Sunday, April 29, 2007

Learning to Twitter after iBlog3

During and after the iBlog3 event, there's much talk on how Twitter is used to communicate with each other.
So to keep track on the growing number of club members who are twittering (and while preparing for the DigitalFilipino Web Awards), I gave it a shot.

One benefit I found in using it is that it allows you to be kept posted. Like,
I also agree with Ely about the things you tend to find out using Twitter. Perhaps they are non-bloggable.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pride, In the Name of Love

Last weekend, I started e-mailing the DigitalFilipino.com Web Awards winners notifying that they have won. The most common expression that I got was "Wow!" and I guess it felt really great when some form recognition is given, in the most genuine manner. All I could say is that the award turnout, from the prizes to recognition, was most blessed.

Feeling proud is an understatement in describing what the winners have poured in terms of effort, vision, and plan for their respective websites to achieve. There is so much love, passion, and dedication to their craft.

Since iBlog3, this song has been lingering in my head. I dedicate this to everyone committed in their craft and purpose.



From hereon, focus is on my upcoming blogging book (outside of project commitments) targeting release next month.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Money transfer and clearing challenges

I got a client who sent an initial downpayment through money remittance using Western Union. I find the process of getting the money to be quite a maze of confusion. This includes:
  • First, the website. When I was searching for areas where money could be retrieved, I kept seeing two agent bank references only.
  • The Bayad Center at Ever Commonwealth have no manpower in their counters to process Western Union pay outs during the weekend.
  • The Lhuillier shop MRT Ayala was asking me to fill up a "know your customer" form before I could enter to process a Western Union payout. According to the lady guard, it is a requirement by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. (I will definitely clarify this) The form asked for basic information about the person. What I didn't like about it is the right fingerprint requirement. Sorry but it is not worth it and I walked away.
  • Today, I was able to process it through Banco De Oro.

I also opened a dollar account at Banco De Oro. What attracted me is that I don't have to pay P100 processing fee whenever I deposit a dollar check. This I do whenever I deposit through PNB. However, it is a sad reality that I still have to deal with 45 days clearing. I hope this long processing will be shorten soon as the market becomes more competitive.

Also, this long processing is not good for new bloggers who are getting their first payout checks when they still have to open an account. (especially when they have friends clamoring for blowout)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Preparing for a podcast revival


When I started the DigitalFilipino.com Podcast last year, the feedback that Creative Voices Production and I got ranged from nice to critical. With 14 episodes done in a span of one year, we felt a sense of fulfillment as we took Philippine podcasting to a different level and made a first by having paid sponsors placing ads in our podcast.
(Photo is our first podcast recording last April 2006 with Peachy Herrin)

The past few months, I took a break in podcasting as I'm searching for some inspiration and new ideas in doing the podcast. The break was great as well as Creative Voices Production got their hands full with their Inquirer Election podcast gig, among others.

Comic book writer Gerry Alanguilan also sent me an email lately asking for thoughts on Video Blogging or V Blogging. I tried that in the year 2000 (the time when I had my Infotech online radio as well) but only showing the faces of the people I interview.

I guess the reason why not that many do video blogging is that we are mostly conscious of our looks and every episode would require some level of proper presentation. However, there may be some opportunities there worth experimenting with.
During iBlog3, Wilson Chua of eRadioPortal opened the doors to content creators in exploring further podcasting opportunities and take advantage of the long tail or growing market in this area.

Monday, April 23, 2007

One Laptop Per Child: Losing its novelty?

When I was in New Zealand to speak at the Workshop on CyberLegislation, I got the chance to try the famous US$100 dollar laptop for the One Laptop Per Child project. During the discussion, I told the resource person that the Philippines has not yet confirmed its participation in the project, although the Cebu IT community was considering it before, and it may be too high to commit to.

He told me that there is a big challenge now with this project as the likes of India refused to participate as they are capable of building similar devices at a much cheaper rate and feels that there are far more important things to prioritize. China is likewise interested but also having their local players participate in building the devices.

