Wired! Philippines Phone Convo with Jim Ayson

by smbea <mabelle@msc.net.ph>

Below is a twenty-something-minute phone conversation with Jim Ayson. Because there is no phone log, unlike chat logs, the conversation is not that accurate so don't expect a verbatim or a word-by-word transcription. However, rest assured that I have scribbled as fast as I could and wrote everything my short-hand-deprived hand could write and employed all my powers of recall to give you an almost complete and accurate phone log. Oh yeah, and the call was a long distance one too.

Jim Ayson is considered by the early cyberflips as one of those reponsible for spreading the Internet in the Philippines -- first through BBS, and then as a pioneer in braving the World Wide Web during its early years.

Rrrringgg. Rrrringgg. The person on the other end picks up the phone.

"Hello?" A slang is evident.

"Hi.may I speak with Mr. Jim Ayson?" Clears throat. A silent Uhhrmm.

"This is Jim."

"Oh it is? Hi.Jim.urm.Mr. Ayson," Twitch, twitch, clear throat again. "This is Shery from WIRED! Philippines."


"Yes.I was the one asking for an interview with you --"

"From WEB Philippines?"

"Uhm, WIRED! Philippines."

"Oh.WIRED! Philippines. I thought you said WEB Philippines."

"Uhm so.were you able to reply to my e-mail?"

"What? Oh.no, I don't think so.no."


"But you can ask me your questions here now."

"I can? You're not busy doing anything?" Grasps frantically for a pen and scraps of paper. More paper rustling.

"No, I'm not."

"Ok." Deep breath. "So.how and when did you get hooked up to the Net?" Pen poised over the paper.

"I got on the Net in 1994. I was working for the Asian Development Bank." [He goes on to describe that they were connected on a leased line and that they got on the Byte Internet Exchange and Compuserve. They did everything from telnet to FTPing]
"Hardly anyone back then was on the Internet.[He explained they got on the Internet because they needed it for ADB's customer support.]

"What did you use to work as at ADB?"
Q So, Jim.you're kind of considered by many people as an Internet guru or something like that. What do you think of you being referred to as the Father of Internet in the Philippines?"

A That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

"I was in the OCS. Office of Computer Services."

"Ahh.I see."

[He goes on to tell about the days when he was involved in BBSing, short for bulletin board systems. He says he was active in the BBS scene in 1986, when he was working as a consultant for this company involved at making modems. He mentions the names Ed Castañeda and Dan Angeles (who founded STI) as among the first persons who were with him BBSing. Then he goes on to tell about First-Fil BBS, the first BBS in the Philippines, which was launched in August of 1986. Ritchie Lozada, Kelsey Hartigan-Go and Migs Paras were among those BBSing with him.]

"Uhm, well Jim.can I call you Jim?"

"Yeah, sure."

"Ok, Jim. Can you tell me a little more about BBS? 'Coz I've only gotten on the Net recently when all these browsers and chat clients and stuff are already here.so I really don't have an idea of how BBS works."


"Oh.yeah, you're lucky." [He goes on to a lengthy description of how BBS works. To be able to BBS, you have to have a terminal program which basically turns your PC into a dumb terminal. It's a one-on-one thing where someone can dial-up to your terminal and then you can exchange information. FTP, chat, etc.]

"Like what terminal program?"

"Hmm.the most popular back then was called Procomm. And then there's Telix." [Then he comments that BBSing nowadays is kind of useless already. He doesn't see the point of continuing with it with all advancements on the Internet. But he admits that BBSing was his first step towards getting involved on the Internet.]

"And you are now working as what?"

"Uhm, I'm now in web design and development."



"Was this the direct result of you being in the Internet while you were working at ADB?"

"Yeah, it was. I started in 1996.and then I designed the ADB Web Site which I believe is one of the first web sites in the Philippines."

"So you left ADB in 1996?"



