Fil-Am whiz from Silicon Valley to keynote 5th Geeks On A Beach


Helping raise roughly $40 million for a Silicon Valley company before it produced its first intelligent wearable headset is just one of several feats for this Filipino-American for a serial entrepreneur and “World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer” awardee.


Yobie Benjamin can talk about several amazing things during the 5th Geeks on a Beach (GOAB 5) in Puerto Princesa, Palawan on August 24-25, said Tina Amper of and organizer of this annual tech startup event in the Philippines.


The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is GOAB co-organizer. members Happy Garaje is responsible for branding; PRworks for media and public relations; and for web development of Geeks on a Beach.


“We hope the presence of Benjamin will inspire local startups and M SMEs. But more important, we are looking forward to having this global technology leader to interact with industry leaders and the startup community to drive action for the betterment of the Philippines and the world. GOAB continues to aim for measurable impact by facilitating potential projects and business deals not only for individual companies but also for the Philippine startup ecosystem,” Amper said.


For starters, Amper pointed out that this former political prisoner during the Marcos dictatorship days raised $40 million for Avegant, the company that makes and sells the Avegant virtual reality video headset and Skully, an intelligent motorcycle helmet that helps you see what is happening at the back, receive and make calls, and communicate with nearby vehicles.


Benjamin recently raised $18.5 million for Token that provides software to banks that enables them to issue a new payment type designed specifically for use in the digital era.


According to Amper, Geeks on a Beach gathers hundreds of technology entrepreneurs and professionals along with concerned government agencies to also look at ways of leveraging technology to help address Philippine social and environmental problems.


Amper said, this former political prisoner’s social concerns can be seen in his involvement in yet another company that is developing the ability to perform 50 diagnostic tests using only a drop of blood. This service, he said in a talk at Stanford University in Silicon Valley, will soon be given for free to whole populations in return for big data.


In Kenya, Benjamin is involved in Wildlife Works that sells carbon credits for protecting the rainforest and wildlife from poachers. The poachers, he said, included Al Shabbab terrorists. In Brazil, Benjamin’s company applied the same business model to mobilize the coastal population to protect mangrove forests.


Geeks on a Beach has partnered with the City of Puerto Princesa in Palawan. Known for its environmental advocacy, the city is the location of the world-famous underground river. The Tubbataha Reef, one of the world’s biggest ecosystem, is located some 92 nautical miles southeast of Puerto Princesa.


PLDT Innolab is supporting GOAB 5 as co-presenter while A Space is co-producer. The sponsors include Payoneer, Zalora, PouchNATION,, Synergy 88 Digital, Uniform Solutions, and NXTLVL Academy.


The media partners are e27, Tech in Asia,, Innopub Media, Geeks in


Cambodia, Asian Journal Publications, Balikbayan Magazine, Mobile Ecosystem Forum,, and


The organizational partners are the Philippine Software Industry Association, the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines, UP CebuINIT, Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines, Developers Connect, Science and Technology Advisory Council – Silicon Valley, Mynimo, Teradoor, Israel Chamber of Commerce Philippines, and the Cloud Security Alliance Philippines.
GOAB is organized by, powered by, branding by Happy Garaje, and pr by PRWorks.







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Bohol Fablab for MSMEs wins in Asia’s start-up pitch contest for innovative biz

The fabrication laboratory (FabLab), a design co-creation platform in Bohol supporting Philippine micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) was cited among the top winners in an annual competition for start-up businesses using science and technology for innovative ideas.

Bohol FabLab won 200,000 yen prize money from THK, a Japanese-listed company in the Tokyo Stock Exchange who will then collaborate with FabLab for a development project involving the latter’s upcycling facility.

The award was among those given in the Tech Planter competition organized by a venture firm based in Japan Leave A Nest Co. Ltd meant for hardware makers that leverage science and technology for innovative business ideas. Same competitions are also held in countries like Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Aside from FabLab’s upcycling project, other winning teams introduced innovations such as using light pigmented ube (purple yam) for commercial use, a mind-based alert system for paralysed patients, and a vending machine for over-the-counter medicines or first aid.

“Winning the competition gives Bohol Fablab and its beneficiaries the opportunity to partner with other companies and scale up its operations,” said Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer (JOCV) Shiro Takaki who mentored and coordinated the Bohol FabLab participation in the competition.

The contest saw the potential of Bohol FabLab’s heat press machine, an upcycling equipment developed by Takaki to form new products from waste materials like plastic.

