Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

Past, Present and Inevitable Future of the Internet

We have “known” for decades that telephones would eventually become portable, wireless and small enough to carry around just like a wallet. Do you recall the Communicator device in Star Trek? It resembles the current flip mobile phones. They were used for voice communication connecting individuals between Star Ships. Dr. Martin Cooper, inventor of the modern mobile phone, credits the TOS communicator as being his inspiration for the technology. Although the first “brick” mobile phones were much larger, modern flip phones strongly resemble the original series communicator. 

Early on… 

For me, the development of mobile phone technology is kind of the same thing as the development of the Internet. Our generation has been fortunate to witness its exponential advancement. I remember the first time I used the Internet in the early 1990s. It was through the old Vax mainframe computers at the De La Salle University in Manila and later on, with the more user-friendly Netscape browser in Personal Computers (PCs). Computers at that time were exclusively housed in laboratories where they kept the temperature low to protect the equipment. Despite the tropical heat of the Philippines, we would wear sweaters if we planned to stay longer in the lab to survive the low temperature. I remember the web pages were simple, text-based, had limited contents and features. We were glad to just send emails and read static content that we found online. De La Salle University was one of the first Philippine schools to be connected to the Internet. By the time I graduated in 1997, the Internet had already gone through a series of major developments. 

Advancements today… 

Today, we are in the midst of continuing development of the web fueled by advancements in the Internet and technology. The most notable application is “Social Media” which led to the  inevitable creation of a vast content and knowledge base. There is an abundance of information and the size of social interaction has reached a colossal scale. We are in the age were ordinary people break the news. Just recently, CNN reported that “some of the first public accounts of the military operation that killed the terrorist leader (Osama bin Laden) came in the form of tweets from Sohaib Athar, an IT consultant in Abbottabad — the city where bin Laden was found.” This breaking news spread fast and made ecstatic fans at a game in Philadelphia hold up their mobile phones to show the news of Bin Laden’s death as they received messages from friends. Later on, President Obama announced the news to the world on mainstream TV. This shows that within a span of just one generation, the availability of information, capabilities to create and share, and our access to them has changed dramatically. 

Family interaction platform… 

It was not until a couple of years ago that my parents in the Philippines have started using the Internet, or a computer for that matter. I was determined to help them catch up with new trends and I knew introducing them to the use of computers and the Internet was something that could create value for them, personally and as well as in their retail business. On the other hand, my hidden agenda was to utilize another communication channel with my family that is effective and cheaper as compared to international calls. The last time that I visited home was December 2009 and one of my objectives then was to convince my father to invest in a laptop. To sweeten the deal, I would pay half of the cost and would stay a little longer so I could teach them how to use it. Teach them I did, starting with the basics of switching the computer on and off, use of the keyboard (comparing it with typewriters used during my parents’ time). Soon, we ventured off to the more fun stuff– the Internet. The first thing that we accomplished was to create an email account, then Windows Live for chat, Skype for video conferencing and then Facebook for social networking. Eventually, we ventured into Excel so that my father can use it to upgrade their process of recording daily sales (he usually just used paper notepads!). After I returned to the United States, in less than two months, they were adept in using their new-found tool. My parents processed their US visa application online, bought plane tickets (even helped friends buy tickets online) and they were also everywhere in social media. I could chat with them, video call using Skype with them, and send them blogs that I have written. A month ago, I was even able to share with them photos and videos of when my twins were born through Youtube and Facebook. The social media and the web have become our platform for family interaction. 

Inevitable Future and Questions… 

The Internet has enabled humans to develop new technologies and social structure that allow us to participate in content creation and dissemination (such as blogs and social networking sites). The advancement and innovation that has catapulted the Internet to ubiquity also reveal enormous use in business. Nowadays, users participate in solutions building through collaborative platforms. Internet has developed social structures that allow interaction without boundaries– thus making our small world even smaller. 

In 10 years, humans and computers will join forces to create “collective intelligence”. Technology will evolve as such that the Internet (and information within it) will be accessible and available to everyone— this will exponentially increase the already massive data we exchange today. How we (and machines) will make sense of as well as analyze and synthesize this collective information, is what will bring us to Web 3.0 and beyond. 

