Wanted: The Real Philippine Internet History

We need the real Philippine Internet history. Most Pinoy Internet users don’t know it at all. Some, might know the short version. Few know about things that really happened.

These are the juicy bits that would be polished over in an official “textbook” Philippine Internet story.  These are the “off the record” stuff that either get circulated as hearsay and urban legend, or kept secret. This is because the Philippine Internet History is not all rosy.

This comes into mind because the ph-cyberview mailing list anniversary is coming up.

A few years ago, I contributed to the Philippine Internet Review publication and wrote about Philippine Internet History. However, this was just based on my notes and personal research off the Web.

We need it written by a real journalist, with interviews and first-hand information.


23 Responses

  1. Wouldn’t a wiki-style history be more appropriate? Getting the *real* RP internet history will be hard work, and for a journalist to do it requires a, er, commission. Who would take the cudgels, I wonder?

  2. A wiki would be interesting, but who would do the research?

    I know it’s hard but it would be great material for say, ROGUE magazine.

  3. This is a good idea! Following the principle of a wiki, maybe you can make it a community effort. Everyone can contribute stories or his research. The challenge is how to ensure you have the legit info. But as they say, if there’s a will there’s a way.

    If this pushes through, count me in! 🙂

  4. Hi! I would like to ask for your email address as well as other contact information like address and mobile number. We would like to invite you for our media launch

  5. one curious blogger here who would be interested in the piece that you said you wrote sometime ago. might also be able to contribute a few materials if someone would spearhead a serious attempt at documenting it.

  6. Meikah,
    After 2 months… no work on my end here. Hope to bring it back.

    Sorry I’m not interested in blogger PR events.

    What I wrote before is in a commercial print publication:

    If we come with an open content version, then your help will be appreciated.
    Likewise, if there’s another effort, then you can join.

  7. goodness, my personal experience of pinoy internet is during my lynx days in the vax/vms labs where html pages are all text based, MMPORG used to be MUDS, IM spawned from netsends and telnet chats (IRC was high tech during that time) and BBS boards. hahahaha!

  8. how about starting a wikipedia entry? or is there one already…

  9. The problem is that a proper Wikipedia article must cite sources and must not have original research. An article on the Philippine Internet won’t fulfill those requirements, because there are no primary sources available.

  10. Hi Migz,

    As we all know, it was Philippine Network Foundation (PHNET) that really started it all, with then PHNET President Dr. Rodolfo Villarica considered as the Father of Philippine Internet.

    Risa Carlos (sister of Marikina mayor Marides & sister-in-law of Bayani Fernando) and Ritchie Lozada (now with Microsoft) were the managers. Later Bombim Cadiz joined and managed the company.


  11. interesting project Migs 🙂

    i can’t think of anything in particular, but if you could cite some events, may be I could try to whack my brain and search for dusty info.

  12. Maybe a corporate sponsor, as part of its CSR, could commission a writer or a group of writers to do the history project and come out with either a history texbook or a coffee table book on the history of the Internet in the Philippines.

  13. WinstonWebber – not “as we all know” since few people know it anymore!

    jaydy – all dusty info is appreciated!

    anol – yes, something like that would be good. how about that, PLDT? Globe?

  14. I think I saw a blog post from Janette Toral about a similar topic on this.

    But, anyway. I just want to share “Cyberbayan” that Mr. Chuck Gardner has contributed (cyberbayan.com, cyberbayan.net, cyberbayan.org). I believe it was the first website that lists all Filipino created web pages online – if I am not mistaken, around 1995 (when he has preparing a printed handout for a July 1995 net demo for Mozcom and USIS jointly sponsored at the Diamond Hotel for the news media).

    I still have the contact details of Chuck.


  15. […] Topic link Tags: Blog, Cyberbayan, History, Internet, Philippines You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. […]

  16. By virtue of working for USIA at the US Embassy printing center and being a computer geek I was invited to the roll-out of PHnet at Ateneo in April 1994. There I met Ritchie, Risa and others involved in the start-up. In May 1994, with the help of Willy Gan whose company ComNet had supplied the routers, and Benjie Tan who actually flipped the switch to connect PHnet with the net for the first time, I put together a plan for a TCP/IP intra-net / internet gateway for the Embassy. The plan when nowhere, but at the end of a briefing Ritchie gave me one of his cards, wrote a username / PW on the back and a phone number and that afternoon I was on the net via the Ateneo server.

    I returned to the US for leave and while there bought a new Mac, modem, and got a Netcom account. On netcom I discovered the Soc.Culture.Filipino usenet group. By the time I returned back to Manila in July 1994 I’d taught myself HTML. The only problem was there were no web servers on line or PPP connnections to support the first graphic browser: Mosaic, so I created web pages in my Ateneo shell account and accessed by a text based browser via an ftp: URL.

