WHY WAS TAGBILARAN DELISTED AS ‘NEW WAVE CITY”?

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WHY WAS TAGBILARAN DELISTED AS ‘NEW WAVE CITY”?

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cartoon editorial IN 2011 – TAGBILARAN BASKED  in the glory of being among the choice “New Wave Cities” in the country as possible  future host of the BPO (Business Process Outsourcing).

The figure of new BPO hirees, then, was within reach: 10,000 gainfully employed agents. After all Bacolod has 20,000, Davao City 30,000 (2014) and today Cebu at a staggering 95,000 employed. Our educated estimate is Dumaguete City  could be at least more than 5,000 agents.

We hope this “delisting” is temporary and could be over-turned in the future.

We will forever curse ourselves to our graves if we cannot get our acts together and let go of this one great opportunity of a goose that lays the golden eggs. Let’s simplify.

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Agents numbering 10,000 receiving a median of P20,000 per month  ,ladies and gentlemen, is P 200 Million in fresh salaries circulating in the province in one month. .If one does not appreciate the heft – that is P 2.4 Billion in one year- bigger than the P1.5 Billion  Capitol budget of the entire province             .

How many families would have been lifted away from the morass of poverty with that kind of job opportunities?  And it is a “environmentally clean” income where Bohol does not need to plant raw materials and destroy the ecology with its presence.

Will somebody be honest and brave enough to tell why Bohol was delisted?

BPO is big business whose players also demand security of their investments.

In what area of business concern did the city/province fail to cover?

Power is one major concern. Your inputs in a computer can get wiped out in a single brownout- some irrevocably. Generator power is always added expense and annoyance.

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In July 2014, PLDT- with cameras clicking and video on- proclaimed it has invested P700-Million in DFON (Domestic Fiber Optic Network) – connecting Bohol to Cebu and Cagayan de Oro  with 328 kilometers if inland /submarine fiber optic cable resulting in an initial capacity of 40 Gbps.

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Very few understand what that gobbledygook means’ but- everyone and his teenager at home know that internet power here has remained slow and unreliable. What gives?

What about infrastructure? It’s a chicken and egg situation. IT buildings require certain technical gizmos unlike ordinary buildings. The investors/locators have to recoup their investments in these and would hanker for lower rental rights for the building.

They argue correctly that in 3 to 5 years, restaurants, spas and entertainment would flourish on the buildings or the environs -hoping to eat a piece of that -oh luscious- P200-Million a month paychecks. That is supposed to compensate for low rental rates?

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For economies of scale, it is good to locate an IT hub in a big piece of land. For instance, the LinkSy IT Hub in Bantayan, Dumaguete City is slightly bigger than one hectare. There were recent talks the old  Tagbilaran city airport site as a candidate.

That’s still 2018 earliest  and based on the assumption that there is zero delay in the opening of the Panglao New Bohol Airport in December 2017.

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What about talents?It is safe to say our best and brightest in the IT field are in neighboring cities and abroad -unable to wait for a Bohol miracle.  Are we ready with our talents for IT work?

For voice-based IT- with have at least 5 schools catering to future needs. Without denigrading anyone as (most of us finished or part of our schooling here)- we may have graduates with perfect grammar- but are their diction and pronunciation up to par for international standards?

The other- the non-voice-based  (and back office support) requires knowledge in accounting,legal, architecture, medical transcription , graphics and animation – or have we lost most of them to other countries?

Of course, more than government, the private sector represented by the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI)  is  indeed worried with the delisting. More of  incalculable “opportunity cost” in business parlance more than anything else.

From the socio-economic standpoint, these jobs would have provided some antidote to the prevalent poverty in many places here .  While it is true -that BPO will benefit the educated middle class and urban businesses- taxes collected will eventually translate into social services of government- helping the rural folks. Economics 101.

We need to do our own feasibility study as investors do on us.

How do we make the city/province a viable site for BPO and the like?

What tax incentives are in place now for them? Do we have enough world-class residences and townhouses to host expats who may join the lead team here?

The BCCI will contact three possible sources of answers: (1) Leechin Property Consultants (2) IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBAP) and (3) Science Department’s Information and Communication Technology  Office (ICTO), all three were already here to explore but never came back.  And that is a good first step.

Anyway, let us let off this crazy election fever away  first and then  think seriously again about BPO.

Let not the future generation blame us for losing by default- i,e doing nothing.

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com

3 Comments

  1. Linux Linux April 17, 2016

    This is a must read for the governor who mentioned this opportunity years back.
    But it seems our Government Execs/Politicians are busy kicking each other for the
    coveted position at the moment. I for one would recall my expat daughter in Singapore to come and work here should this happen.

  2. Al Benarando Al Benarando April 18, 2016

    -Dumaguete now has between 9-10 thousand full time BPO employees.
    -Although there are no big BPO companies in Bohol, there are thousands of Boholano BPO workers in Cebu, Manila, etc. sending part of their salaries back home (the province does benefit from the BPO industry after all). Wages in smaller hubs like Dumaguete are considerably lower compared to the metros (you’d expect the same for Tagbilaran, being a similar-sized city). The average entry level BPO salaries in Dumaguete are between 9-15k a month only.

  3. Jam Jam July 8, 2016

    I think the main issue here now is talent. Initiative for the connectivity was already addressed with PLDT DFON.

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