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(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

CLIMATE CHANGE SHAPING FUTURE OF PHILIPPINE COMPANIES


MAY 9 --A new way of doing business is now in the offing with businesses recognizing climate change adaptation as an integral part of planning and operations.
Much has been said and written about climate change, its dire effects and how it is affecting our daily lives. However, adapting to ­this “new normal” is still the challenge as there is a dearth of information on climate change adaptation. Thus, it seems the missing link is in the translation of the science of adaptation into more practical uses for business and everyday living. At the Oscar M. Lopez (OML) Center, continuous work is being done not only to come up with science-based solutions on climate change adaptation but to also bridge the gap between sciences and how this can help businesses and people in their daily lives. “If successful adaptation is to happen, we will need mechanisms and institutions that help catalyze action, knowledge exchange, and collaboration among players amidst a changing planet. No one has all the answers and we need to help each other as we make our way through the fog of climate change. The OML Center is just one such foundation that can help bridge the many gaps that may exist,” Federico R. Lopez, chairman of OML Center said during the break-out sessions of the Climate Reality Project held in Manila recently. The OML Center was formed in 2012 by the various subsidiaries of First Philippine Holdings in honor of the patriarch of the Lopez Group, Oscar M. Lopez for his keen interest in preserving and protecting the environment. He is a staunch believer that “environmentalism in business” can work. READ MORE...

ALSO: Commentary By Emmanuel Lopez - Duterte’s 8-point economic agenda [RELATED: ‘99% of Rody well-wishers jobseekers’ ]


MAY 19 -"The eight-point economic agenda formulated by Duterte’s economic team is a response to the societal needs of the populace." Crissa Tenorio/CC BY-NC-ND "The eight-point economic agenda formulated by Duterte’s economic team is a response to the societal needs of the populace." Crissa Tenorio/CC BY-NC-ND All systems go as far as presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte’s economic agenda is concerned. It seems we are in for another Singapore in the making, taking off from a mediocre economy that is “oligarchical" in character to a progressive economy that is inclusive down to the “commoner.” 
The Filipinos as a whole are keeping a close watch on the policies by the new administration when its term commences on July 1, 2016. The eight-point economic agenda formulated by Duterte’s economic team is a response to the societal needs of the populace. Qualitatively, the Duterte presidency is anchored on a disciplined society. High on his priority are the tax reforms that he promised to undertake. Twice he made emphasis on the need to restructure tax needs and priorities. Streamlining the tax collection system and rationalizing income tax collection is at the top of his agenda. This will have a direct effect on the disposable income of the people by way of an increase in purchasing power. Either a decrease in tax rate or an increase in tax exemption may benefit low and fix income earners. This will have a trade-off effect on the economy because it will increase the income of the people, resulting in an increase in spending pattern thereby creating business opportunities and employment. Although the increase in purchasing power may prompt an elevated inflation rate, it may likewise induce an increase in savings, an offshoot of a possible increase in interest rate. As long as the price is within affordable limits, we are not likely to experience a potentially damaging inflation. Either a decrease in tax rate or an increase in tax exemption may benefit low and fix income earners. This will have a trade-off effect on the economy because it will increase the income of the people, resulting in an increase in spending pattern thereby creating business opportunities and employment. Second on his agenda is the acceleration of infrastructure spending which could benefit both sides of the spectrum. Government spending effectively pump-prime the economy considering the magnitude of investment spending created by public sector spending. Consequently, such phenomenon creates jobs and income. CONTINUE READING...RELATED, ‘99% of Rody well-wishers jobseekers’...

ALSO: By Ray Gamboa - Another gustatory destination


MAY 21 -By Ray Butch Gamboa
This is the most exciting time yet for Philippine-style politics in several decades – contentious, hard-hitting, dramatic and many times venomous. But all that is now behind us as the people have chosen our new leaders. In six years’ time, we will probably be reliving the same scenario, with the same characters figuring in the national elections, but hopefully with a lot of valuable lessons learned. As we wrote down our choices, we had our share of winners and losers among our candidates, but the die is cast now, so let us begin the healing towards one unified nation. To the victors, congratulations, may you live up to our expectations. To the losers, we’ll see you again in 2022. * * * Having said that, I guess many of you have had enough politics for the last few months, so let’s take things a little easier now and check out what’s cooking out there. Let’s check out a new find in the restaurant scene. One of our newest discoveries is in Bo. Kapitolyo in Pasig City: Calderon. Why the name? Because their very first outlet was in Calderon St. in San Juan, and since the very word calderon also references cooking pots (think caldero), the owners Marmie Perez, Angelo Melo and Ramon Carballo thought it was a good name for recall. It was Ramon Carballo whom the roving staff of B&L (Business & Leisure) spoke to, and he said the location they discovered was exactly what they dreamed of, where the immediate community had the spending power and where restaurants were starting to sprout. What is interesting is that there are already quite a few residential streets that have become food streets now. Some have opted to turn their own homes into a revenue-producing asset, others just put up their ancestral homes on the block for much-needed cash or capital.READ MORE...ALSO: Phl gets huge thumbs up from Facebook...

