Category Archives: Travels

Learning From India’s Innovation

Resource speakers at the Confluence 2017 – 7th International Conference themed on “Cloud Computing, Data Science & Engineering” on January 12 to 13, 2017

My first visit to Incredible has been a journey filled with wonders. In 2017, I had the opportunity to be invited to speak at an international event hosted by a prestigious university in collaboration with major technology corporations. The Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Amity School of Engineering and Technology (ASET), Amity University organized Confluence 2017 – 7th  International Conference themed on “Cloud Computing, Data Science & Engineering”  on January 12 and 13, 2017 in association with EMC Corporation, University of Florida, Cloud Labs, University of Melbourne, Australia, and Western Sydney University, Australia, The conference looked at the industry trends with focus on collaboration and social media as the emerging themes. The conference featured some of the best talent of the industry and academic circles who presented thought provoking sessions.

I had the privilege to meet some of the most distinguished academic speakers from various parts of the world and was truly amazed and impressed by the degree of knowledge and engagement that the Amity University community have shown.

In particular, the extent of global and technical knoweldge of Amity students even at a young age is noteworthy. In my conversations with many students, they appear as heavily exposed to the global corporate world, very aggressive, articulate in their vision when they graduate. For the last 5 days, it was the student volunteers who attended to all the international guests – taking care of all our schedules, our needs. Impressive. They are never shy to assist the guests, or even discuss their plans of getting scholarships and internship in other countries.

My assigned student volunteer, a senior computer engineering student, emailed me his resume on the last day and asked if there are available opportunities or projects that may be available in the Philippines. The rest of the guests I am sure will go home working out internships and opportunities for the students. For a college student, our volunteers were very outspoken and passionate about their course and how they would want to be part of global corporations. The freshman volunteer who picked me from the airport gave a really good glimpse of Indian history. He was only around 17. The student volunteer who sent us off yesterday said he has been to the US and has many relatives there and said his contemporaries in the US do not know even know some concepts in computer engineering, data science and analytics that he knows.

I am inspired by the outlook of these young people. Their teachers give them academic credits for being exposed to conferences and international opportunities. To learn soft skills. All of the volunteers when asked what they get from assisting us day and night – said “the privilege and the knowledge we learn from conversing with you, Sir/Mam.”

In the Philippines – we have a tendency to focus on text book or hard skills. All content. No soft skills. In the Philippines, at times, students will even be scolded for spending time in conferences. And I would often hear students say “kapoy, talaka” when asked to attend to the needs of speakers. In Amity, the volunteers, try to compete with one another in getting the attention of the speakers for a chance to converse with them. Our host director of Science of Engineering told me on the last day — “Madame, if you have projects you want our volunteers to do for you when you go back to the Philippines just email me and I will arrange academic credits for their time spent.” Incredible! I hope this sharing – change the mindset of our schools.

Amity University, a research and innovation driven Foundation University in India, is leading education group having grade “A” Accreditation by the National Accreditation body of government of India. As of today, Amity education group of India has over 1,500,000 students studying across 1000 acres of hi-tech campus and 250 educational programs. Amity Education Group has 17 International & Global K-12 Pre-Schools across India. In order to be a truly Global University, Amity University has set up over 12 International campuses located in USA,UK, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Mauritius, Romania, South Africa, Hong Kong, Mainland China and many more to come. Around 607 patents are filed by the faculty and about 300 government funded research projects are being worked upon. The library of Amity University in Noida India, books and computers, cubicles, discussion rooms, offline and online materials. Inspiring.

The organizers highlights cloud computing systems as being an emerging area in computing technology, which supports processing of large volume of data as per on-demand service. It shares resources to work rather than having local servers doing the job. The demand for professionals with knowledge of cloud computing is rising exponentially because more and more companies are implementing this technology. The main aim of the summit is to bridge the gap between Industries & Academics and in the past we have not only succeeded but we have created a big family combining all the top companies and Academia. The last summit associated sponsor includes EMC, ICMR, DRDO, INSA and many more with panellist and speakers from EMC, Microsoft, HCL, IIT, NIT, AIIMS, Airtel, Ministry of External Affairs, IOCL, NHAI, NIC, Nokia Siemens, Sun Microsystems, Jubilant and many more.

