Monthly Archives: October 2019

The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) Awardees for 2019

Twelve remarkable Filipino women are hailed as The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service (TOWNS) by TOWNS Foundation, Inc. on October 29, 2019. TOWNS is a national awards program given to outstanding Filipino women ages 21 to 50 years old who have contributed positively to strengthening national capability and shaping the nation’s future and served as catalysts for economic, social and cultural development, national security and national unity. The award is given every three years during the last week of October and the search for these women is held nationwide for a period of one year. Since its inception in 1974, TOWNS has cited 166 women. TOWNS awardees are true role models for Filipino women and girls who wish to dedicate themselves to nation-building.

This year’s awardees are Xyza Bacani (Humanities), Carmina Bayombong (Entrepreneurship), Clarissa Isabelle Delgado (Education), Maria Regina Justina Estuar (Science and Technology), Karla Patricia Gutierez (Performing Arts), Samira Gutoc (Peace Advocacy), Gay Jane Perez (Science and Technology), Patricia Ann Prodigalidad (Law), Stephanie Sy (Technology Entrepreneurship), Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman (Education), Chiara Zambrano (Journalism) and Geraldine Zamora (Health and Medicine).

Xyxa Bacani

Xyza Bacani is street and documentary photographer working for various international publications and global companies through her photography. Xyza started with photography as a hobby while she worked as a domestic worker based in Hongkong. Today, she uses her art to inspire others to think and create change in the society especially for the migrant workers.

She is an Asia 21 Young Leaders Fellow in 2018), the WMA Commission grantee in 2017, and a Pulitzer Center and an Open Society Moving Walls 2017 grantee. She is one of the BBC’s 100 Women of the World 2015, 30 Under 30 Women Photographers 2016, Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2016, Fuji Film ambassador and author of the book “We Are Like Air”.

Carmina Bayombong

Carmina Bayombong is the founder of InvestEd, an award-winning financial technology (FinTech) startup. Founded in 2016, InvestEd ( gives education loans to college students declared who are commonly considered as non-eligible for loans in the financial system.

Using her engineering background, Carmina developed InvestEd’s proprietary credit scoring algorithm that can predict if an unbanked student will be able to repay the loan even in the absence of credit history and collateral. The success of her algorithm has enabled institutions and individuals to invest their money in InvestEd’s student loan program. On top of education loans, InvestEd also provides digital career and financial literacy coaching to its student borrowers.

Due to Carmina’s outstanding leadership, InvestEd has become the Philippines’ leading student loan company which currently provides a total of Php 13M ($250K) of loans to more than 400 students across 136 schools and 75 degree courses. InvestEd has graduated 150 students and the repayment rate of their graduates is 100% without defaults.

Clarissa Isabelle Delgado

Clarissa Isabelle Delgado is the founder of Teach for the Philippines in 2012 which focuses its efforts on improving teacher quality and addressing education challenges at the system-level. Through its three core programs, the organization concentrates its resources on recruiting, training, and individually coaching new and existing public school teachers, as well as giving Teach for the Philippines-trained teachers an opportunity to engage in public policy.

Today, Teach for the Philippines has grown into a nationwide movement that has engaged over 300 young Filipino leaders who are committed to work towards meaningful and positive change.

Selected out of over 21,000 applications from 191 countries, Clarissa is a member of the inaugural 2018 class of twenty Obama Foundation Fellows, the 2016 recipient of the national Ten Outstanding Young Men & Women Award (TOYM) presented by the President of the Republic of the Philippines and the regional Asia Society Asia 21 Young Leaders Award.

Maria Regina Justina Estuar

Maria Regina Justina Estuar is involved in design and implementation of health, disaster, agriculture ICT-based platforms for Filipino communities She is a professor at the Department of Information Systems and Computer Science, Ateneo de Manila University and the Executive Director of the Ateneo Java Wireless Competency Center where mobile-web and cloud RnD and solutions are designed for transport, health, environment and disaster. She heads the Ateneo Social Computing Science Laboratory, where eBayanihan was founded. The laboratory works on social, behavioral and organizational predictive analytics, modeling and social network development and analysis. Her life’s work is dedicated to creating a multidisciplinary field combining social science and computer science for understanding and improving lives of ordinary citizens.

Karla Patricia Gutierrez

Karla Patricia Gutierrez is the founder, artistic and managing director of the Philippine Opera Company (POC) in 1999. She repackaged opera to make it more interesting to audiences and brought it to the provinces, private and public schools. Gutierez conceptualized and produced POC’s cultural arm, “Harana” to re-educate the Pinoys with the beauty of our cultural heritage and Philippine music and to bring back patriotism – to love our own and support our own. POC under her leadership offered free workshops for young classical singers through the Young Artists Series as well  a scholarships to public school students who will pursue music in college. POC was able to build the Opera Haus, an Arts Center that we can call a home for classical artists and is focused on nurturing upcoming classical singers of this country

