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Need to prepare for ‘Big One’ resurfaces in wake of Surigao quake By Rene Acosta
eath, injuries and destruction. These were the effects of the 6.7-magnitude earthquake that shook Surigao del Norte last Friday. But what if a more powerful quake would hit the overly populated Metro Manila? What would the damage be like? Brace for something that may really sound scary. The probability of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hitting the metropolis is not far-fetched. Not when disaster officials say the much-feared West Valley Fault, which cuts across Metro Manila from Rizal to Laguna, is said to be already “ripe” for movement. If this will happen, the capital may yet see its biggest destruction since World War II, with Metro Manila laying in shambles, and with thousands of dead bodies littering the streets or buried in debris.
‘Death by the thousands’
A paper—the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS), which was jointly conducted by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Pacific Consultant International—projected the death of 34,000 people in the initial minutes that Metro Manila begins to rattle. The same study, which was conducted from August 2002 to March 2004, added that at least 170,000 houses will be flattened, while another 340,000 will be partially damaged. Should it trigger fires, then it will transform Metro Manila into a burning inferno.
Deciphering the waves rolling in How an earthquake feels depends on factors such as distance from the fault, surrounding geology and quake magnitude. It also varies among individuals. Depending on their sensitivity to motion, a quake can feel much stronger to some people.
The first bump is the fastest of the seismic waves, called primary, or P, waves; if you are close to a quake’s epicenter, the first thing you might notice is a thunderous clap and rattling windows; this is P wave energy transferring into the air and creating a sound wave
The next set of energy waves are usually larger, called shear, or S, waves; S waves pack the most energy and the most shaking
Surface waves are the slowest and usually come last. If a quake is close to the surface, these waves can be very large
Seismic energy waves
Energy transferred into sound waves makes windows rattle
The estimates are still modest, which even Romina B. Marasigan, spokesman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), admits, since the population of Metro Manila has grown fast from the time the study was conducted. Still, the powerful tremor is also expected to generate a tsunami, with the possibility of flooding Manila and even its adjoining cities.
State volcanologists and the NDRRMC said the West Valley Fault has a pattern or history of moving every 400 years, and this is the reason they have declared or admitted that it may possibly shake any time from now. Aside from the West Valley Fault, the government is also preparing for the movement of the Continued on A2
THE West Valley Fault geoportal.gov.ph
In response to a recent earthquake, the Chinese company Broad Sustainable Building has developed factory-made buildings that can be assembled faster than traditional structures. The buildings are extremely durable and conserve energy, the company says.
Groundwork A concrete foundation is poured; concrete piles are driven into the ground for added stability; steel frame is erected in the center, housing a crane
Assembling the stories The most innovative, efficient feature is the steel frame main boards that create the stories; they are built in the factory and delivered to the construction site; prefabrication eliminates materials waste as well as construction pollution at the site Single main board, 50 ft. by 13 ft. (15 m by 4 m)
Finishing After rigging the main boards, workers assemble interior items, such as columns, walls, doors and windows; wiring, staircases and connected tubing are installed between floors
Expected life span of building
Piles (below ground)
S waves can be strong enough to knock people over
© 2010 MCT Source: U.S. Geological Survey, Caltech Graphic: Orange County Register
Percent of building prefabricated
Staircases are prebuilt in sections that bolt together
8 per day Number of floors that can be constructed
Hours to build 30-story hotel
Tubes for plumbing, ventilation and electricity built into main board
Finished ceiling with fixtures
Earthquake level the structure can withstand
Exterior glass and panels bolt on
Number of energy-saving technologies adapted for buildings
Less than 1
Assembling of the stories begins around the center structure
Percent of construction materials wasted
Three-floor section of joined main boards
© 2012 MCT Source: Broad Sustainable Building Graphic: Phil Geib, Chicago Tribune
Asean lawmakers join frAy on death penalty in PHL as solons decide on fate of bill
Vote for death draws nigh
By Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz
he leadership of the House of Representatives is mulling over an early vote on the controversial bill reviving the death penalty, amid heated debates and worldwide calls for the legislation to be scrapped. PESO exchange rates n US 49.9250
House Majority Leader Rodolfo C. Fariñas said he will call for a majority caucus on Monday to discuss the possible early voting on the bill, as the lawmakers who opposed the bill continue to question the lack of quorum that delays the sponsorship and debate period. “As chairman of the Committee on Rules, we will now force to vote on this measure, and we will now close the period [for] debates,” he said. Earlier, the lower chamber has set on March 8 and 15 to pass on second and third readings, respectively, the bill on capital punishment.
