If you ask any internet user in General Santos City about the history of the Internet in the city, and who the Father of Internet in GenSan city is, all you would get is a blank stare or a quizzical look.
In spite of the presence everywhere of the signs of the city’s connectivity to the information superhighway like the ubiquitous Internet cafes, the Wi-Fi equipped coffee shops, bars and fast food outlets and a good number of internet-wired commercial buildings, it is a pity that only a handful know about its origins.
In fact, only a few really know who was instrumental in wiring Gensan to the Internet. Now, meet the “Father” of Internet in GenSan City.
Here is his story.
The internet was still unheard of to most people when 29 year-old Jan Ced put up his Omnitronics Computer shop in 1994 at the Halieus Mall (now RD Plaza) in downtown Gensan. Ironically, this Economics graduate from De la Salle University has hardly ever used a computer before.
Prior to this, he has been helping his father run Mincorn, the family’s corn trading business and even manning their milling facilities in Bukidnon for months at a time. That was where he would meet his future wife Aileen in 1990.
After the wedding, Jan brought his new bride to Gensan and started to raise a family. Their eldest, Yna was born less than a year later.
In 1994, Jan met his namesake Jan Hornes, a Norweigean who is married to a Filipina. Jan was a computer technician in their country who was planning to put up a computer store in the city.
Although with little or barely any knowledge in running a computer, Jan’s keen mind predicted that it soon be a common office and home staple replacing the typewriter. He proposed a partnership with the foreigner after getting his father’s blessing.
A few weeks later, Omnitronics Incorporated was born offering computer units, accessories, supplies, parts and services. With Jan Ced as President and industrial partner Jan Hornes as Operations Manager, they took in a computer programmer, Eric Manalastas as Marketing Head and called themselves the Dream Team.
In only a few months time, due to the store’s proximity to the city’s economic district, business grew rapidly. Jan Ced’s prediction was starting to come true. Demand for computers and computer spare parts and services was rising at a fast pace.
Notre Dame of Dadiangas University, which was then a college, started offering courses of Information Technology thus increasing the city’s pool of skilled computer technicians and programmers.
Other companies were hiring more and more computer-savvy applicants.
At this point, Jan Ced started taking computer crash courses and updated himself on the latest on information technology. It was then that he learned about a phenomenon linking computers around the globe called the “Internet”. This got his attention.
That year in 1995, only Manila had access to the Internet through Mozcom, the Philippines’ first commercial Internet Service Provider owned by Willy Gan and William Torres. It was around that time that they announced their plans to look for partners around the Philippines which will offer different levels of connectivity to corporate and individual users.
Sensing this as a golden opportunity to complement his computer shop, he lost no time in contacting the Mozcom owners and flew his team to Manila to help him pitch his proposal of franchising their services in Gensan.
Two days later, Jan Ced’s team came home bringing with them the good news that Gensan will soon be wired to the Internet and yes, Omnitronics will be at the forefront of making it happen.
Finally, after months of frantic preparations, trainings and orientation within his organization, on January 21, 1996, Jan Ced pushed the Start Key that historically linked up General Santos City to the information superhighway.
That cemented his love affair with the world of Information Technology and sealed his fate as the Father of Internet in GenSan.
The story does not end there however.
In 1997, he built the 5-storey Plaza Nova Building, the first internet-wired edifice in Gensan which soon housed the AMA Computer College and his reorganized Omnitronics which has been transformed into purely an Internet Service Provider, having sold off its hardware section.
In 2006, Jan opened Transcode One Solutions, a Medical Transcription Company designed to provide medical transcription services to individual practitioners, hospitals, etc. in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Europe, etc. and training modules to individuals wanting to go into this field.
That same year, he put up the Mabuhay Technopark Corporation which will operate an I.T. Park or zone at a 2.8 hectare lot in GenSan. He envisions this as a venue to develop properties for locators, I.T. companies and Business Process Outsourcing Companies. Operating in a 24/7 fully-secured community, it will be a one-stop facility cable of carrying voice, video and data services that would deliver a superior, reliable and secured network communications and back-up power supply.
Complementing these is an incubation center consisting of nine “intelligent offices” and support facilities such as three conference facilities/training rooms, mini-exhibition halls and a cafeteria.
With this I.T. park recently approved by the Economic Processing Zone Authority, Jan Ced will eventually find out if this grandiose dream of his will once again fire up a second wind of developments for the region’s I.T. prospects just as he did the first time around when he introduced the Internet to the nation’s Tuna Capital twelve years ago.
ADDENDUM: Jan Ced was just elected the President of the Gen. Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. for the period 2008-2010. Mabuhay Technopark Corporation is opening in 2009 fully.