ALSO: Hope for farmers- Climate-smart rice revives idle lands in Zamboanga


MAY 8 -Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines – Rice that grow well in salty areas give idle lands near the sea an unlikely facelift. These areas can become productive croplands for salt-tolerant rice.
Salt seeps into lands because of over extraction of groundwater and rise in sea level. Today, climate impacts are heavily felt in Zamboanga as farm lands are devastated by drought or become flooded with saltwater. These put food security and livelihood at risk. Felipe Pablo who farms shrimp, milkfish, and crab at Sitio Sulabot experienced these challenges for himself. Business was good until disease outbreaks killed off his shrimp. Since then, a big portion of his 100 hectare fish farm has been empty and more than a million pesos had been lost. Next to his pond, a 2,000 square meter farm land lies unproductive because saltwater had soaked in the soil. “The shrimp were dying off from the first month after seeding,” Dablo said. READ MORE...

ALSO: In 3 months budget gap widens to P74.4 B
[RELATED:Philippine demographics seen to further push growth]


MAY 20 -The gap – which indicates expenditures exceed revenue – totaled P74.39 billion in March, more than four times the P17.4 billion a year ago, the Bureau of the Treasury reported yesterday. File photo
MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration incurred its widest budget deficit in three months in March, pulling up the first-quarter tally as declining revenues failed to catch up with strong spending. The gap – which indicates expenditures exceed revenue – totaled P74.39 billion in March, more than four times the P17.4 billion a year ago, the Bureau of the Treasury reported yesterday. This was the biggest shortfall since December’s P75.14 billion. For the first three months, the deficit surged more than three-fold to P112.49 billion. Traditionally, a quarterly budget program is provided based on the annual deficit cap. This year’s limit was pegged at P298.6 billion, but the Department of Finance (DOF) said three-month figures are still unavailable. “The DOF is confident the first-quarter budget operations maintained the nation’s fiscal sustainability and contributed positively to first-quarter growth,” it said in a statement. Growth, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), expanded 6.9 percent from January to March, the fastest quarterly expansion in three years. As a percentage of GDP, the 2016 deficit cap is equivalent to two percent. For the first quarter, the gap already reached 3.44 percent. READ MORE...RELATED,
Philippine demographics seen to further push growth...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Climate change shaping future of Philippine companies

MANILA, MAY 23, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Estela De La Paz  May 9, 2016 - A new way of doing business is now in the offing with businesses recognizing climate change adaptation as an integral part of planning and operations.

Much has been said and written about climate change, its dire effects and how it is affecting our daily lives. However, adapting to ­this “new normal” is still the challenge as there is a dearth of information on climate change adaptation. Thus, it seems the missing link is in the translation of the science of adaptation into more practical uses for business and everyday living.

At the Oscar M. Lopez (OML) Center, continuous work is being done not only to come up with science-based solutions on climate change adaptation but to also bridge the gap between sciences and how this can help businesses and people in their daily lives.

“If successful adaptation is to happen, we will need mechanisms and institutions that help catalyze action, knowledge exchange, and collaboration among players amidst a changing planet. No one has all the answers and we need to help each other as we make our way through the fog of climate change. The OML Center is just one such foundation that can help bridge the many gaps that may exist,” Federico R. Lopez, chairman of OML Center said during the break-out sessions of the Climate Reality Project held in Manila recently.

The OML Center was formed in 2012 by the various subsidiaries of First Philippine Holdings in honor of the patriarch of the Lopez Group, Oscar M. Lopez for his keen interest in preserving and protecting the environment.

He is a staunch believer that “environmentalism in business” can work.

READ MORE...

This philosophy is being applied primarily in its power generation business through its subsidiary First Gen Corp. First Gen’s power plants are spread across the country and have been using mainly clean and renewable energy fuels such as natural gas, geothermal, hydro, wind and recently, solar energy. One of its subsidiaries is the world’s largest integrated geothermal company, Energy Development Corp. (EDC).

Given the changing weather patterns, frequency of super typhoons, and other similar catastrophic weather-related incidents, the role of the OML Center and the search for science-based solutions to climate change adaptation is now essential not only for the general public but even for businesses as well.

“As a businessman, I found it essential to engage with the scientific community so we can jointly make sense of what’s going on, demystify it, and make the lessons more accessible to the general public so that policies as well as everyday decisions and actions are guided properly,” Lopez said.