As one of the keynote speakers in one of the session, I received these complementary benefits:

1. Complimentary entry into various educational sessions and networking events as being automatically registered for the two-day conference.
2. Abundant networking opportunities  with speakers from countries all over the globe, who are specialists and industry leaders invited to share their knowledge. 
3. Waiver of registration fees (500 USD) and free accommodation at Amity University Guest House.
5. Local sightseeing including Taj Mahal, Agra which is amongst the Seven Wonders of the World.
6. A volunteer team will be dedicated, in and outside of the main conference room, to support and guide with any logistic requirements.
7. In order to help facilitate networking, the conference organizers have scheduled regular coffee breaks and lunches.
8. Transport with a volunteer was provided to and from the Guest House for arrival and departure

As ide from the opportunities as part of Confluence 2017, I also had the chance to visiting the Innovation Incubator of Amity University in Noida, India. A very successful example of a university offering startup companies support, space, resources and mentorship for them to scale up into successful businesses, carrying national branding. My dream always for the Philippines is to see universities as birthplace of great products and solutions carrying the Filipino brand accross the world. Lord send us leaders who have a different DNA for innovation.

The library of Amity University in Noida India, books and computers, cubicles, discussion rooms, offline and online materials. Inspiring.

Visiting the Amity University Innovation Incubator. I was drooling with envy. I was crying inside and beyond words. I can only wish this for our own Incubator at the CyberCentre or in the Philippines. Dolly, the facility manager gave us a tour. The incubator is hosted by the university with funding from the government and in partnership with a capital venture entity which is a private entity spin-off of the incubator. This is my dream – the rough concept is called SugarValley. I am trying to encourage universities in Bacolod to help this dream like Amity University here who really took on the cudgels to offer their students practical learning. It will take a miracle for many of my concepts to happen. I am practically not in the position to make things happen now. But I do not know why God is constantly exposing me to actual models that I am imagining only in my mind. Maybe I need to pray these ideas happen. But nobody seem to be listening. Sometimes, it is so painful to be looking from the lenses I have without anyone seeing it. And eventually seeing the concepts in other countries.

We also had the opportunity to pay a courtesy call to the Philippine Embassy in India and had the privilege to brief Philippine Ambassador to India Teresita Daza and Commercial Counselor Michael Ignacio about the vision and thrusts of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) to generate jobs and drive innovation in the countryside. From out of the conversation, several major areas for collaboration will be explored among others – the support of the embassy towards academic partnerships, such as faculty and student exchanges and joint researches between PH and Indian universities in the field of IT, Computer Science and Engineering, a potential trade mission of ICT councils to India to attract business or offer the countryside locations as expansion sites. The embassy was very happy to know that unlike other countries were IT jobs are concentrated only in the urban capitals, the Philippines have more than a dozen other tier 2 and tier 3 cities which are considered as strong locations for IT companies. And embassy officials lauded the efforts of ICT councils for all the work that we do to bring these jobs to the countryside.

We also spent a day at the CyberHub at the CyberCity of Gurgaon. Teeming with all the global corporate named headquartered in Delhi.

We also had time to visit Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India at the western end of Rajpath in New Delhi, India.

A trip to New Delhi, India will not be complete without a tour of its historical sites. We found ourselves at the Red Fort, established during Mughal Empire in the 1600s. India already has “malls”, “parks” “meeting halls” – stone buildings of elegant and elaborate designs. 1600s!!!! And they’re well preserved to this day. I wish we can emulate the cultural preservation initiatives of India.

The Red Fort is a historic fort in the city of Delhi (in Old Delhi) in India that served as the main residence of the Mughal Emperors. Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned construction of the Red Fort on 12 May 1638, when he decided to shift his capital from Agra to Delhi. Originally red and white, its painting is credited to architect Ustad Ahmad Lahori, who also constructed the Taj Mahal. It was renovated between May 1639 and April 1648 based on an earlier fort. (Wikipedia)

We went to the Kingdom of Dreams, New Delhi’s newest theme park. Kingdom of Dreams is India’s first live entertainment, theatre and leisure destination. It is located in Sector 29, Gurgaon, Haryana in NCR Delhi, near the Leisure Valley Park. 

We also spend a day at Hauz Khas, New Delhi, India. Hauz Khas is a neighborhood in South Delhi, its heart being the historic Hauz Khas Complex. Well known in medieval times, the Hauz Khas village has amazing buildings built around the reservoir. There are remnants of Islamic architecture roughly colored by splotches of urban culture.

The most memorable time for us was our visit to the famous Taj Majal. The Taj Majal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the southern bank of the river Yamuna in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself. Wikipedia

With my husband, lawyer Arnel Sigue in front of the Taj Majal.

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 Petén 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 Petén 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

Related Story: SIGUE SHARES ICT COUNCIL MODEL TO GUATEMALAN CITIES

Graffiti Art at Wynwood Walls

As Henry Matisse puts it – “creativity takes courage”. Only visionary leaders can see the direct correlation between art and economic development. Art has a powerful way of bringing community together by allowing open spaces to become spawning grounds for creativity and productivity.

