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Friday, November 30, 2012

JP Morgan: Philippines is one of top global markets in 2013

Global investment bank JP Morgan has picked the Philippines as one of its three most-favored stock markets for 2013, marking the fourth straight year that the local bourse is expected to outperform most of its regional peers.
“We are still very bullish for 2013,” JP Morgan Securities Philippines Inc. executive director and head of equity research Gilbert Lopez said in a press briefing yesterday. The two other Asian markets seen by JP Morgan as top market picks for next year are Thailand and India, citing favorable demographics as a common denominator with the Philippines.
At the beginning of 2012, JP Morgan’s emerging market and Asian equity strategist Arian Mowat also cited the Philippines as among its most favored markets along with Thailand and Indonesia. This year, he said the Philippines was still on Mowat’s favored list.
Lopez said JP Morgan had an “overweight” rating on Philippine equities for the last four years. An “overweight” rating refers to a recommendation to buy in excess of the prescribed weight in a closely followed index like MSCI Asia ex-Japan, which JP Morgan expects to rise by 15 percent next year.
JP Morgan does not target local indices like the Philippine Stock Exchange index but Lopez said that based on its price targets on monitored stocks, the PSEi might have room to rise by another 20-25 percent from current levels. The company covers 30 Philippine stocks, at least 27 of which are part of the PSEi.
“The reason we like the Philippines is that in a global context, earnings environment is still good,” Lopez said, adding that JP Morgan was expecting average earnings per share in this market to grow at a faster pace of 17 percent next year from about 12 percent this year.
The stronger corporate earnings growth for 2013, he said, would be on the back of increased investments and improving consumption. In terms of sectors, he said JP Morgan was overweight on conglomerates, consumer, banks and real estate. But because merger and acquisition excitement had boosted banking stocks recently, he said JP Morgan might now only be “neutral to slightly overweight” on Philippine banks.
The only sectors that are not likely to perform as well as the others are telecoms and utilities. He said 2013 would continue to be a tough year for telecoms, but noted this would be more of a “micro” or “sectoral” issue while utilities, with a few exception, were not likely to offer exciting growth prospects like their counterparts in other countries.
(Story courtesy of the Cebu Daily News / INQUIRER)

Switzerland is best place to be born in 2013; PH ranks 63rd

MANILA, Philippines - Here's one reason to justify leaving the country and starting a family in Europe, Australia or Canada.
Out of 80 countries, the Philippines ranks only 63rd best country for a baby to born in 2013, according to Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Where-to-be-born index 2013.
The best country for a baby to be born in 2013 is Switzerland - land of chocolates and high literacy rates - with a score of 8.22.
The other countries on top of the list are:
2nd - Australia (8.12)
3rd - Norway (8.09)
4th - Sweden (8.02)
5th - Denmark (8.01)
6th - Singapore (8.00)
7th - New Zealand (7.95)
8th - Netherlands (7.94)
9th - Canada (7.81)
10th - Hong Kong (7.80)
The United States, which topped the Where-to-be-born in 1988 index, is no longer the best country for 2013-born babies or those who will reach adulthood by 2030. The US ranked 16th alongside Germany, both scoring 7.38 in the 2013 list.
In the 1988 list, the Philippines ranked 24th out of 50 countries.
In the latest list, the Philippines scored 5.71, just a bit higher than that of emerging power and populous India (5.67), neighboring Vietnam (5.64), and Indonesia (5.54). The score is out of a maximum of ten.
The Philippines ranked alongside Sri Lanka (63rd), which suffered a steep fall in global competitiveness this year.
“We use the EIU’s economic forecasts to 2030, which is roughly when children born in 2013 will reach adulthood,” The Economist, which is the sister firm of EIU, said.
An article in The Economist explains that the index uses a set of parameters that links subjective takes on life with the more objective assessment of socio-political and economic factors such as crime, cost of living, human rights, literacy, etc.
It says: “Being rich helps more than anything else, but it is not all that counts; things like crime, trust in public institutions and the health of family life matter too. In all, the index takes 11 statistically significant indicators into account. They are a mixed bunch: some are fixed factors, such as geography; others change only very slowly over time (demography, many social and cultural characteristics); and some factors depend on policies and the state of the world economy.”
Singapore (8.00) and Hong Kong (7.80) are the only Asian countries ranked in the top ten best countries for babies to be born in 2013.
A recent Gallup poll-study found Singaporeans to be the least likely in the world to report experiencing emotions of any kind on a daily basis, out of more than 150 countries.
The Philippines came out as the most emotional society in the world, with Latin American countries dominating the top of the list.
The Philippines’ third quarter gross domestic product (GDP) surprised many last Wednesday. Economic managers said the economy grew by 7.1%, beating forecasts.
The government's target for the whole year of 2013 is 6% to 7%.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