According to Fariñas, lawmakers have already voted in minds, and the leadership is just only accommodating at least 50 interpellators, who want to raise their opposition to the measure. The bill would allow for the death penalty to be imposed for 21 heinous crimes, including some forms of murder and rape, as well as treason, plunder and nine drug offenses. According to the bill, the importation, sale, manufacture, cultivation and possession of drugs in
quantities as low as 10 grams for methamphetamine and marijuana oil are both punishable by death. But Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, principal author of the death-penalty bill, said based on the consensus reached by a House supermajority caucus last week, the body will remove the mandatory death penalty. The Speaker said the supermajority has agreed that the bill reinstating capital punishment should give trial judges the full discretion to mete out either 30-year prison terms Continued on A2
“As defenders of human rights, we have looked to the Philippines for guidance in this struggle. We hope that your country will continue to provide this important form of moral leadership for the Asean region, and support the right to life.”—Malaysian MP Kasthuri Patto
n japan 0.4409 n UK 62.3463 n HK 6.4345 n CHINA 7.2841 n singapore 35.2453 n australia 38.4023 n EU 53.2999 n SAUDI arabia 13.3158
Source: BSP (17 February 2017 )
A2 Saturday, February 18, 2017
Need to prepare for ‘Big One’ resurfaces in wake of Surigao quake Continued from A1 Manila Trench, which stretches from Ilocos Norte up to the province of Batangas. Should the West Valley Fault moves, it should be the 10th major earthquake to rock the country since 1968. Data provided by the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) indicated that the first major temblor to hit the country was on August 2, 1968, which was strongly felt in the provinces of Casiguran and Metro Manila (remember the Ruby Tower tragedy that killed 270 people). Five years later, another quake also hit Quezon, killing five people. On August 17, 1976, a temblor measuring 7.8 on the Richter Scale also struck Regions 9 and 10, killing a total of 3,792. It was followed by the Luzon earthquake that devastated Baguio City on July 16, 1990, where 1,238 were killed. The tremors were followed by earthquakes in Oriental Mindoro in 1994; Metro Manila and Region 1 in 1999; Batanes in 2000; Mindanao in 2002 and Masbate and Eastern Samar in 2003. All in all, the nine tremors killed 5,448 people.
While tremor experts believe that the 7.2-magnitude quake, or
what is being dubbed as the “judgment day”, especially for residents of Metro Manila will come, the NDRRMC has been preparing, at least, to mitigate its impact. Marasigan said no one can predict exactly when the temblor will hit, but the government is preparing, doing everything it can, at least, to cushion its effects by working to reduce its projected damage or destruction. She said it is not with “certainty” that they could reduce the effects of the quake 100 percent, but the goal to hit is at least for a minimum casualty, and even the number of deaths. The NDRRMC, as the lead agency, is doing this two ways: mitigating its impact and effects, while reducing the country’s vulnerability to earthquake by undertaking earthquake drills and educating people on how they should behave if such occurs. It has been mandatory for the NDRRMC to conduct a quarterly nationwide drill, while a response plan has been drawn with nearby provinces acting as the “first responders”. In preparation for the “big one”, the NDRRMC has divided Metro Manila into East, West, South and North quadrants for easy and systematic response. The east covers Marikina and Pasig; the west for Manila, Navotas and Malabon; the north
for Caloocan, Valenzuela, Quezon City, San Juan and Mandaluyong; and south for Makati, Pateros, Pasay, Taguig, Parañaque, Las Piñas and Muntinlupa. Aside from the four quadrants, the government has also designated operation centers and evacuation camps for the affected residents within the four partitioned areas. These are LRT-2 Santolan Depot, Boys Town in Marikina, Red Cross Marikina and Ultra in Pasig for the east; Intramuros Golf Course for the west; Veterans Memorial Golf Course and the University of the Philippines Diliman for the north, and Villamor Air Base Golf Course for the south. Marasigan said Phivolcs has also been assessing the soundness of houses and buildings in Metro Manila, with particular focus on structures that sits atop or located near the fault line.
