Monthly Archives: December 2019

Bacolod Vision 2020

The new year is a start of a new decade and 2020 has nice ring to it. 20/20 stands for normal visual acuity or the clarity or sharpness of vision measured at a distance of 20 feet. According to the American Optometric Society, having 20/20 vision does not necessarily mean you have perfect vision. 20/20 vision only indicates the sharpness or clarity of vision at a distance. Yet a vision that spans the current year is good enough. With the very fast pace technology is moving and disrupting how we do things, even just a ten-year plan would be good enough for any visionary leader to nurture. I dream of a Vision 2020 or a list of ten items I wish to see for Bacolod and Negros Occidental.

First, a fully integrated waste facility complex that completely supports the “zero-waste” aspiration of our laws. It shall have waste-to-energy or waste conversion technologies that reduce waste products and convert them instead to useful items. I wish to see a “mall-like” buyback center that transforms scavengers to waste sorters and allow them decent income and creates a conducive ecosystem for the city’s landfill, recyclers, and corporate waste program managers, especially those producing large volume of waste or hazardous waste, to work together to reduce waste and lower waste collection budget of the city and allow us to fully comply with laws on solid waste management. This can only happen when we understand that we, myself included, are all committing a crime against our environment and future generations if we continue to tolerate the concept of a “dumpsite” which is already unlawful since 2005.

Second, a comprehensive business environment solution that consolidates all transactions with the city government as well as national government agencies operating in the city compliant to the prescribed periods under the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Law, especially the issuance of business permits and other licenses. The system must migrate almost all transactions to digital and approximate “zero-contact” policy to drastically reduce graft and corrupt practices. This would entail using a variety of payment gateways to afford end-users and consumers the option of paying digitally. I dream to see the salient features of the Republic No. 11032 under a highly disseminated and understood revised Citizen’s Charter that operates as a source of right for citizens to hold the local government accountable for non-compliance as the law envisions. This development although now mandatory can only happen with an enlightened citizenry that understands that “red tape” is not at all excusable.

Third, an integrated smart city system that encourages and puts in place full and active citizens engagement in all concerns such as traffic, street lighting, job and investments, healthcare and environment. This happens when government is “open” to hear crowd-sourced solutions just like what I learned in Taiwan and other countries practicing open government. Barangays need to be at the forefront in assisting the city to achieve its targets with the use of both barangay and city resources. I envision a city that actively assists barangays to raise revenues so it can sufficiently attend to its own concerns, such as in peace and order, transportation, health care and other social services.       

Fourth, the opening of new tourism niche markets for the city beyond just the promotion of the annual Masskara Festival but also leveraging on the latter. The festival mentality is ideal only when there are key performance indicators such as specific increase in the number of foreign and local visitors, sustained increase in sales of local products (aside from China-made), higher income for local establishment owners and small and medium enterprises and more awareness of business potential of the city. This initiative would not easily happen without a holistic approach on the part of all local government units in Negros Occidental including Bacolod and the provincial government. The key word today is collaboration rather than competition

Fifth, business data and analytics that will create a more intelligent business ecosystem to elicit the full trust and confidence of potential investors. There are so many areas we can open up both for public and private investments. I am looking at state-of-the-art logistics, incubation, design and packaging centers for small and medium enterprises. The Tatak Pinoy vision of Senator Sonny Angara currently puts an emphasis on helping support Filipino products and promoting the Filipino brand. I will write more about this policy support in future columns.

Sixth, a 24/7 security and safety program to ensure peace and order in the city. I have seen samples of command centers designed by big information technology (IT) companies over the years but we do not really need to spend much to achieve a safe and peaceful community. We need to create intelligent systems that will allow citizens to help and prevent criminalities in the city. In some hackathons I have witnessed, young kids design mobile-based systems to help in law enforcement and even in rescue operations. If we can tap our startup community, we will surely have a lot of ideas to use.

Seventh, a long-term plan to ensure sustainable and potable water supply for our city that requires the cooperation of other local government units. Total privatization of water operations is definitely not an option. Supply and other parts of operation that do not deprive the people of controlling natural resources can be outsourced to conscientious and square-dealing private companies but to privatize the whole water management is not ideal, and simply an easy way out for leaders with tunnel vision.

