Wired! Philippines

The University Internet Café: The Café of the Nineties
by Joy Arrieta <joy_@hotmail.com>

Van Gogh and the others would have liked it here. If computers have been invented then and they could do their paintings using some paint program, they'd still be coming here to talk about their art. It's the café of the nineties, with artworks and ecclectic art pieces adorning the walls, never losing the ambiance of the ones Van Gogh and the others used to go to. Contrasting to that are computer terminals hooked up to the Internet and a counter on one side where you'd see jars of cookies and cakes and a coffee machine.

On a typical day, you'd see cyberdudes and dudettes hunched up in front of the computer, munching on something and sipping their cappuccinos. Very much like the artists way back, their canvas is the monitor screen and their paintbrush, the keyboard. These artists of the nineties are mostly students. And the café? The University Internet Café.

Located within the UPLB campus, UIC is the pioneer among the cyber cafés that have sprouted in Laguna. It was originally a computer rental shop but the owners, while they are not after profit, felt the need to make the Internet known to the masses, not just to those who are in Manila or have computers and can access the Internet in their homes.

UIC also has tie-ups with other cafés such as Planet Internet in Bacolod and Ormoc Net in Leyte.

Mr. Johan Dyseng, one of the owners of UIC, says that their original target users were adults and institutions. When they started in 1997, their earliest customers were mostly high school students. Now, they've considerably grown to include university students as well as professors. He recalls that during their initial month, they offered a month's free access and they conducted free Internet training everyday.

On a typical day, the café's nine computer terminals are full. Peak hours are early mornings (when it's still too early for the student to go to class), mid-afternoons (when it's better to be anywhere except in class where a student is most likely to fall asleep), and late afternoons (when classes are done for the day or the student has skipped class).

The café would not be a café if not for the food and the coffee served to its customers. Cakes, cookies and other pastries and finger foods are served as well as beverages and coffee.

The café is open 7 am to 1 am Mondays through Fridays, and 9 am to 10 am on Saturdays.

UIC also offers other services. Not only are they a walk-in access to the Internet, they also produce softwares (they are in fact, involved in a number of projects) and networking.

If you wish to know more about the University Internet Café, you may visit their web site at http://www.uic.net.ph.


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