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Saturday, September 15, 2012

New Saudi law affects PH workers

A RECRUITMENT industry leader yesterday warned overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia not to violate their visas or they will face strict punitive action. 

Lito Soriano, recruitment specialist, said he received information that Saudi’s Shoura Council has passed a law banning expatriates from working for companies and individuals other than their employers or sponsors. 

“According to the new law, punitive action would be taken against Saudi sponsors and companies who allow foreigners to work for other employers,” he said. 

Soriano said violators face jail sentences of not more than five years. 

He added the Shoura also passed a draft law that incriminates those who employ visa violators or leave their employees to work on their own or for others or use the workers of other sponsors.  

The Shoura decisions augur well for the Labor Ministry’s efforts to regulate the job market and create more employment opportunities for Saudis. It also supports the government’s move to crack down on cover-up businesses. 

The consultative body approved a draft law with 14 articles to deal with expatriates who violate the Kingdom’s regulations including those who overstay Haj and Umrah visas. 

The new law said security agencies shall arrest those who employ expatriates who violate Saudi law as well as those who allow their employees to work for their personal accounts.

Police can also arrest those who hide, shelter or transport violators or provide them with any form of assistance as well as those who did not inform authorities about the delay in departure of people whom they brought.

The violators who came on Haj, Umrah and visit visas (and working for individuals and companies) would be deported at the expense of those who employ them. 

The amended Article 39 of the Saudi Labor Law says, “An employer is not allowed to leave his employee to work for others, while an employee is not allowed to work for another employer, without following the necessary procedures.” 

The Labor Ministry inspectors shall visit companies and institutions to look for violators of the law and hand them over to the Interior Ministry for action.

Friday, September 14, 2012

WSJ reports that Phl goes hi-tech for disaster response plan

The Philippines is no stranger to disasters. Floods, earthquakes, volcanoes and typhoons frequently ravage the archipelago, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the work.
But now a new plan aptly dubbed Project NOAH – National Operational Assessment of Hazards – intends to give Filipinos a better chance of overcoming these calamities by providing real-time access to weather information and updating maps, some of which date back to the 1960s.
Spearheaded by the Philippine Department of Science and Technology, the 2 billion pesos, or $48 million, project was launched in July 2012. Automated rain gauges first were installed in river basis around the country, allowing scientists and other experts to track rainfall and river water levels in real time. This month, the project will roll out LIDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, technology which allows for high-resolution 3D mapping of the country’s topography – something which scientists say will help the Philippines’ better prepare for potential disasters. The entire country is expected to be digitally mapped within two years, according to scientists running the project.
“Using the best technology available is the only way to minimize casualties,” said Mahar Lagmay, executive director of Project Noah and a scientist at the University of the Philippines in Manila. “We need to develop a culture of preparedness and safety.
He also added that the project will likely draw on newly-developed “super wifi” technology to get around some necessary infrastructural upgrades still lacking in the Philippines.
Just weeks after Project Noah was launched by the country’s president Benigno Aquino III, the system was quickly tested when monsoon winds and rain dumped unusually heavy rainfall on critical cities in the Philippines, including Manila. The torrential rains caused the most severe floods seen since Tropical Storm Ketsana in 2009 which left the capital submerged for days.
Initial assessments of the August floods showed that better tracking and disaster response times helped to limit the death toll to just over 100 people, compared to over 700 during 2009’s floods. A report from the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, said local governments were “managing the situations well”, and that that follow-up relief operation was put into action quickly. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the population displaced by the floods reduced by 10% in a week – a far better record than during Typhoon Ketsana, whose impact lasted months though similar levels of rainfall were recorded, according to Project Noah’s tracking maps.
Mr. Lagmay added that the improved maps could also serve another practical purpose – as a tool for urban planning and development, crucial for private sector investors that are starting to bet big on increased domestic spending in the country including in malls and on real estate. The project has some private sector partners – including San Miguel Corp SMC.PH +0.18%.’s Petron oil refinery, Philippine telcos Smart Communications Inc TEL.PH +0.43%., SUN Cellular and Globe Communications though none of them have pledged funding as yet. Smart Communications, for example, has been working to set up free call stations at disaster evacuation centers with charging facilities and internet provisions and opens SMS channels to receive donations during crisis situations.
It is becoming increasingly important for Asian countries to adopt modern disaster relief strategies in the decades to come, experts say. According to a report from the Asian Development Bank, a projected 410 million urban Asians are at risk of coastal flooding in the next decade, with another 350 million at risk of inland flooding – similar to that experienced by Bangkok last year, and Manila this August.
Observers note that social media is an important component in Project Noah’s success. Comscore ranks the country the world’s biggest market for Facebook FB +3.30%, with more than 90% of its online population using the social networking tool, with an overall internet penetration rate of about 33% of its 100 million people. Representatives from Global Systems Mobile, the system on which many cellular phone networks function, are examining the Philippines to see how mobile phones can help bolster early warning networks elsewhere.
Twitter provided some of the fastest alerts about a 7.6 magnitude earthquake off the eastern coast of the Philippines last month. And analysts say social media will become even more useful as radio stations and other broadcast media increasingly rely on the Internet for information.

