It's that time of the year again when Filipinos troop to cemeteries to remember their departed loved ones. It's fascinating to note, however, how a pre-dominantly Catholic and tradition-bound country like the Philippines is adapting to modern trends, even in the field of religion.
Last year, when a local scientist first announced his innovative project called "e-burol" (which means, electronic wake), I honestly thought it was a unique concept but didn't envision it as something that would appeal to Filipinos. It seemed funny and awkward to me.
The idea behind the online wake was to give distant family members the chance to attend the ceremony virtually. Oftentimes, the burial date is extended indefinitely because the family is waiting for someone to arrive from abroad.
Interestingly, this online initiative is starting to gain ground. This is not totally surprising, however, since there are about 10 million Filipinos scattered across the globe, with almost every family having a relative based abroad.
A large funeral home has, in fact, started offering "e-burol" service in its Web site. Using a password provided by the funeral company, relatives and friends can log on the site and view the deceased online.
But wakes are not the only religious activity being held on the Internet. An activist priest, Robert Reyes, last month launched his virtual parish church, where his followers can listen to his Sunday homilies and even say their confessions via online chat.
Reyes, an ardent critic of the Arroyo administration, put up the cyber church after he went "parish-less", following his superiors' advice for him to go on sabbatical leave.
Lastly, churches all over the country are also increasingly making use of technology, particularly PowerPoint presentations, during Sunday masses.
For the last few years, I've been attending mass at a chapel inside a big mall in Mandaluyong City. Until it was renovated two weeks ago, the chapel has been using acetate projectors for the readings. Now, it's not only using overhead projectors for the readings but also for homilies. Just last Sunday, the officiating priest used PowerPoint slides and video for his sermon. It's the first time I've actually witnessed a priest do this.
Technology is permeating our everyday lives, and that includes spirituality.
Rigodon Update Oracle Philippines has publicly divulged the identity of its new managing director but, oddly, it's not giving out any information other than his name--Ryan Guadalquiver. Not much is known about the executive except that he is surprisingly young, and that he spent most of his corporate life at mobile operator Globe Telecom until he was recruited by Oracle two years ago. It's good to know, however, that a Filipino is taking over at the subsidiary after stints by the two foreign-born chiefs--Yashi Kant and Francis Ong.
Speaking about Oracle Philippines, the last Filipino head of the company, Bernard Yu, called me up a few minutes ago to invite me to a press conference of his new company Vinta Systems. Yu is serving as the president and CEO of the tech firm, while industry veteran Gus Lagman sits as chairman. Vinta Systems lost one of its founders recently, IT pioneer Peter Valdez, who was also one of the original founders of Tivoli Systems, now owned by IBM.