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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Palawan in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2013 list

Palawan has been included in Lonely Planet’s top 10 regions of the world in its ‘Best in Travel 2013’ recommendations. The island was ranked 8th in the prestigious list.
  1. Corsica, France
  2. The Negev, Israel and Palestinian Territories
  3. Mustang, Nepal
  4. The Yukon, Canada
  5. Chachapoyas and Kuelap, Peru
  6. The Gulf Coast, USA
  7. Carinthia, Austria
  8. Palawan, The Philippines
  9. Inland Sea, Japan
  10. Campania, Italy
Palawan is described by Lonely Planet as “The ultimate archipelago for adventurers.” The ultimate travel site said Palawan is Best for “Off the beaten track, adventure, culture.”
“Palawan incorporates thousands of sparkling, rugged islands and is fringed by 2000km of pristine coastline. So far Palawan’s natural marvels have only been sampled by plucky backpackers. Not for much longer. The trail these pioneers have blazed is set to explode, with regional airlines waking up to Palawan’s potential and clambering to schedule direct flights to the capital. Throw in the mushrooming growth of style-conscious boutique hotels normally found in places like Ko Samui or Bali, and you can feel that Palawan is ready to hit the big-time in 2013.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

PH wins 23 medals in Math, Science Olympiad in India

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino students won 23 medals during a Math and Science Olympiad in India held last week.
The students bagged one gold, 12 silver and 10 bronze medals at the 9th International Mathematics and Science Olympiad for Primary Schools, which drew in 231 contestants from 12 other countries.
"Filipino students have once again shown their excellence in math and science," said Simon Chua, president of the Mathematics Trainers Guild-Philippines.
Rechilda Villame stood in as the delegation's team leader for Math, while Ruthela Payawal was the group's team leader for Science.
The Philippines competed with China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand.
The following are the names of the students and their corresponding medals won:
Gold medalist:
- Shaquille Wyan Que of Grace Christian College
Silver medalists:
- Tiffany Mae Ong of Immaculate Concepcion Academy-Greenhills
- Emmanuel Paulo Santos of Colegio San Agustin-Binan
- Jinger Chong of St. Jude Catholic School
- Alyana Zoie Chua of MGC New Life Christian Academy
- Vincent Angelo Suarez of De La Salle-Lipa
Bronze medalists:
- Mark Ebson Susana of Naic Elementary School-Cavite
- Theresa Manalo of Morning Star Montessori-Calamba,
- Maedell Mosuera of G. B. Lontok Memorial School-Lipa,
- Fedrick Lance Lim of Zamboanga Chong Hua High School
- Marksen Victor Lizarondo of Dasmarinas II Central School
- Nathan Arthur Banatao of UP Integrated School
Silver medalists:
- John Matthew Felices of Holistic Education and Development Center,
- Kristine Bernadette Nunez of Colegio San Agustin-Binan,
- Adam Christopher Chan of Grace Christian College
- Youna Lee of Colegio San Agustin-Makati,
- Antonio Alexis Aldeguer of Colegio San Agustin-Makati,
- Ron Michael Acda of Binan Elementary School
- Hans Leighton Liu of St Jude Catholic School
Bronze medalists:
- Thomas Spencer Balete of St. Stephen’s High School
- Ronn Earnest Tullao of Early Start Learning Center-Lipa
- John Joshua Babilonia of Dasmarinas II Central School
- John Bien Angelo Uy of Montessori East of Tanauan
Also a member of the RP delegation is Kane Arcangel of Lemery Pilot Elementary School.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nielsen Research: PH consumers among world’s most confident