Josie Natori brings Flores de Mayo flamboyance to New York

After a 35-year reign in high-end fashion, Josie Natori is returning to her Philippine roots for inspiration. Paradise Wear, her peek into spring 2013, brings Flores de Mayo’s free- flowing flamboyance to New York.
“It’s about time,” Josie told The FilAm.
The collection is modern, almost unrecognizably Filipino, except for the all-whites with intricate embroidery the Natori label is known for. Josie created her niche in lingerie in the 1970s when she began supplying sleepwear to Bloomingdale’s.
Josie’s vision as she and her research team were conceptualizing her line led them to images of the Pintados or the heavily painted people of Central Philippines. Their tattoos represent “courage and beauty and are thought to have magical qualities,” she said. The trademark embroideries are reminiscent of the parade of street dancers and all their vibrant body decorations, she added.
The flashy colors come from the Flores de Mayo, one of Josie’s favorite festivals. “The events surrounding this festival are bursting with vivid colors, exotic flowers, and a sense of celebration and renewal that I hoped to capture with this collection.”
“Excited ako,” Josie further explained to The FilAm, “because (my collection) reflects the happiness of the Philippine spirit.”
Natori’s production had models standing still like mannequins. No runway this year, said Josie’s son Kenneth.
“We always believe in a free-flowing presentation,” he explained. “We want people to be able to spend time consuming the looks and walking around casually. This is a better format.”
The Philippines “is very important to us,” said Kenneth, who heads the e-commerce, finance and marketing of the Natori Company. “We think one of our biggest advantages as a company is that we have our own manufacturing facility there where we do a lot of our manufacturing and a lot of high-end embroidery, embellishments.”
Lawyer Ma. Romela Mosqueda Bengzon, an avid fan who planed in from Manila for the show, said one piece stood out in the collection.
“Her use of leather at springtime is genius,” she told The FilAm. “The color so makes the leather look softer.”
It’s a case of seeing traditions with new eyes. Or as Josie expressed it, “taking the vision in my memories and giving them contemporary relevance.”
Josie Natori
Styling—Annabel Tollman
Makeup—Ai Nieda for Shiseido
Hair—Tadashi Harada for Shiseido
Shoes—Jacques Levine for Josie Natori
All accessories and handbags by Josie Natori
The FilAm

Phl gets high marks from new IMF representative

The economy has been doing well on the first two years of the Aquino administration, climbing up to achieve inclusive growth by introducing reforms recognized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as vital to alleviating poverty, the organization’s new resident representative in the country said.
“Philippines is focused on providing good governance and improving competitiveness and infrastructure… That could lead to inclusive growth and help bring the poorer segment of the population to the mainstream sector of the economy,” Shanaka Jayanath Peiris told The STAR on his first interview since taking over last Sept. 3.
An Oxford-educated Sri Lankan, Peiris replaced Dutch Dennis Botman as IMF’s main man in the Philippines and will be serving for three years as adviser to the government and the central bank in their efforts to promote financial stability.
He is, however, not new to the country. Prior to his new assignment, Peiris, who has been with the IMF for 11 years, had been studying the Philippines on his desk at the IMF headquarters in Washington D.C. as senior economist at the Asia-Pacific Department for two years.
Incidentally, it was on the year that he started examining the Philippines in 2010 that the administration of President Aquino took over, and admittedly, Peiris said there had been great improvements since then.
“I would have to say that they should continue the good work because the country has been doing well for the past two years,” he said at his small office at Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Complex in Manila.
“The government strategy of improving infrastructure, keeping the macroeconomy stable, keeping inflation under control (and) keeping the fiscal situation under control so that the debt remains low, those things all help create stability,” he explained.
And official data is supporting Peiris observations. For one, inflation remained manageable at 3.2 percent as of August, settling at the lower-end of BSP’s three- to five-percent target.
Government has also kept its finances in check: budget deficit was at P73.731 billion as of July, far behind the P183.3-billion nine-month ceiling with revenues rising by double-digit levels and despite acceleration in state spending.
Finally, economic growth has been robust at 6.1 percent in the first semester, stronger than previous year’s 3.6 percent and slightly better than the government’s five- to six-percent target for the year.
The six-month actual growth was also better than IMF’s own forecast of 4.8 percent for 2012, which was already even an upward revision of an earlier 4.2-percent estimate. Updated growth forecasts will be released by October, but Peiris declined to say if Philippines’ estimates will get another boost.
“Things have not changed that much. I cannot tell you if there could be a change exactly, but the development has not been that different from what we expected,” Peiris said.
“Even though second quarter (growth) was quite strong when you look at it from a year-on-year basis, it is still a significant slowdown from the first quarter,” he explained.
Slow growth
If there is any consolation, Philippines is not alone on this “phenomenon” of slowing growth, Peiris said. From China to the Middle East, Asian nations, most of which are export-dependent, have been experiencing “anemic” growth as the prevailing eurozone crisis and sluggish US growth dent demand for their products.
In fact, in its World Economic Update last July, IMF said it expects exports growth in emerging and developing nations to slow more than initially expected in April. Growth forecasts for 2012 and 2013 for the same group of nations, which include the Philippines, were also slashed.
“We have a fairly anemic recovery. So the growth is not that strong compared to previous years. Things are still recovering very slowly from the global recession in 2008. In that sense, we do not see exports in Asia going that fast either,” the IMF official explained.
The multilateral agency expects this to continue “over the medium term,” he said, and as such Asian economies need to recalibrate their strategies by boosting domestic demand and promoting trade within themselves.
This is where the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) comes into picture, Peiris said. Over the past three years of recovery, ASEAN has been a “bright spot” in the world economy. The IMF even predicts that for the five countries in ASEAN alone, Philippines included, growth could be faster at 5.4 percent this year compared with the global economy’s 3.5 percent.
“ASEAN has come a long way since the Asian financial crisis. Most of the economies are very strong financially. They built up a lot of international reserves, which are external cushion. This means they can cushion themselves should external shocks hit them,” he said.
They have also “more room to maneuver” as far as fiscal policy is concerned, he explained, as most ASEAN economies have succeeded reducing their deficit and debt levels after the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Rising consumption
For the Philippines, Peiris said continuously expanding consumption which in turn, is benefitting from the roughly $20 billion in remittances sent every year by overseas Filipinos, have contributed to ballooning reserves worth $80.77 billion as of August.
The resilient business process outsourcing sector and government’s promise to boost tourism are also “positive” for the Philippines’ growth prospects, he added. And of course, who can forget about the much-dangled public-private partnership (PPP) initiative?
Tapping private sector expertise while allowing government to work on the regulatory environment, that is the essence of PPP. But since its launch in November 2010, delays have hit infrastructure projects on the pipeline with only one project — the P1.96 billion Daang-hari-South Luzon Expressway link — awarded so far.
The Aquino administration has promised to bid out eight projects this year. But that remains to be seen with only one — that of the P10-billion School for Infrastructure Project – being successfully offered to investors so far, with only three months left in 2012.
But Peiris is unfazed, and interestingly, overflowing with confidence.
“Think of it like getting it right is more important than doing it overnight. That is the way I look at it,” he said.
“Infrastructure has been a bottleneck of the country in the past. So trying to address that bottleneck could bring down the cost of doing business. It is a good one, I mean it is a good focus,” he explained.
“The question however for PPP is that you need to structure it well, monitor the PPP very well so that they do not only lead to investment, but also make sure they do not result into government taking in too many liabilities.”
While working on the PPPs, Peiris said the government could fast track other reforms such as the passage of bills reforming excise taxes, fiscal incentives and mining policies which could complement ongoing drives against tax evasion and smuggling if only to raise more revenues to finance state projects.
The IMF, he said, had provided technical assistance to the government on these reforms and findings have been forwarded for the state’s consideration.
“Increasing your taxes, which are quite low, is an important aspect. The government recognizes that and has a reform program both in the tax policy side and also at the administration side,” Peiris said.
He noted that low revenues as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) has been one of the hurdles tagged by credit rating agencies in their assessment of the country, preventing the Philippines to notch its first investment grade ever.
The idea is that government should be able to increase the revenues it takes as the economy expands on a faster pace. As of the first semester, Philippines’ revenue-to-GDP ratio was at 15.1 percent, up markedly from last year’s 14.6 percent and already exceeding this year’s target of 14.4 percent.
That however, according to credit rating agencies, is still the slowest in Southeast Asia.
“I think the focus of the government to stick on its medium term fiscal plan, which is the two-percent deficit target, and bring down that while raising the revenues, should bring indicators closer to countries which are investment grade,” Peiris said.
“In that sense, the government’s current policy focus could lead to further upgrade and I think most rating agencies have recognized that,” he added.
Slowly but surely, the Philippines is moving on the right direction, he said. But evidently, reforms could take a while before its effects are felt in the local economy. The IMF official however stressed everything would pay off once the country achieves a more sustainable and inclusive growth.
“You want the growth to be broad based which means the growth is coming from all sectors. You do that so that you have better employment. And then you provide better education and better healthcare which in turn gives you better people,” he explained.
“Better infrastructure, on the other hand, means more companies going here and creating more jobs. So we look at it that way. It is about making growth more inclusive. Growth alone is not enough.”
(Story courtesy of Prinz P. Magtulis of the Philippine Star)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

