Written by John Carlo Tria

OK. The title above may sound trite. This is because many of you now reading this are doing so on your advanced handheld device connected to an internet that is ubiquitous to the twenty-something living across the hall that was born into it in the 90’s.

True, the digital economy has been with us for years, but current disruptions and the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing many of us, even in the provinces and heretofore hinterlands, to go digital at a pace we never thought was possible.

Already, the Department of Trade and Industry has reported thousands more registrations for online businesses, and more than 10,000 complaints compared to previous years. (https://mb.com.ph/2020/07/13/dti-mobilizes-wfh-staff-to-monitor-online-sellers/).

Even governance is going digital. Local governments have gone ahead with transaction tools that allow safe business permit applications from home. Many agencies have also required online transactions in place of visiting their offices.

The digital entry hopes to set the stage for a “better normal,” bringing new ideas and markets for many micro and small businesses, especially in the Visayas and Mindanao.

The SONA and the economy

I and many of these business leaders have been asked about their reaction to the Presidents’ State of the Nation Address.

As for me, it’s clear that a big part of the address dealt with the economy and measures to deal with the impacts on it. This includes the call for better internet.

We can all agree that the economy, and our jobs, businesses and livelihoods have been the hardest hit by this pandemic and previous disruptions such as the Taal volcano eruption and the Mindanao earthquakes that struck late last year.

We need to understand that prior to the pandemic, we were experiencing high growth. Our debt to GDP ratios are healthy at below 50%.(https://mb.com.ph/2020/07/29/ng-debt-tops-p9-trillion-in-june/). Our credit ratings hit A-. As I had written previously, this gives confidence in our economy to weather this crisis.

Socioeconomic measures such as proposed stimulus packages and the CREATE bill need to be passed by Congress to help local enterprises, livelihoods, and the economy recover.

Congratulations to Mindanaoan artists

Congratulations to the Mindanao artists and groups which received the Kaisa sa Sining Gador Award given by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

The contribution of arts and culture adds texture to the social and economic recovery efforts from current disruptions. Art is able to express, visualize, and resonate hope and confidence in who we are as a diverse Mindanaoan people. This confidence helps our efforts to recover as communities, businesses and families. Read more about it here: https://mb.com.ph/2020/07/25/celebrating-mindanaos-best/

DOST One store

In my own efforts to promote local businesses and products,especially those supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), I would like you to visit http://onestore.ph/. You can also inquire at the DOST regional offices about their Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) Program that can assist your business.

Cover image by Anna Shvets from Pexels.

Article first appeared in the Manila Bulletin website last August 3, 2020.