Monthly Archives: February 2021

Ways to Love Yourself

1. Love your time. Don’t let anyone waste it. Respect your time and do not allow anyone to disrespect it. Consider every minute of your time as every minute of your life. Use it wisely.

2. Love your struggles. You’re not going to be perfect, but do not let anyone belittle all your efforts to be a better person. Every struggle is a journey which represents a piece of what you are today. If you cannot love and accept each part of you, how then can you love and accept your wholeness? Love the hardships that you invested in everything you have achieved, regardless of how small or big others may think it to be. Love the difficulties you experienced to develop your skills and abilities no matter how simple or complex. They don’t know what you have set to accomplish. You know better.

3.Love your scars. They represent your victories. Not necessarily flaws. Because every wound is a medal you’ve earned for a battle that was supposed to strike you down but you are still standing. No matter how ugly they are, be thankful – not everyone will experience the growth that your pain has brought you.

4. Love your enemies. They remind you that you are just human and you are alive. Some of them remind you of things you shouldn’t have done and so don’t do it anymore. Some of them remind you of things you have done whether others like it or not. In short, enemies remind you of good and bad decisions. But the best part is you own these decisions and the life that was given to you. Be happy you have made many decisions in your life. Your enemies will continously pull you down. Let them. Concentrate on your own journey of lifting others.

5. Love where you are. A point in time, a place, a status, whatever and whoever you are – you are still here in the present. This present is the tomorrow that people who are no longer here dreamt of yesterday. This present is important. Be present in every minute of your life. Love others by loving yourself first.

Valentines Day is also about loving yourself. 💖♥️❤️Happy Valentines Day Friends!


A Glimpse of the Mayan Civilization

An experience of a lifetime. Sharing the ICT Council Model and best practices in the Philippines to bring jobs to the countryside and seeing some of the world’s oldest seat of civilization.

In November 2017, I had the privilege of being invited to speak at the 1st Annual Convention of the Contact Center and BPO Industry in Guatemala City. In their invitation, organizer BPO Guatemala emphasized the creation of intermediate cities as a priority for Guatemala since 2016, with both government and private sector working together to create a new competitiveness agenda of the country. I was given the opportunity to share my initiatives to grow the ICT-BPO industry of Bacolod since 2004 and generate over 30,000 direct jobs.

Related Stories: Bacolod ICT to star at Guatemala convention / Un paso más hacia promover la competitividad, el empleo y el desarrollo de Guatemala / Convención Contact Center y BPO: Urge invertir en educación / “La calidad de vida también debe ir a las periferias” Jocelle Batapa, Ex presidenta del focus team

This visit to Guatemala also blessed me with the opportunity to visit the world-acclaimed sites of ancient civilization showing advanced systems buried under a thick rainforest. I was fortunate to see major portions of the only about 20 percent ruins excavated. UNESCO says Tikal National Park is located in Northern Guatemala’s PetĂ©n Province within a large forest region often referred to as the Maya Forest, which extends into neighbouring Mexico and Belize.

Embedded within the much larger Maya Biosphere Reserve, exceeding two million hectares and contiguous with additional conservation areas, Tikal National Park is one of the few World Heritage properties inscribed according to both natural and cultural criteria for its extraordinary biodiversity and archaeological importance. It comprises 57,600 hectares of wetlands, savannah, tropical broadleaf and palm forests with thousands of architectural and artistic remains of the Mayan civilization from the Preclassic Period (600 B.C.) to the decline and eventual collapse of the urban centre around 900 AD. The diverse ecosystems and habitats harbour a wide spectrum of neotropical fauna and flora. Five cats, including Jaguar and Puma, several species of monkeys and anteaters and more than 300 species of birds are among the notable wildlife. The forests comprise more than 200 tree species and over 2000 higher plants have been recorded across the diverse habitats. #TimeTravel #AncientMayanCivilization

Here is a feature on The Lost Cities of Maya.

