Wednesday, July 4, 2012



“Charity begins at home”, we have learned. It should never end there but it definitely starts there.

“GOD helps those who help themselves.”

"To whom much is given, much is required."

Indeed, in any Battle Against Poverty, individual or personal commitment presupposing responsibility is a necessary ingredient. It begins within us and extends to our immediate and extended families, friends, neighbors and communities.

This is why, in preparation for this on-going and lifetime battle, we first have to arm ourselves with all the tools necessary to be effective warriors against poverty and hunger. We owe it to our parents who had given priority to these tools. Now, we are extending the same assistance to our descendants.

Sometimes assistance from immediate families are not enough. This is why there is a need for the services provided by the government, the church, employers, and other community-based organizations that are created for charitable, educational and other purposes.

If each individual is able to take care of himself and his family by obtaining the right tools to fight poverty, I have no doubt that together as a community we would conquer this archenemy.

THE “LITTLE MIRACLES”: Tech Tools Against Poverty 

Education is the best antidote to poverty, which poisons anybody’s battle for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As Philippine Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said, “Education is the great equalizer for the poor.”

Making education more accessible to the poor, therefore, must be a priority for those warriors in the battle against poverty.

Learning the fundamentals such as reading, writing, and math is a good foundation to access more information and knowledge.

Knowledge is wealth. Possessing a lot of knowledge means adding more to your wealth. So any tool or technology that makes information, knowledge and education accessible, available, and affordable to the poor should eventually lead to reduction, if not eradication, of poverty.

Information and Communications Technology is known to reduce poverty by improving poor people’s access to education, health, government and financial services.

For the technologies to be effectively used, there should be an infrastructure built precisely for the purpose. It is called information superhighway. The private sector, which are usually the telecom companies, are preferred to build it but for economic and commercial reasons, there is really no incentive to have it in low income communities.

So, the government may have to get involved. Like the regular superhighways or railways, the government may have to build the information infrastructure either solely or in partnership with the private sector and make it more accessible, available, and affordable.

At the end of the last century when we were involved in Y2K projects, we proposed what we called PRIDE (Philippine Rural Interconnection Development Enterprise) which would have built that kind of information infrastructure. To go with it I also proposed what I called a Rural Electronification Program.

This would have guaranteed Internet access in the remotest areas. It would have built E-Centers in every barangay or mobile computer labs going to all the schools and barangays for computer and Internet access.

Online access means access to knowledge and education worldwide.

The proposed National Broadband Network (NBN) that would have implemented the concept that we proposed at the turn of the century did not continue because of revelations of corruption involving Philippine Government officials.

It should not stop the Philippine government from doing it in partnership with the private sector however.

Despite a more limited infrastructure, the Philippines still managed to be the Facebook capital, Text capital, Twitter capital, and even the Call Center capital of the world.

I am proud to have introduced the e-Book technology to the Philippines more than ten years ago. My company had the license to manufacture and exclusively distribute the eBookMan, which is the predecessor of the Amazon Kindle.

In this age of open education and open access, we are now aggressively pursuing online education.

E-Centers, Mobile Computer Labs, eBooks, eLibraries, and E-Learning (Online Education) and hundreds of thousands of mobile and computer applications are indeed helpful as tech tools for poverty reduction.

Who knows, we might also end up being the capital of the Planet of the Apps!


My barber rightly opines, “We are hopeless regarding natural calamities. We can only minimize its effects by preparing for any fortuitous eventuality.”

These unforeseen and unexpected events are called “Acts of GOD”.  So, amidst having assistance from the government, the church, and other institutions, be they profit or non-profit; amidst our God-given talents, Google, GoodReader, online access, Apples for the brain and the stomach, the numbered Windows of opportunity, and other “little miracles”, finite beings like us still resort to what we universally call, “PRAYERS.”

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