In closing, I leave you with some questions:

  • How do you see the Internet impacting the world, business and human interaction in 10 years?
  • Does the Internet in its generative form need new kinds of control to avoid problems in society and loss of opportunity?
  • Are we looking at a prospect of a better world for our children with seemingly exponential cycle of innovation and growth of the Internet?

Photos courtesy of jscreationzs and Idea go.

Follow Glenn Remoreras on Twitter.

Values My Parents Taught Me

December 19, 2010 6 comments

When I reflect on where I am today, I remember the journey that I have been through — my childhood in the humble hometown of Catbalogan (in the Philippines) where our parents raised us three boys.  I see how the daring dream of parents, nurturing love, and early childhood lessons can shape a wonderful life. I know that by truly knowing who you are, your strengths and core values, you can relate to others better, gain more friends and be successful in life.

This is the time of the year when you reflect on what happened during the year and the years that have gone by. Christmas is always filled with emotions and longing to be with your family and loved ones. I have spent 31 out of 33 Christmases in my life with my family in Catbalogan. Last year, I was there too. This Christmas is the second one that I won’t be spending at home. We are pregnant with twin boys and obviously, the doctor won’t allow my wife to travel. So we are spending this holiday season in Florida for the first time. 

I would like to dedicate this post to my parents, Ignacio and Leonita Remoreras. They are the best parents in the world and I attribute most of what I am and what I have become to them. These are the values and lessons they have taught me and my two other brothers, Lemuel and Ryan, when we were growing up. 

Hardwork 

The importance of hardwork was a lesson I learned early in life. Leading to Christmas, at this time of the year, I remember my brothers and I would be busy helping our parents operate the store. My parents own a small store in our hometown in the Philippines. We initially sold mostly school and office supplies but eventually offered more and more gift items, especially in the months leading to Christmas.  December had always been a special month for the family — a month of lots of preparation and work. After school breaks for Christmas, my classmates looked forward to vacation while my brothers and I looked forward to working everyday during the Christmas break. Our parents instilled in us the culture of shared responsibility. They did not hire store helpers early on and they expected us to help in every aspect of the business. 

About 30% of our store’s annual gross sales come from the month of December. That’s how important the month is for our livelihood. You can just imagine the amount of work that it represented to us. It was a family affair to help out, and it was a tradition admired even by other friends of the family. My parents tasked us to help in the store in different ways — wrap gifts, man the cashier, assist customers and move stocks around. It was just the five of us operating the store. When I was in high-school, my parents began to entrust me with managing the store during the summer when they both travelled to Manila to buy inventory for the school opening. When I went to university in Manila, my younger brother Lemuel took over this role. (I think he was better at it than I was.) When my brothers and I moved to Manila to go to university, my parents started hiring people to help in the store.

“Cenintavo” and Malasakit (Deep Caring and Empathy) 

During the store’s off season, the business mostly concentrated on retail of school and office supplies. We sold ballpens, pencils, scissors, crayon, and many others. We even sold paper (typewriting paper, yellow pad paper and the like) by piece to customers — mostly to students of Samar College (located across the street from our store). I wondered why we sold paper by piece. My father explained that it’s about earning “cenintavo” (meaning — earning by centavo or the cent) and centavos put together make a good sum. That’s how we earn a living — “cenintavo”. That’s how my father taught me the value of working hard for small things. My parents were raising us to be responsible and self-motivated, to understand the value of initiative and caring, to appreciate the value of money and earning a living the hard way. Filipino values were inculcated in our upbringing. Values such as “pagmamalasakit” (deep caring and empathy) and “kusang loob” (initiative).

Again, when I reflect where I am today, knowng the journey is far from over,  I see that my next step is daring to dream big for my children, pursuing the same lessons and discipline, and passing on the same core family values my parents taught me.

I am citing a very old poem that I wrote during my childhood (this one is from 1992, when I was 15 yrs old).  I will leave you this year, with this poem about me, my parents and my hometown. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

My mother lives by the sea,
eats fish, crabs, shrimps for her everyday meals
She wanders the Samar island.
Walks with bare emptiness.
Crying with droplet tears of pearls.

My father braves the bridges and the soars.
He leaves home through a nightingale cast
and reaches the island of dreams,
searching pearls from oysters undersea.

Then came…
the last day of the first month known,
the mild brook begins singing songs.
The billowing wind excites
the crystal water to fall downstream.
No mural drawn, no trumpet sung
no fuming incense and amber cunning.
My rapture to the gates of the world
bears no wonder and warmth.

