IT literacy program graduate is a grandma

By MARIA ALETA O. NIEVA, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Feb 12 2009 01:34 AM | Updated as of Feb 12 2009 09:34 AM

Buhay Tan is a living testament who proves that age does not matter when it comes to acquiring new skills in information technology (IT).

Nearly 80, Tan’s resolve to further expand her knowledge has gained her new skills in computers.

“I was able to learn fast typing and Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Publisher and also video calling,” said Tan who is among the thousands of graduates of the project called “Tulay.”

Tan gave her testimony during the official launch of Tulay’s new IT facility under the joint project of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Microsoft and Blas F. Ople Policy Center. The new facility is located at Blas F. Ople Development Center building in Intramuros, Manila.

“I really like to learn more. My grandchildren, they do not like to teach me maybe because of my old age. They underestimated me,” Tan said who hails from Davao.

Cheaper communications
With her new computer skills, this mother of nine has found a cheaper means to communicate with her nine children, some of whom are based abroad.

“I have children outside. I would like to communicate to them so I was interested. I am very thankful to the people behind it,” said Tan.

Through the Tulay program, Tan now enjoys browsing and adding friends in her new Facebook account, a social networking site.

Another Tulay program graduate is Paterno Santos, a retired member of the military who went to Saudi Arabia as an overseas Filipino worker.

“Naisipan ko pong mag-OFW para mapag-aral ang dalawang anak ko sa kolehiyo. Nagtrabaho ako sa private at government hospital ng Saudi Arabia bilang dental technician,” Santos said.

With the little money he saved from working abroad, Santos was able to buy a small place for his Internet shop business.

“Kabubukas ko lang nitong November 2008, mayroong apat na computers at lima ang servers. Sa awa ng Diyos ayos naman ang negosyo at nakatulong sa kabuhayan naming,” he said.

Santos is now assisting in the operation of their Internet shop business after graduating from Tulay.

“Noong namasyal ako sa OWWA, nag-alok sila ng libreng Microsoft training na makakatulong sa pagpapatayo ng kabuhayan para sa OFW. Naisipan kong mag-attend para matuto akong gumamit ng computer at makatulong na din sa pagpapatakbo sa aking business,” he said.

Microsoft support
Started in 2004 as a joint project between Microsoft and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Tulay established overseas learning facilities in Singapore and Malaysia and then later expanding to other countries in Asia and the Pacific, the Middle East and Europe as well as in different parts of the Philippines.

In 2008, Microsoft gave the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute a grant to expand Tulay further in the Philippines as well as in Taipei and Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, Tulay offers classes six times a week. It has trained 1,699 participants from 12 batches.

New Tulay learning centers are found in Baguio City, Tacloban City, Calamba, Koronadal, Tuguegarao, Davao City, San Fernando, Pampanga, Butuan City and soon to open is its facility in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.

To date, Tulay has trained over 14,000 individuals in the past four years. The project is hoping to train more than 25,000 more overseas Filipino workers and OFW dependents in the next three years.

Microsoft Philippines Managing Director Rafael Rollan assured his company’s support to the program.

“Sa susunod na taon po we’re still committed to support Tulay and we’re still going to build Tulay centers nationwide not only to help OFWs but also your families,” Rollan said.

He explained that Tulay is a brainchild of Labor Secretary Marianito Roque which was conceptualized five years ago.

“Napaka-importante po ang ginagampanan ng mga computers sa buhay nating po ngayon dahil lahat po de-computer na. The most important thing that we want to offer in Tulay, are two things: Training for our OFWs help them skill up their capabilities and at the same time communication. That's the biggest problem that we have. We all know how expensive it is to communicate back home or to your loved ones while working abroad,” Rollan said.

The Tulay computer literacy program is for free. For further information, interested OFWs and their dependents are requested to contact OWWA at 551-1134, 891-7601 or the Blas F. Ople Policy Center at 833-5337.