According to Marianne Quebral, executive director of the OML Center, one of the studies the OML Center recently funded is a study establishing a common reference to calculate the losses and damages incurred due to climate change. An example would be how agricultural losses due to flooding or drought will be calculated. Having a recognized common framework will be helpful for business planning and insurance purposes. To date, there is no specific or common reference to calculate such losses. Each area usually has its own system for calculating the cost of the damages brought about by typhoons or extreme weather patterns.

This led to the OML Center funding the Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN) research study called “Assessing the linkages between climate change adaptation (CCA), disaster risk reduction (DRR), and Loss and Damage (L&D):” This study highlights the state of loss and damage assessment system in the Philippines - its process, players, and gaps. It will propose a loss and damage framework for the Philippines and provide recommendations for the improvement of the system once the study is completed.

Aside from this, the OML Center has given grants to various school institutions and has partnered with government agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), PAGASA and international agencies like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in order to come up with science-based solutions to help the public cope with climate change.

Lopez said EDC and the OML Center are supporting some of the work being done locally by the NASA and JAXA through a project called the Total Carbon Column Observation Network (TCCON).

The JAXA is operating a network of monitoring stations around the world in an effort to understand atmospheric processes taking place globally. It hopes to address the big gap in understanding what’s happening around the Philippines and the Pacific atmospherically. This could give a clue on why typhoons have been intensifying as in the case of Typhoon Haiyan and the changing weather patterns as well. The lack of information has limited global carbon cycle and weather prediction models. Hopefully, the knowledge gained from project will help improve the accuracy of weather forecasting and climate modeling in the near future. EDC is hosting a station right in the Burgos Wind Farm while the OML Center is lending support to this project.


Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA)

According to Quebral, one of the more practical results from these tie-ups and grants is a mobile weather application called “Weather Up!.” This app is now available in Apple App Store and Google Play for free.

Gerry Bagtasa, Weather UP! developer said that “unlike any other weather app available, Weather UP! shows highly localized weather forecasts that extend to five days in advance, and updated with the latest available weather data four times a day. ”

Weather UP! is a user-friendly app that provides a five-day extended forecast. It also provides information such as heat index, relative humidity, rain, wind speed, and wind direction which are useful not only for the general public but also for advance planning of businesses. For enhanced accuracy, the app allows its users to participate in weather forecasting through quick submission of local weather observations. This mobile app is a product of a project called Weather and Hazard Alert and Tracking System for Urban Areas in the Philippines (WHATSUP) funded by the OML Center and a collaborative research program of different institutes and departments of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman.

Quebral said the OML Center is committed to translating the science into more practical uses for the next five years. This will be done through its Translations, Communications and Partnership Unit.

“In order for the OML Center’s research to benefit a greater public, the OML Center has initiated a program to translate the science into actionable adaptation solutions. To this end, the Center has created an Innovations and Translations program that will strengthen its investment in science research so that fisher folk, farmers, school children, local government units and other groups will benefit from it. Putting a human face to the climate change research of the OML Center is of paramount importance to us as we look at the next five years,” Quebral said.


PHILSTAR

Commentary By Emmanuel Lopez: Duterte’s economic agenda By Emmanuel J. Lopez (philstar.com) | Updated May 19, 2016 - 3:23pm 0 91 googleplus0 1


"The eight-point economic agenda formulated by Duterte’s economic team is a response to the societal needs of the populace." Crissa Tenorio/CC BY-NC-ND

All systems go as far as presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte’s economic agenda is concerned. It seems we are in for another Singapore in the making, taking off from a mediocre economy that is “oligarchical" in character to a progressive economy that is inclusive down to the “commoner.”

The Filipinos as a whole are keeping a close watch on the policies by the new administration when its term commences on July 1, 2016. The eight-point economic agenda formulated by Duterte’s economic team is a response to the societal needs of the populace.

Qualitatively, the Duterte presidency is anchored on a disciplined society. High on his priority are the tax reforms that he promised to undertake.

Twice he made emphasis on the need to restructure tax needs and priorities. Streamlining the tax collection system and rationalizing income tax collection is at the top of his agenda. This will have a direct effect on the disposable income of the people by way of an increase in purchasing power.

Either a decrease in tax rate or an increase in tax exemption may benefit low and fix income earners. This will have a trade-off effect on the economy because it will increase the income of the people, resulting in an increase in spending pattern thereby creating business opportunities and employment.

Although the increase in purchasing power may prompt an elevated inflation rate, it may likewise induce an increase in savings, an offshoot of a possible increase in interest rate. As long as the price is within affordable limits, we are not likely to experience a potentially damaging inflation.

Either a decrease in tax rate or an increase in tax exemption may benefit low and fix income earners. This will have a trade-off effect on the economy because it will increase the income of the people, resulting in an increase in spending pattern thereby creating business opportunities and employment.