Samira Gutoc

Samira Gutoc is a former ARMM legislator and former Commissioner of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, and is an active civic and youth leader, resource speaker, journalist, women’s rights and peace advocate. She helped organize the Ranao Rescue Team, a volunteer group set up in response to the humanitarian crisis that ensued after the Marawi siege in 2017,and spoke in Congress about human rights abuses during martial law in Marawi. She is spokesperson of Ranao Rescue Team which is assisting government and survivor families of missing and dead persons from the siege,  and was recently awarded by the UN Development Programme N-Peace Awards 2018 as a community organizer in Marawi City. Towards highlighting the evacuees’ situation, their rights and humanitarian situation, she has been a resource person to the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and has also appeared on Al Jazeerah. As a legislator appointed by then President Aquino to introduce reforms in ARMM, she authored the Enhanced Education Act in ARMM and has pushed for regional advocacies on declaring schools as a Zone of Peace, Open Government, Civil Society and stakeholder collaboration among others.

As a journalist, Samira has worked as a correspondent for the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) featuring Marawi City and Muslim communities all over the country. She also worked with an award-winning group led by Director Marilou Abaya (for GMA-7) and scriptwriter Ricky Lee to conceptualize the trailblazing movie, Bagong Buwan, which has reaped accolades in film festivals abroad in New York, Japan and Asia. She has reported on the situation of Muslims in Culiat, Tandang Sora for an Al-Jazeerah-contracted outfitand spoke on BBC on the issues of minorities facing globalization. She also served as former editor of The Moro Times (by Manila Times) and was Editor in Chief of the MSU Mindanao Varsitarian. She tapped tri-media to advocate for cultural minorities, peace, human rights, and inter-cultural understanding and has been featured in magazines including Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Quality Britain and Esquire Philippines.

Gay Jane Perez

Gay Jane Perez is a professor who won the 2018 ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women and became the first Filipino winner of the prestigious award given out by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, US Agency for International Development and the Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Perez, an associate professor at the UP Diliman College of Science’s Environmental Science and Meteorology Department, led the DOST Philippines-Microsat program that successfully sent into orbit Diwata-1 in 2016. Perez showed exceptional research on precision agriculture and how it can improve yield by using satellite observations with models and ground data, to better derive and develop prediction tools for agriculture in the Philippines. Perez’s work on remote sensing examines spatial distribution of vegetation, temperature, precipitation and soil moisture that provide the ability to assess drought impacts. Perez received her doctoral degree in Physics from the National Institute of Physics in UP Diliman, and was a post-doctoral fellow at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Patricia Ann Prodigalidad

Patricia Ann Prodigalidad is a lawyer and author of legal publications who specializes in commercial litigation, white collar crime, intra-corporate disputes, banking, investments and securities litigation, anti-money laundering, corporate rehabilitation and insolvency, international commercial and construction arbitration, and intellectual property and antitrust litigation. Prodigalidad also acts as an arbitrator in international commercial and domestic arbitration, both institutional and ad hoc, as well as in Philippine construction arbitration. She is an accredited arbitrator of the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission (CIAC), the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. (PDRCI) where she currently serves as Trustee and Corporate Secretary and the Philippine Office of ADR (OADR). On the international front, she is a part of the arbitrator panels of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) and the International Centre for Dispute Resolution of the American Arbitration Association. She has served as a member of the ADR Committee of the Philippine Bar Association and is a continuing Philippine delegate to the ADR Standing Committee of the ASEAN Law Association. She has recently been elected as a trustee of the ASEAN Law Institute.

She is currently a trustee of various institutions such as the UP Women Lawyers’ Circle, the Harvard Law School Alumni Association Inc. and the Philippine Institute of Construction Arbitrators and Mediators. Since 2012 to the present, she has been cited as among the key practitioners and experts in the field of Asset Recovery by Who’s Who Legal 100 and was recognized by Asialaw Profiles as a Distinguished Practitioner in the practice area of dispute resolution in 2019. She topped the 1996 Bar Examinations and was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1997.

Stephanie Sy (middle)

Stephanie Sy is the founder and CEO of Thinking Machines Data Science, Inc., a startup that builds data platforms and AI tools for improved organizational decisions. Her team’s work combines algorithmic thinking and data storytelling to drive effective action from organizations in all sectors. Their key achievements include opening in Singapore, partnerships with Google Cloud Platform and Waze (as the only Top Contributor in Asia), and working with the biggest conglomerates in the Philippines and Singapore. The company has also published work at the 2019 International Conference on Machine Learning, one of the top machine learning conferences in the world.

At only 30 years old, she has turned the company into a data science powerhouse and shows no signs of stopping. She continues to advocate for STEM and data science in the country by promoting projects geared towards data science education at DOST-PCIEERD. She also remains active in the local python and data science community, giving talks at Python PH, DataBeers, Women in Tech events, and Developers Connect conferences to encourage students to learn. Her passion for using data science to create social good has even led her to speak in local and international conferences such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Keynote and UNICEF Innovation Meeting. Her dream is to use technology to help address climate change while building a world-class Filipino company.

Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman

Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman is the founder Teach Peace Build Peace Movement, Inc. (TPBPI) which underscores the importance of making every Filipino child a peace advocate by promoting culture and peace dialogue among the young generation and a sustainable peaceful society.

TPBPI has partnered with many organizations to address the situation in Marawi through a program called Pathways to Integrated and Inclusive Conflict-Sensitive Protection and Education for Children in Mindanao or (iCOPE) Project, a consortium of different organization and government agencies. TPBPI led the unveiling of art books made by the young conflict survivors, showcasing the artworks made by Marawi children. These are the outcomes from a series of art mentoring workshops done by the TPBPI movement.

Chiara Zambrano

Chiara Zambrano is a multi-awarded correspondent and documentary filmmaker of ABC-CBN. As the most prominent and prolific female war correspondent of her time, Chiara has become a trusted resource in matters concerning terrorism and the West Philippine Sea. Zambrano is one of the Outstanding Young Men and Women (TOYM) Awards for exemplary work in the field of Journalism (2017). She holds a Master of Arts in Documentary by Practice (2018) with Distinction from the Royal Holloway, University of London, United Kingdom and a

Master of Arts in Journalism (2015) from the Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. She is a scholar of The Chevening Scholarships, United Kingdom (2017-2018), a Fellow of the Konrad Adenauer Asian Centre for Journalism (2013-2015) for the documentary “’Di Ka Pasisiil” on the entry of ISIS and the Marawi siege. She received the Gold World Medal Award from the New York Awards (2018), the Certificate of Excellence from the US International Film & Video Festival (2018), the Ani ng Dangal from the National Commission on Culture & the Arts (2019), the KBP Golden Dove Award for Best Documentary (2018), and the PMPC Star Awards for Best Documentary (2018).

Geraldine Zamora

Geraldine Zamora is a clinical associate professor at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine – Philippine General Hospital and consultant at the St. Luke’s Medical Center – Global City. She is class valedictorian in the UP College of Medicine; topped licensure exams; and received multiple recognitions. She has numerous publications and research presentations; a co-author of  five books; and editor of IM Platinum, awarded Outstanding Book by NAST Philippines. She is the first Filipino Visiting Postdoctoral Scientist in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Rheumatology); one of only three Filipinos to be awarded International Fellowship Grant by the Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology; and is now one of the 150+ rheumatologists in the country — one serving about a million Filipinos.

She is one of the youngest professors in UPCM to train our next generation of doctors and was the first President of the UP MedRhythmics dance club; founding member of PGH Medicine Alumni Association; and as the first Filipino Rheumatologist invited to participate in the USA Vasculitis Clinical Research, she is now spearheading the Philippine Vasculitis Study Group to ultimately improve patients’ lives.

Her outstanding pioneering works include spearheading concerts of dance/song/art for the benefit of cancer patients; helping generate millions of pesos to help subsidize life-saving diagnostic exams and medications for indigent patients in the medical wards/ICU as Board of the Sagip Buhay Medical Foundation; staging A Work of HeART benefit fashion shows:“Every step down the runway in a native creation is an inch closer to a strengthened community through health.” She created the Rheumatology Bridging Lupus Fund, and co-founded Hope for Lupus Foundation, which partnered with the Department of Health to promote early detection and proper treatment of lupus. Her social media platforms help Filipinos with simplified information, and inspire improved health-seeking behaviors.

TOWNS Foundation president is Olivia Ferry while this year’s chair of the TOWNS search committee is a TOWNS Awardee in the field of medicine and former health secretary Esperanza Cabral.

Congratulations Outstanding Women of 2019!

Visayas Teams Advance to NASA Space Apps Global Challenge

Internet connectivity for far-flung coastal areas, sound to energy for communities with no access to electricity and a mobile application that measures individual carbon footprints emerged as top ideas during the NASA International Space Apps Challenge in Iloilo last week.

The NASA International Space Apps Challenge bring together individuals interested in space science and exploration, creative, and want to solve problems. Over 29,000 people from 80 countries and in more than 200 cities around the world are participating in the 2019 International Space Apps Challenge.

Participants of the NASA Space Apps Challenge at the American Corner of the Central Philippine University in Iloilo

Space Apps global hackathon aims to build connections across borders, sectors, and cultures to bring about paradigm-shifting innovation. Space Apps introduces problem-solvers worldwide to NASA’s free and open data. NASA missions to Earth, our Sun and solar system, and out into the universe – all gather data in pursuit of new knowledge, to expand our understanding through new scientific discoveries, and to help us to improve life on Earth. By using NASA data to solve each year’s challenges, Space Apps teams learn about NASA’s data, and share in the creation and application of the knowledge that results.

Space Apps inspires collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking, fosters interest in Earth and space science and exploration, and encourages the growth and diversity of the next generation of scientists, technologists, designers and engineers. Space Apps is managed by the Earth Science Division, Science Mission Directorate, at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. and organized in collaboration with Booz Allen Hamilton, Mindgrub and SecondMuse.