I will not forget what I saw in Miami in November of 2015 – how a cluster of long abandoned buildings shaped the culture of a community and transformed it into a thriving arts district. This article, How the Wynwood Walls Have Shaped Miami’s Art Scene, describes how real-estate developer and arts patron Tony Goldman first started acquiring New York real estate in SoHo in 1968, graffiti was something that property owners wanted to remove from a building—not add to it. However, the developer’s thoughts on street art changed in 1984 when he acquired a property at Bowery and Houston, where then-rising star Keith Haring had famously painted a massive mural two years earlier. Rather than tear it down, he left it up for a few years, and restored it to its former glory in 2008 with dealer and street art fan Jeffrey Deitch, which would set the precedent for Goldman’s next big transformation: Miami’s Wynwood Walls.

My visit to Wynwood Walls was part of the Global Women’s Forum dubbed as Making Strides: Advancing Women’s Leadership organized by Eisenhower Fellowships with other organizations on November 17 to 19, 2015 in Miami, Florida. On the last day, there were several exposure trips arranged for the delegates and I chose Art, Economic Development & the Wynwood Walls with Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO Goldman Properties and Jane Golden, Executive Director, City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (EF, USA).

For over forty years, Goldman Properties has been recognizing the value in depressed, undervalued urban areas, reconstructing and transforming declining historic districts into popular, thriving global destinations. The company has been recognized as the driving force behind the transformations of the Upper West Side, the Wall Street Financial District and Soho in New York City, Center City in Philadelphia, South Beach in Miami, and most recently the transformation of the warehouse/arts district in Miami’s Wynwood.

Goldman Properties’ portfolio of assets has received worldwide press and been the recipient of multiple awards including, the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Awards, Developer of the Year from American Institute of Architects, the Louise DuPont Crown in Shield Award, the highest honor awarded from the National Trust for historic preservation, Urban Land Institute (ULI)’s  Lifetime Achievement award and most recently being named as a finalist for ULI’s Global Excellence Awards for Wynwood Walls.

Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO Goldman Properties shares about Wynwood Walls

Here are some of the breathtaking artworks I was able to capture with my lenses.

There were also shops, food areas, and interactive museums.

Wynwood Walls Food Area

The gardens were also filled with paintings.

The whole neighborhood are lined with street arts and building owners decorated their walls with art, making the whole community an art gallery.

With Diane Shoemaker, Alumni Network Officer of Eisenhower Fellowships

Urban communities today suffer from vandalism that destroy properties and create disorder. I look forward to seeing cities investing in art that will not only bring about more jobs and opportunities for locals but also highlight their creativity and artistry.

Making Strides: A Global Gathering of Women Leaders

I had the wonderful opportunity as an Eisenhower Fellow to be invited in 2015 in a conference that gathered inspiring women leaders from around the globe. I was among the speakers at Making Strides: Global Networks Forum on Women’s Leadership held in Miami, Florida USA on November 17 to 19, 2015.

In her letter, Diane Shoemaker, Senior Director for Global Fellows Network of Eisenhower Fellowships wrote “we believe your knowledge, leadership and example would greatly inspire the participants of this forum who will descend on Miami from around the world.”

At the welcome reception in Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami on November 17, 2015 as Eisenhower Fellow of the Philippines in 2012

During three-day conference, I had the privilege to listen to distinguished women such as Phumzile Mlambo Ngucka, Executive Director of UN Women and UN Under Secretary-General, Governor Christie Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey, Donna Shalala, President of the Clinton Foundation and Isela Costantini, President and CEO of GM Argentina.

Phumzile Mlambo Ngucka, Executive Director of UN Women and UN Under Secretary-General
Governor Christie Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey

The welcome reception was held at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami. Vizcaya is the former villa and estate of businessman James Deering, of the Deering McCormick-International Harvester fortune, on Biscayne Bay in the present day Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, Florida. The early 20th century Vizcaya estate includes extensive Italian Renaissance gardens; native woodland landscape; and a historic village outbuildings compound. The landscape and architecture were influenced by Veneto and Tuscan Italian Renaissance models and designed in the Mediterranean Revival architecture style, with Baroque elements.

This was a historic first gathering of women leaders from the Global Leadership Consortium, a group that included at least 150 alumni from the prestigious Eisenhower, Ashoka, Kellogg, Harvard Loeb and German Marshall Memorial fellowship programs, along with other prominent women in leadership positions worldwide.

With Diane Shoemaker and Mayor Daisy Sayangda, 2015 EF Fellow from the Philippines
With Hamdan Majeed, my fellow 2012 EF Fellow from Malaysia

The Miami forum capped the Eisenhower Fellowships’ Women’s Leadership Program that fall, which brought together 25 ascendant mid-career women leaders from around the world to the United States for seven-week individualized fellowships.

