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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Angelica Panganiban or Cristene Reyes??

Darren Espanto shines in Canadian TV Talent Show “Next Star”

A young Filipino-Canadian singer is making waves in Canadian TV show, “The Next Star,” a youth-oriented competition aimed at finding talented singers under 15 years old.
The 11-year-old Darren Espanto made it through the last elimination round to join six finalists battling for the crown. The big prize comes with a two-song deal with Sony Music and $5,000 in shopping money courtesy of Sears.
Earlier, Espanto beat out thousands of hopefuls that auditioned from all over Canada to make the top 13. His audition song was “Grenade,” a hit by Bruno Mars who is also half-Filipino.
In a Calgary Herald report, Espanto explained that he chose the song because “it has a fast beat, it’s an upbeat song. And I like the tune and it’s pretty catchy.”
Though he obviously impressed this year’s set of judges, which included R&B singer Keisha Chante, country diva Tara Oram and music industry executive Mark Spicoluk, Espanto related that the three advised him to “put a little more stage presence” in his next performances.
And this is exactly what he did when he performed Rihanna’s “Only Girl In The World” during the eliminations, wowing the judges in the process.
Espanto is the first Asian, the first Filipino and the youngest contestant to make it thus far in the contest.
Espanto’s parents are Filipinos from Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya.
Marites Gonzales Agbayani, a sister of Espanto’s mother, related to Bomboradyo that the family migrated to Canada in 2006.
Agbayani proudly shared that the young crooner’s talent was evident even as a tot, a skill she believed he inherited from his parents.
Hoping that her nephew will go all the way to winning the much-coveted plum, Agbayani also enjoined Pinoys to support Espantos’ efforts by voting for him online via YTV.COM.
The season finale of “The Next Star” will be broadcast in Canada live from Wonderland in Ontario on Sept. 23.

UA&P students win Google Asia-Pacific Marketing Title

A team from the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) emerged as the Asia-Pacific champions at the Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC) which is now in its fifth year.
According to the search giant, over 11,000 students from 86 countries and territories joined this year’s GOMC, making this the most competitive and diverse pool of teams yet. The GOMC is open to all students, regardless of major, with teams ranging in size from three to six.
With a US$250 budget provided by Google, students are asked to develop an online advertising strategy for a real business or non-profit organization that has not used AdWords in the last six months.
The global winners and their professor receive a trip to the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California to meet with the AdWords team, while the regional winners and their professor receive a trip to a regional Google office.
The UA&P team of Hannah Ishael Tan, Danna Anne Marie Lee and Kyne Darby Santos, under Professor Kahlil Corazo, worked with Olivia and Fifth, a fashion boutique on the e-commerce site Multiply.
The Filipinos beat teams from Australia, India and Taiwan, who emerged as the top teams in the Asia Pacific region.
Four other teams from the Philippines joined the contest.
The global winning team came from the Warsaw School of Economics in Poland, who worked with Rowery Embassy, a bicycle company in Warsaw that specializes in beach cruisers.

DFA inaugurates new consular office at SM Megamall

Filipinos can now expect more convenience in availing passport related services after the Department of Foreign Affairs on Friday inaugurated a new consular office at a major mall in Metro Manila.

Located at the SM Megamall’s newly constructed seventh floor in Mandaluyong City, the DFA-NCR East is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and can accommodate up to 1,000 applicants at a time.

At the inaugural rites, DFA Undersecretary for Administration Rafael Seguis said the new consular office is a step forward for public service.

“The opening of DFA-National Capital Region East is the continuing fruition of the President and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs’ commitment to bringing world class and convenient service to the public,” Seguis said.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Seguis and SM Supermalls President Annie Garcia followed, marking the formal opening of the passport office.

On Jan. 16, DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario and SM Prime Holdings President Hans Sy signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for SM malls to host five consular offices nationwide under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.

The opening of DFA-NCR East is one of several passport offices included in the PPP which aims to bring over P1 billion in savings to be generated by its initiative to transfer its passport offices to shopping malls nationwide.

It also aims to bring consular services closer to the public through a more convenient and hassle-free experience.

"For the DFA, today's event is special to us not only because we are opening a new consular office, but also because today, we are reaffirming our commitment to improve our passport services and to bring our services closer to the public," Seguis said.

