• Tackles issues and development on the commercial industry.

  • Magnifies colorful festivals and delectable cuisines in Northern Luzon.

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  • Underscores the latest gadgets and the cutting-edge technologies.

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  • Features tourist spots and undiscovered paradises in Northern Luzon.

  • Reflects our appreciation for sports by covering the latest in athletic competition.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Philippines to improve business ties with Pakistan

Philippines to improve business ties with Pakistan

The Philippines and Pakistan have been eyeing to increase business opportunities, a senior government official said Friday.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Ponciano Manalo Jr. said a six-member Pakistani business delegation has recently visited the country.
The Pakistani delegation, led by Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Zakaria Usman, was a combination of possible investors, buyers and sellers from various sectors such as manufacturing, renewable energy, petrochemicals, financial services, textiles, ceramics, garments, food, and shipping, he said.
Manalo said at this early phase in strengthening two countries' trade relations, low hanging fruits such as the import and exports of food can be considered.
In 2013, total trade between the two countries only stood at 90.34 million dollars. Pakistan ranks as the Philippines' 49th trading partner. (Source: Xinhua News)
Pepsi Philippines sets P650-M capex for snack food business

PEPSI-COLA Products Philippines, Inc. said it set a preliminary capital expenditure (capex) of at least P650 million for its planned entry into the food industry.
Project implementation may begin in the second half of 2015, based on the firm’s proposed timetable.
“The company plans to set up local manufacturing facility that will enable it to produce, sell and distribute snack food products in the Philippines while it continues to produce, sell and distribute its existing line of beverages,” Pepsi-Cola Products said in a brief disclosure to the stock exchange.
The company is a licensee of PepsiCo, Inc. and Pepsi Lipton International Ltd. It bottles beverages under brands like Pepsi-Cola, 7Up, Mountain Dew, Mirinda, MUG, Gatorade, Lipton, Tropicana/Twister, Propel and Sting.
In May, the company’s shareholders approved the amendment of its stated purpose, which will now include “food and food products, snacks.”
“In the future, the company would want to enter foods as it is a big business opportunity,” Pepsi-Cola Products said in a previous disclosure.
The company’s first-half net profit fell to P480.44 million from P657.95 million a year earlier, though gross revenue rose to P12.56 million from P11.46 million.
Pepsi-Cola Products closed at P4.78 on Thursday, up four centavos or 0.84%. (Source: Daphne J. Magturo/BWorld Online/Photo courtesy of Mike Segar)

Dragon Boat team wins 5 world championship golds

Dragon Boat team wins 5 world championship golds

The Philippines continues to flex its muscles in the international sports scene.
The Philippine Dragon Boat team took home 5 gold medals, 3 silvers and 3 bronzes from the ICF Dragon Boat World Championships in Poznan, Poland.
The nation’s paddlers showcased their wares in seniors men, juniors men and seniors mixed categories. The Philippine delegation were considered first-time paddlers for a World Championship and had to endure the unfamiliar cold weather compared to the tropical weather they trained with back home.
While the Philippines did not join all events, they figured in a successful performance as they tallied medals in all 11 events they participated in.
They competed against and were at par with some of the world’s best including Russia, Poland and Canada. (Source: Goodnewspilipinas.com/Photo courtesy of dragonboat.ph)
PHL gets investment grade rating from Korean agency
The Philippines has gotten another investment grade sovereign credit rating, this time from South Korea-based National Information and Credit Evaluation (NICE) Ratings Inc.
NICE Ratings gave the Philippines investment status for the first time. It raised the country’s long-term, foreign-currency rating by a notch from junk to the minimum investment grade of BBB-.
NICE Ratings also assigned a “positive” outlook on the Philippines, which means there is a possibility of another upgrade within the short term.
“The outlook is positive. It reflects the improved growth potential backed by institutional reforms and greater investment in infrastructure,” NICE Ratings said in its latest report on the Philippines.
NICE Ratings cited the Philippines’ ability to sustain economic growth this year. In the first half, the Philippine economy grew by 6 percent.
“The stable growth trend is expected to continue in 2014. Though economic growth decelerated a little bit to 6 percent in the H1, the slowdown is part of normal economic adjustment after some economic overheating. Its growth impetus will also be maintained.
Reconstruction or rebuilding projects to recover damages from the natural disasters are rather likely to spur the economy and the service and manufacturing industries will continue driving economic growth together,” it said.
However, NICE Ratings did cite the manufacturing industry’s resurgence. Manufacturing grew by an average of 7.9 percent from 2010 to 2013, which outpaced the 6.7 percent growth for the services sector.
“In order to break away from the private consumption-led growth and pursue a new growth model jointly led by investment and consumption, the government promoted manufacturing while making it a priority to enhance public governance and infrastructure,” it said.
NICE Ratings also credited the Philippines for its strong external liquidity, stable financial markets, and much improved fiscal situation.
“In the face of the sell-off of financial assets in emerging markets since May 2013, the Philippines’ financial market remained relatively stable, thanks to the strong current account position and abundant liquidity in the financial market,” it said.
NICE Ratings noted the Philippines’ debt management was sound, with outstanding debt falling from a peak of 74.4 percent of GDP in 2004 to 49.2 percent last year.
It also credited the BSP with properly managing inflation, citing recent adjustments in monetary policy setting and new regulations to prevent price bubbles in the real estate sector.
“The real estate market overheating is still under manageable level because housing prices started rising in full swing as recently as the 2Q 2013 and the central bank has strengthened monitoring already,” NICE Ratings said.
The last credit-rating action from NICE Ratings was done in February 2013 when it adjusted its outlook on the previous rating of BB+ from “stable” to “positive.”
The Philippines has already received investment grade status from major international ratings firms Fitch Ratings, Japan Credit Rating Agency, Moody’s Investors Service, R&I, and Standard & Poor’s.
BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima welcomed the upgrade by NICE Ratings.
“As far as the BSP is concerned, the latest investment grade is another acknowledgment of efforts to maintain an inflation environment and a financial system conducive for business and supportive of sustainable growth,” Tetangco said.

