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Philippine Non-Gov't. Orgs Tackle Digital Divide 

By Faye V Ilogon, Metropolitan Computer Times
01 Feb 2001, 7:52 AM CST 

In a pioneering effort to address the digital divide in the Philippines, two non-government organizations (NGOs) have launched the first community-based free Internet e-mail project in the country. 

The PH Domain Foundation, the social outreach arm of the local PH domain registry, launched the first community-based free Internet e-mail project in Gumaca, Quezon last Jan. 25, 2001. This venture is also backed by the Tañada Para sa Tao (TAPAT) Foundation headed by Representative Wigberto Tañada of the Quezon province's fourth district. 

The project coverage includes all of the 451 barangays that comprise the district (with a total membership of 37, 718 people), all of which are members of TAPAT. 

Envisioned to be the precursor of an Internet market utopia where more rural areas are connected and more people use the Internet, the program seeks to provide free e-mail services to residents of remote rural areas, with area-based organizations as project partners. 

The e-mail service installed in Gumaca, Quezon is a POP3 e-mail system where electronic missives are viewed through any POP3 client software like Outlook Express, Eudora Lite, Eudora Pro, or Netscape Messenger. It can be viewed in a browser through the LAN by way of the software, World Client. The availability of Internet access is in accordance with TAPAT's office hours. Initially, the project concentrated on providing free e-mail and its attendant features like mail lists. However, after initial testing of the system and assessment access rates, the PH Domain Foundation proposed to enable one unit (out of the three running in the TAPAT office) for Internet surfing. The PH Foundation takes care of the technical details like seeing to hardware requirements, making the computers network-ready, providing free e-mail access, conducting tutorials, as well as giving technical support. TAPAT takes on the maintenance of the system, promotion of e-mail use among their constituents, management of the project at the local level such as scheduling and negotiating community service arrangements with users in exchange of free usage of the e-mail system. 

For the first quarter of 2001, the PH Domain Foundation has also identified other remote areas for replication of the project in the provinces of Aurora, Batanes, Ifugao, and Ilocos Sur. 

Aside from TAPAT, the PH Domain Foundation is open to partnering with community-based organizations, whether they are NGOs, cooperatives, or socio-civic, educational, religious, or media groups. 

Reported by, (Readers' Contacts: Roni Briones, PH Domain, Foundation, phones +632 6312909, 6354152, fax +632 6327319, e-mail; Mr. Lito Decepeda, Municipal Coordinator for TAPAT - Quezon, e-mail ONLINE, BUSINESS, ASIA/) 

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2001 PH Domain Foundation