“It’s hard to see something so simple, could possibly be… so capable,” Alex Grey, a Chinese Filipino mestizo said.

Alex could easily be talking about iPad. It was simple, and so capable. Its tablet form factor was a canvas for software.

But we weren’t talking about iPad.

There were four of us sitting by the beach on an island that Grey owned off the coast of Bulalacao, Mindoro. Bulalacao translated in English is “shooting star.”

It was idyllic. There was blue sky stretching in all directions. Coconut tree leaves were serenely swaying while the wave was gently smashing against a white sandy beach.

“The first EDSA was a revolution, Sarah Santos stated. “And we learned so much about it. We learned that we wanted to be free. The second one? We learned that democracy was harder than we first thought it would be.”

“So we wanted to take all that,” Anne continued. “To take everything we learned in the last hundred years, and combine it with technology. We wanted to change the way we do things everyday. We handed this technology, turned it loose for a whole new generation; a whole new class, the next generation.”

Anne was Sarah’s twin. Though it was such a cliche, and definitely it was unnerving that they would finish each other’s sentences like that.

“It didn’t just happen overnight. We didn’t just decide, and boom! Everything fell in place,” Sarah explained. Anne caught her eye, and she continued, “There was definitely a lot of growing pain.”

“So we looked at our country, and said, let’s redesign it all.”

“Reimagine,” Anne stated. “We redesigned every single city, and every single road and railway; every beachfront, every seaport and airport. What we got, were cities, in order of magnitude than our counterparts.”

“Our beaches stood out.” Alex chimed in. “Philippines is the best place to surf or snorkel. It just feels right to squish sand by your toes, and feel how fine it is. It just feels right to step into that surf, and just ride the wave.” He said with such reverie.

Alex paused, stood up, and reach out to Sarah to helped her up. We started walking, as the sun was setting as trees continued to sway in rhythm. Then he continued as we looked out the horizon, “It is the best place for sunrises; a kaleidoscope of colors!”

“With a view that great, that spectacular, you just reach out to your significant other.” And Alex held Sarah’s hand, “It just feels right, you know? To hold your significant other’s hand, strolling by the beach at sunset. You don’t even have to think about it. You just do.” Then Alex kissed her passionately.

Anne, smiled, her hazel eyes were bright. She laughed, and held on to my arm and said, rather loudly, to break the couple’s spell, “The Philippines is a world-class player.” Anne continued to explain. “It is incredibly fun, but very productive. It has the fastest, widest Internet coverage. You can go through huge quantities of email, really quickly. So even by the beach, you can catch up with work, or simply stay in touch with your family back home.”

She should know, I thought to myself. Anne was a manager for a local telecommunications company.

“Business that come into the Philippines will note the high level of infrastructure. We lead the world in deploying wireless technologies to connect the islands of our archipelago. There is Internet everywhere.”

“We build those electronics,” Alex remarked. “We invested in battery technology to keep them running through storms and disasters. We took sensors to a whole new level by embedding it throughout the country, so data is being gathered and processed if a river is about to overflow, or predict traffic conditions. It helps us understand how things are doing in the country, in real time.”

“It took years, and a lot of investment, and more importantly, a lot of commitment, but it is now paying off. The Philippines is the only place in the world where you get this level of communications refinement.”

Sarah added, “The face of the Philippines is pretty much defined by stellar smiles. And that’s it. There’s no right or wrong way to smile. A smile is the universal greeting. We speak English, Spanish, Mandarin as much as Filipino. So when you’re in the Philippines, you don’t have to change yourself to fit the country. It fits you.”

Alex expounded, “So when you touch down at any port in the Country. In any airport, for example that’s just the beginning; it starts with perfection. We took the hospitality and people skills that Filipinos are known for, and combined it with the best technology we could afford, and just started to give guests the best airport experience they will ever get. The roads and railways to and from those ports and made it easy. We wanted the Philippines to be as accessible to everyone, everywhere, right from the start. So we designed it that way. In many ways, this defines our vision, our sense of what’s next and what should be right.”

“Twenty-five years ago, the Philippines was Asia sick man, now look at this country,” I said. “I still find it mystifying how everything can be laid-back and still be progressive. Now, it is a canvas of infinite possibilities.”

“You know it’s true,” Sarah started. Then she paused, considering deeply what she wanted to say. She looked at me straight in the eye and said, “When something exceeds your ability to understand how it works, it sort of becomes magical. And that’s exactly what the Philippines is.”

