On August 28, 2011, AgustinongPinoy turns twelve. I started building it in the now defunct Geocities, formerly the best free webhosting service on the internet. AgustinongPinoy had a very long address then, something like geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/2763. My first webpage was created through the Geocities WYSIWYG web-builder which was very slow. I worked on a 34k modem connection and the page I made, began after dinner on August 27, 1999, was finished only on August 28. The pages I created at Geocities are now irretrievably lost, after Yahoo closed down its free webhosting. Fortunately, some of the vestiges of my early years on the web are still preserved in some web documents.
A part of those early years’ web activities was the composition of web tutorials on HTML, the lingua franca of the web. Why did I start with HTML when there were other topics I can write about? The fact is topics like "Scriptures" were not in demand in those days, but "HTML" was. Besides, apart from the Vatican website, there seemed to be no Catholic website that catered to what we would now call "social networking" (e.g. becoming member to the forums of Coranto, PHPBB and the networks of Suite101 and Blogit). The non-Catholics, especially the evangelicals were much more "evangelical" in their use of the internet then. And second, I was hoping that other people may catch my new found enthusiasm for the web and join me. But the internet was then still considered a luxury and the popular conception then was that the internet is just a provider of free porn.
And so I wrote HTML tutorials in part to help others and in part to help drive traffic to my site. The first trick I learned was to create a framed site that put together the free webspace accounts I was using. A visitor would visit AgustinongPinoy, clicked the category links, and never knew that he/she was going from one webserver to another. That was until the advertisements came — advertisements so big that they not only marred my pages but also told the visitor that the link he/she just clicked has brought her to a different webspace provider. But that’s all in the past …
The old HTML tutorials have been transferred to a no-ads webspace provider and I hope would stay there for as long as the service "survives" this present economic crunch. Angelfire still has my Bible Journal with entries dating from 1999.
Those early years were years of experimentation with HTML editors (e.g. Frontpage, Coffeecup, AceHTML) and Photoshop for graphics. The best result I can come up with is I think the Bible Journal. From 2002 onwards, I had enough knowledge of HTML to handle CGI and PHP, and so I started downloading a lot of scripts from the web, modifying them for use in AgustinongPinoy and other sites I was maintaining (e.g. original CSA-Bacolod website, Fil-Augustinians) and testing them. There was a great variety to choose from, but from 2004 onwards I settled on Drupal and WordPress.
AgustinongPinoy has been on the web for almost twelve years now, so what has it contributed?
1. About’s feature on the web adventures of a friar from the island of Negros anticipates much of what we now call "web evangelization". I think my dabbling in HTML and the early vestiges of "social networking" has been vindicated first by John Paul II and now by Benedict XVI.
2. The web article "Ten Augustinian Values" has generated enough discussion on the topic of Augustinian Values and I think has even clarified some aspects of Augustinian values education.
3. The existence of three AgustinongPinoy websites has somehow forced other Augustinian friars in the Philippines to think of the internet as a means of communicating our life to others. Of course, John Paul II’s and Benedict XVI’s strong words about priests and religious using the internet has helped drive this aspect of communications media to the fore. But hey, AgustinongPinoy is a pioneer in this.
4. The web articles and podcasts in Filipino I have been posting these past two years are reaching OFWs. There was even a time before St. Paul’s Media Center posted its Sunday Missalette that I was providing downloads of PDFs containing Tagalog Missalettes for the Simbang-gabi in answer to requests by OFWs.
5. At least my students now know that the internet provides valid help for the study of Theology and the Scriptures.
6. In 2008, AgustinongPinoy was my ticket for participation in DOST’s round table discussions on how the internet is used in the religious sector. In connection with this, I even wrote a kind of report on the way I as a friar have been using the internet. The article subsequently got published in a book.
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