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Friday, February 8, 2013

Top Argentine food firm sets up Asia headquarters in the Philippines

Laboratorios Farmesa SAIC, Argentina’s biggest manufacturer of savory additives and plant-based ingredients, is set to open a commercial office in the Philippines in the first half of 2013.
This is said to be the company’s first ever venture outside of Argentina.
Philippine Ambassador to Argentina Rey A. Carandang met with Farmesa president Gabriel Pérez last January 25, where the latter confirmed the investment in the Philippines.
Perez said they will invest $3 million in the next two years for the commercial office’s operations in the Philippines. The office, which will be named Farmesa Asia Pacific Inc., will serve as the Argentine company’s base for its regional expansion.
Agustín Pérez, Farmesa’s business development officer, will head the office in Manila. The office will initially employ three to five Filipino employees. There are also has plans to establish a warehouse facility in the Philippines, with future plans to set up a manufacturing plant.
The Farmesa president said the Philippine economy’s strong performance, as well as the help of the government, were factors in their decision to choose the Philippines as their base in Asia Pacific.
Perez also noted there are “many affinities and coincidences in terms of both culture and commerce” between the Philippines and Argentina, which made him realize the Philippines is an “ideal bridge” for their operations in the Asia-Pacific region.
Farmesa, founded in 1959, is a regional industry leader whose products (emulsifiers, antioxidants, textured soy protein, stabilizers, flavors and aroma, etc.) are mostly derived from soya, as well as from carrageenan and other natural sources.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Local tourists flocking to new destinations, doing extreme sports

When tourists think of Bohol, chocolate hills and gentle tarsiers are usually the first things that come to mind, not a heart-stopping drop into a deep gorge.

There's more to the island-province than bug-eyed primates and brown mounds. Just a couple of hours away, the Danao Adventure Park offers the exhilarating Suislide and Plunge.

The local version of the zipline, the Suislide consists of a pulley suspended on a cable, which is mounted on an incline, according to the Eco/Extreme/Educational Adventure Tour Danao website. Meanwhile, the Plunge is a canyon-swing adventure mounted over a gorge that is 200 meters high and 300 meters wide.

While not for the faint-hearted, such extreme activities offer an alternative vacation for tourists who want more than laid-back sightseeing. This is exactly what the annual Travel and Tour Expo will do, putting the spotlight on emerging Philippine destinations, from Tuguegarao in Luzon to the Camotes Islands in the Visayas.

The Expo will be held February 15-17 at the SMS Convention Center in Pasay City.

"There are a good bulk of local players coming in exhibiting during the fair," said Philippine Travel Agencies Association President John Paul Cabalza, noting that they increased the number of booths to 554 from last year's Expo of 477.

The PTAA identified nine emerging tourist destinations that they will aggressively promote: Baler, Bataan, Camotes Islands, Davao, Leyte, Mindoro, Samal Islands, Siargao Island and Tuguegarao.

"We're actually looking at more domestic players gaining ground and at the same time assisting the Department of Tourism. This is a good example of the public private partnership," Cabalza said at a press conference Tuesday.

Cabalza said the emerging destinations include the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, where there are already 17 resorts and hotels. Meanwhile, in Baler, more than 15 resorts are currently operating, Cabalza said, noting that the popular surfing destination also has numerous waterfalls.

"We went there, and it was a fun trek. Even if you swim in their waterfalls area, it's not that deep," said Cabalza, adding that the waterfalls are well-managed.

Cabalza also recommended Baler's history trail, which includes Baler Church, the site of the Siege of Baler in 1898. The trail also includes Ermita hill, where only a few Filipinos survived the Tsunami of 1735 that wiped out the entire town.

Aileen Clemente, chairperson of the 20th Travel Tour Expo, said the fair is an opportunity for emerging destinations to become more comfortable before promoting themselves outside the Philippines.

"Since there are new destinations that we are promoting, this is like their first dry run of their destination, their product, their hotels... When they get that confidence level, there's no stopping them from gaining all the inbound market as well," she said.

