Monthly Archives: July 2020


By Jocelle Batapa-Sigue

Submitted for the Design Thinking For Innovation Course

University of Virginia

Darden School of Business

July 8, 2019

  • CHALLENGE:  Information and communications technology (ICT) have transformed economies all over the world. As early as the seventies, the Philippines business ecosystems road the wave of opportunities that came with the ICT. Government pave the way for stronger telecommunications infrastructure by dismantling the long – standing monopoly and opened the telecommunications industry to other players. ICT allowed businesses to transcend locational challenges such as need for innovation, high cost of labor and utilities, lack of quality or available workforce, political and social risks and many other challenges.  ICT allowed companies to avail of services and products outside of its business structure, commonly known as outsourcing, and today most comprehensively referred to as global services.

As the Philippines moved further in creating jobs and opportunities in the ICT industry, the pattern became apparent – that these investments were only concentrated in the metropolis, particularly in Metro Manila, and not in the outlying provinces of the country.  

The challenge for me along with all the stakeholders in different cities is to improve the socio-economic conditions of the countryside where unemployment rate is very high, taking advantage of the growing number of jobs in the ICT industry.  These issues have not been effectively addressed since the Philippines undertook an aggressive campaign to attract foreign investors in the ICT industry since 2004, yet stakeholders in the countryside, mainly cities outside of Metro Manila began to develop strategies to attract foreign investments.

ICT investment promotions had been concentrated in metropolitan cities, and leaving the countryside to piece-meal strategies that do not consistently give them sustainable programs to conduct foreign trade mission and investment promotions. Selected cities, from time to time, are invited to join trade mission but on a case-to-case basis. No concerted efforts have been devoted to developing countryside investment packages design to attract foreign investors to locate outside of Metropolitan cities.

Seventy percent of the Filipino populace reside outside of Metro Manila hence the need to address the challenge of for attracting jobs and investments in the countryside.

  • SELECTION: To address the challenge of creating jobs and investments in the countryside, I had to gather all the stakeholders to make it happen. I used visualization as tool to create a platform for the vision to be achieved.

There has to be a set of key drivers to push the vision to reality and stakeholders must visualize their respective roles in the whole picture.

As a first step, various stakeholders were gathered based on their respective mandates to understand the general ICT roadmap of the Philippines which details the vision and initiatives needed in order to achieve these goals.

I started with one city, my own city – Bacolod, located in the Province of Negros Occidental, Western Visayas Region. Upon my initiative as local leader, stakeholders were able to come together in several sessions creating and sharing ideas to address the needs in order to scale up Bacolod as an investment hub. 

Eventually, the stakeholders designed the ICT Council as a platform 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.

The ICT Council 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.

As a result, Bacolod was named as one of the Centers of Excellence in ICT in the country, and more than 30,000 new jobs were created for Bacolod and Negros Occidental.  Today, there is an estimated 30,000 direct IT-BPM jobs in Bacolod. The ICT Council of Bacolod today has become a role model for other cities, and 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 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.

The ICT Council model is now recognized in various fora as an organizational model that brings together movers and key decision makers from the public or government sector (local or national line agencies), academe and human resource, and private or business and industry sector. The idea is to provide a platform to set directions to position their respective communities as strategic locations for ICT-enabled jobs and investments

  • APPLICATION: To create the ICT council, stakeholders were gathered to create a common vision, identify challenges and weaknesses, discover and understand weaknesses and potentials and eventually develop strategies to answer the weaknesses.

First, the stakeholders are made to understand their roles and mandates as individuals belonging to various institutions, understanding the core values of their organizations as well as their limitations. Then the stakeholders are requested to identify and extract their common vision for their cities through interaction. 

The three major stakeholders were identified as government, academe and private sector, each playing a specific role to complement the vision. The role of the government was to catalyze the stakeholders and bring them together, provide for enabling policies and resources and set the direction. The role of the academe is to ensure quantity, quality and scalability of talent supply. The role of the private sector is to provide capital, economic guidance and impetus to the efforts of the two other sectors by creating business models, jobs and opportunities aligned with the ICT sector.