Global luxury brand Louis Vuitton already expressed interest to source materials for the interior designs of their boutique from the FabLab.

Established in 2014, the Bohol FabLab began as a development cooperation initiative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) JOCV Program, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Bohol, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and Bohol Island State University (BISU).

About 135 manufacturers in Bohol initially became part of FabLab who benefited from the platform by enabling them to make product prototypes faster, create scale models, illustrate graphic designs, combine local materials, and even mass produce products.

“The award gives FabLab Bohol opportunity to use technology in helping the community and environment through our plastic upcycling project,” said Alfred Vicere, staff of Bohol FabLab.

FabLab technical manager and BISU instructor Jerome Manatad added that ‘the prize will give chance to also commercialize the heat press to benefit more MSMEs and communities.’

Already, a women’s group in Barangay Cogon, Bohol are using the heat press machine to create souvenir items from recycled plastic, a livelihood project supported by another JOCV.

FabLab is a concept that began in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to help grassroots communities translate their design ideas into physical forms with help of computers. The concept was such a success that it already has a global network including USA, Kenya, and Afghanistan.

The Bohol FabLab encouraged the Philippine government through DTI to set up more of its kind in other parts of the country as part of MSME development.

(From left to right) Shohei Maekawa, President of Leave a Nest UK; Kihoko Tokue, President of Leave a Nest Singapore; Yukihiro Maru, Founder and CEO Leave a Nest Co., Ltd.; Jerome Manatad, Fablab Bohol Technical Manager; Shiro Takaki, JICA volunteer; Makiko Deguchi, JICA volunteer; and Katrina Rausa Chan, Director QBO Innovation Hub during the awarding ceremony at the Tech Planter competition

Game Dev Training Set In June

A Game Development workshop will commence this June 17th, lasting two days. It will be held at the Bohol Investment Promotion Center behind the Capitol Building.

The technology used to make entertainment apps and games, including the growing VR and AR genres, has become democratized over recent years. It is now possible with game engines such as Unity, Unreal and CryEngine to make professional looking games that would have been exorbitant to produce a decade ago.
The game creation software Unity will be the focus of this workshop led by developer Ben Skelton and artist Mariel Cerio.

Industry topics such as the development pipeline, types of work and demand for various genres will be covered. However the priority will be the hands on development of a mobile game. Art, game design and coding will all come into play. By the end of the two days attendees will have made a game that they can play on their android device.
Registration is limited to only 15 participants. Register online at . Important note: see the requirements for own laptop with software already instThe cost is P500, lunch is included and proceeds will go towards future events of the Bohol Communications and IT Council. BIPC and are due thanks for being involved.


QBO launches hub for startup programs

QBO Innovation Hub, an established partnership between the public and private sector including the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), IdeaSpace Foundation, and J.P. Morgan, opened its startup enablement programs to help speed up growth and learning for Philippine startups and entrepreneurs.

“We are excited to create success stories that will inspire Filipinos to start their own companies instead of pursuing opportunities overseas,” said QBO and IdeaSpace President Butch Meily. QBO will start offering programs and services to startups including access to QBO’s networking events such as classes, workshops, mentorship, feedback sessions, and use of its co-working space.

Available services also include professional consultations on legal, accounting, marketing and design, corporate and government partner resources referrals, incorporation assistance, business registration, intellectual property filing, and investors and potential partners pitching.

“DTI hopes that with our partners from industry, academe, and other government agencies such as DOST and DICT, our initiatives will help advance the development of our local startup ecosystem and increase the number of high-growth oriented enterprises that will bring the Philippine brand in a global scale,” emphasized DTI Trade and Investments Promotions Group Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado.

Through QBO, startups will also have an opportunity to join J.P. Morgan’s Incubation Program, a stage agnostic module that will be available to select and high-potential startups all year round. It initially plans to enroll 15 startups by the end of 2017.

“As one of the world’s leading financial institutions, J.P. Morgan celebrates new ideas and we are committed to supporting entrepreneurs in the country, especially those with underserved backgrounds. Engaging with Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) at their early stages is critical and we are excited about the tremendous opportunities they will bring to developing sectors and generating jobs, which are both vital in promoting prosperous and thriving communities,” said Roberto L. Panlilio, Senior Country Officer, J.P. Morgan Philippines.