“This vote of confidence acknowledges efforts to ensure the country is able to sustain improvements in the economy over the long haul,” Purisima said. 
Understanding how the Philippines taxes online sellers

Understanding how the Philippines taxes online sellers

Individuals and businesses who are engaged in online selling in the Philippines should take careful note of how the country’s Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) collects taxes from these types of entities.
Those entities that are conducting business through online transactions are required to register at their local Revenue District Office and pay a registration fee. Once this has been completed, a BIR Certificate of Registration will be issued – this document will make clear the types of tax that need to be filed and paid by the taxpayer. An additional requirement is that online sellers must be granted an Authority to Print for invoices, receipts, and register books of accounts. The types of official invoices and receipts that are required to be issued include: Sales invoices; delivery receipts; charge invoices; and other commercial receipts for goods or services.
Another additional requirement states that online sellers must withhold the required creditable/expanded withholding tax, final tax, tax on compensation of employees, and other withholding taxes.  Once this has been done, the revenue collected must be remitted to the BIR and the customers should be issued a Certificate of Tax Withheld.
In order to show proof of income and expense, all taxpayers, including online sellers, are required to issue official invoices and receipts for each sale of goods and services rendered over the amount of PHP25 (US$0.57). Failure to issue these receipts could result in serious repercussions, such as the suspension of the business by the BIR.
Information returns and other tax compliance reports (ex. Summary List of Sales/Purchases) must be submitted as required by existing rules and regulations
This tax on online sellers came about because the Philippine government was looking to widen its attempts at building a larger tax base with which to build state revenues.  The BIR has stated that “it has become imperative to remind the parties in these online business transactions of their tax obligations,” since the internet has become “the vogue medium not only for business advertisements but also for the conduct of online business transactions, including online retailing through virtual shopping malls, online market places, web stores, and similar websites (online stores).” (Source: Aseanbriefing.com)
DOLE: Get experience and skills; join Christmas season job fairs
Secretary of Labor and Employment Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday bared more job fair schedules nationwide for the fourth quarter of 2014, which promise thousands of decent job matching opportunities for graduates and other jobseekers during the Christmas season.
The labor and employment chief said that the tentative fair schedules are available at the Phil-JobNet link of the Bureau of Local Employment at www.phil-job-net.
Baldoz, encouraging jobseekers to pursue their ‘dream jobs’, said:
“I am also heartened that our Regional Offices located in Yolanda affected areas, such as Region 6, 7, and 8, have scheduled job fairs. I know that our offices in these regions will be offering job opportunities to the calamity victims. Remembering that fateful day of 8 November 2013 and the way we at the DOLE acted to support the affected regions warms my heart.”
She reiterated that Republic Act 8759, or the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) Act, directs that job fairs shall be conducted “periodically all over the country to bring together in one venue jobseekers and employers for immediate matching.”
In effect, such fairs bring decent job opportunities to the grassroots and protect jobseekers from the threats and perils posed by illegal recruiters and human traffickers.
The Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) reported to Baldoz that the DOLE’s Statistical Performance Reporting System (SPRS), recorded some 337,383 jobseekers from January to June this year.
Significantly, nearly 550 job fairs have been conducted during the same period.
With some 8,250 employers participating, these resulted in 27,050 jobseekers being hired on-the-spot (HOTS), an average of three per establishment that participated in the job fairs.
During the 2014 Labor Day celebrations alone, the BLE reported that 65 job fairs were simultaneously held in all 16 regions of the country. Nearly 14,180 jobseekers were hired on that single-day job fairs.
Philippines: Farmers trained on new garlic technology
The Department of Agriculture has tapped the services of MMSU, along with five other state agencies, to help revive the ailing Ilocos garlic and allotted some P10-M for a sustainable seed support project. The other agencies are the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte, DA-BAR, ILAARRDEC, PhilRice-Batac, and the Bureau of Plant Industry.
Dr. Prima Fe R. Franco, MMSU’s vice president for research and extension, said the increase in the production of high quality garlic bulbs in the province will be realized through a sustainable seed support system which will be jointly implemented by MMSU and the implementing agencies.
Under the proposed program, the university will give the farmers an interest-free loan of garlic planting materials to be used in their succeeding garlic planting seasons. These materials shall be returned just after harvest. Last cropping season, the university planted five hectares of its more than 200-hectare production area in the main campus solely for high quality garlic varieties such as the Ilocos White, Cabuyao, Ilocos Pink, and Tan Bolters.
Working in partnership with the other agencies, the university is now stepping up moves to enhance the capability of the garlic growers in producing high quality planting materials so that they could sustain the garlic seed system in the province.
Going through the same vein is the plan to expand the area planted with garlic through this scheme; and strengthen the linkages among farmers, government agencies and non-government organizations to improve the producers’ marketing scheme.
MMSU President Miriam E. Pascua urged the farmers to support this program of reviving the province’s reputation as producer of biggest and high quality garlic bulbs in the country.
“Although imported garlic is destroying the price of the locally produced variety, we should still raise the standard of our own product in terms of quality and volume,” she said adding that “we may be left behind in the size, but the quality is way above those being produced in other countries.”
She assured the farmers that the university is continuing its efforts to improve its researches on garlic which will include some value-added products such as garlic oil, powder, medicine, and other pharmaceutical products.