Far from perfect
While earthquake-mitigation and evacuation methods are being taught on the local level, for the public and even in schools and offices, it may also help if every Filipino knows how to react if a quake occurs. If somebody is inside a building during a temblor, he should protect himself from falling debris by bracing himself in a doorway or by getting under a sturdy study desk or table. If located outside a building, he should get away from power lines, posts, walls and other structures that may fall or collapse. If inside a vehicle, he must pull the car to the side of the road and should not attempt to cross a bridge or an overpass. If one is on a mountain or near
a deep slope, he should move away from steep escarpments that may be affected by landslides. If one is on the shore, he should run to higher ground as the earthquake may generate a tsunami.
Marasigan said the government is continuously working to improve its resiliency to earthquakes, disasters and other calamities. However, the Surigao del
Norte earthquake showed that no matter how the government is prepared, its effort cannot always be perfected. As Marasigan admits, there is always room for improvement.
Vote for death draws nigh Continued from A1
or death sentences to persons found guilty of heinous crimes.
Meanwhile, members of Congress were joined by their Asean regional counterparts in calling for the legislation to be junked, saying reintroducing the death penalty would mark a significant step backward for the Philippines. According to the lawmakers, the reimposition of the death penalty will go against the country’s international commitments and will hit hard on marginalized groups, especially the poor. The capital punishment was last suspended in 2006 by then President and now Lakas Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga. “This bill is wrong for the Philippines and wrong for the region. All the evidence suggests that reintroducing capital punishment will have no clear effect on crime, while victimizing poor Filipinos,” Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin of Akbayan said. “The Philippines has twice abolished the death penalty since the end of the Marcos [regime]. Let us not revive a policy that has not proven to be any deterrence to crime,” he added. Villarin’s comments were echoed by over a dozen parliamentarians from other Southeast Asian countries, who issued a joint statement in solidarity with their counterparts in the Philippines. “As lawmakers from across Southeast Asia, we stand opposed to the reintroduction of capital punishment in the Philippines, and we urge our counterparts in the Philippine Congress to reject the bill currently before them that would legalize the practice. We stand shoulder to shoulder with
those Philippine legislators who are fighting this bill and support them in their principled struggle, which is based on strong evidence that this policy is wrong for the country,” the statement reads. Cambodian Member of Parliament (MP) Mu Sochua, who serves as a board member of Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) and was one of the statement’s signatories, said the Philippines’s current stance on capital punishment made it a regional leader and that it should not abandon this position. “In Cambodia we have been forced to deal with the brutal legacies of state-sanctioned killing, which is why our Constitution— like that of the Philippines—outlawed the death penalty. Abolishing capital punishment was the right choice for the Philippines and for Cambodia. We must move forward as a region, not back,” Mu Sochua said. Malaysian MP Kasthuri Patto said parliamentarians from across the region believe in the cause of death-penalty abolition, despite the actions of some of their governments. “Although several Southeast Asian countries—including mine—have yet to abolish the death penalty, there are strong movements that support the goal of abolition among MPs, statesmen and civil society in and around this region. As defenders of human rights, we have looked to the Philippines for guidance in this struggle. We hope that your country will continue to provide this important form of moral leadership for the Asean region and support the right to life,” she said. “Laws and policies in every Asean country, in relation to human rights, and particularly on the
abolition of the death penalty, will naturally have a huge forcible and affirmative snowball effect in the region,” she added.