Promoting domestic tourism

In 2011, the revenue from foreign tourists reached about 100 billion pesos, while the revenue from domestic tourists was at 800 billion pesos, according to Department of Tourism Assistant Sec. Benito Bengzon Jr.

In 2012, the number of domestic tourists exceeded 30 million. "We're seeing a lot of Filipinos going around the country. More than ever, there is a greater sense of appreciation, greater pride in what the country has to offer and we feel that's one of the factors that will push domestic travel," said Bengzon.

He added that the increase in airlines operating within the country contributed to this growth, as it gave consumers more options.

Similarly, there is a variety of options when it comes to accommodations and facilities for travelers. "If people want the luxury, five-star type, we have it. If they opt for the more Spartan budget type of accommodations, we also have it. But definitely, domestic tourism will continue to grow," Bengzon said.,

PTAA Media Committee Chair Nit Ragaza noted that many foreign tour operators will be participating in the Travel Tour Expo, and this is also an opportunity to promote domestic tourism.

"While their purpose is to sell their country, unavoidably they will be moving around and they will see also the beautiful spots that we have, and they can also relay this to their countrymen. Hopefully this will translate to more visitors in the Philippines," Ragaza said.

Promoting the Philippines abroad

Bengzon also encouraged Filipinos to travel abroad, as this allows them to promote the country.

"The more Filipinos go abroad, the wider the network that we have. Marketing the Philippines is not just the sole responsibility of the DOT. It's everybody's business, and we're happy when Filipinos go abroad and start spreading the word around that it's more fun in the Philippines," he said.

While tourists can easily book their trips online, the fair gives them an opportunity to find out about other destinations, as well as take advantage of promos and discounts. According to Clemente, the expo has something for everyone, from luxury deals to budget trips.

This year's fair is also bigger than last year's event, which drew some 60,000 visitors. "The fact that we're getting huge numbers is a very strong indication that there is deeper appreciation of tourism and travel among Filipinos," Bengzon said.

To reach this year's target of 100,000 visitors, PTAA expanded the fair to include more exhibitors and prizes, as well as celebrities and special guests, including Hello Kitty, who will be brought in by the Japanese Embassy.

The expo will also be streamed live online to be able to reach more people. "We'll be scheduling the activities there as well so you can see what are the gimmicks and what are the shows that will be playing onstage and in each booth," she said.

Ragaza said visitors to the expo will not have to spend hours queueing up in order to purchase airline tickets. "They don't have to really fall in line at Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines or ZestAir. They can go straight to the 42 participating tour operators and they can actually make the purchase there," he said.

More information on Travel Tour Expo 2013 can be found on or call Fairs & More at (02)8451324 or (02)7596680. — DVM/HS, GMA News

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why it's good to fall in love

