PH advances support for startups, opens hub in San Francisco

The Department of Trade and Industry through its Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in Silicon Valley advances efforts in promoting the Philippine startup ecosystem development through projects that support the growth of the community.

In partnership with the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco (SF PCG), PTIC Silicon Valley recently launched the Spark447, a co-working space and resource center at the Philippine Center’s building in San Francisco that aims to cater to Filipinos and Fil-Am start-up communities in the Bay Area. Ambassador Jose Miguel Romualdez and Consul General Henry Bensurto Jr. led the soft launch last 22 May 2017.

“SPARK447 provide avenues for bringing the community in San Francisco closer together. But it doesn’t stop there, it will bring the Filipino tech community in San Francisco closer to our ecosystems in Manila and make change happen,” said PTIC Silicon Valley Trade Representative May Niña Celynne Layug.

Spark447 is a shared office space, networking hub, and a place uniquely designed for rising entrepreneurs, freelancers, digital nomads and internet professionals. It is part of the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco’s “Spark, Connect, Empower” (SCE) movement that aims to gather Filipino and Fil-American communities and individuals in the United States in building collaboration and partnerships that promote nation building.

According to DTI Trade and Investments Promotion Group Undersecretary Nora Terrado, the establishment of Spark447 will be instrumental in showcasing the technology and business opportunities in the Philippines.

“This will greatly complement our initiatives in promoting opportunities in the Philippines and the talents that we have particularly in advanced industries including manufacturing and the IT-BPM,” said Terrado.

DTI in close partnership with the Departments of Science and Technology (DOST) and Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has been supporting and enabling the development of the Philippine startup ecosystem. The collaboration caters from various stages of startup development from ideation to commercialization.

According to PTIC-Silicon Valley, several organizations, companies, and individuals, who share in the vision of the SCE movement have pledged their full support of the movement. These include PLDT, Philippine Airlines, The Filipino Channel, National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), One World Institute and Mama Sita’s.

According to the recently released 2018 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, the Philippines startup ecosystem has strong foundations in the areas of Fintech, Enterprise Solutions and AI & Machine Learning.

In 2017, the DTI led Slingshot ASEAN, a business event developed by the ASEAN Committee on Business and Investment Promotion that gathered startups, venture capitalists and key players in the ASEAN startup community through learning hubs, pitching competitions, plenary sessions, and exhibitions.

n photo (L-R seated): Tess Marin, SSS representative; PTIC-Silicon Valley Trade Representative Celynne Layug ; Dir Pura Molintas (DOT-SF); H.E. Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez; Consul General Henry S. Bensurto, Jr.; Mrs. Mariz Bensurto, and Deputy Consul General Raquel Solano. Others in photo are Spark, Connect, Empower (SCE) movement partner organizations. Photo from DTI-PTIC Silicon Valley.

PH to develop AI-enabled workforce to address the threat of AI


MANILA – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) together with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and tech pioneer company AI Pros, are set to join forces to train Filipinos in using Augmented Intelligence (AI2) as a solution to the impending threat of artificial intelligence on the jobs in the Information Technology – Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry, while encouraging investors and operators to create more Socially Responsible Business Process Outsourcing (SRBPO) in the countryside.

“Instead of AI replacing jobs in the IT-BPO industry which is estimated to affect half of the 1.3 million jobs in the sector, the workers will be trained and upskilled to make use of AI2-enabled systems.  Basically, it’s making the AI system become the solution to the problem,” Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez explained.

“Augmented Intelligence will combine the power of artificial intelligence with human intelligence to upskill the Filipino workforce and make them more effective and productive by enabling them to do complex and higher-paying tasks. This initiative, summed up under the “Philippine AI Workforce” brand campaign, will provide more jobs to Filipinos and bring the development to rural communities,” DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio added.

“We are the first country to launch this kind of initiative. Instead of looking at AI as a threat to the BPO industry, the Duterte administration is using AI2 to provide more opportunities for inclusive growth. We will train and enable our workforce, regardless of their background and experience, to use AI2 to perform smarter and complete difficult tasks, and help them move up the value chain. The training will make them employable, operating even in the rural areas to make this program truly inclusive,” said Sec. Lopez.

DTI and DICT will introduce the presence of AI2 solution to the BPO sector in the Philippines (PH).  The AI2 solution will employ impact sourcing by involving the masses in the sector’s growth. This will allow 482,000 unskilled workers to handle low-skilled work, while 525,000 low-skilled workers will perform mid-skilled work, and 309,000 mid-skilled workers will be able to do high level tasks.

“The entire industry market is worth USD 262 billion and only USD 79 billion is outsourced. With the government’s initiative and push for innovation, we will be able to benefit from this market to open up more job opportunities for the Filipinos which is the priority of President Duterte,” said Sec. Lopez

“The idea here is to empower not only the existing BPO workers but also involve those at the rural areas. A pedicab driver or palengke vendor can be trained in using AI2 and start to perform even high-skilled jobs in IT-BPM,” the trade chief added.

