Alfred Ursua is the erstwhile managing editor of Filipiniana.net, a digital library of fully-indexed Filipiniana primary sources and WikiPilipinas.org, the country’s free online encyclopedia, also primed as the Philippines’ biggest collaborative writing project.
Alfred was influenced by his high school journalism teacher to read and write extensively. It was the time of the People Power Revolution in 1986 so he read newspapers a lot before his reading preference progressed to paperbacks.
He was production assistant for Geron Olivar that starred Kris Aquino and Lito Lapid, who was also directing and Multo in the City, the directorial debut of Don Escudero that starred Aiko Melendez, Manilyn Reynes and Herbert Bautista, among others.
In Magazine Editing
Alfred was employed by Vibal Publishing House, Inc. in 1994 to start the publication of S&T Digest, but he had to devote his initial year writing for Student's Digest. Both periodicals are published by SD Publications, Inc., a sister company of Vibal.
As founding editor of S&T Digest, Alfred structured the magazine as a supplement for science in grade school and high school. He adopted and preached the concept of formula writing because such curriculum-based magazine required substance and a certain editorial spin for it to appeal to its readers. Dr. Lilia M. Rabago headed the editorial board and to complete his staff, Alfred hired Cheryl Ann Martinez-Dancel as associate editor, Antonette Yap-Castillo as writer, and Richard Grimaldo as layout artist.
He conceptualized College Guide/U&You, back-to-back magazines targeting college entrants and college students which became SD Publication's 25th year commemorative work. His editorial team consisted of Godfrey Dancel, Rio Brigino and Jay Mata for editorial and Raymund Punzalan of Team Manila and Bojie Zarate for the design.
In Textbook Publishing
While S&T Digest struggled for its share in the supplementary magazine market, Alfred was made to partake in editorial administration. At that time, Vibal's publishing and printing workload increased three-fold after winning the most number of textbooks approved for use in the public schools.
He embarked on the re-engineering of Vibal's editorial department by hiring subject area specialists, publishing coordinators, and editors so as to engender quality in various content areas.
He instituted appropriate editorial and publishing processes and complemented these with coaching and training sessions. He put together a three-day training in publishing standards given by Gus Vibal, who had an extensive publishing experience from Prentice Hall and Pearson Education, two world giants in educational publishing.
In Multimedia Production
After a few years in textbook production and editorial administration, Alfred was tasked to form Vibal Multimedia. He appointed Julius Corotan as supervising producer for his broadcast and editorial skills,and tapped Malou Aguinaldo as instructional designer and writer for her cross platform writing ability. Together, they repurposed the six-volume VHS Mga Rehiyon ng Pilipinas, which was earlier produced with Lakbay TV (now Living Asia Channel), into a 10-volume DVD instructional package with interactive and language options.
Alfred and his team at Vibal Multimedia also produced children’s albums like the Makabayan Audio-CD Series in which noted singers like Rachelle Gerodias, Jun Peñaverde, Alexis Edralin and even business tycoon George Yang of McDonald's Philippines, each rendering a couple of nationalistic songs.
After Alfred’s reassignment in online publishing, he left the completion of Makabayan/Filipinism CD-ROM series as well as his idea of the Philippine science online lab-system to the department with Malou Aguinaldo now at the helm.
In Corporate Communication
Concurrent to his assignment in Vibal Multimedia, Alfred was also assigned to head the committee of corporate communication. The highlight of the work was the yearlong Vibal golden anniversary PR campaign dubbed Vibal@50. It consolidated the internal and external company events, such as the annual sports festival, Christmas party, seminars and a writing contest for teachers, highlighted by its major participation in the annual assembly of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines in 2003. These events were given proper media exposure with the able support of PR writer Malou Aguinaldo. His multimedia team also produced a corporate video of Vibal that helped solidify employees' and clients' aspirations in educational publishing and education in general.
To promote Vibal's curriculum offerings, Alfred unified its corporate communications collaterals, such as catalogs and price lists, using the distinct “Vibal blue” corporate color. He also launched Vibal’s official website www.vibalpublishing.com and revived Teacher’s Gazette, Vibal’s professional publication for educators.
He humanized Vibal's image by inducing its authors, editors and staff to appear in collaterals and its 2004 desk calendar with the catchy tagline "Passion for Education" that became its corporate slogan. It was his idea of tying it up with a campaign of revitalizing the Vibal nationwide teachers’ training program by holding simultaneous seminars in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao for stronger PR impact.
In Online Publishing
Alfred organized the core of Filnet staff in early 2006 after Gus Vibal, hatched the idea of a free Philippine digital library with Jaime Marco and Carlos Madrid, who was later signed up as editor-in-chief. He then formed a team of “knowledge workers” consisting of abstractors, web content specialists, online editors, librarians, and information scientists.
Mostly working via video conferences with the US and Europe-based publisher, Alfred and Carlos directed the editorial, library and technology staff to build the digital library using open-source content management system and online publishing system. The technology team headed by Dr. Lloyd Espiritu eventually developed Filnet's own digital library system.
Now Filnet has online publications that are must-reads in Philippine history, literature and law. These are provided with editorial enrichments by Wesley June P. Inay, Julius Cesar Trajano, and Judette Rose Javier, among others. The enrichments that highlight the value of each online publication are reviewed by Estella Grace C. Mateo, Raymund Arthur Abejo and Kristine Mandigma, who are among Filnet editors.
To complement Filnet’s academic content with popular knowledge on the Philippines, Wikipilipinas.org was conceived on February 14, 2007. As its managing editor, Alfred's organizational skill was vital for Wikipilipinas as he analyzed the need for organizing the content of the online encyclopedia rather than just putting up loose article content. He then beefed up his team of knowledge workers with Richard Grimaldo and Maritoni Alvarez spearheading the WikiPilipinas operation.
In Trade Books Publication
Even as an online publisher, Filnet and WikiPinas both have print projects. In 2007 Filnet jointly published Fabian de la Rosa with Jorge V. Vargas Museum, Occupation: The Later Years with De La Salle University and Philippine Church Facades with the San Agustin Museum. In all these—including the first in WikiPinas’ Celebrity Series Piolo: Believing Alfred was project editor. For 2008, both Filnet and WikiPinas have a lineup of well-selected print projects on the arts, literature and history that are being coordinated by Christian Pangilinan.
Previously, Alfred coordinated the publication of trade books like Ciudad Murada, which was a co-publication of Vibal Publishing with the Intramuros Administration. The author Jose Victor Torres won the Best in Travel Writing award from the Manila Critics Circle in 2006.
He was the print producer of countless newsletters and souvenir programs for various interests, including the Zonta International Assembly held at the EDSA Shangri La Hotel in 2004.