MANILA, Philippines--The children of East Rembo in Makati have access to the information highway and have become dotcom kids, thanks to the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network that is housed at the Mater Dolorosa Parish church.
Many of the kids on the afternoon of the Philippine Daily Inquirer's visit were girls. The boys were probably out playing basketball. After all, every barangay has a basketball court, courtesy of Councilor This or Councilor That. It seemed nobody cared where the girls went after-school or what they did, nobody that is until Intel opened the clubhouse where girls are welcome to play with the computers and exercise their brains same as boys.
The East Rembo community is, to be politically correct about it, underserved. The streets are narrow and the homes are ramshackle compared to the wide avenues and high-rises of neighbor Fort Bonifacio. Chances are, without the ICCN, these kids would not have been introduced at their tender age to the skills that they will need to succeed in this digital age.
In addition to being a center for creativity, the ICCN is a warm community of learners. The 80 members, ranging in age from 10 to 17, are mentored by the staff and 21 registered volunteers in the use of technology for creative expression, for recreation and for more serious school work.
Supportive learning environment
The supportive learning environment within the computer clubhouses enables young people to express their ideas, build skills as well as self-confidence.
The ICCN in Mater Dolorosa Parish also caters to the youth of nearby areas in Makati, Pateros and Taguig.
It is open 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., but closes for an hour's lunch break from 12:30-1:30 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday. On Mondays the staff and volunteers meet for training sessions. Sundays are reserved for maintenance. The Mater Dolorosa Parish church is now mainly responsible for the project.
At the ICC, young members are taught hands-on how to use various software creatively.
The software programs are top of the line: Adobe Premier, Movie Maker and Ulead Video Studio for making their own movies; Flash, Dreamweaver, Swish Max and Adobe Image Ready for designing their own websites; Photoshop, Corel Photo Paint and Painter for editing and manipulating pictures; Microsoft PowerPoint, Movie Maker, Photo Story and Microsoft Publisher for showing off their pictures; Microsoft Word, Publisher and Adobe Pagemaker for publishing; RPG Maker for designing their own games; Sierra Home Architect for home designing; Pico Blocks and LEGO Mind Storms for robotics.
There's also the Intel Play Microscope where they can view minuscule objects like a real microscope, capture them in the computer and proceed to edit the image.
As much as the kids would like to spend a lifetime at the Intel center, they are limited to three-hour sessions to give other members a chance to get their hands on the computers. Paul Christian Rosales is clubhouse coordinator; Amy Baldoz is his assistant.
The clubhouse is also a safe place where student members go for help with school projects that require technological skills, including surfing the Web to do research, e-mail, even chat.
The day of the Inquirer visit happened to be Intel's 40th anniversary, a milestone that the microprocessing giant had chosen to mark with the launch of a global digital mural.
Children around the world have been working with Intel volunteers on murals depicting what computers will bring into their lives in the next 40 years.
For obvious reasons, the creative collaboration is called The World Mural Project. Using computers, kids from 20 countries, such as Brazil, China, Mexico, India, Israel, Ireland, Russia, South Africa and the United States, have been hard at work (or hardly working, considering how much fun this is for the digitally-inclined) to create the online global mural.
The World Mural Project is a web-based digital art piece that includes visual and written contents from 70 Intel computer clubhouses throughout the world.
More than 500 young people in 21 countries submitted graphic design "tiles" that were incorporated into an overall mural design. The project links together the individual submissions into one expansive and exciting digital mural that speaks to the youth's creativity and passion about technology.
Renowned digital muralist Favianna Rodriguez has shepherded the World Mural's creative process.
Common themes represented in the mural include the trend toward smaller, more mobile computing; green technology that improves our environment, more responsive technology in health care and education, and virtual travel.
Through the project, the youth of the world have expressed, in so many strokes and words, that they expect computers to change the world in positive ways for the next 40 years and beyond.
"As an industry, we have a responsibility to fulfill these expectations," said Bruce Sewell, senior vice president for corporate social responsibility at Intel.
Intel researchers are already working on a number of technology areas that are similar to what some of the youth have envisioned, including energy-efficient, affordable mobile Internet devices, high-performance visual computing solutions, and low-cost personal computers designed to meet the needs of first-time computer users in emerging markets.
"Intel has a 40-year history of serial technology breakthroughs and innovation," said Intel CEO and president Paul Otellini in an anniversary statement. "Over the next 40 years Intel technology will be at the heart of breakthroughs that solve the big problems of health and environment. For Intel this is just the beginning of its journey."
The sense of pride is understandable since Intel can take credit for introducing the "brain" of computers, the microprocessor. At that time, Otellini said, no one knew that computer sales would exceed 350 million units a year.
Investments in education
In the past decade alone, Intel invested $1 billion to improve education worldwide and is now investing more than $100 million annually to help teachers teach, students learn, and universities around the world innovate.
In addition to the learning benefits derived from computer clubhouses by kids, Intel has also trained more than five million teachers through its Intel Teach program and funded the world's largest pre-college science competition called Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF).
The Intel Higher Education Program brings cutting-edge technology expertise to universities through research grants, technology entrepreneurship forums, and mentoring by Intel technologists.
In the Philippines, there is another Computer Clubhouse and it is located at the Computer Training Center in Barangay Pinagtipunan, General Trias, Cavite.