablets, more and more people can also access the Internet. Claravall actually presented a survey that illustrates how Filipinos use tablets. He said tablets are not used as a personal device; instead, it is shared among family members. He even joked that his son “confiscates” his tablet the minute he comes home.
The talk also included a crash course in Bitcoin. Lasse Olesen, one of the founders of BuyBitcoin.PH, talked about what Bitcoin is and how it can help Filipinos. While Bitcoin has been widely used internationally, it is still not as popular in the Philippines.
Bitcoin works like real money; the main difference is that it is digital. One Bitcoin is currently valued at $532.95! Like real money, you can use it to pay for stuff. However, not all merchants accept Bitcoin yet. But popular coupon sites such as MetroDeal and Cash Cash Pinoy are already accepting this type of payment.
Bitcoin is a game changer because anyone in the Philippines can open a Bitcoin account. You can use your computer or smartphone to buy and sell Bitcoin. Credit checks are not required. Olesen even stated, “you can be your own bank.”
If you want to hear the talk in its entirety, you can check the livestream courtesy of The Rouge Writer:
Looking back in the past twenty years of Internet in the Philippines made me realize the colossal effects it has made in our lives. The Internet makes my work as a writer and as a blogger possible. I can’t imagine what type of job I’d be doing if there was no internet in the Philippines!
Reminiscing the past also made me think about the future. What does the next twenty years hold for Filipinos? Do you think that we will still love taking selfies by then?
Personally, my hope is for Filipinos to take on Dr. Bill Torres’s challenge of working together and solving major problems such as poverty and corruption using the technologies made possible by the Internet.
If you want to join in the conversation on Twitter, please use the hashtags #2020Vision and #2oPHNet. Let me know what are your predictions in the next 2o years. 🙂 You can also follow @CyberPressPH.
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