VIA pc-1 Affordable Community Computing Workshop (Archive)

Tuesday, 28 November 2006
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ImageJust like many other developing countries, computers are not as ubiquitous in the Philippines as they should be. And as in the case of many other significantly digitally divided countries, the reasons for this are much the same. I wasn’t surprised to learn yesterday that the main barrier to computer access in the Philippines is affordability, or lack thereof. This is precisely the reason that the VIA pc-1 workshop I attended yesterday was headlined Affordable PCs for Education and Development.

Held in one of the APEC Digital Opportunity Center (ADOC) computer labs at the Philippines National Computer Center, the workshop was organized by the Institute for Information Industry (III), ADOC, the Philippine eLearning Society (PELS) and the Philippines Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT). VIA Technologies and eWay Technology Systems sponsored the workshop, as well as assisting in running the event.

The workshop was very much a hands-on affair and was attended by various individuals including education professionals, government and NGO representatives. I had the opportunity to speak with many of those who were present and I was very impressed with the collective enthusiasm on the prospect of low-cost computing. I did, however, get the impression that before the workshop began some of them thought it all sounded too good to be true. But by the end of the day, everyone in attendance was convinced that not only is low-cost computing a reality, its also very achievable.

Continue reading Comments (0) Added by raffy December 3, 2009 (6:05PM)

School Starts Home-Grown Low-Cost Solution for eLearning

St Francis de Sales Minor Seminary (SFSMinor), a boys' high school in Lipa City, took charge of its own P1,500/year Web solution with Minimatech in April 2009.

CoWeb training at SFSMinor

In the picture, Vice-Rector and ICT Champion Rev. Fr. Oscar L. Andal watches as CoWeb pioneer Laury tutors teachers in simple Web publishing for their own teaching needs.

The whole Minimatech Team visited SFSMinor for the one-day training in the school's Internet laboratory. The CoWeb Champion at SFSMinor is Corazon Flores.Teacher Cora Flores

Cora's own website is at while the school's website is at The school is also developing other teacher's websites and a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) facility, all housed in a single Minimatech site priced at P1,500 per year!

Comments (0) Added by raffy December 3, 2009 (3:46PM)

Minimatech at UPLB

velasco testing the eBox2300
Chancellor Velasco tests the eBox2300.

UPLB through the College of Public Affairs has been researching on low-cost computing solutions since 2005. The technology package is called eMinima, which means “easy” to use and “minimalist” in its requirements.

In November 2006, through the support of Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco and pioneering work of Dr. Raffy Mananghaya, the chipmaker VIA Technologies, the Philippine eLearning Society and the ICT Commission (CICT) launched an Affordable Computing Workshop that demonstrated low-cost PC solutions. The workshop featured the VIA integrated board and Puppy Linux Operating System. It also featured a tiny PC, the eBox2300 (shown in the picture being tested by Chancellor Velasco), which can deliver day-to-day computing at only 15 watts maximum power consumption.

The successful workshop prompted CICT in January 2007 to adopt a PC4ALL program that advocated the use of $200 PC package (P10,000, given the exchange rate at the time).

D201GLY board
Intel's D201GLY integrated board.
However, commercial products under the PC4ALL initiative have not become available in the local market until the last quarter of 2007.

In October 2007, Intel exhibited through the Philippine eLearning Society and commercial distributor Infoworx a low-cost integrated board solution. Named “Xplore Avenger”, the PC uses Intel's D201GLY board and comes with an integrated 1.33 Ghz Celeron processor. This is more than adequate for office computing using modern operating systems such as Linux or BSD.

The low-cost PC conforms with the PC4ALL low-cost target, and was exhibited at the UPLB Admin Building in March 2008.

Dr. Ranola with the eee PC.
Also in October 2007, ASUS and Intel introduced the eee PC, a low-cost but versatile laptop. Whereas small laptops have been priced upwards of P80,000, the eee PC costs only P18,000 when purchased on COD.

UPLB assists its employees in buying a PC through its Computer Loan Program. In February 2008, affordable computing pioneer Dr. Raffy Mananghaya availed of this loan to purchase an eee PC.

Vice-Chancellor Bert Ranola is proud that UPLB is in the frontier of grassroots computing, and he is happy that employees enjoy a loan program for purchasing their own low-cost PC.

Comments (0) Added by raffy December 3, 2009 (11:05AM)

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