“Researches are now underway to utilize garlic as medicine. There is a move to produce capsulized garlic as cure of high blood pressure,” she said. (Source: mmsu.edu.ph)
Filipino startup says salt and water can bring light possible

Professor Aisa Mijeno and her brother Raph have a dream for their 16 million Filipino fellowmen who live without electricity.
In the Philippines, where a large percentage of the rural poor do not have electrical access, the Mijeno siblings have taken on the challenge to bring light to families using a very simple concept that Professor Aisa thinks has long been taken for granted.
“The planet is three-fourth ocean water,” the spritely, petite teacher muses, “What is the best way to solve our energy shortage other than using the abundant natural resource that we have? The science behind this has been existing for a hundred years; I’m not really sure why people deviated from developing this principle.”
It sounds nothing short of miraculous, if not even revolutionary: the Mijenos are going to make sublime light from mere water and salt.
And then there was light Professor Aisa is a part-time faculty member of the College of Engineering at De la Salle University-Lipa, teaching technical subjects such as Embedded System, Data Structures and Algorithm Analysis, and CCNA Exploration.
Before that, she also taught a class on Environmental Engineering, with the course covering Sustainable Energy.
Her technical background proved useful when she visited a small tribe in Kalinga, a mountainous region north of the country. There, she learned how people had to walk 12 hours to the neighboring town 50 kilometers away, just so they can buy kerosene for their lamps.
“That hit me in the heart, so I started linking my past knowledge and experiences to come up with a sustainable solution,” Professor Aisa shares.
This realization set her on the path towards starting salt, which she and her brother proudly brand as a social movement that aims to distribute their sustainable, cost-effective, and ecologically-designed lamp powered by tap water and table salt.
It wasn’t hard to believe that it was her destiny all along. Her life of soul-searching seemed to have been readying her for this epiphany: “After I graduated from college, I had the chance to work for an industry for a couple of years. I resigned my job and spent one whole year volunteering for various NGOs. I call that now, a year of enlightenment — where I traveled across the Philippines and Southeast Asia, and did work for free,” she reminisces. “I got to be part of Greenpeace Philippines as a DDC (Direct Dialogue Campaigner) in the middle of that same year.”
As campaigner, she received a scanty PHP 4,000 a month, which eventually took a toll on her finances. With a heavy heart, she resigned from her job.
Little did she know back then that she would eventually have a groundbreaking idea which will get the attention of business incubator IdeaSpace Foundation, and win for them a slot in the organization’s recent tech startup competition, along with nine other companies?
The duo plan to adopt TOM’s One for One model by ensuring that communities from depressed areas in the country get a free lamp for every product purchased.
“Our first beneficiaries will be the Hanunuo Mangyan tribe of Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro that we were able to visit last August,” Professor Aisa reveals. “Our main target communities are those families that are living off the grid, not by choice but by circumstances. The Philippines is an archipelago and the logistics of providing energy to all of these islands are fairly limited. So we have to reach out to these communities and help the government somehow,” she added.
Aside from this, they also plan to expand beyond the Philippines, and impact other places that will benefit from their innovation. “Lack of electricity access does not only exist here,” she observes. “This problem also persists for 63 million people in Indonesia, 26 million people in Myanmar, 10 million in Cambodia, eight million in Thailand, two million in Vietnam, 2.2 million in Laos, and 200,000 in Malaysia.”
When asked why people should support their project, the Professor humbly answered: “What we do is a simple way of helping, of trying to give back in the way we know how to. The places that need this technology and the people that live in these places are amazing, but sadly they are not being given enough attention. Hopefully, what we bring to the table will get people with amazing ideas to follow suit.”
Freelancer.com believes in passionate individuals making a difference in the world. That is why, together with the Young Entrepreneurs Society of the Philippines (YES), it has appointed SALt to represent the Philippines for the Startup Nations Summit competition this November 24-25 in Seoul, Korea. Help SALt win by voting for them by scanning the provided QR code. (Source: e27.co)