Lawyer and ICT Advocate Jocelle Batapa-Sigue Receives Ceritificate of Appreciation from the US Embassy and American Spaces as Chief Judge for the NASA Space Apps Challenge

The Space Apps hackathon this year was set up in three locations – Manila, Davao City and Iloilo City on October 18-20 in collaboration with American Corners in Ateneo de Davao University and the Central Philippine University in Iloilo. There where nine teams which pitched to a panel of jurors from various disciplines. Lawyer, digital advocate and former local legislator Jocelle Batapa-Sigue served as chair of the board of judges.

Panel of Judges at the NASA Space Apps

Two teams, Techno PH and Voltage 5, were nominated to the global challenge and a third team, Chill Heat was cited another promising idea.

As an archipelago, sixty two percent of the population in the Philippines live in the coastal zone where Internet access is a challenge. Techno PN uses technology of software and hardware devices that aims to bring internet access to far-flung areas of the Philippines using the VHF spectrum. Inclusive growth will now become a reality even to coastal dwellers who will gain access to necessary services from government, education and private or business sectors.

Techno PH Team members Rotherford Marmibe, Nico Guarnes and Giovanni Gerard Araque

Team Techno PH’s out-of-the-box approach is to utilize the Very High Frequency (VHF) spectrum (i.e. 30 to 300 megahertz) because it has lesser usage at the moment. The lessening is attributed to the on-going migration of television broadcast from analog to digital (ISDB-T) in the Philippines. The team introduces WISH (Wonderful Internet Service is Here) – a technology that is intended for the coastal communities in dire need of data connectivity. Here is the link to their site:

Voltage 5 Team composed of Nico Andrei Serrato, Frelean Faith Engallado, Joecile Faith Monana, Raphael Francis Dequilla and Kirsten Dianne Delmo

Voltage 5 project is called Sound to Light or S-LIGHT: CONVERTING NOISE TO ELECTRICAL ENERGY aims to make use of noise as it is a byproduct of human activities that is not utilized as a form of energy. S-light can give ample and consistent supply of electricity to families in rural areas with inadequate access to this resource. Here is the link to their site:

Members of Voltage 5 receiving their ticket vouchers from Kurt Cabillon of Cebu Pacific

S-LIGHT was also awarded by Cebu Pacific as outstanding idea which won for the team roun-trip tickets to Hanoi, Vietnam and potential collaboration with Cebu Pacific for their technology.

The third team which ws cited as “People’s Choice” is Chill Heat and there project is “Chill Trip” – a mobile app designed to provide users, specifically those with private vehicles that has no pre-determined route, with the possible options that utilize the lowest carbon emission per individual. It helps users realize the amount of carbon emission that would be emitted during their transportation. The app is anchored with a map, presenting different route options, in consideration to real-time traffic situation, with computed carbon emission emission for each. In addition, this app enables you to record your data and provide statistics of your daily transport. Your data can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms to entice others to sign-up and join the movement. Chill Heat is composed of Shaira June Gadot, Florey Anne Palabrica, Menalyn Tanque, Jerian Dale Figueroa, and Riz Angele Mirabel Villanueva Panopio. Here is the link to their site: –

Overall, the teams were judged based on these criteria:

  • Impact: How much impact (quality and quantity) can this project have? Does it solve a big problem or a little problem? Will it inspire or help many, or a few?
  • Creativity: How creative/innovative is the approach? Is the project novel and something that hasn’t been attempted before, or is it an incremental improvement on something that already exists?
  • Validity: Is the solution scientifically valid? Will it do what it sets out to do? Can it work in the real world?
  • Relevance: Is this project responsive to the challenge for which it was submitted? Is it a complete solution or does it have a long way to go? Is it technically feasible? How usable or user friendly is the solution?
  • Presentation:** How well did the team communicate their project? Were they effective in telling the story of the project: the challenge, the solution, and why is it important?
Winners of the Visayas Leg with organizers with Atty. Jocelle Batapa Sigue, Chief Judge, Mylyn Garcia, Program Coordinator, American Center Manila, American Spaces Philippines, Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy in the Philippines and Dr. Irving Domingo Rio, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Central Philippine University

All the nominees around the world can be found in this link:

Approximately, 30 projects shall be recognized by December as the “Global Finalists,” and are presented as candidates for one of six global awards. There are approximately five projects nominated for each global award, though NASA reserves the right to change the total number of finalists per category. The 2019 award categories are: Best Use of Data, Best Use of Hardware, Galactic Impact, Most Inspirational, Best Mission Concept and Best Use of Science.

The Global Finalist projects are evaluated by an entirely new panel of executive judges at NASA. These judges are leaders and executives at the agency with a variety of subject matter expertise. Each Global Finalist project is evaluated by each executive judge, and the top six projects are announced in January 2020.

