Wednesday, November 19, 2003

My WENT Experience

Last October, I got the opportunity to conduct an e-commerce training program at the Women's Electronic Network Training. It was an interesting experience as we are all from various countries and had the opportunity to interact on a lot of issues in relation to e-commerce.

I am inviting my class participants to be our writers in this blog as well to allow us to share perspectives on women and ICT, their projects, country, among others.

Kudos to the Track 2 WENT 2003 graduates!

Friday, August 22, 2003

A Girl Named Toby Monsod

IN August 1997, I made a call in the ph-isp list throwing the idea of coming up with an organization whose mandate is to push for the passage of the E-Commerce Bill. That lead to the creation of the Philippine Internet Commerce Society.

Lobbying takes a lot of effort and have used mailing lists, speaking events, community meetings extensively to gather support. After the passage of the Y2K Law and ensuring that proper preparations and contingencies were taken for the country to cross the millennium, with minimal or no problems, the legislative branch resumed in pushing the E-Commerce Bill.

I first met Toby Monsod in the summer of 2000 as she became Assistant Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry. From Undersecretary Nely Favis Villafuerte, the E-Commerce Promotion Council was put under the jurisdiction of Toby. The introduction took place in one of the hearings then at the House of Representatives where the proposed E-Commerce Bill was being discussed.

However, we got into one phone argument around Holy Tuesday (sometime in April) on some bureaucratic issues about the drafting of the implementing rules and regulation (IRR) of the proposed E-Commerce Bill. Such is quite an awkward scenario especially for two people who hardly know each other. At the heat of it, our discussion got cut off as I just walked into a dead spot in Robinsons Galleria. She called me again and expressed apology for any misunderstanding or confusion. Knowing that such is not intentional as there may be people around misinforming her, I apologized too and agreed to meet the next day to get to know each other more.

Having arguments with people became a norm to me then as lobbying for policies is like fighting battles inside and outside the chambers of Congress. However, it is great to meet an individual who knows how to acknowledge and apologize for any misunderstanding upfront. I hardly meet people like that. That maybe a small deal for some but it is certainly a big one for me especially hearing it from a person with authority.

When the E-Commerce Law was passed and promulgated last June 14, 2000, Toby approached me and asked about our plans for the IRR. I told her that we will be drafting our own and reconcile with the version that the DTI-IRR team will be producing. She suggested upfront that we consolidate our resources and agreed.

From June 15 to the first week of July, we’ve been meeting twice to thrice a week to finalize the IRR of the law along with other volunteers and stakeholders stated in the law. I’m very impressed to meet a high-level government person who is so hands-on and took the time to be knowledgeable on various aspects of ICT to be an effective leader in the drafting process. During heated arguments of the working group, which was really intense, she was above the situation putting things in proper perspective and call for a decision with her co-chairs from the Department of Budget and Management and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Finally, on July 13, 2000, the IRR of the E-Commerce Law was signed electronically during the Global Information Infrastructure Conference. Without Toby’s hands-on and intelligent participation, I don’t think such would have happened.

In November 2000, I was asked by Toby to head the legal cluster of the newly formed Information Technology and Electronic Commerce Council that will ensure proper implementation of the E-Commerce Law, especially in government, and provide the necessary policy assistance. Toby Monsod was the Executive Director of ITECC then. The opportunity was challenging for I am the only woman committee head and the youngest as well. As a leader, Toby was on top of ITECC developments. She also fostered an open door policy where any ICT enthusiast can come, participate, and observe in an ITECC meeting for as long as they are willing to contribute. Such openness made me so impressed with her even more.

After former President Joseph Estrada stepped down from office, changes happened in ITECC. There was a move then to have an IT organization to become the umbrella body of all IT organizations. The move was quite strong to the point that only those who are part of it can be part of ITECC. Being one of the primary advocates of the E-Commerce Law that lead to the creation of ITECC, it was infuriating knowing that it is headed by a presidential adviser close to the current government leadership.

I’m amazed at how DTI Secretary Mar Roxas and Toby Monsod put down the idea stating that such an organization should earn such a position and privilege, not imposed. However, there was a turn of events when ITECC was put under the office of the President and the presidential adviser became one of the co-chairs along with Mar Roxas.

The changes in ITECC charter resulted to the replacement of Toby Monsod as its Executive Director. Her replacement was a presidential adviser (who happened to be a first cousin of another presidential adviser chairing ITECC) of the current administration.

Such is not a rosy picture for me as I’ve fought presidential advisers in the past whom I believed has a conflict of interest. However, rather than putting up a fight and cause the boat to rock in such a delicate political time, I decided to step down as its chair. When I made such decision, Toby was shocked and sad.

However, we kept our relationship as friends and helped the DTI in setting up and managing the IT Help Desk then. However, the day came also that Toby has to leave government office and pursue her studies. Knowing how things have gone really bad and non-transparency in ITECC, I felt that she might have been frustrated as well.

At present, we call each other from time to time and have coffee whenever our schedule permits. Well she’s still with the industry and writes a column on a monthly basis in Computer World Philippines. As writers, I guess that’s the only way for us to advocate for changes without causing too much political rumble. Although I must admit that these differences of opinion also resulted for the industry to be further divided. Well the next election won’t be far and I hope these people will be replaced soon.

I guess what I’d like to say in this article is that I’ve never met a government official who is as senior as Toby Monsod who is intelligent, dedicated, and honest with her work. She’s a straight talker and unafraid in expressing her views. However, when she knows that you’re right, she’ll be open in accepting them and change her perspective as well. When she’s wrong, she knows how to apologize directly for her mistakes.