PH economy likely grew 5.5% in Q3 - Moody's

MANILA, Philippines - The country's economy is expected to have grown by 5.5% in the third quarter, driven by public spending and foreign investments, Moody's Analytics said on Tuesday.
"The country's GDP (gross domestic product) increased an estimated 5.5% y/y (year-on-year), only slightly below the second quarter’s 5.9% pace," Katrina Ell, associate economist at Moody's Analytics, said in a commentary.
"The Philippines is expanding above its long-run potential rate thanks to strong government spending and foreign direct investment, which have offset weakness in exports," she added.
Government is set to release third quarter GDP data on Wednesday.
Ell pointed out that the services sector, which account for more than half of the country's GDP, continue to provide a boost the economy as it has been expanding at an average annual rate of 6% in the past 10 years.
"Business process outsourcing has been a recent driver, boosted by the government's active encouragement of foreign investment," Ell said.
Moreover, remittances, which support consumer spending in the country, remained strong in the third quarter despite global headwinds.
"Remittances were up 5.9% year to date in September over the same period in 2011. This was better than expectations, as remittances barely rose during the global downturn," Ell said.
Third quarter GDP, however, may have been slightly pulled down by the agriculture sector as output contracted because of bad weather, Ell noted.
The Philippine economy expanded by 6.1% in the first half, exceeding government and market expectations.
The government hopes to grow the economy by 5% to 6% this year, from the dismal 3.9% expansion in 2011.

Peso hits 4 1/2-yr high on Tuesday

Peso closes at 40.870 vs US dollar
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine peso hit its strongest level in more than four-and-a-half years on Tuesday with a Greek deal supporting emerging Asian currencies, although intervention was spotted capping the upside. 
The Philippine peso gained on remittance inflows and stop-loss dollar selling. Dealers said they spotted the central banks of Philippines and Taiwan were spotted buying U.S. dollars.  
Regional stocks and the euro also rose after a deal on new debt targets for Greece and a political agreement on disbursing the next installment of aid was announced. 
Still, emerging Asian currencies are seen vulnerable to possible corrections as the agreement has been priced in regional units, some dealers and analysts said. 
In addition to regional authorities' steps to curb currency appreciation, investors are wary of the U.S. "fiscal cliff" of steep tax increases and spending cuts which could push Asia's major export market into recession.
Republicans and Democrats were still at odds as Congress  returned from its Thanksgiving holiday break. 
"There is little momentum to push up Asian currencies more  from here, although it is hard to doubt that there is a long-term bullish trend in the improving U.S. and Chinese economies," said Yuna Park, a currency and bond analyst at Dongbu Securities in Seoul. 
"Some of them are likely to suffer from short-term corrections on potential intervention and fiscal cliff worries," said Park, adding that recent outperformers such as the Philippine peso were likely to fall more. 
The peso was the best-performing emerging Asian currency this year with a 7.2 percent gain against the dollar so far. 
The Philippine peso hit 40.870 per dollar, its strongest since March 2008, as investors dumped greenbacks to stop losses after the 41.000 was broken. 
The central bank was spotted buying dollars to slow down the peso's strength, repeating its recent warnings, dealers said. 
"Peso appreciation is driven more by fundamental flows like exports, tourist receipts, remittances and BPO (business process outsourcing) revenues," Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said in a text message.  
"BSP is of course conscious of the possible fallout in terms of lower external competitiveness... will continue to check the remaining space for FX regulatory liberalization," he added, referring to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. 
Some investors took profits with some short-term peso forwards quoted at a discount. 
"The market seems to be a bit cautious in selling spot dollar lower as onshore points are softer and the euro's upward momentum may have slowed," said a foreign bank dealer in Manila. 
Investors are keeping an eye on the country's third quarter growth data due on Wednesday for clues on the central bank's policy meeting in December. 
Philippine economic growth likely defied the global downdraft and picked up modestly in the third quarter thanks to strong domestic demand and a late spurt in exports, a Reuters poll showed.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Top 5 banned foods