The DFA recently opened outlets in:

Pacific Mall in Cebu
Marquee Mall in Angeles City.
Robinsons Starmills in San Fernando, Pampanga,

Aside from this they will also open the following consular offices:

  • SM Manila
  • SM Baguio
  • SM Davao
  • Robinsons Lipa
  • Robinsons Galleria
  • Robinsons Bacolod
  • Robinsons Dumaguete
  • Robinsons General Santos
  • Pacific Mall Legazpi
  • Metro Gaisano Alabang

Other future offices to be finished by 2014 offices include:
  • Iloilo
  • Laoag
  • Butuan
  • Batangas
  • Tacloban
  • Puerto Princesa
  • Cagayan de Oro
Fast and convenient, by appointment

In an interview with GMA News Online, DFA Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said the DFA-NCR East offers world class service.

“This is a first class facility for our people. We hope that the public would use and utilize this office to get the passports. This is actually our way of bringing the services of the DFA closer to the people,” he said.

“And it will be easier for our public to apply for a passport and in a faster, more relaxed and convenient way,” he added.

Hernandez also urged Filipinos to visit the new consular office.

“Those who are staying here in the East of the National Capital Region could avail of the services of our passport consular office here at Megamall,” he said.

“We assure you that this will be a faster and more convenient way of applying for a passport,” he added.

Meanwhile, Seguis also invited the public to experience the world class service of the new consular office: “To the passport applicant, you can apply for your passports here in Megamall, 7th floor.

Only applicants with scheduled appointments and senior citizens with valid proof of age shall be accommodated.

“What you do now is to look at the [DFA] website where you just have to make an appointment at a particular time and day – kung anong oras at kung anong araw kayong pwede pumunta,” he explained.

“Mas madali yun, bibigyan kayo ng appointment and as soon as you have the appointment you can come on time – madali yung proseso na yun,” he added.

Starting September 3, 1,000 applicants shall be accommodated at DFA-NCR East, which will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays for both processing and releasing and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays for releasing only.

Only applicants with scheduled appointments and senior citizens with valid proof of age shall be accommodated.

To schedule an appointment, please log on to or to or call (02) 737-1000.

DFA-NCR East will also provide authentication services to the public. — with reports from Michaela del Callar /LBG, GMA News

OFW guide: What not to wear for a job interview

Whether we like it or not, most people will judge us by the way we dress.

According to a report of the news site Forbes, "your wardrobe says a lot about you."

"What you wear can inform passersby of your type of employment, as well as your ambitions, emotions and spending habits," said the report published in April this year.

A new type of psychology has emerged: “psychology of dress.”

In the book “You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You,” clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner explained how psychology determines people's clothing choices and how these choices affect one's everyday life and work.

The information site Good Job Interview Tips said it was important for a jobseeker to dress

"Dressing for a job interview can be confusing – as there are many types of workplaces and many types of attire that can be used throughout the interview process," the site said.

"It is important to make the best first impression when dressing for a job interview. The first impression is the most important when it comes to meeting with a potential employer, or supervisor at the potential company that is going to employ you," it added.

The  information site Career Builder listed some clothing items jobseekers must avoid during a job interview:

(1) Dirty clothing
If your interview schedule is after your working hours, your current outfit might have already been stained or crumpled.
It’s best to go into a job interview with neat and clean clothes. Always bring an extra pair whenever you need to go job hunting.
Tip: if you could avoid it, don’t wear your interview outfit while you are on your way to the meeting place. Instead, change in the restroom of your meeting place.
(2) Clothes that don’t fit well
Some people were born with a body structure that just don’t fit into clothes.

It is thus important to make sure that your clothes fit by having them altered by a tailor or dressmaker, especially if you feel that your clothes feel too tight or loose.
Tip: Whenever you buy clothes, consult a friend or the saleslady on how the clothes fit you.

(3) ‘Loud’ clothing
To look professional, it is better for one to stick to clothing that are either black, navy, or gray in color.
Unless you intend to work in a creative field, avoid wearing bright-colored clothing.
Tip: During job interviews, to be on the safe side, wear neutral colors.
(4) Short-sleeved shirts
Short sleeves are always a no-no for a job interview. There’s just an unwritten rule of not wearing short sleeves during job searching.
Tip: If you still would like to wear short sleeves to a job interview, at least don’t wear a tie with it.
(5) Odd-colored socks
Don’t wear socks that ‘scream’ loud colors. This will be seen by the interviewer when you cross your legs.
Most of the time black is your best bet so stick to it.
Tip: If you don't want part of your leg skin showing, make sure that your socks are long enough.

(6) Wrong tie
Wearing a tie speaks for itself; it makes a long-sleeved shirt look more formal.