UBS and DBS upgrade Phl 2012 economic growth target

After the Philippines posted a better-than-projected April-June growth, the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) and the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) have revised their full-year growth forecast for the country.
UBS raised its growth outlook to 5.8% from 4.5%, and DBS changed its target to 5.6% from 5.3%.
The Philippines grew 5.9% in the second quarter, beating most analysts’ forecasts of 5.5% and UBS’ own of 3.7%.
UBS’ 5.8% full-year growth forecast for the year is within the government’s target range of 5% to 6% for 2012.
Official target growth range in 2013 is higher at 6% to 7%, but UBS said in its latest report called “Philippines: Mixed Messages from Q2 GDP,” it is keeping its 4.7% growth forecast for 2013.
It said that while the Philippines has strong legs for growth, manufacturing and trade indicators show slowing momentum.
UBS said that Philippines may post a growth in the third quarter that would be slower — again — than the strong 6.4% in the first.
“Neither Philippine nor global lead indicators suggest a strong bounce-back in the third quarter of the year,” UBS wrote.
On the monetary side, UBS said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is likely to use macro prudential measures rather than policy rate adjustments in the immediate future.
“The tighter limits on bank exposure to real estate announced on August 23 suggests no further policy rate cuts, while the concern over growth and capital inflows suggests no hikes,” UBS said.
It projects the peso to hit an average of P42 to the dollar by end-2012.
DBS expects the Philippine economy to grow by 5.6% this year from a previous outlook of 5.3% “on account of strong H1 (first half) numbers.” The country saw its GDP accelerate to an annual 6.1% in the six months to June from 4.2% in the same period last year.
DBS’s revision of its outlook for the full-year GDP of the Philippines is already the second time for the year.
Last June, it hiked its 2012 GDP forecast for the Philippines to 5.3% from an original 4.2% it announced in January, citing the strong 6.4% economic expansion in the first three months of the year.
However,DBS downgraded its outlook for the Philippine economy next year to 5% growth, from an original forecast of 5.2% citing a “weaker global environment.” “Going forward, the country is well-positioned to handle a slowdown in the global economy, with ample room for further monetary and fiscal stimulus if needed,” DBS said.
But the bank said that monetary authorities are expected to keep policy rates steady when it reconvenes on Thursday to assess current settings.
“After the bump in inflation to 3.8% YoY (year on year) in August, a rate cut does not appear likely as BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) may want to anchor inflation expectations first,” DBS said.
However, the bank did pencil in a possible 25-basis-point reduction in policy rates after the September rate-setting meeting.
“In any case, export deterioration is likely to prompt more action by the end of this year and we expect the overnight policy rate to end the year at 3.5%, down from 3.75% currently,” DBS said.
Overnight borrowing and lending rates currently stand at 3.75% and 5.75%, respectively, after the policy-making Monetary Board implemented its third rate cut for the year on July 26.
After the September monetary policy meeting, the Monetary Board will revisit settings next on Oct. 25 and Dec. 13.
Central Bank Governor Amando M. Tetangco last week said key considerations for this week’s policy meeting will be inflation outlook, domestic growth, monetary policy stance of advanced economies and global economic outlook.
BSP Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo over the weekend said inflation forecasts for this year and the next may be raised after an uptick in the rise in consumer prices in August.
Revisions may be announced after the monetary policy meeting.
Inflation accelerated to a seven-month high of 3.8% in August from 3.2% in July and 2.8% in June.
The central bank has forecast inflation to average 3.1% this year and 3.2% in the next, both at the low-end of the 3-5% target ranges for both years.
DBS, for its part, has already raised its 2012 inflation outlook to 3.3% from a previous forecast of 3.1%.
For next year, the bank has also set it expectations for inflation higher at 3.9% from a previous projection of 3.7%.