"Actually, I worked for PCI Bank, then Imagineering Ltd, then Asian Development Bank for about 5 or 6 years, then operated as W3 Business Communications. After that, I worked briefly at World Port. Unfortunately the [owner?/president?] there ran off with my girlfriend."


"So I went back to consulting as W3BC."


"So, Jim.you're kind of considered by many people as an Internet guru or something like that. What do you think of you being referred to as the Father of Internet in the Philippines?"

Short laugh at the other end.

"You know what?"


"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard."


"Yeah. If someone's going to be called the Father of Internet in the Philippines, it's Dr. Rodolfo Villarica. He was the chairman of PhilNet Foundation. If it wasn't for his efforts, I don't think Internet in the Philippines would be where it is now. So really, it was through him that the Philippines is connected to the Internet today. We owe it to Dr. Villarica. He was a chemical engineer and I think he was working at the IRF--"

"IRF? What's that?"

"Industrial Research Foundation, I think. He was tapped by the DOST to be the chairman of PhilNet Foundation. You know how it is with organizations organized by students. They tapped Dr. Villarica because he knew how to organize a business and he knew how to get things done. So we owe it to him. He's the Father of Internet in the Philippines."

"I see. So, why do you think all these people believe you are?"


"I think one reason is that I'm active writing stuff about the Internet. IT journalism.I used to write for the Metropolitan Computer Times. And then there was PC Digest where I used to have a column, Ayson Chronicles. I think I'm well-known among people because I tend to track the development of the Internet and I was on the web pretty early.and then there's my writing style. I think people like the way I write. I get requests from people asking me if I could write an article for them.but I'm usually busy nowadays to write. I also have this mailing list, the Philippine Cyberspace Review."

"Approximately how many people are on your list?"

"I'd say about 270. We mostly talk about the latest stuff on the Internet... cybercafes. And how these cybercafes are democratizing access to the Internet."

"So how do I join your mailing list?"

"You simply send an e-mail to ph- cybreview-subscribe@egroups.com."


"So.anything else?"

"Oh yeah. What's your opinion on the current state the Internet in the Philippines?"

"Well, now, I'd say it's gone pretty mainstream. Even the masa knows what the Internet is. It's becoming one of the major communication medium around. [He goes on to elaborate on this -- like for instance news breaking out first on the Internet, like the Monica Lewinsky thing. And then he touches briefly on e-commerce, how the Internet is becoming a medium where you can sell products.]

"So you think the Internet is vital in a developing country like the Philippines?"

"Not vital in a way that we wouldn't be able to survive without the Internet. But it's vital because the whole world is on the Internet. TV and radio is not as far-reaching as the Internet has become. If the Philippines doesn't catch up, where are we gonna be? I mean, information is power."

Nod. Nod.


"So.I think that's already a mouthful." short laugh.

"Uhm, yeah. But one more thing. I'd like to know a little of your background."


"Like age --"

A laugh on the other end.

"Age? 'Wag na."

"Haha, ganon? Uhm. Early thirties?"

"Uhm, yeah."

"What do you usually do when you're not on the Internet?"

"Well, I maintain Philmusic.com. It's a site that promotes Philippine music. I'm basically an IT person and a musician--"

"Oh, a musician.uhm, are you married?"

"Nope, not married. My girlfriend ran off with the guy at World Port, remember? Her name's _____ _______. She used to be a singer. You can print that too." Short laugh.

Surprised Oh!

"Oh! _____ _______? I was visiting your web site the other day and I saw a link to her web page there."

"Yeah.she was my girlfriend."

"Uhm, ok."

"So when I'm not on the Internet, I usually play drums in some club."

"Hmm, are you long-haired?"

"I used to have long hair. Skin head na ako ngayon. Well, not really skin head. Short haired."

"Ahh, I see."

"So.I think you've already got enough there."

"Yeah.thank you very much, Jim."

"Yeah, good luck on your article. And send me the URL when it's published, ok?

"Yeah, sure. Thanks again, Jim. Bye."




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