Using the diagrams, the stakeholders identified six key thrusts to focus on based on the general roadmap.

  • INSIGHT: The stakeholders, by visualizing their goal through the use of interaction, discussion, posting in the board colored notes in the board for everyone to see how all the pieces fall into place, have collated the bigger picture. Using diagrams and matrix, with the aid colored sticky notes, the stakeholders grouped together according to their sector and discussed the strategies. The groups discussed the baseline data – “what is” what is the current situation, the existing policies and resources, in order to develop relevant and responsive strategies. They eventually tackled “what if” to develop the vision and direction, such as number of jobs attainable. Then moved to programs that are new and innovative, in response to the question “what wows”. After a series of meetings, the groups developed their vision, goals, objectives and strategies based on major areas such as talent development, business environment, cost and infrastructure and digital innovation.

Eventually, the stakeholders realized that the ICT council model can serve as a platform for collaboration to achieve a common goal, a venue to share best practices for ideation and replication, a driver for innovation, a medium for collective expression to achieve results and a tool to empower stakeholders

Stakeholders saw the need to make the ICT council a platform for collaboration to achieve a common goal among government, education, industry, private and business sector. They identified the need to be open, friendly, innovative, aggressive, dynamic, risk-taking in their approaches to achieve the vision. For example, the key decision makers arrived at a conclusion that there needs to be a roadmap every 3 to 6 years for the ICT Council to push and manage. 

Academe, human resource and talent development stakeholders were inspired to be more innovative, inclusive and collaborative in their educational approaches to facilitate industry – academe collaboration. Local government became more supportive, innovative, catalyst, pro-active, goal-oriented, and people-centric. The national government agencies which had presence in the city embraced their role as target-setting, accessible, guiding and supportive along with the local media, to drive awareness.

As a tool to empower stakeholders, the ICT Council developed programs to empower and train ICT council members and equip different sectors needing digital skills to qualify for ICT jobs. The ICT Council helped the city government harness public resources for greater use such as in job generation, investment promotions and conduct orientation of different stakeholders to understand their roles

The stakeholders were able to identify the basic criteria for a city to generate ICT jobs and opportunities. These are talent (quantity, quality, scalability), business environment and risk management (natural, political, social risks), infrastructure and telecommunications, cost of doing business to include tax incentives, non-fiscal incentives that translate to savings on business cost and digital innovation.

The ICT Council has become a venue to share best practices for ideation and replication especially for talent development strategies, startup incubators and shared service facilities, resource mobilization, benchmarking activities and learning conferences.

As a driver for innovation, the ICT Council identified the need to help public sector implement eGovernance, new technologies and new skills (ai, data analytics, IOT, cybersecurity), hybrid or shared service facilities, and new business models (homegrown companies or startups, shared service facilities, incubators).

As medium for collective expression to achieve results, the ICT Council came up with unified position on need to grant tax incentives, improve connectivity, and grant more scholarships for ICT. The ICT Council leveraged on collaboration to access more support, equipment and facilities. It also helped and assisted investors and entrepreneurs by championing their concerns and set avenues to air out collective stand on various issues such as peace and order situation, lack of trainings and many others.

  • APPROACH: For other sessions in developing the ICT Council model for other cities, new insights on new technologies can be shared through effective storytelling as a tool in design thinking to ensure more stakeholders’ engagement and involvement. Stories of successes of other ICT councils can inspire stakeholders of other cities to develop their own. Another way to scale up participation and reduce the period of time to come up with strategies is learning launch, to provide a platform for ICT councils to experiment new ideas such creating incubators for startups.

In future sessions, stakeholders need more input to develop strategies and hence it is important that the presence of other stakeholders who hold the necessary data for validation must be obtained.   

