THE FILIPINO COMPUTER CLUB - DUBAI
(1996 - 2006) ...Last updated (July 2006)
By: Ernesto Ordoñez
Chairman: Committee on Membership & Discipline (2003 - 2004)
Last Updated (March 2009)
It all began with a simple vision. Ten years ago, a small group of optimists gathered together for a cause, they looked into the bright side of steering in to the arduous tides of community service.
But for Filipino professionals, engineer Jijie Zablan, and journalist Joe Lee, the vision is going to be carried out in a long term mission. They pooled up resources, skills, and talents while essential equipments were generated thru solicitations, donations and support from other community leaders and private companies.
Hand in hand along with support from other associates, they established a venue for computer literacy courses to reach out less-privileged Filipino workers in Dubai aiming in upgrading their skills – the Filipino Computer Club (FCC) was founded.
1996 – A Vision, a Mission
The year was 1996; when Dubai was young and just beginning to take its first few steps into the advanced world of computers and the internet. As to most of the migrant Filipino workers in Dubai, operating MS-DOS prompts and booting MS-Windows 95 was a whole new learning experience during that time.
FCC was officially launched with the first batch of Basic Computer course on June 13, 1996. Taking pride as one of the first venues to introduce computer lessons among the Filipino community in Dubai, the computer courses given for free.
In a small but comfortable Filipino Workers Resource Center at Al-Rigga, the club regularly holds sessions of its courses every Fridays through the recognition of then, Welfare Officer Mrs. Gladys Reyes.
Eng. Jijie and Mr. Joe Lee the original founders were assisted by Eng. Cherry Pye Zablan in conducting the computer courses. Soon after some members of PICPA volunteered their service in providing computer lessons for the students.
Word of the mouth spreads quickly as vivid interest in computer literacy sparks Filipinos in Dubai to register in the new club. The club has witnessed the growing number of students taking up the introductory courses such as two batches of DOS, MS-Windows, and MS-Word with Resume writing.
A fund raising event was even held at Sheraton Hotel and then graduation ceremonies of courses were first held for the first batch of graduates. Indeed, it was a history for the pioneer computer club.
Moreover, as a milestone to its humble beginnings, FCC’s foundation was solidified after the club was officially recognized under the auspices of the Philippine Embassy, OWWA / Labor Office in Dubai.
It aims to be a non-profit, non-political organization with the objectives of providing free computer education, training and facilities to our countrymen, of serving as a forum for computer users and professionals and of contributing its share in the development of the host country.
1997 – In Full Gear
On February 7, 1997, the club sailed in full gear. A new computer room was endorsed and officially inaugurated by Labour Attaché Atty. Luis Flores. It is also the first time when Filipino Computer Club inducted its first set of officers gaining more its credibility as a community club.
People came, and some senior leaders gone. Edmundo Ferrer was approached and brought in by Eng. Jijie Zablan for a position in the committee.
The Steering Committee was grooming Eng. Jijie to be its first president but she modestly declined preferring to support the training requirements and projects and to avoid conflict as younger sister Eng. Cherry Pye Zablan occupied the Vice Presidency. That made possible the selection of Edmundo Ferrer as the first FCC President.
They committed themselves to push Filipino Computer Club into higher gears steering towards a greater mileage.
The first PC Assembly Class was added in the courses offered which is an exclusive course for members only. After a successful Train the Trainer and Team Building, was a time of reckoning for it was this period that the Filipino Computer Club produced prominent figures amongst its students with its further batches of graduates.
In the span of almost two years, the club has achieved more than 600 students to have completed various computer courses that included Introduction to Computers, DOS, Windows, MS Word and other MS Office applications.
From housemaids to service staffs and from salesladies to factory workers, many Filipinos in Dubai and far-flung Northern Emirates have already learned the intricacies of computer through the Filipino Computer Club.
Course after course, activity after activity, accomplishments after accomplishments, the club was indeed sailing in full steam.
1998 – Bounds and Hurdles
Everything was well placed and sailing smoothly. Basic Computer and PC Assembly Class were continuously rendered. Seminars for Trainers and Newsletter Staff workshop were conducted respectively.
‘Livewire’ the official newsletter of FCC was officially launched. It was a significant highlight of the club’s image giving publicity to its mainstream of glory. Then the second term for Election of Officers was officiated.