Meanwhile, Liberal Party Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao said if passed and signed into law, it would violate the Philippines’s international legal obligations under the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the country ratified in 2007 and commits it to the perpetual abolition of capital punishment within its borders. “At the most basic level, the death penalty is morally wrong and goes against fundamental human rights, including the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment,” Baguilat said. He believes the more urgent priority is to reform the justice institutions so that they will safeguard justice, while preventing the spread of a culture of violence. He said the majority coalition in the House of Representatives, however, is hell-bent on bringing back the death penalty, on grounds that it is supposedly needed to battle the spread of illegal drugs and the rise in criminality. Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay urged lawmakers to focus on addressing the root causes of crime and drug use instead of pushing for a revival of the death penalty. “Particularly given the flaws so obvious today in our criminal justice system, it’s clear that the death penalty is not a sustainable path toward building a safer and more prosperous nation,” he said. Related legal concerns led last week to the suspension of hearings on the death penalty in the Senate,
which is currently considering its own legislation to reintroduce capital punishment.
House Deputy Minority Leader and United Nationalist Alliance Rep. Luis Campos Jr. of Makati City has urged the government to create a capital defense unit (CDU) that would provide topnotch private attorneys to poverty-stricken persons who may be charged with death penalty-eligible offenses in court. “Assuming Congress decides to revive death verdicts for the worst criminal offenders, the State should, at the very least, guarantee that nobody gets wrongfully doomed on account of his or her simply being poor and unable to obtain superior legal representation,” the lawmaker said. “We have to ensure that disadvantaged individuals accused of capital felonies receive the best legal defense available,” Campos added. As proposed by Campos, the CDU would be run by the University of the Philippines College of Law’s Institute of Human Rights and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, retain highly experienced criminal defense attorneys, and pay for all the legal fees of underprivileged defendants facing potential death sentences. “Our proposal is the definitive answer to deep fears that only destitute defendants would receive death sentences due to their inability to get effective legal representation,” Campos said. “We have to acknowledge that, in the real world, getting hold of adequate legal remedies has a price not everybody can pay. This is why the State has to come in and help defend those who have less in life,” he said.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Sleep with national artists in Baguio
By Roger Pe
ou may call it a hotel with a museum, or a museum that looks like a hotel. But either that, you must come up to Baguio, not because of Pinagbenga or its cool weather, but for Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Fernando Amorsolo, Vicente Manansala, Hernando Ocampo, Carlos “Botong” Francisco and more.
Sierra Pines is Baguio’s pride. Perhaps, it is the best thing that ever happened to the City of Pine’s skyline—it is the most modern in this part of the world, and the design could easily land on the pages of Architectural Digest. You have heard of Francisco only as a painter, but did you know that he is a master in sculpture, as well? The moment you step into the hotel’s lobby, a bas-relief done by the National Artist on a tough Kamagong tree, about 4-feet tall, will greet you. It is a beautiful Botong masterpiece depicting a Filipino folklore. Then there’s Claire de Lune (1886) and Barcos en el Horizonte (1893) by Hidalgo. As you move around, you would be mesmerized by Amorsolo’s vibrantly rich colors exploding all over, like Fisherman’s Departure (1944), Barrio Fiesta (1949), Lavandera (1957), Planting Rice (1962), and there’s a whole lot of discoveries to be made. A painting by Amorsolo in collaboration with his former student Antonio Dumlao, Ifugao Dancers (1944), even hangs on the hotel’s foyer. You can spot a Hernando Ocampo and Anita Magsaysay-Ho, too. In short, the hotel is a virtual
repository of Philippine treasures amid a posh, sustainable, clutter-free green building conceptualized by the patriarch of the family, and one of the Philippines’s modernist architects, Francis Xavier Santaromana.
Old Baguio, new Baguio
When was the last time you were up, chasing the sky and wandered through Kennon’s long and w inding mountain highways? W hen did you last see waterfalls gently sliding through the rocks as mountains grew bigger and bigger as you clambered to the top? W hen was that unforgettable moment when it made you say, “I shall return”? The once No. 1 tourist spot in the Philippines is serious in regaining its former glory. Whether it’s old or new Baguio you want to see, it boils down to the experience you get, and that’s what you are going to get if you listen to Joey Reyes, president of Sierra Pines. “We want to reintroduce Baguio to the young generation of Filipinos and redefine their Baguio experience,” Reyes says with conviction. He was part of the decision-making from the time the hotel idea was born. The hotel
primarily caters to families and, secondarily, the corporate market looking for value-for-money and unmatched comfort. The young Ateneo graduate, who divides his time managing the hotel and taking his MBA in Hawaii, speaks highly of his Dad for giving him a free hand in managing the hotel. “You want to top your Dad, but you can’t put one over him,” he proudly says. Reyes is focused. He sets his mind with a clear-cut vision: Make the hotel No. 1 in 2018. Based on surveys, so far, Sierra Pines is Baguio’s highest-rating hotel with excellent top-of-mind ranking. What does he want to see in Baguio in the next five years? “I want to see more environmentally responsible developers and tourists, see them make initiatives to make Baguio a sustainable city,” he says. He also wants to see an improvement in transportation going to Baguio, make it garbage-free and concerned groups educate people more to make the city sustainable.