Second on his agenda is the acceleration of infrastructure spending which could benefit both sides of the spectrum. Government spending effectively pump-prime the economy considering the magnitude of investment spending created by public sector spending. Consequently, such phenomenon creates jobs and income.

CONTINUE READING...

On the other hand, infrastructure spending improves institutional facilities like roads, bridges and other farm-to-market roads, including access to roads for greater convenience.

Inevitably, it should also contain facilities that would help alleviate the populace from the daily traffic grind, a dilemma that has gone from bad to worse. It, however, should preclude that perception of graft and corruption that normally is apparent under these government agencies.

More particularly, what was supposed to be the banner project of the Aquino administration called public-private partnership (PPP) seems to have been stalled because up to now it has not attracted a considerable amount of investment but mere promises that never materialized.

Hopefully, with the realization of what has been started by the Aquino regime in terms of infrastructure facilities, the Duterte administration hopefully can utilize it for the full benefit of the people.


DUTERTE ON CRIMINALS: KILL THEM ALL!!!  FROM DURIANBURGDAVAO BLOGPOST

With Duterte at the helm of political leadership and fulfilling his promise of creating a more conducive business environment, the first order of the day for the presumptive president is to secure a community that is free from the dangers of criminality that threatens not only the citizen’s life and limbs but also impedes a favorable business environment.

Liberalization and creation of a Magna Carta for Investment will attract investors to pour in the economy. The much neglected agricultural sector of the economy that employs at least 60 percent of our labor force will finally be given reprieve by the government. It has long been neglected in the previous rule and the insensitivity was brought about by the social class in which our former leaders belong to.

Liberalization and creation of a Magna Carta for Investment will attract investors to pour in the economy.

Basically belonging to the elitist and owners of vast tracts of land, our previous chief executives have overlooked whether deliberately or otherwise the welfare of the agricultural sector of our society. With the incoming president putting a premium on this long neglected sector, it is expected that poverty alleviation will be slowly realized in the next six years because a greater majority of those people in the impoverished level belong to the agricultural sector.

Basically belonging to the elitist and owners of vast tracts of land, our previous chief executives have overlooked whether deliberately or otherwise the welfare of the agricultural sector of our society.

Despite several strong oppositions to the K to 12 Program of the Aquino regime, it has shown great potential in so far as its ability to create a more productive individual is concerned. Before it will take one to finish the tertiary level to have specialization. With the K to 12, a specialization will be realized after finishing the senior high level.

Although, the level of drop-outs may increase, the Duterte administration’s thrust of expanding the scholarship program provides greater opportunities for competitiveness and opportunity for the poor but deserving students. The Duterte administration should sustain and continuously improve the basic education program because the acquisition of knowledge even at the most basic level should provide opportunities for the impoverished to uplift their lives.

The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) of the government should be an opportunity for our poorest among the poor to find ways and means to improve their lot using funds coming from government assistance. This should, however, be supplemental to the real intention of eventually making them sustain their own lives. This will happen if we provide them with better opportunities and not forever be reliant on whatever the government can provide them.

With the above-stated vision of our incoming government and the expected implementation of the same, we expect an improved society in terms of peace and stability.

Although it is not possible to achieve a complete turnaround in terms of development, peace, and security, the start of something concrete relative to the presumptive president’s campaign promises is enough guarantee and proof that the president means business and the Filipino people may be in for a start of something good.

Although it is not possible to achieve a complete turnaround in terms of development, peace, and security, the start of something concrete relative to the presumptive president’s campaign promises is enough guarantee and proof that the president means business and the Filipino people may be in for a start of something good.

Emmanuel J. Lopez, Ph.D. is an associate professor at the University of Santo Tomas and the chair of its Department of Economics. Views reflected in this article are his own. For comments email: doc.ejlopez@gmail.com

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

‘99% of Rody well-wishers jobseekers’ By Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 21, 2016 - 12:00am 7 37 googleplus0 0


A source close to incoming president Rodrigo Duterte estimates that 99 percent of his visitors are jobseekers. Philstar.com/File photo

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – They come not only to wish him well, but also to apply for jobs.

A source close to incoming president Rodrigo Duterte estimates that 99 percent of his visitors are jobseekers.

“They seek positions in his coming government,” a source who declined to be named told The STAR.

With just over a month before he assumes the presidency on June 30, Duterte has yet to appoint people to several Cabinet posts and other key positions.

The influx of well-wishers may have been triggered by an announcement by his transition team that at least 421 jobs are available in the incoming Duterte administration.

The transition team has assigned a committee to screen applicants.

Duterte said applicants should allow the committee to publish their names in newspapers as among the jobseekers.

Most of those wishing to see Duterte carry with them thick folders or envelopes containing their resumés or of those they are recommending for certain positions.

They are usually veteran politicians and officials from past administrations.