No need for law on anti-theft app, say mobile phone makers
Installing a kill-switch on all mobile phones is easier than believed, and with all the recent developments in the market, congressional action may not be needed.
Many phone manufacturers have developed kill-switches—all that’s left to do is make them available across all cell phone models.
In the House of Representatives, Ang Mata’y Alagaan party-list Rep. Lorna Velasco is seeking approval of a bill requiring mobile service providers to install kill-switch software in all cellular phones they provide to their subscribers.
“The enactment of this bill into law will effectively weaken, if not eliminate completely, the black market in stolen cell phones, which in turn will lead to a reduction in crimes related to mobile phones,” Velasco said in her explanatory note to the bill.
But since 2013, Filipino smartphone maker MyPhone has been installing a technology called Theft Apprehension and Asset Recovery Application (Tara) “on some models of its products.”
MyPhone said it is aimed at helping curb massive phone theft, which in 2012 numbered some 6,600 reported incidents nationwide.
Tara is similar to Apple’s kill-switch “Find My iPhone” in that it erases the contents of a stolen phone. But unlike the Apple app, it does not give the owner an idea of where the phone is.
Jun Lozada, who developed the MyPhone app, had said in a previous interview with the Inquirer that while Tara could not guarantee the stolen unit would be returned to its owner, it would at least prevent the thieves from selling it.
Besides, the stolen phone, even when turned off, would regularly set off an alarm and an automated voice would let people nearby know it is not in the hands of its rightful owner.
While anti-theft apps made by manufacturers like MyPhone and Apple are available, others have yet to follow suit.
Software developers have said they are already on it.
Google and Microsoft said they were developing similar applications to be embedded in the mobile operating systems they had developed.
Google, which developed Android, said it had developed a kill-switch that zeroes in on malicious apps and privacy violations only. The company said it had yet to transform it into a full anti-theft app.
But Android users have only to explore the Internet to find an anti-theft application.
One app touted to be a kill-switch has been available on Google Play since 2012.
Called “Find My Phone,” the app was developed by Glenn Beach, the same developer who came out with “Bake My Day,” and is available for free download.
In June, Microsoft, which has been struggling to keep its operating system on mobile devices amid the Android explosion, said the kill-switch it has been developing could also be remotely activated by the owner of a stolen device.
Microsoft did not elaborate but hinted its kill-switch might be incorporated into an existing app designed to help owners find their phones. (Source: besttopics.net)