While we are generally allowed freedom of choice when it comes to what we eat or drink, there are some foodstuffs that have been deemed so controversial they have been banned from sale due to concerns about negative effects on the health, safety and well-being of consumers.
1. Absinthe
Absinthe is often considered the drink of genius' due to its reputation for inducing creativity. However, the potent spirit -- nicknamed the green fairy -- is actually said to have harmful neurological effects due to its inclusion of controversial ingredient thujone.
Due to its perceived link to violence and mental illness, absinthe has over the years been banned in many places around the world, including Switzerland (1910), the United States (1912) and France (1915).
However, although in many cases its formula is somewhat different from the traditional one (with low levels of thujone), absinthe is one product that has actually managed to reinstate itself as a perfectly legal tipple in most countries, although the ban still stands in Vanuatu and certain regions of New Zealand. Furthermore, the US have imposed regulations that, while absinthe may be bought, it must be free from thujone and the term "absinthe" must not stand alone on the label.
2. Japanese puffer fish
The puffer fish -- or fugu -- is considered something of a delicacy in Japan and Korea and is available on the menus of many Japanese restaurants, as well as several licensed restaurants in the US.
However, selling or consuming this notorious dish is completely banned in the European Union, due to the fact that most puffer fish contain lethal amounts of a poison called tetrodotoxin, which can paralyse the body and cause death by asphyxiation.
Although poisoning from fugu prepared by trained chefs is quite rare, many view eating the fish as a "Russian roulette" experience, as eating the wrong part of a puffer fish will more than likely kill you.
While the EU is currently alone in completely banning the food, several cases of puffer fish poisoning led Vietnam to ban the catching and selling of the fish between 2002 and 2010, and prompted the state of Florida to also consider imposing a puffer fish ban in 2006.
3. Haggis
Traditional Scottish dish haggis has been a source of contention between the Scottish Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD) and the US Department of Agriculture for 22 years, when the offal-based dish was banned in the US.
Following Britain's BSE outbreak in 1989, authorities made the controversial decision to ban imports of haggis, although both SEERAD and the British Food Standards Agency have subsequently asserted the consumption of haggis is perfectly healthy.
While rumors circulated back in January 2010 that the US was due to lift its ban on haggis, unluckily for American haggis fans, the ban -- which has been under review for over a year -- is still in place today. Although US residents are able to get their hands on American haggis, this is generally considered to be very different from the real thing, often being made from beef and always lacking one essential authentic ingredient: sheep's lungs -- an ingredient that has been illegal in the US since 1971.
4. Raw milk
Raw milk is another banned food at the center of much debate. Prior to the industrial revolution, raw milk was commonly drunk by most people, however, when pasteurization became more common, the consumption of raw milk was banned. Although improved standards of farm sanitation mean that raw milk is a lot healthier today than it was when originally banned, many places still maintain the decision to ban the product from being sold.
In fact, selling raw milk is currently banned in 22 American states, as well as Canada, Australia and Scotland, with partial bans in many other countries. This is a particularly controversial one as, while the bans imposed on raw milk are qualified by health and safety reasons, to protect consumers from harmful bacteria, in some countries raw milk is actually sold as a health food, with many believing raw milk is a far healthier option and that pasteurization destroys the milk's nutrients and good bacteria.
5. Stevia
Stevia -- also commonly known as sweet leaf or sugarleaf -- is a plant-based sweetener that has been banned in the US, the EU, Singapore and Hong Kong. In the early '90s, the FDA made the decision to ban stevia in the US based on the belief that it was an "unsafe food additive." However, this ban was later removed to allow stevia to be used under the provision it was labelled as a dietary supplement rather than a food additive, a stipulation that has also been subsequently removed.
The EU were firmer with their ban of the controversial sweetener, and it remained illegal to import or sell stevia as a sweetener in the UK and other EU countries from 1999 due to health concerns over the use of stevia -- which has been linked to fertility problems and cancer. However, there has so far been insufficient research to back up these claims, and the EU ban was removed at the end of 2011.
It is also widely available in many other countries - particularly Japan -- where it is thought to have positive health effects, such as weight loss and lowered blood sugar levels. Read more at

How to Earn Respect from Others

MensXP/Shutterstock...because if you don't, no one will. Your money, your cars, your post or your other fancy possessions will only take you so far. They don’t guarantee respect. Respect has to be worked for, like a salary you get at the end of every month. 
Unlike a few things, respect cannot be forced. It has to be earned over a period of time. We all respect Narayan Murthy for a reason; or even Ratan Tata for that matter. It’s not because of their riches, but because they have built a respectable brand from ground up; are humble, are philanthropists, practice clean business, are knowledgeable and so much more.
There are a few things you can do to earn the respect of others, but these things or tips have to be followed over a period of time in order for them to work to you.