[photo via Mabuhay City]
Filipino consumers continue to have one of the highest confidence levels to spend in the third quarter of the year among residents of 58 countries surveyed by media research firm Nielsen.
Despite this, the latest results of the Consumer Confidence Index showed that spending remained “restrained” and that saving was the top priority for those surveyed.
Just like in the previous quarter, the Philippines was ranked third, behind Indonesia and India, in consumer confidence levels, with a score of 118, up from 112 in the same quarter last year.
“This paints a positive picture for the third quarter of 2012,” Nielsen Philippines managing director Stuart Jamieson said in a statement. “The high confidence can be attributed to the positive perception regarding local job prospects in the country for the next 12 months, which at this point is the second-highest worldwide.”
He added that “expansion plans in the energy, transportation, telecom industries and largely the BPOs (business business outsourcing), are helping to create this positive perception in the country.”
The Nielsen global survey of consumer confidence and spending intentions, established in 2005, measures consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions among more than 29,000 Internet consumers in 58 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.
The study also showed that Filipino online consumers felt positively about the state of their personal finances, ranking second among the most optimistic about their personal finances in the world.
For the third quarter of 2012, perceptions of Filipinos on whether it was a good or a bad time to buy things that they wanted and needed over the next 12 months showed a slight improvement in confidence with 7 percent saying that it was an excellent time to do so as compared to 5 percent a year ago. Thirty-nine percent of the respondents said that it was a good time to buy compared to 42 percent in the third quarter of 2011.
When there was spare cash available in the household, 67 percent of Filipino respondents said they would rather put this into savings, while 34 percent would buy new technology products. Some 32 percent would purchase new clothes while 28 percent would pay off debt, credit cards or loans, and 27 percent would spend it on holiday or vacation.
“The Philippines is among the top 10 countries which prioritize savings when there is spare cash in the household,” Jamieson said.
Among the major concerns of those polled over the next six months, job security remained at the top of the list as it did in the same quarter last year. It was followed by work/life balance, health, welfare and happiness of parents, and education and/or welfare of children.
“This is a true mirror of the Filipino culture, which is very focused on the family,” the Nielsen chief said. “These five major concerns are all related to the family, whether it is for the parents’ or children’s welfare. If you look at it worldwide, the Philippines is number one among the top 10 countries who said that they are concerned about their parents’ welfare and happiness.”
In the third quarter of last year, Filipinos’ concern about the economy was part of the top five concerns but for this year, it ranked number six.
While recessionary sentiment increased seven percentage points in the Asia-Pacific to 52 percent, Filipino sentiment toward the economic state of the Philippines improved with 56 percent. This was a big difference if compared to Korean and Taiwanese respondents, 86 percent of whom were of the opinion that they were in a recession.
The report shows that to save on household expenses, Filipinos have lessened their expenses on new clothes, saving on gas and electricity, delaying their upgrades on technology like computers and mobile devices, switching to cheaper grocery brands and cutting down on take-away meals. Should economic conditions improve, the respondents said that they will continue doing these actions.
(Story courtesy of Daxim L. Lucas of the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Phl’s oldest premier hotel among Condé Nast Traveler’s Top 20

The historic landmark Manila Hotel, the oldest premier hotel in the Philippines, made it to the list of Top 20 Southeast Asian Hotels in a poll conducted by international magazine Condé Nast Traveler.
Earning a rating of 82.5 from the magazine’s 46,476 readers, who “elected 1,306 properties and places” for the 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards, the Manila Hotel sits on the list’s anchor position (No. 20).
The Manila Hotel was designed and built in 1908 on an area of 35,000 square meters on Roxas Boulevard near the Manila Bay, under the supervision of William Parsons. It was meant to rival Malacañang Palace, the official residence of the President of the Philippines.
It officially opened upon its inauguration on July 4, 1912, the same commemoration date of American Independence. The hotel recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.
At present, the five-star white, green-tile-roofed California Missionary-styled edifice has 570 rooms that offer “the best westward view of Manila’s fabled sunset, the fortress of Corregidor, the poignant ruins of the medieval fortress that was Intramuros, and the palm-lined promenades of Luneta Park.”
“The hotel of diplomats. a real slice of history, and the magic of the past haunts this hotel. You can watch the ghosts of a nation dance by to the violin music in the lobby while eating salted nuts and drinking San Miguel beer. Also one of the best spas in Manila. the only downside is I was assigned a room in an awkward corner of the building,” said a certain “B.I.” of Washington in one of the hotel’s reviews posted on CN Traveler’s website (…).
“Excellent, world class hotel. Beautiful lobby. Nice room,” commented Mary Farquhar of California.
Two other hotels in the Philippines, Edsa Shangri-La and Makati Shangri-La, also made it to the list, which is topped this year by Amandari in Bali, Indonesia (94.8).
This year’s Readers’ Choice Awards, which covered cities, islands, hotels, resorts, cruises, and airlines, is Condé Nast Traveler’s 25th annual survey.
For the “Top Hotels” category, Condé Nast Traveler readers rated hotels in Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Siem Reap, Cambodia, and Malaysia.
Published by Condé Nast beginning in 1953 as a mailing sent out by the Diners Club, Condé Nast Traveler is an American magazine that lists locations that would take the card. It became a full-fledged magazine, The Diners Club Magazine, in 1960, then later took the name Signature. Condé Nast bought it in 1986, and relaunched it under its current name the following year.
Last June, Cable News Network (CNN) International, in the article “Then and now: The stories behind Southeast Asia’s heritage hotels” written by Tina Hsiao and Jules Kay, cited the Manila Hotel as one of today’s seven “heritage hotels” in Southeast Asia, alongside Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok, Thailand and Raffles Singapore. The Manila Hotel is the only hotel in the country cited by CNN International.
(Story courtesy of Manila Bulletin’s Leo Ortega Laparan II )