The Space Apps universe produced 3,381 projects this year. They will be competing to be selected as global nominees. The award categories can be viewed here 

The Policy Work of Jocelle Batapa-Sigue

Jocelle Batapa – Sigue is immersed in policy work and advocacy since 2004. She is a dynamic and prolific policymaker and policy activist both in the local and national level. She has served as resource speaker and member of House and Senate TWGs on the Creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Bill and in the Senate TWG for the Ease of Doing Business Bill of 2018 or Republic Act No. 11032.

She has participated in hearings and drafted proposals for the Republic Act No. 10844 and the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the DICT Law.

With her policy leadership as chair of the Sanggunian Committee on Communications in 2004, stakeholders in the City of Bacolod and the Province of Negros Occidental came together promote Bacolod as a destination for ICT-enabled jobs and investments. She organized group called the Bacolod IT Focus Team, which worked together to develop strategies and programs designed to include Bacolod City and Negros Occidental among the growing centers of innovation in the country, specifically to pursue ICT-readiness and competitiveness as part of the Philippine Cyber Corridor. She prepared all the policy ground work and conducted all the consultations to ensure the readiness of the city of digital jobs.

As chair of the committee on Women and Gender of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, she authored many ordinances pertaining to women such as the Bacolod City Gender and Development Code, The Ordinance creating the Bacolod Inter-Agency Council Against Human Trafficking and The Anti-Worst Forms of Child Labor Ordinance

She served as Chair of Bacolod City Gender and Development or GAD Council from 2004 to 2010.

She is the Founder of Anti-Trafficking Legal Advocates Society (ATLAS) and currently the chairman of the Board of Voice of the Free (formerly Visayan Forum Foundation), a national network against human trafficking and child exploitation where she continues her policy advocacy for the rights of women and children.

During her last term as city councilor, she was given the opportunity to chair the committees on trade and commerce and tourism and international cooperation, along side the committee on history, culture and arts.

She has also actively promoted policies on environment and ecological preservation as part of her personal advocacy.

As a city councilor for nine years in, she has crafted, authored and led the legislation of major ordinances as follows:

  • C.O. 453 – 2007: Creation of Bacolod Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking in Persons (IACAT) and TIP Help Desks in Seaports
  • C.O. 397 S. 2006: Annual Gawad Kooperatiba Awards and Support to Cooperatives
  • C.O. No. 402 S. 2006: Laying the Procedures for SP Endorsement to PEZA of ICT Parks , Buildings, Tourism Development Zones and Economic Zones
  • C.O. No. 404 S. 2006: Celebration of April 22 as Earth Day in Bacolod City
  • C.O. No. 411 S. 2006: Protection and Barangay Registration of Household/Domestic Workers or Kasambahays
  • C.O. 423-2006: The Gender and Development (GAD) Code of Bacolod City
  • Protection of Watershed Areas, Establishing Watershed Development and Water Conservation Programs for Bacolod City
  • C.O. 432-2007: Institutionalization of Programs for Informal Sector Workers and Creating the Informal Sector Workers of Bacolod
  • C.O. No. 438 S. 2007: Observance of June 13 – 19 as Social Work Week and Promotion of Social Work
  • C.O. No. 473 S. 2008: Establishing the Fr. Mauricio Ferrero, OAR Street Ordinance
  • C.O. No. 440 S. 2007: Creation of Information & Communications Technology (ICT) Council & Development of ICT Industry (as Co-Author of Councilor Lyndon Cana)
  • C.O. No. 448 S. 2007: Ordinance Implementing the Law Against Worst Forms of Child Labor and Developing Strategies to Lessen Child Labor in Bacolod such as the Intensive Implementation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program
  • C.O. 449-2007: Observance of December 1 – 7 as Non-Government Organization-People’s Organizations (NGO-PO) Week
  • C.O. No. 468 S. 2008: Prevention of Sexually-Transmitted Infections (STI), Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV) &  Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) & Creation of Bacolod Local STI/HIV/AIDS Council
  • Reduction of Police Clearance Fees for Purposes of Voter’s Registration
  • C.O. No. 504 S. 2009: Declaration of Bacolod as Organic City (Anti-GMO Ordinance)
  • C.O. No. 514 S. 2009: Procedures for the Development of Medical Tourism Parks and Retirement Villages
  • C.O. 513-2009: Creation of the Bacolod Technology and Livelihood Development Center
  • C.O. No. 485 S. 2009: Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Measures Ordinance and Implementation of Strategies to Mitigate Pollution for Transport, Business and Other Sectors
  • C.O. No. 518 S. 2010: Comprehensive Health and Wellness Ordinance and Promotion of Medical Tourism
  • C.O 08-14-680: Promotion and Strengthening of the City of Bacolod as a Choice Destination for National and International Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE)
  • Establishing the Bacolod City Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Training Scholarships for Contact Centers, Software Development, Game Development, Animation and other IT Courses
  • Declaring February of Every Year as Bacolod Arts Month (BAM)
  • C.O. 08-14-679: Stronger Penalties for Vandalism in Bacolod City and Strategies to Enjoin Schools in the Fight Against Vandalism
  • Regulation of the Commercial Sale of Spray Paint Cans in Bacolod
  • C.O. 08-14-686: Prescribing Mechanics of the Masskara Festival Celebration and setting the Cultural standards of the Festival, and Prescribing Procedures for Accountability of Third Party Organizers
  • Institutionalizing a Tourism Homestay Program for Bacolod City and Setting Global Standards for Homestay facilities in Bacolod
  • C.O. 08-15-756: Ensuring Effective Implementation of Food Safety Standards in Bacolod City and the Implementing Rules and Regulations
  • C.O. 08-14-673: Creating the Bacolod Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development (MSMED) Council
  • C.O. 08-15-725: Establishing the Bacolod Business Promotions and Investments Week and Setting the Bacolod Trade Expo identifying Key Promotion Areas: Agriculture, Food and related industries, Gifts, Housewares, Decors and Other Craft-Based Industries, Manufacturing and other Industrial Business, Information and Communications Technology and Other Technology-Based Industries Tourism, Hospitality, Health and Wellness and Other Service Industries
  • C.O. 08-15-738: Establishing the Bacolod City Ordinance Awareness Week
  • C.O. 08-16-775: Establishing Guidelines for the Selection of the  Local Economic and Investment Promotion Officer (LEIPO) 