They would gather in Duterte’s temporary offices at the Matina Enclaves or in the presidential suite of the Marco Polo Hotel for the chance to see him.

After the usual niceties, an applicant would express his main intention and leave his or her credentials on the desk of the incoming president. Some would remind him of their contribution to his campaign before leaving their papers.

“And then the visitor would go straight to telling Duterte that should he need to fill vacant positions, he could also say that he is recommending somebody else for the position,” the source said.

Boxes of resumés, application forms and other papers have been lying around Duterte’s temporary offices.

Meanwhile, the incoming president also had to grant media interviews. Duterte conducted his first press conference as sure election winner last May 16.

Snubbed?

Duterte’s pastor friend Apollo Quiboloy of the Jesus Christ the Name Above Every Name expressed his dismay yesterday over what he believed was a snub by the incoming president.

Quiboloy said he felt slighted that he could no longer reach Duterte even by phone a week after the Davao City mayor took a break for a week after the May 9 elections.

He also said he could not get through to Duterte or have an appointment when he met his well-wishers at Matina Enclaves Residences last Monday and in the presidential suite of the Marco Polo Hotel last Wednesday.

The evangelist said Duterte had become unreachable even if he had been receiving hundreds of well-wishers for the past days.

“But it just didn’t include me. I feel that he (Duterte) has changed already,” Quiboloy said, adding that he is not expecting anything in return for his wholehearted support for Duterte during the campaign.

Quiboloy was among the first to endorse Duterte when he decided to run for president last Nov. 27, 2015.

Duterte has been vocal about Quiboloy’s support for him and even about his using the evangelist’s private jet and Bell 429 chopper in his sorties during the campaign period.

Quiboloy said he is just wondering why suddenly he could not get through to his close friend and long-time buddy.

He clarified what pains him is not about not being consulted on Duterte’s choosing his Cabinet members but on being snubbed by the incoming president.


PHILSTAR

Another gustatory destination BUSINESS LEISURE By Ray Butch Gamboa (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 21, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Ray Butch Gamboa

This is the most exciting time yet for Philippine-style politics in several decades – contentious, hard-hitting, dramatic and many times venomous. But all that is now behind us as the people have chosen our new leaders.

In six years’ time, we will probably be reliving the same scenario, with the same characters figuring in the national elections, but hopefully with a lot of valuable lessons learned.

As we wrote down our choices, we had our share of winners and losers among our candidates, but the die is cast now, so let us begin the healing towards one unified nation. To the victors, congratulations, may you live up to our expectations. To the losers, we’ll see you again in 2022.

* * *

Having said that, I guess many of you have had enough politics for the last few months, so let’s take things a little easier now and check out what’s cooking out there.

Let’s check out a new find in the restaurant scene.

One of our newest discoveries is in Bo. Kapitolyo in Pasig City: Calderon. Why the name? Because their very first outlet was in Calderon St. in San Juan, and since the very word calderon also references cooking pots (think caldero), the owners Marmie Perez, Angelo Melo and Ramon Carballo thought it was a good name for recall.

It was Ramon Carballo whom the roving staff of B&L (Business & Leisure) spoke to, and he said the location they discovered was exactly what they dreamed of, where the immediate community had the spending power and where restaurants were starting to sprout. What is interesting is that there are already quite a few residential streets that have become food streets now. Some have opted to turn their own homes into a revenue-producing asset, others just put up their ancestral homes on the block for much-needed cash or capital.

READ MORE...

That was what happened to the Calderon group when they chanced upon the San Juan property, and exactly what happened also when they discovered the property in Barrio Kapitolyo for another branch of Calderon. Bo. Kapitolyo is now a certified food street when back in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, this area developed by the Ortigases before they opened the different phases of Valle Verde subdivision (Nos. 1 to 6), was an exclusive subdivision. Today, there are still a lot of old houses, some of them left in a neglected state. It was only natural that many of them would be converted into restaurants, and now it is one of the newest food streets in the area.

The third branch of Calderon is in Salcedo St. in Makati. For a group that has never ventured into the restaurant business before this, they have certainly expanded the brand so well in just a few years.

What Mon Carballo said about their original concept though was amusing. The owners had conceived of the restaurant as a hole in the wall serving Spanish specialties home-cooked style.

Calderon in East Capitol Drive in Bo. Kapitolyo is hardly a hole in the wall—the décor is pleasing, warm, hospitable. It is not a young, hip restaurant –it has quiet elegance that families or a group of old friends wanting to catch up would appreciate.

One of the partners, Marmie, happens to be an interior designer. The mix of dark brown wooden chairs and tables on one side and bleached furniture on another side, homey Spanish tiles, the large tapestry of España on the wall, the warm glow of yellow lights, and the red bricks all come together for a unified old Spanish look.