Who is the Philippines' 'closest friend' on Facebook?

MANILA, Philippines -Which country is the Philippines' "closest friend" on Facebook?
It's the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to a new interactive report published by the social network website's  "Stories" section.
The UAE topped the Philippines' "friends" list based on the number of Facebook users in the 2 countries who are friends, according to researcher Mia Newman.
Newman attributed this to the use of Facebook by immigrants and migrant workers who connect with their families and relatives in their countries of origin.
More than 200,000 Filipinos were working in the UAE in 2010, according to latest data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
Saudi Arabia, which had more than 293,000 Filipino migrant workers in 2010, is the Philippines' "second-closest friend" on Facebook.
Singapore placed third, followed by Japan and Kuwait.
Facebook data also shows that the Philippines is 4th closest friend of Canada, 2nd closest friend of Japan, and 4th closest friend of South Korea, and 3rd closest friend of Singapore.
The Philippines and the United States are not apparently "close friends" on Facebook, despite the large number of migrant Filipinos in the country's former colonial ruler.
"Immigration is one of the strongest links that seems to bind these Facebook neighbors, as thousands of people pour over borders or over seas, seeking jobs or fleeing violence, and making new connections and maintaining old friendships along the way," said Newman, a Stanford graduate in International Relations.
"Economic links, through trade or investment, also seem to be strong predictors of country connectedness. And finally, one of the most overwhelming trends we found as we explored this graphic is the strong tie that remains between nations and their former colonizers, whose continued linguistic, cultural, and economic ties still echo today," she said.

Ex-lotto millionaire loses it all to vices

MANILA – A former lotto millionaire has one advice to new winners: they should manage their money well or else, they'll end up like him--empty-handed.
“Wag nila akong parisan. Wag nila akong tularan dahil mauuwi din sa wala. Ingatan nila [ang pera] at palaguin,” Jonie Reyes told dzMM on Thursday.
Reyes won P14 million in the 6/42 jackpot draw in 2008.
“Naubos po. Nawala po. Sa madaling salita po, nawaldas ko. Nagpakasarap ako. Akala ko hindi mauubos,” Reyes said.
He said people close to him, like his family and friends, also benefited from his winnings.
“Sabi ko nga, kung hindi ako dinapuan ng swerte pare-pareho kaming wala,” Reyes said.
He said he was able to buy a house and cars and provided each of his six siblings with P50,000 cash.
“Pero naubos po lahat sa kalokohan ko,” he said. “Araw-araw po akong nagsasabong noon."
Life goes on for the former millionaire who is back to being an employee.
“Tuloy po ang buhay, pumapasok po sa trabaho araw-araw,” he said.
He is also thankful for the help that his family has been giving him.
“Isang pamangkin ko, nabigyan ko ng sasakyan. Nakikisakay ako sa kanya ngayon. Sa awa ng Diyos, natutulungan po ako ng ilang malapit na kamaganak din. Nabibigyan, naabot-abutan,” said Reyes.
But becoming poor is not a big issue for him. “Laki akong mahirap, sanay akong mahirap. Hindi po ako laking mayaman kaya sanay akong wala,” he said.
If luck once again knocks on his door, Reyes promises to spend his money wisely this time.
“Kung mabibigyan ng ikawalang pagkakataon, akin pong iingatan at palalaguin para marami akong matulungan ulit na kamaganak,” said Reyes.
In the end, Reyes still places his bet on the lottery, hoping to win again.
“Kasi ang kasabihan po na ang umaayaw, di nagwawagi. Ang nagwawagi, di umaayaw kaya taya po ng taya para manalo ulit,” he said.
Two people split the P300 million 6/55 lotto pot on Wednesday.