Being able to tinker with, here's my observation:
  • I need to be trained on how to use the device. There's no help or description that explains what are the icons that appear on the screen.
  • I'm impressed that the gadget has wireless connectivity and a built in web cam.
  • It looks like a toy.
  • In short, I wasn't able to figure out what to do with it without being trained or having a manual of sort to read. (perhaps more time to tinker)
With technology evolving so fast, sometimes I can't help but wonder, when playing with it then, if the gadget and the project idea has lost its novelty. It sounded nice when it started but tinkering with it, having a feel of being non-user friendly, makes me wonder if the recipients will get to really appreciate it or they'll prefer just going to their nearby Internet cafe and use the computer. Of course, for areas with no Internet cafe nearby, they may have no other choice.

This coupled with other pressing priorities such as clean water, better education, electricity in rural areas, social services all compete on funds that are necessary to purchase one million computers to participate in this project.

(Photos were taken using the Palm Treo 680)

iBlog3 Photo and Volunteer Memories

Sincerest thanks to one of our iBlog3 volunteers, Antonette Uy, for the pictures she has taken during the event. As JJ mentioned at the closing part, it was this year that we called for volunteers to help out and we're very glad that many came forward.

Some of the volunteers are Thyssen, Tiffany, Brian, Olivier (photos), Jervis, Janin, and Gwen.
Thanks also to Chris Haravata for the photos taken on day 1 and 2 of the event!
Did I miss anyone? Please advise. Thank you for all your help!

Big hug to Pia Rieza and Ate Cely for taking care of the food logistics, sponsor coordination, tokens, poster and streamer collaterals, among others at the event (especially when I was away).

Although I know that we planned most of it, we had challenges at the last minute and thank everyone for their patience. We'll do better.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Recognizing Filipino Websites

I spent the whole day today managing the final judging process for the DigitalFilipino.com Web Awards. The awards was designed to be an Internet user's choice award type as club members who judge the 31 category entries are both young and old online citizens.

Several things that came to mind when planning for it are:
  • We won't charge an entry fee.
  • We will actively nominate entries as necessary.
  • Very basic technical rule to be used, for entries to be shortlisted to the finals, is the site must have a unique title tag per page, no broken images, and contact info (minimum of e-mail or form) posted online.
  • During the awards ceremony, we will release a best practices guide that all site owners can take note of to improve their website further.
I feel blessed with the APEC Digital Opportunity Center's entry into this project as a co-collaborator when I least expected it. I guess this is a sign that we should do this learning experience project annually as well.

Bloggers/Journalists who wishes to cover the April 27 awards ceremony shall be more than welcome. Just send me an email at digitalfilipino (at) gmail.com.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Why do I love Blogger

During the iBlog3 summit, Pierre asked the difference between Blogger and Wordpress. I use both platforms although my access to Wordpress is more for maintaining other entities' blog, rather than mine. (Aileen also has a great write-up on this topic.)

With Blogger's current version, which has improved in so many ways, it will be hard for any newbie to consider any other platform otherwise. Reasons, in my limited experience, includes:
  • Easy to set up, no need for special API codes to make some features/plug-in work.
  • Easy to insert YouTube code. I had a hard time doing this in other platforms. Although I was able to do it after a few hours of research plus trial and error.
  • Spam management. I find spam entering Blogger to be very rare.
  • Easy to add html codes using the HTML/scripts widget. Only in special instances do you really to have to edit/customize Blogger's template source code.
  • Easy to add advertisement. Blogger is not strict with that while other platforms would hardly allow you unless you host it on your own or pay a premium.
  • Easy to upload photos. Up to this day, I always get an error message whenever I try to upload a photo in other platforms and had not allotted time to tinker with it, to make it work. I ended up usually just to have it FTP, or put in a third party site, then linked to it.
  • I want to be spared as well from upgrade issues that I hear from other platform users once in a while.
I think it will also be great for Blogger.com users to get together sometime and exchange customization tips on how to make our blogs better and rocking. I would surely like to get info, based on experience, on where to download/buy nice Blogger templates.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How do you behave to show your nationalism?