Tikal National Park is located in Northern Guatemala’s PetĂ©n Province within a large forest region often referred to as the Maya Forest, which extends into neighbouring Mexico and Belize. Embedded within the much larger Maya Biosphere Reserve, exceeding two million hectares and contiguous with additional conservation areas, Tikal National Park is one of the few World Heritage properties inscribed according to both natural and cultural criteria for its extraordinary biodiversity and archaeological importance. It comprises 57,600 hectares of wetlands, savannah, tropical broadleaf and palm forests with thousands of architectural and artistic remains of the Mayan civilization from the Preclassic Period (600 B.C.) to the decline and eventual collapse of the urban centre around 900 AD. More information about Tikal National Park here

Miniature of the whole area considered as part of the lost Mayan Civilization

A special chartered plane flight brought us to Mt. Tikal in Peten, the oldest discovered Mayan Civilization about 600 BC. One year after our visit or in November 2018 – Fuego, one of the most active volcanoes in Guatemala erupted. Read: Thousands flee as Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupts

TECHBLADE: Philippines Shares ICT Council Model to Guatemalan Cities


More Serious Global Risks Perceived After Pandemic

Full Text of the Global Risks Report 2021

The immediate human and economic cost of COVID-19 is severe, but this is just the beginning of more serious global risks as stated in the recently released 16th edition of Global Risks Report (GRR) by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

In the WEF statement October last year, COVID-19 was expected to add as many as 150 million individuals to extreme poverty by 2021. The global recession caused by the pandemic is foreseen to bring to waste long “years of progress on reducing poverty and inequality and to further weaken social cohesion and global cooperation. Job losses, a widening digital divide, disrupted social interactions, and abrupt shifts in markets could lead to dire consequences and lost opportunities for large parts of the global population.

In the Global Risks Report 2021, WEF shares the results of the latest Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS), followed by analysis of growing social, economic and industrial divisions, their interconnections, and their implications on our ability to resolve major global risks requiring societal cohesion and global cooperation. The GRR also contains proposals for enhancing resilience, drawing from the lessons of the pandemic as well as historical risk analysis.

Thousands of respondents were asked about what they perceive as global risks, classified as short term (0-2 years), medium term (3 to 5 years) and long term (5 to 10 years) across economic, environment, geopolitical, societal and technological horizons. The succeeding discussion are direct excerpts from the GRR.

The risks of the next ten years are extreme weather, climate action failure and human-led environmental damage; as well as digital power concentration, digital inequality and cybersecurity failure. Among the highest impact risks of the next decade, infectious diseases are in the top spot, followed by climate action failure and other environmental risks; as well as weapons of mass destruction, livelihood crises, debt crises and information technology (IT) infrastructure breakdown.

Short term of current critical or imminent threat to the world, or those that are most likely in the next two years include widespread employment and livelihood crises, youth disillusionment, digital inequality, economic stagnation, human-made environmental damage, erosion of societal cohesion, and terrorist attacks.

Economic risks falling under the medium term are asset bubbles, price instability, commodity shocks and debt crises; followed by geopolitical risks, including interstate relations and conflict, and resource geo-politization.

In the long-term horizon, the perceived environmental risks include biodiversity loss, natural resource crises and climate action failure, emergence of weapons of mass destruction, adverse effects of technology and collapse of states or multilateral institutions.

The GPR states that global economy will continue to be fragile and societal divisions are set to increase, as underlying disparities in healthcare, education, financial stability, and technology led the crisis to disproportionately impact certain groups and countries. Not only has COVID-19 caused more than two million deaths, but the economic and long-term health impacts will continue to have devastating consequences. Because of the pandemic, working hours equivalent to 495 million jobs were lost in the second quarter of 2020 alone and increasing. Loss of lives and livelihoods will increase the risk of “social cohesion erosion”.

Countries are urged to deploy nationally focused agendas to stem economic losses, technological transformation and changes in societal structure, including consumer behaviors, the nature of work and the role of technology both at work and at home. With governments still deliberating how to pivot away from emergency to recovery, and with companies anticipating a changed business landscape, there are opportunities to invest in smart, clean and inclusive growth that will improve productivity and delivery of sustainable agendas.