The firmament where I seek residence
is a town of willow and grass.
Treat and retreat come the waves
ashore to the town of wedge.
Strait of San Bernardino to the north,
the great Pacific to the east,
Strait of San Juanico to the south
the Maqueda Bay to the west.
Waters I see in every point I trudge.
Water I see in every edge.
I can go nowhere without the sea I see,
I can’t live without the sea.

Perspective view of Catbalogan with Maqueda Bay at the background

Perspective view of Catbalogan with Maqueda Bay at the background

I print the map of my hometown,
roaring through, the pins print
the old town’s map.
Printing pins, printing pins,
It prints the narrow street of Rizal,
Del Rosario, San Francisco and San Roque.
It prints the narrow street of Mabini,
where I live and grow.
I print the map of Catbalogan
its schools, churches, halls and parks.
The pins go tired and weary-
they print for years now,
ever printing the changes of the town.

Photo Courtesy of http://catbalogan.lgu-ph.com/

How Gerry Dasco Brought Us Together

September 11, 2010 4 comments

Our old alma mater is the only Catholic school in the small and quiet city of Catbalogan (Philippines) of around 90,000 people. Just like me, most of my classmates hail from Catbalogan and other surrounding small towns and barrios. Most of us spent our formative years together— a year in kindergarten, six years in elementary and four years in high school. We knew that our high school graduation was sort of our break-off point. From there, each one of us headed our separate ways, chased separate dreams. I went to Manila, the nation’s capital. It was common for people like us who grew up in the province to move to the big city to study and then work. A few would return home. I attended university at De La Salle University. Some chose to stay in Catbalogan and many of them now work and serve our hometown. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished individually. We are now successful accountants, engineers, doctors, nurses, pilots, educators, judge (youngest in the country), businessmen, politicians (vice mayor of Catbalogan) and many other professionals. 

Our Ultimate Social Media Guy

It is seldom that someone brings together 30 or more friends from 20 years back to reminisce the years spent together. That was what Gerry Dasco managed to accomplish for us, his high school batch mates of ‘93 from Sacred Heart College (now called St. Mary’s College). I see updates from classmates and old friends in Facebook almost everyday.  I am often just browsing and curious about what they do now and how their families are. From time to time I look at their pictures and am amazed at how older and mature we’ve become and how fate have brought us to different journeys. On a few occasions, when I am able to, I greet classmates on their birthdays and congratulate them on their triumphs. It was always limited, sporadic chance encounters and more often without  frills, without conversations… until Gerry brought us together! 

I remember Gerry as being a shy, quiet, simple gentleman in school. He was definitely not the type to gather folks together for a party with the promise of conversations, dancing and beer. Gerry waited for his moment and he did the most amazing thing— something most of us wouldn’t dare do or couldn’t do for many years now.

He orchestrated an event conceived so creatively. How he managed it with simplicity amazes me. First, Gerry posted old scanned pictures from his high school photo album in Facebook. He then tagged everyone, wittingly and knowingly inviting us to look.

That started the flow of conversations, sharing, questions, and remembrance. He didn’t stop there; Gerry made a collage of old photos and new photos (picked from Facebook) put them side by side — kind of showing the before and after photo of each one of us. The collage brought even more friends and classmates into Gerry’s organized (virtual) high school reunion. The beauty of it was that he even got us to take it to the next level… all the way to how we would organization the hosting of the alumni homecoming event in 2017. 

It’s amazing! A lot of us thanked Gerry for what he did; he clearly gets this social media thing that many of us are still just starting to grasp. Gerry is my ultimate social media guy! He understood that the key to successful social-networking and reunion is to be deliberate. 

He understood that the simple concept of  Web 2.0 and social media revolves around the convergence and interconnectivity between links, users, and information. 

He transformed interactions between his batch mates from just sharing meaningless frivolity to being purposeful and it naturally led to real-time conversations. Gerry was focused and thought about how to capture what is important from the network, and organized our interactions accordingly.  Most of all, he created for us our own social space. 

Thanks again, Gerry!