However, a tie should be made from silk and measures three and a quarter inches wide.
Choose solid colors and if you decide to wear a tie with a pattern make sure that it is conservative.
Tip: Make sure that your tie matches your outfit.

(7) Skirts that are too short
Skirts are actually a good choice during job interviews.

However, a sure-fail choice is a skirt that is too short.
In the office, people are strict and worried about sexual harassment cases. Short skirts are thus not advisable.
Tip: Make sure your skirt covers your thighs completely while you are sitting.

(8) Fancy hosiery
When wearing a skirt, don’t ruin your formal attire by wearing fishnets or patterned hosiery.
Tip: Always stick with neutral colors that would look good with your top when mixed and matched. -VVP, GMA News

Pinoy cop gives back to community in Toronto

TORONTO - Constable Renato Valdez is a member of the Toronto Police Service.
He is also a Filipino having spent 7 years as frontline officer responding to high risk dispatch calls. Valdez has developed a deep sense of loyalty to his community that he carries over to his current position as liaison officer.
As liason officer, Valdez is responsible for solving community issues brought up by Filipinos, Koreans, Vietnamese and other ethnicities in Toronto's multicultural environment.
“Our mandate is to work with community members and their leaders and to find out their problems. Once we target their problems, we recommend solutions on how to resolve them. We are like mediators,” he said.
The peacekeeping approach comes from the values of tolerance and multiculturalism upheld by Valdez and the entire Toronto Police force.
Law enforcement is not new to Valdez as some of his friends and relatives back home are in the Philippine military and the police.
“There’s satisfaction inside me because this is really what I want to do--to help people, to help the community to the best of my ability. I think this is one way for me to give back to the community and help them in whatever they need,” he said.
Valdez came to Canada in 1997. He was not spared from the many challenges new immigrants face in a foreign country.
After working for years in different establishments he decided to go back to school and register at the Ontario Police College. He took up a four month training course and successfully graduated along with 400 aspiring police officers in Ontario.
Valdez added there’s a different kind of fulfillment being a Filipino member of the Toronto police service.
“We should have a harmonious relationship with our communities especially the Filipinos. We don't really have big problems in the Filipino community because I know most of us who came here are well educated, hard working people. We don’t cause any problems,” he said.
After nine years in the force, his love for the community and passion for his work continue to make him an example for kababayans doing what he loves, and doing it well for the sake of others.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Arnel Pineda, Journey perform at Republican event

TAMPA, Florida - Arnel Pineda and his Journey bandmates made a quick visit to Florida for the Republican National Convention. 
The band was reportedly paid half a million dollars to play at a private show during the RNC.
Pineda wouldn't confirm the deal, saying he's just happy that he's had had a successful tour. 
Mitt Romney's campaign has denied that the presidential candidate had any involvement in paying the band. 
The post show concert is a fundraiser for the nonpartisan Creative Coalition, a group advocates for the entertainment industry and has done similar shows at past presidential elections. 
Pineda said despite appearing at an RNC function the popular rock band is not making a political statement nor showing  which presidential candidate they prefer. 
"We're only here for the entertainment, we're not here to support any sides. We're very grateful there's a job for us here and to make a lot of people here through the songs," Pineda said. 
This  high profile private outdoor concert capped off what's been a crazy week for Pineda and the band. Last Tuesday, the group cancelled a show in Louisiana because of tropical storm Isaac. 
Pineda knows how his Louisiana fans feel, his house was flooded during tropical storm Ondoy in 2009 and the recent storms have also reached his backyard.  
"Every after summer eto na, hurricane season, just like us in the Philippines, diba parang typhoon season diba. Everybody is worried about their place their place their house. Lalo na if they live in a lower part of the city. So as well as mine. Actually my place is a bit higher nga but yun parin," he said. 
Pineda has back to back shows in Kansas and Minnesota this weekend. Next week he heads back to the Philippines for a short break where he will celebrate his birthday and the christening of his newborn. 
"I've missed the family, I've missed my wife. I miss the kids, miss my home. It's been a while. I've been away for a month and a half now, more than a month and three weeks to be exact. It's been quite a while so it will be very very good to be home again," he said. 
Journey has rescheduled the cancelled Louisiana show for late fall. 
Journey had no plans of milling around the convention.  After their high profile gig, the group headed back on the road again for a Friday night show in Kansas. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

DOLE: PHL hopes no more Pinoy maids will be abused by 2016

The Philippine government is hoping that no Filipino domestic worker will be abused by 2016, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz told GMA News Online on Wednesday.

