PBW event in the Philippines

Philippine Blockchain Week 2023 Day 1 sets stage for blockchain use case, adoption in the public sector

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The Philippine Blockchain Week 2023 (PBW) opened Day 1 with many famous local personalities present, including Senator Robin Padilla and Miss Universe Philippines 2023 Michelle Dee, to discuss how the Philippines is coping with the emerging blockchain technology and its key components such as the metaverse, Web3, and NFTs. Also on this day, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) hosted its first full-day Blockchain 101 for government officials in partnership with Block Bytes. 

The day began at the entrance of Marriot’s Grand Ballroom, where guests witnessed the official ribbon cutting led by Sen. Padilla together with Dee and the Blockchain Council of the Philippines

Guests were then led to the ballroom’s Hall D to witness yet again a unique and warm welcome from the Blockchain Council President and PBW’s lead Convenor, Donald Lim, who welcomed attendees with a brief note of what they should expect during the week-long conference, from the Department of Trade and Industry’s creativity summit to the tripleS concert on Day 3. 

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Donald Lim’s welcome speech during the first day of PBW 2023

“Welcome all of you to the second Philippine Blockchain Week. Like any toddler, we are now 2 years old, and we’re trying to gather everyone in the Web3 space,” Lim said. “We’re working very hard to be sure that we break out from the traditional ecosystem to create a whole new world.” 

As a surprise, PBW’s honorable guest and Lim’s good friend, Sen. Padilla, shared how he was exposed to the space because of the anti-terrorism law and discussed how President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. administration’s digitalization plans solve corruption in the country with blockchain.

PBW ribbon cutting
Senator Robin Padilla leading the PBW 2023 ribbon cutting ceremony

“The Philippines is a country of reactionaries,” says Padilla, reiterating that because of this political idealogy, the country is behind in technological advancement worldwide. 

“We are not pro-active. The reason why I’m here is because [blockchain] is the only way for us to be proactive. This is how the world is going—digitally. We have to be digitalized. Our government number one,” Padilla said, adding that corruption that is not only experienced by the Southeast Asian country but the world could only be resolved if “we become digitalized.” 

Philippine government’s blockchain plans

At the DICT’s Blockchain 101 for government officials, UnionDigital Bank Director of Business Development Jose Carlo “Boom” Eufemio tackles how the Philippines is becoming a hotbed for blockchain. The UnionDigital executive sees that risks in handling the technology are still notable and suggests proper regulation is critical to reach blockchain adoption.

As a step, Eufemio said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is building guidelines for virtual assets for Filipinos. He also noted that taxing “crypto” and the launch of wholesale central bank digital currency (CBDC) are already in the works. 

Still on the topic of blockchain use cases, Atty. Herminio Bagro III notes that the Philippines still mainly runs on paper, especially government processes. 

“When we deal with paper, there are all kinds of inefficiencies, costs, and risks for forgery and identity thefts,” Bagro tells the audience. 

Bagro, a former public sector manager who heads the document intelligence platform Twala, said our future lies in electronic documents.

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Randy Knutson on differentiating blockchain and DLT

Another executive who spoke in front of the audience was Randy Knutson, the president of DynaQuest Technology Services, a blockchain solution provider for businesses. While previous executives delved into the use cases of the technology, Knutson took the opportunity to teach attendees the difference between blockchain and distributed ledger technology

Speaking with CoinGeek, the DynaQuest president explains that both terms are used interchangeably—expounding that blockchain is the assembling of data within the blocks while the distributed ledger technology shows how the data is managed. 

“Just like how blockchain and cryptocurrency are not the same; blockchain is the operating system, and cryptocurrency is like the application on top,” he says. 

“You can have blockchain without cryptocurrency, but you can’t have cryptocurrency without blockchain,” the DynaQuest president adds. 

Blockchain use case on the Philippines’ public sector 

Following a list of keynote speeches was a panel discussion with a topic on the impact of blockchain on public services. 

