Monday, September 10, 2007

Cebu Booming in the DotCom Economy

(The edited copy of this article was published at the Philippine Star last September 22, 2000)

[September 22, 2000] For those who claimed that Manila has all the potentials of becoming the Silicon Valley of the Philippines, think again. Cebu, the Queen of the South, is being considered as the province with the highest potential of becoming a true Silicon Valley of the Philippines.

Cebu, an unexpected player, boast of an estimated Internet user base of 200,000. This includes those who access the Internet though Internet Cafes at least once a week.

More than 400 Internet cafes can be found in the city charging from 10 pesos to 35 pesos an hour.

"The room is so tight in Metro Manila and I say we cannot really develop the Philippines if we only develop Metro Manila. You have to decentralize development," said Rex Drilon II, President of Cebu Property Ventures and Development Corporation. "Cebu, actually, is a more hospitable place for business. The cost of living is still manageable. Rest and recreation is very much accessible too. You can go to the beach, golf course, shopping center in less than an hour from the city."

Drilon added, "Even the department store saleslady, waiter, ordinary people here uses the Internet. I think Cebu is the only place that is really Internet and technology-savvy across all class of people."

Several dotcoms are springing up from this area. The likes of,,, are just some of the few booming on this part of the country. To ensure its growth, the players in the Internet community formed Cyberpromdi.Net, an organization whose intention is to promote e-commerce knowledge and help others in their dotcom initiatives.

Ayala Internet Venture Partners (AIVP) recently, launched its incubation initiative through IdeaFarm, Inc. last September 15, 2000. It is established to identify promising seed companies for the iAyala Group. The strategy is to invest in start or early stage companies and assist them until they are able to launch commercially.

The incubation center is located inside the Cebu Civic and Trade Center (CCTC) Information Technology Park, the first IT park outside of Luzon. There's another incubation center in Manila located in University of the Philippines.

More than 100 dotcoms aspirants from Cebu, Davao, Cagayan De Oro, General Santos attended the launch.

The IdeaFarm will be housing six dotcom incubatees where it will provide a combination of facilities and professional services. Facilities include office space, computers, servers, computer peripherals, high speed network and Internet connection, meeting rooms, and business center. Professional services include the set up of administrative, human resources, accounting system, legal and financial advice, market and business strategy planning, and investment matching.

Prospective incubatees will be screened based on the business plan and on the strength of the management team. It would prefer entrepreneurs who will be participating on a full time basis. To compensate, the IdeaFarm will provide salaries for full-time participation.

Depending on the type of development, the incubation process should last from six to twelve months.

Incubatees who will be able to produce and complete the final product will graduate from the facility. They are on the verge of of commercial launch. IdeaFarm will assist the launch of the product/service. In addition, it will provide assistance in managing the next round of fund-raising.

"We are definitely serious in helping the dotcom economy prosper in the South. Ultimately, our goal is to produce financially viable businesses that will thrive in the global market," said Jack Madrid, Executive Director of iAyala Company, Inc.

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