Artwork by Christine Cudis

MANILA – Waking up at 6 a.m. to fall in long queues at the MRT and hopping on the bus only to arrive just in the nick of time before the meeting starts were the routines we struggled with when everything was still normal.

Now, we may still recall the long list of stuff we wish we can make time for.

And now that we are all stuck inside our houses as we observe the stay-at-home order, it seems we are overwhelmed with all the free time we now have.

Here are a few of the good stuff made available through the government’s digital platforms that may help with your self-improvement or keep your business going even with the pandemic.

Go Negosyo’s Mentor Me Online Live on Facebook

Go Negosyo offers free mentoring sessions on their official Facebook page joined by prominent Go Negosyo mentors and business experts to discuss business issues and concerns as well as provide technical and practical know-how on managing micro and small businesses.

The group live-streams its seminars and mentoring on social media platform Facebook from Monday to Friday.

Their morning session goes live every 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and every afternoon every 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

On May 12, the group will feature a two-hour session featuring industry captains and industry association leaders and learn how the tourism sector can recover and bounce back amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

This session will be the first among the ‘We GO as One Series’, an online thematic learning session that aims to be a platform to tackle different challenges and issues encountered by specific sectors like tourism and agriculture, among others, and the current actions being done to address them.

The webinar also tackles how the different industries can prepare for the “new normal” post-enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Develop your own website for free

EasyBuilder.Pro, a partner of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), is waiving subscription fees for micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) for developing a website using their platform.

MSMEs just need to register using the promo code 7THH1-07X0-38MG-2189 which should be activated before August 1, 2020.

EasyBuilder.Pro is a website building platform specifically designed to enable non-IT professionals to create a site for their business and personal needs.

It offers a range of templates for different purposes, such as web pages for hobbies, events, and businesses, as well as providing web hosting.

Make good use of the internet by digitizing your business or personal brand.

This platform is a tool that makes retail operations and people-to-people connectivity an online function.

It also enables working from the comfort of our homes conveniently.

Visit their website at, and their e-mail at [email protected]

Keep online meetings organized, convenient

Cisco Webex, meanwhile, offers a free trial on its platform to meet, collaborate, share files, and continue with video conferencing and online training amid the enhanced community quarantine.

The increase in remote work happening around the world due to circumstances brought about by the pandemic has led to the increased demand for reliable solutions that enable the connection on any device and at any location.

Cisco Webex offers a 90-day free trial on its platform for MSMEs to do online meetings with employees, partners, and suppliers, conduct online training, collaborate and share files anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Solutions like Cisco Webex are designed for business use and have end-to-end security to protect you and your data when conducting your online meetings.

Free trial of Cisco Webex is available at

Plant your own food

The Department of Agriculture (DA)-Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) is giving away free vegetable seeds and seedlings so you can start growing your own food.

In this farm-to-table setup, you can cut your expenses and at the same time guarantee that you and your family are eating healthy food derived right from your own backyard.

Seeds and seedlings can be claimed from BPI branches located at 692 San Andres St. Malate (near LRT Quirino) and Visayas Ave., Diliman, Quezon City (near Quezon City Circle).

Both offices are open Mondays to Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You can also arrange a pick-up by contacting 8525-7313 or 8524-0837.

Some regional offices also offer free seedlings. Check on their respective websites and Facebook pages for more information. (PNA)