Exploring Connections: Bridging the Islands, Navigating the Digital World

The Philippines is the second largest archipelago in the world with over 7000 islands. It is a diverse and beautiful country with a land area of 300,000 sq km, divided into 81 provinces and 149 cities.

In this era where everything is easily connected by the internet, the Philippines, like many other countries, recognizes the importance of expanding and improving internet and digital connectivity.

The country has 6 IT Centers of Excellence and 7 New Wave Cities. These are the cities leading in IT developments and businesses are mostly invested in these locations, both local and international. In 2020, 25 Digital Cities were identified that aim to drive inclusive growth in the countryside by selecting high-potential areas throughout the country and transforming them into bustling IT and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) hubs within five years.

This is expected to inspire current participants to extend their operations beyond the National Capital Region (NCR) and attract new entrants to establish their presence in the Philippines, thereby creating additional prospects for Filipinos. Furthermore, the initiative was designed to strengthen the resilience of the IT-BPM sector, positioning it as a key driver of the Philippine economy. It also seeks to connect the advancements in the industry to rural areas, fortifying local economies. The 25 newly designated areas together with the Centers of Excellence and well-established Next Wave Cities, are poised to serve as attractive investment hubs within a thriving digital economy.

In pursuit of connectivity, the country moves to expand telecommunications and IT infrastructure, it also aims at making transportation and business mobility easier. In 2017, under the former Pres. Rodrigo Duterte the Build Build Build Program was established. It represented a comprehensive effort to enhance infrastructure and connectivity in the Philippines, addressing key development goals, including economic growth, poverty reduction, and urban congestion alleviation, while also expanding infrastructure support for critical sectors like agriculture, healthcare, and information technology.

* Poverty Reduction and Economic Growth: By investing in infrastructure, the program sought to create job opportunities, spur economic development, and enhance the living standards of Filipinos.

* Congestion Alleviation: It addressed the pressing issue of congestion in Metro Manila by expanding and improving transportation infrastructure, which includes roads and public transportation.

* Infrastructure Gap Closure: The program had a comprehensive scope, encompassing public transportation, road networks, health facilities, information and communications technology, and water infrastructure projects. These projects were intended to not only bridge the existing infrastructure gap but also support the country's economic growth and recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

* Agricultural Expansion: Under the leadership of the new president, the program was extended to include initiatives like the expansion of farm-market roads. This expansion aimed to increase the country's agricultural output, ensuring food security and boosting the agricultural sector.

* Highway and Expressway Expansion: A significant component of the program was the expansion of the country's highways and expressways. This expansion facilitated regional development and, in the long run, aimed to decongest highly urbanized areas.

* Inter-Island Linkage/Mega Bridge Program: To improve connectivity among the various islands of the Philippines, the program introduced the Inter-Island Linkage/Mega Bridge Program. This initiative focused on constructing both short-span and long-span bridges to create vital linkages.

Transportation in the Philippines, whether by air, land, or water, has significantly improved due to the government's previous efforts. These initiatives have aimed to enhance accessibility for both business and leisure purposes, making it as easy as possible to move around the islands.

* Domestic Flights: Given the country's archipelagic nature, taking domestic flights is often the quickest way to travel between major islands and regions. Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and other carriers provide regular services.

* Ferries and Boats: Ferries and boats are essential for inter-island travel. The Philippines has a well-developed network of ferries, especially in regions like Visayas and Mindanao. Be sure to check schedules and safety standards.

* Public Buses and Jeepneys: On the larger islands like Luzon and Mindanao, public buses and jeepneys are common modes of transportation. They are affordable and can take you to different towns and cities.

These are only the major transportation that will connect one island to another, within the islands various transportation are also available such as tricycles, a motorbike, taxis, and rideshares are also common.

In conclusion, achieving seamless connectivity to the technical and digital world is a pivotal step in advancing the Philippines and bridging the digital gap across its diverse archipelago. Efforts to ensure that the country is well-connected, with a particular focus on the importance of transportation infrastructure for interconnecting the islands, not only enhance the lives of its citizens but also open doors to global opportunities. With improved infrastructure, comprehensive transportation networks, and digital access, the Philippines is better poised to integrate with the world, fostering economic growth, innovation, and a more inclusive and interconnected society.

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IBPAP (2020). Digital Cities 2025: A Brighter Future Awaits in the Countryside. Available at: https://www.ibpap.org/digital-cities-2025. Accessed October 11, 2023

LCP Secretariat (2020). League of Cities. Available at: https://lcp.org.ph/11/413/dict-center-of-excellence-and-next-wave-cities#:~:text=These%20cities%20have%20maintained%20their,as%20the%20Next%20Wave%20Cities. Accessed: October 11, 2023

Patinio, F (2022)Philippine News Agency. ‘Build, Build, Build’ continues: Building more for better lives. Available at:  https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1179572. Accessed: October 2023

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