The whole Philippines--that includes me, of course--has just gotten back to work after a long break. Filipinos probably enjoy the longest Christmas season in the world, which usually starts when the "ber" months arrive and lasts until the Feast of the Three Kings in the first Sunday of January.
It is during this time that the whole nation throws all its worries and cares to the air, with ordinary work grinding to a halt in the midst of the holiday rush. As for the IT media, instead of attending press conferences we would attend Christmas parties almost every night for two straight weeks once December sets in.
But that's over now and no matter how hard we deny it, we're now back to reality. And with the new year just a few days old, allow me to rattle off a few things I wish the country would work on in the area of ICT to improve Filipinos' quality of life:
1. Passage of the bill on Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). The Philippines is one of the few countries in Southeast Asia that does not have a dedicated ICT department so it's high time this overdue proposed law is passed by Congress.
2. For VoIP to get off the ground. This technology has been around for a number of years but for some strange reasons, Filipinos are not using it. Perhaps some advocates in the media can help resolve this.
3. For outsourcing to flourish more. The Philippines has definitely found its niche in this phenomenon brought about by globalization and the Internet revolution. But other countries are fast catching up, and if the Philippines does not improve its standards and replenish its workforce, it may squander this newfound goldmine.
4. For cyber-security bill to be signed into law. While the Philippines already has an e-commerce law, the country needs to have a legislation that will address new breed of cybercrimes, such as cyber-sex and child pornography, which have emerged in recent years.
5. For Filipinos to embrace innovation and appreciate a culture anchored on science and technology. It's always news on politics that hog the headlines, with science-related news relegated in the dingy corners of the papers. This has got to change if the Philippines wants to see itself as a country ready to embrace the future. They say that the only thing constant in this world is change, and Filipinos, particularly local IT companies, would do well to remember this if the Philippines wants to create the likes of India's Infosys, Wipro and Satyam.
6. For the government to computerize the elections and implement genuine e-government projects. The biggest anomalies that came out last year and the year before that (i.e. the ZTE national broadband deal and the MegaPacific poll computerization contract were established) were in the area of ICT--giving the sector a bad name. I hope this stigma can be erased and that government leaders will be decent enough to pursue IT projects in the government in a transparent and credible manner.
7. For Filipino software houses to conquer the globe. If the Indians can do it, there's no reason the Philippine software companies can't become multinational giants offering world-class software products.
8. For the CICT (Commission on Information and Communications Technology) to gain its bearings. From the time of its creation, this ICT body has accomplished very little. Its only achievement so far is the high turnover rate of its commissioners--with three chiefs serving in its three years of existence.
9. For green IT to gather steam in the country. Being a developing country should not be an excuse for the Philippines not to advocate environment-friendly initiatives, such as recycling and take-back programs.
10. For the local IT press, led by CyberPress, to become a major force in disseminating and dissecting crucial issues to the public. As the president of the local IT corps in the Philippines, I definitely would like to see a greater role for the IT media in popularizing IT in the mainstream.
These are just but a few of the many things that Filipinos like me would like to see in the year that has just started. Readers of this blog are free to contribute their thoughts and share their aspirations as well.