Where Are We Going?

The Alay Computer Project was conceived with a simple vision in mind. This is introducing computers to elementary pupils as a learning tool. This vision is based on the rationale of maximizing the use of current Information and Communication Technology to bring changes and progress for the Batang Paete and for the all the people of Paete.


With the successful completion of the first stages of the Alay Computer Project, a new, deeper, and well thought visions are now taking shape. Thanks to the many people below who offered their views and vision. We encourage everyone to contribute their ideas as to how we can take advantage of computers to advance the well being of our community. Perhaps, we can find a way to integrate them into a single and viable vision for the Paetenians to dream of. This section is dedicated to that endeavor.

by Angel Cagandahan De Dios

"We were like men dreaming. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing....Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing. Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves" - The Psalms.

The above comes from a song of ascents - a people's prayer for fullrestoration. And as I collect my thoughts, I remember a paragraph I read from an article a couple of years ago that said, "They (Filipinos) are droll and unintelligent, focused on the trivial or the irrelevant. When the issues are of some significance, it's the wrong arguments that prevail, the wrong side wins. Logic and common sense take the backseat to political arguments and the views of the poorly-educated. There's a weird culture in our midst: our jocular regard for our national problems, great crimes, villainous scams and calamities. Note that Filipinos are notorious for making fun, creating a joke of their misfortunes. The cellulars are full of them now. In other countries inhabited by serious and sensitive people, they mount crusades, indignation rallies or nationwide relief campaigns to meet such crises. They would weep or stomp their feet, or explode in anger, or demand punishment for the criminals or misfits. Here we tend to laugh at scams, crimes and natural calamities, as if they are part of the usual TV noon comedy shows, the Pinoy's daily diet. It's very hard to be intellectual if you aren't serious. And so far the clear evidence is that we are not a serious people. Worse, we don't like to think."

Then, the following three words came to mind (as Ermie reminds me of a story of a man who was just informed that he was going to die that day):

"Mene Tekel Parsin"
Numbered, Weighed, Divided

They are indeed three very powerful words given to Belshazzar, the king of Babylon.

So where do my reflections lead me this time? As I look around I see this country called the United States of America, which like other developed countries, has emerged as a leader in both economy and technology. Its government tries to maintain a balance between democracy and a republic nature. The country does rule on majority (democracy) but it tries very hard to protect the rights of the individual (republic). How did this country evolve into its presentstate and why is my birthland so different? Is it because people whohave lived here wanted to live here? But that is the same situationback in the Philippines, except that most were born there. Americadid get a lot of its strength from immigrants.

Like Ermie, I am also a dreamer. So do I pack my bag and get a plane ticket so that I can return to the Philippines and perhaps, make a difference? I am not sure, maybe, my prayers have now been answered and I now can accept things that I cannot change, I have the courage to change those that I can, and I now have the wisdom to know the difference. My return will obviously not make a difference.

And Ermie is right, "alaycomputer" is one step closer to making a difference. I am very pleased to hear Anne Lan echo my concerns (andthanks to Lando, it is now posted on the "alaycomputer" website):

"Rest assured that the children will go beyond Word, Excel, and Powerpoint -- Alay Computer is beyond technology. Alay Computer is all about putting heart and soul into technology, using technology as a tool to strengthen one's heritage and tradition, and remembering one's roots."

At the beginning of "alaycomputer", I was worried that we maybe giving the children of Paete tools that will simply help them leave Paete. That is why I have always stressed that a connection be made between the computer classrooms and what makes Paete Paete, its art and tradition. Opportunity is the key, I believe. If this is available, people will stay productive where they live.

Alaycomputer is just taking its first baby steps. It needs a lot more help. I recall a posting I made a year ago: "Computers for education and marketing - A synergy between technology and handicrafts

A computer classroom, equipped with networked desktop computers, scanners, color printers, is envisioned for the people of Paete, Laguna, Philippines. This classroom, to be housed in Paete Elementary school, will provide the training of teachers, and students who are selected based on academic performance. The training will include word processing, basic spreadsheet routines, slide presentation, image rocessing, and web publishing, with the use of Microsoft Office and Publishing software. Volunteers from Ateneo de Manila University will initially provide the initial workshops for teachers.

Paete is recognized as a handicraft center of the Philippines, based on its woodcarving, papier-mache and resin-based handicrafts. About eighty percent of the working-age population in Paete are engaged in handicraft industries. Demand for such items has apparently decreasedand prices of final products are under complete control of middlemen due to the lack of contact with markets outside the Philippines. Without an existing relationship with foreign markets, there is no information on which future product lines or revisions on current lines can be drawn. Furthermore, advertising and promotion is lacking. In addition, with a limited source of raw material, an efficient marketing strategy is imperative.

The internet has provided a vital link connecting almost every part of this globe. Computers and networks should be able to empower the people of Paete so that they can better communicate and serve those who are interested in fine crafts Paete has to offer. Along with powerful software provided by Microsoft, several important tasks vital to the survival of Paete's industry are within reach. It is therefore envisioned that the planned computer center goes beyond merely teaching document processing and publishing skills. Concrete applications of such skills should naturally follow.

Towards this goal, the computer classroom should become an internet source that defines, promotes and markets Paete's industry. The classroom is therefore charged with the following projects, the same time the skills are taught:

(A) publish a web site that collects biographies and photographs of works of the masters of Paete. Since Paete is also known as a very close-knit community, it is straightforward for the teachers and the students, with the help of their parents and members of extended families, to collect the necessary information. The volunteers will edit the work and offer advise in the layout of this website.

(B) publish a web site that displays photographs of products currently for sale. This site should be equipped with counters that will measure which product catches the most interest. The volunteers will provide the initial design for this web site. Data obtained from these statistics can be used as examples for teaching the use of spreadsheets. This information will be provided directly to manufacturers. A long term project will involve the establishment of a web site that can channel orders (charge to credit cards) directly to the woodcarvers.

(C) publish calendars, screen savers, book marks, which promote the art of Paete. These screen savers will be sold to Paetenians worldwide, who are expected to give them out as gifts to their friends, coworkers and neighbors. The proceeds of these sales can be used for the maintenance and future upgrades of the computer classroom. In this way, Paetenians worldwide will always have ample opportunity to contribute to this classroom. It also provides the necessary sustaining financial support for the classroom. Teachers and students will be taught the necessary skills of making presentations and, at the same time, these presentations will serve as the much needed advertising for Paete's art.

This project aims to introduce information technology to the young minds of Paete. As the projects focus on Paete's art, it will help strengthen and preserve the traditions of Paete. The project will not only teach the students how to use the computer and the internet, but also provide an excellent opportunity to appreciate and learn more about Paete's artists, both past and present. The project also teaches community involvement and social awareness."

"They (Filipinos) are NOT droll and unintelligent. THEY DO KNOW HOW TO PARTY AND IT WAS A GREAT PARTY. When the issues are of some significance, it's the RIGHT arguments that prevail, the RIGHT side wins. Logic and common sense always take the FRONTseat to political arguments and the views of the poorly-educated. There's a GOOD ulture in our midst: FOR WE CAN AFFORD TO REMAIN OPTMISTIC AMIDST our national problems, great crimes, villainous scams and alamities. Note that Filipinos are FAMOUS for making fun, HAVING HUMOR AMIDST their misfortunes. The cellulars are full of them now. (FILIPINOS OF COURSE, ARE ALSO EXPERTS IN TEXTING) ONE CAN BECOME intellectual WHILE BEING SERIOUS AND HUMOROUS AT TIMES. And so far the clear evidence is that we are a serious people UNDERNEATH OUR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS AND DINNER-DANCES. WE DO LIKE TO THINK.

Professor, Department of Chemistry
Dean, Ateneo School of Science & Engineering

I think that the basic idea of using IT as a tool in rural areas is good. But I would like to suggest some modifications:

1. I think that IT should be used to enhance the existing culture of a
society and not have it changed or be swollowed up by internationalization". Paete has a valuable tradition that can be
enhanced by IT -- art and wood carving! I would develop the IT that
can enhance these traditions. I'm sure that autocad or some such software can be used to design and to teach wood-carving. I can also imagine the Paete folk putting up a web-site which can improve the art of woodcarving, culture and tourism in the area.

I can't say that I know what things can be done off-hand, but I'm sure
that there are people who can help think this through. If you just
teach them spreadsheets and word, they'll end up being accountants and leave the town, and that would be sad.

2. I wouldn't just teach the children. You need the support of the entire community also, most specially their parents. Paete must have a
special community spirit for the town to have excelled in art and wood-
carving. We should focus our efforts on the community and the family.

3. The local group has to be well prepared and have a vision for this
project. The Ateneo might even be able to help. We have a new course
in Fine Arts; Fr. Javellana's very strong on cultural art, specially
church-related stuff (I'm sure a lot of the carvings are religious in
nature.) and we 've been upgrading the Ateneo Art Gallery.

It would be a great opportunity. At this point, I would work on the
concept and then estimate the finances needed.


by The Dreamer
Hermie Fadul

“Come on in”, then a figure emerged from the wooden door leading to my 30’ x 30’ office. It was my secretary , Genna, who rushed to my side. “Ma’am, I am just wandering whether you wrote the right amount “ she exclaimed and politely handed to me the check she was preparing. I stared at the amount and replied, “ this is the right amount”. “Oh, I am so sorry Ma’am, it is just so big for a donation”, she answered back. “ It is only a fraction” I mumbled. “What is it Ma’am?” she asked. “Oh, nothing, I am just talking to myself, go ahead that is the right amount”, I told her. She left and the last thing I heard was the closing of the door.

I stood up from where I comfortably sat. I made few steps to reach the thick transparent glass that surrounded my office; this gave me an aerial view of the busy street below. “ I have gone so far”, I told to myself. Who would believe that a little girl in a small town in Laguna would someday build and run chains of companies. I had just made a deal this morning, my company just bought a chain of fast foods, and this would make my business one of the biggest locally. Thanks to them and perhaps that donation is a way of paying them in return.

The intercom interrupted my thoughts, it was my secretary again at the other line. She said, “Ma’am, I already prepared the check, I just want you to verify whether it is right, it is five million pesos payable to Alay Computer Project”. “Absolutely correct, thank you”, and then she hanged up the intercom.

Decades ago, they started this project in our town called “Alay Computer”, it was a brain child of the cyber community where Paeteno’s all over the world communicated regularly. Whoever started the cyber space community should get a big credit for starting this project, communications just became a browser away. A local respected leader traveled across the United States and Canada to promote the project, he encouraged our kababayans to support the success of this noble task. Donations came in bounty, I heard some Paetenos donated tens, hundreds and even thousand of dollars and some in kind. IT engineers, local volunteers, teachers and University Professors made the projects running in no time. They networked computers, taught our teachers and in return taught us students. We had gone beyond Excel, Power Point and Words.

I was so lucky to be a pioneer graduate of that Alay Computer Project, Paete was so lucky to have children who shared their talent, intelligence and wealth to help us fulfill our dreams. Perhaps their greatest donation was not the money or their talents. It was the seed that they implanted in our every heart. They opened our eyes that we Filipinos could vie up with our counter part students all over the world and our level of achievement could surpass them if and only if resources were within reach. They embedded in our hearts the power of dreams, we ceased treating ourselves small, the achievement of Paeteno’s abroad and locally helped us think of ourselves bigger, even bigger than their dreams. The project widened my prospective in life, a new horizon greeted me with a smile and showed me a different world. I easily coped up with the demands in school. MS Word proved to be an efficient ally when written assignment was due. Different fonts made my projects look presentable. I could make formulas simple by using Excel and a small database in MS Access helped me pull out my inventory lists easily. Power Point made my oral presentation clearer and informative. My classmate could easily comprehend my visual presentations. The Internet was a valuable source of free information. I always got “A” for my projects.

Though what I learnt from Alay Computer project put me to the top ten of the graduating class, it was their act of kindness that really helped me realize my dream. I hoped that they knew that it was not only money that they invested in this project, but it was also human kindness. Their kindness moved my heart and helped me dream to be one of them. I promised to myself then, one day I would be among them, I would also be an investor and I would be investing human kindness too. I wish I would remember their names, anyway when I go home this Holy Week, their names are written on the walls of the classroom where I first learnt the power of computers.

With their kindness, many would follow suit and the fruits would be bounty.


Fred M Cagayat

I agree to the concept of using IT to enhance Art & Culture. I am not very familiar in the use of Auto Cad (which is now a must for Architects in designing projects) but from what I was told, in auto cad you can visualize a drawing from different angles (3-D effect) and even inside. Thus, a sculptor who would like to carve an image, can easily reproduce this image from different angles making it easier to plan his carving process. IT is already aiding our commercial aspect of large scale producers of art works. Samples of items are phographed and nicely shown in the catalog, orders and finished products and the whole inventory can be tracked using a database (Access and other software), e-mail is used to speed up orders and communication with customers, and correspondence is now more efficient with use of word processor and mailing label application. Also, pictures of artworks and other important information can be circularized widely, quickly and more effectively with the use ofpowerpoint presentation.


Lee Quesada

This is very good encouragement for the sake of our Paete carving industry. PowerPoint (for presentations teaching of the art of woodcarving, for example) and AutoCAD (which is now the 'killer' application program for designs, engineering and sciences) would be 2 vital programs to be included in Batang Paete computer labs programs to be taught. in today's technology where just about any task that anybody can do, there is already an application software developed kaagad (or existing already yesterday pa), this will be quite applicable. And there are numerous Paetenian engineers and architects today all over the world who could assist teaching AutoCAD via the Internet in the form of the E-learning part of the AlayComputer curriculum.

Perhaps, we should create an (open) special-interest newsgroup in our Paete site for Hi-Tech Sculpting/Woodcarving? just a thought. we can invite everyone (all peoples of the globe) in the world to join. another newsgroup in mind for AlayComputer is an e-Learning moderated listserve.

However, I am breath-takingly looking forward to find a software (can anyone tell me if there is one already somewhere?) that can instruct the mouse to become a "chisel' (paet) and click a 'hammer'. (sic) there is one that comes to mind called 'Virtual Reality' (VR) now being used by architects, engineers, medical scientists, et al. when I was teaching in the IT community college here in Toronto, I was only involved as far as teaching the *Overview* of Virtual Reality (Multimedia) so i don't know the in-depth part of it. I was forced only to teach it because 4 students asked for it. So that was a special class. No extra pay for me though ;-( and I had to buy the pieces of hardware (simulators only strictly for simple demos) like head-mounted 'goggles' and 'data gloves' using my own money and was neverrefunded for the expenses. I was stupid, I should have simply said "No, I can't teach!" but it was a very challenging and enjoyable 2 weeks for me and my 4 students, one of them still keeping in touch with me via e-mail.

The purpose of VR is to create a new type of 'human computer interface'. VR is a very extra-expensive hobby to get into. the program in itself is much, much more expensive than the parent AutoCAD software. most AutoCad software used nowadays are 'task-specific' programs, which make the software more affordable. But outside of *software* for a change, i think more vital for AlayComputerCurriculum would be to teach awareness of the high-tech *hardware* forwoodcarving like 'workbenches', vises, and other tools. Maybe Ross Navarro or Ed Paraiso could tell us more about workbenches. I know they have their workbenches in their garage/basement. I don’t know what kind though. Whether still the 'paete' kind or a bit more hi-tech already? Maybe Jun Paygane also? Anyway, come brainstorm with me, folks! For our BatangPaete's future!

by Rogelio Dalagan

I can fully understand the purposes and goals of the Alay Computer. To those who generously donate money and time for the benefit of the Paete children, my hat is off to them. I salute them with enormous respect.

I am however, extremely concerned because our focus seems to be woodcarving and other non-technical products. I am not knocking the excellent woodcarving products of the people of Paete. I just think they and other young people can do even much better. In my opinion, we should find a way to encourage the young people of Paete and all the young Filipinos to do creative researhes which would take them beyond just woodcarving, arts and non-technical products. The Philippines is getting much, much too far behind in designing, manufacturing, producing and marketing highly technical products. We must encourage our young people to develop creative and inventive minds.

Our aims and goals should be for the young people to produce highly technical products. Those are what I call HIGH VALUE PRODUCTS. We have yet to design, produce, manufacture and export digital cameras, cars, car parts, TVs, printers, computers, CD's modems and thousands and thousands of highly technical products. When are the Filipinos going to export highly technical products (Made in the Philippines)? Are we really satisfied in exporting our PEOPLE to other countries? How much more income will the Filipinos earn from exporting HIGH VALUE PRODUCTS (Made in the Philippines) instead of exporting coconuts, woodcarving products and stuff like that? No wonder we are compelled to EXPORT people. I don't think I will see the day in my life when I can walk into an auto parts store in the U.S to find items imported from the Philippines. On the contrary, in many stores in the U.S., I know I will be able to find many HIGH VALUE items made in China, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia and other European countries. But made in the Philippines? Yes, I will probably find woodcarving products, hats, ceramic arts, clothes, shoes, etc. All those are low value items that hardly earn hard currency. Those are not HIGH VALUE items that generate as much dollars.

My point? A lot of Filipinos are capable of learning. We just got to find a way to assist our young people to concentrate and focus their minds in creating HIGHLY TECHNICAL products. May be someday, the Philippines DOES NOT have to EXPORT its people. Instead its exports will be HIGH VALUE items and not human beings.

These are the things that preoccupy my mind. I know it's a sensitive subject and I have received criticisms from many Filipinos before. But think about it, we like to boast that we are smart people, but are we really? Are we really smarter than many East Asian people who have been successfully producing and exporting HIGH VALUE items? The fact is those East Asian people don't even dream of going to other countries to find work. They are happy to live in their own countries, raise their family and to enjoy their prosperity right in their own backyard. Now, do we think we are smarter people because we speak better English than the South Koreans, the Japanese and the Chinese? Let's all face it, the fact of the matter is that Filipinos are just too economically poor. One very sad fact, while the French and the Japanese are commuting aboard 155 miles per hour trains, many Filipinos are still riding tricycles.
That's my opinion, what's yours?

Amador A. Basa Jr.

Last June 28, I attended PAETECH's 1st year anniversary. The group had an oppurtunity to
give a few message to all public teachers of Paete.
What caught my attention (and Saida etc.)
was a handwritten poster of a Chinese proverb made by a Paete teacher/presentor as follows:

If you want 1 year of prosperity, grow rice.
If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees.
If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow PEOPLE.

That is why China have 1 Billion people! Just kidding.

Joking aside, Alay Computer project focus is to grow people. To give Paete's young generation access and knowhow to computers.

Every young people is like a small tree that needs to be nourished, and supported while young so that it could withstand storms. One day this small tree will be a giant tree, achieving greater heights and standing proud. Neglected leaning trees will never attain such.

This space is reserved for you. Yes! You!

Copyright 2002 Paete Alliance For Education and Technology, Inc.