Joint Statement of All Barter Communities


Joint Statement of All Barter Communities

July 14, 2020

It is with painful sadness and frustration that we read the news today about the plan of of Secretary Ramon Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to “hunt” due to violation of laws the over 1 Million Filipinos in the Philippines and around the world who are helping one another through bartering online.

THERE IS NO CLEAR AND SPECIFIC LEGAL BASIS FOR ONLINE BARTER PLATFORMS TO BE DECLARED AS UNLAWFUL OR ILLEGAL. Barter is a recognized contract under the Civil Code of the Philippines which took effect in 1950. Bartering is an ancient practice that predates money more than 8000 years ago and in fact necessitated the invention of money since humans need to exchange goods and services to obtain their needs and survive.

Since Facebook started sometime in 2004, people already started exchanging goods online, and eventually pages for “bartering”, “exchanging”, “trading”, “swapping”, “donating or paying forward” and “buying and selling” things began more than a decade ago on social media.

When the Philippine economy went into a self-imposed paralysis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Filipinos lost their jobs and means for income. With more than half of our labor force belonging to the informal economy and are daily-wage earners, even a work stoppage for a day will badly hurt them as well as their families.

The President called for everyone to observed “bayanihan” and help one another but despite the Bayanihan Law which gave access to government to billions of public funds, many families have become more destitute. The middle class which heavily supports the economy of this country have reached a point where we need to scrape our savings to endure and stay alive in the midst of the lockdown restrictions  – all in order to unite against the fight of COVID 19. Our utility bills, our loans, our rents and all payables running every month – without any income coming in.

These sad realities are no secret to a government who pledge to take care of all Filipinos from the very start of this pandemic.

Despite this bleak scenario, the founders of all the bartering communities in the country composed of professionals in different localities created barter communities on Facebook as online platforms where people can exchange goods which are essential. All founders, administrators and moderators of the group pages are volunteers and not earning any profit for the pages. All members are also not paying anything to post in the barter pages.

Since May 2020, Filipino kindness shone like sunlight throughout the country through the bartering communities. With thousands of community members sharing their extra food and essentials to people who need them most in exchange for things that are even oftentimes old and almost useless. Filipinos extended their talent in cooking for others, fixing things for others, and many other services in exchange for some rice. People gave to those in need and even oftentimes refused to accept what is offered. The inspiring stories for every community are endless, growing in numbers each day. At the end of the day, no cash is allowed in these communities and members are bartering their personal assets. Unlike business entities with gross annual gross receipts subject to taxes, our members are not engaging in any business or activity for profit. The purpose is to help one another obtain essential goods and services and not to evade paying of taxes. When they bought items to exchange, taxes for the items where already paid.

All the bartering communities in the Global Barter Communities (GBC) abide with the highest standards in maintaining our respective the platforms – standards that may not even be followed in the society today.

We are united by a vision – to see a world where kindness is without borders and humanity is defined by the extent with which every race can help one another to survive the global impact of the pandemic and adapt to the “new normal”.  Our mission is to stand in solidarity as different barter communities established by local stakeholders in common mission to promote barter as part of our way of life as Filipinos.

In our handbook, our main objective is to strive to establish and redefine the traditional barter system as a new norm of helping one another and shall not in any way promote commercialism and materialism but positive values such as generosity, determination, honesty, patience, integrity, gender sensitivity, equality and ecological awareness.  We committed to promote these values as the cornerstones of our respective barter communities.

Our collective definition of barter is exchanging goods and services based on the mutual and voluntary decision of two persons. It is not selling, for the goods or services are not exchanged based on cash or price but value. It is not also donating for the good are not given without anything in exchange. The price of the item or service is never equal but the happiness and feeling of satisfaction should be equal. The items are of inconsequential nature or “deminimis” – just like you next door neighbor gives you eggs in exchange for your rice – so both households can have a complete meal.

Today, our barter communities serve as platforms around the world for people to meet and agree to exchange personal goods and services for personal use and consumption. The platforms do not interfere, intervene, force or influence any individual to enter into any barter agreement. Instead our online communities provided hope to many Filipinos to continue fighting poverty.

