mid a global financial crisis, three graduates of a computer literacy program known as “TULAY” (or “Bridge”) shared how technology has enabled them to keep relationships intact, promote a business and expand one’s horizons by simply crossing the digital divide.
The testimonials of Lilybeth Deronia, wife of a mechanical engineer based in Vietnam, Elizabeth Moran, an owner of a small business involving coco sugar, and Buhay Tan, an eighty-three year old grandmother who now uses Facebook to add new friends will be heard tomorrow morning at the OWWA building in Intramuros, Manila during the official launch of a new IT learning facility under the joint project of the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration, Microsoft and the Blas F. Ople Policy Center known simply as “Tulay”.
The Tulay program started in 2004 as a joint undertaking between Microsoft and OWWA leading to the establishment of overseas learning facilities in Singapore and Malaysia. This was followed by six other community technology learning centers in Asia and the Pacific, the Middle East and Europe as well as local TULAY centers in different parts of the country. In 2008, Microsoft gave a grant to the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute to expand the TULAY project further to 10 more regions as well as in Taipei and Hong Kong. This means that the TULAY project can be found in nearly all regions of the country.
“The TULAY program continues to empower thousands of overseas Filipino workers and their families through technology. It has also proven many times over that age or the lack of a college degree should not hinder one from mastering new technology,” OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon said.
For its part, Microsoft sees Tulay playing a more crucial role in building the capabilities of OFWs and their families with the current global economic downturn. “We need to help ensure that our OFWs have relevant and employable skills to give them the option to either seek jobs locally or even start their own business,” says Microsoft Managing Director Rafael Rollan. “The success stories of some of our Tulay graduates inspire us to keep the program going and to expand it to even more locations.”
The Blas F. Ople Policy Center said the success stories of TULAY graduates in landing a job, promoting a business and staying connected to family members overseas signify the role of technology in the empowerment of OFWs and their families.
“Lola Buhay is an example of how age should not be a barrier to learning new technology. Lilybeth and her husband Zaldy, have much to share about how technology helps enrich their relationship despite the distance. It is also exciting to know that micro-entrepreneurs like Mrs. Moran are now able to compete in a wider market through the use of the Internet. Their stories are all about empowerment and transformation with the help of new technology.”
The new community technology learning center can be found at the Blas F. Ople Development Center building in Intramuros, Manila. Prospective enrollees can simply sign up and select a class. Enrollment is for free. For more information, please contact OWWA at 551-1134 / 891-7601 loc. 5902 or the Blas F. Ople Policy Center thru telephone number 833-5337.