My talk was set on November 18 in a  session on “Human Trafficking: Domestic Violence Prevention and Judicial Policies”.  I shared our advocacies my advocacies as founder of the Anti-Trafficking Legal Advocates Society (ATLAS) and as partner of Visayan Forum Foundation.

Our panel was on Human Trafficking and Restorative Justice Practices and Designs and I was joined by Deanna Van Buren  (Loeb Fellow), Founder, FOURM design studio and Marta Pascual (EF Argentina ’88), Social Policies Coordinator, City of Buenos Aires, Judicial Branch.

Marta is a lawyer and Master Degree in Public Law from the Universidad de Palermo. She is a Juvenile Criminal Judge at Lomas de Zamora, Argentina. She is a full-time professor for Minority and Family Law at Universidad  Nacional de Lomas de Zamora.

Deanna Van Buren is an architect and global thought leader researching, formulating, and advocating for restorative justice centers, a radical transformation of justice architecture. She sits on the national board of Architects, Designers, and Planning for Social Responsibility and is the founding partner of FOURM design studio, a firm creating spaces for peacemaking and restorative justice.

With my fellow speakers Deanna Van Buren and Marta Pascual

Session Time: November 18 from 1:45 – 2:45 p.m

Location:14th floor of the EPIC Hotel 

Presenters: Deanna van Buren, Jocelle Batapa Sigue, Marta Pascual

In this session, a global panel of thought leaders in justice will present innovations in cross discipline and cross sector approaches towards addressing crime from the development of spaces for peacemaking to the inclusion of communities as part of the solution to transforming how we address crime. Case studies and projects will include work underway in setting up restorative justice system to address juvenile crime in Argentina, development of the first center for restorative justice/restorative economics in Oakland California and examples of how community stakeholders are contributing to the prevention of human trafficking in the Philippines.

Before and following the presentations design tools and restorative dialogue will be used to  explore how restorative justice can support the healing and transformation of perpetrators and victims of violence as opposed to our traditional justice system and what is the role of government and community partnerships in developing alternative approaches to addressing crime.

At the forum, I was able to meet many women leaders and engaged in peer mentoring and advanced leadership development dialogues and workshops. The forum provided a unique opportunity for me and for all the participants to share leadership strategies and innovations across their networks, disciplines and borders to solve the numerous, complex issues women face globally.

The forum deeply enriched my journey and perspectives as a woman leader.  It further opened my eyes to the many challenges the world faces through the eyes of women and how women leaders in various fields can make a difference.

With Vania Masías, Director, Angeles D1 (Ashoka Fellow) and performers of the Angeles D1 Youth Leadership Development Through Dance

Iloilo’s Innovation Ecosystem

Three whole days well spent. That’s how I describe my expedition to the City of Love – Iloilo from August 23 to 25. I was invited to join a startup founders event, an ICT council assembly and a regional ICT event. As usual, in chronicling my expedition, I post on FB. And below is a compilation of all my posts with pictures.

August 23, 2018

I really enjoyed the exchanges this afternoon at the Iloilo Startup Founders Circle (ISFC) business consultation forum. Especially the really candid questions coming from the startup founders from corporate contracts to tax and accounting systems to profit-sharing, intellectual property issues, copyrights, patents, inventions, corporate existence and sustainability, marketing, sales and promotion and dealing with government as clients.

ISFC is composed of Tech Startup Companies that are duly registered as a business entity in Iloilo. Its primary goal is to help each company achieved growth through capability development trainings, access to fund, participate in domestic, national or international trade fairs, mentorship and many others.

The Iloilo Federation for Information Technology (IFIT) and the Green Technology Business Incubation invited us as Business Experts for these budding companies in the field of Management, Sales and Marketing, Legal, or Intellectual Property.

Kudos to the City Government of Iloilo, the Global Shapers Community Iloilo, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Information and Communication Technology, the Green Technology Business Incubation and the Iloilo Federation for Information Technology for initiating this great event.

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I learned much from my other co-panelists especially on the aspects of intellectual property such that in the coming months we should also have an IP forum for Bacolod startup companies.

I emphasize my advocacy on really trying to educate and influence local governments in the Philippines to tap into the very rich resources of ideas of startups in their the community and take advantage of these ideas that are grown into businesses to solve pain points and problems of LGUs. I also encouraged the companies to step up and professionalize their ranks so that they can deal with both public and private clients. There is a huge need for solutions today more than ever before because of new laws that impose upon local governments the automation of their systems in order to make them more efficient and citizen friendly. The Ease of Doing Business Law in particular requires local government units to conduct an audit of their existing systems and discard the ones that are already obsolete and only cause delays in dealing with citizens and clients. This is an opportunity for start ups the present their solutions and to also help solve social concerns.