With the help of AI Pros, a technology company founded by Diosdado Banatao and George Yang, industry operators will be assisted in expanding their businesses by designing, developing, and deploying AI2-based services that can be applied to retail, finance, services, and healthcare. Both Dr. Banatao and Dr. Yang are successful Filipino entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who are committed to help the Filipinos level-up their skills in the age of technology.

To encourage IT-BPO operators to use an inclusive business model, expand their businesses to provinces and become Socially Responsible BPO, DTI through the Board of Investments (BOI) has this activity in the BOI Investment Priorities Plan, entitled to incentives.

The Department will then focus on promoting areas with high poverty rates to these companies and provide rural residents with 654,000 jobs.

“Operating in rural communities with high poverty rate will give BPO companies an opportunity to lower their labor cost while providing meaningful employment,” said DTI Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba.

“As we deepen our participation and upgrade along the global value chains of multinational companies, investments in AI activities in various sectors of the economy will be supported,” said Sec. Lopez while highlighting the inclusion of IT-BPM in the top industry priorities to drive the country’s growth and development under the Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (i3S).

Meanwhile, DICT will supply a fast and inexpensive internet connection for the BPO operators located in the countryside. DICT’s 4,000 Tech4Ed centers nationwide will also be utilized to assist recruitment and AI training.

According to Sec. Rio, the government will focus on rebranding and promoting the new “Philippine AI Workforce” to support the BPO industry and improve the country’s competitiveness.

The BPO industry has been a key driver of PH growth for 15 years, supporting various industries such as banking, retail, property, and providing 18 million employment opportunities nationwide.  In a 2017 report, 50% of the BPO operations are starting to be automated.

DICT dangles digi-marketing, e-commerce course in Bohol

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol May 12 (PIA)—Jumpstarting to prop up Bohol’s inventory of trained technical persons who can support to rural communities in their development efforts, the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) in coordination with allied offices, dangle a free technical training to at least upgrade to technical grade skills held by young Boholanos.

The DICT is looking for trainees in the Rural Impact Sourcing Technical Training; a 12-day digital marketing and electronic commerce course, running from May 21- and in the Saturdays and Sundays until July 27, this year in Tagbilaran City.

The technical training that can provide digital opportunities in the countryside by equipping trainees who have good communication and with basic information technology skills, the edge in digital marketing and electronic commerce, according to Edilberto Aquino Jr., sharing this information during the monthly meeting of information officers in Bohol.

During the same gathering at the Panda Tea Garden Resort, Aquino, who came with another DICT staff said the training includes training modules for branding for companies products and services, web development, product photography content writing, customer relationship management and email follow through.

Also included in the technical training modules are data privacy and cybercrime law and digital marketing ethics,  search engine optimization and email marketing, social media content creation, social media planning and calendar,  business blogging, and building a freelance profile.

Applicant however should be Filipino citizens, at least a high school graduate, possesses basic information technology skills and has good communication skills, according to DICT.

While the deadline for applications was set May 11, DICT through Aquino said they can still accept applications before May 17 screening examinations.

Applications are done online. Interested applicants can apply through as soon as possible, Aquino stressed.

The training on Rural Impact Sourcing is also in coordination with the provincial Government of Bohol, City Government of Tagbilaran, Bohol ICT Council, Department of Trade and Industry and digitalph.

For more information, contact Bhol ICT Council at 09772614851 or email at (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol/DICT)

“FACADE: Opening an Open Space of Possibilities”

Dalareich Polot  and Joy Angeli Uy, two young Boholana entrepreneurs launched their personal advocacy called FACADE (Food, Agriculture, Culture and Arts, Development, Education) with a  tagline “Opening an open space of possibilities”.  FACADE aims to change the face of culture in the province of Bohol through community development and education.

Two social entrepreneur speakers from Manila, JOSH MAHINAY, founder of BEAGIVER and DR. ANTON MARI LIM, Co-Founder and President of Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation also inspired the guests with the stories of the respective communities they are helping.

During the launching, they introduced FAÇADE Talk Series 1 that was held in Tagbilaran City Grounds for 3 consecutive nights from April 24-26, a side event of Tagbilaran Fusion Nights 2018. The first topic was handled by two young Boholano coffee farmers, Duke Minoza of Buenaventura Farm and Paolo Rigotti of Rigotti Coffee with the topic: Cacao Seed to Cup Appreciation Night”. On the second night, April 25, the topic was “Bean to Bar Chocolate Journey and Chocolate Appreciation Night” handled by our two Bohol chocolate makers , Ms Vina Antopina and Dalareich Polot itself. On the 3rd night, April 26, the topic was “Organic Food and Farming, Sustainable Planet, Produce and People” handled by Efrenia Holt and Cyrus Lobrigas of KABOOM Organic Farming Group of Bohol. The talks were attended by several people who pre-registered and walk-in people during the Fusion Nights.

