Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is a metropolis boasts of rich cultural heritage and thriving economic activities. But just like any other modern cities, there are many people who live in poverty. Many of the city’s poor live around the area of Smokey Mountain, the once largest landfill in the world. These families have been surviving by salvaging and scavenging garbage.
Benigno P. Beltran, or better known as Father Ben, has devoted himself to the people living in this slum for over 30 years. He is well aware of the power of digital technology and the opportunity it could afford for the young people. “Computer is a tool, so that you could gain knowledge. And knowledge, when you use it, will give you a good future,” said Father Ben.
In 2005, ADOC Secretariat worked with Father Ben and set up a computer center next to Smokey mountain, , and many relevant courses have been provided to teach women and children to use computers. The business model created by Father Ben and his team enabled women from many families to make a living by selling their handicrafts to countries in Europe and Americas through the Internet. The people who used to survive on the garbage mountain are now connected to the world by digital technology.
Though ADOC project has transformed into TDOC project, the support to ADOC centers never ends. During the meeting between Father Ben and TDOC Secretariat in 2016, Father Ben mentioned he’d like to learn more about bamboo processing since recently there’s a bamboo forest donated by Philippine government, and to learn e-Commerce platforms that he can use for selling the organic and healthy food ingredients grown by the local residents.
This year, TDOC Secretariat invited Father Ben to come to Taiwan and arranged a series of visits based on his needs.
On March 15th, Father Ben went to Zhushan, which means “Bamboo Mountain”, is a township located in central Taiwan. Father Ben managed to visit many factories there, from basic factory which makes bamboo sticks by simply cutting the bamboo chips, to high-end glued laminated bamboo factory. There is even a bamboo school that is willing to offer relating skill trainings to Father Ben’s team. After today, Father Ben now has a clearer picture of what to do with Bamboo in the Philippines, and he will start from making chopsticks.
In the morning of March 16th, Father Ben visited Institute for Information Industry, where a presentation of KD8, a mobile-commerce app for opening online store, was offered to him.
In the afternoon, he first visited a retail space equipped with “Sou Fun app”, a mobile app that offers new marketing experience by having interaction between your phone and physical stores. Then he paid a visit to FutureWard, which is not only a co-working space but also a makerspace. Father Ben had a very inspiring discussion with the CEO FutureWard and gained many ideas for self-made and empowering start-ups in the Philippines.
At the age of 70, Father Ben never stops learning, and still has many plans to accomplish. During his time in Taiwan, he’s mentioned he want to help lower the cancer rate in the Philippines by offering healthier food and introduce better equipments for examination. In addition, he now has a learning management system that has an algorithm and can help students to choose different courses. And Father Ben’s still trying to improve the system. His eager to help people never stops, and so does the support from TDOC Secretariat.