Business Process Outsourcing Lifestyle in the Philippines

December 11, 2009 9 comments

I’m home! I thought it would be appropriate to write about the Philippines while I’m in town. It’s been 2 years since my last trip here. A family occasion gave me the opportunity to visit home this close to Christmas. I surely miss the vibrant colors, vitality and noise of the streets filled with jeepneys. I miss the company of friends and family. I am currently at a local coffee shop right in the heart of Metropolitan Manila’s business district – Makati. Like so many others, I come here mainly to connect to the internet and the coffee is just secondary. 

I am part of a Shared Services organization based in Florida. Due to a scheduling conflict, I am tasked to work during the first two weeks of December even though I am in a different time zone (13-hour difference).  Indeed, technology has broken the barriers to work and collaboration. Something that – decades ago – one can hardly imagine doing. I work nights (usually until 1am) to catch-up with the US Eastern Time zone. 

It is not as if I am the only one working the night shift in Metro Manila and in many major cities in the Philippines. I am comforted by the fact that I work at the same time as thousands of service agents and consultants providing services to the US and Europe. In Makati, it is pretty common to see heavily lighted high rise buildings at night. After all, the Philippines is one of the main centers of business process outsourcing (BPO) and shared services in the world.

The Philippine BPO industry provides a wide portfolio of services that not only include traditional voice and IT services but also higher value services such as finance, IT programming, engineering, medical transcription and architectural services. 

Business Process Outsourcing 

According to Tas, J. & Sunder, S. in a journal entitled Financial Services Business Process Outsourcing published in 2004. 

“Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a form of outsourcing that involves the contracting of the operations and responsibilities of a specific business functions (or processes) to a third-party service provider. Originally, this was associated with manufacturing firms, such as Coca Cola that outsourced large segments of its supply chain.”

BPO can be categorized into two types—front office and back office outsourcing. Front office outsourcing is typically related to customer services and contact center services while Back office usually refers to support and administrative functions such as human resources, finance and accounting. 

Based on service location there are two types of BPO—Nearshore and Offshore outsourcing. For example, relative to United States, BPO service providers in Mexico can be considered a nearshore outsourcing as compared to BPO services provided to US companies from Asia Pacific countries, like the Philippines. 

Why Philippines is a First-rate BPO location 

Amid the global economic crisis, the BPO industries in the country have remained strong in 2009. Industry experts in the Philippines expect 35% growth this year. According to the Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP), the biggest organization of outsourcing providers in the Philippines, the outsourcing industry will earn about $12 billion to $13 billion and employ close to 900,000 people in 2010. 

The Philippines has remained one of the most ideal locations for companies who outsource business processes and services. Filipinos are known to be highly skilled, hardworking, dedicated and loyal. There is a known Filipino trait called “malasakit” (in local Filipno language) that means genuine concern and care. Filipinos are known to exhibit this quality in the workplace. Skills and hardworking attitudes guarantee strong performance and productivity, while on the other hand, dedication and loyalty translates to better talent retention, less training costs and experienced service personnel. The Philippines is also considered as the location of choice due to its less expensive operational and labor costs, as well as having an English-speaking workforce (the result of English being the main medium of instruction in schools and universities in all educational levels). The Philippines, with the help of the Government and private sectors, has also developed a competitive infrastructure in terms of telecommunications, information and technology. 

UK body proclaims the Philippines as World’s Best BPO destination for the 2nd time. The Philippines has won the 2009 Offshoring Destination of the Year category at the 4th National Outsourcing Association (NOA) Awards held October 15 at Park Plaza Riverbank in London. The Philippines bested Egypt, Malaysia, Russia and Sri Lanka among others. This is the second time that the country bagged the prestigious award category. The first time was in 2007. This was reported in a press release by BPAP last October 2009. 

BPO Lifestyle 

A lot of top multinational companies have service centers in the Philippines—Caltex, Citibank, HSBC, Procter and Gamble, Deutsche Bank and Dell, to name a few. It’s common for an individual to have at least one close family member who works in BPOs and services centers. It’s just that so many Filipinos nowadays work in BPO-related industries across the Philippines. My new sister-in-law, for instance, works in HSBC service center and my brother used to work there too— it’s where they met. This goes to show that indeed, business process outsourcing, offshore call and service centers are now part of Filipino lifestyle of service. We are known for our service— not just in BPO industries but in many industries— not just in the Philippines but around the world.

Image of Makati Skyline courtesy of Wikimedia.org

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,432 other followers

%d bloggers like this: