FITCH AFFIRMS PH INVESTMENT GRADE RATING

In a statement, Fitch Ratings said its outlook for the Philippines’ sovereign debt rating was “stable,” which meant the country’s grade would likely stay where it has been for the next 12 to 18 months. Fitch’s BBB- grade for the country’s long-term foreign and local currency IOUs is the firm’s minimum “investment grade” rating. “The Philippines has maintained strong economic growth, underpinned by a steady inflow of overseas Filipino remittances, the expansion of the business process outsourcing sector, and low interest rates,” Fitch said.

ALSO: Philippine imports surge 22% in sign of rising growth

Philippine imports surged 21.8 percent in January, their highest level in nearly three years, with imports of raw materials indicating further upward momentum for one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, the government said Tuesday. It was the biggest rise since March 2011, when imports grew by 21.9 percent, National Statistics Office figures showed. The Philippines, formerly an economic laggard, grew by a remarkable 7.2 percent in 2013 despite a series of disasters including the devastating Super Typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) in November. Its growth last year was second in Asia only to China, officials said. Imports surged due to a recovery in Philippine exports such as electronics and garments and increased spending on infrastructure, especially in areas affected by Yolanda, said Rosemarie Edillon, assistant director general of the government’s socio-economic planning agency. “The economy is definitely going to grow. A huge chunk of these imports are for production: capital goods and investments for the manufacture of other goods,” she told Agence France-Presse.

ALSO: DTI initiates programs to boost local businesses

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is making a big push to support local industries and bring them “to the next level” with an array of measures and initiatives. The DTI will give local enterprises “all the opportunities to be able to become bigger,” said Trade Undersecretary Ponciano C. Manalo Jr. “Once we give them the opportunity, then the choice is for them to take advantage of that.”
One such initiative is the Manila FAME—the country’s premier design and lifestyle event, which features top-quality export products and unique home, holiday and gift designs, apart from fashion, arts and crafts. “Manila FAME is a showcase for buyers from abroad to buy Philippine-made products. It is a showcase of design from young and established designers like Kenneth Cobonpue and Budji Layug. Together with that, we have our OTOP (One Town, One Product) program where we try to establish industry from each town … to be showcased here [for] our exporters,” Manalo said. The OTOP Marketplace is a feature of Manila FAME, where products of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are highlighted.

ALSO: This Pinay entrepreneur is also Guinness world record holder

Not many may know that the Guinness World Record holder for the largest collection of jigsaw puzzles is a Filipina and a successful businesswoman at that. Gina Gil-Lacuna is the "puzzle queen", having made 1,028 jigsaw puzzles which are now on display at the Puzzle Museum in Tagaytay. "Ang ginagawa naming decor sa bahay ay mga puzzles ko, sa powder room, sa kitchen. Na-realize ko ang dami-dami ko nang puzzles na nakalagay sa warehouse. Sabi ko, aba this must be something. My people did some research and they found out na may Guiness record holder ng pinakamaraming jigsaw puzzles noong May 2010," she told ABS-CBN's My Puhunan. At the museum, you can find different kinds and sizes of puzzles, such as The Nativity, which is considered the third hardest jigsaw puzzle in the world. Lacuna showed off the first jigsaw puzzle she finished - a Mickey Mouse puzzle, which took her 70 hours to complete. "Doon ko na-realize I can do puzzles. Yun ang naging hobby ko from then on," she said. The secret to doing jigsaw puzzles? Lacuna says it's all about determination and patience. "Relax na ako when I started doing puzzles. Kung tensyonado ka, di ka naman makakapag-puzzle eh. I realized ang puzzles din nakaka-alis ng stress," she said. READ MORE...


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Fitch affirms PH investment grade rating

MANILA, MARCH 31, 2014 (INQUIRER) By Paolo G. Montecillo — The Philippines’ “investment grade” status was affirmed by Fitch on Tuesday, citing the country’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals.

In a statement, Fitch Ratings said its outlook for the Philippines’ sovereign debt rating was “stable,” which meant the country’s grade would likely stay where it has been for the next 12 to 18 months.

Fitch’s BBB- grade for the country’s long-term foreign and local currency IOUs is the firm’s minimum “investment grade” rating.