To avail the said services, startups need to have an initial interview with the QBO team and undergo initial assessment. Through this, a customized plan will be designed to match with the resources needed by the startup. QBO launches hub for startup programs 2| P a g e QBO was launched in 2016 with DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez and PLDT Group Chair Manny V. Pangilinan. It aims to link innovators, explorers, investors, academic institutions, start-up mentors, funders and enablers as well as a broad spectrum of partners and stakeholders from both public and private sectors to convene in constructive interaction.

“The Philippine startup ecosystem is growing incredibly quickly, fueled by a young population engaged in the internet and digital, and more importantly, by entrepreneurs that demonstrate incredible determination and commitment.

By continuing to develop ideas into innovative products and technologies, startups can evolve to become great companies that positively impact the future of the Philippines” said DOST

Undersecretary for Research and Development, Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara. QBO is the first innovation hub in the country, pioneering the first public-private effort to establish an innovation ecosystem in the Philippines following success stories of Silicon Valley in the United States, BLK 71 in Singapore, and MaGIC in Malaysia.

Auza.Net Starts Summer 2017 OJT Program

By: Jerome Auza

It has become a tradition of Auza.Net to accommodate as many on-the-job trainees as we could fit in our small office. This year, we have selected eight students who are graduating in the next school year to undergo our summer OJT program.  Our projects include data processing and automation of mass data input.  Some of the students will explore the use of Arduino and embedded systems for building security and monitoring applications.  They will also learn about website development and will be involved in commercial projects.

They will also be involved in a small structured cabling project at the Auza.Net office.

The OJT program we conduct exposes the students to real world application of technology.  It also gives them a gentle introduction into the world of business.  Aside from learning technical skills, Auza.Net will also introduce business and leadership training this year.  We believe that these students would benefit from the business knowledge they will gain.  They will also learn to be leaders develop themselves to take on leadership positions when they get employed or start their own businesses.

The eight qualified trainees are BS Computer Engineering and BS Computer Science students selected from a fairly large number of applications.

We will publish their progress on their projects towards the end of the OJT program.  Auza.Net has successfully launched commercial projects where trainees were involved in the development, testing and deployment.  Among the notable projects are the DYRD-AM Worldwide Broadcast, the PPCRV-Bohol Online Election Data Audit System, Bohol News Daily and the PRC Passers websites.

HNU gets free Smart wifi

TAGBILARAN CITY, March 7 (PIA)–The day after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the Philippine national Broadband Plan to effect a faster and more reliable communications in the country, Holy Name University in Bohol also partners with Smart Telecommunications for a wireless fidelity (wifi) internet access for its students.
And for that, Smart Communications incorporated allocated 100 megabyte per second (mbps) internet bandwidth to the catholic university, giving students some 30 minutes free internet service daily.
Holy Name University President Fr. Francisco Estepa SVD, pointed out that the provision of SmartWifi in the campus is the third among HNU and Smart partnerships.
He told the modest crowd gathered at the covered shed beside the campus Bates Building that HNU also got Smart suite.
Smart Learning Suite is a facility that combines lesson delivery, assessment, student collaboration and game-based learning software via the Smart Notebook, Smart Lab, Smart Response and Smart Amps.
He also said HNU partnered with Smart on Smart Sports.
This time, Smart Communications incorporated again partnered with HNU on the SmartWifi in the campus.
“Our partnership with Smart has been very beneficial to the school, we do hope that we had mutual benefits with Smart,” Fr. Estepa said.
The partnership allows the HNU community to get 30 minutes free wifi access daily, also gets them free infrastructure in cables, access points, 100 MBPS of internet bandwidth, free facility operation and maintenance, while earning a co-branded set service identification (ssid) and leading page, courtesy of Smart.
For partnering with Smart, HNU also commits to shoulder costs of power used by the facility, provide adequate space for the infrastructure, allows the tapping of the facility to HNU emergency power supply, provides security to the facility and its components, as well as allowing the telecommunications company to advertise its services to students.
For students who want more access time, all they need to do is buy access cards from the school canteen to continue using the service after the free provisions, Smart said.
Signing the agreements were Wifi Team Smart Communications head Regina Pineda, and HNU President Fr. Estepa.
Also witnessing the ceremonies were Smart Area Development Manager Lailane Husain, Fr. Vicente Uy SVD and school professors, students and employees.
Other than HNU, Smart has also put up a fast and reliable wifi connection at the Tagbilaran City Airport, and had been asked to provide the same huge bandwidth at the Tagbilaran City Port, Tagbilaran City Hall, the nw Provincial Capitol and some identified public places. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)