The “Kick-Off” Afterglow

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The “Kick-Off” was a big success! The event was participated by some fifty-three (53) café owners from Metro-Manila, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Laguna, Batangas, Cavite and Catanduanes. It was held the whole-day (8:00AM to 5:00PM) yesterday, May 27, 2009 at Max’s Restaurant, Gateway-Cubao, Quezon City. It was sponsored mainly by Intel Technology Philippines and Global Hosted Operating System (G.ho.st) with Z-Zone Online Phils Inc. providing the raffle prizes.

The workshop participants represent the various Internet Café Associations (ICAs) of Marikina, Valenzuela, Malabon-Navotas and San Juan in Metro-Manila, Calamba and Los Baños in Laguna, Imus in Cavite and Madapdap in Pampanga. Individuals belonging to United Lanshop Owners of the Philippines (ULOP.net) comprise the majority of the workshop participants. The workshop proceedings was ably handled by the people from Asian Academy of Business and Computers (AABC) while presentations on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) advocacy were made by representatives of the International Open Source Network (IOSN) and the Computer Professionals Union (CPU).

In the early part of the event, Mr. Carlo Subido, Business Solutions Manager of Intel, spoke on the subject of “Collaboration – The Key in the Development of the Internet Café Industry in the Philippines” while Cong. Teddy Casiño of the Philippine Congress delivered a speech on “FOSS and the Internet Café”. They both emphasize the need to collaborate and have a united movement for the betterment of the Internet café business in the country. Ms. Maria Teresa Camba, Director of the Field Operations Office, National Computer Center spoke about “Increasing the Role of Internet Cafés in Community Building” with specific mention of the Community eCenter (CeC) project in which Internet cafés in some areas of the country may participate.

The actual workshop was done before lunch was served. Mr. Roy Morales, AABC Administrator, and his staff facilitated the procedure. The event participants were formed into five (5) groups with ten (10) members each. They were made to discuss the current problems of the café industry and their suggested solutions. Each group was made to come out with one (1) word for a specific problem and another one (1) word for the recommended solution. Each of them must discuss five (5) problems during the one (1) hour allotted for workshop session.

A spokesperson for each group was asked to explain briefly the problems and solutions they discussed after which Mr. Roy Morales collated the outputs and interpreted the results of the workshop to the participants. Among the prominent problems that came out of the workshop were price war, harsh local regulations and software piracy. Computer hardware obsolescence, high cost of power, crappy Internet connections and some management problems also came out.

In the afternoon, Ms. Trish Abejo, Director, Cyber Services Group of the Commission on Information and Communication Technology delivered a speech “Internet Cafe Industry’s Role in the Development of ICT Infrastructure in the Philippines” with emphasis on the need to have an industry association that national policy makers can talk to regarding the programs that the national government may pursue in helping the industry. She gave the example of what happen with the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry who formed their own association and became successful in their deals with the government.

The Kick-Off ended with the signing of a manifesto by the participants declaring their awareness on the current status of the Internet café industry in the country and their full support on the formation of an industry association or a national body that will represent their interests to the national agencies tasked with regulating the business of providing Internet access to the public.

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