However, in May 1998, FCC’s smooth sailing and steering force was disturbed by unexpected storms and sudden turn of events.
For a good cause, the first ever Raffle project was launched to generate the much needed funds to implement the Club's aspirations, one of which is to install a server at the computer room.
The result was a big success as it turned out to scoop a 100 per cent turnover. The proceeds were overwhelmingly generated, however in an unfortunate occasion – the objective of buying a new server was never implemented due to lapses and misdeeds of a supposedly prime-mover.
The incident sent waves of controversy, scandals and malicious intentions that were spewed by radical members defying the respect and harmony that the club was reputed with.
Dignities were stained and names were tainted. For the committed members and leaders, it was a catastrophic period causing inactivity. The FCC foundation was shook to its very core by some selfish and irresponsible individuals affecting the club with a bleak future.
Amidst of all the pains and disappointments, FCC continued to be in the mainstream wherein the officers and students participated in several functions and activities of POLO-OWWA office.
The club's deteriorating morale was spared after taking part at the Philippine Independence Centennial Celebration; it has helped lift the spirits of its constituents despite the moral challenge that is happening.
The response from the Filipino community was overwhelming and a re-enactment was even requested and held in Fujairah.
1999 – Lean and Transition
The crisis has hindered the growth of the club as dormancy and uncertainty engulfed the vigor that was once known for. Disorder, stagnancy and impersonal agendas polluted the system sparked by a vile faction of radical members.
Yet even in the midst of an internal crisis, though the mission and vision were blurred it was still carried out. Trainings for the less privileged went on and pushed thru as expected, the club has not abandoned its students.
The Club went thru its most distressing chapter which is merely caused by inconsiderate personas; the point of falling apart was looming but it was only endured by sacrifices and understanding for the majority who believed the truth.
2000 - The Rebirth
In the year 2000, the entry of a new millennium brought new faces, new direction and a new life for FCC. The club sprung back to life after it was weathered by storms. It’s the rebirth. Rising from the point were irresponsible individuals have failed them.
Committed souls remain with the efforts of new individuals who anchored to values and strong principles.
Membership then again flourished through the guidance of the set of loyal officers who stood by the club’s president Eng. Cherry Pye Z. Torres during the crisis. The shift has enabled the club to re-occupy its place in the mainstream of all community endeavors at FWRC premises.
Basic and advanced courses were more enhanced while introductory courses were added to the club’s set of curriculum.
On November 2000, Eng. Milo Torres in cooperation with the Club has introduced a new course called HTML Writing and Web Design being offered to the Filipino community who have the aspiration to go one-step further in their career or who are merely internet enthusiasts.
For what was once a simple mission with a promising responsibility of developing skills, it continues to relive the vision of community service – bigger and better during that time with its utmost commitment and consistency.
150 web design students on the opening day of the 2nd & 3rd batch, March 2001.
2001 – Reaching for the heights
In 2001, once again FCC was riding high on the crest of success. The club has introduced a course that had been sought by all, the Basic HTML Writing - Web Design Course; it has become a big hit.
For the first time in its history, the club’s first web-site project was uploaded online. The launching of the official website for POLO-OWWA office (babalikkarin.com) was one of the greatest accomplishments and contribution of the Filipino Computer Club to the Filipino community apart from providing free Basic Computer and Web Design course.
The community site pays tribute to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW's) and provides on line information about POLO-OWWA's program, relevant services and Filipino communities in Dubai and Northern Emirates.
On June 14, 2001, crossover of responsibilities were assumed by the club members during 104th Philippine Independence Day Celebration when FCC Officers took tasks from the committee headed by FCC President Eng. Cherry Pye Zablan-Torres as Program Directress for the Program Committee.
Credibility and excellence was highlighted on July 2001 when FCC’s officers and trainers have successfully passed the certification on Microsoft Office Users Specialist (MOUS) that has helped in upgrading its status into a professional level of teaching.
FCC wired up for the first time when (fccdubai.com) was officially launched by its web developers allowing thousands of traffic access per month. Adding to its official recognition, a list of affiliated community websites was further developed by the club and its associates.
By then Basic Computer also called ‘Introduction to I.T.’ course batches were producing graduates in nineteen batches already. Web Design - Basic HTML coding has batches 4, 5 and 6 and advanced course has batches 2 and 3 plus the second issue of, Livewire, its souvenir program for the year 2001 was published.