I cited examples of some Asian countries which support startups by encouraging local government units to purchase of their system requirements from startups. I also started the need for LGUs to create ordinances that will ease up requirements for start up companies in order for them to transact business with the government. Needless to say the need for creating a conducive ecosystem for startups in every city is a must if we are to encourage innovation.

The most important thing for me is that these young startup founders are actually creating jobs and opportunities for their fellow young people in their own cities.

August 25, 2018

I hope ICT avocates in the countryside spare a few minutes to read this post. My attention span these days for people who have nothing innovative to say is really short, and I usually avoid long conversations these days. But these guys just made my jaw drop today.

I chanced upon three founders at the Green Technology Business Incubator – WVSU. They have amazing stories which represent the stories of other startup founders in the countryside. I love to listen to them and the values they embody. ARKiTEK is inspiring and impressive, they use IOT, a lot of stuff, barangay system, passenger terminal system, traffic and road load monitoring, air quality monitoring, using IOT technology, sensors, data analytics, a social media “collaborative” platform that’s even way higher than Facebook – and my goodness – they are a father, mother, children tandem. Sherwin the father told me their front-end and back-end developer only Grade 7 and the rest is homeschool. Simply awesome!!!

The second startup is CodeNBrew Inc., founder Ryan Dejando Biñas said his team can develop android and IOS mobile applications but his goal is to make the system affordable, relatively cheap even for MSMEs and his passion is to train as many students of the skills he developed, having worked for years as an IT professional in Singapore. Even as a young startup founder Ryan invests in young programmers to learn new industry skills. Truly inspiring.

The third is Mulave Studios, they are just two months old, a team of creatives, all front-end at the moment. Michael Lamera Labos its founder is so optimistic about stepping up into animation, game design and complex creative services that I really felt inspired to offer to link his team with Holysoft Studios, Audacity Studios and SWAPROSE in Bacolod. I feel so positive about Michael’s humble aura of really wanting to harness the creative potential of his team.

This sharing is like a tenth of what I really learned from these three founders. I needed to reassure them that all over the country, there are startup founders like them, who struggle everyday to scale up. That’s why I really need to lend a voice. God made me a lawyer, so that’s the only way I can help them, but I have accumulated years of insights from big companies down to the smallest barangay, and so in my own little way, I can help them polish their strategies from the lens of law, policy, political, academe and social angles.

Michael, Ryan and Sherwin are part of rhe newly created Iloilo Startup Founders Circle. There are more than ten other founders and I missed them during my vist today, but I am sure their stories are inspiring, too.

The Green TBI is supported by DOST and WVSU, and now by IFIT, the Iloilo LGUs, DTI, DICT and many other stakeholders.

One of Visayas ICT Cluster (VICTOR) major thrusts is to develop technopreneurship. We have a lot of work to do but faith will help us through.

August 24, 2018

Honored to be speaker and inducting officer for IFIT assembly today! Congratulations to the newly elected officers of IFIT 2019-2021. Comebacking president Jessraf Palmares, and the elected board – DOST, UP Visayas, ISAT University, Transcom, Teletech, Startek, IXL, Hinduja Global Solutions, WNS, Iloilo City and Province of Iloilo. Great work ED Joeven Tansi!

August 25, 2018

Sharing some snapshots of my slides on “Empowering Technical Professionals in the Countryside” this morning at WordCamp Iloilo.

VISION: A digital Philippine countryside powered by Filipino talent with Future of Work skills to push the Philippines among the world’s most future-ready nations for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

#WCIloilo2018 #WordCampIloilo2018

Met Isaac from Ghana and Lax from India, both young tech-professionals and founders of their companies at Wordcamp Iloilo and I am inspired by their sincerity to help improve digital skills of Filipino talent. Will certainly be inviting them as mentors for our hackathons.

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Had a great time in Iloilo with my best buddy, Im-Im.  Thanks to IFIT, DICT Visayas Cluster 1, Iloilo Startup Founders Circle, the Green TBI at WVSU and the Iloilo WordPress Community. Until next time.

Lantawan

There are many reasons to take a long drive to Sitio Lantawan, Barangay Guimbalaon, Silay City, Province of Negros Occidental. Aside from an amazing scenery along the way from Bacolod or Talisay, as you anticipate a breath taking view when you reach your destination – you will be rewarded with pure and fresh air, really cool but comfortable weather – away from the usual noise of a bustling urban scene.

