Marvin Pascual on FOSSAP 2005

Last September 1-4, FOSSAP 2005 was held in Cambodia to discuss the various concerns regarding the free and open source movement in the various countries in the Asia-Pacific region. FOSSAP was organized by the International Open Source Network.

Marvin Pascual, the incumbent president of the Philippine Linux Users’ Group has been invited by Sunil Abraham to join the conference. He was able to interact with free and open source software (F/OSS) advocates in the region. He discussed the current situation of F/OSS in the Philippines.

Marvin shared some of the lessons he has learned from the conference. They tackled three major barriers to the promotion and adoption of F/OSS to the community and government for each country. These are as follows:

  • budget/funding
  • training
  • localization

In his opinion, the latter is not applicable to our country. “Majority of Filipinos understand the English language,” he said. As such, localization is not a very big issue.

The issue of funding initiatives in the development, adoption and advocacy of F/OSS, he stressed the need for an organization or a collaboration of organizations that will work with the government. This would make it easier for various groups working for such causes. Some of the institutions that give grants are UNDP, USAid and GTZ.

Marvin Pascual also shared his thoughts about the need for training. “There should be a pool of F/OSS trainers for every country. Basically the idea was to conduct a series of ‘Trainers’ Training on GNU/Linux and F/OSS’ and the pilot project is to conduct trainings geared towards the LPI certification.”

This is indeed high time for the F/OSS community to work together so that these barriers could be overcome. It is the sense of community that will make these projects that Marvin has mentioned come true.

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  • Jerome Gotangco

    The issue of localization is not a matter that has to be ignored. Localization is important for the improvement of the language. Even if majority of Filipinos can communicate in the english language, there are still some people who can’t. Localization is a major factor that can eliminate the so called digital divide.

    Even if majority of filipinos speak in english, we should still strive to improve the mother tongue.

  • 1) Budget and funding – this is something that must be addressed, although given this country’s current economic situation, this issue is likely to hit the back burner. Private industry is likely the best means of getting support. How to get that support without being saddled with commercial apps is a kink to be worked out. Perhaps we should consider the “500 magic machine” (a $500, 500 MHz notebook that runs Linux and has a _hand crank_ to provide emergency power)? *grins*2) Training – is a big issue. User resistance to change is remarkable; UNIX has been around for well over twenty years, but has been favoured by specialist users for a reason. “grep, sed, awk” are a far cry from the fancy GUIfied utils most people are familiar with. 3) Localisation – is, as Jerome said, quite important. Like it or not, the Philippines is still largely in an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) state, especially in the provinces. Adapting the GUI to local needs posts a remarkable challenge – how many dialects should it support? Many prospective users have not only never seen a computer before, but are also incapable of speaking English or the national language (assuming a worst-case rural deployment scenario). Not that I’m suggesting it’s impossible, but the challenges posed are awesome. It will be interesting to see FOSS warriors taking the fight where it matters most – to the front lines of the digital divide. ^^

  • Meshiel

    Ask lang po ilan ba ang dialect natin?Thank u po.