Spanish food that is lutong bahay is how Mon spoke of their cuisine. They don’t pretend to be authentic because authentic is not necessarily the best, according to him. So what are they known for? Their paellas, naturally, which some patrons keep coming back for, he said. The B&L crew got to taste one of their variants, the paella negra which was much appreciated by the group. Other specialties include traditional favorites like the very tender lengua and the bacalao which probably hit it off with many customers last Holy Week. Their Iberian Chicken is also another best seller. At P1,000 for one large chicken, it is rather pricey, but we ordered some for take out anyway. The dish turned out to be very tasty, served with potatoes and carrots, and presented very well. This dish has to be pre-ordered at least 24 hours ahead, but it can be a nice addition to one’s buffet table or special Sunday lunch for the family.

Like many Spanish restaurants, they are also proud of their tapas and bocadillos (sandwiches), but what they are pushing now is their newest dish—cangrejo. This is crab roasted in garlic butter which they graciously offered for the crew to try. Crabs are always a winner wherever they are served, but this one was a winner, according to the crew.

Lucky guys. They say their prices are competitive, not hotel prices definitely, but not your neighborhood eatery either because they do not scrimp on their ingredients, just like home.

Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.

---------------------------------

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Phl gets huge thumbs up from Facebook By Kap Maceda Aguila (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 2, 2016 - 12:00am 0 10 googleplus0 1


Thumbs up: Facebook Philippines head Digs Dimagiba and Facebook Asia Pacific vice president Dan Neary. KAP MACEDA AGUILA

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has long ago gained recognition for a tech-savvy populace adept with mobile devices and active on social networks.

Indeed, a typical Pinoy maintains accounts on multiple social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and, of course, Facebook.

Ranged against the global average, Filipinos have 1.6 times more friends and use the Messenger app 1.3 more times.

 Facebook vice president for Asia Pacific Dan Neary recently disclosed these facts at a press conference in reply to a question from The STAR. “Filipinos are (also) spending more time (browsing) Facebook and Instagram than watching TV, 1.7 times,” he added, and further reported that Filipinos spend “289 minutes every single day on mobile devices and communicating – almost 50 percent more than the global average.

“If you think about it, over 90 percent (of people on the) Internet is on Facebook already. That’s really compelling. You will get it from an engagement standpoint and the fact that people are sharing more messages, have more friends…to all mobile where our services are being designed for,” Neary said.

Facebook said 49 million Filipinos are on Facebook – with 44 million accessing it on their mobile devices. That impressive number is part of “more than 241 million people (using) Facebook, (with) 94 percent on mobile,” it said.

With those numbers as backdrop, Neary announced the establishment of a Philippine office for the Mark Zuckerberg-led giant. The announcement is not surprising in light of Pinoys’ “deep” relationship with Facebook. In fact, Neary is aware that Pinoys are asking the question: “Why only now?”

“I think we often get a lot of criticism, especially given how active Filipinos are on Facebook. We have a genuine effort to try and move as fast as we possibly can… into the areas and markets that we care about. The Philippines is one that we care about,” he said. “You can debate whether or not we could have gotten here earlier, but nonetheless it’s a priority… within Facebook overall. Southeast Asia in general is one of our fastest growing regions and the Philippines is a big part of that.”

READ MORE...

By opening a Philippine office, Facebook hopes to escalate its business through enterprises “that want to leverage the Facebook platform,” from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to large domestic firms, to multinationals.

The company is keeping a particularly keen eye on SMEs which, averred Neary, are “driving the overall Philippine economy.” Facebook affords these businesses to connect with the community, an ability that he declared as “super compelling.”

To lead the Philippine team is former Samsung Electronics mobile business director Digs Dimagiba, who brings 18 years of experience in the industry to steer the “local business team that will partner closely with businesses and agencies, helping them get more value out of Facebook’s solutions.” As of December of last year, the social networking service had reported 32 million Filipinos connected to a business page. Ninety-five percent of users discover new products and brands via the platform.

Despite Facebook’s impressive penetration rate thus far, Neary is eagerly looking to sign up “the next billion users” of the service in the continent.

“Asia is going to be a really big part of that (growth). Asia is already (represents the) largest group of users that we have and it’s also the fastest growing. We (continue to) look to the Philippines with still half the people not online, and we’re really just getting started on servicing the business community,” Neary said.

While Neary refused to disclose the amount of investment Facebook has sunk or will continue to sink into the country, he hinted at its level.

“Historically we would manage things with businesses out of our Singapore office which is where most of our regional teams reside. Now the fact that we have it here represents a significant investment for us,” he declared. Neary is also keeping mum on the number of employment opportunities for Filipinos eager to join the company.