  1. The “Walkable City” Ordinance of Bacolod, Prescribing Strategies to Improve the Pedestrian And Road-Sharing Experience in Bacolod  (Proposed September 2014 – originally names as “Setback Ordinance)
  2. Creating the Charter for a Polytechnic University in Bacolod and Converting the Bacolod City College for that Purpose
  3. Establishing Central Business Districts in Bacolod
  4. Every First Week of July of Every Year As Cleft And Craniofacial Awareness And Prevention Week In The City Of Bacolod
  5. Ordinance Declaring Specific Major Roads in the City as Tourism Roads (Proposed November 2014)
  6. An Ordinance Creating the Bacolod Youth Development Council (BYDC) Proposed September 2014

As part of her advocacy for ICT she has conceptualized, crafted and implemented various programs related to her policy work. As a proponent of ICT in government, she developed the major concepts behind the annual eGovernance Awards for ICT Excellence for LGUs as chair of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) together with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). The eGov Awards, after 6 years, is now under the auspices of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) as Digital Governance Awards. Under her watch, she developed four more categories aside from the original categories, which are G2C (Government to Citizens) and G2B (Government to Business) – these are G2G (Government to Government), G2W (Government to The World), D2G (Data to Government) and P2G (Payment to Government).

In her capacity as NICP co-founder, she has been to almost fifty provinces to assist local government units in crafting policies for ICT jobs and investment generation. She has been invited to share policy insights in other countries like Guatemala, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, Bangladesh and the US.

She also conceptualized and crafted policy proposals in her capacity as founder of the Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for Information and Communications Technology (BNEFIT) – namely: The ICT Startups Equipment Support (ISES) with the Department of Science and Technology, Business Resource Center – Shared Services Facilities (BRC-SSF) with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Technology Business Incubation Center (TBIC) program with the Province of Negros Occidental.

She served as consultant for the Province of Negros Occidental and was responsible in designing policies to create ICT-enabled jobs and investments for the province.

Last 2018, AVPN-BMW Foundation Policy Leadership Lab has cited Jocelle Batapa Sigue as Policy Innovation Fellow of the Philippines from June 2018 to June 2019, 2019. The purpose of the fellowship is to cultivate the next generation of social economy policy leaders across Asia and to identify policymakers who share the commitment to build a vibrant and high impact philanthropy and social investment community in their countries. Building on the AVPN Asia Policy Forum (APF) and BMW Foundation’s Responsible Leaders Network, the Lab offers high-touch and in-depth peer-learning, networking and capacity building opportunities for a select group of policymakers with AVPN membership and stakeholders.

This leadership experience leverages on annual programme cycle of Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) Asia Policy Forum, Membership and Knowledge Center activities headquartered in Singapore and BMW Foundation global activities, to provide extensive opportunities for learning and connecting with stakeholders that share the similar experiences and objectives.

Today, she continues her work to explore policy strategies in creating seamless education to employment goals anchored on the development of Future of Work skills, specifically digital skills among tertiary level students. Her direction is to engage policy makers from local to national level in government, academe and business sectors.

To reach out and request for copies of policy work and proposals, please email

Related Links:

SP approves health and wellness ordinance

Bacolod SP gives tribute to city’s vice mayors as part of Ordinance Week

Bacolod City pushed as choice MICE destination

Bacolod City Inaugurates Fr. Mauricio Ferrero Street

Bacolod Arts Month On

The Officers of the Bacolod City Gender and Development (GAD) Council 2007-2010
At the Senate hearing of the DICT Bill
Leading the formulation of strategies of the Bacolod IT Focus Team
At the Senate Hearing re Ease of Doing Business Law
With Board of Voice of the Free
With Earth Day Advocates
Signing of Ubiquity Global Services and Province of Negros Occidental
MICE Stakeholders of Bacolod
BNEFIT Organizational Workshop on November 6-7, 2007

BNEFIT: Strategies to Create Opportunities

Note: This is a 2015 Article.

