“’YOU WORK that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth,’” quotes Dennis Manalastas from Khalil Gibran’s book The Prophet, an excerpt given to him by his Theology professor. The passage became his inspiration to pursue a career unrelated to his college course.

This Information Technology (IT) businessman of Bulacan may not have been able to make a living out of Philosophy, the undergraduate course he took in UST, but he attributes his success to the discipline.

“Philosophy really served as an inspiration for me. I live by its principles until now,” he said.

At present, Manalastas is the president and owner of two leading IT companies in Bulacan, the Intellego Synergies Asia Inc (ISA) and the Mozcom Internet.

Bulacan’s IT wiz

A Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy graduate of the Faculty of Arts and Letters (Artlets) in 1994, Manalastas admitted he did not intend taking AB Philosophy in the first place.

“I was undecided then because I didn’t know what course to take,” Manalastas said. “I chose the course on a whim.”

After college, Manalastas was worried about not seeing any job advertisement in the newspaper for a philosophy degree holder so he decided to take a 40-hour crash course in Computer Literacy at Informatics in Ortigas, where he became an instructor later on.

Two years later, Manalastas decided to quit the job because of the distance of its office from his house in Bulacan. Little did he know that he would eventually have a brighter career in IT.

Manalastas, along with two other Philosophy classmates, decided to establish a computer business in Guiguinto, Bulacan called Compulogic Computer Systems (CCS). Their starting capital was P100,000 pesos, care of Manalastas’ parents.

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His group decided to go into the computer business to readily tap available resources and because of the low capital requirement.

“The building where we situated our business belongs to my family. Since we had computers of our own, what we only needed to obtain was the merchandise,” Manalastas said, who is also a senior Law student at the Faculty of Civil Law.

CCS offered hardware sales until 2001, when the company expanded its service by offering website development services. Since the name CCS was not suitable anymore to define the services the company could offer, Manalastas changed it to Compulogic Information Solutions Philippines (CISP).

In 1997, to satisfy the demand for Internet access in Bulacan and to increase the marketability of the company’s services, Manalastas secured the franchise of the largest Internet service provider (ISP) in the Philippines, Mozcom Internet. It became the leading ISP in the province.

When his associates left the company, Manalastas was left alone to run a relatively new company. But he did not give up. Subsequently, he met nine new incorporators who helped him expand the company. Starting anew, Manalastas changed CISP to its present name, Intellego Synergies Asia (ISA). At just 25, he bagged the Most Outstanding Bulacan Businessman Award in 1999.

ISA was known for its “2000 Interactive CD-ROM of Bulacan,” conceived by Manalastas to help the province’s tourism industry.

“Even though at first the government of Bulacan was hesitant to accept my idea, ISA still pursued it. We financed the project with the help of sponsors and commercial establishments,” he said.

Mga rituwal at gawi ng isang manunulat

The project turned out to be a major breakthrough for the company. The government of Bulacan was impressed by the product’s features.

A true Bulacaneño, Manalastas also developed the province’s website, www.bulacan.com.ph, for free. The website won two awards from the Philippine Web Awards and another award from the National Computing Center as the Best Provincial Government Website in 2006.

“Although it cost me a lot of money, I consider the website my contribution to the province,” he said. “I’m not for the money. All I’m set on is how I can make products that would benefit my community and my province.”

At present, ISA’s big clients include Microsoft Philippines, Bulacan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and World Computers. Clients from New York and the Netherlands also seek ISA’s services.

Connected to Philosophy

“I owe it all to UST especially the Artlets and my Philosophy professors,” Manalastas said about his success. “Particularly for the way I think and the way I make decisions.”

Manalastas also recalls his Mathematics professor who encouraged him to learn Math despite his deficiency in it, which he found helpful in computer programming.

He also keeps in touch with his Philosophy professor, Artlets faculty president Reynaldo Reyes, whom he shared many conversations and intellectual discussions with.

“I’m really indebted to my professors. They have contributed greatly in giving meaning and purpose to my life,” he said.

Manalastas’ life is a true example of venturing into other fields to find one’s pitch. He does not regret taking a course far from his career now. Instead, he used the lessons he learned and the values he acquired from the course in the way he does business.

'Walang himala'

“When I graduated from Philosophy, I can’t find any job opening for a philosopher. But even though it did not give me livelihood, it taught me the best lesson of how to live life,” he said. Tanya Justine Baldovino


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