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

GK’s Tony Meloto wins Social Entrepreneurship Award in France

L-R: Young Entrepreneur — Melissa Kushner: American; Social Entrepreneur — Tony Meloto: Filipino; and Women Entrepreneur — Aude de Thuin: French. [via Saudi Gazette]
The “Entrepreneurs for the World 2012″ awardees from four continents were revealed at the World Entrepreneurship Forum’s prestigious annual gala ceremony in Lyon, France.
The Forum now its 5th edition with the theme “Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: Cultivating Communities to Drive Wealth Creation and Social Justice”, was held from October 24-27.
One of the leading bodies of its kind, the World Entrepreneurship Forum aims to foster sustainable development which combines both social justice and economic growth. This year’s event attracted over 200 participants from 59 countries – business and social entrepreneurs as well as policy makers, experts and academics.
The World Entrepreneurship Forum is the first global think-tank dedicated to entrepreneurs, creators of wealth and social justice.
This year, the Forum conferred the awards on five individuals in recognition of their achievements in their particular fields, and they are:
Entrepreneur – Mo Ibrahim : Anglo-Sudanese. Founder of the African telecommunications giant, Celtel, Mo Ibrahim has now set out to improve the day- to-day lives of over 700 million Africans by encouraging best practice in political leadership and governance across the continent. His first step has been to set up the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which manages an index ranking the quality of governance in all 53 African countries and a prize awarded to democratically-elected former heads of State who have delivered security, health, education, rights, rule of law and economic development to their constituents.
Social Entrepreneur – Tony Meloto: Filipino. The founder of Gawad Kalinga, a template for enabling volunteers to build integrated, holistic and, perhaps most importantly, sustainable communities in slum areas across the developing world. Initially focused on the Philippines, Gawad Kalinga now works with over 2,000 communities across its original home, Indonesia, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea and has attracted interest as far afield as Latin America and South Africa. Believing that poverty is as much about the loss of human dignity as about scarcity of resources, it seeks to bridge the gap between rich and poor, government and the private sector.
Women Entrepreneur – Aude de Thuin: French. Initially trained as a psychologist, Aude is the founder of the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society. An annual event which now embraces over 1,200 delegates, the Women’s Forum is designed to promote the representation of women in all areas of society and greater gender parity in all seats of power. The Women’s Forum has been recognized by the Financial Times as one of the most influential of its kind in the world. In 2011, having built its international reputation, she resigned from the Women’s Forum to found “Osons la France”, conceived to encourage society to resist the current economic gloom and “dare to believe in France”.
Policy maker – Irina Bokova: Bulgarian. The first woman to hold the post of Director General of UNESCO. A former Bulgarian minister for foreign affairs, her contribution to her country’s development has been recognized by The New York Times, which described her as playing an active role in Bulgaria’s transformation to become a European Union member. She plays a key role at UNESCO in transforming education to develop global citizenship.
Young Entrepreneur – Melissa Kushner: American. The founder of Goods-for-Good which helps local communities in Africa to care for more than 67,000 orphans by providing them with the surplus goods of the developed world – so far over 100 tons of children’s clothes, school equipment, toys and other supplies have been distributed. Goods-for-Good also helps to build businesses with community centers which provide vulnerable children with real opportunities to live successful, self-sufficient lives.

Philippines ranks high in EIU global microfinance survey

The Philippines maintained its leadership in microfinance as most countries ran into problems with the rapid expansion of the industry, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said.
The Philippines placed fourth out of 55 countries polled by the EIU’s “Global Microscope on the Microfinance Business Environment 2012 ” — a jump of two spots from its sixth-place finish last year.
The country also improved its score of 64.4 out of an index of 100, up 4.8 points.
Peru topped the EIU rankings for the fifth straight year, followed by Bolivia and Pakistan.
Kenya, El Salvador and Colombia — other mainstays in the top 10 like the Philippines — ranked fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.
Cambodia, meanwhile, was the only newcomer in the top 10, rising five places to eighth from 13th. Mexico and Panama tied at ninth.
At the other end of the EIU rankings, Vietnam remained at the bottom rung because of the government’s monopoly of microfinance.
“The last few years have presented a series of challenges and learning opportunities for the microfinance sector. During the last few decades the microfinance industry experienced substantial growth, but eventually this resulted in market saturation, a rise of non-performing loans and multiple lending across a few key markets,” the EIU said in its report.
The global financial crisis also highlighted the need for risk management, corporate governance and regulatory capacity, it explained.
The EIU rankings were created in 2007 as microfinance began to emerge as one of the key strategies for growth in developing countries.
It surveys governments, industry associations and international organizations on three areas: regulatory framework, institutional framework and stability.
The Philippines — along with Peru — kept its hold on the top spot in terms of regulatory framework, which assesses the legal recognition of microfinance institutions, national regulatory and supervisory capacity and policies towards deposits and market distortions. It was the fourth time the country led the regulatory rankings.
It also placed 15th in terms of institutional framework, which covers financial reporting standards and transparency, credit bureaus, pricing, dispute resolution and policies for offering microfinance through new agents and channels. It was an improvement of two slots from last year’s 17th place.
The sub-category of stability, a new addition to the survey, put the Philippines at 22nd place. It analyzes to what extent political shocks have affected the microfinance sector and general country conditions.
Overall, the EIU cited the country for its business environment.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas doesn’t just regulate but promotes and enables microfinance, it noted.
Government financial institutions like People’s Credit and Finance Corp., Small Business Corp., Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines also provide wholesale funds for retail lenders. The private sector, for its part, is diverse, with “no one dominant institutional type.”
The EIU is the business information arm of The Economist Group, publisher of The Economistmagazine. The “Global Microscope on the Microfinance Business Environment 2012″ is its fourth annual analysis of the microfinance business in 55 countries.
(Story courtesy of Business World)