Webmasters of the Universe (from The Manila Times)

Originally published in the Young Page section of The Manila Times on November 22, 1999 written by Gibbs Cadiz. Original URL is offline: http://www.manilatimes.net/1999/nov/22/young_page/19991122you1.html

Webmasters of the Universe

By Gibbs Cadiz

It was a night that promised fun, surprises, and a rockin’ good time, and for the most part it delivered. The 1999 Philippine Web Awards held at the New World Hotel Grand Ballroom gathered together glitterati (Mari Kaimo and Pinky Amador ably hosted the show, while Alice Dixson, Joey Mead and a stunning Liza Infante were some of the presentors), local information technology bigwigs, Internet enthusiasts, chat addicts and email junkies, party people – practically a microcosm of the urban generation that’s growing up on the World Wide Web.

And then there were the webmasters, the evil geniuses behind the 89 websites that competed for the awards in 18 categories. They were a motley mix – from a 21-year-old giddy girl who turned out to be the night’s biggest achiever, to the unflappable Hawaiian-shirted Gerry Kaimo of PLDT.com, who earned the loudest cheers for his brilliantly tart, tres popular website (may I use the word, Maurice?). Incidentally, his website won a People’s Choice trophy under Weird/Humor, and if the applause meter was any gauge, PLDT the telecoms giant is clearly losing the PR game, at least among Netizens.

Them webmasters had good speeches too – funny, witty, mostly to-the-point. One lumbering dude thanked his mom and dad, as well as his parents, just to be sure. The nervous, overwhelmed designer behind “The Beggar’s Hand” (http://library.advanced.org/25009), which won in the Children/Education category, thanked his girlfriend, cheered on by the audience. When Donna Cruz’s homepage was called as the winner in the Film/Celebrity category (bucking the audience’s obvious bias for Sharon Cuneta’s site), the webmaster, 21-year-old Cheryl Oliva Fuerte (she would win two more People’s Choice trophies later in the evening), ascended the stage and, shoulders quivering, uttered Ruffa’s immortal line: “I wasn’t expecting this, I sweeeeaarr…” It was a marriage of déjà vu and the surreal.

The show itself began promisingly but dragged near the end. If it were a movie, it could’ve used better editing. The musical spots went on and on, with a demented Rico Blanco of RiverMaya converting the stage into his private kitty litter. “Adik”, snorted the guy to my left. Kulay was engaging, Viktoria and Chill were blah. The real crowd-pleaser was the upcoming band Sandwich, whose eardrum-busting riffs considerably perked up the show. They were the last act, and by the time they finished Mari Kaimo was jokingly screaming into Pinky Amador’s ears to be heard.

Kudos to the organizers of the ’99 Web Awards. If the overflow crowd that attended the show was any indication, the awards will be with us for a long time. Here’s hoping they just invite better acts.