Open your ears

Listen to what people want to say. Don’t jump in and interrupt. Don’t act too eager to tell your story first. Learn to listen well. When you do that, people feel respected, and when they feel respected, they, in turn, start respecting you.

Be damn good at your game

In order to be respected, you need to be bloody good at whatever you do. Look at Mary Kom, Vijay Narang, Sushil Kumar, Saina Nehwal: all of them were victorious at the Olympics 2012. And what did that do for them? It got them instant respect of the country. Everyone loves a champion. Remember the girl who was the teacher’s pet in school? There was a reason for that. She was excellent in sports and studies. Was on top in whatever she did. And it isn’t easy. You ought to have some inherent talent and a burning desire to succeed. And if you’re good, confidence will automatically come. And if you appear confident, people will inevitably start respecting you.

Shut that trap

Most people get into trouble because they open their mouths when it is not needed. Don’t go on yapping without a reason. Speak only when it is absolutely necessary. No, don’t worry, no one will think of you as an idiot. Speaking when needed doesn’t mean you go into a shell and zone out of the conversation. It means contributing when you have something meaningful to say. I am sure we have all met people who lay out their entire history in front of you in the five minutes they get to talk: from where they were born to what they like to eat; from that fact that he has six toes to his reasons for not trimming his nose hair. Who needs to know all that? Keep a little mystery about you, reveal only what is pertinent.

Cut the phony act

When someone starts talking about a movie or a music band, don’t start nodding your head as if you know everything about it. Because when they turn around and ask you what you thought of the climax; or your favorite number from their tenth album, you will look like the biggest fool alive. It’s better to admit that you don’t know something, than lying about it and coming across as an idiot. If the others are polite, they will explain to you what they mean or what they were talking about, instead of excluding you completely. However, if you come across someone like that, be patient with them. Understand where they are coming from, their intense desire to fit in. Be understanding. You will automatically get their respect.

Never go back on your word

Until and unless it’s an emergency, never go back on your word. You tell someone you’d meet them at 2pm, show up at 1:59. You tell someone you would send them the presentation on such and such date, make sure you send it across by that time, no matter what. If you deliver what you say, you will, over a period of time get people’s respect and admiration.

Dress the part

I am sure you have observed this. If you haven’t so far, try it. Go to a retail store, say Marks and Spencers; or to an office dressed in casuals and note the reactions you get, right from the guard outside to the manager inside. Next time, go in formals, and see how they behave around you. People’s perceptions change according to the way you dress. If you dress sharply, you will notice that somehow people around you are more respectful, are more attentive. Someone who is dressed well definitely gets treated better than someone walking around in a kurta pyjama. Invest in good clothes and accessories. Along with that, be well mannered, use appropriate language and develop good social etiquettes: know how to hold a fork and a knife, or use chopsticks, or to cover your mouth while picking your teeth.

Be nice to people

When you meet someone be nice to them. You don’t need to please them or say yes to everything they say. Don’t laugh like a moron at their unfunny jokes. Just be courteous and polite. But being polite doesn’t mean you turn into a wimp, or don’t state your opinion or speak your mind. Stand up for you believe in, but with restraint and civility. Like the recent case of Balpreeet Kaur, a Sikh woman in the UK who learned a photo of herself was uploaded in the “funny” section on a social networking website and was being ridiculed for her facial hair and the way she was dressed. But instead of flying off into a rage, she responded to the post with grace and dignity and became an instant hero. She said, “I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body and must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will.”
If someone is introduced to you, remember their names, remember what they do. Remember things about them, maybe their kid wants to become an automobile designer. Enquire about that the next time you meet them. It shows them you care and they feel happy that you remembered stuff about them.

Don’t call something yours when it isn’t

What it essentially means is don’t take credit for someone else’s work. It is the biggest crime in the world. Not only will you lose your respect, you will also lose your credibility.

Respect yourself

Start by respecting yourself, because if you don’t know one will. Cherish your achievements and celebrate your milestones. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Treat your mind and body with respect.

Don’t practice double standards

Having double standards is unacceptable. If you want people to come to work on time; or act professional; or be focused on their jobs, then you should set an example yourself. Only when you follow your own rules, will people listen to you. Don’t be the first to criticize people and then turn a fiery red when people are criticizing you. Don’t be the first to crack a joke on someone, but then make a face when someone returns the favor. Don’t cite an opinion before taking every thing into consideration, and don’t talk against people for no reason. Be fair and open.
So you see, you have to work to earn respect. It is never served to anyone without actually having deserved it.

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 )