In a phone interview, Baldoz said the 2016 target is part of a five-year program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) against the abuse of overseas Filipino household helpers.
“The five-year phase-out program [against abusive employer] address exploitation and maltreatment against OFW household service workers,” Baldoz said.
“By 2016, dapat wala na tayong mabalitaan na may household service worker na tumakas dahil siya ay critically abused, verbally or sexually. We hope that they will be with good and qualified employers only,” she added.

POEA database
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s (POEA) database containing the names of employers with complaints is now under review.

POEA is an attached agency of the DOLE.

Baldoz said an employer who is included in a POEA blacklist will be banned from hiring Filipino domestic workers.
“The program set a firm signal against abusive employers.  If we are strictly screening employers, then we give them second thoughts [on maltreatment or abuse against HSW]. They may eventually change their attitudes and treat our OFWs humanely by providing right wages, and treating them as part of the family,” Baldoz said.

Alternative employment
Aside from banning abusive employers, the five-year program also aims to provide alternative employment to overseas domestic helpers, especially those who have bachelor degrees.
According to a report of the news site Gulf News, migrant workers advocate Susan Ople, president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Centre, lauded the government’s action.
“The life of a domestic worker, wherever she is, is fraught with physical, emotional, and financial vulnerabilities," Ople told Gulf News.

"I am glad that the Philippine government is planning an exit strategy for this particular sector with an eye towards better jobs here at home,” she added.  - VVP, GMA News

6 US Companies With Awesome Employee Perks

When job candidates are considering a position, they often compare the benefits and perks package. We’ve all heard about the Googleplex and its gourmet food, dry cleaning and Razr scooters made available to Googlers. But you don’t have to be a search giant to offer admirable perks. In fact, it may even be more cost-effective to offer goods and services instead of cold hard cash, since the latter is taxed twice. The key to great perks is to make them exciting and keep them on-brand. Below, you’ll find how six brands — from small startups to larger companies — reward their employees and maintain happy and efficient workers. While they aren’t all tech or digital companies, they all excel in the digital and social media space, and other startups (and large corporations) could learn a thing or two from them.

1. Clif Bar

Just because a company has been around since 1992 and has nearly 300 employees, doesn’t mean the workplace can’t capture a startup-y vibe. And that’s exactly the case at Clif Bar. Let’s start with the digs: Clif Bar moved to a new HQ building last year, and the 115,000-square-foot space was refurnished with the employees’ well-being and the environment in mind. There are four atriumed gardens that let in natural light and plenty of oxygen; repurposed bikes, kayaks, paddles and surf boards suspend from the ceiling to function as artwork, there’s bike parking and there are “loaner bikes” that can be used for local errands. Want to squeeze in a workout? There’s a 40-foot bouldering wall and a fitness center with a yoga room, dance studio, two massage rooms, shower and locker room facilities and free access to five certified trainers and nutritionists. The gym offers 33 different fitness classes including rock climbing, yoga, boot camp and spin class, and every employee gets 2.5 hours of paid gym time per week.
Some other perks include:
    • Free coffee
    • A $350 stipend to help cover the entry costs for races, events and competitions
    • A dog-friendly office
    • Clif Base Camp, a “competitively priced” daycare center that has capacity for 64 children up to 5 years of age
    • Concierge services, including on-site car washing and detailing, haircuts, laundry and dry cleaning — to support a healthy work-life balance. While not free, these services are convenient and efficient
    • Subsidized massage and chiropractic services on site
    • Alternative Transportation Rewards: Employees who commute on foot, by bike, on public transportation or in carpools can earn up to $960 a year in rewards. Employees earn points that can be redeemed for commuter checks, extra cash, Clif gear, massages and more
    • Cool Commute Incentives, the nation’s first-ever biodiesel incentive program for employees, rewards employees for biking, walking, carpooling, taking public transit and driving a hybrid or bio-diesel vehicle. Employees can get a $6,500 tax incentive for purchasing biodiesel, and up to $500 for the purchase of a commuter bike so long as they commute by bike at least twice per month.
    • Cool Home Incentives: Employees can receive up to $1,000 per year to make eco-home improvements — like installing Energy Star appliances, insulation installation, solar installations or energy-efficient windows — that will reduce waste and the use of fossil fuels and increase the use of renewable energies.
    • Flexible schedule: Clif Bar teammates get eight paid holidays, plus a paid week off between December 25 and January 1. Employees start with 15 days of paid time off, and that increases to 20 days the second year and 25 days the fifth year. Then there’s the 9/80 Schedule, whereby employees can work 80 hours in nine days and then get every other Friday off.
    • Sabbatical: After seven years at Clif Bar, employees can enjoy a six- to eight-week sabbatical.
    • Kali’s Kitchen: Founder Gary Erickson’s grandmother Kali inspired him to bake, and so Kali’s Kitchen works with regional farmers to source organic ingredients for affordable meals (a $6.50 price point is common).
    • Weekly breakfast meeting: Every week the company assembles for a company breakfast — bagels, fresh fruit, eggs, oatmeal, juice, bacon and sausage and more are served — and the team shares news and announcements and a consumer’s “letter of the week.”
    • Employee Stock Ownership Plan, funded entirely by contributions from the company with no required employee contribution. Employees are automatically enrolled and become 100 percent vested after three years with the company or when they reach retirement age, whichever comes first.
    • Retirement: To help employees plan for retirement, the company adds financial literacy classes and a 401(K) savings plan with a dollar-for-dollar matching contribution for the first 5% of pay deferred.
You probably get the point, so we’ll stop there.