While monitong Technorati traffic for iBlog3 and some of my works (for copyright tracking), I found this 2004 post from Moje Ramos-Aquino that talks about "What is nationalism? (Review on the Filipina Toral's McGraw-Hill book)."

It is heartwarming to know that some recognize the nationalism component of the activities I undertake. Thank you Moje Ramos-Aquino.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Please send a comment - An Unfair Article Title Referring to the Philippines

While updating my Philippine Outsourcing Review blog, I spotted this article that I find to be quite unfair. The article title is "Aussie patient records outsourced to Philippines". Yet when you read through it, there are at least three countries mentioned and the vendor they interviewed handling the account of 150 Australian doctors is an Indian company. Therefore, its article title that zooms into the Philippines is not accurate, or at least - fair.

I posted a comment already in that article and request for its title to be corrected and I urge you to please do the same.

Admittedly, as Manuel L. Quezon III and Dean Jorge Bocobo mentioned in iBlog3, we do have a lot of problems in our country that we are all struggling with. But when our country's name is put in a bad light, no matter how small deal this article is, it is a different matter altogether.

As for privacy regulation, the main issue of the said article, what we have is DTI DAO #8: Guidelines for the Protection of Personal Data in an Information and Communication System highlighting the application of Republic Act 8792 or the Philippines E-Commerce Law on this issue and how can file complaints against those who violate our privacy.

Planning for international book release

I was making final coordination last week for iBlog3 during my short break in Australia. The Internet truly is empowering as it allows us to be productive wherever we are. While wrapping up the final touches for my upcoming blogging book project, the idea of going for international release struck me rather than just be contented of having it published in the Philippines.

Australia became an option as there are online services for writers there that includes ISBN registration and release in their bookstores. One company I'm looking at is BookPal. There are several sites in the US also doing the same such as Lulu and iUniverse.

Taking an international path challenges the whole pricing aspect of the book as US$2 wouldn't do it to cover the cost. International blogging books, where I'll be competing with, has a price range of 8.99 to 9.99 (that is in US dollars or UK pounds).

The beauty of it also is that one does not have to print one thousand copies in one run. I could just print an initial 200 copies for club members and those who availed of our free copy promo (which I have to expand to Australia and US once I fix the printing and distribution issue). Get a few more printed just to have items on stock in three target destinations which in this case are Australia, US, and the Philippines.

In the Philippines, I'm still scouting for a print-on-demand entity that could accommodate self-publishers.

This is one challenge that I'm looking forward to invest and learn, whether it succeeds or fail. Wish me luck!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Online income declaration and taxes

During the iBlog3: the 3rd Philippine Blogging Summit, Ellen Tordesillas asked the question on how to go about accepting advertisement payments as an individual and issuing receipts.

There are several path to take on this issue. Although this is only based on my experience:
  1. Register a business as a single proprietor or corporation. If you feel that your business will have significant volume, then this may be the way to go.
  2. Register as a professional at the BIR. This is the path I took where I registered as a professional declaring myself as a consultant. Through it, I am able to issue official receipt to any payment I received and file income reports as necessary.
  3. Ask the company to issue the payment to you as a professional deducting all taxes concerned.

For number 1, another way to do it also is partner with a company who can accept payment in your behalf as necessary. I use this model whenever I have trainings and corporate members signing up in the DigitalFilipino.com Club.

For number 2 and 3, the payments we receive oftentimes get deducted with professional taxes. Make sure they issue a 2307 (Certificate of Creditable Tax Withheld at Source) that you can attach to your annual 1701 filing. For the year 2006, our deadline is today.

The challenge with number 2 is that BIR has rules on tax deductions and documentation requirements whenever your income exceeds 750,000 (if I'm not mistaken). This includes having a Certified Public Accountant issue a certification attesting to the accuracy of your 1701 or Annual Income Tax Return.

For the items where you issue an official receipt, once you go beyond the 750,000 (If I'm not mistaken) amount of receivable, you will also be converted to VAT status where you have to remit the 12% VAT. Below that is the usual 3%.

For more info on this, I suggest consulting an accountant. This is a must especially if you pay six figure taxes annually, net of allowable deductions. There are rules to be followed here and that is why I got an accountant on retainer for this purpose.

