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Saturday, October 13, 2012

New York firm ExlService to almost double Phl workforce

New York-based ExlService Holdings Inc. is set to almost double its workforce in the Philippines by putting up a third site in Metro Manila and another one in Cebu City to cope with growing demand.
EXL senior vice president and country manager for Philippines Jaideep Pradhan said that the expansion being undertaken by the company would entail additional 1,500 seat capacity to augment its existing 1,800 seats.
Pradhan said the company would add about 500 seats to its two sites at the Mall of Asia (MOA) in Pasay City.
He pointed out that EXL is also looking for a site in Cebu that would have a capacity of 500 seats and a possible third site in Metro Manila that would also have an initial capacity of 500 seats.
Unlike other contact centers operating in the Philippines, he explained that the company is focused on specialized services is growing at a slow pace in terms of workforce but growing strongly in terms of profits.
“We are only doing high-end specialized service that is why we are growing slowly but profitably,” Pradhan added.
Of the total number of workforce, he said about 850 are doctors or US-licensed nurses who opted to work in the company instead of going abroad and leave their respective families in the Philippines.
For his part, EXL executive vice president and head of insurance and healthcare Rembert de Villa told reporters that the rapid growth over the past two to three years prompted the company to expand its operations in the country.
“The Philippines plays a very important role in our global strategy. Our business here has really grown in the last two to three years,” de Villa said.
EXL vice chairman and chief executive officer Rohit Kapoor said the company is a leading provider of Transformation and Outsourcing services to Global 1000 companies in multiple industries including insurance, banking, financial services, utilities, transportation and travel.
Kapoor pointed out that EXL has a global workforce of 20,000 and operates over 20 state-of-the-art delivery centers in India, the Philippines, US, Czech Republic, Romania, Malaysia, and Bulgaria.
He added that the company has sales offices in New York, New Jersey, and London.
EXL is a US company that has been in operations since 1999 and has been operating in the Philippines for more than four years.
Kapoor said the company’s revenues have been growing at a compounded rate of 30 percent per year and is expected to hit $440 million for the 2012 fiscal year.

Donaire TKOs Nishioka in round 9

MANILA, Philippines – Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire solidified his status as one of the top boxers in the super bantamweight division after beating Japanese boxer Toshiaki Nishioka in their title unification bout Saturday at the Home Depot Center in California (Sunday in Manila).
Donaire outclassed Nishioka with superior speed and timing and negated the Japanese’s attacks with his counter-punching.
The bout started off slowly as both fighters measured each other up. Though Donaire started attacking in the second round, it seemed that Nishioka was not a willing partner as the Japanese covered up for much of the bout.
But even with Nishioka keeping his right hand up, Donaire was able to land his left hand with regularity. In the sixth round, Donaire stunned Nishioka with a left hand to the body and then another left uppercut, sending the Japanese to the canvas.
The knockdown seemed to have woken up Nishioka, however, as he went toe-to-toe with Donaire for the rest of round six.
But in the seventh and eighth rounds, it was back to the tactical chess match with Nishioka fighting defensively even as Donaire tried to set up his attacks with his jabs.
In the ninth round, Nishioka was able to get Donaire to the ropes and started unloading, but “The Filipino Flash” countered with a perfectly placed right straight that knocked Nishioka down anew.
Although he was able to beat the 10-count, the referee stopped the fight moments later as Donaire swarmed in for the kill.
The official time of stoppage was 1:54 of the ninth round.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Market Watch names Philippines one of ‘new SEA tigers’

A business website has named the Philippines as one of the “new tigers” in Southeast Asia, owing to the country’s recovery from the Asian financial crisis and its high potential for growth, a report on Yahoo! News.
Yahoo! News reported that according to Market Watch, the Philippines and Indonesia have “come of age” and are “poised to drive future growth and grab more economic power.”
The four Asian tigers are Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.
“In an economically vibrant Southeast Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines stand out as the region’s ‘New Tigers’ with the potential to leave a bigger imprint on global growth for years to come while the developed world struggles with excess debt and traditional regional heavyweights China and India lose momentum,” Market Watch said.
The business website cited the edge of Philippines and Indonesia over other countries in the region, including large and young labor force, an expanding middle class and elected governments with policies inspiring investor confidence, the Yahoo! report said.
Market Watch added that sturdy banks and enough foreign exchange reserves also put the countries at an advantage.
Yahoo! reported further that Market Watch noted that national debt remains low in the Philippines and Indonesia compared to countries in the West, “leaving both enough room to boost their economies in case of need.”
Market Watch also noted that since the end of 2008, the two countries’ stock markets have been among the world’s best performing, the Yahoo! report said.
Market Watch said that marking the two countries’ takeoff is their leap from borrower to lender status in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with each pledging $1 billion to replenish the multilateral bank’s funds.