The long awaited implementation of MS-Word 2000 and MS PowerPoint 2000 came into reality and this year, simultaneous graduations was held to highlight the event.
FCC brings down the curtain to exit with grace for the year 2001 having made another milestone in its long list of achievements.
Further as an icing in a cake of accomplishments, FCC had acquired 5 brand new Pentium 4, 1.4 MHz Personal Computers, a fruit of its honest labor and intensive hard work.
The Filipino Computer Club has always been active in all community activities. It supports every undertaking, especially those organized by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
Being a regular participant in community affairs, the Club has emerged as a lead player and pace-setter in every scenario; members of the club have always been enthusiastic in every task and endeavor they take. With commitment and zeal, its dynamic members greet each community involvement with fervor.
Vice Pres. Sonny Ancheta (standing in front) conducting a lecture on Computer Hardware as part of the Basic Computer Course held at the Filipino Workers Resource Center.
2002 – Commitment and Consistency
In 2002, following the success of the website to the POLO-OWWA, the club has provided online sites for Dubai Filipino Bowling Club and follows a number of other websites.
A grand celebration dubbed "Pasko Na, Anniversary Pa", a three-in-one event that comprises a Christmas gig, variety show and the graduation ceremony all rolled into one was held on December 13, 2002 at J.W. Marriott Hotel. The event showcased a 45-minute presentation of drama, songs and dances by members of its newly-formed Socio-Cultural Committee and honored an estimated of 400 graduates of the seven computer courses.
The event also highlighted the re-launching of its official newsletter Livewire and the presentation of the five successful candidates from the FCC, who received their Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certificates were presented.
2003 – Alive and Kicking
The club was alive and kicking. Dozens of familiar faces were still steadfastly going about their civic-minded activities of providing computer lessons. Their hard work, dedication, selflessness and sense of camaraderie have made the accomplishments of the Filipino Computer Club, something that should not just interpreted as figures and statistics.
For out of the almost 8,800 graduates in 2003, many of them have improved the quality of their lives, thus enabling them to provide a better future for their loved ones, a testimony for the simple vision that was once sowed by its founders.
With the additional 10 Pentium IV Personal Computers installed at the FCC’s training room, year 2003 marked the opening of another MS Office course, the MS Excel 2000/XP, introduced on June 20 with more than 100 hundred registrants on the opening day.
Two corporate websites has been developed by the Advanced HTML class from batch 6 and 7 and the 2nd batch of Flash Animation course has accommodated more than 30 participants. Students just keep on coming.
The FCC has also extended its support to Overseas Pinoy Professional Photographers Society in conducting Digital Photography by providing computers and other training equipment.
MS Access Basic and Intermediate level has been added to MS Office courses offered in year 2004 with additional certified MOS Access trainer joined the FCC. Network Administration and Management has been conducted for FCC trainers by a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), Eng Danny Eramiz, from October to December 2004.
2004 – Trials and Success
The club has undergone the usual pains, uncertainties, irritations but the officers this time were united and beat all the odds that have come their way, learning from the past.
It was the first year of the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) in the UAE. Officers of the FCC-D volunteered in the Counting of Ballots while some trainers and students along with other church groups formed the NAMFREL Dubai Chapter headed by Eng. Milo Torres.
Prior to the registration of summer classes the club experienced distressing moments for the nth time wherein the credibility of the club was at stake. But the officers made a commitment to do the best they can to carry on the club’s objectives. Thus, the success of FCC was evident with the turn-out of more than 300 registrants despite of the hot temperature of the summer season.
The success of the club has always been pointed to the respect and the warmness of the close-knitted relationship among each other. Behind the lecture sessions, they are one big family treating one another like brothers and sisters. The members have always been supporting each other. In fact, small gatherings, ‘get-togethers’ and food trip is a trademark seal among the jolly members.
They have been active to volunteerism and participation that included extra-curricular and social events such as group night-out for the TFC Pop Star Contest in support of a good friend of FCC. It was also this year when the Toastmasters International demonstration for FCC members was first introduced which has later influenced that sheer confidence of the members.
