Over the years, Filipinos have benefited from the internet may it be for research, entertainment, employment, or business. However, rooting it back to what or who started it all – we can thank Benjamin ‘Benjie’ Tan for that.
Benjamin ‘Benjie’ Tan is a Filipino engineer who connected the Philippines to the internet 25 years ago. He was the engineer who installed the router which allowed the nation to go online for the first time on March 29, 1994. However, the person who was fundamental in starting it all has recently passed away due to cancer.
Benjamin ‘Benjie’ Tan was working for ComNet, a local supplier of Cisco networking gears when he was assigned to set the router at the PLDT main office in Makati City. This makes the low key engineer the first person to connect the country to the internet.
According to Tan, he was just an ordinary employee acting under the direction of Dr. Rodolfo ‘Rudy’ Villarica and William ‘Bill’ Torres. The tandem has been regarded as the ‘Fathers of Philippine Internet’.
Jim Ayson, a tech pioneer, narrated Tan’s work in an article entitled ‘The Night Benjie Hooked Up the Philippines to the Internet’. The article states: “Behind every historic public tech spectacle is the quiet story of the techie working in the background to set things up before the newsreel cameras start rolling. There is a private side to March 29, 1994, which incredibly enough seems to have been left out of much of the numerous newspaper and magazine articles describing the events of that day. Luckily, I managed to corner Benjie Tan, the man behind-the-scenes that day, and persuaded him into letting us know what really went on. This is his story.”
The Department of Information and Communications Technology has paid tribute to Tan.
“Benjamin Tan is one of the pioneers in linking up the country’s first connection to the Internet,” in a Facebook post by the Department of Information and Communications Technology. The DICT also shared a video featuring Tan as part of a series marking the 25th year of the internet in the country.