Scientists discover planet made of diamond

This handout illustration obtained by Reuters October 11, 2012, shows the interior of the planet 55 Cancri e - an extremely hot planet with a surface of mostly graphite surrounding a thick layer of diamond, below which is a layer of silicon-based minerals and a molten iron core at the center. Photo by Reuters/Haven Giguere/Yale University

LONDON, United Kingdom - Forget the diamond as big as the Ritz. This one's bigger than planet Earth.
Orbiting a star that is visible to the naked eye, astronomers have discovered a planet twice the size of our own made largely out of diamond.
The rocky planet, called '55 Cancri e', orbits a sun-like star in the constellation of Cancer and is moving so fast that a year there lasts a mere 18 hours.
Discovered by a US-Franco research team, its radius is twice that of Earth's but it is much more dense with a mass eight times greater. It is also incredibly hot, with temperatures on its surface reaching 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit (1,648 Celsius).
"The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite," said Nikku Madhusudhan, the Yale researcher whose findings are due to be published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The study - with Olivier Mousis at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie in Toulose, France - estimates that at least a third of the planet's mass, the equivalent of about three Earth masses, could be diamond.
Diamond planets have been spotted before but this is the first time one has been seen orbiting a sun-like star and studied in such detail.
"This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth," Madhusudhan said, adding that the discovery of the carbon-rich planet meant distant rocky planets could no longer be assumed to have chemical constituents, interiors, atmospheres, or biologies similar to Earth.
David Spergel, an astronomer at Princeton University, said it was relatively simple to work out the basic structure and history of a star once you know its mass and age.
"Planets are much more complex. This 'diamond-rich super-Earth' is likely just one example of the rich sets of discoveries that await us as we begin to explore planets around nearby stars."
"Nearby" is a relative concept in astronomy. Any fortune-hunter not dissuaded by "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz", F.Scott Fitzgerald's jazz age morality tale of thwarted greed, will find Cancri e about 40 light years, or 230 trillion miles, from Park Avenue.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Foreign tourist arrivals in Phl on course to reach 4.5M in 2012

Foreigners who visited the Philippines from January to June 2012 was up by almost 12 percent, totaling 2.14 million arrivals, that’s compared to 1.92 million in the same period in 2011. This data is from the Department of Tourism (DoT).
In 2011, foreign tourist arrivals in the Philippines totaled 3.917 million.
The DoT forecasts foreign tourist arrivals in the Philippines to reach 4.5 million this year, or 18 percent more than that of last year.
The DoT with its catchy tourism slogan, “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” said that there is “a good chance” that the 18 percent growth in tourism this year can be achieved because of the encouraging growth in the first semester of this year.
The biggest volume of arrivals was registered in January at 411, 064 and the highest growth rate of 17.54 percent.
At end-June, South Korea’s inbound traffic topped the country’ s list of tourist arrivals, registering 474,684 visitors, equivalent to 22.15 percent of the total foreign visitors during the period.
The country’s second largest foreign visitors were from the US with 354,259 arrivals, or 16.53 percent of the total as of June.
Third were Japanese at 195,504 tourists, or 9.12 percent of the country’s total arrivals, followed by the Chinese with 150,749, or 7.03 percent.
Other major contributors to the country’s tourist arrivals were Australia (92,648), Singapore (73,015), Canada (65,503), China’s Hong Kong (57,790) and UK (57,181).

