November 22, 2012

CEBU CITY; November 22, 2012

Dr. Jaime Caro, UP-ITDC Director; Jose Luzon, Y4it Project Manager; Michael Muñoz, Marketing and Business Development Manager; Karla Maolen Visbal and Marco Santos-Cuyugan Concepcion, Events Management Officers; Faculty and Staff of the UP-ITDC; members of the UP System IT Foundation and the UP Information Technology Training Center; denizens of the information technology community; industry-affiliated partners and clients; ladies and gentlemen; fellow Filipinos; maayong adlaw kaninyong tanan.

I wish to thank the organizers of the Philippine Youth Congress on Information Technology - or Y4iT - for inviting me to grace this Philippine Youth Congress you are holding in Cebu today. I spoke at the 10th Y4iT Congress in UP Diliman last September and I must say that as a mathematics graduate and an information technology aficionado, I do want to continue touching base with our young I. T. professionals especially in the Visayas and Mindanao regions because I know that that with their I. T. expertise, they will be the drivers of the engines of economic growth that will propel our country into a first-world status at least in the field of information technology.

Here, allow me to commend the UP Information Technology Development Center for spearheading this ennobling event for the first time outside the Diliman Republic, which continues to attract more and more participants from all over the country every year.

Busa, palakpakan nato ang atong mga kaugalingon!

IT impact

The power of information technology to move our country forward cannot be overemphasized. Year after year, economic data in our country show that information technology has provided a discernible link between the growth of internet use and electronic commerce and the growth of our economy and our country's over-all economic performance.

It is true that in the early stages of the Information Technology revolution, claims have been made that I. T. benefitted mostly the higher income groups of our society, resulting in a "digital divide" between the high and low income sectors.

Today, however, local studies show that these technological developments now significantly affect the lives of all Filipinos, including the ordinary citizens. This is evident in the popular use of "texting" services offered by telecommunication companies and in the use of social networking sites among our youth and the young at heart.

I am personally gratified that now I see more and more people carrying cell phones because it is "better to carry cellphones than guns!"

Youth as catalysts for change

At this point, it may bear repeating that the ones mainly responsible for speeding up the development of nations through the use of information technology are the youth of the world. Busa palakpakan ninyo ang mga kabatan-onan!

This conclusion is evidenced by the data covering the last 20 years that show that over 80% of the people who founded and ran the operations of the world's most successful brands and companies were young people deeply involved in the use and development of the information technology industry. In their ranks were Steve Jobs who founded APPLE at the age of 21, Bill Gates founded MICROSOFT also at age 21, Mark Zuckerberg established FACEBOOK at age 23, Larry Ellison put up ORACLE at age 35, Jeff Bezos founded AMAZON at age 30, Jerry Yang who at 27 started YAHOO, Larry Page and Sergey Brin started GOOGLE both at age 25, Pierre Omidyar established EBAY at age 28, and Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey started TWITTER at age 32 and 30 respectively.

And they showed the world that with I. T. young people can now make a difference in the lives of millions of people and even earn millions of dollars or pesos in the process!

What are the lessons that we can learn from these I. T. successes?

First, is that the Government must do its share. Second, the Academe must play its role. And Third, the Youth must be involved!

Government IT initiatives

The Government must demonstrate for all to see its support for the I. T. industry to make it a viable proposition.

Our Government has indeed done certain things that use the industry as a strategic agent for the development of the country.

For instance, in the year 1995, the Government launched a "National Information Technology Plan," also known as "IT21." Its goal was to transform our country into a "Knowledge Center in Asia: the leader in I. T. education, in I. T. - assisted training and in the application of information and knowledge to business, professional services, and the arts."

And in the year 2000, the E-Commerce Act was passed.

These government initiatives resulted in the liberalization of the entry of foreign investments into the country and the enactment of a new Intellectual Property Code that strengthens intellectual property protection.

Despite the existence of these initiatives, however, a host of other issues affecting the I. T. industry still need to be addressed, particularly concerning taxation, jurisdiction, dispute resolution, and content regulation, to name a few.

With your help, I would like as your Senator to do something positive about these matters. And the sooner we do it, the better. Because delaying solutions, or worse, failure to provide any, would stifle the growth of electronic commerce and adversely affect the prospects of the speedy development of our country through the I. T. industry.

The Academe's Role

One of the things I would like to propose to our Department of Education that it can do without too much hassle is to incorporate I. T. into the curricula of primary, secondary and tertiary levels of our schools. This, I believe, is one obvious step that can lead towards the creation of I. T. - capacitated graduates of our learning institutions.

Thank you to UP-ITDC for sharing this vision with me and for giving all of you this precious opportunity to be exposed more profoundly to I. T. - related matters.

The Youth's Role

The youth of today should be involved in I. T. in the sense not as consumers and users of technology but as inventors or innovators, and developers of technology. You the Filipino Youth can do this, given your capacity to absorb new knowledge and skills, and the boundless energy you possess.

You must realize that Technology is that new road for the creation of wealth that you can use not only to improve the quality of your lives but also to help pull out the masses of our people from poverty.

Empowering professionals

Just for your information, as of the moment there are around 30,000 professionals who are gainfully employed in the more than 200 software firms located in the country, including the major players such as SAP AG, Lotus Development Corporation, Oracle Systems, and Microsoft, among others.

The availability of work in the I. T. sector and the rising standard of living of those working and employed in the sector attest to the importance of I. T. education and training.

IT in the Visayas & Mindanao

Happily, the growth of I. T. opportunities has not been confined in Luzon alone. The growth of the I. T. industry in the Visayas has apparently been outpacing the industry's performance in Manila in the last few years. Busa palakpakan nato ang mga Bisaya!

Central Visayas, for instance, is acknowledged as one of the fastest growing regions of the country, with a 7.9% economic growth in 2011, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-7. I. T. business in the region employs more than 60,000 workers.

And in Eastern Visayas there is an ambitious program to invite I. T. companies to locate there.

In Mindanao, the I. T. industry is still in its infancy stage. But we who are from Mindanao are optimistic that we can nourish the industry to a healthy adulthood that can compete with the best the world can offer. The reason for our optimism is that Mindanao has an abundance of human capital, many centers of excellence in education, and a good number of training institutions.

A work in progress

For sure, we still have to do a lot of things before a developing country like ours can attain full success in the use of the I. T. industry. But there is no question about it. Whatever it takes to get our I. T. industry to maturity will have to be done. We have no choice because this is the right thing to do. At tulad ng parati kong sinasabi, "PAG NASA TAMA KA, NEVER GIVE UP!". Tama ba mga kabataan?

As I see it, we are now at the cusp of a unique revolution, one which is constructive rather than destructive, globalist rather than isolationist in scope, and most important of all, led by the youth!

Busa mga kaigsoonan, let's go for I. T. sa Luzon, Visayas ug Mindanao.

Daghang salamat. Mabuhi kitang tanan ug ang atong nasud.

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