“The Philippines has maintained strong economic growth, underpinned by a steady inflow of overseas Filipino remittances, the expansion of the business process outsourcing sector, and low interest rates,” Fitch said.

Philippine imports surge 22% in sign of rising growth Agence France-Presse 12:10 pm | Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Philippine imports surged 21.8 percent in January, their highest level in nearly three years, with imports of raw materials indicating further upward momentum for one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, the government said Tuesday.

It was the biggest rise since March 2011, when imports grew by 21.9 percent, National Statistics Office figures showed.

The Philippines, formerly an economic laggard, grew by a remarkable 7.2 percent in 2013 despite a series of disasters including the devastating Super Typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) in November. Its growth last year was second in Asia only to China, officials said.

Imports surged due to a recovery in Philippine exports such as electronics and garments and increased spending on infrastructure, especially in areas affected by Yolanda, said Rosemarie Edillon, assistant director general of the government’s socio-economic planning agency.

“The economy is definitely going to grow. A huge chunk of these imports are for production: capital goods and investments for the manufacture of other goods,” she told Agence France-Presse.

Imported raw materials are a major input in many of the country’s key exports such as electronics and garments so the surging imports mean even higher exports later, she said.

“These imports are a leading indicator for exports two or three months down the road. If imports in January increase, we will probably see an increase in exports in March and April,” she said.

The increase in shipments of steel, metal and chemical products were also an indication of the major construction efforts being undertaken, both to upgrade infrastructure and to rebuild the damage caused by the disasters, she added.

Imports in January hit $5.757 billion, up 21.8 percent from the same period last year, the statistics office said.
This resulted in a trade deficit of $1.376 billion in January, up 92 percent from the same period in 2013.

Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan also said in a statement that “this positive (import) performance may be reflective of the optimistic outlook of businesses on their own operations”, in the second quarter of the year.

China was the biggest source of imports to the Philippines, accounting for 14.7 percent of the total, with the United States in second with 10.6 percent, the statistics office added.

DTI initiates programs to boost local businesses By Amy R. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:38 am | Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 11 64


KENNETH Cobonpue and HIVE showcase their newest collections in the Manila FAME. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is making a big push to support local industries and bring them “to the next level” with an array of measures and initiatives.

The DTI will give local enterprises “all the opportunities to be able to become bigger,” said Trade Undersecretary Ponciano C. Manalo Jr. “Once we give them the opportunity, then the choice is for them to take advantage of that.”

One such initiative is the Manila FAME—the country’s premier design and lifestyle event, which features top-quality export products and unique home, holiday and gift designs, apart from fashion, arts and crafts.

“Manila FAME is a showcase for buyers from abroad to buy Philippine-made products. It is a showcase of design from young and established designers like Kenneth Cobonpue and Budji Layug. Together with that, we have our OTOP (One Town, One Product) program where we try to establish industry from each town … to be showcased here [for] our exporters,” Manalo said.

The OTOP Marketplace is a feature of Manila FAME, where products of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are highlighted.

Another program is the Red Box, a design development program featuring a fresh batch of Filipino designers, who are matched with local manufacturers to create innovative products.

Aside from the OTOP Marketplace and Red Box, Manila FAME features the Weaves of the Philippines and Craft Spots, The Boutique, Design Philippines Scenography, Manila Wear, Design for Exports, The Katha Awards, Design Week Philippines, Design Tours, and the Design Talks.

“We try to help [local enterprises by providing] affordable loans through microfinancing companies so they can start their business,” Manalo said. “We also have Diskwento Depots, where people can buy products from manufacturers to start their business.”

Manalo also cited the Shared Services Facility (SSF), where a community can avail of vital equipment with which to start a business on a major scale.

FROM ABS-CBN

This Pinay entrepreneur is also Guinness world record holder by Cathy Rose A. Garcia, ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 03/30/2014 8:27 AM | Updated as of 03/30/2014 8:27 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Not many may know that the Guinness World Record holder for the largest collection of jigsaw puzzles is a Filipina and a successful businesswoman at that.

