Subscribe to our newsletter

Join our subscriber list to get the latest news, updates and special offers delivered directly in your inbox.

Invisible privilege

My wife recently renewed her driver’s license at the satellite LTO branch near our place. The new renewal guidelines state that all applicants must pass an online exam — you can take the test online and print out your results for easy renewal. Like many anecdotes from friends encountering the same process, they were able to review for the exam twenty minutes before taking the multiple choice test. If you fail, you can always retake it online in the comfort of your own home. So after about half an hour, my wife printed her PASSED exam results to bring to the LTO the next day. Yay!

Here’s the thing – there’s a completely different experience for Filipinos who couldn’t take the test online.  At the LTO satellite office, there was a separate kiosk from the regular renewals with a locally networked computer (no Internet) that had the exam for those without an Internet connection at home. There was a growing line of applicants who still needed to take the test, and if they failed on the first try, had to fall to the back of the line and wait for a second chance. I give huge props to the LTO for a seamless renewal process with online testing. But I also can’t help but point out that I come from a position of privilege by just having my own Internet connection and gadgets to allow us to take the test at our own leisure.

For those with a desktop computer, an Internet connection, and a printer at home, you belong to a microcosm that is more privileged than the rest of Philippine society. In the past, being able to read and write were the great equalizers. Today, having an Internet connection and access to information makes life a thousand times more convenient. And I guess this is what it means to educate people in these digital times. After almost three decades of the Internet in the Philippines, it still all boils down to who has access versus who does not.

We’ve themed this dispatch of PhilSTAR Tech as “back to school.” But instead of focusing on student-grade laptops and productivity apps, we want to bring light to new technologies that are, quite frankly, sending us back to (online) school to learn new things — some for fun, others for professional survival. The Internet has truly changed lives – wait till you see what AI does.