Prominent Filipino Netizens All about Internet in the Philippines

 

 

Interview with PLDTi President, Manny Amador

by Shery Ma Belle Arrieta <iamshery@msc.net.ph>

W!P: Real name? Some personal backgrounds you'd like to share with us like where from, educational background, etc?

MANNY: Emmanuel Roxas Amador. Birthdate: July 7, 1962. AB Communication Arts and AB Philosophy, Ateneo de Manila. I was born and raised in Manila.

W!P: During the 5th Philippine Internet anniversary held in March, you were given the Consumer Advocacy award. You were also voted as one of the 10 most influencial Filipinos on the Internet today in The Web Philippines' survey. Can you tell us a bit of how you got to be regarded as such? Like when, how, and what got you started on the Internet? And the kind of consumer advocacy you have started, done and continue to be doing?

MANNY: I don't really know if I'm all that influential. The consumer advocacy I've been involved with has been through the Philippine League for Democratic Telecommunications, Inc. We've been opposing telephone metering and advocate pro-consumer reforms in the telecoms sector.

I started really using the internet in 1996. Prior to that I had ben on the local BBSes for many years (since 1990).

W!P: Over the years, how have you utilized the Internet?

MANNY: I use the internet for research and for communications. I transmit a lot of my work through the internet.

W!P: What is your current job, what do you do there? Any other things you are doing that're keeping you busy?

MANNY: I'm now part of a new company, Linux Philippines Corporation. We provide Linux-based networking solutions for companies. I am director for corporate communications and business development.

W!P: You are a musician and you used to be in a band. Can you tell us more more about your stint as a musician? Were you a musician before you got involved on the Internet?

MANNY: I have been playing in bands since my college days. My first "professional" band (meaning we got paid to play) was Exxit 17. It was started late 1985 and went on till mid-1986.

My most well-known band was The Breed. We started in 1989, at the first Pinoy Woodstock concert. We were still using the name of Charlie Ysmael's old band at the time (Arenarr). In 1990, we adopted The Breed as our name. We got signed with Dyna Records in 1995 and released one album. I left he band in December 1996 (they released one more album after that).

W!P: How do you combine your passion for music and the Internet?

MANNY: Right now, I don't combine the two very much. I download some free MP3 files sometimes. I have, however, thought of releasing some original music on the net.

W!P: You are one of the founders of the Philippine League for Democratic Telecommunications, Inc. (PLDTi). How was this organization conceived? What are it's goal? thrusts?

MANNY: The League was organized to answer the need for consumer representation and protection especially in the fast-changing field of telecoms. It is, in that sense, a consumer watchdog organization. We are out to expose and speak out against anti-consumer practices in business and in government. We first got together and talked about organizing in late 1997. We were just a handful then, but by early 1998, there were enough of us to organize into a non-stock, non-profit group. We got things together around March 1998, but I think our SEC papers were finally approved in June 1998.

W!P: What is your opinion on privacy and censorship? Intellectual property rights?

MANNY: Privacy is a basic right in a democracy and it should be respected. That does not mean, however, that we can do just anything. We do have laws against pornography and treason, and we have mass media and motion picture censors and ratings boards, just like other democratic countries. That is reasonable.

IPR violations are supposed to be a major issue in the Philippines, at least as far as the US is concerned. When it comes to software, however, I think it is quite clear that we cannot just impose first world prices here and expect everyone to just follow. If we were to totally wipe out software piracy immediately in the Philippines we would also wipe out most of the computer-using public!

One truly effective answer to software piracy would be the promotion of open-source software. Instead of fighting piracy, why not avoid it altogether? Linux, for example, is the world's fastest growing operating system and it's practically free! Can you imagine how much piracy could be diminished if government offices and business switched to Linux? The improvement would be tremendous.

W!P: What do you think about the PLDT-Gerry Kaimo/PLDTi issue?

MANNY: PLDT clearly made a mistake when it included PLDTI in the lawsuit since the League does not own or maintain the PLDT.COM website. That's why we're suing them for P100 million. That should show them that they cannot just drag innocent people to court without facing the consequences. The League will not be intimidated by this malicious and clumsy attempt to silence it. We will continue to speak out against PLDT's unfair and backward metering scheme and any other anti-consumer practices.

W!P: How do you mainly use the Internet? Purely for e-mail? Surfing? etc?

MANNY: For everything. E-mail, surfing, coordinating activities, keeping in touch with friends, spreading news, work, etc.

W!P: What're your top 10 best web sites? Your top 10 worst sites?

MANNY: I don't think I have a Top 10. The sites I visit most frequently are Altavista, Inquirer (inquirer.net), Philippine Star, etc. I've been checking on PLDT.COM a lot to see how Gerry's doing. I also maintain the NO.TO.METERING website (www.iconn.com.ph/magnet). I'd rather not hit or say bad things about other websites.

W!P: How do you foresee the growth of Internet in the Philippines specially specially now that we are seeing a lot of convergence and mergers among the different types of telecommunications industries? How about e-commerce?

MANNY: The growth of the internet and e-commerce are tied together. If everything goes well, I think we will see a big jump in internet usage especially when cable internet and other alternative technologies come online. All of this, however, can be undone if PLDT pushes through with it's unreasonable metering scheme. Metering is the single worst thing that could happen to the internet and e-commerce in the Philippines.

W!P: What do you think are the factors that could either hinder or promote the growth of Internet in the Philippines?

MANNY: Like I said, metering is the single most destructive factor.

Open-source software is a bright star on the horizon. It will help diminish piracy and will make high-perofrmance networks more affordable. Since it isn't bloatware, it will allow organizations with older computers to move up and get more productive without having to upgrade all their hardware. That's good news for a third-world country.

W!P: On the lighter side, what's the craziest thing you've done online? Offline?

MANNY: Take on PLDT on the metering issue. And we're winning too!

W!P: Who/what do you think is the most popular Philippine web site today?

MANNY: Might be PLDT.COM

W!P: When you're not on the Net or not playing music, what do you do?

MANNY: I maintain a 1965 Mustang as my daily driver. I try to do most of the non-critical work myself. I'm trying to build a race car too but that's way in the future.

 



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