My Virtual Office

I’ve been procrastinating about writing this essay. Here I am, preparing for the 3rd Global Filipino Networking Convention in my hometown, Cebu City, Philippines. The event’s dates feel like an imprinted brand on my forehead: January 20 to 22, 2005 at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel. Yes, I accepted the responsibility of being the USA Executive Coordinator, working with the 2005 Organizing Committee headed by Greg Macabenta.

My virtual office is critically important for this convention. I need to have 24/7 cellphone and computer access. My computer and its accoutrements have to be in top working condition. Since I’m not a “techie,” I rely on my consultants. There’s my husband, Erik, whose computer networking and “virus killer” expertise keep me safe from the spyware and worms that invade the privacy of helpless virtual workers. Erik has even decided to do part-time computer repair house calls — for a fee, of course. There’s my sister, Noemi with her daughter, Lauren, who are working very hard to get my website, radiantview.com, up and running by next weekend. 18-year old Lauren is an experienced webhost-entrepreneur who has been internet-writing since she was 10 years old. Google loves her! In June, “the-protagonist.net” website was ranked number 23 out of 31.6 million sites. I’m riding on Lauren’s notoriety so that my clients will know that I’m working with the best.

Last December, Noemi outfitted me with a new Nokia cellphone, the 7250i gizmo. I don’t know how to use all the features yet but the primary appeal is its global roaming function on pre-paid Globe Telecom credits, as well as features such as low resolution pictures, a deafening alarm clock, and an organizer/calendar. I’ve retired my PDA (IPAQ) for now. The 2,000 monthly minutes on my Sprint PCS account is manageable. Thus, I estimated that my Philippine cellphone would need 600 pesos for its 60-day time limit. No monthly fees. Reloading of phone credits could be done online through Bank of Philippine Islands or my sister could e-mail me the access numbers for new phone card credits. Better yet, she could share some of her phone credits and send it to my cellphone for a limited number of days’ use. At the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last April, without any phone credits left on my account, I was pleased to find out that my niece, Marielle, had autoloaded my cellphone with 20 pesos so I could send and receive texts — and my sister could call and instruct me which part of the airport she was picking me up from. Any Philippine cellphone user could text me even if I’m in Kazakstan, using my local Philippine cellphone number. I would have the option to reply with a text, which would cost me 15 pesos in the USA, or log on to my chikka.com account from an internet café.

The chikka software, just like the yahoo messenger software, is convenient for my business transactions in the Philippines, as long as my colleagues are Smart or Globe Telecom subscribers. I send a text message to a Philippine cellphone for free, the recipient pays 2.50 pesos when replying to my chikka number, or the recipient can text me separately on my local Philippine cellphone number for 1 peso.

Chikka and Yahoo are indeed my favorite business tools in managing the details for this upcoming convention. I copy and paste all my chats and send copies to pertinent parties. Although I have a microphone, I’m still evaluating which broadband internet provider will provide me with VoIP, a.k.a. Voice over Internet Protocol, so I can save on long-distance calls. Sanny Leviste suggests that I should use my yahoo “voice chat” as an alternative. I’ve hinted to my father-in-law that I need a webcam so I can drool over the “real time” moving images of my sister eating Ube-Macapuno ice-cream. My yahoo briefcase, which Cheryl Platon turned me on to, eliminates the need to bring my MS Word folders on CD’s. However, my husband feels uncomfortable about my ability to remotely access my home office computer, thus eliminating the need of a laptop computer on my trips. Erik just won’t allow it until he installs the right software.

Well, I have to stop writing now. I’m due for an online appointment with a client who lives in the Philippines. He’s making another career move and he’s hired me to be his coach. I like that.

Lorna Dietz is the Executive Secretary of the Philippine American Press Club, USA. She specializes in public relations, marketing, event management, and intuitive life skills coaching that reaches out to the Filipino American communities and beyond. Lorna can be contacted at lornadietz @ yahoo.com.

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