2. Sweetgreen

Fresh and fast-food concept Sweetgreen was started by three young Georgetown graduates, so it’s not surprising that the culture the three guys have built resembles that of a fraternity. Though they purvey salads and frozen yogurt, Sweetgreen is evolving into a lifestyle brand, with its yearly Sweetlife Festival, in-store concerts and other initiatives. But the fun isn’t reserved just for the customers.
Sweetgreen’s tenure program — Shades of Green — has blown up into a competition and become a status symbol among employees. Every teammate gets a free shirt, and the longer you’re with Sweetgreen, the darker your shirt. Who knew a free t-shirt could help to shape company culture?
After a teammate has been with Sweetgreen for one year, you also get a pair of green high-top Converse sneakers. At two years, you get a t-shirt and a neon green iPod Nano Touch. After three years, you get a lime-green Sweetgreen bike.
During every shift, a Sweetgreen employee gets a free salad. After a while, Sweetgreen’s People Manager Leslie Barkett says she noticed the sizes of the darker t-shirt orders (for the long-time teammates) were going down, from larges and extra-larges to smalls and mediums. “Looks like our employees aren’t just eating healthier the longer they stay with Sweetgreen — they’re dropping clothing sizes too,” says Barkett.
And every few weeks, an up-and-coming band will pop in to a Sweetgreen location to play a few tunes. Barkett says Toro y Moi, The Givers, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Alex Winston have popped in, making the lunch rush a little less painful for the Sweetgreen team.

3. Burton

You’d probably guess that Burton — the snowboard giant founded by Jake Burton in 1977 — would be a fun place to work. And you’d be right — the active lifestyle it promotes to consumers is also promoted within the company. Here are some of the perks:
      • Dog-friendly office
      • Free season pass on the slopes for all employees
      • If it snows 2 feet or more, the office is closed for employees to go snowboarding
      • Skate park behind the office
      • Mini Stash Jib Park where people can snowboard on park features in the winter
      • The “Fall Bash,” an annual party for Jake Burton’s team, friends and family at his home, complete with a band, food, drinks and more
      • Company Ride Day (see above), an annual day when the entire company gets on snow and rides together, BBQs and has a few beers
      • Demo closet where Burton staff can test new products
      • Discounts on Burton gear
Plus, there are grassroots employee-run groups within the company, including:
      • EPIC, a group of environmentally-minded Burton employees who actively research ways to reduce our environmental impact both personally and as a company
      • The Exchange, a group of Burton employees focused on company culture and transparency within the organization
      • The Women’s Leadership Initiative, which focuses on promoting and progressing a number of women’s initiatives at the company, including careers, family and, of course, snowboarding. WLI looks to secure Burton as the brand and employer of choice of choice for women and also works to get women snowboarders out on the slopes and make sure they have fun while they’re out there.