It is amazing how one idea can lead to another. From several concerned individuals who supported the plans of the Sanggunian Committee on Communications and Energy chaired by first-termer Bacolod Councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue in 2004, to an organized group called the Bacolod IT Focus Team, to eventually an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Council of Bacolod created by way of an ordinance in 2006, to eventually a bigger confederation of government, academe and business and private sector known as BNEFIT, to finally being part of a national federation of ICT councils and organization in 2007 – the Bacolod ICT sector has grown by leaps and bounds.

Why it grew in such a pace? The secret lies in the commitment of the local ICT stakeholders to steer Bacolod City and Negros Occidental towards a common direction – for the benefit of all. Aptly named, BNEFIT stands for Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for ICT, approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a non-stock non-profit organization to pursue ICT- readiness and competitiveness and to further push and sustain the gains of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental as part of the Philippine Cyber Corridor.

By coming together, BNEFIT accepted the challenge posed by the former Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) with the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) as it targets to capture ten percent of the world’s outsourcing market equivalent to 13 billion USD revenues and one million employment by 2010 through public-private sector initiatives.

As a first step, CICT has sounded the call for accurate facts from various local government units in the Philippine Roadmap 2010, a comprehensive study of the Philippine outsourcing industry which details the aspirations of the Philippine BPO industry and the initiatives needed in order to achieve these goals.

BNEFIT aims to be a collective effort of the academe and human resource development, real estate and business and local governments to undertake projects and programs complementary to the vision of making Bacolod City and Negros Occidental as viable locations for ICT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services. It assisted local government units and the national government especially in designing programs that will complement the educational system and integrate ICT therein to produce a more competent and job-ready workforce.

It aims to establish and institutionalize a strong network and various linkages with all academic, formal and non-formal, technical and vocational training institutions in Bacolod and Negros Occidental in order to formulate, consolidate and implements strategies and programs that will address the challenges and gaps identified in the ICT sector.

BNEFIT also regularly helps to develop a comprehensive plan on a provincial basis in order to yield a more accurate picture of the workforce and a rationalized program of infrastructure and human resource build-up based on strengths, encourage synergy among the sectors involved in developing government support, business environment and talent development, in order avoid duplication of efforts, minimize competition among local government units, and maximize resources to better prepare the province and the region to become competitive globally.

On May 2013, Bacolod was finally elevated as one of the Centers of Excellence in IT-BPM in the country, after being Top 5 (2009-2010) and Top 3 (2011-2012) in the Top Ten Next Wave Cities for Outsourcing and Off-shoring.

Consistently, from its entry to the Tholons Top 100 Destinations for Outsourcing as the 100th city in 2010, Bacolod moved higher almost each year to reach the 85th spot last January 2016.

As a result of the initiatives of BNEFIT, more than 20,000 new jobs in the outsourcing and offshoring (O&O) were created in Bacolod by 2012 for Bacolod and Negros Occidental.  Today, there is an estimated 24,000 direct IT-BPM jobs in Bacolod, or a salary circulation of almost 3 Billion Pesos a year.

In 2008, BNEFIT became part of a national federation of ICT councils and organizations – National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP). Today, the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP serves as the recognized advocate for countrywide ICT industry development. NICP is known as the champion of countrywide digital development and a staunch advocate for developing a smarter countryside.

BNEFIT today has become a role model for other cities. Batapa-Sigue as one of the founders and former president of NICP has been instrumental in inspiring and helping various cities and provinces in the Philippines to create their ICT councils or to strengthen their existing councils by encouraging the adoption her four-fold underlying principles:

  1. Government is a catalyst of all stakeholders and must initiate and encourage all key sectors to set and join in pursuing a direction
  2. The private sector must actively support the government by providing resources to improve the business ecosystem, provide the real estate and telecommunications infrastructure.
  3. The academe must continuously link with the industry to ensure relevant education
  4. All three sectors must work together to pursue competitiveness and readiness in ICT using the multi-stakeholder approach and has embraced the principle of collaboration among the local government and national government agencies with the academe and industry.

After serving for several years as president of BNEFIT, Batapa-Sigue now serves as Executive Director of BNEFIT to mentor new leaders.

The mission of NICP is to promote foreign and local investments and a balanced development between Metro Manila and all the other cities and provinces in the country, to share information and best practices, and to transform the Philippines into a customer-oriented and competitive provider for global services.

Batapa-Sigue has relentlessly pursued the goal of making NICP as a national venue for collaboration; develop the member organizations through the sharing of best practices, among others, and to be the unified voice for the Philippine Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Industry. NICP represents the collective effort of the academe and human resource development, real estate and business and local governments in more than 30 cities and provinces in the Philippines forged to undertake projects and programs complementary to the vision of making the Philippines as viable locations for ICT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services, thus creating more jobs, raising more revenues, generating more investments and improving the educational standards and human resource capability of our individual regions and the country in general. 