Once you step into the lobby, you immediately feel a sense of familiarity. The Baguio that you expect, cozy, welcoming, instantly
makes you feel at home. The tall and spacious atrium, the beauty of the building continues to unfold as you walk around. The interiors are open-planned, lofty, functional, with little or zero “nonperforming elements”, a signature Santa Romana design: Bold roof lines, undulating, multileveled and steep sloped with extended eaves that give a distinct sweeping movement. The green initiative of the owners was to stay close to the roots of the City of Pines, built on a former residential lot with an old house right across the Marcos Mansion. The southwest part captures the scenic view of the mountains lined with the vertical frames of the preserved pine trees. The lobby and informal dining area or the “Atrium” is full six stories high, topped by a translucent membrane roof. The tent-like roof material is designed to collect rainwater, bringing it down a pair of pipes along the elevator shaft and into a reservoir located at the lowest elevation of the amphigarden where it is filtered and recycled for domestic use. R a i nw ate r h a r vest i ng ad d resses nonpotable needs of the hotel, inc lud ing showers a n d t a p - w at e r s u p p l y. T h i s
Pag-IBIG sponsors mass wedding of more than 2,400 couples
ag-IBIG Fund once again celebrated Febr uar y 14, Valentine’s Day, as Araw ng Pag-IBIG, when it held its annual “I Do, I Do! Araw ng Pag-IBIG”, where more than 2,400 couples exchanged wedding vows in 24 venues nationwide. In Metro Manila more than 500 couples participated in the event at the PICC Forum, Pasay City. “Valentine’s Day is a day of love, hence it is our day—PagIBIG Day. Since 2012, it has become our tradition at Pag-IBIG Fund to celebrate Valentine’s Day with mass weddings for Pag-IBIG members who wished to legalize their union or renew their marriage vows. We want to assure t he couple - pa r t ic ipa nts t h at they have a reliable partner in Pag-IBIG as they prepare for the future of their families. We are now on our sixth year,” Pag-IBIG Fund President and CEO Atty. Darlene Marie B. Berberabe said.
She added, “ T he annua l event is ou r way of promoting Pag-IBIG to Fi l ipino workers who a re not yet Pag-IBIG members. We do t h is v i a coll aborat ion w it h loca l gover nment u nits [LGUs] a nd ot her gover nment agenc ies.” From 2012 to 2016, the Fund was able to wed over 16,000 couples in 118 venues nationwide. The annual event strengthened Pag-IBIG’s linkage and cooperation w ith LGUs and regional offices of the Department of Tourism, since the venues were at some of the countr y’s top tour ist attractions and chief cities and municipalities. The event primarily targets Pag-IBIG Fund members and nonmembers who would want to legalize their unions, especially those who do not have the financial means to do so. It is a venue for Pag-IBIG to show that it is not only a savings institution and a
provider of housing finance, but also a staunch supporter in the building of happy families—the family being the basic unit and pillar of society—through the formal union of couples. Pag-IBIG provided most of the basic accessories to make the occasion more memorable to the couples, including bouquets and headdresses for the brides and sy mbolic wedding rings. The Fund also prepared the couples’ first meal as husband and wife, standing in for the traditional reception after the wedding ceremony. A housea n d - l o t p a c k a g e , k a b u h a ya n pack ages and severa l specia l prizes were also raff led off to lucky couples. “ T he event h a s fostered goodwill between Pag-IBIG and its members. We have become a sig nificant part of the couples’ lives. We help them beg in and build their lives together. A s
Pag-IBIG members, they qua lif y to avail [themselves] of our benefit programs—from saving for their future to acquiring their ow n homes. T his is something that we cannot quantify,” Berberabe added. The I Do, I Do! event has won several awards for Pag-IBIG. In 2013 the event won the first Philippine Quill for a Government Communication Program from the International Association of Business Communicators Philippines. The next year it was given the Bronze Award by the Advertising Foundation of the Philippines for Advocacy Communications, for promoting the values of reverence for the family unit or marriage and responsible parenthood. On the sa me yea r, it was a lso c ited by t he T V show Philippine Book of R ecords as hav ing t he “most number of couples in a nat ionw ide mass wedd ing.”