Eighth, concrete sectoral engagement for major sectors such as the out-of-school-youth (OSYs), senior citizens and retirees and persons with disabilities (PWD) especially in empowering them to seek and implement solutions on their own for their respective concerns and needs. Some examples are specialized career centers for PWDs and OSYs, health and wellness centers for senior citizens and retirees.

Ninth, a holistic set of programs to build and promote Bacolod as a City of the Arts and support the creative economy. The United Nations has proclaimed 2020 as the Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. The Department of Trade and Industry in collaboration with stakeholders have forged a creative roadmap for the Philippines which envisions that “by 2030, the Philippines will be the number one Creative Economy in ASEAN in terms of size and value of our creative industries, as well as the competitiveness and attractiveness of our creative talent and content in international markets.” The scope includes six cultural domains, namely: cultural and natural heritage; performance and celebration; visual arts and artisan products; books and press; audio-visual, broadcast and interactive media; and creative services. Other related domains include tourism, and sports and recreation. Bacolod and Negros Occidental need to be part of this.

Tenth, an intensive talent development and skills training program for Bacolod and Negros Occidental. I have always been a federalist since college and therefore today, I still wish we can run our own innovative programs as a separate island from the Philippines if it is just too hard to get the buy in of our national government. There are at least two things I would like to see happen- if not in this country but in the city at least. First, just like the European model, a digital competence citizen framework that creates a comprehensive standard for all citizens in the city to gauge their digital skills and knowledge according to their respective levels so that it becomes easier to design and develop training  efforts to skill, upskill and re-skill Bacolodnons. Second, a quality apprenticeship program patterned after other countries, where graduates are able to expose themselves to one to four years of remunerated training work to learn the necessary skills and earn the relevant certifications specifically denominating those acquired skills.

Happy new year to all!

NOTE: This article is a consolidation of two columns under DISRUPTIVE MODE printed over Sunstar Bacolod for the last two weeks of December 2019.