Just an idea, I remember that Wilson Chua said during his iBlog3 talk that there's a good number of iBlog3 participants who are also accountants. I hope you can blog about this stuff and make it reader friendly. It will surely be helpful!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

iBlog3: Day 2

The 2nd day of iBlog3: the 3rd Philippine Blogging Summit had a lot of content packed info that included: (You can also watch the day 2 webcast: 1, 2, 3)

Abraham Olandres (handout), the Philippines most popular blogger, shared his site as a case study. His site currently earns five income (US$) figures per month. His blogging success tip includes focusing on niche, be consistent, be different (talk louder), communicate or socialize with other bloggers and their readers, and strategize. It is amazing to see how his first stint in iBlog Summit contributed in strategizing his blog direction.

Anton Diaz (handout) shared his blogging success tips that includes treating a blogging adventure as a marathon where burning passion and desire is consistent, smart photo-blogging skills, and uniquely creative content. He blogs like writing his autobiography, taking photos of important landmarks in Manila to compare it in the future, and his advocacy which is promoting the various islands. He also gave a list of wrong reasons for blogging, SEO tactics, ten commandments of blogging, writing content that is viral of nature.

Manuel L. Quezon III (handout) expressed his desire to hopefully see more Filipino political bloggers that are not affiliated with any politician or working in the media. He also emphasized that each blogger has a leadership role to take on. He encourages bloggers to ask and answer the question as to why are we still here in this situation? Politics is a human activity and personalities/issues are always involved. It is finding out what people are thinking, what matters to them, concerns, venting, and observations. He encourages Filipinos to be a fighter.

Wilson Chua of eRadioPortal (handout) shared his personal visionary trend on podcast growth. He affirms that podcast increases a website popularity. Two important drivers as well includes time shifting advantage where people can listen from different time zones and portable as content can be consume wherever. Media companies are also using podcast as a tool to combat pirates.

Aileen Apolo of Google discussed the growing trends in the market today and why all of us should consider it seriously in planning our programs in the market.

Norman Agatep of Euro 4D enlightened the audience about how bloggers are considered as prosumers or influential consumers. Bloggers are referred to as bees or trendspreaders.

Alecks Pabico (handout) shared that PCIJ celebrated 2nd anniversary of its online blog presence early April. He participated during the 1st iBlog when the PCIJ blog just started then. Right now, the publication considers itself niching in multimedia investigative journalism. Alecks believes that text-centric journalism will say goodbye soon.

J Angelo Racoma (handout) showed how social news link to mainstream media and even to blogs (and vice versa). Trust plays an important role for social news to work. My sincerest thanks to Angelo also as he was not feeling very well at that time but still took time to attend the event.

Malou Mangahas believes that blogging is a new breed of journalism and shared the GMA TV Network's growing experience and experiment with blogging. Malou believes that TV networks can't ignore blogs and the opportunity to engage with avid readers and followers. Despite embracing blogs, the team has to embrace the same code of ethics or rules to be followed.

(Cheers to Rachel Khan for making time to moderate the said panel)

Marc Macalua (handout) shared tips on how blogging can be used to advance one's career. It is interesting to note also how iBlog2 (last year) played a role in Marc's personal career as his boss offered him a great position after the event.

Jayvee Fernandez, in his very lively way, shared some tips on how can one join a blogging network, revenue opportunities for a blog, and tips on becoming a professional blogger.

Gail De la Cruz - Villanueva (handout) shared blog promotion techniques that every blogger should note of.
Here are some of the event coverage as well for Day 2:

It was quite tough updating the coverage part as Technorati (search for iBlog3) seem not to be updating since the morning of Day 2. Good thing that the coverage points to other blogs and had comments that allowed me to see more. Thanks again everyone for making iBlog3: the 3rd Philippine Blogging Summit a worthwhile event.

Profuse thanks to the iBlog3 sponsors for making this event possible. Major sponsors are IPVG and Globe. Minor sponsors Google and Yehey. The same goes to webcast sponsor eRadioPortal, name badge sponsor Alfox Computer Center, and web host Ploghost.