4. Coloft

Coloft is a shared workspace and community for startups, entrepreneurs and freelancers in Santa Monica and West LA. Founder Cameron Rasouli says “we like to do as much as we can for our members.” Enrolling them in BetterWorks is one way they do.
BetterWorks is a service to give small and medium businesses perks programs, and it’s run through a simple Web interface. The BetterWorks platform connects employees with locally-based vendors offering discounts, such as gyms (see the Colofter above, flaunting his Equinox tag), yoga studios, salons, laundry services and more. Employees simply find what interests them and click through their profile page to place the order, either paying for the discounted service on their own or deducting from an employer-subsidized account. The platform gives employees the choice of what perks they’d like — “We’re not a one-size-fits-all corporate culture after all,” says Nicole Jordan, director of communications at BetterWorks.
Coloft is home to startups like, Hipster, 140 Fire (a Y-combinator startup), BarMax and Airpair. There are 100 members, and about 70 of them are on BetterWorks. Rasouli says the most popular perk seems to be the Equinox membership, as well as the other health club discounts. Typically, Equinox has a $495 initiation fee plus a high monthly fee and a year-long contract; with BetterWorks, there’s no initiation fee, no contract and a much lower monthly fee. “It’s nice to see that the startups here seem to be taking better care of themselves since the health club memberships offered through Betterworks allow them to afford it,” she says. Since everyone at Coloft is working crazy hours, the discounts offered through BetterWorks (from 10 to 28% off) mean everyone can be well-fed and well-fueled (via delivery) all day long.
In addition to the BetterWorks platform, Coloft offers events and seminars focused on certain aspects of startup life (i.e. law, accounting, PR, etc.) and also hosts monthly office hours and classes.
“Our members, most of which are startups, were really excited about Betterworks when we first told them about it as they really benefit from the access to the deep discounts provided,” says Risouli. “We basically are able to give our members full access to Betterworks once they sign up to be a Colofter.”

5. Asana

Asana is a Silicon Valley startup founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz that’s building collaborative task and project management software. Kenny Van Zant, an Asana “business guy,” explained some of the company’s perks to Mashable.
      • In-house yoga: There are group sessions open to all employees and +1s twice a week, and there are 1:1 yoga sessions with a private instructor, including options for massage. (“Asana” is a Sanskrit term for “to sit down,” and it’s the suffix for many yoga poses.)
      • Organic home-cooked meals twice a day. There’s a full-time chef on staff who prepares an organic lunch and dinner every day, customized to individual diet preferences — and this is no small task, since there are vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians and meat-eaters.
      • Sweet workspaces. Asana gives each employee $10,000 to spend on office setup. The most common choice is a sweet motorized desk that allows a person to sit or stand by just hitting a button (because we all know standup desks can save your life).
      • Executive and life coaching. Asana employees can opt for different coaches, depending on what type of skills they are looking to develop.
      • The usual. Yes, Asana also offers medical benefits, but Van Zant is also excited about the “opportunity to work in a company with respectful, rational, chill peers.” And if you’ve ever been a situation where this wasnot the case, then you’d see it as a crucial perk, too.

6. RockYou

RockYou is a social game and advertising company, and its 200 employees’ good ideas are recognized every six weeks with the YouRock Awards, hosted at the company’s all-hands meetings. The YouRock Awards started as a way to promote a bottom-up employee nomination process so people could recognize those whom they work with daily. Driven by peer nominations, RockYou awards teammates for solving a problem, designing a game, demonstrating innovation and exhibiting behaviors aligned with the RockYou values. YouRock nominees spin a wheel to choose an award such as cash, concert tickets, an extra day off or an iPad. All YouRock recipients also receive a golden bobble-head cow trophy, offering them desktop bragging rights.
The open forum in which people can be recognized and recognize others fosters a compassionate and playful company culture.

PAL unveils ambitious plan to build own airport

With new investors clearly in the picture and committed to pursuing a more profitable path in global aviation, flag carrier Philippine Airlines intends to build a new airport of its own in a 2,000-heactare property 15 minutes away from Makati City.
In a report to shareholders during a meeting Thursday in Manila’s Century Park-Sheraton Hotel, PAL chairman Lucio Tan said investments are being made to put the airline firmly on the path to future growth. 
The planned air terminal with four runways will be presented to President Benigno Aquino III for approval, PAL president Ramon S. Ang told reporters during a press conference after the stockholders’ meeting.
This is to ensure the project is aligned with the Aquino administration’s tourism master plan, according to the PAL president.
PAL would start building the new terminal in 2013, hiring Korean contractors, as soon as the President approves the project. "We can finish the terminal in three years," Ang said.
He declined to give further details of the project, other than saying it would be easy to get financing with a $500-million equity. Ang added he is now in talks with potential investors.
“Despite multiple challenges last year, PAL stayed the course and dramatically restructured its operations, enabling your airline to attract much-needed strategic investments and prime itself for sustained push in the years ahead,” said Tan.
In a separate report, the airline noted it was back in the black with $11.4 million in net profit for fiscal first quarter ending June, 2012 – from a net loss of $10.6 million a year earlier.
Now, the airline said, it has put the difficulties of the past year behind and has gained stability as well as increased its yield, load factors and cargo volumes since new investors – principally San Miguel Corp. – came in last April.
The airline noted it incurred a net loss of $99.79 million in fiscal year 2011-2012, mainly because of a debilitating labor row, the Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster with its accompanying nuclear crisis, and a regime of volatile fuel prices amid civil strife in the Middle East and North Africa.
PAL's comprehensive loss of $99.79 million in the 12 months to March 31, 2012 was a “stark reversal” from the $72.52 million income a year earlier. Tan said. — VS, GMA News

