THIS WEEKEND, the internet in the Philippines quietly turned 20 years old.
It’s been a wild and woolly two decades, as Filipino netizens evolved from dial-up creatures who treasured those US Robotics modems and thrilled to the wonky sounds of the connection handshake, to the modern day road warrior who uses his latest phablet as a wifi hub and tweets what he had for breakfast.
In the old days, people used the internet with all seriousness and purpose, not necessarily because they were intense people, but because the terribly slow connection speeds were enough to deter internet use except only by those with true seriousness and purpose. These days, of course, it seems everyone can go online; even the fellow who can’t spell USB probably has more than one Facebook account.
In line with this, we revisit an old PCIJ interview with William Torres, a man who, despite having such a ubiquitous name, carries the unique title of Father of Philippine internet.
Torres is credited with laying down the foundations of the Internet infrastructure in the country, his negotiating with the US National Science Foundation having been the bedwork for the campaign to bring the Net to the Philippines.
Another role that Torres had, but for which he is barely known for, is his participation in the walkout of technicians and computer experts during the tabulation of the results of the 1986 snap elections at the Philippine International Convention Center. That walkout is one of the iconic images that helped spark the People Power Revolt.
In fact, this downloadable podcast interview with Torres was conducted in 2006, as part of the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Edsa People Power Revolt. In this interview, Torres talks about his role in 1986, and the role of technology in nation building.