Friday, April 13, 2007

iBlog3: Day 1

The 3rd Philippine Blogging Summit started today and we had up to 150 participants that attended Day 1. You can also watch day 1 webcast: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Atty. JJ Disini (handout) head of the UP-ISP program opened the program full of excitement. He expressed his view as to how the blogosphere is growing and adjusting as the need and lifestyle of bloggers change in time. Hopefully, the annual iBlog: Philippine Blogging Summit event will continuously play a role in the changes bloggers go through.

Chris Haravata (handout) gave a great opener on blogging 101 and the tools that he used to make one's blogging adventure as hassle free as possible. This session was actually meant for newbies who haven't tried blogging although most of the participants already have their own blog. I realized later on that the session was fruitful as there are still many things, widgets or plugins, that we didn't know are already available.

Lauren Dado (handout) shared the do's and don'ts of blogging. Her experience on bloggable and non-bloggable concerns was really interesting. One important lesson from it is being very cautious when using your blog to attack someone. According to Lauren, this is her first public speaking engagement and I must say that she is certainly very good at it. (Download a podcast version of her talk)

Noemi Dado (handout) talked about her blogging adventure, technique in building and promoting one's blog. It is heartwarming to know how iBlog2 played an important role in growing her blog popularity.

Marcelle Fabie (handout) shared tips from the Artist Way as tool to develop one's blogging capability. He was very creative in his presentation as he did some magic tricks at the same time as well.

Arelle Valla, (handout) who attended iBlog2 last year and got very inspired, has been able to capitalize on blogging as a business tool. Even Dean Jorge Bocobo was amazed to how she has grown. Arelle now uses her blog to market real estate properties and her other business ventures.

Steve Tsao of IPVG shared the company's interest in the growing local blogosphere and wanting to explore areas of collaboration. This is especially true for growing its DreamVille community that has more than 400,000 members today. Another exciting announcement that Steve made is the release of Granado Espada this year. Experiencing the game in its closed beta was most enjoyable and look forward to its launch soon.

Jonas Diego (handout) announced his mission this year of making WebComics through blogs a reasonable profitable venture to inspire other publishers to do the same. As a publisher of my own books and reports, I agree with Jonas that it is quite tough and expensive to do that these days. Although, like Jonas, this forces me to be creative in approach.

As always, Dean Alfar (handout) has inspired a lot of the non-bloggers to consider blogging soon. He encourages bloggers to keep an open mind in sharing knowledge, oneself, and critical comments. This is especially true for avid readers whose value can help in improving oneself.

Roby Alampay (handout) of SEAPA enlightened the audience on how lucky Filipinos are with our freedom of expression and why we should take an active voice about bloggers in nearby countries who have been put to jail by their governments for dissenting opinions they expressed. I do hope that iBlog4, with SEAPA's participation, will become a regional event in 2008. The Philippines is the ideal venue being one of the countries where freedom of expression is very much strong.

Emerson Banez (handout) talk about blogger's code of ethics highlighted the various events that happened in the blogosphere that always raises the question on code of ethics such as below the belt social commentaries to acceptance of product giveaways in exchange for a review. Emer did not really cited a list of rules. However, he hopes that pro-blogging should not be limited to being a money-maker or revenue-earner type of blogger but also because they are practitioners that follows a certain code such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, among others.

Atty. Jaime Soriano (handout) discussed the various challenges that bloggers face with copyright regulations. However, with Creative Commons, bloggers can now explore sharing their work to the world with appropriate guidelines. This is one aspect that I'm certainly open in integrating in my blog and published works this year.

Here are some of blog coverage I found for Day 1:

Profuse thanks to the iBlog3 sponsors for making this event possible. Major sponsors are IPVG and Globe. Minor sponsors Google and Yehey. The same goes to webcast sponsor eRadioPortal, name badge sponsor Alfox Computer Center, and web host Ploghost.

Of course, great thanks goes to my fellow volunteers who did not hesitate in sharing their knowledge, time, and effort in this advocacy. Kudos to the University of the Philippines College of Law - Internet Society Program for sustaining this effort.