Pacquiao-Marquez IV a done deal: reports

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxing icon Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao will battle his greatest rival, Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico, for a fourth time on December 8 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
A report from Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times cited two anonymous sources who claimed that the fight was a done deal. 
"Two sources close to the negotiations, but unauthorized to speak publicly about the deal, told The Times Wednesday that Pacquiao will fight Marquez December 8 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas after rejecting a rematch with Timothy Bradley," Pugmire wrote.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix also cited an "industry source" saying the deal for the bout has been finalized. 
Top Rank chief executive Bob Arum, Pacquiao's promoter, will officially announce the fight on September 18, Tuesday in a press conference in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Review Journal, ESPN and RingTV all reported that the fight was "almost set." 
"Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring December 8, almost surely in a fourth fight against Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez," according to a report from the Las Vegas Review Journal
ESPN's Dan Rafael reported that Arum met with the Filipino's chief adviser Michael Koncz to finalize the terms of the deal. 
"We're having a meeting about Manny's next fight and to get everything finalized. My goal is to finalize the Marquez fight, but have to meet with Koncz," Arum said.
Arum confirmed to Rafael that the bout will "for sure" be held at the MGM Grand on December 8.
Pacquiao initially wanted to face Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto in a rematch of their exciting scrap in 2009, which saw Pacquiao win via a 12th round technical knockout.
But the Pacquiao and Cotto camps could not agree on a catchweight, and Cotto eventually decided to stay at junior middleweight where he will challenge Austin Trout on December 1 at the Madison Square Garden.
That left Marquez and American boxer Timothy Bradley Jr as the remaining options for Pacquiao.
Bradley had defeated Pacquiao via a highly controversial split decision last June, but reports indicated that Arum was hesitant to put together a rematch because the first fight did not do particularly well in the box office.
Pacquiao's bout with Bradley only sold approximately 900,000 pay-per-view buys, a far cry from the 1.3 million buys generated by his third bout against Marquez.
But Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, has admitted that he is not keen on a fourth encounter against Marquez, calling it a "very difficult fight."
Pacquiao owns a 2-0-1 win-loss-draw record against Marquez in a rivalry that stretches all the way back to 2004.
In their first encounter, Pacquiao knocked down Marquez three times in the first round, only to see the Mexican get back up every time and rally to earn a draw.
Pacquiao won a controversial split decision in their 2008 rematch and an even more controversial majority decision in their trilogy bout in November 2011.
Many boxing analysts believe Marquez can rightfully argue that he won all three fights.
"I don't like that fight. It's just always very difficult and no matter what I tell Manny, he's tempted to go back to his old way, which isn't working," Roach told LA Times when asked about a Marquez fight.
Pacquiao will spend his entire training camp for this fight at the Wild Card Gym in California, instead of holding the first part of camp in Baguio City as he has done in previous fights.

'Kutsero' in Luneta returns 4,000 euros to tourist

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A coachman (kutsero) in Luneta is gaining praises after he returned a large sum of money to a French woman he toured around the park.
Jaime Mayor, 48, of Caloocan City said he had just toured a group of French nationals around the park when one of them left a purse containing €4,000 (Php213,371) on the floor of his coach.
"Pagbaba nila, malayo na sila, napansin ko iyung pitaka ng Pranses na babae. Nakita ko yung laman napakaraming mga euro, eh hinabol ko na pasakay na ng sasakyan nila," Mayor told dzMM.
"Hindi po kasi pinangangalagaan ko ang company namin... Niyakap po ako ng Pranses na babae, nag thank you po," he said in a separate interview with ABS-CBN News.
Mayor, who has four children and is his family's breadwinner, said he was not tempted to keep the money for himself.
“Di ko po kayang kumuha ng ibang gamit. Ok lang po na kumita ng maliit lang, sa awa ng Diyos ay nakapagtapos po sila ng pagaaral,” Mayor said referring to his four children aged 27, 23, 21 and 18.
The coachman said he earns a commission-based salary of P200 to P500 daily.
According to National Park Development Committee (NPDC) Spokesman Kenneth Montegrande, Mayor will be honored and be given a “Dangal ng Rizal Park Award” for his honesty.
“Lagi ho naming sinasabi sa kanila na ang paggawa ng mabuti ay kahanga-hanga. Ginawa po niya dahil alam niyang pang matagalan ang kanilang hanap-buhay. Kung di po niya ito ibinalik ay maaring kasiraan po ito ng ating lugar at bansa,” said Montegrande.
Meanwhile, Mayor’s fellow kutsero lauded him for his honesty.
“Bihira na po ang mga taong ganyan,” said Ising Cruz.
Recently, an airport janitor was commended for returning a bag filled with over P600,000 he found at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. - with reports from Noel Alamar, dzMM and Alex Santos, ABS-CBN News

10 cheap shortcuts to good health

Stay fit at home

If expensive gym memberships are out of your price range, luckily there are many other ways to get fit for free. Try incorporating exercise into your regular routine through everyday activities such as gardening and housework, and take up a free activity such as walking, running or cycling to stay in shape. For those who fancy taking up an exercise such as yoga or Pilates, it may be helpful to take a few classes to master the basics then you can continue to practice the poses at home for free.

Create a healthy recipe archive

Want to get started in healthy cooking but can’t afford to invest in a good cook book? Thanks to the wonders of the internet you don’t need to shell out any money to build up a collection of recipes. With many websites catering to healthy eating recipes on a budget, you are guaranteed to find something to suit your tastes and price range without having to spend a penny.

Practice deep breathing

It’s free, it’s unavoidable and we do it every day, but did you know that the simple act of breathing could help to boost your health? Research has suggested that yogic deep-breathing techniques can help people more effectively handle depression, anxiety and stress as well as stimulating the lymphatic system to more effectively deal with toxins. Try learning and practicing deep breathing techniques on a regular basis to improve your physical and mental health for free.

Spend time with friends

Spending time with your friends is great for your health, with research suggesting that having a strong social network can help you live longer and reduce feelings of depression and stress. If you think that you can’t afford a social life, there are many ways you can spend time with friends on the cheap. Rather than eating out a restaurant, try taking turns to cook each other a cheap and healthy meal. Alternatively, plan a movie night instead of a trip to the cinema, and stock up on comedy films to boost your endorphins.