MANILA, Philippines – Love has become fodder for countless songs, television shows and movies, and with good reason.
Although several people swear that their lives have been ruined because of it, love has more pros than cons, a psychiatrist said as he encouraged everyone to take the plunge at least once in their lives.
“I encourage everybody to fall in love,” Dr. Ronaldo Elepaño III of The Medical City’s Department of Psychiatry said in an interview on “Mornings@ANC” on Wednesday.
“I would always encourage my patients who have been burned of hope by love to try again. It hurts, but the rewards are great,” he added.
Elepaño said that from a medical perspective, being in love can make one look younger and feel healthier, mainly because it inspires him or her to become a better person.
“There are also healthier sexual relationships because of the monogamy involved in it. And it protects you from depression,” he explained.
Still not enough? Here’s a more detailed list of the health benefits of being in love, as proven by studies:
  • Longevity
  • Boosted immunity
  • Higher sexual and reproductive behavior
  • Higher youth hormone levels
  • Potential cancer prevention
  • More restful sleep
  • Pain relief
  • Migraine relief
  • Depression treatment
  • Weight loss, overall fitness
  • Happiness
Components of love
Elepaño explained that love has three components, and the combination of these is called consummate love.
The first aspect of love is intimacy, which involves feelings of attachment, closeness and connectedness. Second is passion, which has a lot to do with sexual attraction.
The third component is commitment which, simply put, is the decision to remain with a person for the long haul.
While there can be love with only one or two of these components, it is best for a couple to have all three when they decide to get married so their union will last longer.
“That’s the time you say that’s the ultimate type of love,” Elepaño said.
Stages of love
Of course, love does not just appear out of nowhere, said Elepaño, as he shared that this type of affection can go through as many as three phases.
The first stage is lust, which is driven by sexual hormones – testosterone for men, and estrogen for women. Elepaño said one is initially drawn to another because of his or her “sex appeal”, or what makes a person attractive or a suitable mate.
“So how do you get attracted to the individual? First is the pheromones. You smell an individual, there’s a certain level of attraction to that. The other would be your appearance. Long ago, they say that men prefer women with big breasts because they can feed their offspring, and big hips because they can carry good offspring for labor. For women, they prefer men with broad shoulders mainly because women feel they can be good providers and that they can protect them in times of trouble,” he said.
The next stage is the “truly love-struck phase” motivated by the release of hormones such as dopamine and serotonin in the body. This is when one is slowly getting to know the person he is attracted to, and they become more intimate.
“This is when you have the surge of dopamine which is the chemical responsible for good addiction. It gives you that high,” Elepaño said, adding, “There is also the serotonin which is the happy hormone, so there’s a certain glow you have.”
Another factor, Elepaño said, is the kiss.
“There’s really a science to it when you kiss an individual. There’s a certain exchange. If you look at the brain which is, I would say, the ultimate organ love love – not the heart – it will tell you that the most sensitive part of your body is actually the lips, not the genitals. It’s (genitals) actually a small part of your sensitivity representation in your brain.
“So there’s really a sense when you say ‘when you kiss an individual, that’s when you know when you’re in love.’ The upper and lover lips have stronger sensitivity representations, and on top of that is the exchange of saliva,” he added, citing some scientific studies that use the exchange of saliva in determining a good gene match. “When you kiss somebody and you feel that ‘oh, it doesn’t work,’ it’s not a good gene match. So basically it’s like a taste test.”
The third and last stage, meanwhile, is one that not all couples are able to reach. Fueled by vasopressin and oxytocin, a hormone said to be important in “bonding” and fidelity, commitment involves “a higher function of the brain,” said Elepaño, and enables couples to stay together after getting married and having children.

Monday, February 4, 2013

University of Pennsylvania picks PIDS among world’s best think tanks

State think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies ranked among the best in the world in a report published by the University of Pennsylvania.
“In the 2012 Global Go To Think Tanks Report and Policy Advice of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program of the University of Pennsylvania, PIDS ranked 40th and 79th on the list of the world`s best social policy think tanks and development think tanks, respectively,” the state agency said.
The Go To Think Tank index ranks 6,603 think tanks in 182 countries according to region and specialization. For 2012, more than 1,100 individuals from 120 countries participated in the nominations and rankings process, the report said.
“We are pleased with the continued international recognition for our quality of policy research,” PIDS President Josef T. Yap said.
“Still, we feel that no formulaic rankings can fully capture the distinctiveness of any think tank. The Global Go-To Think Tank is just one measure of a think tank’s performance and impact, and should be used in conjunction with other metrics. PIDS continues to be the authority in Philippine economic and social development policy research and is one the most influential, most quoted, and most trusted think tanks in the country and in the region,” he added.
Established in 1977, PIDS has been engaged in conducting long-term, evidence-based research used for the formulation of socioeconomic policies in the country.
(Story courtesy of the Philippine Star’s Jovan Cerda)