“This is just a personal advocacy for the both of us, purely borne out of our numerous frustrations with how underappreciated certain aspects of our culture are.  Our only equities are our network, sweat, and ultimately, just our passion. The only gain is to see Bohol as a creative hub for food, culture, and the arts.” Polot and Uy said during the launching.

“We want to see Bohol in the future as a creative hub for food, agriculture, culture and the arts and development. We want Boholanos to talk, collaborate, open a conversation and inspire each other. Shobe Joy and I personally thank all our sponsors who were at our back when we planned for this. “ – Dalareich said in her facebook post.

Polot and Uy will be preparing their next series soon and hopefully during the Sandugo Festival.

The new Courtyard Technology Hub is now here to serve Tagbilaran’s Digital Nomad

Dandreb James Arro


Freelancing has been a viable option for many Filipinos. In fact, there are more than 2 million Filipino freelancers despite slower internet in the country, with these freelancers earning an estimated $10 to $50 per hour, depending on the job. Apart from having to earn above daily minimum wage, freelancers are not tied to a desk in a clock in-clock out, eight-to-five corporate setup. This gives them more time to pursue other passions.


While most freelancers opt to work in the comforts of their own home, oftentimes, the cabin fever kicks in and a new working environment becomes a necessity. This is when other go-to work options come in handy, like coffee shops. But expenses can balloon with every fill of coffee and there will be days when a barkada conversation can be loud and distracting.


This is when co-working space came to the scene. A co-working space is a shared workplace where freelancers and startup entrepreneurs can rent a table or room for a fee. These digital nomads can bank on the high-speed internet provided by co-working space while enjoying a new scenery and free coffee. Moreover, these co-working space provide avenues for these individuals to build a community where they can share ideas and collaborate on projects.


Co-working spaces have sprouted in some of the country’s busiest business hotbeds like Makati and Cebu City. Recently, a co-working space venture has found its way into the thriving Tagbilaran City.


D’ Courtyard Technology Hub is a co-working space located at CPG North Avenue fronting Dr. Cecilio Putong National High School (affectionately called Bohol High). It provides a private workstation amidst the bustling Tagbilaran City business scene where teams and individuals can transform ideas into realities.


D’ Courtyard Technology Hub workspaces can accommodate teams of up to 20 members. There are workspaces within glass walls surrounded by garden views, stimulating the senses for the free flow of ideas. The meeting room can accommodate groups to discuss, analyze, and synthesize ideas, the first step in creating a new innovative venture.


Apart from that, D’ Courtyard Technology Hub provides fast and reliable internet up to 200 mbps that allow businesses, freelances, and other players to thrive in the digital economy. Food and beverages are made readily available for a quick bite or refreshment, making sure that the flow of ideas will be uninterrupted by hunger or thirst. The best part is that D’ Courtyard Technology Hub aims to help build communities that explore possibilities through sharing and collaboration.


For those who wish to work in a warm collaborative space that thrives on inspiration and imagination,

D’ Courtyard Technology Hub can be their home. With amenities that suit the life of anyone whose opportunities are sought in freelancing, going online has just been much more enticing.


For more information visit our website or you may contact us directly:


Smart – 09292497628

Globe – 09456047258

Pldt Landline – (038) 427 – 1907

Email –


The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is pushing for automated government frontline services through mobile applications and the use of electronic payment scheme to enhance the ease of doing business in the country.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, chair of Inter-agency Ease of Doing Business Task Force, said that the ultimate goal of all the reforms is to make all frontline services online literally at your fingertips, providing a convenient and efficient means for public to transact with the government.

Lopez cited the Quezon City (QC) government’s Online Business Registration, where applicants can file for business permits online. This allows businesses to easily register their firms in the comforts of their home/businesses.

During the joint visit of the DTI, DILG and NCC, the QC government reported on the ePayment facility for business taxes and real property taxes. Payment of these charges can be made thru Landbank, Bancnet, or GCash. These reforms significantly improved doing business in Quezon City.

“As we continue to cut red tape and streamline procedures, we are now moving towards automation of government transactions. In the age of smartphones, we intend to harness its potential to ease of doing business. With the support of DICT, we are looking at developing a fully electronic registration process using smartphone apps.” Lopez said

Secretary Lopez also stated that with the enactment of the proposed Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act, nationwide automation will soon become a reality. The proposed law mandates a central business portal that will link the systems of national government agencies and local government units, as well as the establishment of a Philippine Business Registry databank. This portal will serve as a central system to receive applications and capture application data involving business-related transactions.

“We must make doing business easier. A complicated business registration process is a huge turn off particularly to young entrepreneurs or millennials who would want to start their business. Our current business registration practices are not aligned with the preferences of this demographic who are totally dependent on their mobile devices,” Lopez said