Philippines in ‘demographic sweet spot,’ says CLSA study

The Philippines is sitting on a “demographic sweet spot” with its crop of young urban professionals seen accounting for half of the country’s discretionary spending and at least a fifth of the country’s economic output by 2020, based on a research by CLSA Asia-Pacific.
“With a bright outlook for the domestic economy, we project this demographic’s consumption growth to outpace the rest of the Philippines by 10 percentage points in the next decade. Sustained growth in the BPO [business process outsourcing] space and the up- and -coming gaming and tourism sectors will propel this trend, especially when yuppies start buying houses and cars,” CLSA said in a Philippine consumer report issued last month.
The report, entitled “Pinoy Yuppies: New Spending Class Steps Forward” authored by CLSA analysts Jacqui Evangelista and Alejandro Molina, said this crop of well-educated 25- to 34-year-olds currently account for 3 percent of the total population and 7 percent of the country’s total workforce.
But while making up just 3 percent of the population, the report noted that this segment already comprised more than 20 percent of discretionary consumption, or the amount of spending outside of basic needs like food, shelter and clothing. This includes money spent on luxury items, recreation, vacations and other non-essential goods and services.
Similar to the post-war optimism in the US that gave rise to a generation of baby boomers, the report noted that a sense of national confidence after the fall of the Marcos regime had led to a hike in Philippine births, giving rise to this demographic sweet spot.
To come up with this report, CLSA surveyed 400 Filipino yuppies. On average, they make P471,000 ($11,000) per year which is 3.5 times the per-capita gross national income. With the yuppies’ savings rate at around 25 percent, CLSA estimated their cumulative spending capacity at up to P955 billion ($22.5 billion).
“Our findings revealed that as the political environment improves, yuppie appetites shift to long-term, significant investment assets such as property and vehicles, making this group’s economic impact more pronounced and permanent,” the research said.
By 2020, CLSA thus projected this demographic to contribute 50 percent of the country’s discretionary expenditure and at least 20 percent of total gross domestic product.
“As their numbers swell and superior incomes climb, their voracious propensity to spend will be a huge boost to local firms with exposure to this story,” the report said, noting that the rise of this sector would be hugely beneficial to the consumer, gaming and property sectors.
CLSA’s top stock picks based on this Filipino yuppie theme and its respective price targets are the following: Ayala Land Inc. (P26.50), Alliance Global Group Inc. (P14.50), JG Summit (P41), SM Investments (P885) and SM Prime (P17.30). Of these top picks for the theme, CLSA has already hit the price target.
Overall, the study noted that 25 percent, or 23.8 million, of the population belong to the 25-34 age group, of which about 12 percent, or 2.9 million, reside in the National Capital Region and about 2.7 million are employed. Between 2005 and 2010, the research noted that the yuppie base grew by 11 percent, outpacing the 6-percent growth in the labor force in the same period.
“Confirming this, our findings note that while 36 percent of our total respondents already own a piece of residential property and 42 percent own at least one vehicle, more than 70 percent are still looking to purchase property and 60 percent want to buy another vehicle in the short to middle term,” the study said.
(Story courtesy of Doris C. Dumlao of the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Malaysia’s Berjaya to open Four Seasons luxury hotel in PH

Upbeat on the Philippines’ growth prospects, the Berjaya Group, one of the biggest conglomerates in Malaysia, is moving to shore up its presence with plans to bring leading international luxury hotel brand Four Seasons as well as wireless device and consumer electronics retailer Radio Shack here.
In a briefing following the Bayanihan Expo 2012 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City Saturday, Berjaya chair Tan Sri Dato Seri Vincent Tan said he considers the Philippines a key growth area given its robust economy and the Aquino administration’s good governance agenda.
“The Philippines is undoubtedly now realizing its economic potentials as a result of its positive economic and investment climate. I believe the leadership of President Aquino, through a straight path of transparency, will surely uplift its economy and society. We are following him in this path to renewal and good governance in our investments because that will be good for us and for the Philippines,” Tan said.
Tan said the group is keen on the manufacturing, in particular consumer goods, and retail sectors as it wants to capitalize on the growing consumption by Filipinos and the expected increase in tourism arrivals in the Philippines.
“We want to build more hotels. Our group owns and operates five and four-star hotels in Malaysia and other countries. We plan to build a Four Seasons hotel here,” Tan said.
The Berjaya Group is currently building a Four Seasons Hotel in Kyoto Japan at a cost of $318 million. The project is said to be the first luxury hotel to rise in Kyoto, which caters to more than 40 million tourists a year.
For the consumer goods business, Tan said the group is considering setting up RadioShack franchise outlets in the Philippines as part of a deal to open at least 1,000 franchise locations across Southeast Asia in the next ten years.
Berjaya and RadioShack signed a master development agreement aimed at widening RadioShack’s global footprint.
RadioShack offers master franchisees a range of modular, flexible approaches to retailing: stand-alone, mall-based units or strip-center units, leased or built; kiosks; shop-in-shop units; sale or distribution of exclusive private brands in consumer electronics; and facilitated access to leading global brands and manufacturers.
For his part, Berhad Philippine representative Paulino Soo said the planned investments reflect the Malaysian conglomerate’s bullishness on the Philippines.
The Berjaya group has been doing business in the Philippines for 18 years and currently has 800 employees engaged in food & beverage (Papa John’s Pizza), hotels (Berjaya Manila Hotel in Makati), gaming & lottery management (Prime Gaming Management Corp.) businesses; social network (Friendster) and now automotive distribution of Mazda products.
(Story courtesy of the Philippine Star)