Anne nodded, her eyes, hauntingly brilliant, smiled, and enchantingly repeated, “Magical.”

Author’s note: my apologies to Apple for borrowing some of their lines.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • When a technorat makes a simplistic quantitative comparison between the Philippines and Bangladesh He will always fail to make a qualitative distinction.

    The population density in the Philippines spread over the lowlands, semi highlands and highlands.

    http://www.nscb.gov.ph/factsheet/pdf08/FS-200806-SS1-01.asp

    Now please compare it to Bangladesh with the geography of the country which is situated on a delta. Old Manila is similar to Dhaka -at or below sea level. Most of Roxas Blvd was formerly ocean.

    Compare the population of Dhaka with Metro Manila. Look at the gap in density in MM and even Makati. Just go to the Makati City Hall and check on the population densities of the rich enclaves of Makati.

    The transportation, water, electric grids are centered on MMetro Manila. Naturally it becomes a draw for rural migration.

  • Culture can be changed. Egyptians determined that they needed more freedom of speech and less thuggery in their culture.

    The Philippines has a more open democracy than did Egypt under Mubarak, although the remnants of favoritism, corruption and imperious thinking still occupy government offices. Imperious means the falsehood of supposedly superior thinking.

    The main shortcomings I see in Filipino culture are not overt or societal, like lack of free speech, but “within the Filipino”, mainly: (a) lack of compassion or courtesy toward fellow Filipinos, and (b) failure to think conceptually and act productively.
    These shortcomings get in the way of progress and lead to favoritism, pollution, corruption, poor service, dilapidated infrastructure and buildings, sinking ferries, lousy health care and other failings.

    My recommendations to the Filipino interested in breaking out of the mold:

    1) Always carry a book and do a lot of worthwhile reading.

    2) Think mightily on the Golden Rule and practice it daily.

    3) Learn to think conceptually by attaching a “why” to every instruction or request you give to others, and every instruction or request given to you.

    Make the Philippines a visibly intelligent society, a visibly kind, clean and orderly society, a productive, responsible society.

    • America it is amazing that after 200 years your level of consciousness is not much changed from those who saw the black man as part human and the native indigenous people in what is now known as America as savages. That was the basic belief then that enabled the white man to donate smallpox laden blankets to the natives to destroy them and wipe out the buffalo to starve the plains Indians into submission.

      Even your example of Egypt is way off base. They revolted from a lack of freedom of speech?

      Attempting to change a people whose state of consciousness is different from yours is often times dangerous.

      Two names come to mind. Mohammed Atta and Zyman Zawahiri. These two men are part and parcel of the group that caused the attack on the WTC.

      They are Egyptians. They rose up due to the repressive regime of Mubarack and decided to attack Mubarack’s sponsor directly.

      The Philippines is a country whose collective level of consciousness never existed. The hardened constituencies on the top of the pyramid (entrenched elite) had always placed a barrier between them and the Indio natives. Hence the economic evolution produced landed elites who have no loyalty to the country as a whole.

      They simply followed the extractive nature of the Philippines economy from the original colonizers. They continue to benefit from that economic system that strategically depends on external demand.

      Also you look at the culture of deference and contrast it with the confrontational/adversarial attitude of American culture.

      Agricultural based societies are family based communities and face and respect for elders and persons in authority is still very much prevalent.

      Asians are known for their inability to say no directly to not offend others. The Japanese, Chinese and all other Asians are non-confrontational.

      But that level of consciousness reflects evolutionary development.

      Every scientist knows that the very act of observation changes a reality. But different people depending on their level of consciousness will see things differently and act accordingly.

      Your intellect obviously stopped growing a long time ago. It is static.

      It is a disgrace that a lot of people denigrate those who seem to be uneducated. That is wrong and speaks of the unlettered nature and anti intellectual level of consciousness of that particular observer.

      And remember that all cultures are guilty of using ethics and moral standards as a uniform or shield than can discarded when the situation arises.

      The U.S. uses that most pragmatically when it defends its national interest mostly in Egypt and with their other client states.

      So get of your high horse. It is nauseous.

  • UP nn grad

    How much effort and money to get to there from here?

    I think this dream of internet-at-every-beach can wait. More important, much more important is electrification of Pilipinas with nuclear to get pesos-per-kilowatt down and to get percent-availability up.

    And I think some would argue that drinking water availability to ARMM, the Cordilleras, other areas is also more important as a government project than an NTN/NTE-broadband by Noynoy administration to get internet to every beach.

    • J_ag

      Where is here?????