One would be hard-pressed to find doubters of anything Facebook brass decides on these days, as CNN recently reported its stock rise to an all-time high of $121.58 per share. Profits were up nearly 200 percent as Facebook raked in $5.4 billion in sales. An analyst confidently predicted the share price to “breeze through” a $145 target as it continues to “(add) users like crazy.”

Facebook, he said, continues to fine-tune “applications, services, or features,” and the Philippine office will “give more voice” to local users and businesses to meet their specific needs in order to have content that resonates with them.

Advertising, for instance, must be pertinent. “Oftentimes, what we see in the industry are comments like: ’Look, why did you serve me up an ad on pregnancy if I’m a guy?’ It just doesn’t make sense,” Neary rued. “Our focus is on making sure what we’re serving up to you is the most relevant. We’re doing it in a way that’s not harming the user. We spend a lot of time in holdout groups – groups of people that never see ads and we’re constantly comparing the level of engagement versus those that we serve ads to make sure that we’re addressing the very question (of) finding the right balance.”

Despite all that the company has achieved and its incredible rise to success, Neary expressed continued excitement for the future.

“If you go to a Facebook office, we’re a company that believes in a strong mission, a strong culture. You’ll see a lot of statements on the wall that best articulate what we believe in. One of the ones that I personally really love is this statement: We believe that our journey is one percent done. And so with that, we’re just super excited to be in the Philippines,” he concluded.


PHILSTAR

Hope for farmers: Climate-smart rice revives idle lands in Zamboanga (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 8, 2016 - 12:00am 0 25 googleplus0 0

Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines – Rice that grow well in salty areas give idle lands near the sea an unlikely facelift. These areas can become productive croplands for salt-tolerant rice.

Salt seeps into lands because of over extraction of groundwater and rise in sea level.

Today, climate impacts are heavily felt in Zamboanga as farm lands are devastated by drought or become flooded with saltwater. These put food security and livelihood at risk.

Felipe Pablo who farms shrimp, milkfish, and crab at Sitio Sulabot experienced these challenges for himself. Business was good until disease outbreaks killed off his shrimp.

Since then, a big portion of his 100 hectare fish farm has been empty and more than a million pesos had been lost. Next to his pond, a 2,000 square meter farm land lies unproductive because saltwater had soaked in the soil.

“The shrimp were dying off from the first month after seeding,” Dablo said.

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Kumalarang has seen the increase of idle fish ponds due to chronic diseases. At the same time, rice farms have been abandoned due to the impact of climate change like drought and saltwater intrusion.

According to Kumalarang municipal agriculturist Corazon Gomonit, at least 800 hectares of lands have become unproductive because of these.

In November 2015, Gomonit and Dablo received a kilogram of Salinas 16, a type of rice that survives in salty soil.

An ADB and GEF-funded project, Coastal and Marine Resources Management in the Coral Triangle - Southeast Asia (CTI-SEA) brought the samples from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for testing. In three months, Dablo harvested four sacks or 280 kilograms of Salinas rice from salt-laden soil where traditional rice varieties will not grow.

“I saw for myself how the rice grew from unusable soil,” said Dablo.

To help deal with the enormous loss caused by drought, Katihan, a high-yield variety that thrives well in dry areas is also being pilot-tested. Gomonit and Dablo are optimistic about the results of the field trials.

“I think that it will help many Filipino farmers in Mindanao,” said Dablo.

Many farmers hope for rain to come to revive farm lands affected by drought.

A month after cloud seeding operations failed and losing P1.3 M in the process, Zamboanga was declared under a state of calamity last April.

Rice varieties that survive in flooded, drought-stricken, or in salt-affected farmlands may be one of the solutions for communities most affected by climate change, especially when it comes to producing food.

“Projecting future climate is not perfect. But we cannot wait for science to be completely certain of things to come before we take actions,” said climate change expert Rosa Perez.

Perez said it might take a while before people realize that coastal flooding due to sea level rise is happening.

On the other hand, saltwater intrusion can occur more quickly than we thought.

These changes may have come faster than earlier climate projections. Thus, countries are looking into practical and sustainable ways to cope with their harmful impacts in the short term and to adapt and avoid them in the long term.

“Coastal agriculture, particularly rice production could be severely affected. Before we totally abandon the fields, we can shift to appropriate rice varieties. This would be a good immediate action to take to secure food and livelihood,” Perez said.

According to the Climate Change and Development report of UNDP, sea level rise may cause rice production to drop by nine percent.

FAO estimates that sea level rise has begun to bring in salt to around 6.5 percent or 831 million hectares of the world's total land.

Perez said forward looking assessments must be made to determine the extent and duration the fields that can be used for rice production, in terms of cost and benefits.

Taytay’s climate change adaptation plan has a set of integrated pilot activities which include testing of climate smart rice, mangrove reforestation, seaweed farming, early warning and disaster response and preparedness trainings, and health management and sanitation monitoring workshops.