As virtual barter communities, we do not promote, endorse nor encourage any act that is against laws, morals, public order and public policy and shall immediately cease or refrain from any activity that it may later on become aware to be against laws, morals, public order and public policy. Just to share some of the items posted which we decline:

  1. Illegal, expired, indecent or defective items
  2. Posts which asks for cash or private message as mode of offer
  3. Posts that are for the purpose of selling or promoting products
  4. All live animals such as dogs and cats, birds and fishes, and wild animals
  5. All items subject to extraction or production permits such as gravel, charcoal and honey thereto depending on the ruling of local agencies in the area
  6. All drugs requiring prescription and similar items
  7. All items that require titles or paper before transfer can be made effective except for items of small value or under a mechanism to ensure existence of proper titles
  8. All items that are subject to company direct selling restrictions
  9. N95 or high-grade masks, airsoft, guns, firearms, weapons and indecent pictures that are flagged by FB community standards
  10. Vape and other items with pending prohibitory laws
  11. All posts with indecent pictures and captions
  12. All posts aimed at ridiculing or humiliating any member or individual or a sector
  13. All other posts asking for the above items in exchange for their bartered items
  14. All posts that does not indicate the requirements for a complete caption (description of item, reason of barter, decent and true pictures, must not contain price and must contain a basic or general description of the items they want in exchange)
  15. All other items that may be restricted by law and agencies in the future 

We are jointly appealing to the government of the Republic of the Philippines to help Filipinos cultivate kindness instead of greed, concern for others instead of always just thinking of ourselves and showing the world the true value of bayanihan.

To the DTI, we respectfully ask why your agency will be the one to hunt barter communities for tax laws and not the Bureau of Internal Revenue? We also ask what particular tax provisions are we violating that make online barter illegal and that you make us sound like criminals by saying you will “hunt” or “go after us”? Non-payment of taxes or even non-registration of business are not automatically criminal in nature. Why do we have to be this harsh to millions of Filipinos helping the government in helping other Filipinos in need.

We are appealing to your office to present to us alternative ways and solutions to help our economy, to help our less fortunate Filipinos, to help our millions of displaced workers, to help our MSMEs bounce back and try to find means to feed their workers, to help local stakeholders in ensuring everyone has something to it, to help farmers survive and still be productive, to help workers transition to digital platforms so they can earn, to help Filipino products hit local value chains so they can earn – may we respectfully ask the DTI to focus on these things.

Taxation is not your mandate. Helping Filipinos survive is – as your name implies – TRADE and INDUSTRY. We were counting on the DTI to be in the forefront of pushing the use of digital solutions to increase trade, to promote digital tools to especially to MSMES, and boost digital platforms to promote Filipino brands. But now you say we have to all go back to traditional ways.


Please help us. Thank you for all the amazing and extraordinary things you do to help lift our economy during this pandemic as our highest national trade official in the Philippines, Mister Secretary Ramon Lopez! God bless you!