    I started working with Willie Gan and Benjie Tan to get our office connected to the net. They were putting together what would become the first commercial provider, Mozcom.com I created graphic rich web sites for both Mozcom and ComNet for the roll out of Mozcom in early Sept 1994 because nobody there had the time to learn HTML yet. Willie gave me private dial-in line with PPP which allowed me to use the graphic browser and root access (total control) over the Mozcom web server. I became the de facto Mozcom web master. At the time there were only a few thousand sites on the entire WWW. I don’t know if the Mozcom site was the first web site in hosted in the Philippines, but it was among the first and definitely the first commercial one.

    The only time I wasn’t on-line from that point in Sept 1994 was when I was sleeping. I’d log out at home then dial in at work. There was no usenet server in the Philippines at the time, but thanks to my NetCom account I could telnet there and remote log-in and stay in touch with my new found friends on Soc.Culture.Filipino (SCF). By virtue of being one of the few people in Manila able to log in that way (Jim Ayson and Kelsey Hartigan-Go were two others) I became a source of news about what was happening on the net.

    Usenet was like a blog. If you posted information it would quickly disappear in the message queue. One evening in Oct 1994 an American guy on SCF suggested the idea of a web page for SCF. Since controlled the Mozcom web server I put one together listing the five Filipino web sites in existance at the time, created a banner in Photoshop, and a few hour later posted the URL on SCF. Problem was most were still in shell accounts and couldn’t see it. Over the next few months I solicited content, even posting “fill in your text” templates in HTML on usenet. People would then e-mail me the pages and I’d host them until they could find a server. In Manila whenever Mozcom would do a net demo, I’d attend and explain how the web worked.

    I wanted the net to grow because I knew economies of scale would make it cheaper for everyone. Philippine National Steel was a client of Mozom and one day when I pinged the server to see who was logged in I saw some IT guys from there and offered to do a web page. They got approval, emailed me a few photos and I created a information / contact site. A month or so later it got mentioned in an Asia Business Week article about the emergence of the net in Asia. The funny part was that PNS hadn’t even seen it yet themselves because they were still on a text-only shell account. I had not even met them yet: it was entirely e-commerce 🙂 But I suspect that article served as a wake-up call in boardrooms all over Makati. I also helped St. Lukes Hospital get connected to Mozcom in late 1994 or early 1995 and did its first web page.

    In Jan 1995, Rommel Fererria of UP organized a face-to-face lunch for people who knew each other only from usenet. If you go to my photo site at http://bossa.nova.org/ and look at the first link you’ll find a photo of the group who attended from six different countries visting for the holidays, including the founder of the SCF newsgroup and the guy who suggested the SCF web page.

    More than anything I wanted to see new on-line so I facilliated a join venture demo with Mozcom providing the technology and USIS inviting all its media and govt. contacts. We played to a packed ballroom at the Diamond Hotel in July 1995. I’d written and printed a 16-page handout in which I coined the word “Cyberbayan”. Parts of that handout were reprinted in all the major papers. It was the first extensive coverage of the net in the mainstream media and it really took off after that.

    In response to follow-up inquires to USIS I put together a two-day free semminar on HTML and running a web site with a on-line notes, resource links, and an HTML primer. Jim Ayson helped me with it. Unfortunately my assignment ended a few weeks later and I returned to the U.S. About a month after arriving and settling into my new townhouse a planned East coast picnic in Virginia turned into a party and sleep over at my place – all people I only knew from the SCF group on the net. It was that kind of community back then.

    I registered the “cyberbayan” domains and changed the name of the SCF page to Cyberbayan and moved it to my ISP in the US. The collection of links grew to over 700 by the time I retired it in October 1997. In just three years the web index model for sharing information had been rendered obsolete by the search engines and there where other better sites such as Ken Ilio’s (who I met when he visited Washington, DC).

    In 1997 the Philippines were a featured country at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and there was a Centennial celebration on Pennsylvania Ave. in front of the FBI building. I photographed it and created a web page for it.

    I returned to Manila in 1999 for another assignment but didn’t do much on the web. My interest shifted to digital photography and I did a couple classes. Before leaving in 2001 I was able to attend and speak at “One Internet Day” on the 7th anniversary of the start of the net, having lunch with and getting re-aquainted with Benjie Tan who I had sign my copy of the Internet Systems Handbook. I also had a chance to meet and break bread with Willie Gan, whose vision and hard work and knowledge was big part of the early days on the net. Saddly he was lost to cancer, far too early.

    I never made a centavo on the net in the Philippines. Any speaking honoraria were donated to Pearl Buck. But I made hundreds of friends – I knew every Filipino with a web page from 1994-1997 and had a huge amount of fun with my 24×7 Internet connection….

    I retired from the State Dept in the Fall of 2007 but still consult there.
    I no longer have the Cyberbayan domains, and now focus on teaching photography and lighting via my web site http://super.nova.org/DPR/ and photo forums.

    Chuck Gardner

    • Hi, are you related to Robert Gardner, one of the pioneers in writing travel destinations here in the Phils?

  17. Hi Chuck, got this thru Miguel’s tweet. Anyway, my name is ROMMEL FERIA and not Ferreria. 🙂

    Anyway, happy christmas!


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