10 Survival Tips in 2020

  1. BE GRATEFUL BUT DO NOT EXPECT GRATITUDE FROM OTHERS. Human beings are naturally ungrateful because of pride. In your life, you will come across individuals who will reach out to you for their needs and concerns, but as they attain their goals, they will forget your efforts to help them. Live a life without expecting anything, especially gratitude. But always have a grateful heart. Value the people who were there for you. It will give you inner happiness. I call this the Thanks But No Thanks App.
  2. ONLY SPEND TIME FOR INITIATIVES THAT DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME. Human beings and activities will find ways to get the most out of you because of practical reasons. Regardless of your contributions, there will be those who will downplay and undervalue your contributions. They will also put more premium on monetary wealth, instead of the ideas you shares, your time, your efforts – the things you have to sacrifice to support the completion of the goal. Many of these things will be unappreciated or under-appreciated. People will only value money – which is the cheapest of all things. Be selective with your initiatives so you do not waste your precious time. Instruct others how not to waste your time but never exert more than enough energy to lower yourself and become an idiot for the sake of other people. This is the Day and Night Timesaver App.
  3. TALK ONLY AS MUCH AS YOU WORK. Human beings talk more than they act. Physiologically that is how our body seem to be structured. Our mouth has a only few muscles but it often always out-do our body. Learn to speak only as much as you work or act. And only believe people who have put into action their words. It is not important that they succeed – the most valuable factor is that you know they actually believe in what they are saying enough to do it. Beware of people who say one thing and mean another, worse and does another. Only say what you mean. If by saying it, you will hurt others, exercise the option not to say it. I call this the Talk and Motion Study App. Its higher version is called the Shut App.
  4. PAY ATTENTION BUT DO NOT GIVE ATTENTION TO THE UNDESERVING. Human beings want attention, even when they do not deserve it. People will be slighted when you forget to greet them or smile back at them. Be careful with those who have an overdose of this nature. They will only fancy the likes of those who are also overly mindful to the point of fakeness. Remember to give everyone his or her due. And only what is due to them. There is grave danger in giving in excess especially to people who ae not aware of what is due to them. In turn, learn not to naturally seek attention – that is how you win over yourself. Remember Confucius’ “seek to be worthy to be know rather than to be known.” This is the Presencing App.
  5. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS REMEMBER. THERE IS VALUE IN REMEMBERING. Human beings are extremely forgetful. They like to remember events, names and places, but refuse to remember important milestones. Many of us lived in a the moment – one that is fleeting. Just like a social media timeline, you see the present but oftentimes forget the past. Nonetheless, understand those who forget important moments and be kind to yourself – if you likewise forget. Always learn from past mistakes but do not killy yourself for it. Believe me, you will soon find these mistakes amusing. They say the way to be happy is not to live in the past, but I say the way to be happier is to remember the past so that you become stronger as your face the future. I call this the Rememberer App.
  6. BE AS HUMANLY KIND TO ALL BUT CHERISH THOSE WHO ARE YOUR FRIENDS. Only a few human beings will truly be your friends. Only a few will understand you as much as you understand yourself. In fact, we may even go through life without having a single friend, except ourselves. You will have hundreds or even thousands of acquaintances, but only a few individuals will be there when the storm hits you hard. Pray for your real friends – those who suffer not from any envy, jealousy or mischief against you. Those who laugh with you not with their minds but with their hearts. Those who know the reason for your weaknesses and the source of your strength. Cherish your time with them. All things will come to pass, even friendship.  This is the Fake Friends Tracking Device App.
  7. BE HAPPY WITH YOUR ACHIEVEMENT NOTWITHSTANDING. Human beings will always think pride is a sin. Pride in your achievement. In your skill. The moment you share your accomplishments, your milestones – the fruits of your arduous rigors, unthinkable sacrifices, seemingly endless debacles – they will call it pride. They will call it pompousness. Believe in your talent anyway. Do not allow one naysayer to pull you down unless his or her thoughts are constructive. If so, evaluate and use their suggestions and ideas, but do not let them get into your head. They would love that. Go placidly, as The Desiderata, yet go purposively in your life. You owe it to yourself and to God who has given you these talents. Use it for good. The bad will come back to you. It is like the trash you throw to the sea today which your children will eat tomorrow. I call this The Desideratrix App.
  8. NEVER ALLOW ANYONE TO TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE. Human beings are usually envious, fond of comparing themselves with others – something which separates us from animals. The lion never compares himself to the ant and vice versa. But people compare themselves, regardless of their genre. Hence, they will crush your spirit at every achievement, without realizing how much they already have. There will be ants who will constantly be jealous and bite you to death. Usually their death. There will be lions who will constantly be bothered by ants until they begin to think they are also ants. We look at what others have and feel jealous, yet we often fail to realize how much more we possess but never value. Look at what you have today and appreciate it. Both the lion and the ant have each so many things to thank for. Like a true Jedi, “your strength lies within your heart” – not internally. It is not who you are but who what you make of your life – whether you want to be a Skywalker or a Palpatine. Your decision will not matter to the world but it will affect some lives. This is the Rainbow Saber App.
  9. SEEK THINGS THAT REQUIRE YOUR HIGHER SENSES. Human beings want more color instead of depth. We want to see fanfare or things that can be highly perceived by ordinary human senses – sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell – we commonly shun from things that we need to “sense with our inner being”. In fact, we always say – to “see is to believe”. We have become highly empirical and practical beings – we almost no longer pursue things that cannot be perceived by ordinary senses. This year is a year to open our other senses. Open yourself to the possibilities of the new decade. There is more we can do when we listen, that just hear. Understand, than just see. Speak, than just talk. And there are so many ways to speak. Pray. Always pray. This is the Sixth Sense and Beyond App.
  10. START. KEEP ON STARTING. Human beings never want to fail. We are want a “fail-safe” life, but sadly there are experiences that can only come when you enter doors that say “you may fail”. So we don’t open it and get to see the sign at the other side of the door that says “you may succeed”. That is why oftentimes they do not want to start anything. We will always say “starting something is the most difficult part.” We should constantly cultivate a culture of “starting”. Every new year is a new start. But we fear to start things. 2020 is another year that is about to start. List down everything you wish to start. Create a “start list” – not a resolution list. You have a 12 month time frame. When this ends and you are still breathing, start again. I call this the Start App.

Are you asking the right questions?


Creating a conducive location that is ripe for information and communications technology (ICT) – enabled jobs and investments is never easy.  For over a decade, I have been immersed in countless meetings with investors and stakeholders in more than 50 provinces around the country. I have practically been to all the regions of the Philippines helping and assisting ICT councils and stakeholders composed of academe, government and industry as well as other important sector in building the right ecosystem. I have also led countless presentations before due diligence teams of investors searching for the right location, especially outside of Metro Manila.

