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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Clark Airport wins Int’l Award in under 20M passengers category

The Clark International Airport on Monday won an international award, beating 6 other airports in Asia.
The Clark airport (IATA Code: CRK), won the 2013 Routes Airport Marketing Awards in the Asia Heats, under 20 million passengers category.
The award was given during an annual gathering of the region’s airline and airport operators in Mumbai, India.
The Philippine Department of Tourism (DoT) also received the Highly Commended-Destination Marketing Award, narrowly missing top honors in the category won by Tourism Australia.
Routes Asia, organized by UBM Aviation Routes Ltd based in Manchester in the UK, is the largest route development event for the entire Asia region.
This year, over 700 aviation professionals travelled to Mumbai to participate in the global airline and airport networking event.
Clark International Airport Corporation president Victor Jose Luciano, in a press statement Tuesday, said the awards are a major boost for Philippine aviation and tourism.
“The real winner here is not only Clark Airport nor the Department of Tourism but the entire aviation and tourism industry in the country. Slowly but surely, we are putting the Philippines back on the global stage and the major players in these industries are taking notice and positive interest in our country,” Luciano said.
“Also, what we have shown here is that under the good governance thrust of President Aquino, the Philippines can at last be at par with our more developed and prosperous neighbors in the region,” he added.
According to UBM Aviation Routes, the “Routes Airport Marketing Awards recognize and reward the highest standards of marketing activities undertaken by airports. This year the awards were split into two categories based on the size of the airport, and also a new tourism award for best destination marketing campaign by a tourism authority.”
In the under 20 million passengers category, CRK edged out 6other major airports in Asia, namely, Aukland International Airport in Mangere, New Zealand; Bengaluru International Airport in Devanahalli, Kamataka, India; Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Shamshabad, Hyderabad, Andrha Pradesh, India; Juanda-Surabaya International Airport in Sidoarjo, Indonesia; Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan; and Siem Reap International Airport in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Short-listed for the Destination Marketing Awards were the Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Philippine Department of Tourism, the Singapore Tourism Board, Tourism Australia, and Tourism New Zealand.
Changi International Airport in Singapore won the award for the over 20 million passengers category.
Susan Willis, Marketing and Analysis Manager at UBM Aviation Routes, said CRK got the nod of awards judges due to its “effective growth” in 2012.
“Your airport was voted for by the airline community together with a panel of industry experts drawn from the airline networking planning community where they considered your marketing services and effective growth over the last 12 months,” Willis told Clark airport official.
Luciano cited CRK’s “phenomenal performance” in terms of growth in its passenger traffic and aircraft movement last year.
“Clark Airport had yet another banner year in 2012 posting an unprecedented 72% growth in passenger traffic, 69% increase in air traffic movements, and 44% increase in airport revenues. Despite another challenging year for the global aviation industry, Clark Airport continued its march as one of the region’s fastest growing airports during the past four years,” Luciano said.
At the end of 2012, CRK drew a total of 1,315,757 domestic and international passengers surpassing the 767,109 figure from the previous year. Meanwhile, airport revenue grew by 44% from P355 million in 2011 to P511 million in 2012 even though expenses in running the airport increased by only 7% or from P303 million in 2011 to P324 million in 2012.
Luciano said “2013 promises to be an even bigger year for Clark airport.”
“The start of the new year brought with it new optimism and higher expectations. After signing an agreement with CIAC during the second week of February this year, Emirates announced that it has selected CRK as its second Philippine destination with daily direct flights from Dubai to Clark starting on October 1, 2013,” he said.

