Needless to say, in today's world, technology plays a very important role in the growth and development of any nation, the Philippines included. And many parts of this year's State of the Nation Address delivered in our national language by President Benigno Aquino III at the House of Representatives this afternoon merely highlighted that.
While listening to the speech earlier, I took the liberty of taking note and jotting down several key points mentioned by President Noynoy pertaining to the use, acquisition and advancement of technology in the country.
1. Using Gadgets To Prevent Casualties During Typhoons
"Walang kalaban-laban din po ang marami sa tinamaan ng bagyong Ondoy, Pepeng, at Sendong. Napakarami pong nasawi sa paghagupit ng mga delubyong ito. Sa ilalim ng bagong-lunsad na Project NOAH, isinakay natin sa iisang bangka ang mga inisyatiba kontra-sakuna, at hindi na rin po idinadaan sa tsamba ang paglilikas sa mga pamilya. Gamit ang teknolohiya, nabibigyan na ng wastong babala ang Pilipino upang makapaghanda at makaiwas sa disgrasya.
Real-time at direkta na ang pakinabang ng walumpu’t anim na automated rain gauges at dalawampu’t walong water level monitoring sensors natin sa iba’t ibang rehiyon. Bago matapos ang 2013, ang target natin: animnaraang automated rain gauges at apatnaraan at dalawampu’t dalawang water level sensors. Ipapakabit po natin ang mga ito sa labingwalong pangunahing river basins sa buong bansa."
English Translation: "Many of those affected by typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng, and Sendong were just as defenseless. We lost so many lives to these natural disasters. And now, through Project NOAH, all our anti-disaster initiatives have been brought inside one boat, and we no longer leave the evacuation of families up to mere luck. We now have the technology to give fair warning to Filipinos in order to prepare for and avoid the worst.
Our 86 automated rain gauges and 28 water level monitoring sensors in various regions now benefit us directly and in real time. Our target before the end of 2013: 600 automated rain gauges and 422 water level sensors. We will have them installed in 80 primary river basins around the country."
2. An Additional Modern Ship to Guard Our Coastal Waters
"Nagka-canvass na rin po ang Sandatahang Lakas ng mga kagamitan tulad ng mga kanyon, armored personnel carrier, at frigates. Hindi magtatagal, dadaong na ang karelyebo ng BRP Gregorio del Pilar sa ating pampang. Sa Enero, aangkla na po sa Pilipinas ang BRP Ramon Alcaraz, ang pangalawa nating Hamilton class cutter. ‘Di na po bangkang papel ang ating ipapalaot; ngayon, mga hi-tech at dekalidad na barko na ang tatanod sa 36,000 kilometers nating coastline."
English Translation: "At this moment, the Armed Forces is likewise canvassing equipment such as cannons, personnel carriers, and frigates. Before long, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, our second Hamilton class cutter, will drop anchor, to partner with the BRP Gregorio del Pilar. We are not sending paper boats out to sea. Now, our 36,000 kilometers of coastline will be patrolled by more modern ships."
3. Employing Technology To Ensure Road Safety
"One thousand five hundred sixty-nine kilometers na nito ang naipaayos natin sa ilalim ng pamamahala ni Secretary Babes Singson; sa 2012 - 2,275 kilometers pa ang maidadagdag na natapos na rin po. Pati po ang mga kalsada at kurbadang mapanganib, tinutukoy at inaayos na gamit ang pinakabagong teknolohiya. Taun-taon po nating bubunuin ito, upang bago matapos ang aking termino, bawat pulgada ng ating national road network, maayos na po."
English Translation: "Right now, 1,569 kilometers of this has been fixed under the leadership of Secretary Babes Singson. In 2012, an additional 2,275 kilometers will be finished. We are even identifying and fixing dangerous roads with the use of modern technology. These are challenges we will continue to address every year, so that, before end of my term, every inch of our national road network will be fixed."