Drink lots of water

One of the cheapest and simplest ways to improve your health is by upping your intake of fluids. While there is no definitive guideline for how much you should drink a day, it is important not to wait until you are thirsty to drink as by this time you are already dehydrated. Some of the benefits of drinking more water include increased energy levels, improved digestion, less water retention and a better complexion. Replacing sugary drinks with water will also benefit your waistline and wallet.

Opt for home-grown produce

Getting your recommended daily portions of fruit and veg can sometimes work out expensive, so why not take the cheaper and healthier option and grow your own fresh produce? If you haven’t got green fingers, try to at least buy seasonal produce where possible to cut down the costs, or visit your local farmers’ market to stock up on fresh, cheap and healthy fruit and vegetables and support your local farmers too.

Have a bath

If you fancy a little pampering on the cheap, you can’t do much better than a nice, relaxing bath. While many of us think of bathing as a purely functional activity, soaking in the tub actually has many benefits outside of getting you clean. Taking time out to soak in a hot bath has many psychological benefits for a start, helping to induce relaxation and calm the mind. However, it can also help stimulate circulation and relax sore or tired muscles.

Get more sleep

If you regularly get less than eight hours sleep a night, getting more shut-eye could be one of the best (and cheapest) steps to improving your health. Not only can sufficient sleep help you live longer, boost memory and improve heart health, but lack of sleep has been proven to increase appetite, leading to weight gain, increased junk food consumption and more expensive shopping bills.

Cut back on your vices

Whether you like to indulge in a few too many glasses of wine, are addicted to takeaways, or have a smoking habit, ditching these unhealthy and expensive habits could drastically improve both your health and finances. Cigarettes and alcohol are notoriously expensive, as well as being leading causes of stroke, cancer and premature ageing, so try cutting down as much as you can or, better still, cutting out these vices entirely.

Practice portion control

With restaurant portions getting increasingly bigger, many of us have grown used to eating larger portions than we actually need. This not only puts us at risk of obesity and health problems but it can also add significantly to our shopping bills. Rather than eating until you’re fit to burst, try to stop eating at the very first signs of fullness and freeze any leftovers for another day. If you’re worried that smaller portions won’t keep you going all day, try loading up on low-GI foods such as oats, beans and yoghurt which will help you feel fuller for longer.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Peso hits 2-year high as investors dump the US dollar

MANILA - The peso hit a new high of 41.54 vis-à-vis the US dollar for this year as investors dumped the greenback on the back of the positive sentiment towards the Euro zone over the weekend.
At the Philippine Dealing System, the peso opened 11 centavos stronger at 41.57 against the dollar from 41.68 on Friday. This erased the previous high recorded on July 19 when the local currency reached 41.57 against the greenback.
The peso traded between 41.54 and 41.620 before settling at 41.615 on Monday, with total volume reaching $425 million.
According to Metrobank Research, the positive sentiment over the recent European Central Bank meeting triggered some risk trading overnight, prompting global markets to dump the US dollar across the board. Asia, including the Philippines, followed suit.
Last Friday, there was aggressive selling of the dollar as US payrolls in August rose less than expected at 96,000 from an estimate of 130,000, or lower than the revised 141,000 additional jobs in July. 
Unemployment numbers also did not help as the rate unexpectedly dropped to 8.1 percent with more Americans leaving the labor force.
All these factors are negative to the dollar, a currency trader said.
Meanwhile, China's growth trajectory is a mixed bag, with industrial output coming below expectations at 8.9 percent against the expected 9.1 percent. Retail sales in August were within the expected 13.2 percent. The producer price index dropped faster than expected and consumer price index accelerated.
With these factors at play, Metrobank sees the peso trading within 41.5-41.80 for the rest of Monday.

Monique Lhuillier unveils water-inspired 2013 collection at New York Fashion Week

Cebu jeweler Amparito Lhuillier watched proudly as her daughter Monique’s water-inspired collection passed as if in a carousel before her eyes.
“That’s been her dream since she was 10 years old,” Amparito told me, a fellow Cebuano.
The dream did not include the part about being a highly sought-after Hollywood designer but the mother knew it was all going to be just a matter of time.

“When she finished high school she told me she wanted to be in fashion, I told her not yet, when you get a little older because it’s a very complicated career.”
Fast forward to 2012 with Monique unveiling her spring 2013 collection at New York Fashion Week. Amparito was front among the crowd quietly reveling in the applause and ovation meant for her daughter.
“I love to wear her dresses,” whispered the elegant Amparito. “It makes you feel like a star.”
Monique’s collection, inspired by the fluidity of water, was heavy on the blues and digital prints of mermaids, fish and sea birds.

Some of the models appeared to have wet hair created by a hairstylist’s crimping because, as she explained to The FilAm, “I wanted a feel like they were very elongated and sensual and just emerged from the shower.”
The press handout describes it as being inspired by the “life of the sea, birds, brightly colored fish and glowing sunlight on water and the luminescence of moonlit waves.”
Monique’s spring closet includes peplum tops and pants shaped to define the waist, with “cocoon-like” coats and jackets to complete the look. The evening wear shimmered with golds and sea glass beadings, and showed a lot of skin “to create a very sensual woman.”
“This season is all about water,” she said.
Amparito thought the designs were very wearable. “Every time I have a big event in the Philippines or in Paris, I only wear Monique Lhuillier. That’s my brand.”
She said all the long gowns were her favorite.
Amparito said she’s viewed her daughter’s Fashion Week show at least five times, and she’s always delighted to see something new with every collection.
“As a child, she would comment on the clothes I wore. She’d tell me if I looked nice or not,” said Amparito backstage where we found the time to chat.
“I made her take lessons in design at the age of 10. A teacher who does painting taught her to paint. She didn’t design flowers or a view, she only wanted dresses. And the artist told me, I think your daughter wants to be a fashion designer,” she recalled with a laugh. At 10, she was the youngest in the design school.
Monique is opening a boutique in Manhattan on October 1st on 71st off of Madison. “We’re still in the finishing stages and we’re very excited,” she said.
Stylist: Tiina Laakkonen
Hair: Odile Gilbert for Kerastase Paris
Makeup: Val Garland and The Mac Pro Team
Nail Styles: Candice Manacchio for CNDC
Undergarments: Commando
The FilAm