The Hidden Paradise of Burgos: Cabongaoan Beach

Philippines is faithfully blessed with nature’s wonders, making it one of the most favorite tourist destinations in Asia. Yet, there are still countless striking places that remain undiscovered; one of which is the Cabongaoan Beach of Burgos, Pangasinan.
Burgos is a small town located west of Pangasinan. Travellers and tourists pass the town when going to the famous white sand beaches of Dasol without knowing that the town is a home for some of natural wonders and vibrant environment where land, sea, and air meet – thrilling white sand beaches and zipping falls that is unquestionably worth-visiting.
Located in Sitio Cabongaoan, Brgy. Ilio-Ilio, Cabongaoan Beach is a perfect family-friendly beach because of its calm waves and wide shores suited for picnics.
Walking to the powdery sand and very clean and clear water of the beach while witnessing the dramatic sunset with the warm fresh air give a sense of serenity. The very calm atmosphere of the environment and the mesmerizing view on the shore will give every visitor a peace of mind. After swimming, one can always relax and take a nap on the shade of trees.
Cabongaoan isn’t only for family bonding and relaxation as it also offers adventure sites. For adventure seekers, the clustered rocks on the beach are best for rock climbing. If you really want to challenge yourself, locals suggest to start climbing from the beach not on the shore as it requires stamina because of the waves hitting the rocks.
One can also try snorkeling, bodyboarding, and sea kayaking on the clear water of Cabongaoan. (April Dela Rosa/Reginald Agsalon/Photos by Iking_joy) FOCUS

The employees of the provincial government of Pangasinan volunteer in removing marine debris swept ashore by Typhoons Luis and Mario at the Capitol Beachfront in Lingayen in celebration of the International Coastal Clean-up Day. The province, under the leadership of Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr., is a hall of fame awardee as Most Outstanding Coastal Resource Management Implementer (2008, 2009 and 2010) and Likas Yaman Award (2010, 2011 and 2012) conferred by the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. /MVS

BAGUIO CITY - “Fashion Models” from Rizal Elementary School pose before Mayor Mauricio Domogan after the  signing of  the Memorandum of Agreement for the joint operation of the Cluster “A” (Lualhati, Pacdal Mines View and Gibraltar) Barangays Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at Lualhati Barangay during simple turn-over ceremonies September 26 to help the city’s garbage waste management program. (Caption and photo by Bong Cayabyab)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
A rice cake that’s downright incredible

A rice cake that’s downright incredible

A rice cake that’s downright incredible
Puto–the famous rice cake in the Philippine cuisine that gives an authentic experience to the masses. Who would dare not to know? It starts with the bite, bringing perfectly steamed quality and delicious aroma. You talk to people that have had an experience with puto; they always talk about its addicting taste.
It’s a food that’s not just approachable, but yea special to the Filipino culture.
Many of the most inspiring success stories are built in the most common places, and told in a language that’s understood by all. They are wonderful tales of determination, dedication, and hard work.
A household in barangay Dinalaoan Riverside, Calasiao, Pangasinan treasures a true story of sacrifice, of years of commercial struggles, and of preserving the significant title and crown of Calasiao being the home of the famous puto. For quite a number of businesses ventured in that trade, Bella’s Calasiao Puto Special stands tall and firm among Calasiao’s economic pillars.
Rodulfo Dela Cruz, Mang Rufo, as he is widely known, is the man behind the successful enterprise–humble, simple and with an unmatched faith in God. It was these qualities that helped him and his family rise from poverty into royalty. He perpetually worked for more than two decades for the business to thrive. But don’t think he isn’t putting his own spin on things as puto can obviously seem a simple recipe. He and his family work hard to keep the business as flavor-driven as possible. “By ‘flavor-driven’, I mean our ingredients are from scratch,” he explains. “They’re selected based on quality, not necessarily on price point.
Bella’s was named after his eldest child, Florbella Pascua, who later took on the business. She and her five siblings were raised with puto as bread and butter. As the puto market expands, and demand for higher production tagged at the Dela Cruz’ sleeves, troubles came to light. That’s when Pascua suggested ‘innovation’ in answer to their business needs.
The loved bite-sized rice cakes have gone colors. The color change came with variation in tastes also–from the sweetness of the traditional white puto to flavors like pandan, ube, banana, mango, strawberry, and cheese. Still, the business is able to capture that perfect Filipino taste they’ve been remarked for. New customers always find their way to their puto by word of mouth passed on by one satisfied customer to another. The idea turned out to be lucrative.
The Dela Cruz’ seized each opportunity to avail of the technological skills their business so needed for a long time. As a result, they became aware of the important areas that have not met specified standards in food manufacturing. Bella’s went through a major shift in its management and operation.
Its location was redesigned to conform to good manufacturing practices. In the now 120-square meter area are 2 rice grinders, 25 sets of lanson and covers, and three stainless tables where the cooked puto are removed from the molders. Food safety and sanitation were underlined.
The growth in Bella’s is evident in the product familiarity reach. It is in the extent of the malls and markets it supplies with its famed products. Its food label is displayed for sale in the grand racks of SM Clark, Market-Market Taguig, Robinsons Calasiao, Bayambang, and stores in its host municipality, Calasiao. Bella’s also serves as an academic venue for students from different universities in the province, and outside. (John Louie dela Vega/FOCUS)

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