US hotel chain Marriott to build biggest convention center in Phl

US-based five-star hotel chain Marriott is putting up the country’s biggest convention center at Resorts World Manila, part of a $300-million expansion program the Resorts World group of business tycoon Andrew Tan has identified for implementation in the next five years.
Marriott general manager Scott Sibley told The STAR that the multi-billion peso project is in addition to a new 200-room tower the hotel will be constructing. Both the three-story convention center and the new tower will be ready by September 2014.
To be called the Marriott Convention Center, Sibley said the new facility will be able to accommodate 2,500 people at any given time, something which no facility in the country is able to do at the moment.
Touted as a state-of-the-art facility, the first floor of the convention center will house two ballrooms that can accommodate 300 people, two wedding chapels, a coffee and noodle shop, and the sales office. The second floor will feature a grand ballroom that can sit 2,500 people, but at the same time can be split into four smaller rooms. The outskirts of the grand ballroom will consist of a dozen or more meeting rooms. Meanwhile, the third floor will have 25 to 35 meeting rooms.
Sibley said that with the new tower, Marriott will have 542 rooms by 2014. A walkway will connect the new building to the convention center.
The Resorts World Group currently has three hotels in the area fronting NAIA 3. These are the six-star Maxims, the five-star Marriott and the affordable hotel Remington. The group will be constructing two more buildings – the Savoy and the Belmont, which will be condotels.
Marriott is owned by Travellers International, which is 50 percent owned by Tan’s Alliance Global Inc. and the rest by the Genting Group of Hong Kong. Savoy and Belmont will be owned by Prestige Hotels and Resorts, the same company that operates the Richmonde Hotels. Prestige is owned by Tan’s Megaworld Corp.
The $300-million investment will only be for Resorts World Manila and does not include the huge outlay that will be poured into the Pagcor Entertainment City complex along Manila Bay.
Tan has teamed up with Japanese tycoon Kazuo Okada to build a P45-billion upscale residential condominium complex. Tan-led Empire East Land Holdings Inc. (ELI) had signed a joint-venture agreement with Okada’s Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc. and Eagle 1 Landholdings Inc. for a majority stake in a 12.95-hectare luxury residential resort condominium project in Pagcor Entertainment City Manila.
(Story courtesy of Philippine Star’s Mary Ann LL. Reyes)

Kirby Asunto, GMA News contributor among 2012 outstanding Fil-Ams in New York

One of this year's Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York is GMA News Online contributor Ryan Songalia. Our heartfelt congratulations to him and all the winners.

A town mayor, a boxing journalist and a Tagalog professor are among this year’s The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York, based on Facebook voting conducted over a period of three months.
Mayor Guillermo Udarbe of Ridgway, Pennsylvania won in the Public Service & Politics category. Ring TV reporter Ryan Songalia was voted best in Media & Publishing. Agnes Magtoto, an adjunct professor teaching Filipino language and culture at NYU, topped the Education & Research category.
“Tofa has contributed to raising the profile of Filipino Americans in the U.S.,” Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. said in a statement. “Tofa has created a platform (so that) FilAm talent ingenuity, perseverance and commitment are admired and recognized by many.”
The winners are:
Eduardo Sicangco: Stage and costume designer for Broadway and Hollywood.
Edwin Josue, real estate broker at Halstead Realty.
Yves Nibungco of Anakbayan NY/NJ: Chair of progressive group serving mostly new immigrant youths.
Agnes ‘Bing’ Magtoto: Adjunct Professor teaching Elementary Filipino I & II, a language and culture course at NYU.
Kirby Asunto: Young singer, a protégé talent of Manny Pacquiao.
Danelle Izza Dungca: Fashion designer and creative director of ONE 10 Collection.
Anthony and Lisa Siopongo of Casa Manila.
Jona Jane Tajonera: Health care consultant.
Cecilio Asuncion: Writer-producer behind the documentary “What’s the T” about the lives of five transgender women.
Ryan Songalia: Boxing reporter for RingTV.
Mayor Guillermo Udarbe: Doctor and Mayor of Ridgway, PA.
Advancement for Rural Kids, Inc.: Nonprofit that seeks to improve the health and provide education for children in the Philippines.
The awarding ceremony will be held Oct 27 at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. with TV coverage provided by GMA International. Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. and CEO-philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis will deliver inspirational messages.
Now on its second year, Tofa-NY is a community event that celebrates New York City’s proclamation of October as Filipino American History Month. The nominees come from the New York Tri-State, including Pennsylvania.
“Glee” star Charice and “The Voice” finalist Cheesa will topbill the event’s variety program. A powerhouse lineup of entertainers, led by Broadway actors Adam Jacobs (“The Lion King”), Ali Ewoldt (“Les Miserables”) and classical dancer Roberto Villanueva of BalaSole Dance Co., are among the performers. They will be joined by local artists Gail Banawis, Kay Habana, Alyssa Shoemaker and Tiffany Viray. The winner of this year’s The Filipino School of NY/NJ essay contest will do a public reading of the winning essay with the theme “I am Filipino because…”
The program will have as co-hosts former fashion model Bessie Badilla and immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas.
The event will also honor with a Heritage Award organizations that have brought service and joy to the community over the years. They are the Association of Fil-Am Teachers of America NY-NJ; Ma-Yi Theatre Company; Philippine American Chamber of Commerce; and the San Lorenzo Ruiz Choir of New York and the Philippine Nurses Association. - The FilAm

