MANILA, MAY 4, 2006
 (STAR) That’s IT •Edison D. Ong - So the news is out that Ramon P. Sales, former IT head of the BPI, has been appointed by Malacañang as the new chair of the Commission in Information and Communications Technology (CICT).

So unfamiliar is the name and face of the new CICT chief that I have to go to Google to get some personal information about him. Except for a couple of news stories reporting his new appointment, my search produced nothing but entries saying he was a senior vice president for IT at the Ayala-owned bank.

"Older" colleagues at CyberPress told me, however, that the guy used to be with IBM Philippines, like his predecessor Virgilio "Ver" Peña. It was also Peña who recommended Sales to take over the post. Apparently, he and Peña belonged to a group closely identified with presidential adviser Roberto Romulo, who, of course, was also an IBMer.

The dearth of information on Mr. Sales – regarding his involvements and opinions in policy issues as well as his advocacies in the local IT industry — left an intriguing question mark on me.

I mean, I’m groping in the dark as to how to portray the man. What was his stand on various issues? Was he an active member of the private sector who pushed suggestions and reforms for the development of the IT industry?

Another concern that the new ICT chair will have to contend with is the acrimonious relationship that his bloc has with former trade secretary and now Senator Mar Roxas II. If Peña, a mild-mannered and professional official, wasn’t able to appease Mar’s clique, how sure is Sales that he’ll be able to do the trick?

News reports have indicated that the little president, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, has officially announced Sales’ appointment last Wednesday in Malacañang. But there is no word yet from the CICT office as to how the ICT chief will implement his agenda.

Peña, despite his shortcomings, did a good job and left a huge void at the CICT. I’m hoping that Sales will be able to fill that gap. — Melvin G. Calimag

PR flak in Singapore

A corporate communications manager of a large software company got the flak from local reporters who covered an event in Singapore. This lady manager had her own way and insensitive to the concerns of the reporters. Apparently, she even went on a shopping spree, forgetting her role as a facilitator instead of taking care of the reporters. "It was a traumatic experience," says one reporter who promised never to cover any future event of that software company with the same lady communications manager who used to be with a large global IT services and software firm and then moved to a German company. The shabby treatment by this lady communications manager towards the reporters may affect her credibility. If that’s the way she handles the press, then reporters would think not only twice but thrice before covering any of the company’s event.

IT execs and employees come and go. Michael Jabillo who used to be with Microsoft Phils. for four years is now with a local company, the ABC of m-Commerce. Mike is cooking up a project with a major daily paper. Ariel Roda, ex-ePLDT executive who left the company in August 2005 is a consultant, helping Mike on some projects.

Cris Magallona joined Dell Phils. as a business development manager. He left HP Philippines in November 2004. Barry Bunyi heads the Dell Phils. as the country manager.

The recent results of the PhilNITS certification exams was a disappointing one. The number of passers in the recent exams was way below compared to the previous exams. PhilNITS Foundation led by Maricor Akol would certainly re-examine and evaluate its procedure and processes to raise the number of passers in future certification exams. PhilNITS-certified IT professionals are in big demand in Japan and in Japanese companies operating in the country. —Edu H. Lopez

Finally, RP on Yahoo! radar screen

Last April 25, Yahoo! Southeast Asia executives met the local business, lifestyle and technology press to present a new Yahoo! local Front Page site for the Philippines. The new site aims to make Yahoo! the most relevant entry point to the Internet for all Filipinos, both here and abroad.

The meeting had a fairly good attendance. I congratulate EON, the local PR agency for a job well done.

But there seemed something wrong, something lacking. An oversight, perhaps.

Rejoice. The absence of it.

Here is what I mean. Yahoo! is no stranger to the Filipino Internet users. So a Front Page site is not exactly a great news to jump and howl "Yahoo!".

Lycos Philippines (now defunct courtesy of 9/11) had shown it in 2001. To be truly localized, Lycos Asia went as far as forming a Philippine-based start up office that was initially operated by a one-man, two-woman team.

One reason, I believe, many reporters showed up at the Yahoo! Philippines event is because they were curious about Yahoo! establishing an office in the country. This means jobs for Filipinos, in-bound investments, and businesses for small Filipino entrepreneurs. A show of confidence on the Philippine economy.

Sorry. There is no such intent. No plan to set up a permanent office.

The other things that seemed out of place is the use of monkeys as mascot and football. To be captivating as a local Front Page site for the Philippines, Philippine basketball collectibles and Internet Ads could have been a better bet.

I had expected Yahoo! to come to the Philippines with a bang! With a reason for Filipinos to jump and rejoice.

The Yahoo! Southeast Asia executives confided that they have limited knowledge on the Philippine Internet market and the Filipino consumer. Thus they are depending on their legal minds and contracted consumer surveyors for relevant, updated market information.

Overall, I salute the Yahoo! guys. They were candid and sincere in their replies to the hundreds of questions that flooded them during lunch that followed after the formal launch ceremony.

Dennis Susay, head for marketing- SEA, Yahoo! Southeast Asia, says it well, "We would like to listen to the Filipino consumer. Start slow. Everyone starts slow."

Meantime, let us all wait and see. The important thing is the Philippines is now on the Yahoo! radar screen. Not just Yahoo! is on the Philippine radar screen. It has been there for a decade now. This is not news anymore. — Edison D. Ong

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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