2 Pinoy short films win at the Manhattan International Film Fest

Man of Squares
A scene from “Man of Squares” [via The Inquirer]

Two Filipino students won for their short films at the Manhattan International Film Festival, held in New York from Feb. 22 to 24.
“Tanglaw,” directed by Adrielle Esteban of the University of the Philippines and “Man of Squares,” directed by Inshallah Montero of De La Salle University-College of Saint Benilde, were among the top five winners from all over the world at the youth fest. The other winners were Timothy Reckart’s “Head over Heels” (United States), Anita Rivaroli and Irene Tommasi’s “A Summer Tale” (Italy) and Christian Manzi’s “Yes, I’m Gary” (United States).
Last year, another Filipino student, Lance Katigbak, won people’s choice for his short “Fine Dining” at the Manhattan fest, which is organized by the nongovernmental organization World Youth Alliance.
Esteban said the winning films will be screened at the United Nations headquarters in New York in April.

PHL chosen Most Popular Destination in Guangzhou, China

The Philippines was chosen “Most Popular Destination” by Guangzhou Information Times and the Guangzhou International Tourism Fair (GITF) in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong in southern China.
The awarding ceremony held at the Nanhu Travel Display Center, the Philippines was presented the “Most Popular Destination in Asia” award by Mr. Li Xinzhang, Vice President of Guangzhou Information Times.
Guangzhou Information Times is a subsidiary of Guangzhou Daily, the most influential news daily in Guangzhou.
Philippine Tourism Undersecretary Daniel G. Corpuz and Consul General to Guangzhou Raly L. Tejada received the award.
The Philippines was also one of the recipients of the “Most Popular Destination” Awards during the Guangzhou International Travel Fair (GITF) Awards Night held at the China Marriott Hotel. The Philippines was the lone recipient from Southeast Asia. The other co-winners include Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Chicago (United States), Korea, Seychelles, Mauritius, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Macau, and Italy.
The GITF is organized by the Guangdong Provincial Tourism Administration through the Tourism Administration of Guangzhou Municipality in cooperation with Hannover Milano Fairs Shanghai Ltd..
Held every year in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, the GITF has been recognized as one of the most significant annual international travel fairs in the Asia-Pacific Region for its extensive influence upon the tourism industry and related industries.
The Philippine Consulate General in Guangzhou issued a total of 59,861 visas to Southern Chinese visitors to the Philippines in 2012.
The Philippines continues to hold a strong appeal to the Chinese market as the Consulate General posted an increase of 6.45% in visa issuance for January 2013 over the same period last year.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Philippines has one of the highest social media penetrations in Asia

The numbers have been coming in: the Philippines has one of the highest penetrations in social media, preceding Australia and Indonesia. Further, in 2011′s 24/7 Wall St report, we ranked first in “The Ten Nations Where Facebook Rules the Internet.”
A report of AGB Nielsen Philippines in 2011 showed that more than 50% of the households have high-speed Internet connection and around 24% are using their mobile devices to access online.
In 2011, Typhoon Sendong badly affected Mindanao. More than 3,000 families were forced to stay in only 17 evacuation sites. Support was scarce until Iligan Bloggers Society launched the One for Iligan Campaign across various social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. Donations then came in droves that on the first day alone.
“These success stories are inspiring and motivational, but it’s also clear that they wouldn’t have happened if social media users haven’t been proactive,” discloses Ruben Licera Jr, president of Cebu Bloggers Society and lead organizer of Social Media Influencers Summit (SMIS) 2013 which will be held on March 16, 2013 at J Centre Convention Hall in Mandaue City, Cebu Philippines.
The summit is co-presented by SMART Communications, Megaworld, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Incorporated and J Centre Mall.
It will bring advocacies of Vic Marion Madriaga of CDO Bloggers Society, Hannah Almira Amora, and Lisa Marie Mirasol of Iligan Bloggers Society more openly.
The effects and use of social media in other platforms are going to be tackled as well, such as on politics (by Maria Irene Aserios), Philippine elections (by Kevin Ray Chua), work (by Mary Jane Cabrera of Iloilo Bloggers Society), and business (by Fitz Gerard Villafuerte). Janette Toral will help over 300 participants answer the big question, “Am I a Social Media Influencer?” while Attorney Ethelbert Ouano will stress every user’s rights and corresponding responsibilities. Rappler’s CEO Maria Ressa will serve as keynote speaker.
Know more about Social Media Influencers Summit by visiting
The Social Media Influencers Summit 2013 is organized by iNewMedia Online Network with Cebu Bloggers Society (CBS). Proceeds from the event will go to Dr. Narciso Tapia Kidney Transplant Fund, Cebu Bloggers Society, and World Vision. For more information, visit or add their Facebook page.