The GRR calls for global preparedness by looking at four key areas of the response to COVID-19: institutional authority, risk financing, information collection and sharing, and equipment and vaccines. It also calls for national level responses depending on varied starting points for individual countries, and finally it draws lessons from five domains: government decision-making, public communication, health system capabilities, lockdown management and financial assistance to the vulnerable.

However, WEF warns that if lessons from this pandemic only drive decision-makers to better prepare for the next pandemic instead of enhancing risk processes, capabilities and culture, the world will be again planning for the last crisis rather than anticipating the next. The response to COVID-19 offers four governance opportunities to strengthen the overall resilience of countries, businesses and the international community: first, formulating analytical frameworks that take a holistic and systems-based view of risk impacts; second, investing in high-profile “risk champions” to encourage national leadership and international co-operation; third, improving risk communications and combating misinformation; and fourth, exploring new forms of public-private partnership on risk preparedness.

Good Citizens Deserve Good Government

Published in Disruptive Mode on Sunstar on February 4, 2020.

We deserve the kind of government we have, says a wide adage. Hence, a citizenry that allows corruption to thrive deserves the poor service and substandard programs it receives from its government. Last week, I shared the salient features of RA 11032, a new law which promotes ease of doing business and efficient government. I shall continue sharing more salient features of the so-called ease of doing business (EODB) law, which calls for the streamlining and improving the current systems and procedure of government services and aims to reduce processing time, cut bureaucratic red tape and eliminate corrupt practices.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) aggressively undertakes a nation-wide campaign to promote the law anchored on its main benefit – faster and easier application for government-issues permits, licenses and certificates. Customers, clients or citizens are encouraged to provide feedback for service improvement should they be not satisfied with the service provided.

The law mandates the reengineering of systems and procedures starting with by undertaking cost compliance analysis, time and motion studies, and evaluation and improvement of transaction systems and procedures. All government offices must also undergo regulatory impact assessment of proposed regulations to establish if the proposed regulation does not add undue regulatory burden and cost to agencies and applicants or requesting parties; and initiate review of existing policies and operations and commence with the reengineering of systems and procedures.

All LGUs are required to streamline procedures for the issuance of local business licenses, clearances, permits, certifications or authorizations through the use of unified business application form, establishment of business one stop shop (BOSS). Cities and municipalities are mandated to automate their business permitting and licensing system or set up an e-BOSS within by 2021 or within 3 years from the passage of the law.

Barangay clearances and permits related to doing business shall be applied, issued, and collected at the city or municipality or co-located within the LGUs. The city or municipal business process and licensing office shall not require the same documents already provided by an applicant or requesting party to the local government. Business permits shall be valid for a period of 1 year. The city or municipality may have the option to renew business permits within the first month of the year or on the anniversary date of the issuance of the business permit.

Under RA 11032 and which should be defined in the local government unit’s citizen’s charter, the maximum prescribe time for simple transaction is 3 working days. For complex transactions, the maximum period is 7 working days and highly technical transaction, 20 working days. The period may be extended only once for the same number of days. For transactions which requires Sanggunian approval, the maximum is 45 working days. The period can be extended for another 20 working days.

The mandated maximum deadline for issuance of Fire safety Evaluation Clearance (FSEC) and for Fire Safety Inspection Certificate (FSIC) is 7 working days,          while for a Certificate of Fire Incident (CFI), 20 working days and may be extended once. The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) must also be co-located at the BOSS of the city or municipality, where said office shall enter into agreement and develop an online or electronic mechanism for such applications. The BFP shall not sell, offer or recommend specific brands of fire extinguishers and other fire safety equipment to any applicant or requesting party or business entity, otherwise the guilty officer will be liable by imprisonment of one to six (6) years and a penalty of not less than five hundred thousand pesos to two million pesos.

Punishable acts under RA 11032 include acceptance of application or request with complete requirements being submitted by an applicant or requesting party without due cause; imposition of additional requirements other than those listed in the Citizen’s Charter; and imposition of additional costs not reflected in the Citizen’s Charter. The law also penalizes the failure to give the applicant or requesting party a written notice on the disapproval of an application or request; failure to render government services within the prescribed processing time on any application or request without due cause; failure to attend applicants or requesting parties who are within premises of the office or agency concerned prior to the end of official working hours and during lunch break; failure or refusal to issue official receipt; and fixing and/or collusion with fixers in consideration or economic and/or other gain or advantage.

