Tribute to two key figures in IT

On Jan. 1, 2010, Ronald James Panis wrote in his Facebook account: "Life is shorts.
Written by Joel D. Pinaroc, Contributor and  Melvin G. Calimag, Contributor

On Jan. 1, 2010, Ronald James Panis wrote in his Facebook account: "Life is shorts. Wear pants." The amusing comment was vintage RJ, as we called him, but it proved to be "prophetic" as he was never able to post another status update after that.

On Jan. 9, 2010, RJ wrote 30 at age 30--a writer to the end. Sketchy information said he died due to pancreatitis, a medical condition more known in local parlance as bangungot.

He was both a colleague and a friend.

Although he was not really an active member, he was one of the officers during my first term as president of the IT Journalists Association of the Philippines, or CyberPress. (Here's a link to the CNET Asia blog of former member Joey Alarilla on our election day.)

When a minor crisis hit our group then, RJ e-mailed me privately and offered his advice for me to be calm and not to resign. This somewhat eased my burden as it demonstrated my fellow IT writers' faith in me. I, along with the gang, was able to get over the hump and even went on to finish my second term. Sadly, I can no longer return that morale boost he gave me.

RJ had his weaknesses and, I assume, regrets as well. But his boundless enthusiasm--as evidenced by his easy-going and cheery demeanor, especially when discussing movies--allowed him to thoroughly enjoy his brief junket on Earth.

His life was short, but he wore his pants with gusto. Farewell, RJ.

A lifetime of achievement At the CyberPress Christmas party last December, our group had the chance to honor a beloved IT figure with a "Lifetime Achievement Award". As I was winding up my explanation on the rationale of the award, someone in the audience quipped that I add "alive" to the list of qualifications that an honoree should have in order to be given the plaque. Of course, I readily acceded to the suggestion.

The awardee, William "Bill" Torres, just let out a hearty chuckle at the comment. But, the truth was, we were simply glad that the man was still around to receive an award for his exemplary contributions to the local IT industry.

Torres, widely considered here as the "Father of Philippine Internet", negotiated with the U.S. in the mid-90s to connect the country to what was billed then as the information superhighway. He did this in his capacity as cofounder and CEO of Mozcom, the first commercial ISP (Internet service provider) in the Philippines.

This feat brought immense benefits to the Philippine and its economy, particularly in the field of business process outsourcing. Today, the country is touted as the second largest outsourcing destination after India–something a lot of us take for granted.

Torres, who is the first Filipino to acquire a PhD degree in computer science in the U.S., also served as the director-general of the National Computer Center during the Aquino administration--a crucial and hopeful time for the country then.

Though happily retired, he is still very active in forums and associations. The guy remains a tireless supporter of the local ICT industry and a persuasive voice for cutting-edge technologies.

Thank you and congratulations, sir Bill.

Industry Update Lawyer Adrian Cristobal Jr. has just concluded his stint as director-general of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IP Philippines). As of this writing, the presidential palace has not yet announced a replacement. Under the IP Code of the Philippines, which created the agency, the director-general shall serve for a fixed five-year term.

Former journalist Joey Alarilla has also left his job as "multimedia head" of PLDT-owned games firm Level-Up and is now the social media editor of Yahoo Philippines. Before hooking up with Level-Up, Alarilla was an IT reporter for 12 years.

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