, August 23, 2003 (STAR) A website that uses information technology to educate Filipino voters in the country and overseas about the 2004 elections was launched recently.

Called VoteWisely.com, the website was created to provide voters with correct and necessary information about candidates for the 2004 polls and help them make a wise decision on who should lead the Philippines.

"With the passing of the absentee voting bill and with the power of information technology, VoteWisely.com will give Filipinos abroad the opportunity to speak up and be heard by our candidates," said Jerry Liao, communications manager of VoteWisely.com.

"With VoteWisely.com, voters will now be well-informed about the candidatesí qualifications and their plans on how to lead our country," he added.

Liao said VoteWisely.com will be the first website to employ what he calls Internet 3. Internet 3 combines the functionalities of TV, radio, print, online and SMS, Liao added that there are plans to extend the delivery of information from the website to SMS and television. Internet and mobile devices will complement existing mediums like TV, print and radio by providing interactivity functions within VoteWisely.com.

VoteWisely.com empowers voters to get all the necessary information through different mediums and would also be able to interact with the candidates and other voters anytime, anywhere, according to Liao.

Aside from the technology component, VoteWisely.com also applies the seven styles of learning in educating the public, namely: Linguistic, Logical/Math, Spatial, Musical, Bodily/Kinesthetic, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal.

Liao said the 2004 elections promise to utilize information technology to the fullest more than any other Philippine election in history.

"But aside from automating the electoral process, providing election-related information to the voters will also be important especially with the participation of Filipinos abroad in the coming election," he said. "Technology will change how elections are being conducted. An effective process combined with a well-informed electorate will be the winning formula toward a better Philippines."

Kids and cellphones By Patrick Garcia (The Philippine STAR 08/22/2003)

I have been noticing that most mothers with pre-school or younger kids, most especially if they are boys, own cellular phones that have gone through some sort of torture test. Common phone war wounds include cracked displays, chipped casings, garbled characters on screen, missing antennas and numerous other types of casualties. In fact, why limit it to mothers? My 11-month-old son has already developed a strange fascination for my 7650 that he has succeeded in swiping it from my bedside table and has hurled it onto our marble floor. To the credit of Nokia, it has survived and remains functional. I may not be as fortunate though the next time. As such, whenever Iím asked by victimized parents on recommending a durable cellular phone I always advice them to sacrifice style for function. Go for that all-weather sport and outdoor models that offer dust, weather and shock protection, like the Nokia 5100 or Siemens ME45.

Interestingly, since we are on the topic of kids and cellphones, I just read a report that kids aged five to nine represent the fasting growing group of cellphone users. The report says that one out of every 10 kids in that group now own a cellphone and in three years, that statistic is going to rise to one out of every five kids. I tend to believe that for numerous reasons. It has now more than ever been the simplest way to keep track of your kids via an affordable and practical medium. I, for one, have a couple of old model cellphones lying dormant in my drawer and I could very well just load it with a P200 SIM to get it back to service. Of course, that opens the door to another distraction for my five-year-old daughter such that I have been delaying that thought. Also, good second-hand phones could be purchased now for less than the cost of your average sneakers. Though not intentional, Iím sure by the carriers, I have come across numerous ringtones, logos and MMS images that obviously cater to younger kids. I canít imagine my father downloading and sporting that hot new Piglet MMS wallpaper on his display! Kids who now own cellular phones are also envied by kids who donít, as such succumbing to peer group influence that translates into the pester-your-parent syndrome. Yes, I should know, my five-year-old has made that pitch already.

I see the benefits of issuing your kids a cellular phone. But with all the talk of radiation and other health issues I have been reading about, is it really safe for young kids? There is a Finnish medical group that proclaims that due to childrenís thinner skulls and developing brains, they are more susceptible to harm coming from cellphonesí radiation. On the other hand, a recent test conducted by an American medical lab experimenting on rats using the same radiation levels as cellular phones saw no marked development of any tumor. Well, whatever the right research may be, I believe that itís prudent to be on the safe side and just instruct your child to text rather than make voice calls. So parents, apart from pre-school tuition, school supplies, kumon lessons and toys, you will have to include soon your kidís prepaid load as part of your family budget.

Patrick R. Garcia is managing director of Bidshot Wireless Services. For comments or suggestions, text your message to 233011 (Globe) or 2430018 (Smart), or e-mail txtcity@yahoo.com

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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