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Travel website lists Boracay in world's top 10 party beaches

With Christmas vacation just around the corner, Filipinos are already making plans for the much-awaited break. If your idea of a good time is dancing 'til dawn, you don't have to go too far. 
Boracay's White Beach in Aklan is one of the top 10 party beaches around the world, according to travel search engine and flight comparison site
Summer or not, Boracay is a favorite vacation spot. In December, Filipinos and foreigners flock to the island's white sand beaches. GMA News
"This beach at Boracay used to be so notorious for wild behavior that its visitors were sworn to secrecy – to keep this gem a private pleasure," Cheapflights described White Beach in its list, which was published on Huffington Post on August 25. 
According to the Cheapflights list, the party scene at White Beach is no longer a secret, but it's still very much alive.
"There are amazing fire dancing shows and fireworks, live bands and parties that last from dusk until dawn. There’s a great variety of clubs and bars along the beach, so no matter what kind of music you’re interested in, you’ll find a great place to hang out where the dance floor is never empty," the guide said.
Also on the list are:
  • Ibiza in Spain;
  • South Beach in Miami, USA; 
  • Gordon Beach in Tel Aviv, Israel;
  • Nissi Beach in Ayia Napa, Cyprus;
  • Kuta Beach in Bali, Indonesia;
  • Haad Rin Beach in Koh Phangan, Thailand;
  • Psarou Beach in Mykonos Island, Greece;
  • Zrce Beach in Novalja, Croatia; and 
  • Palolem Beach in Goa, India.
Last July, Boracay island was given the World's Best Overall Island award at the Travel+Leisure’s 17th World’s Best Awards. 
Readers of voted Boracay the world's best island with a score of 93.10. The criteria included natural attractions, activities/sights, restaurants/food, people, and value.
On the other hand, unsustainable development and the large number of tourists result in severe environmental problems, including the destruction of the island's coral reefs, an earlier report said.
In February this year, environmental group Sangkalikasan told Agence France-Presse that thousands of reefbuds would be planted off the resort island, which will serve as a medium for coral to grow back
Early this month, the Philippine Information Agency reported that authorities of Aklan will implementstricter penalties against those who are caught collecting white sand and pebbles from the island's beaches to "stop the blatant extraction of white sand in the island of Boracay which has greatly diminished its beauty and caused the slow degradation if not the destruction of the pristine island.” –Carmela Lapeña/KG, GMA News

Palawan named no. 4 in top holiday destinations in Asia

Palawan’s powdery sand, crystal waters, and breathtaking scenery have won over travelers and tourists once more as the island earned the number four spot in the Top 10 Holiday Destinations category of a worldwide poll by online travel magazine, Smart Travel Asia.
Limestone cliffs at El Nido. Manix Abrera
Palawan had moved up a spot from last year’s ranking of number 5. This year, it shares its place with Siem Reap and Maldives. 
Hong Kong ranked third in the category, while Phuket, Thailand came in second, and Bali, Indonesia placed first. 
Not surprisingly, travelers also sang praises of Palawan’s resorts, three of which ranked high in the poll’s Top 25 Leisure Hotels and Resorts category. 
Miniloc Island Resort in El Nido came in 16th place on the countdown, while the mysterious and luxurious Amanpulo came in 15th. 
Ranking highest in the category was Lagen Island Resort, also in El Nido, coming in at ninth place.
El Nido had also been cited as one of the country’s best beaches by CNN Go earlier in the year. 
It was also in El Nido where the international cast and crew of the Hollywood film “The Bourne Legacy” stayed. The film’s location manager Dow Griffith even said that "El Nido, on Palawan Island, is paradise, and for a family trip, you are very well looked after at any of the resorts."’s travel poll ran from May to July, and is now on its eighth year. Majority of voters were based in Asia, while 15 percent came from Europe, and 15 percent from North America. 
Other Filipino winners in the poll include Cebu Pacific for top 3 Budget Airline in Asia, Makati Shangri-la and the Peninsula Manila for top 24 Business Hotels in Asia, and Shangri-la Mactan in Cebu for top 16 Best Spa Resort. –Amanda Lago/KG, GMA News

Broke in Boracay: Enjoying the island when you're low on dough

Home to a stretch of high-end resorts and award-winning hotels, Boracay Island is not exactly known for being a budget-friendly destination—after all, who bothers about money when you’re in hedonistic heaven?
Water sports and island-hopping during the day, beachfront massages at sunset, cocktails at night all the way until sunrise—this is the ideal Bora program. Of course, it doesn’t come without a hefty price tag.
But a small budget doesn’t have to come in the way of enjoying the vacation hotspot, especially during the off-peak season (June to early October) when the prices of everything from airfare to accommodations are lower.