In 2014, Batapa-Sigue was awarded as Philippines ICT Individual Contributor of the Year by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines and the IT and Business process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP).



  • International and Local Trade Missions and Expositions to Promote Bacolod and Negros Occidental
  • Research and Development of Presentations to Investors Promotion Strategies and Collaterals
  • Investment Meetings and Briefing for Potential Locators
  • Active Leadership Roles in national ICT associations (NICP) and regional clusters (VICTOR)
  • Guidance and Support to Locators and Investors for Ancillary Services and Industries
  • Partnership with the Province of Negros Occidental ICT Investments Programs


  • Development of Forum and Activities to Introduce Information on New Investments and Innovation Trends
  • Business Research Center Services as DTI Shared Service Facility Cooperator
  • Policy Support for the Provincial Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council
  • Technology Business Incubation Management for Tech-Startups and Entrepreneurs  with DOST
  • Design and Implementation of ICT Investments Conferences, Seminars and Exhibitions
  • Private Sector Representation in the Regional Competitiveness Council
  • Continuing Advocacy Support to Address Concerns and Issues of the Local ICT Industry


  • Faculty Training and Development on New ICT Areas (EMC Academic Alliance on Cloud Infrastructure and Information and Storage Management
  • Certifications for ICT Graduates (Philippine ICT General Certification Examinations, IBPAP and EMC   
  • Certifications, TESDA and Industry-Based Finishing Courses)
  • Annual Academic ICT Skills Competitions
  • Partnerships with Academe and Human Resource Training Organizations

Responding to Greta

Published in SunStar Bacolod under my column – DISRUPTIVE MODE on October 2, 2019

Sixteen-year old climate activist Greta Thunberg has become an overnight name for saying what other environmental activists failed to strongly say to our leaders – shut up and show it.

For decades, our leaders have designed all sorts of policies, treatises and pacts to mitigate the impact of and adopt measures in response to climate change, but human consumption has ballooned to tremendous proportions and capitalists have profited much from this phenomenon. Greta and the rest of teenagers today across the globe has every right to demand for a cleaner, healthier, and sustainable future.    

My response to Greta came early as ten years ago by authoring City Ordinance No. 504, an ordinance creating climate change mitigation and adaptation programs of Bacolod City and calls for the creation of a Bacolod Network on Climate Change (BNCC) composed of representatives from different sectors. The ordinance calls for vulnerability and adaptation (V&A) assessment of current and future climate risks and coping measures and mechanisms adopted by local communities.

I am sharing the disruptive features of the ordinance because it calls for leaving our comfort zones. It moves us to adopt sustainable and organic agriculture, forest resource and biodiversity conservation, and ecological waste management focused on reduction, recycling, and re-use of city wastes. It calls for a dynamic coastal resource management through a participatory process of planning, implementing and monitoring sustainable uses of coastal resources.

It mandates sustainable energy development, energy conservation and efficiency as well as sustainable transportation and the promotion of environment-friendly modes of transportation covering land, water and air. 

The city shall come up with an annual energy efficiency targets that addresses the demand-side efficiency improvements, energy conservation, and use of energy efficient technologies. There shall also be regular traffic improvement schemes, geared towards the development and use of efficient mass transport systems, non-motorized transport modes and provisions of infrastructure such as “bike lanes” and “no-vehicles allowed areas”, emission control schemes focusing on improved fuel and vehicle efficiency, parking facilities development by public and private sector and improvement of road markings and signages, as well as, intersection control. 

Industries shall be encouraged to implement energy efficiency measures, promotion of energy conservation and use of alternative non-CO2 emitting industrial processes; and to use and develop of renewable and alternative energy such as solar, wind, biomass, and hydro. The Office of the Building Official shall encourage energy-efficient designs for new buildings. 

The city shall prioritize public sanitation including preserving quality of water, land and air in relation to climate change’s direct and indirect effects on health. The city’s environment and natural resources officer (ENRO) shall actively conduct information dissemination to barangays on the effects of or destruction caused by climate change upon beaches, reefs and coastal infrastructure; importance of water conservation in order to address the threat of decreasing quantity and quality of drinking water due to climate change; as well as preparatory measures in cases of calamities or enhancement of disaster management capacity in times extreme weather events and serious need for humanitarian assistance to victims of natural disasters. 

In agriculture and fisheries, the city shall promote research and extension work on climate change adaptation thru local research institutions, the academe and relevant stakeholders.

The city shall provide for resources for the integration of lessons about climate change and global warming in all educational institutions and promote dialogues between workers and employers to promote green and decent jobs.

My entry to politics in 2004 was prompted by my advocacies, including environmental conservation and so I am grateful for gaining deeper knowledge about ecological preservation. I was able to fulfill my dream to do something for Mother Earth in my role as a policymaker.  But I am sad for Greta because many policies remain in paper. I am hoping Greta’s generation will win this time. In her words, we need to inform ourselves of the situation because the politics needed to push it does not exist today.

Full Text of City Ordinance No. 504 – Bacolod City Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Ordinance