There are private properties where you can see the view of Bacolod from the mountains of Silay – and there is also Duyan Cafe, where you can drink native coffee while hanging at the side of a cliff. I will not bore you with details but instead share some of my snapshots cured with Canva. Enjoy.

silay1silay6silay5silay4silay3silay2

 

My Journey as an Eisenhower Fellow

 (Summary of My Eisenhower Fellowship written on July 2, 2012 and Published in Negros Weekly in 2012 Divided into 3 Parts)

 INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY (Part 1)

EF_smWhy am I an Eisenhower Fellow? This was the question that kept me going for the last seven weeks. Not “what is Eisenhower Fellowships?” nor “what I can I get from my Eisenhower Fellowships?”

At the start of my fellowships, my answer to the question was – because I am the chair of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP), a network of thirty-five councils, federations and organizations representing cities and provinces from all regions of the country and because I am known in the advocacy against human trafficking, having authored various local policies and initiated programs to curb human trafficking, and have co-founded the Anti-Trafficking Legal Advocates Society (ATLAS), Inc. with my spouse, Arnel Sigue, who joined me in my 7-week journey to search for the real answer. Now I realized it is not what I have done but what I will continue to do.

As stated in my one page bio, I have planned “to examine how information technology can benefit public accountability, government transparency, education and health, and to improve her knowledge about information technology enabled-services and business process outsourcing (ITES-BPO)”.

After seven weeks, I have a totally different answer to my question – Why am I an Eisenhower Fellow?

Now it seems it is difficult to identify just three key topics or questions that I explored during my fellowship that I have bundled the topics into three titles instead and proceeded to describe my major findings and/or conclusions with respect to each, the learning that made the greatest impression or was most surprising. Separate matrices attached to this report will contain the techniques or approaches employed in the U.S., particularly by the people and organization I have interviewed.

I learned about innovation and creativity, empowerment and understanding, and collaboration and synergy. This is my program report which is divided into three parts beginning with lessons in innovation and creativity.

Creativity and innovation work at the core of US companies involved in information and communications technology, whether as industry associations and policy advocates like the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC), Information Technology Industry Foundation (ITIF), Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) and the e-Health Alliance of Texas, or multi-national companies like IBM Corporation at the Research Triangle Park, Microsoft, Dreamworks or Facebook, or medium-scale companies like Spectraforce, VACO and Narrasoft in North Carolina or incubators like Plug and Play Center in Silicon Valley or the Center for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) in Durham.

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At the Old Tobacco Factory now housing several game development startups and the Center for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) in Durham

These institutions – whether private of public – has manifested the core value of innovation, the search for a more better way to do things and the realization that with the Information Age, no industry or nation can survive without embracing technology and realizing the power of information.

Creating and making available ecosystems where risk is encouraged, where failure is part of growth, and where spaces to grow are provided mark many of these US companies. Dreamworks believe in the potential of each and every employee by providing them more leeway to explore their skills and determine which are they will best excel. Microsoft, IBM, Facebook and Dreamworks have provided a campus-like work environment for thousands of their employees, taking into consideration the availability of green work spaces and less, if non-hierarchical organizational structures.

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At Facebook Headquarters

IBM continuously reigns supreme in big data and systems integration because they have kept on evolving and harnessing innovation for almost a hundred years. Their data centers are the best there is in terms of reliability, energy-efficiency and environmental sustainability. It is inspiring to see many IT companies in the US investing on environmental systems and strategies reduce their carbon footprint.

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With Filipinos from IBM Research Triangle in North Carolina

I have seen innovation and creativity work for organizations, working in the private and public sector to curb human trafficking. My participation in the Global Slave Trade Conference in South Texas College, McAllen, enabled me to see the innovative strategies of other organizations in educating the public about human trafficking – films like “The Dark Side of Chocolate” by Roberto Romano opened my eyes to the realities of child labor in the Ivory Coast attached to the chocolate bar I eat. Cultural events, song, poems and many other artistic strategies are effectively explored by many organizations as a way of making the US (and other countries) aware that human trafficking is not a vague concept, but could be happening  within your neighborhood. I was able to learn about the challenges of Texas as a border state in terms of labor trafficking and the many ways local stakeholders address this problem.

Innovation is an imperative in the health information technology (HIT). The huge amount of data, unsorted and very useful, lie waiting for health IT strategies and as the US approaches the advent of Health IT – it prepares its people for HIT work – a challenge embraced by three major universities in Texas, funded by the US government. In my interviews, University of Texas and Texas State university offer existing and new curriculum programs offered face-to-face in classrooms and online distance settings to radically address the extraordinary demand for health informatics professionals as a result the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 directed toward increasing provider adoption of electronic health records, improving patient care via the comprehensive management of health information, and the secure electronic exchange of information between entities.

The Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE) Project in their primary advocacy of bringing an end to human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children and adults (CSEC/CSE), employ innovative treatment services for survivors such as alternative medicine, yoga, natural healing and light therapy.

Very inspiring and educational for me was the exposure to the innovative programs that help in the growth of start-ups at the Plug and Play Center in Silicon Valley and through the programs of STAC Silicon Valley, as well as the incubated start-ups at the American Tobacco Factory assisted by the Center for Entrepreneurial Development (CED). I am more inspired today to develop and help develop incubation programs and entrepreneurial conferences to link Filipino “technoprenuers” to the global market.

EMPOWERMENT AND UNDERSTANDING (Part 2)

Last week, I started to share my program report as an Eisenhower Fellow of the Philippines for 2012. I was fortunate to be among the 21 fellows from different countries who followed an intense program of 50-60 meetings and conferences with leading experts in their field, speaking engagements and cultural events with leading experts in their field wherever they are located in the US, typically visiting eight to ten US cities. The EF program provides professional enrichment, leadership development and network expansion. Fellows have an opportunity to take time out from their occupations to meet leaders and senior experts in their field, enhance their leadership skills, and become part of a global network of Eisenhower Fellows.

My program report was divided into three parts beginning with lessons in innovation and creativity, followed by empowerment and understanding, and collaboration and synergy.  This week, let me share with you my lessons in empowerment and understanding.

The industry associations like the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC), Information Technology Industry Foundation (ITIF), Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) and e-Health have shown how empowered the private sector, particularly business and industry associations is in terms of shaping the policies of the US, specific states as well as the international arena. The ITIC, more particularly, champions the economic sustainability of the IT industry by maintaining a strong voice for global policy issue like the expansion of the IT Agreement (ITA) and partnering with various countries in all their advocacies.

I am now more convinced than ever that for the Philippines to be a string contender among the Asian countries, it has to establish a strong and sustainable cabinet-level agency – which is the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). A bill creating such department has been approved by Congress along with major bills related to information technology – the data privacy and security law and the anti-cybercrime bill. The industry need to be empowered to push for these policies, which will drive the economy from being government-driven to being citizen centric.

All organizations I interviewed who are advocating against human trafficking believe that the public must understand the issue, not only trafficking for sex and prostitution but for purposes of forged labor, peonage, sale or organs, and other forms of exploitation. SAGE, International Justice Mission, and RATT MERCOSUR and Associated Countries United Against Human Trafficking, among other organizations, are working towards advocating and supporting policies within a countries that recognize human trafficking as a problem and ensures that the basic international standards, such as respecting the rights of the victims and reintegration as well working on prevention and public education are embodied in these policies.

The Eisenhower Fellowships network fosters international cooperation, furthering what Dwight Eisenhower said was the purpose of the program, which is to further in very practical ways mankind’s highest goal: peace with justice.

COLLABORATION AND SYNERGY (Part 3)

Finally, the last part of my program report for my Eisenhower Fellowships is all about collaboration and synergy.

I noted that Dreamworks invest in identifying the right talent, and ensuring collective inputs over every major production.

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With Dreamworks Site Director Gail Curry

SAGE’s approach is collaborative as well as prevention and solution oriented and is about restorative justice that benefits individual communities and the whole of our society. This is true with all the organizations working against human trafficking. SAGE, CSA County San Diego and Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition believe in the importance of collaborating with all the stakeholders to ensure rescue, protection and reintegration of victims.

The Professional University Resources and Education for Health Information Technology (PURE-HIT) consortium project, which is supported by a $5.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is anchored on the collaboration of the Texas

State University-San Marcos in collaboration with The University of Texas at Austin College of Natural Sciences and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Biomedical Informatics.  The key officials I interviewed highlighted the need to collaborate with industry players to ensure a more relevant and industry-based curriculum and training modules. The University of Texas, specifically stressed the fruitful collaboration between their Health IT programs and the e-Health Alliance of Texas, which is an industry organization.

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Joining the Philippine delegation led by Ambassador Jose Cuisia and NCC Private Sector Head Bill Luz during the “Salute to the Philippines” at Memphis, Tennessee

I was fortunate to join the delegation of the Philippine Embassy to the US led by Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia during the Memphis in May Festival which staged “A Salute to the Philippines” for this year. The event highlighted the growth and potential of the Philippines IT-BPO industry. The representatives of the country in San Francisco, New York and Washington DC have exhibited collaborative approaches to their US counterparts and stakeholders in nurturing business ties, as well as in solving and addressing labor and human trafficking issues.

 

When asked to personally share an experience I had or insight I gained during the course of my fellowship that was completely unexpected at the beginning of the experience and whether this has changed your view of your profession, of your country or the United States –  I must say that the whole experience did exactly all of that for me.