In Bacolod, there are currently more than ten major ICT companies but I have pitched to almost a hundred for the last fifteen years. We were able to attract a good ten (10) percent of the companies we invited or presented to and yielded around 30,000 jobs.  

I have kept many guide materials and only share with local government units (LGUs) and stakeholders during workshops so they can understand where to start. Now I am sharing this publicly. I am also willing to assist LGUs and ICT councils in obtaining collectively possible answers to these questions. These “how” questions are not only for LGUs and ICT councils to answer but these are also just some of questions investors ask today when they go to your locations. It is not advisable for any leader to expect easy questions that start with who, what, when, where.

Do you want to create thousands of ICT jobs in your community – answer these questions first.

How do you get the buy-in of stakeholders to collaborate towards attracting ICT jobs and investments? How do you change the mindset of the community to embrace ICT jobs? How do you reach your target market? How do you create the right branding or message? How do you improve your ecosystem in terms of talent quality and scalability, infrastructure, business environment, ease and cost of doing business? Which areas need to be improved further? Which areas can you improve on your own? Which areas can you improve only with the help of others? How can you build a strong ICT organization? How can you build a sustainable organization? How can you align your local targets with national and international targets? How can you ensure cooperation and commitment of your members? How can you ensure the sustainability and business growth of your locators? How can you identify or address locators’ needs and requirements? How can you immediately deliver these needs and requirements? How can you raise funds and resources for your ICT programs and projects? How can you get the public to understand and participate in your programs and projects? How can you access industry support and guidance? How can you get the support of the general business sector in your area? How can you get the support and commitment of the national government? How can you ensure a continuing conducive business environment for your existing locators? How can you assure your locators of quality and quantity of talent? How do you ensure the presence of sufficient infrastructure in your area? How can you ensure the presence of PEZA accredited information technology parks and buildings? How can you ensure industry calibrated and standardized training programs? How do you adopt to the changes in technology and to new innovation? How do you address again disruptions? How do you ensure business continuity in the face of natural calamities and manmade disasters?

Leaders can never leave investments and job generation to chance. Sadly, many leaders commit that mistake. Leaders also need to listen and work more instead of just talk all the time. Leaders are not assumed to have all the answers but good leaders need to ask the right questions. Sadly, many leaders are fond of lip service.

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Competence in the Digital Age


Are you competent in the digital age? This is a question that is probably challenging to answer in the Philippines considering that we do not have a clear and unified national digital competence framework for citizens. The ITU Digital Skills Insights 2019 cites reference frameworks for digital competence create an agreed vision of what is needed in terms of competences to overcome the challenges that arise from digitization in almost all aspects of our lives. Examples at the global level is the European Digital Competence Framework for Citizens (DigComp) and the UNESCO media literacy (ML) and information literacy (IL) framework.

I share the aim of ITU to constantly hammer along these lines in order to assist policymakers and stakeholders to understand various uses of reference frameworks, especially for teachers, for educational organizations such as schools, and for citizens to cope with digital marketplaces.

ITU considers reference frameworks as platforms to create a common understanding through agreed definitions and set vocabulary that can be consistently applied in all tasks from policy formulation, target setting and monitoring, instructional planning including curriculum reforms and teacher education, and assessment and certification.

A good framework helps in identifying specific competences that should be addressed and foresees learning outcomes and proficiency levels and serves as a tool to create valid and reliable measurement and assessment instruments as to how the digital skills of a country’s talent pool improves through time.

DigComp 2013 defined digital competence as a combination of 21 competences that can be grouped in five main areas: information and data literacy, communication and collaboration; digital content creation; safety; and problem solving.

Primary citizens’ skills include browsing, searching and filtering data, information and digital content; evaluating data, information and digital content; and managing data, information and digital content. The second level includes interacting, sharing information, engaging in citizenship and collaborating through digital technologies, observing netiquette and managing digital identity. The third level includes developing digital content, integrating and re-elaborating digital content, securing copyright and licenses, and programming. The fourth level includes protecting devices, personal data and privacy, as well as protecting health and well-being and the environment. The fifth level includes solving technical problems, identifying needs and technological responses, creatively using digital technologies and identifying digital competence gaps.