Michael Cinco dresses up Hollywood celebs Sofia Vergara, Britney Spears

Filipino fashion designer Michael Cinco has wowed Hollywood’s top stylists and fashionistas with his first collection show in Los Angeles. Since Sofia Vergara and Britney Spears wore gowns by the Catbalogan, Samar native at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards and Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscars party, respectively, LA’s tastemakers have become curious about the Dubai-based designer.
As proof of Michael’s emergence in the fashion world, Style Fashion Week LA gave its grand finale slot to him. The show was staged at Vibiana (a cathedral-turned-event space) in downtown LA.
The UP Diliman Fine Arts major (he studied there until second year), who also went to Slim’s Fashion & Arts School and then to Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, welcomed the chance to show his collection in Tinseltown, of course. “I want to attract more top stylists to use my clothes for their superstar clients,” he said, noting that more Hollywood stars wearing his exquisitely ornamented creations would help his brand go global.
Professing to have been inspired by old Hollywood glamour icons like Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich and Audrey Hepburn since he was growing up in Samar, Michael said: “It has always been my dream to see my couture gowns on the Hollywood red carpet in Hollywood. Sofia Vergara is one of the sexiest actresses in the United States. Seeing her wearing my gown in the Golden Globes was a dream-come-true for me. I was ecstatic when the press loved Britney’s look in my gown at the Oscars after party.”
Lady Gaga wore another show-stopping Cinco creation at a Chicago Bulls gala charity event last January.
Asked why he thought more and more major celebs were strutting on the red carpet in his designs, Michael replied, “I think it’s because my clothes are crystallized and embellished, yet very elegant—and they look expensive.”
The designer, who moved to Dubai in 1997 and opened his couture house there in 2003, reported that he received emails from Sofia and Britney’s respective reps after the two women made a splash in his gowns. He disclosed, “Britney’s stylist is asking me to do another creation for her new project.”
We asked Michael which Hollywood actresses he was hoping to dress up someday. “It has always been my dream to see Cate Blanchett wearing my couture creation on the red carpet,” he replied. “I think her style is effortless and she is so luminous. Angelina Jolie is a dream. And Julia Roberts—timeless.”
On whether he might move to the United States—or maybe open a branch in New York or Los Angeles—he said: “At the moment, there are some stores in the US and Brazil who are interested in my bridal and couture collections. Everything is still under negotiation. My couture bridal gowns are now available in Russia. But I want to be based only in Dubai.”
Aside from staging the show, what else did he hope to accomplish while in LA? “To be an actor in Hollywood,” joked the Filipino pride, who also created designs for “America’s Next Top Model: Cycle 16” and worked with the show’s host, Tyra Banks.
How did he envision his career five years from now? Michael said, “I’d like to be part of Paris Fashion Week by that time.”
(Story courtesy of Ruben Nepales of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Email the columnist at rvnepales_5585@ Follow him at

