In an exclusive interview with MEGA, Anna Mae Lamentillo shares how she strives to build digital infrastructures where no one is left behind
As human beings, we are well-versed in themes related to our aspirations. At one point in our lives, we have the drive to accomplish something that’s remarkable for the greater community. This urge for progress is seen nowadays, and one person who has captured the public eye because of her promising advocacy is Anna Mae Lamentillo. She is leading the construction of bridges to eradicate the digital divide between genders, generations, and societal ranks.
As a woman called to serve, Lamentillo has already pursued careers in different government sectors, including communications, defense, and infrastructure. Drawing from her unwavering commitment to innovation, she offers MEGA a window into the world of digital transformation.
As the current spokesperson of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Anna Mae Lamentillo consistently preaches her advocacy—pushing for public investment in both physical and digital infrastructure. This vision branches from the reality that only 48% of women worldwide have used the Internet. “This is a reality I’d like to change. When 90% of the jobs worldwide have a digital component, digital literacy is no longer an option. It is an essential skill we must equip our citizens, especially the marginalized sector,” she asserts.
Laying clear her ultimate vision for a better society is done, and her next task involves the actual groundwork. She has aligned her advocacy for digitalization with the current administration, who she cites as supporters of this movement. Thus, Lamentillo’s tireless commitment has started to attract more attention, but her work is not yet done.
Justice and justification
The principle of justice pertains to treating all people fairly, regardless of background. It means that everyone should have access to the same opportunities, benefits, and rights. On the other hand, justification is about providing rational evidence to prove a particular subject’s significance. In this sense, when justice and justification are combined, responsible officials will undoubtedly recognize the urgent need to eliminate the digital divide and work towards a just society.
“We need to make sure that in this shift to a ‘new normal,’ no one is left behind.”
She further explained her goal towards equal access to technology: “Access to the Internet means access to opportunities. We want to [ensure] that no Filipino is left behind in the transition to the digital age.” The public servant further solidified her claim by stating that 65% of the country is still not connected to the Internet. According to her, she met women, children, and indigenous people in isolated areas who [had] never seen a smartphone. With that in mind, Lamentillo is even more motivated to go further in her mission, “To connect every barangay in the country to cyberspace.”
United to cyberspace and one another
Indeed, the DICT Undersecretary soars to new heights as she continuously stands in response to what’s happening now for a better future. “My current portfolio in DICT includes foreign relations, public-private partnerships, and foreign-assisted projects. Our goal is to bring in as [much] game-changing technology in the country,” she shares. As a woman who contributes to shaping the future of the Philippines, Lamentillo actively reimagines the possible benefits when more people are advanced and digitally literate. As for her, this advocacy cannot be attained only through the works of people in the position because the youth initiative is a huge help to make this digital evolution possible.
“According to the United Nations, [the] digital divide can become the new face of inequality. But improved access to Internet connectivity can bridge the urban-rural divide.”On encouraging more Filipinos to push for digital inclusion.
Her vision of an accessible cyberspace also means unity from one Filipino citizen to another. Whether it is divided because of differences in gender, generation, or social rank, Lamentillo said that she maximizes every opportunity to preach equality.
A woman’s legacy
Hearing about her objectives towards digitalization, Lamentillo has shared valuable lessons and realizations to Filipinos from all demographics, teaching us that while our focuses in the world are each a little different, as Filipinos, right now is the time to get involved. Thus, this woman of substance imparts, “I never thought of gender or age as a deterrent. I always believed that youth and women participation is critical and necessary—if and when genuine reform is to be achieved.”
Despite the obstacles of advocating for a cause, one word can describe Lamentillo’s dedication to her work: persistence. Her work as a public servant is all about giving her best shot in everything she does. And this is the character she also wants others to practice. “Give it your best shot or don’t do it at all. Ultimately, we are an aggregate of our work, decisions, and values. Pay attention to the minute details. It’s the small pieces that make the big picture.”
As her efforts continue to be recognized, she’s taking her time to provide more results, while continuing to map out an even brighter future. Her lasting goal? “Our aim for the Philippines is to fully harness the benefits of ICT and protect our citizens from the risks and threats. In order to do this, we must ensure that as we address the digital divide, we also ensure digital equity,” she says.
Photography METRO PHOTO
Styling PATTY YAP