I only hope that there’ll be more people like her in government. Perhaps, if such day comes, I’ll be encouraged to serve IT policy making bodies once again.

Monday, July 14, 2003

PhilippinesWIT Gets Established

I'm happy to let everyone know that PhilippinesWIT is launched today to the Internet community. You are invited to join the community at We use the PhilippinesWIT discussion list for career, business and technical advice; vendor recommendations; help with a long list of issues at home and at work; and generally to support each other.

PhilippinesWIT is the Philippines branch of WorldWIT, the world's largest connected email discussion community, with over 25,000 members around the world, from AustinWIT to VancouverWIT and 60 other online communities for women. Please tell your friends about us!

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Most Powerful Women in IT

This June 20, the Enterprise Magazine ( will be recognizing 11 of the most powerful women in the information technology (IT) field in Malacañang. The 11 most powerful women in IT are:

1. Ms. Corazon Akol - JITSE
2. Ms. Carol Carreon - Bayantrade
3. Ms. Nenita Lim-Cruz- Eastern Telecoms
4. Ms. Wilma Cruz- Smart
5. Ms. Dittas Formoso -Microsoft
6. Ms. Lilia Guillermo - BIR
7. Ms. Rose Hwan - HP
8. Ms. Cynthia Mamon - Sun Microsystems
9. Ms. Maan Tolentino - BPI
10. Ms. Judith Vazquez- Mod.Net
11. Ms. Jojie Yap- Pacific Internet

The list is in alphabetical order, not by rank. According to Angel Lualhati, account manager of WS Computer Publishing, "In compiling the list, we acknowledge that some women leaders are more powerful than others. At first, we toyed with the idea of ranking them, but decided later against it, given the complexity of the criteria and the limited time. Certainly, some of them are considered legends in the industry (for instance Maricor Akol, Carol Carreon, Dittas Formoso, Cynthia Mamon) and others are rising stars. While the degree and scope of influence vary, we simply listed them alphabetically."

It is great to see that women are being recognized for their efforts. I hope that the women in this most powerful list will comprise half of the Executive Committee and Committee Heads of ITECC.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

One of the biggest challenges I encountered recently is handling the Philippine Internet Review Magazine project that would require documentation of 10 years of the Internet in the country.

One thing I realized is the need to note of men and women movers in the country who contributed to significant Internet developments for the past 10 years.

Do you know of any women from any part of the country who worked so hard in making the Internet a reality in their local community? Share it in the Forums! Visit today.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003


Valentine’s Day + Friday night + Payday + Concerts = Perfect Metro Manila traffic jam. And of course the perfect excuse not to go out on a date when the love of my life is thousands of miles away from me, and 14 hours behind. Early morning on my way to work, I got a call from him greeting me a happy heart’s day, reminding me that we won’t be together today and for the next months to come. . .a big sigh. Long distance relationships. . .

Looking back, it all happened one normal hectic day when I least expected it. Maybe good things really happen when you least expect it, like God’s way of sending us surprises! And what a big surprise God sent me last December, with no big ribbons and a gift tag to go with it two days after I completed the 9 Simbang Gabi masses. Serendipity? Yes, that’s what he said that happened to us that fateful evening.

The realization that he was God’s gift dawned on me as we started to get to know each other. The oysters at Via Mare, the Funtastyc Crepe at Café Breton, our trips to my favorite church in the coastal area, the song playing on the radio when he first held my hand, the way he smiled when I held his hand back, the dozens of roses he has given me everyday that we were together that I have kept until now, the quiet walks in the evenings, our dinner with my relatives, the way he said he liked the adobo I cooked for him, the private jokes we shared and so many trivial things that would not have mattered to me if he wasn’t special. I guess simple things become special when you are in love.

And you are very special Daniel. . .Belated Happy Valentine’s Day!

See you next Wednesday for our Serendipity story!

CaRPe dIeM!!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2003


After how many months of quiet Wednesdays. . .I am back! A new, changed and reinvented ME!

The change did not just come with the new year but with the new and more challenging jobssss. . . Yes girls, I have plunged myself into Human Resource Management and Administration and Quality Management (plus of course not to mention my previous functions as Executive Assistant of the CEO of our group of companies!) And looking back this is my nth reinvention as a professional – from being a brand manager, a planning and research professional in government, a part-time college professor, a consultant and now – an HR and quality manager! Whew! Talk about diversity!

When our CEO offered me the additional positions, I was hesitant at first, knowing I do not have proper HR and quality training to back me up. I asked for about a week to think it over and I finally gave in to the challenge. I don’t know what made my boss decide to give me the job but whatever it is, I am thankful he did. Despite the workload, I somehow feel more fulfilled knowing I can make a difference in the workplace. At the same time, it always keeps me on my toes to be the role model of professionalism and integrity at work. Tough job but hey, I am not complaining! My passion for learning new things has been fueled and put to the test once again and my interpersonal skills and judgment honed. It has given me the right avenue to explore other facets of my personality as a professional which only happened when I embraced the changes that came along with the new responsibilities.

For the coming blogs, I will be posting job openings in our company and other affiliates as well as my usual random blogs!

See you next Wednesday!


Sunday, January 12, 2003

Women and Information Technology in the Philippines

If there's one thing that I can always be proud of whenever I speak at international conferences, it is that women's access to the Internet is not as bad compared to other countries. We have access to these technologies and opportunities. What limits women is their resources and appreciation of this technology.

But you might ask, is there really a gender divide when it comes to ICT in our countries? Answering such question can be very subjective for it is up to the capacity of every woman, income-wise and opportunity. Should you want to learn more, I suggest that you download this report, "Gender, Information Technology and Developing Countries: An Analytical Study".

Join the W3O discussion group at Thanks!