Enrico is my brother

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Sunday, March 23, 2014


THAT Enrico Mongaya is my brother is no secret. Our friends in Sun.Star Cebu and Superbalita know that. I openly talked about it in social media even if friends like lawyer Rex Fernandez advised against engaging the anti-Rico groundswell.

I also have private message exchanges with Rommel Manlosa, Sun.Star Cebu sports writer and an uncle of the goalie in that unfortunate football brawl the other Sunday. I readily admitted that Rico is my brother and I offered to be a bridge between the two parties. That was on Monday when I still didn’t have details of the incident.

I would like to ask my editors to allow this disclosure and that Rico has already asked me not to add fuel to the fire yesterday. But for the benefit of friends who had been badgering me for my take on the issue, I would like to say that yesterday morning I wrote a post in my personal blog: http://inbetweencolumns.wordpress.com. As of this writing, I know there are efforts towards reconciliation. Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale is also expected to meet the Ateneo parents today. My hope is that we all learn lessons and the controversy will result in something good for advancing Cebu football and the welfare of our children.

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Come to think of it, we now take for granted that we enjoy, express rants, buy goods, do business, and maybe even fight online. I can even walk around the mall and still be connected to my Facebook and Twitter. I could hazily remember posting my first blog on Friendster sometime in 2004 or 2005. Today, I have learned to work things out somehow using Wordpress.

But I could not imagine this reality today when I joined the Sun.Star family in January 1993. At that moment in time, we could only read about the Internet. The Philippines was officially connected to the Internet on March 29, 1994. And it happened at the University of San Carlos Technology Center (USC-TC) here in Cebu City.

Curiously, I learned about his piece of history only in 2001 when I was involved in the conduct of the Cebu IT Summit. This event led to the formation of the country’s first local ICT council that planned and guided Cebu’s journey to become a BPO powerhouse.

This week, the new online publication Tenminutes.ph will mark this historic event with a forum on e-commerce at USC-TC. Filipino e-commerce advocate and Sun.Star ICT columnist Janet Toral will be coming over to speak during this event. Her fellow speaker is Sun.Star Cebu’s Max Limpag, who is also involved in his own tech startup projects like InnoPub media.

Of course, Tenminutes.ph could also be considered an online publication startup. And its prime movers led by Jonji Gonzales are now managing two Facebook pages with a combined community of some 700,000 likes. That’s phenomenal for an online publication that only began last year.

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Talking about startups, leaders of the local startup community (that’s Tina Amper of TechTalks and company) are already on the go for the next Geeks on a Beach conference that will be held here in Cebu.

Last year’s conference in Boracay gathered the who’s who in the Philippine startup community along with international startup stars like Silicon Valley entrepreneur Bowei Gai of the worldstartupreport.com. After Boracay, the Philippines seemed to have enchanted him that he decided to make his next startup project here in Cebu City.

After having attracted BPOs, I think it is only right that our policymakers should focus their attention on helping the local startup community. These are Filipino tech-businesses that could produce future Pinoy Mark Zuckerbergs. I wouldn’t tire of talking about the support the Estonian government is giving its own startup community that produced Skype. Who doesn’t know of Skype today?

If things go well as they envisioned, I could only imagine both Max and Jonji joining the club of global startup winners.

The way I see it, the Philippine startup community is the next economic game changer at the time when we officially enter the Asean Economic Community on Dec. 31, 2015.

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While ordinary citizens are suffering, our city officials are arguing about how serious the drug problem is in the city. Last year, the bugoys on Sanciangko St. (that’s where our family business is located) were talking about PDEA, or Pasil-Duljo-Ermita-A. Lopez, as drug havens. Today, it seems the problem has further spread.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 24, 2014.

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