Frustrations and dreams — and how product management can supposedly help

Yesterday was a chance for myself to revisit certain things I’ve learned about handling products in a third world such as the Philippines. Today I’ve tried to channel this energy and publish again, in the hopes that this actually reaches someone who needs it, or who can help.

Today I talk about a controversial topic: our government. However, I’d like to make it a bit more constructive (kasi baka hanapan ako ng ambag ko sa bayan, eh di ito yun)

I am not sure if people know this about me, but I fell into organization development consulting for the government around 6–7 years ago. Half of my career was spent in human resources consulting (pre-product management), and I was heading this company ( that aimed to help companies with regard to their performance management and competency assessment practices.

Things fell into place, and Strata suddenly found itself with projects connected to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Civil Service Commission (CSC), and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). Now, with Strata being a startup, I was principal consultant to all these projects. I could say that this was the time I “grew up” in my career. I was 26, and a head of a startup. That seems like quite an accomplishment until I admit that many mistakes haunt me up to this day. However, my point is helping the government made me feel alive. I genuinely felt like I was helping the Philippines directly, in my own little way.

Now, as a tech product manager, I can’t help but feel like the government is missing out on structuring the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) into a shared service for product management in the Philippine government.

I am with the belief that people are willing to help the Philippines, if they weren’t just subjected to such low salaries. This is especially true for the talented people I’ve worked with in STORM, Bukas, and in the other consulting projects I am part of.

Can’t Code for the Philippines be a thing?

I imagine it would be a joy to receive all of the tech requirements from different agencies and plan out its implementation with truly capable people. If the DICT was structured as a service organization, it would be an amazing thing to apply the agile and squad org structures that have been applied to Silicon Valley startups and implemented to solve real problems in the Philippines. The issue now is there is no scalable path to the technology direction in the Philippines because all agencies are doing their thing. Everyone will have different requirements, and there isn’t anyone trying to align things together.

Doesn’t this sound like a job of a product manager?

I already know what people will say, how our government won’t like this, how people in government are dinosaurs, and change is so slow.

I agree. This is also why I am not part of the government, nor do I see it improving under the current administration.

But if someone would like to prove me wrong and actually put in the steps necessary for actual change (not the fake one we’ve been promised these years), then I’d be at the very least open to listen and see how I could help.

Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely fulfilled in my current role. I am genuinely challenged and excited to solve the problems we are faced with every single day.

I just wish someone in government is also as excited as I was. It’s a different feeling implementing a product that all Filipinos will benefit from. Doesn’t that sound like the role of a government, or at the very least, a public-private partnership?

I hope I see this in my lifetime.



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