community media

demonstrates how media which is created for and by the community serve as an effective venue to express community issues and concerns, promote participation, and encourage cultural diversity.

The Infotech Revolution


WHILE Cebu has exerted much effort to keep with the media development with Metro Manila, and even with the great United States, in one area it has continuously failed. This is in the area of film. The province’s film enthusiasts had tried twice to initiate the growth of a film industry, perhaps not as good as the entertainment sector at the National Capital, but at least with enough vigor to invite investors to put in some aggressive challenge to Metro Manila. Unfortunately, this effort did not produce any worthwhile results. And so, to this day, Cebu has not had a single film produced in the past decade and a half.

Thus, in a sense, it would be safe to say that this city does not have any sort of hands-on knowledge or idea of what new technology has recently been introduced in the area of film. Of course, there are a few film enthusiasts who are doing documentaries, but not quite numerous enough to merit being called an industry. In the past, Cebuhad produced a number of Cebuano language films that were marketed in the Cebuano-speaking provinces of the Visayas and Mindanao. Popular among these films was the one called Ang Mutya sa Saging Tindok which was produced and directed by the late Natalio Bacalso, a writer in the venacular, as well as one of the local postwar political leaders.

But Cebu has kept in step with the other wonders of the information revolution. In addition to its half a dozen or so TV stations, and a cable television, internet cafes have sprouted in various parts of the city, as well as in some of the 47 municipalities. The computer with its wondrous information services capability, and the cell phone with its ever increasing the number of attractive features with its new model, does present varied information and communication services that has Cebuanos, like the rest of the people in the country, gone gaga over it. It has become a sort of status symbol of the masses.

It is difficult to say for sure how many cell phones are loose in this island province, more so in Cebu City where even a jeepney conductor, clinging on to the vehicle, calling for passengers to ride, sports a cell phone hooked to his belt. Or where young girls riding in jeepneys or buses just invariably dig into their purses to fish out a cell phone to make a call while the vehicle is moving. Communications technology has indeed revolutionized the information profile onf the countryside where mountain folks can now be reached at the touch of a cell , and receive instructions on the movement of fresh vegetables.

Today, the focus of local media interests is the development of Cebu as center for the Information and Communication Technology in the southern part of the country. During a recent Sun Star Daily sponsored Economic Forum 2005, the thrust of the panel speakers on ICT is to develop Cebu not only provider of human resource for call centers, but also for IT undertakings. One speaker envisioned Cebu as “market and investment destination” which should then need quality communications facilities.

Call centers are also sprouting in Cebu. What seems to be slowing down its growth is the absence of human resource that could man and the centers and boost its expansion. One panelists pointed out that it is rather unfortunate that only three to five applicants could actually be recruited and made to work in the centers out of every 100 resumes submitted for assessment. He pointed out the need for schools to include in their curricula training of young people to supply the needed human resource of Cebu’s developing industries.

Two months ago, during the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Cebu ICT Forum 2005, speakers pointed out that Cebu is in a strategic location to be an ICT center.

“Cebu has what it takes to be a major hub for Asia. Our ICT infrastructure is world class in every way: quality, cost, and availability,” according to Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia who pointed out the reinvestment in Cebu of companies which have located in the Mactan Economic Zones 1 and 2. She vowed to support the ICT sector to enable it to meet anticipated demands of the industry, such as quality human resources. She said that she is now “encouraging vocational and university students to take up IT-related courses…”

Cebu, in a way, has become an active participant in the so-called 5-year development plan of the software industry. During the same celebration of the CCCI’s Cebu Business Month 2005 last June, the First International Conference and Exhibition on Business and ICT was also held. The software industry leaders in Cebu set as their goals over the next few years, five priority areas: 1) to increase the demand for software products and services; 2) develop skilled software professionals; 3) increase software exports; and 5) improve intellectual property compliance and build infrastructure and industry growth.

In a way, Cebu is prepared to pave the way to improve what the Commission on Information and Communications Technology sadly pointed out that at the moment only five percent of the Filipinos are able to use the internet. While it did not state any reason why, it is possible to hazard two factors. These are accessibility of facilities to do so, especially in the countryside, and economic capability, owing to the fact that many of our youth are even now unable to attend school because of the utter lack of financial wherewithal. Until such time when these factors are overcome, we may not be able to claim a successful penetration of ICT in the province.