Filipinos ranked one of the happiest people in the world in 2012

The Philippines ranked 67th among 142 countries in the world with the happiest citizens in the 2012 Legatum Institute Prosperity Index, posted on Norway topped the list in the last three reports in 2010, 2011, and 2012. The next happiest countries after Norway were Denmark, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Ireland.
The Legatum Prosperity Index, an annual global survey developed by the London-based Legatum Institute, is a unique assessment of global wealth and wellbeing in eight categories – economy, entrepreneurship and opportunity, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom, and social capital. The survey is helped by data from Gallup World Roll, World Development Indicators, GDP, World Intellectual Property Organization, United Nations Human Development Report, World Bank, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and World Values Survey.
An overwhelming 93 percent of surveyed Filipinos said they believe that “people are treated with respect in the country,” higher than the global average of 85.1%, while 81.8% are “satisfied with the beauty of the environment” (75.1% global). A high 79.8% are “satisfied with government efforts” (40.2% global) and 88.3% are “satisfied with freedom of choice” (75.8% global). The highest Philippines ranked 47th in economy, 63rd in governance, 75th in entrepreneurship and opportunity, 72nd in education system, 93rd in health, 55th in personal freedom, and 72nd in social capital.
Legatum Institute researchers started to rank the happiest countries in the world six years ago. It defines happiness as being healthy, having enough food and enough money to buy what one wants, being able to speak what is on one’s mind, free to worship, feel safe and secure, having opportunity to get an education, and be an entrepreneur.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Interbrand executive says Filipino brands have global potential

While no Filipino brand ever made it to the world’s 100 most valuable brand list in 13 years, a handful of local firms can cut it in a decade or less, if they summon their resources and commitment, Interbrand Executive Director Brand Strategy Jonathan Bernstein.
Already, two Asian brands made the top list of Interbrand, the world’s leading brand consultancy, last year.
Korean brand Samsung increased its value by over 40 percent, edging out competitors Apple and Nokia. On the other hand, the Japanese brand Nissan jacked up its value by 30 percent despite natural disasters in its home front.
However, it took the two Asian brands decades to get to where they are, the Interbrand official pointed out. “Samsung started out as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) 20 years ago.”
Filipino brands like Jollibee, Bench, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and Banco de Oro (BDO) can be strong contenders, Bernstein observed.
San Miguel Corporation
Other contenders include established names like the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Philippine Airlines (PAL) and newer ones, like Cebu Pacific Air (CEB).
Still, Jollibee needs to generate more business abroad. Same thing for BDO.
“To make it to the list, the brand’s revenue has to come from three different continents and the company has to be publicly listed,” he pointed out.
PAL has massive potential because of the heritage of the brand but they need to define what they want to be, work closely with tourism authorities to mprove the image of the Philippines and deliver an experience based on who they are.
CEB went from nowhere to a hypercompetitive brand highly differentiated from the competition. Their value proposition is very strong. But they have no cohesive brand strategy yet in place.
As the airline pushes for long-haul services, it needs to maintain its relevance, which is about the experience, not the price on the part of the Low Cost Carriers (LCCs).
Here, local companies feel that if they have good advertising, they have a good brand. But it’s just the external aspect, he pointed out.
What’s more important is to build internal value, create programs to help employees understand the value of the company and the brand and enable them to connect the brand to the business.
Google, the world’s 4th best brand, spends no money advertising the brand, he cited. “They spend on building a culture that attracts and retains the right kind of people who behave a certain way. These people develop brand experiences to build the brand.”
In 2012, Coca-Cola, Apple and IBM topped the “Best Global Brands” list, based on their financial performance, influence on consumer choice and strength to command a premium price and earn for the company.
PLDT logo
Coca-Cola retained its number 1 position, Apple jumped to number 2 as sales skyrocketed in developed and emerging markets. Social media giant Facebook came in at number 69 after implementing the third largest IPO in US history.
Google ranked 4th after posting a 26 percent increase in brand value, outdoing rival Microsoft, which ranked number 5 for the first time.
Branding started out as a science in the West and Asia was quite behind. However, Interbrand is seeing a shift these days and expect more top brands to come from Asia. For example, Taiwanese brand HTC made it in last year’s list though they fell out this year.
(Story courtesy of Emmie V. Abadilla of the Manila Bulletin)