Sunday, March 17, 2013

British bank says PHL economy will outperm most of Asia in 2013

British bank Standard Chartered expects the Philippines to outperform most other nations in Asia and enjoy another year of strong economic growth.
In a macroeconomic report released on Wednesday, Standard Chartered said that the country’s gross domestic product could grow by 5.8 percent this year, and 6.1 percent the next. The bank noted that the Philippines’ economic growth in the coming years would exceed the country’s 10-year average performance of 5.2 percent posted from 2003 to 2012.
“The Philippines stands out within the region for its bullish on-the-ground sentiment, whereas we are cautious on momentum in Thailand as the post-flood stimulus wears off. In Korea, we expect a large supplementary budget to stimulate growth as the housing market continues to weaken,” the report said.
On monetary policy, the bank believes that inflation risks will remain moderate, while the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas may hike key rates only in the fourth quarter as the rate of rise in prices picks up.
Standard Chartered said inflation in the Philippines could average at 3.6 percent this year—lower than its previous forecast of 3.9 percent.
“Inflation may accelerate, particularly in fourth quarter, due to higher food and energy inflation, consumer spending, and base effects. Even so, it should remain manageable and is unlikely to breach the inflation target,” the report said.
The key upside risk to the bank’s forecast is a sudden shock in energy and food prices, which is not the bank’s core scenario, according to the report.
While domestic consumption is likely to remain the biggest growth driver, Standard Chartered expects investment growth to pick up this year. But the bank said exports could slow down growth this year.
But while the goods trade deficit is likely to widen this year due to growth in imports, the impact on the current account will be limited, the bank said.
“The growth outlook for exports of goods and services is favorable, as remittances remain the most significant contributor to the current account surplus,” it added.
Given the government’s fiscal progress, the bank expects at least two of the three major credit rating agencies to raise the Philippine sovereign to investment grade by end-2014. But the bank found it difficult to predict specific timing.
“The case for investment grade is supported by a number of factors, including a resilient economy, a current account surplus, stable fiscal policy, and the narrowing of the budget deficit. More investment is needed, however,” it explained.
The report said fiscal consolidation would continue, especially with the implementation of the “sin tax” in January. The bank expects the fiscal deficit to narrow gradually over the next few years.
The British bank pointed out that local businesses and investors are very optimistic about 2013 and beyond. There is little concern that the economic growth momentum of last year will slow down in 2013, the report said.
“Concerns are focused on infrastructure development and investment growth, though many believe that progress has been made,” it said.
Based on the bank’s survey, 77 percent of corporate respondents in the Philippines expect their businesses to do better this year than in 2012.
(Story courtesy of the Inquirer’s Doris Dumlao)

American tech firm spending $50M for PHL outsourcing expansion

New York Stock Exchange-listed technology firm Emerson Electric Co. is investing $50 million in the country for the expansion of its in-house outsourcing operations that support the company’s $24-billion-a-year global operations.
In a press conference on Wednesday, the company said the fresh investment, which would go to the long-term lease of various office buildings in Metro Manila, would support the increase in headcount at Emerson’s “shared services” operations in the country.
“Manila is by far the most important location for Emerson’s shared services. It was the first, the largest, and it offers the most diverse services,” said George Mulligan, vice president and general manager of Emerson’s Share Services operations in the country.
The company’s shared services operations, which provide various back-office and technical support services to Emerson subsidiaries and affiliates across the world, currently have 3,100 employees.
By the end of Emerson’s current fiscal year, the firm aims to increase its workforce to 3,300. By 2015, the number is expected to reach 4,000.
Services delivered out of Manila include accounting and finance functions, information technology support, human resource processes, marketing and product support, and supply chain management.
Emerson’s shared services operations are currently housed in the Cybergate building in Mandaluyong City.
Mulligan said the company was unfazed by the strengthening peso, which had diminished the industry’s cost advantage over rival business process outsourcing (BPO) hubs like India and China.
A stronger local currency means companies that earn in dollars will have to spend more to pay their employees in the Philippines who are paid in pesos.
The company provides IT solutions to industrial and retail companies with customers in various industries, including power generation and oil and gas drilling, wastewater management and food and beverage.
Apart from its shared services operations, Emerson also has two manufacturing facilities in the country—one in Cavite and another in Laguna.
In total, Emerson employs more than 12,000 people in the country.