4. New Helicopters and Two C-130 Military Aircraft for The Armed Forces
"Mainam na rin po siguro kung maglilinis-linis na ng mga hangar ang ating Sandatahang Lakas, dahil darating na ang mga kagamitang lalong magpapatikas sa ating tanggulan. Sa wakas, may katuwang na po ang kaisa-isa nating C-130 na tatlumpu't anim na taon nang rumoronda sa himpapawid. Dalawa pang C-130 ang magiging operational ulit sa taong ito. Bago matapos ang taong ito, inaasahan nating maide-deliver na ang binili nating dalawampu’t isang refurbished UH-1H Helicopter, apat na combat utility helicopters, mga radyo’t iba pang communication equipment, rifles, mortars, mobile diagnostic laboratories, kasama na ang bullet station assembly para sa arsenal. Pagdating naman po ng 2013, lalapag na ang sampung attack helicopters, dalawang naval helicopters, dalawang light lift aircraft, isang frigate, at mga force protection equipment."
English Translation: "And perhaps it is an apt time for our Armed Forces to clean up their hangars, because we will be having equipment arriving soon to further fortify our defenses. Finally, our one and only C-130 that has been roaming our skies for the past 36 years will have partners: two more C-130s will once again be operational. Before this year ends, we are hopeful that the twenty-one refurbished UH-1H Helicopters, the four combat utility helicopters, the radios and other communication equipment, the rifles, the mortars, the mobile diagnostic laboratories, and even the station bullet assemblies we have purchased will be delivered. Come 2013, ten attack helicopters, two naval helicopters, two light aircraft, one frigate, and air force protection equipment will also be arriving."
5. Health-care Facility Acquisitions
"Marami pa po tayong kailangang solusyonan. Nakakabahala ang mataas pa ring maternal mortality ratio ng bansa. Kaya nga po gumagawa tayo ng mga hakbang upang tugunan ang pangangailangan sa kalusugan ng kababaihan. Nais din nating makamit ang Universal Health Care, at magkaroon ng sapat na kagamitan, pasilidad, at tauhan ang ating mga institusyong pangkalusugan.
Sa pagtugon natin sa mga ito, malaki ang maiaambag ng Sin Tax Bill. Maipasa na po sana ito sa lalong madaling panahon. Mababawasan na ang bisyo, madadagdagan pa ang pondo para sa kalusugan."
English Translation: "Challenges remain. The high maternal mortality ratio in our country continues to alarm us. Which is why we have undertaken measures to address the health-care needs of women. We, too, want Universal Health Care; we want our medical institutions to have enough equipment, facilities, and manpower.
We can easier fulfill all these goals, if the Sin Tax Bill—which rationalizes taxes on alcohol and tobacco products—can be passed. This bill makes vice more expensive while at the same time raising more money for health."
6. A New Hub for Tech Investors
"Dati, namamalimos tayo ng investments; ngayon, sila na ang dumadagsa. Ang mga kumpanyang Hapon, sa isang pagpupulong po namin, ang sabi ay, 'Baka gusto n’yo kaming silipin. Hindi nga kami ang pinakamura, pero una naman kami sa teknolohiya.' Pati pinuno ng isa pong malaking bangko sa Inglatera, kamakailan nakipag-usap sa atin, ang sinabi, maisali sana sila sa ating kinukunsulta sa usapang pinansyal."
English Translation: "Once, we were the debtors; now, we are the creditors, clearly no laughing matter. Until recently, we had to beg for investments; now, investors flock to us. Some Japanese companies have said to us, “Maybe you’d like to take a look at us. We’re not the cheapest but we’re number one in technology.” A British banker recently came loooking for opportunities."
I'd say the overall feel of this year's state of the nation address is one of optimism and hope. I particularly liked that section of the speech where the president presented a video of 'regular' Filipinos - a policeman, a mother, and a military personnel, among others - who've benefited directly from reforms implemented by his government. For me, that clip showed that Pinoys are actually reaping the rewards of a leadership backed by integrity that they chose for themselves three years ago.
As for the "tech parts", I felt that most of them should have been done or implemented a long time ago. But as they say, "Better late than never." One sector that I wish would truly get the most out of advancements in technology is the public education system. I just hope that next year or maybe the year after that, our president can already talk about laptops and tablets for students alongside classrooms and textbooks. I mean, if Thailand can do it, why can't we? If the government starts focusing its funds and efforts on that now, I'm sure we'll get there sooner than expected and the benefits will definitely be great.