Getting there
Promo fares are aplenty when it’s off-peak, so a couple of months before your trip, keep an eye out for seat sales from budget airlines like Cebu Pacific, SEAir, Zest Air or Airphil Express, which offer two Boracay-bound flights: to Kalibo, roughly two hours and 15 minutes away from the island itself by shuttle and banca; or Caticlan, which is only one banca ride away from Boracay’s white shores. Through the seat sales, you can even score a roundtrip ticket to Caticlan for less than P1,000 if you are so fortunate.
For those who have the luxury of time (14 to 16 hours to be exact), you could also opt to travel to the island by sea through the 2Go Travel Ferries, which sail from Batangas to the Caticlan Jetty Port and back for a little over P900.
Where to stay 
Whether you’re staying on White Beach, the island’s main tourist strip, or Bulabog beach on the other side, which is popular among kite surfers and wakeboarders, there are many cheap accommodations, if you know where to look.
The northern-most area of White Beach is Station 1, which has the widest shore, the finest sand and more expensive rooms, though relatively cheap beachfront accommodations are still available here.

Around Station 2 there is the Boracay Garden Resort, which offers special promo packages for the lean season, which includes accommodations for two nights, a daily buffet breakfast (where you can eat back your money's worth) and set dinner, and land and sea transfers via Caticlan, for P1,628 per person.
The cheaper accommodations are to be found at Station 3, the less commercial area of White Beach, with rooms going for as low as P1,000 a night or even cheaper for those who are willing to forego the comforts of air-conditioning. At Station 3, for instance, fan rooms at Orchids Resort can go for as low as P500 a night.
Meanwhile, along Bulabog beach, also a popular windsurfing destination, fan rooms good for two can go as low as P660, like at the Isla Kitesurfing Guesthouse, located right on the beach.
Book a room in advance and feel free to work your tawad charms on the hotel managers/owners, who are likely willing to give you the best price if they’ve got room to spare. If you’re traveling in a big group, all the better—everything, especially room and board, is cheaper when shared.
Where to eat
No one will judge you if you make baon some canned goods and cup noodles from home, or else stock up on them at the nearest grocery store. Food can be expensive on the White Beach strip, though there are a few exceptions.
Smoke, at D’Mall for instance, offers filling meals like inihaw na pusit with rice for only P100. Big Mama’s at Station 1 also offers meals like inihaw na liempo with rice for P95, and house specialties like pork adobo with rice for P80.
Of course, there’s always Andok’s, which serves their famous Porkcharap and Dokito Frito for less than P60, and the eternal Choriburger, which you can get at the sidewalk grill stands for around P40, sold alongside the less-famous-but-certainly-just-as-yummy-especially-if-you’re-Boracay-drunk grilled hotdogs (also P40) and barbecued isaw (P10 per stick).
What to do
The best thing about Boracay is, no budget hardly means no fun. Sure, you may have to do without island-hopping, cliff-diving, paraw sailing, or kiteboarding which all cost a pretty penny. But on this bustling island, there’s plenty else to do even for those who don’t have plenty of money. 
For P299 (off-season), you can enjoy a beachfront massage. For P50, you can climb D’Wall at D’Mall. For P35, you can shoot as many baskets as you can at the Boracay Showdown. But please, for your own sake, no matter how cheap it is, do not let them cornrow your hair. 
For absolutely nothing at all, walk the length of White Beach and people watch, lay out your sarong and fall asleep under the sun or finally finish that novel. Jump into the water and swim to famed Willy’s Rock, let your body ride the waves, share secrets with your “bestest” friends as you float in the water. Take cheesy jumping shots, get sand in your hair, join a Frisbee game and make new friends while you’re at it. 
Watch the sky turn pink and people fade into silhouettes as the sun sets, be reminded that life is good, and realize that when people say that the best things in life are free, this is exactly what they mean. –KG/HS, GMA News
Disclosure: The author's trip was sponsored by Boracay Garden Resort.

IMF keeps growth forecast for PH

MANILA, Philippines - The International Monetary Fund kept its 2012 growth forecast for the Philippines even as it cut its outlook for the global economy to its slowest since the 2009 recession.
The IMF said the Philippine economy will grow 4.8%, the same as its forecast in July.
The IMF staff in July said the country's macroeconomic fundamentals are strong, and policymakers have leeway to support growth if the eurozone crisis worsens.
The IMF's forecast for the Philippines was less optimistic than its sister organization World Bank and Manila-based Asian Development Bank.
Both raised their growth outlooks for the Philippines while cutting most of Asia.
The IMF expects a global growth of 3.3%, slower than initial estimates.
It also cut its growth estimate for Asia to 6.7% this year, from July's forecast of 7.1%.
All 3 multinational lenders said weakening global demand could cool China and India's economies faster than earlier thought, dragging with them most of Asia. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

OFW Guide: How to reduce stress at work.

