Empowering the Philippines through modern-day ‘e-bayanihan’
On my RECENT visit to the Philippines, I was fascinated by a concept that came up in a conversation between myself and the local team bayanihan.
I’ve long heard of the term but have never fully grasped its essence until it was explained to me during a meeting for an initiative involving Intel. The concept of collective action to achieve a unifying goal, often done for nothing more than the benefit of a compatriot, is such a Filipino concept, yet one which the entire Southeast Asian region can benefit from.
This collaborative characteristic is present in all of the countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and has proven to be a factor in the region’s strong growth.
Now imagine leveraging on this characteristic through technology and innovation.
The Southeast Asian region’s population is estimated to be at over 620 million, accounting for roughly 9 percent of the world’s population.
Aside from being a powerhouse in terms of growth, the region also enjoys high levels of active Internet and social media users, thanks in part to having one of the youngest demographics in the world.
This presents Asean countries with the unique elements necessary for sustained growth in a digital world.
However, in order to fully take advantage of these benefits, it is important to acknowledge the challenges that these economies face and develop initiatives to overcome these challenges.
Out of the 620 million individuals in Asean, there are an estimated 374 million individuals who are as of yet unreached digitally.
In the Philippines, this equates to about 70 million Filipinos who have not yet been reached, leaving roughly 70 percent of the country’s population unable to enjoy the benefits that being digitally connected brings.
We at Intel see this as an opportunity to help the Philippines enable its population through digital inclusion. Being a technology company, Intel fosters a culture of innovation in everything we do.
To take on the challenge and accomplish Intel’s vision of impacting the lives of every person on earth, we constantly identify and develop new ways to reach the unconnected in a meaningful way.
Digital literacy, development
The challenge of connecting a significant amount of the country’s population comes with immense benefits, chief of which is spurring economic growth.
Third-party studies have identified that a 10 percent increase in broadband penetration, translating to a higher number of individuals that gain access to digital devices and connectivity, can boost a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) up to 1.2 percent for low-and middle-income countries.
This presents the Philippines with the potential to drastically change its economic outlook by promoting digital inclusion efforts in the country.
Across the region, Intel is committed to connect people through technology.
We have various activities and programs that promote digital literacy and inclusion worldwide, including global events such as the Intel Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) targeting pre-college students in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
We also conduct Intel Maker Faires, as well as Internet of Things (IoT) curricula meant for higher-education courses and Intel Teach and Easy Steps courses for basic digital education.
These programs continuously help us transition the youth from passively consuming technology to creating technology, further promoting inclusion in the digital space.
Locally, the biggest challenge lies in equipping communities and individuals with the necessary skills and access to devices that are crucial to enable them to take advantage of the benefits of being digitally connected. The key to address this challenge lies in the fact that social stratification should not be a hindrance to access, thus we needed to devise a program that will help us bridge the digital divide and reach the unconnected.
We saw great value in leveraging the concept of bayanihan to help us achieve these goals. To this end, we launched DigiBayanihan in September 2014 with the ICT Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
DigiBayanihan is a volunteer program designed to provide digital skills training to various communities around the country.
This is done through caravans and outreach activities designed to touch, train, and transform individuals and help them become aware of the impact of digital literacy in their lives.
Later on, ASSIST, a nongovernment organization, joined to help us scale out the program to more locations and niche partners such as co-op organization Natcco (National Confederation of Cooperatives), and education-oriented NGOs PSITE (Philippine Society of IT Educators) and Tevsaphil (Technical and Vocational Schools and Associations of the Philippines).
These organizations helped the program reach its present milestones and truly make an impact in the Philippine digital literacy landscape.
Since it was first launched in 2014, DigiBayanihan has touched over 1.69 million individuals, people who now know how digital literacy can drastically transform their lives.
The program has conducted over 437,983 training encounters, highlighting the demand for consistent and competitive training engagements in the country.
Device access, ownership
Digital literacy initiatives can only go so far.
As advocates of digital inclusion, the Intel Philippines team, myself included, sought to ëcomplete the circle and address one more crucial challenge for complete digital inclusion in the Philippinesódevice access and ownership.
With almost a quarter of Filipino families in poverty and a majority of the population falling under the D/E socio-economic classes, it remains a challenge for these families to gain access to shared devices, much more have their own. This led Intel, together with its various DigiBayanihan partners, to come up with DigiBuy device ownership platform built into the DigiBayanihan program, to help provide DigiBayanihan beneficiaries access to affordable Intel-powered devices to sustain their digital literacy journey.
These beneficiaries receive special discounts on Intel-powered products when they go through their DigiBayanihan-certified organizations to undergo training, ensuring that they would constantly be able to apply all their learnings, whether for leisure or for livelihood.
Completing the circle
These efforts provide us with the opportunity to actualize the eFilipino vision that Intel shares with the DOST and ASSIST for a digitally connected, engaged, empowered, and responsible Filipino citizen, to drive the Philippines toward inclusive economic growth.
By leveraging the young Filipino demographic who is just now starting to be exposed to technology, we are fostering a culture of technology creation that will help spur growth within the communities and the country.
In the Philippines, the concept of bayanihan has evolved from its humble roots.
DigiBayanihan, together with DigiBuy, helps Intel connect the dots in the country’s journey to digital inclusion, signifying a big step in helping Filipinos and the Philippine economy to thrive.
Proper digital education and access to devices are crucial elements that will help us empower Filipinos to take the first step in their digital literacy journey and provide them with a multitude of options to take the next step and help technology empower their lives. (The author is Intel Managing Director for Southeast Asia)