Gina Gil-Lacuna is the "puzzle queen", having made 1,028 jigsaw puzzles which are now on display at the Puzzle Museum in Tagaytay.

"Ang ginagawa naming decor sa bahay ay mga puzzles ko, sa powder room, sa kitchen. Na-realize ko ang dami-dami ko nang puzzles na nakalagay sa warehouse. Sabi ko, aba this must be something. My people did some research and they found out na may Guiness record holder ng pinakamaraming jigsaw puzzles noong May 2010," she told ABS-CBN's My Puhunan.

At the museum, you can find different kinds and sizes of puzzles, such as The Nativity, which is considered the third hardest jigsaw puzzle in the world.

Lacuna showed off the first jigsaw puzzle she finished - a Mickey Mouse puzzle, which took her 70 hours to complete.

"Doon ko na-realize I can do puzzles. Yun ang naging hobby ko from then on," she said.

The secret to doing jigsaw puzzles? Lacuna says it's all about determination and patience.

"Relax na ako when I started doing puzzles. Kung tensyonado ka, di ka naman makakapag-puzzle eh. I realized ang puzzles din nakaka-alis ng stress," she said.


Successful entrepreneur

The puzzle queen is also a successful businesswoman. But her success did not come overnight.

Coming from a humble background, Lacuna said she started selling handmade hair accessories and crocheted items when she was 17 to raise funds for her sibling's operation.

A friend suggested she go to a department store to sell her wares.

"Gagawa ang nanay ko ng sample, dadalhin ko sa isang department store. Ang tapang ko nga eh. Akala ko nga pinakamaganda na (ang gawa ko), eh yun pala pinaka-pangit... May isang taon nga, sample ng sample, pero walang order," Lacuna recalled.

But Lacuna did not lose hope, saying it was all about "survival."

Then she decided to start manufacturing maternity clothes in the 1980s.

At that time, not many manufacturers were going into maternity clothes. Her brand Buntis was one of the few selling clothes for pregnant women.

"Ilan lang ang nag-susupply noon. Halos wala. Kasi di nila gusto gumawa ng maternity clothes kasi lousy. Ibig sabihin maluwag siya, basta kumasya, hindi pang-high fashion," Lacuna said.

"Eventually naisip ko na offer-an ang tindahan. Ang sabi ko, puede bang maging concessionaire. Very new noon yun, halos wala. Kung ano ang nabenta yun lang babayaran sa akin. That way I had the freedom to manufacture ng walang tigil."

From just one sewing machine (her mother's), her business has grown leaps and bounds. Her old house is now her main factory with 30 sewing machines.

"Malaki na. Walo ang satellite (office) ko, lahat sila may makina," she said.

The Buntis Garments factories now manufacture 20,000 maternity dresses in a year. The maternity clothes range from casual to formal to office wear.

Taking care of her workers

Lacuna said she wanted to share her blessings with her workers, so she decided to give some of them sewing machines.

"Noong nag-decide ako to share whatever blessings I have, yun mga matagal na sa akin na mananahi na alam ko na kaya magpatakbo ng patahian, yun iba binigyan ko ng 5 makina... Yun iba hinulugan, yun iba binigay ko na talaga," she said.

"Sa amin nangagaling ang samples at cuttings. Pag prinovide mo sa kanila, cut fabric na. Pagkatapos doon, dadalhin nila sa amin at mag-quality control, kami ang mag-packing at mag-distribute sa mga tindahan."

Lacuna's business has P30 million in sales of maternity clothes every year.

"Ang maternity clothes, hindi ito luxury item, necessity ito. Kasi paglumaki ang tiyan mo, definitely bibili ka, pang 3-months, pang-5 months at bago ka manganak," she said.

Her hard work and perseverance paid off. Lacuna is able to indulge in her love of travel, as well as build a mansion in Tagaytay and a resort-home in Batangas, and buy luxury cars.

Asked to share her secret for succes, Lacuna said: "Prinsipyo. Wag kang magnakaw. Yun presyo mo dapat reasonable. Wag mong dayain ang damit. Wag ka magtinda ng palpak na damit na hindi na maipapamana sa iba. Mahalin mo ang tao mo, kasi mamahalin ka rin nila."


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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