PH Q2 GDP growth cools more sharply than expected

MANILA - Philippine growth cooled much more sharply than expected in the second quarter as exports slumped and the farm sector slowed, boosting expectations that the central bank and the government will take further action soon to cushion the economy from the global downturn.
The economy expanded just 0.2 percent in the second quarter from the first three months of the year, dragged down by a slump in electronics exports and a related drop in industrial output, along with weaker growth in the agriculture and service sectors.
The growth rate was the weakest since the first quarter of 2009, highlighting the tremendous pressure building on export-reliant Asian economies from China and Japan to Southeast Asia to ramp up public spending or further ease monetary policy to shore up activity as the global malaise drags on.
"It's clear that something really bad happened in the global economy in the second quarter and we're seeing poor June and July numbers, especially for regional exports," said ING economist Tim Condon.
"But if we look at first-half growth it was pretty solid ... I don't think this (the Q2 number alone) indicates a structural hit to the Philippine growth story," he said, adding it was difficult at first glance to determine a clear reason for the quarter's marked weakness.
The economy could have contracted if not for a pick-up in consumer spending. Household consumption grew 1.4 percent in the quarter, accelerating from 0.9 percent in the first quarter thanks to strong remittances from Filipinos working overseas.
Manila is clearly counting on that consumer clout to help pull the economy out of its soft patch, or at least considerably soften the blow, but authorities say they won't hesitate to offer further stimulus if conditions continue to deteriorate.
The government is ready to step up spending on public infrastructure to ensure growth this year will be closer to the high end of its target of 5 to 6 percent, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told reporters after the GDP report.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the economy would grow 1.1 percent in April-June from the previous quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis, slowing from an upwardly revised 3.0 percent in the January-March quarter.
From a year earlier, the economy grew 5.9 percent, the economic planning agency said on Thursday, faster than the 5.7 percent predicted by economists but cooler than a revised 6.3 percent annual jump in the first quarter.
That brought growth in the first six months of the year to 6.1 percent compared with the first half of 2011.
Despite the growing chill from the global slowdown, analysts still believe that much of Southeast Asia is better positioned to ride out global turmoil due to their large populations' spending power, relatively low public and private sector debt and recent efforts to strengthen their financial systems.
In particular, analysts single out Indonesia and the Philippines as perhaps the most resilient economies in the region, followed by Malaysia and possibly Thailand.
Growth in both Indonesia and Malaysia surprisingly picked up in the second quarter to 6.4 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively, year-on-year, though tiny, export-reliant Singapore, with no large consumer base, struggled to stay out of recession.
"For the rest of (Southeast Asia), especially for the open economies, they would probably be seeing a bit of a slowdown in the second half because exports have been increasingly weak," said Euben Paracuelles, an economist at Nomura in Singapore.
"For the Philippines, this will also be the case but there's a bigger offset from domestic demand because investment will hold up."

Underlining the risks from the slowing global economy, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas cut its key policy rate  to a new low of 3.75 percent in July, the third reduction this year, and some economists expect another cut before year-end.
The central bank next meets on Sept 13.
The government's budget deficit in the seven months to July was only 73.7 billion pesos, just around one-fourth of its full-year deficit target of 279 billion pesos, giving Manila more than enough room to increase spending for the rest of the year.
Exports, which account for about two-fifths of GDP, will remain the biggest downside risk for the economy in coming months.
In June, exports slowed sharply from a year earlier, as global demand sputtered, with electronics shipments declining for a third consecutive month. 
That weighed heavily on industrial output, which fell a sharp 2.4 percent in the second quarter from the first, when it grew 3.8 percent.
Agriculture and service sectors posted growth of 1.2 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, but that rate was still much slower than recorded in the previous quarter.
The farm sector accounts for about one-fifth of the economy, and a series of severe storms which lashed the country in July and August could put further pressure on farm output.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How to Boost Your Happiness

Happiness need not be attained by meditating like Buddha on a mountain-top.
True happiness lies in the simple joys ingrained into our daily lives. Still, for the soul-searchers on their mission to attain nirvana, here are some steps to boost happiness.