Monday, September 10, 2012

Philippines hopeful of discovering onshore oil

MANILA - An Australian company will soon begin drilling for oil on the Philippine island of Cebu, hoping to tap what may be a huge source of undiscovered wealth for the archipelago, Manila said Monday.
Sydney-based Gas2Grid Ltd. will drill two wells in Carcar City and one in the coastal town of Aloguinsan within three months, Energy Undersecretary Jose Layug said.
The company is "bullish" about the prospect of success which could eventually yield as much as 69 million barrels of oil and 50 billion cubic feet (1.5 billion cubic metres) of gas, he added.
All of the Philippines successful oil operations so far have been in deep waters.
"If oil will be discovered, it will be a game-changer, especially for Cebu," Layug added.
He said it would earn Cebu huge amounts of revenue while helping to lower the country's large oil imports.
However he declined to give details until any oil deposits are confirmed.
The development of onshore oil wells is much cheaper and faster than the offshore wells that require drilling in deep water, Layug said.
"But it can be more challenging because there are local communities who can complain," he said, adding that the government and oil company would have to explain the benefits while minimising the effects of oil production.
Cebu is known for its tourism industry, built around its many beaches, its export industries and as a trading centre for the central Philippines rather than for any mineral resources.
The Philippines produces 6,000 barrels of oil per day from its offshore oil wells but consumes 300,000 barrels per day, he said.
Layug said the country was "underexplored" as far as oil prospects were concerned and could yield more discoveries.
© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse

3 Pinoys make it big in HK

(L-R) Michael Vincent, June Paragas and chef Ronald Bartolome

MANILA, Philippines – Three Filipinos are making it big in Hong Kong as disc jockeys and restaurant owner.
The hard work of disc jockeys Michael Vincent and June Paragas and chef Ronald Bartolome paid off. They are among the many Filipinos who have found success in Hong Kong.
“Pagdating ko dito, regular disc jockey lang talaga. Magko-compete ka ngayon with other groups. It was an uphill battle. But you know, nakapag-adjust naman ako,” said Vincent.
Vincent, who used to be one of the voices behind The Mellow Touch in the Philippines, is now a program manager of the Metro Broadcast in Hong Kong.
He is joined by Paragas who used to work as an overseas Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia. Paragas, also known as “Tita Kerry” in his radio program, now gives advices to Filipino listeners who share their personal problems on air.
“Ang programa namin marami nang buhay na naisalba, lalo na yung magpapakamatay kasi 24/7 yung telepono namin. Kailangang may masumbungan, may mahingahan sila nung problema nila,” said Paragas.
Meanwhile, Bartolome manages the fine dining restaurant, La Cucina Italiana in the Wan Chai District.
A civil engineer, Bartolome started out as a contract worker, a janitor, and a waiter in Macau.
After 16 years of hard work and dedication, he is now a successful chef and a restaurant manager.
“We need to integrate ourselves sa kultura nila para matutunan natin,” he said. - Umagang Kay Ganda

