Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Scolded by the President

President Arroyo scolded yesterday Department of Education Secretary Fe Hidalgo for an error in her classroom shortage report using a ratio of 45 students to 1 classroom instead of what 100:1. That ratio showed great discrepancy indeed. But as an ordinary news reader and parent, who wants to be happy with the fact that a child is studying in a class with a ratio of 100:1? Is this a sign as to how we are degrading our education standards?

If the 45:1 is our end goal, then we should stick to that in measuring our progress. Instead, to make it appear positive, the measurement basis is changed when it is making the situation worst and extremely pathetic.

I was scolded by PGMA once and told myself not to ever give her the chance to do that again. That was during an ITECC meeting in 2002 where she assumed her role as chairman of the now defunct Information Technology Electronic Commerce Council (ITECC). Her presidential advisers crafted an executive order to make her the body’s chairman then. I was presenting a status report from the legal cluster and cited that some of work-to-do are going through due process to some government agencies. Surprisingly, I got asked why is it taking that long when those agencies can do it a day or two? I was most tempted to answer that she, being President, can of course command people to work that fast. But as private sector volunteers helping out, one must wait and fit in within the current workload of the government personnel involved. At that time, DTI Secretary, now Senator Roxas, redirected the focus of PGMA to other cluster heads in that meeting.

The question was valid, no doubt. How it was delivered, the follow-up remarks, was most astonishing and even distasteful. It felt like being power-tripped. After the meeting, I shook my head and thought that the President must have felt that we are desperate to see her at 7 am in the morning just to have that meeting. I made up my mind at that time that I am facing a know-all type of a leader and better give way to others who are adaptable.

My experience in meeting PGMA was the opposite when faced with President Estrada. It was during the signing of Republic Act 8792 or the Philippines E-Commerce Law in the year 2000. I was introduced by Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr. and former Congressman Leandro Verceles Jr. prior to the law’s signing. He congratulated me and ask several of us to pose for a picture. After the picture taking and handshakes, he just tapped my shoulder and said, “Tama yang ginagawa niyo. Pag may mga importante pang batas na kailangan ninyo, i-lobby niyo lang. Ituloy niyo lang yan.” Of course, if I’ve met PGMA in a law signing where I’m a principal lobbyist, perhaps she would have told me the same.

I remember sharing the experience and my complaints on what is happening to ITECC to a Senator at that time, he advised me that the President is facing a lot of pressuring tasks and the new people at ITECC have the best intentions and needed time to prove themselves. I agreed and yielded.

Of course, how ITECC was handled and ended, I believe, was the reason why the implementation of the E-Commerce Law got badly derailed.

Before the year end of 2004, I got asked by another Senator to serve and monitor how the E-Commerce Law is being implemented. The current situation makes you frown and hardly smile.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Handling online flame war

In the DigitalFilipino.com Podcast Episode 4, I answered a question on how to handle an online flame war, where people attack or put you down online.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

My failure is my success

My column at Sun.Star today is "My failure is my success". It was inspired by John Maxwell's book Failing Forward. I hope you'll like it.

Update (September 21, 2010): I just realized that the article is not available online and hereby re-posting it.

I often receive praises for the things I’ve done in the past. With the kind words comes the inevitable question, “how do you keep on doing it?” Ironically, an act that others may perceive a big success is not necessarily perceived as such by its creator. Some people even consider what others see as success a failure.

Most of us have ideas for dream projects. More often than not, we pursue these believing they have possible positive impact—fun, revenue and, for some, stature. In my case, my ideas are primarily driven by a combination of such motivating factors.

However, very rarely can one achieve them all. Some of the things I did that other people considered successful, were disappointing to me. These disappointments were also my own doing as I missed to consider issues or underestimated things that could have made a difference. These lessons inspire me to think through and try on new ideas once more.

Our failures are results of our actions, risks we have undertaken in doing something that didn’t turn out right. Rather than linger on these disappointments, it is best to collect your thoughts, ponder, re-strategize and focus on current or new challenges that you can try to conquer and hopefully prevail.

I believe that those who have tried and failed are far better off than those who have not tried at all. They have high chances of being successful someday. With the Internet, no one is stopping you from picking up yourself and trying all over again. It is a fair game.

FunChain.com’s Jason Banico, who has just finished his fellowship at the Reuters Digital Vision Program in Stanford University, made a very interesting post in his blog
(http://www.funchain.com/~jasonbanico) about the lack of innovative application development activities in the Philippines by the young—even for fun.

From the events he participated in, he noted that some of the most successful applications were those developed for fun and usefulness by its creators. His view also follows the framework espoused by Tim O’Reilly in his radar talk on innovation development (http://radar.oreilly.com).

In our exchange, I mentioned that the youth’s priority is influenced by the need to survive and achieve financial stability at a young age. In fact, a lot of them are already pressured to work even before they can finish college.

As a result, creativity is put on hold and only pursued when the right opportunity comes along. Today, perhaps only the rich who can afford gadgets and have parental support can do fun and creative projects of their own.

To move forward, our generation needs to explore how innovation can be fostered especially among the young. Should the academe provide such an environment without dictating or imposing what it believes to be technologies that are popular or practical?

Will this environment provide the necessary support where failure is not the end but a stepping stone to keep on trying to do better?