1. Know Thyself

It is so much easier to please yourself than going out of your way to please the seemingly cruel world. One can blissfully admit that the world is, single-handedly, the biggest battlefield to inhabit. Every junction in life is fraught with problems, which challenge every shred of knowledge and question our long-held beliefs constantly. In this run for perfection, one tends to get bogged down by negative circumstances and give in to their doubts. The life thus lived is a life full of remorse. In this constant strife, the only scope for solace is in oneself. Knowing yourself equips you with the biggest weapon of confidence to take on the world. If you know your potential then you cannot be held down by naysayers. Knowing your innate qualities gives you an edge over others and invariably leads you to success.

2. Be Here and Now

The time is now and you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. Most people fight with the forces of nature to alter their present circumstances to their liking. The forces of time are beyond your control and living in the past only brings heartache. Living in the past keeps you from opening yourself to a possibility of a bright future. While it can be difficult to pick up the broken pieces and move on, that is ultimately the only option left. Accepting your present will lift the burdens of the past and give you strong wings to soar ahead into the future. Fretting about an elusive future will not get you anywhere. While mankind is far from the omniscience and omnipotence of God, what man can do in hopes of achieving a semblance of satisfaction is to live his present to the fullest and leave their future to destiny.

3. Less Cars, More Stars

Mankind has been the progenitor of a host of inventions to address their necessities. With time and growing technology the desire for a better and easier life has only grown. Now, even with a line of Ferraris and innumerable mansions, man is still very unhappy. Have you ever wondered why a rich man cannot sleep at night, but a poverty-stricken man sleeps like the dead? It is because the latter realizes that materialistic pleasures amount to peanuts in the grand scheme of things. Wielding personal satisfaction is mankind’s best hope in achieving even a small fraction of the desired happiness. Sometime a comforting smile from a friend or a lover’s embrace tends to uplift the soul much higher than possessing the latest gadget. Man, amidst the humdrum of urbanization, has lost his touch with nature. Sometimes, lying on the grass and looking up at a starry sky can put things in stark perspective. The vast expanse is enough to tell us that our material possessions are utterly impermanent. Morals, values, relationships and love are what everyone should hold on to; these are things which matter.

4. Follow your Heart

Inside every person is a palpitating organ keeping us alive by relentlessly pumping blood. While the cynic might choose to look at it as squelching mass of muscles, to the idealist the heart transcends its biological purpose. As children, we learn to crave for our innermost desires, see the wonder in every aspect of life and pursue nothing but our defined goals. Through social and experiential conditioning, we grow up to lose the inner voice that keeps telling us what to do. The adventurous voice from yesteryears becomes a nagging and improbable voice of today. Although muffled, our heart still speaks to us, urging us to follow our passions. People out of touch with their emotions tend to lose this potent voice in the complicated realm of personal circumstances and suffer incessantly throughout their lives. All one needs to do is just stop and listen. Let that innocent voice guide you beyond reason and comprehension. Following your heart will lead you to inexplicable experiences and untold happiness.

5. Shun Labels

We are living in an extremely biased world governed by –isms. Sexism, fascism, racism, feminism, chauvinism and anarchism are just some of the numerous labels that the world has to offer. Growing up with such conventions tends to make us unconsciously adopt such labels as well. We begin to judge people by character, colour, form, language, religion, sex and sexual orientations, only to discriminate and hate them for no apparent reason. The older generations fondly remember their times when unity ruled supreme and –isms only existed in the dictionary. Labels only spite discord in the name of race, religion and beliefs and life is too short for such petty things. Although learning to behold everyone equally is a gift bestowed to some, it’s still not completely unheard of. Life is much better without a label, designer or otherwise. If it cannot improve the way of life, it should not be included in life itself. The only label to wield is humanism. Be a slave to humanity and watch how hatred flies from your life, never to return again.

6. Forgiveness

Mankind was sired from the bosom of God, only because the Supreme Maker wanted his children to learn forgiveness. He vested them with a heart to beat for humility and a mind to seek redemption. Millions of years on, mankind has become increasingly self-sufficient. State-of the-art gadgets and weapons fuel his grudges and tear nations asunder, in a mere blink of the eye. Mankind has let his ego get the better of him, which believes that it is better to tear people down than forgive them for their mistakes. If one could only look within, they’d discover the innate potential to love and be loved. Mercy is mankind’s biggest trait, which when exercised regularly tends to bridge all emotional gaps. Life is far too short to hold an insignificant grudge. Learn to forgive and forget and watch happiness seep in through the cracks.
By following the suggested advice, you will be able to lead a fulfilled and happy life.