Abu Dhabi Barter Community
Agusan del Sur Barter Community
Aklan Barter Community
Alfonso Cavite Barter Community
Angeles City Barter Community
Arezzo Place Pasig Barter Community
Australia Barter Community
Bacolod Barter Community
Bago CIty Barter Community/Barter Me, Bago City
Baguio City Barter Community
Bahrain Barter Community
Bahrain Barter Society
Baler Aurora-Makati-Quezon City Barter Community
Barotac Viejo/Banate-Iloilo Barter Society
Barter Community Bataan
Barter and Dive
Batangas Barter Community
Baylo ta – Kalibo Barter Community
BF Homes Barter Community (Paranaque)
BFRV Barter Group
Bicol Barter Community
Binalbagan Barter Community
Biñan Barter Community
Borongan City Barter Community
Bogo City Barter Community
Brgy. Tabunan Barter Community
Bukidnon Barter Community
Bulacan Barter Community
Butuan City Barter Community (BCBC)
CAA Barter Community – Las Pinas
Cabuyao Barter Community
Cainta Barter Community
Calauan Laguna Barter Community
Calbayog Barter Community
Calinog Barter Community
Camalig First Barter Community
Camanava Barter Community
Cambodia Barter Community
Candoni Barter Community
Canlaon Barter Community
Carabalan Barter Community
Carmona Barter Community
Cauayan City Isabela Barter Community
Cauayan Barter Community Negros Occidental
Cavite Barter Community
Cebu City Barter Community
Concepcion Tarlac Barter Community
Davao Barter Community
Dubai Barter Community
Duero Barter Community
Dumaguete Barter Community
EB Magalona Barter Community
Filipino Barter Community in NZ
First Cavite Barter/Trade/Exchange items Community
General Trias Cavite Barter Community
Gibraltar Barter Community
Greenheights Village Barter Community
Himamaylan Barter Community
Hinobaan Barter Community
Ifugao Barter Community
Iloilo Barter Society
Iloilo City Barter Community
Isabelenos Swap/Barter Community
Jamindan Barter Community
Japan Barter Community
Kapalong Barter Community
Kuwait Barter Community
La Carlota Barter Community
La Castellana Barter Society
La Trinidad Barter Community
Laguna Barter Community
Lancaster Barter Community
Landayan Barter Community
Lapu Lapu City Barter Community
Las Piñas Barter Community
Las Piñas City Barter Community
Launion Barter Community
Leon Barter Community
Ligao Barter Community
Lipenos Barter Community
Los Baños Barter Community
Mabinay Barter Community
Majayjay Barter : A Community that Spread Kindness
Makati Barter Community
Malasiqui Barter Community
Malolos Barter Community
Malta Filipino Barter Community
Mandaluyong Barter Community
Manila Barter Community
Mansilingan Barter Community
Maragusan Barter Community
Marikina, Antipolo, & Rizal areas Barter Community
MBA (Manjuyod, Bindoy, Ayungon) Barter Community
Merville Barter Community
Metro Manila Barter Community (MMBC)
Moises Padilla Barter Community
Montalban Barter Community
Montalban Barter Community Official
Moscow Filipino Barter Society
Murcia Barter Community
Nasugbu-Lian Barter Community
Navotas Barter Community
Negros Barter Community
North Caloocan Barter Community
First Ormoc Barter Community
Oton Barter Community
Palo Barter Community
Paranaque Barter Society
Parang Marikina Barter Community
Pateros- Taguig Barter Community
Pontevedra Barter Community
Pulupandan Barter Community
Qatar Barter Community
Qatar Filipino Barter Community
Quezon City Barter Community
Quezon Province Official Barter Community
Rinconada Barter Community
Riyadh Barter Community
Rizal Barter Community
Roxas Barter Community
San Carlos City Barter Community
San Enrique Barter Community (Barteran sa Pueblo de Tinobagan)
San Jose Del Monte – Online Barter Community
San Jose del Monte City Barter Community
San Lorenzo South Sub. Barter
San Pedro Barter Community laguna
SantaBayaBas Barter Community
Silay City Barter Community
Silang Barter Community
Silaynon Barter Community and Abu Dhabi City Barter Community
Sipalay City Barter Community
Sixth District Negros Occidental Barter Community
Sogod Barter Community
Sta Rosa Laguna Barter Community
Sta. Cruz Barter Community (A province of Laguna)
Sum-ag Barter Community
Swap UP! Barter Community
Tacloban Barter Community
Tagum Barter Community (Official)
Tagum Barter Community
Tandag City Barter Community
Talisay Barter Community
Talisay Barter Community
Tampilisan Barter Community
Tayabas Barter community
Toboso Barter Community
Tubungan Barter Community
Tuguegaro Barter Community
Tunasan Barter Community
UPLB Barter Community
Valladolid Barter Community
Vallehermoso Barter Community
Victorias Barter Community
Xevera Bacolor Barter Community
Zambales Barter Community