Sunday, September 9, 2012

12-year-old Pinoy got perfect score at Australian math contest

Answer this in a heartbeat:
The Fibonacci numbers are F(1)=1, F(2)=1, F(3)=2, F(4)=3, F(5)=5, F(6)=8, F(7)=13, ... where the first two are both equal to 1, and from then on, each one is the sum of the two preceding it. Of the first 2004 Fibonacci numbers, how many have 2 as their last digit?
Twelve-year-old Filipino student Farrel Eldrian Wu got it right easily—and aced the rest of the 30 questions in the Australian Mathematics Competition (AMC) held on Aug. 2 worldwide.
AMC is an annual event where students from third grade until second year college (at least in the Philippines) solve a series of math problems in 60 minutes (for third to sixth grade) or 75 minutes (for seventh grade to 12th grade or second year college in the Philippines). 
The contest is divided into three levels—junior (grades three to six), intermediate (grades seven to second year high school), and senior (3rd year high school to 2nd year college), said Dr. Simon Chu in a phone interview, Mathematics Trainers Guild (MTG) president.
In the country, it is supervised by the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) in cooperation with the MTG. It is held in at least four areas all over the country—one in the National Capital Region, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, said Robert Degolacion, MTG office director, in a phone interview.
In this file photo, Farrell Wu shows the medal and trophies he won in a math contest in Taiwan held last July. Photo courtesy of MTG
Wu, a grade seven student at MGC New Life Christian Academy in Taguig City, edged out 500,000 contestants from over 30 countries worldwide in the intermediate level.
In a statement, Wu said he found the AMC questions "challenging."
“The contest paper was done creatively. The problems were written in a way that they were not the typical school problems, but instead require logical thinking and approach with solutions that are not straightforward,” he added.
Another student who got perfect score was Zhi Yi Bernard Teo of Singapore. Wu and Zhi Yi won the Peter O’Halloran Certificate, the highest award in AMC.
Chua said in a statement, “Seventy-three Filipino students among the 3,617 Filipino students who joined this year's AMC won medals and awards for belonging to the perfect scorers, 99 and 99+ percentile. 
This is not the first time the Philippines faired well in the competition, said Chua.
“Every year, we are winning (at AMC), we get very excellent scores. If I remember correctly, this is the third time a Filipino got a perfect score,” said Chua.
AMC started in 1978. However, the Philippines joined the competition only by 1992. In year 2000, DOST-SEI expanded the program and had students all over the Philippines joined the competition.
Chua also said that the two-year handicap felt in other international math and science competitions was not felt at AMC. 
Because the competition is divided into three levels, Filipino students are able to compete within their age-level, said Chua.
“Fairly enough, the problems suit our Basic Educational Curriculum and it does not require advanced formulas but only creative thinking," Wu said.
Wu also said he was not really aiming for a perfect score.
"After joining several math competitions, I have already learned not to focus on the awards. But instead joining a competition is already winning in itself,” Wu said.
He added, “To be given the opportunity to participate in any competition and to have the chance to answer beautiful math problems with fellow mathletes around the world are more important to me." 
Other winners
This year's Filipino medalists and AMC prize awardees who belong to the top scorers and 99+ percentile are:
  • Farrell Eldrian Wu - MGC New Life Christian Academy
  • Andrew Brandon Ong - Chiang Kai Shek College
  • John Thomas Chuatak - St. Stephen's High School
  • Justin Yturzaeta - Jubilee Christian Academy
The prize awardees who belong to the 99+ percentile are:
  • Bryce Ainsley Sanchez - Grace Christian College
  • Eion Chua - MGC New Life Christian Academy
  • Dion Stephan Ong - Ateneo de Manila Grade School
  • Matthew Eric Tan - St. Stephen's High School
  • Patrick Nino Policarpio - Greenpark Montessori Learning Center
  • Christian Philip Gelera - UP Integrated School
  • Shaquille Wyan Que - Grace Christian College
  • Deany Hendrick Cheng - Grace Christian College
The high distinction certificate awardees who belong to the 99 percentile are:
  • Immanuel Josiah Balete - St. Stephen's High School
  • Sted Micah Cheng - Hope Christian High School
  • Hiraya Marcos - Philippine Cultural College-Main
  • Kaizen Naquita - SPED Integrated School de Iloilo
  • Rene-John Ongchua - Solomon Integrated School de Iloilo
  • Trisha Danielle Sia - Chiang Kai Shek College
  • Dan Alden Baterisna - Colegio San Agustin Makati
  • Adolph Monji Chen - Xavier School
  • Drew Skyler Co - Jubilee Christian Academy
  • Maxinee Louise Co - Ateneo de Iloilo-SMCS
  • Miguel Bradford Lao - Philippine Cultural College-Main
  • Jacob Peralta - PAREF Southridge School
  • Steven Reyes - St. Jude Catholic School
  • Trisha Denise Siy - MGC New Life Christian Academy
  • Philmon Wee - Xavier School
  • Juan Pablo Abola - PAREF Southridge School
  • Alodia Carey Baisas - Colegio San Agustin-Binan
  • Szel Leeven Embay - La Salle Academy
  • John Henry Marquez - UP Integrated School
  • Raymund Carlo Masbano - St. John's Institute
  • Zeidrich Monares - UP Integrated School
  • Stefan Marcus Ong - St. Jude Catholic School
  • Lance Christian Ting - St. Stephen's High School
  • Bon Leif Amalla - Colegio San Agustin-Binan
  • Luke Matthews Bernardo - Philadelphia High School
  • Vicente Raphael Chan - Zamboanga Chong Hua High School
  • Jinger Chong - St. Jude Catholic School
  • Jan Joshua Cruz - Pasig Catholic School
  • Shamira Liao - St. Stephen's High School
  • Jose Ignacio Locsin - St. John's Institute
  • Eason Wong - Philippine Cultural College-Caloocan
  • Clyde Wesley Ang - Chiang Kai Shek College
  • Kyle Patrick Dulay - Philippine Science High School-Main
  • Xavier Jefferson Go - Zamboanga Chong Hua High School
  • Grant Aaron King - Grace Christian College
  • Angelika Joie Tagupa - Colegio San Agustin-Binan
  • Raphael Villaluz - Philippine Science High School-Main;
  • Raymond Joseph Fadri - Makati Science High School
  • Kelsey Lim Tiong Soon - Grace Christian College
  • Albert Jason Olaya - Philippine Science High School-Main
  • Ezekiel Christian Ong - UNO High School
  • Gerald Pascua - Philippine Science High School-Main
  • Vince Benedict Say - St. Jude Catholic School
  • Adrian Reginald Sy - St. Jude Catholic School
  • James Vincent Tan - Bayanihan Institute
  • Jonn Angel Aranas - Makati Science High School
  • Nathanael Joshua Balete - St. Stephen's High School
  • Austin Edrich Chua - St. Jude Catholic School
  • Francis Concepcion - Philippine Cultural College-Main
  • Ma. Czarina Angela Lao - St. Jude Catholic School
  • Reine Reynoso - Philippine Science High School-Main
  • Matthew-Ryan Tan - St. Jude Catholic School
  • Kaye Janelle Yao - Grace Christian College
  • Karli Ang - Philippine Institute of Quezon City
  • Jervis Chua - Philippine Cultural College Main
  • Aaron Jevon Dy - Xavier School
  • Martin Lewis Koa - St. Jude Catholic School
  • Himig Marcos - Philippine Cultural College Main
  • Ron Gabriel Navarro - Philippine Science High School
  • Lorenzo Gabriel Quiogue - Ateneo de Manila High School
  • Jason Allan Tan - Jubilee Christian Academy
–KG, GMA News