CTI-SEA is a regional project funded by the Asian Development Bank and the Global Environment Facility.

It aims for climate resilience and sustainable resource management in the coastal communities of Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.


PHILSTAR

Budget gap widens to P74.4 B in March By Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 20, 2016 - 12:00am 1 1 googleplus0 0


The gap – which indicates expenditures exceed revenue – totaled P74.39 billion in March, more than four times the P17.4 billion a year ago, the Bureau of the Treasury reported yesterday. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration incurred its widest budget deficit in three months in March, pulling up the first-quarter tally as declining revenues failed to catch up with strong spending.

The gap – which indicates expenditures exceed revenue – totaled P74.39 billion in March, more than four times the P17.4 billion a year ago, the Bureau of the Treasury reported yesterday.

This was the biggest shortfall since December’s P75.14 billion. For the first three months, the deficit surged more than three-fold to P112.49 billion.

Traditionally, a quarterly budget program is provided based on the annual deficit cap. This year’s limit was pegged at P298.6 billion, but the Department of Finance (DOF) said three-month figures are still unavailable.

“The DOF is confident the first-quarter budget operations maintained the nation’s fiscal sustainability and contributed positively to first-quarter growth,” it said in a statement.

Growth, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), expanded 6.9 percent from January to March, the fastest quarterly expansion in three years.

As a percentage of GDP, the 2016 deficit cap is equivalent to two percent. For the first quarter, the gap already reached 3.44 percent.

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“Seasonally, March is really a big deficit month because of low revenues. But we can expect a pick-up in April because of the income tax payment deadline,” Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said by phone.

According to DOF data, revenues slumped eight percent to P157.8 billion in March. Only collections by the Bureau of Internal Revenue rose in March at nine percent.

Revenues by the Bureau of Customs were down nine percent, while revenues by Treasury and other offices slumped 55 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

It was a different story on the disbursement side. Spending surged 23 percent to P232.19 billion.

This was the fastest growth rate since July’s 25 percent and marked the third straight month of double-digit growth this year.

“We...are pleased that efforts to ramp up public spending since last year has shown substantial results,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said in a separate statement.

“We expect that spending will remain on track to drive further growth in the succeeding quarters,” he said.

For the first quarter, revenues inched up two percent, falling way below expenditure growth of 17 percent.

Remrick Patagan, research director at Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis Inc., said faster spending will continue as the Aquino administration finishes its projects before it steps down.

“As long as revenues to continue to grow, the front-loading of expenditures in the early part of the year is not a cause for concern but a step in the right direction,” he said in an e-mail.

“There is reason to believe fiscal space can be maintained until the change in administration,” he added.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Philippine demographics seen to further push growth By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 20, 2016 - 12:00am 1 1 googleplus0 0


ASIAN DEVPT BANK (ADB) News Release | 24 March 2015

MANILA, Philippines - Standard and Poor’s (S&P) Global Ratings said the underlying demographic trends in the Philippines is expected to drive growth despite the changing of the guard in Malacañang next month.

In a report, S&P retained its gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for the Philippines at six percent this year and 6.3 percent next year.

“With economic policy unlikely to change significantly with the incoming president, underlying demographic trends will continue to drive growth,” S&P said.

S&P said a growing and educated middle class would continue to be absorbed by a combination of overseas employment and a booming outsourcing industry.

This, it explained, would drive consumption and investment even as external demand remains weak.

The country’s GDP growth slowed down to 5.8 percent last year from 6.1 percent in 2014 due to weak global demand and low government spending.

Economic managers expect a GDP growth of between 6.8 and 7.8 percent this year.

The international rating agency said the eight-point economic agenda supports the reforms adopted by the outgoing administration of President Aquino.

“From an economic policy standpoint, his statements since the election have so far focused on maintaining the previous administration’s infrastructure program via public private partnership, as well as endeavoring to revise constitutional restrictions on foreign investment,” S&P said.

The debt watcher noted the peso and the stock markets have recovered after weakening substantially leading to the May 9 presidential and national elections.

Likewise, the amount of money sent home by Filipinos working and living abroad continued to hold despite soft oil prices that would take its toll on Filipinos in the Middle East.

Inflation averaged 1.1 percent in the first four months, way below the two to four percent target set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

S&P sees inflation rising to 2.5 percent this year and to 3.3 percent next year after easing to 1.4 percent last year from 4.1 percent in 2014 due to stable food prices and cheaper utility rates arising from soft oil prices.

S&P together with Moody’s Investors Service, Nice Ratings, and R&I have assigned a one-notch above investment grade rating on the country while Japan Credit Rating Agency has assigned a credit rating of two notches above investment grade.

Fitch Ratings, on the other hand, has kept the country’s credit rating at minimum investment grade but has assigned a positive outlook in the Philippines.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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