Taiwan grant aims to bridge tech gap in Philippines

Von Lawrence Casiraya

A P4 million (US$71,460) grant from Taiwan has funded two computer laboratories meant to bridge the digital divide in the Philippines, including one at the newly rehabilitated Smokey Mountain dump site.

The APEC Digital Opportunity Center (ADOC), a nonprofit organization funded by the Taiwan government, gave the grant to the Commission on Information and Communication Technology (CICT).

CICT used the grant to establish two computer labs. One is located at the National Computer Center in UP Diliman in Quezon City and houses 20 PCs including servers. The lab is being used to train both government and private sector personnel. It was recently used by ATRIEV (Adaptive Technology for the Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually-Impaired), a nongovernmental organization that conducts computer training for visually impaired people.

Meanwhile, the grant was also used to fund a community e-center with 24 desktop PCs at Smokey Mountain in Tondo, Manila. The center is managed by the Sandiwaan Center for Learning and was founded by Fr. Benigno P. Beltran.

This computer lab will be used to educate Smokey Mountain residents on the effective use of ICT towards self-sufficiency. It will also be used to educate out-of-school youth on basic computer literacy.

"The lab will be used for e-trading. Sandiwaan will use it for the procurement of various commodities for Smokey Mountain constituents," Raul Nilo, the NCC director managing the ADOC program in the Philippines, said in an interview.

Initiated last year, ADOC is working with six APEC countries: Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. One of its objectives is to generate international e-commerce, trade, and investment in the APEC region by harnessing the full potential of ICT.

"Our goal is to bring these computer labs as close to the citizens as possible. We give priority to people with little technical background," Nilo said.