By: Atty. Donna Villa Gaspan-Cerna, MCS 2024  

ORMOC, Philippines – Even the rain couldn’t dampen the festive mood as The City of Beautiful People celebrated its annual fiesta in Eastern Visayas during the first week of July 2023. With colorful decorations festooning the streets and the sweet scent of their prized queen pineapples permeating the air, Ormoc City was the epitome of joy, celebration, and a strong air of promise.  

In the midst of the commemoration, a party from the Asian Institute of Management’s (AIM) Master in Cybersecurity (MCS) 2024 made their way from Tacloban City to visit a center of commerce in the Fourth 12 District of Leyte. After having been brought to the second longest Philippine bridge spanning across a body of seawater, the San Juanico Bridge stretched between Leyte and Samar, by the author and their fellow student from Leyte, Atty. Donna Villa Gaspan-Cerna, the group proceeded to Ormoc City to visit the Mayor’s office. 

The party was led by cybersecurity professional, Philip Kwa, two representatives from MCS 2024, Chief Information Security Officer, and IT Consulting and Software Engineering Head of Exceture Inc., Mario Demarillas, and IT Officer from the LGU-San Pedro, Laguna, Elliot Ngo. 

Fomented by the warm hospitality of Mayor Lucy Torres-Gomez’s, the city’s tourism department took the MCS squad to the Ormoc City Museum where they attended an exhibit of Philippine national artist, Fernando Amorsolo, featuring the personal collection of Mayor Lucy Torres-Gomez and Congressman Richard Gomez.  

At the Mayor’s office, the team members met with city representatives including City Administrator Vincent Emnas, IT Officers Melchizedec Yap and Rhayan Hermosilla, City Planning and Development Coordinator Engr. Raoul Cam, City Legal Office representative Atty. Gerald Garciano, and LGU-Ormoc Consultant, Herville Pajaron,   

Congressman Gomez joined the discussions as well.  Both he and Mayor Torres-Gomez are known for consistently winning national awards for good governance. Congressman Gomez showed great interest in cybersecurity and expressed his support for such advocacies in present society.  

Philip Kwa discussed AIM’s intention to promote cybersecurity awareness outside of Metro Manila. Ormoc’s goal of becoming the “Smart Green City of the Future” requires measures to protect against cyberthreats in the ever-evolving digital environment. Ngo shared his expertise with communication towers, antennae, and satellites, while Demarillas shared his insights on the practical applications of cybersecurity. The visiting students expressed their interest in collaborating with the local government to enhance cybersecurity awareness efforts, which was warmly welcomed. Spotting an opportunity for further collaboration, I requested and was granted approval to conduct a Capstone research study on the cybersecurity awareness landscape of small businesses in the city. 

In gratitude for the collaboration, the team presented children’s cybersecurity books for dissemination by the Mayor’s office. The AIM MCS team looks forward to creating a positive impact on Ormoc City’s local governance.