The UNESCO elements of media literacy (ML) include the ability to acquire and use skills (including ICTs) needed to produce user-generated content, critically evaluate media content in the light of media functions, engage with media for self-expression, intercultural dialogue and democratic participation. The elements of information literacy (IL) include the skills to define and articulate information needs, locate and access information, assess information, organize information, use ICT skills for information processing, communicate information, and make ethical use of information.

These frameworks facilitate messaging to citizens by simplifying things. For instance, as to agreed terminology, DigComp has adopted a device-agnostic wording of “digital technologies” so that it is not necessary to name a specific technology, software or application when further discussing the knowledge, skills and attitudes associated with each of the competences. The term “digital technologies” encompasses not only the use of personal computers such as desktop, laptop, netbook or tablet computer but also other hand-held devices such as  smart phones, wearable devices with mobile networking facilities, games consoles, media players or e-book readers which, more often than not, are also networked or connected to the Internet.

This allows for “future proofing” the framework against the fast speed of change in the field of technologies, while at the same time remaining device and application neutral, and only focusing on high-level competences that are deemed important (rather than being device-or application-specific). (Source: ITU Digital Skills Insights 2019)

I envy young people today for having so much time and resources in their hands to learn new skills. Knowledge today is so ubiquitous and accessible. We just need to get our acts together. We need digital strategy and a digital reference framework for citizens as soon as possible.

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Responding to Greta


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 mandaes 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.

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Breaking New Grounds


In order to change an existing paradigm, you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete. Innovators, disrupters and changemakers would be likely familiar with these thoughts of American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor and futurist Richard Buckminster Fuller. Change has become more constantly imperative than ever before in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

My weekly column will be all about change, innovation, and disruption, hence, the column title.  In the debate whether one is divergent or convergent, I chose to be disruptive. Traditionally, calling someone or something disruptive is not a compliment until fairly recently when key influencers began to use the term as another word for innovative, trail-blazing, pioneering or ground-breaking to describe a person, company, an idea or technology that changes the way an industry operates. Large companies now have chief disruption officers and young people are now encouraged to learn about disruptive technologies.

In business, a disruptive innovation as defined by Clayton Christensen in 1995 is innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market-leading firms, products, and alliances. 

I am excited to share insights on many things affecting our community aligned with how we can leverage on disruptive innovation and technologies. Our communities need to transcend the never-ending discussions around traditional ways of doing things. Today, we are more connected than ever before though the Internet, exponentially increasing the range of sharing ideas and mechanisms for social, economic and over-all human development.

Disruptive technologies will continue to affect every aspect of human life. From education to business to governance, innovation is like a beacon that pulls the early transformers as late adopters fall by the wayside. Innovation connects all sectors and makes collaboration imperative for survival.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Digital Skills Insights 2019 citing the World Economic Forum 2018 stresses that by 2020, 85 to 90 percent of jobs will require ICT skills.

We need to close the skills gap or the phenomenon where millions of jobs are opening up around the world for those with advanced digital skills in the midst of a shortage of qualified people to fill the positions.

The ITU encourages all countries to create digital skills strategies to effectively move a significant portion of its workforce from having basic to advanced skills to be competitive with other economies.

In its latest Digital Skills Insights for 2019, the ITU Academy identified five skills groups to guide planners.

Basic digital skills are required for nearly all jobs, or those related to the effective use of technology, like web research, online communication, use of professional online platforms and digital financial services.

Mid-level digital skills include digital graphic design and marketing, desktop publishing and social media management, both for job and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Advanced digital skills are necessary to create, manage, test and analyze ICT processes, or related to technology development, including coding, software and app development, network management, machine learning, big data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), cybersecurity and blockchain technology

Soft skills are complementary to technical skills, necessary for all professionals to ensure collaborative in the digital economy, such as leadership, communication, teamwork and client focus, among other qualities.

Digital entrepreneurship or digital skills required by entrepreneurs, include online market research, strategic planning and business analysis, using financing and crowdfunding platforms, online marketing, online networking and establishing mentoring relationships.

Without clear and specific direction, but mostly reactive measures, any country, or city will continuously lose its talent to other countries or cities that have strategic roadmaps for growth. Thus, the need to disrupt traditional way of doing things. With this maiden column, let’s break new grounds for Bacolod and the rest of the countryside.

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