95 nominees make it to the 7th Philippine Web Awards (PWA) semis

By Ronald James Panis

AFTER implementing a number of changes that elicited mixed reactions from previous winners, pre-finals judges and other participants, the much-awaited 7th Philippine Web Awards (PWA) enters the semifinal round, the third phase of its judging process, where 95 nominees, 64 of which are first-timers, qualified to contest the top spot in their respective categories.

Using the four criteria − content, design, functionality and usability − to validate and screen the nominated sites, the pre-finals judges narrowed down this year’s number of entries to not more than 10 semifinalists per category. Some categories, however, had fewer semifinalists because of the lack of nominated sites, while some entries simply failed to reach the minimum average score set by the PWA.

PWA overall chairman Heinz Bulos was not surprised by the lower turnout because “we already foresaw a decrease in the number of entries” due to the changes that event organizer Media G8way Corp. implemented this year. MGC decided to reduce this year’s number of categories from 19 to 16, with the News and e-Learning categories being removed and the e-Commerce and e-Travel departments being merged to become the e-Commerce division.

MGC’s decision to implement a joining fee this year also contributed to the drop in the number of nominees and, consequently, the number of semifinalists.

The 14 pre-finals judges of the 7th PWA were likewise “quite stringent” in screening the nominees, said Bulos. “Our focus is quality, not quantity,” he stressed. “And we’d like to think that this year’s semifinalists (meet the) higher standards.”

Noting the higher number of first-time participants that made it to the semifinal round which is “a first in PWA history,” Bulos said “this is good for the awards and for the industry, that new sites and new faces are given their due recognition.”

Pre-finals judge Aldrin R. Valencerina, a systems engineer of Imperium Technologies Inc., PWA’s official Web developer this year, agreed, saying that the new entries in this year’s batch “I think are ready to accept the challenge of last year’s PWA winners.” He predicted that the 7th edition of the PWA will be a success.

For his part, Gerald G. Parra, a Web designer/lead programmer of a Web design company, observed that the entrants are getting “better and better,” noting the higher number of “blog-type (Web log) sites” that have joined the competition.

With the selection of the semifinalists, MGC will soon launch the public voting for this year’s People’s Choice Awards, Bulos disclosed. To entice the public to come out and vote for their favorite sites, MGC will give away valuable prizes weekly to lucky voters.

The 7th PWA Awards will be held on Nov. 23 at the OnStage Theater in Greenbelt 1 Makati City. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are priced at P350. For more information, call Media G8way Corp. at 812-8401 to 03. Look for Ms. May Patao or Ms. Rhea Diaron. Major credit cards accepted. Tickets are to be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.