Penalties and liabilities range from 6 months without pay as administrative liability for first offence and disqualification from the public office and forfeiture of retirement benefits for second offense, including imprisonment of one to six (6) years and a penalty of not less than five hundred thousand pesos to two million pesos. Criminal Liability shall also be incurred through the commission of bribery, extortion, or when the violation was done deliberately and maliciously to solicit favor in cash or in kind.

ICT Officer for Every LGU

To further boost local government’s capability for digital transformation in the so-called “new normal” and to complement the digitalization of government processes down to the local level, Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara is pushing for the institutionalization of an information and communications technology (ICT) office and officer with department head level.

Angara recently introduced Senate Bill No. 1943 which seeks to amending for the Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 in order to  strengthen the digital transformation capacity of all local government units.

Angara believes the policy will greatly help LGUs to better address the fundamental challenges associated with the new normal, ICT development and digitalization by the mandatory appointment of an information and communications technology officer (ICTO) who will act as the over-all officer in charge for ICT concerns of the municipality, city or province, including the development, adoption, deployment, improvement and maintenance of ICT technologies, platforms, systems and solutions utilized by the said LGU for the effective, efficient, responsive, timely and transparent delivery of basic services and performance of public duties.

The ICTO shall also be responsible in formulating measures that would ensure the digitization of public documents and digitalization of government process. In addition, the ICTO shall guide the LGU concerned in its digital transformation efforts, expedite change and minimize complications.

The information and communications technology officer (ICTO) shall formulate measures for the consideration of the Sanggunian and provide technical assistance and support to the local chief executive, in carrying out measures to ensure the digitization of public documents digitalization of government process and over all digital transformation of government. He or she shall develop plans and strategies and upon approval thereof by the local chief executive implement the same, particularly those which have to do with developing, harnessing, integrating and utilizing information and communications technology for the digital transformation of government and relevant purposes.

The ICTO shall take custody of and be accountable for all properties, real or personal, owned by the local government unit and those granted to it in the form of donation, reparation, assistance and counterpart of joint projects.

With  the  approval  of  the  local  chief executive, the ICTO shall assign resources to local officials or  other  public  officials,  who  by  law,  are entitled to such spaces, recommend to the local chief executive the reasonable purchase, lease or rental rates of digital equipment for the implementation of digital transformation and develop,  maintain  and  supervise  all other information and communications technology programs and services of the local government.

He or she shall also collate and disseminate information regarding information and communications technology programs and services of the local government to the public, perform database and record management with respect to records of offices and departments of the local government unit, perform all other functions pertaining to ICT programs and services of the local government and enforce policies in relation thereto.

The ICTO shall be in the frontline of ICT programs and services of the local government in partnership with private sector to develop, implement, and evaluate all programs aimed at ensuring that all personnel under his or her supervision including himself or herself are constantly trained or exposed to knowledge in ICT and other relevant areas. He or she shall recommend to the sanggunian and advise the local chief executive, on all other matters relative to ICT and perform such other tasks as maybe be assigned by the local government unit.

As the service delivery units of the national government, our LGUs need to be supported by sustainable mechanisms to ensure continuous and sustainable use of ICTs in their level. This can only be achieved with a specific officer mandated to focus on empowering and assisting all local departments within the LGU in utilizing and harnessing ICTs.

Angara, who is also the author of the pending Digital Transformation Bill of the Philippines, underscores that the need for sustainability and comprehensive planning and support in ensuing the national goal of digital transformation across the country.

The ICTO shall be a resident of the LGU, must have good moral character and a holder of a college degree in ICT, computer engineering, computer science, information management system, data analytics, data science, electronics and communications engineer or any course directly relevant to the said courses from a recognized college of university. The ICTO must be first grade civil service eligible and must have five years of experience in the field of ICT and relevant fields.   

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