VISAYAS REGIONS LEVERAGE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION AS THE PHILIPPINES’ GROWTH CENTERS

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 9TH VISAYAS ICT VIRTUAL CONFERENCE

Digital leaders in the Visayas came together last month from all three regions, Western Visayas (Region VI), Central Visayas (Region VII) and Eastern Visayas (Region VIII), to reinforce collaboration and commitment to generate thousands more of jobs and opportunities enabled by information and communications technology (ICT).

In the ninth annual instalment of the Visayas ICT Cluster (VICTOR) Conference, which was conducted online from August 25 and 26, major cities showcased their best practices to inspire other locations to leverage of ICTs in delivering public services, generating jobs, and developing the local economy.

With the cities of Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod and Dumaguete already serving as host locations to major ICT locators, and the cities of Tacloban, Roxas and Tagbilaran now named as Digital Cities, more towns and cities in the Visayas gear to become next locations.

For 2021, VICTOR, which is a platform to promote the potential of the Visayan Islands as location for ICT investments, embraced the theme: “Leveraging the Visayas for Philippine Digital Transformation”. This year’s host was the ICT Association of Dumaguete and Negros Oriental in partnership with the Department of Information Communication and Technology (DICT).

Since 2012, VICTOR under the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) have harnessed the unity of the ICT leaders in the three Visayan regions to support and sustain the growth of the ICT industry by creating a working synergy for all ICT Councils representing different cities and provinces. NICP works through its member ICT councils, which is generally composed of government, academe and industry to develop, implement and sustain strategies to create more jobs and drive innovation in the countryside.

Both Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo and Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo acknowledged the importance of the ICT industry in creating jobs for their locals as well as for many parts of the country. The two local chief executives committed to support the initiatives of their local ICT champions.

DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II and Undersecretary Emmanuel Rey Caintic both highlighted his agency’s programs that supports countryside initiatives such as the on-going improvement of connectivity in the Visayas, development and promotion of “digital cities”, support programs for skilling, upskilling and re-skilling, and the development of strong startup ecosystems.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara shared his commitment to promote policies in support of digital transformation, especially in the area of generating more employment during this time of pandemic and even beyond.

Lawyer, former NICP president and digital countryside champion Jocelle Batapa-Sigue who served as lead moderator for the two-day event, sees the unity among Visayas ICT councils as a good signal for Visayas’ regional economy to stay strong despite the pandemic.

During the showcase of best practices, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Region VI Director Rowen Gelonga shared about the Innovate Iloilo program, while Tagbilaran City Tourism Office May Hope Arcenal talked about Digital Tourism practices in her city.

Judilyn Cañete, president of Medstar Philippines based in the United States and Bacolod City discussed the opportunities in healthcare information management (HIM), while Tacloban Management Information Head Randy Calahi presented the city’s COVID-19 SCAN (Surveillance, Contact Tracing, Analysis and Networking System).

A special panel on how to build a strong startup ecosystem in the countryside was composed of DICT Director Emmy Lou Versoza-Delfin of the ICT Industry Development Bureau (IIDB), Co-founder of Getaprofessor Reuben Los Baños, Founder of Paytaca Dr. Joemar Tagana, and Technology Business Incubator Manager of Silliman University Professor Janice Antoniette Forster.

Government agencies also shared relevant laws to improve the Visayas Digital Industry such as Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Director General Jeremiah Belgica, who discussed the Ease of Doing Business; Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Charito Plaza and Board of Investments Executive Director Maria Corazon Halili-Dichosa who both shared the salient point of Republic Act No. 11534 or the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) and their respective offices’ mandate and programs.

StarPay’s Product Management Head Ryan Uy discussed about eCommerce and FinTech; Microsoft Public Sector Director Joanna Rodriguez talked about Digital Learning and Eastern Communications Head of Visayas Regional Operations Rafael Castellano talked about connectivity in the New Normal.

The afternoon of the second day was devoted to the fifth Visayas Creative Congress (CreaCon) featuring Opportunities for Design and Creatives in the Visayas and a showcase of Visayan digital creative talents.

Featured national speakers were Game Developers Association of the Philippines (GDAP) Chairman Alvin Juban; Animation Council of the Philippines (ACPI) Executive Director Daniel Enriquez; and Creative Content Creators Association of the Philippines (SIKAP) President Magoo del Mundo. Joining them is Creative Entertainment Champion Lawrence Panganiban of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI).

The Visayas talents featured include Xteve Abanto, a Marvel Cover Artist from Dumaguete City; Maej Anfone, founder of Art6200 in Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental; Winston Cangsuco, Graphic Designer and Illustrator from Cebu City; Philmore “Emot” Amodia, founder of Emottoons Studio in Lapu-Lapu City; Debbie Tudtud and Carlyn Ceniza, Stop Motion Animators from FizzBuzz in Cebu City; and Kris Villarino, a filmmaker, content creator, and rap artist based in Cebu City.

LDR Events served as event organizer for VICTOR. For more details, visit https://www.facebook.com/VICTORNICP

Published by Jocelle Batapa Sigue

ATTY. JOCELLE BATAPA-SIGUE • Named as one of The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service of the Philippines or TOWNS for 2016 in the field of Information and Communications Technology or ICT • Positions: Past Vice President (2018) and Past President (2010-2012) and Past Trustee (2013-2017) of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines or NICP • Founder, Former President and Current Executive Director of the Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for ICT or BNEFIT • Served for 3 terms as councilor of Bacolod City • Chosen as one of Asia Society Top Ten Philippines 21 Young Leaders in 2009 • Chosen as the Eisenhower Fellow of the Philippines in 2012 • Awarded as Philippine Individual Contributor of the Year during the International ICT Awards given by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines

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