Stress can substantially affect one's productivity at work.

Oftentimes, fears about mass layoffs, budget cuts, and other issues can cause a great amount of stress in employees.
The stress that an employee feels may be compounded by his or her being unsatisfied with work, being overworked, and having unsubstantial pay.
A person under a lot of stress may become irritable, anxious, or depressed at work and at home.
The information site “Help Guide” listed some ways to reduce your stress at work:
(1) Identify signs of stress
When you feel that there’s just too much work or that the task at hand is difficult, you will definitely feel stressed.
You may start to doubt yourself and your ability to complete tasks, making you irritable, less productive, and even uncooperative in your workplace.
To avoid complicating things, you should first identify the tell-tale signs of stress so that you would know how to combat them:
  • Feeling anxious, depressed or irritable
  • Uninterested in work
  • Sleep problems
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
(2) Taking care of oneself
Stress can dramatically reduce your progress in work. This sometimes leads to a physical, mental, or emotional breakdown.
It is thus important to take good care of yourself and keep yourself in good health so that you can battle stress.
(3) Manage your time
Stress doesn’t only come with workload and problems. Time could also be a deciding factor whether you feel stressed or not.
You can reduce stress by managing your time better. Sorting out your responsibilities and priorities. Determine what should be done in a particular order to help clear your mind from time-pressing stressors.
Plan in advance and organize your commitments. When your life is in order, you will realize that you have more time to spend in your hands.
(4) Improve emotional intelligence
Improving emotional intelligence is a must when dealing with stressful situations. Having a high emotional intelligence will help you communicate with other people in a better manner.
Paired with intellectual ability, emotional intelligence gives you insight to see the bigger picture. This will help you deal with stress in a better way.
(5) Break bad habits
Some people may find "satisfaction" or even "comfort" by indulging in bad habits. However, in the long run, these are just short-term "feel-good emotions" that easily contribute to your stress.
Although it takes patience and discipline, dumping bad habits will help you counter the negativity in your life.
(6) Look up to managers
Choose a manager that you admire and ask that person to take you under his or her wing in an informal mentorship program.
They will usually accept and act as positive role models who can teach you the need-to-knows of work.
In times of stress, you could ask them for advice, without having to worry about prejudice or any form of judgment. - VVP, GMA News

Young Pinoy bags intl bodybuilding championships trophies

Filipino-Australian PJ Lee proved that nothing is impossible even at a young age when he won the Junior Men’s and the Open Men Class 1 (under 170cm) trophies in the NSW International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA) natural physique championships.

At the age of 20, the prime bodybuilder swept through various categories also taking home the Men’s Overall (Sword) title, a report from the “The Filipino Australian” said.

Lee’s body was the center of attention in the championship which was held at Castle Hill RSL Club on September 30, 2012.

Despite his 5’4” height, he impressed the judges and audience with his extraordinary physique and “Hulk-like” proportions.

Lee was the youngest and shortest contender in the finalist group.

In the next couple of weeks, he will be joining other bodybuilding competitions, which include the October 7 – Melbourne, Victorian INBA championships and the October 14 – Marconi Club, Sydney, Australian Natural Bodybuilding title.

Inspiration and support

Lee's inspiration to become a bodybuilder was his brother Mike, who was once an NSW regional bodybuilding champion and now a trainer.

“Mike has been PJ’s mentor, trainer, and inspiration,” said PJ’s father, Pablo Lee told "The Filipino Australian."

“The brothers both share a passion for the sport of bodybuilding,” Pablo added.

He started training in 2009 with the guidance of Mike and has reaped the rewards of his hard work according to an article from “Serious Teen Bodybuilding”.

Some of his early achievements are:

2009 ANB South Coast Championships – 1st place

2009 ANB Sydney Championships – 1st place

2009 ANB Asia Pacific Championships – 1st Place

2010 ANB Central Coast Championships – 1st Place

2010 INBA NSW Championships – 1st Place

2010 INBA Australian Championships – 1st Place

Meanwhile, Lee’s mother, Evelyn also gives her full support to her son who has achieved a lot in his young age.

She always tries to attend and cheer the bodybuilding competitions that Lee participates in.

As for his future goals Lee told “Serious Teen Bodybuilding” that he just wants to improve and strengthen his "weak points."