2005 – Blessings and New Hopes
The year 2005 was ushered in with positivism. The New Year was marked with a new hope, new challenges, overcoming trials and resolute success. During its 9th year FCC was standing tall and stronger than ever graced with showers of blessings.
Additional equipments were procured for the training and FCC was generously accommodated at Abu Bakr Assiddiq Islamic Center to conduct courses for members in the afternoon. It marked the new hopes and beginning as it. The Oracle SQL and Network Administration II for FCC membership were launched.
Furthermore, the Government of Dubai - DOHMS provided a huge and comfortable facility as a venue for FCC’s community services. It was indeed another blessing from God as it facilitated the club to offer more courses for Overseas Filipino Workers in the UAE.
Due to overwhelming turn out of participants of about five hundred registrants, MS Word was divided into three classes while Advanced Excel was divided into two. FCC witnessed its prime accomplishments as the leading computer club. They had also continued their computer outreach program to Filipino workers in Fujairah.
FCC conducted 14 classes every Friday for one season in Dubai alone, an achievement never been achieved before, the first time in the history of Filipino Computer Club. The club was even featured for The Filipino Channel (TFC) Coverage of FCC teaching force meeting and programs.
2006 – Looking back, pacing forward
And finally in 2006, looking back at the years that passed, the Filipino Computer Club has reached a significant achievement. FCC celebrated a decade of excellence and commitment in the field of community service for developing computer literacy standards, both for the beginners and the advanced.
FCC has become an institution of unrelenting commitment to serve more than 14,000 Filipinos in Dubai and the emirates through basic and new courses. It has established a reputation that will remain as the pioneer and accredited computer learning that started as a simple vision ten years ago.
The Filipino Computer Club continuously plays an active and important role in the Filipino community strictly based on ICDL – Integrity, Commitment, Dedication and Leadership. The club will constantly make a difference, an integral part of their mission to serve OFWs in the UAE.
For the club, looking back to the moments that has passed is a time of reflection and looking forward is simply to venture un-chartered oceans of dreams yet to be fulfilled. Ten years is a milestone. But the value of life isn’t a matter of milestones but of experiencing the moments.
FCC’s 10th-year milestone anecdote simply proclaims… “We LEAD, others follow”.
2007 - We Lead, Others Follow
Three terms has been conducted with an average of 700 trainees/participants per batch. Speech Craft has been introduced and two trainees from Network Administration passed the Microsoft Certified Professional examination before the year end. It was a very fruitful year that some volunteers decided to part their ways and started their own computer club, a typical scenario when an organization is getting bigger. The sad part is the crab mentality that has been exercised by taking the venue where FCC is conducting the courses, the offering of the same courses and their attempt to take even the Abu Bakr Assiddiq Islamic Center to totally kill the activities of FCC.
5 brand new laptops were procured to facilitate the hands-on exercises of Intro to I.T. participants.
FCC losts 3 volunteers handling 3 of the most popular courses, however, it was not really a big deal since Eng. Jijie Zablan, Eng. Cherry Pye Torres and Eng. Milo Torres are always there ready to fill-in the vacancy in such a scenario. Others who have joined the negative forces were former students who gained their skills at FCC for years.
2008: Standing Tall...
FCC is standing tall and strong amidst of the negative forces who seek to ruin its noble cause. It has been existing for the past eleven and a half years and its Board of Trustees are very much in tact, in full control and authority. FCC continues to play an active and important role in the Filipino community. We produced 9 Microsoft Certified Professionals from Network Administration classes before the year end.
2009: Standing Taller...
Without any more influence of the negative forces and with true dedicated volunteers who remains, FCC is now standing taller with the addition of much more skilled professional volunteers at a very comfortable venue. Rewaq Cultural and Educational Center has been renovated to cater FCC's needs. The former library room has been converted to Internet Cafe where FCC trainees can practice their lessons immediately after their classes.
2010 – Year of Sharing and Giving. Aside from continuous training for OFWs, FCC participated in various and significant fund raising campaigns and drives organized by FilCom.
2011: 15 Years of Service, Commitment and Dedication. The Filipino Computer Club has achieved a significant milestone. To date, the club has already trained more than 30,000 OFWs in Dubai and Northern Emirates. The volunteer trainers continue to make a difference in the lives of others. New courses (Basic Stenography and Illustrator) were introduced during the Oct-Dec batches.