In the panel, moderator Nathan Marasigan was joined by Eufenio, Randy Kutson, Tatsuya Kohrogi, Chen Shanlong James, and Robert Joseph Dela Cruz. The group immersed in a discussion on how local public sectors could utilize the technology—signaling some thoughts on using blockchain to improve the process of the National ID system, promoting trust and efficiency in handling data.

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In Picture: Nathan Marasigan, Chen Shanlong James, Tatsuya Kohrogi, Randy Knutson, Atty. Herminio Bagro III, and Robert Joseph Dela Cruz

A quick take on metaverse, NFTs, and Web3

Day 1 of the PBW 2023 isn’t all about blockchain and their use cases, as organizers squeezed in talks about other emerging technologies, including non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the metaverse, and Web3, that are vital to and in line with the Philippine government’s digital transformation.

A panel moderated by TV host and eventologist Tim Yap kickstarted the discussions on the metaverse with a recap of Michael Cinco’s Metaverse Fashion Gala, which was attended by fashion icons, trendsetters, influencers, and government officials, including First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos.

Cinco was represented by his long-time colleague and Co-founder of the Michael Cinco Couture, Dr. Sayed Ali, in the Day 1 panel.

The Metaverse Fashion Gala, the first in the Philippines, did not take much convincing from Cinco to be realized, said PBW co-convenor Chezka Gonzales, the mind behind the jaw-dropping event.

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In Picture: Experts in the fashion industry and the metaverse convene following the success of Michael Cinco’s Metaverse Fashion Gala event

Recalling her talk with Cinco during the planning stage, Gonzales said the Dubai-based fashion designer initially hesitated to jump on board, citing his lack of knowledge about the metaverse.

“I told him, you don’t need to understand it (metaverse), you just need to experience it,” the founder of the Women of Substance NFT says, adding that the importance of setting up an event such as this is showcasing the authenticity of a particular piece of art or goods, in this case, Cinco’s fashion collection.

From the metaverse, Gonzales also introduced Cinco to NFTs and how he can leverage it to reach a wider audience before revealing that the designer will set up a ready-to-wear (RTW) pop-up shop, which will be available for viewing and purchase during the entire course of the PBW.

RTW couture made by Cinco will also get their digital version. 

Meanwhile, with the introduction of the metaverse and NFTs comes the advent of Web3, which was tackled by experts in the gaming community, one of the most active groups in the Philippines.

Moderated by the co-host of The Bad Crypto Podcast, Travis Wright, the afternoon session of the PBW saw President of Blockchain for Gala Games Jason Brink, Tier One Entertainment CEO Tryke Gutierrez, W3GG Founder and CEO Irene Umar, and GuildQB CEO Pyrolysis discuss the misconceptions in Web3 and integrating the technology in gaming.

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In Picture: Travis Wright, Tryke Gutierrez, Pyrolysis, Irene Umar, and Jason Brink posing for a photo op following talks about Web3

Gutierrez noted that while the term Web3 has been tossed back and forth in the gaming community, many people have assumed that the technology is a subsegment of gaming, but it isn’t.

“At the end of the day…this is (Web3) just tech” that can be used to further innovate the game and users’ gaming experience, he says, a point agreed to by Brink and Umar.

Brink said people often think that Web3 is designed to be something entirely different from the existing technologies we use on the web. Web3 works in a similar fashion to Web1 and Web2, but only better in enhancing ownership and reducing friction, among others, he added.

Umar then pointed out that such a misconception makes it harder to onboard people in the community, adding that gamers and developers should find ways to use and explain Web3 in its simplest form.

She concluded by saying that blockchain is critical in helping debunk these misconceptions, stressing that experts in the gaming community should focus on how this technology can be used to provide solutions in the Web2 community, thereby making it easier for users to transition into the world of Web3.

Today marks the second day of the Philippine Blockchain Week 2023. Make sure to follow CoinGeek for the Day 2 and Day 3 recaps. Also, follow CoinGeek Philippines on social media to see the live updates and highlights of the conference!

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