He says that he just needs to do what he has to do while keeping it real. — GMA News

How to Face Your Darkest Fears JOSHUA

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”
- Jim Morrison
We all fear something or the other. For some it is heights, for some it is public speaking, for some it is fear of lizards; fear of darkness for others. But most of these fears are caused by what “might” happen rather than what can actually happen. Those who fear snakes are afraid of getting bitten. But what they don’t understand is unless you actually become a threat to a snake or startle it, it won’t harm you. In fact, it will go its way. More often than not our fears act as obstacles and prevent us from succeeding. Follow these
tips to get over your fears:

Baby Steps

First and foremost, you should try and analyze your fear. If you’re scared of public speaking, think about the worst thing that could happen: people will laugh you; you will forget your lines; what else? Once you identify that nothing too bad can happen to you, you can start taking steps towards getting over your fear. If it’s swimming you fear, start by using a bathtub. Then start with the shallow end of a pool with an inflatable pool tube and take someone you trust. See for yourself how much fun it is. But if you keep standing at the edge of the pool fearing the worst, you will be a scared cat all your life. Don’t panic. Breathe, calm down and face your fear. Stare it down.

Channel your thoughts

Don’t let negativity surround you in anyway. Keep telling yourself that it is going to be okay. That you’re going to do well. Every time you feel like you’re becoming negative, turn it into a positive thought. Keep reinforcing the fact that is not a big deal at all and you got this. You can do this. Visualize yourself doing extremely well.

Focus on the task

When you’re in the middle of it, focus on performing. Focus on the task on hand, not on things that can wrong. If you’re batting, focus on where to hit the ball, not on the ways you can get out. Shift your focus from the fear of failure to the idea of success.

When nervous, think funny

When you feel you’re getting nervous with a racing heat and sweaty palms, think of something that always make you laugh: like the sneezing panda or the ‘pehchan kaun’ joke or a Russell Peter quip. Have a good laugh about it and you will forget all about being nervous. Watch inspirational videos of how people have overcome obstacles and won and read stories that speak of triumph.

Try again and again

If you fail once, don’t give up and go into hiding. Try again. If the first time you bang your scooter into a wall the first time you take it out for a ride, don’t be scared. Get back on the vehicle immediately (given that it isn’t damaged beyond repair) and learn to do it properly. If you give up the first time, you will always remain scared. Don’t let fear win. Like the famous Mountain Dew ad claims: ‘There is victory beyond fear’.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Regular exercise can boost sex drive

Top exercise benefits you may be unaware of
Getting fit through a program of regular exercise has numerous benefits for your body and mind. However, there are also many little known health benefits too, including better hearing, focus and even sex drive. Here's our guide to some of the benefits of exercise that are not so well known.
Slimmer thighs, firmer muscles, more energy and a healthier heart are all pay-offs you’d expect from getting fitter – but here are seven benefits of improved fitness that you may not have thought of.
1. Better hearing through exercise
A study at Miami University found that cardiovascular training improves your hearing in the short term and helps to preserve it in the long term. Other studies have found that the least fit people tend to have the worst hearing – and that’s even taking into account the number of exercisers blasting their ears with iPods.
2. More creativity from working out
Brand new research from Rhode Island College suggests that aerobic exercise can kick-start your creativity – and keep your brain cells tingling for a couple of hours afterwards. Activities that are "no-brainers" and don’t require you to put in too much thought are best – so pick running or swimming over rock climbing or doubles tennis. Also, don’t go too hard, as the best creativity boost comes from exercising at a comfortable pace.
3. Higher libido from exercise
Yes, being fit helps to improve your sex life! A study that looked at 8,000 women aged 18 to 49 found that in women who exercise three times a week, 40% report greater arousal, 31% have sex more often and 25% find orgasm easier to achieve. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health involving 31,000 men found that men who are physically active have a 30% lower risk of erectile dysfunction than men who do little or no physical activity.
4. Better quitting power through exercise
If you are trying to kick your smoking habit, research suggests that exercise might help. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine followed 281 sedentary female smokers, who were otherwise healthy, in their efforts to quit. The study found that smokers who take part assigned exercise sessions are twice as likely to quit and stay cigarette free compared to those who don’t do any exercise.
5. Deeper sleep after exercise
Being active during the day can help you get more sleep in at night. According to the U.S. National Sleep Foundation, daytime physical activity can help you to fall asleep more quickly and get better quality sleep. Regular exercise can also help sufferers of insomnia to beat their problem. And, contrary to popular belief, recent research from the University of California suggests that even late evening workouts won’t hamper your ability to get to sleep.
6. More regularity from exercise
Yes, we’re talking about how regularly you go to the bathroom here! An Australian study found that regular exercisers are less likely to suffer from constipation than sedentary people. The boost to your circulation – as well as the actual physical effects of movement – are thought to be the reason for this. There is even a link between high levels of fitness and low levels of bowel cancer – though this may be because fit people are more likely to eat healthily, too.
7. Better focus through exercising
The very fact that exercise requires planning, application, dedication and discipline means that every time you get your kit on, you are working on your character development, too. For example, a study of people training for a marathon in New York found that regular exercise improves people’s goal-setting, organisation and discipline – both at work and in other areas of life. REad more at www.