Today I see a much bigger world, connected not only by bodies of water and land masses – but by oceans of ideas, and engulfed by the human spirit of wanting a better world, a better community, and better life. I have realized more firmly than ever that the US and the Philippines have their own day-to-day problems, and whether big and small, there is one crucial element that keeps these two countries strong and going – its people, endowed with creativity, striving for innovation, ever engaged and willing to understand one another to share in the benefits of collaboration and synergy. These are the values that keep a country together – more than any other factors.

The fellowship experience has greatly contributed to my development not only as a leader but as a human being. It has made me discover the true force that binds nation together and the relations that bind nations with other nations in the world – its people. It has given me the real answer to my question – why am I an Eisenhower Fellow – and that is because this world needs people to keep it one and whole, making it stronger, and able to weather all the challenges ahead. I am an Eisenhower Fellow because I am one of them.

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With the 2012 Multi-Nation Eisenhower Fellows during our Closing Ceremony in Philadelpia

 

Sigue Shares ICT Council Model to Guatemalan Cities

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Sharing the Philippine Story in Bringing ICT jobs to the countryside at the the BPO Guatemala Summit last November 2017

The steady creation of huge employment enabled by information and communications technology (ICT) in cities outside of Metro Manila has caught international attention recently as Philippine industry leaders where invited to speak in Guatemala.

Co – founder and former president of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines Jocelle Batapa-Sigue was invited as main speaker during the 1st Annual Convention of the Contact Center and BPO Industry in Guatemala City on November 23, 2017 with the theme: “Impulsando la Economía de Guatemala – Ciudades Intermedias, ¿Cómo desarrollarlas?”

Also invited as resource speaker was Jose Mari Mercado, former president of the Information Technology Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) president and current national technology officer of Microsoft Philippines

In their invitation to Batapa-Sigue, organizer BPO Guatemala “the creation of intermediate cities has become a country priority for Guatemala since 2016, with both government and private sector working together to create a new competitiveness agenda of the country. However, despite having a clear understanding on what the benefits and contributions of tier 2 cities are, there is a deep lack of knowledge on how to do it and what steps need to be taken, as to who are the main actors and key players are, and what actions each stakeholder must take”.

During the conference and a special workshop design for intermediate cities on November 24,  Batapa-Sigue shared the ICT Council model of Bacolod and NICP in general. She highlighted the need for academe, government and private sector to generate jobs and investments and drive innovation to the countryside.

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BPO Guatemala highlighted the organizational mission of NICP in “promoting foreign and local investment while pursuing balanced development, as well as transforming the Philippines into a customer-oriented and competitive provider for global services” as having very essential value to them.

BPO Guatemala considered the inputs of Batapa-Sigue as a unique opportunity to benefit and learn from her experience in the evolution of Bacolod City as a “center of excellence” for information technology and business process management operations in 2013, as declared by the Department of Science and Technology, as well as making Bacolod part of the Tholons International Top 100 Cities in the World since 2010.

Mercado highlighted how do the intermediate cities contribute to the development and competitiveness of a country and the role of the industry in helping drive jobs to the Tier 2 cities.

cropped-img_99661.jpgDuring the workshop attended by various cities in Guatemala, Batapa-Sigue outlined the the benefits of all stakeholders doing their share in a spirit of collaboration, pointing out the main actors in the development of intermediate cities.

She commended the Philippine Next Wave Cities program of IBPAP and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) which provided the intermediate cities criteria which are talent, costs, infrastructure and business environment for the cities to work on improving.

Ninoshka Linde, main organizer in her invitation to Batapa-Sigue cited that the creation of intermediate cities has become a country priority for Guatemala since 2016, both government and private initiative, have defined nine development axes, which are being taken into account in the new competitiveness agenda of the country. However, despite having a clear understanding on what the benefits and contributions of Tier-2-Cities are, there is a deep lack of knowledge on how to do it, what steps need to be taken, who the main actors and key players are, and what actions each one must take in order to implement intermediate cities.

BPO GUATEMALA – integrated by 14 multinational companies, many of which have presence in different countries where secondary cities along with the CC & BPO Industry have played an important role in the implementation of a similar strategy has decided to host a forum in which the focus is how to develop tier 2 cities as development axes.

The audience was comprised of government leaders, ambassadors, mayors and councilors, business chambers representatives, decision-makers from the private sector, directors from the call center industry and various key players all of whom can influence the building of a new country.

Linde said Batapa-Sigue’s expertise as founder of NICP in promoting foreign and local investment while pursuing balanced development, as well as transforming the Philippines into a customer-oriented and competitive provider for global services is of essential value to Guatemala stakeholders.