recovers ra i n f rom t he yea r round 50 -percent rainy season, ma k ing the hotel independent from the rationed water sup ply in the cit y. Rec ycled wood, most ly from the old house, has retur ned to life as wa l l panels and accents, while the lone uprooted pine tree (distressed by the construction) has been resur rected in the front desk, the fireplace and specia l places a l l throughout the hotel interiors. Migration to Baguio has been relentless for the past two decades. While the onslaught has been going for the last five years, causing pollution and a bit of bad planning, the old charm is still there. The pine trees are aging but still giving visitors a breath of fresh air. The mansions maybe growing “white hairs” but have retained their graciousness. The best way to see the real beauty of Baguio is in the morning, when the sun is barely rising and the grass is sprinkled with mountain dews, glistening as you stir up your coffee. The mist gently kisses your parched lips. The quietness calms your inner self, the scent of pine trees, perfect for your weary soul. As the city wakes up from its deep slumber and flower buds
unravel a palette of crimsons, yellows and varied hues, blooms of different varieties delight passersby. You know it’s time to click away for some photos. New, eclectic and modern condominiums are dotting Baguio’s fringes. Cafés and specialty restaurants offering varied cuisines, local and foreign, are aplenty. You need to look at Baguio with an open mind. One might liken human migration to Baguio to Favelas of Brazil. Environmentalists might frown on the pollution that has become part of its daily scene. Hopeless romantics may now shed a tear on the desecration of some of its former haunts. But the famous landmarks are still there. The structures on the hills of Baguio have multiplied by a hundredfold. If you hate them, perhaps you may want to see them from another perspective: See it like Mondrian’s giant mosaic. On a perfect day from Marcos Highway, t he scene is a jaw-dropping panorama, blue becomes sparkling blue, green changes into refreshing green, red blooms like an alluring Rose, and just about all colors in the rainbow emit hues in their most enchanting natural glow.
Duterte to quit if Trillanes proves $40M in illegal wealth
resident Duterte said he’s ready to resign if an opponent can prove allegations that he illegally amassed P2 billion ($40 million). Sen. Antonio F. Trillanes IV, who brought a plunder complaint against Duter te during last year’s presidential campaign, added the President also failed to disclose P321 million in bank transactions from his common-law wife and daughter. Trillanes said he got the documents from a “concerned citizen”. “If Trillanes can prove his allegation that I have amassed P2 billion illegally or if that bank account under my name has a total deposit at one time of even just half-a-billion, I will resign as President immediately,” Duterte said in a speech posted on the Presidential Communications Office’s Facebook page. He called the allegations “old and rehashed”. Duterte has retained a high popularity rating in the Philippines, despite repeated attacks at home and abroad that prompted him to suspend the police’s involvement in a drugs war that has killed more than
3,000 people. Since he enjoys immunity as president, any allegations into illegal wealth and disclosure failures would need to be raised at an impeachment trial in Congress, which is controlled by his allies. In a statement on Thursday, Trillanes challenged Duterte to open his bank accounts to the public. The senator didn’t say what action he would take if Duterte ignored the request.
In his speech late Thursday, Duterte said his family isn’t poor, and that his father left him an inheritance. His common-law wife, Honeylet Avanceña, went into the doughnut business 18 years ago and supplies meat to five malls in Davao, he said. His daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duter te, challenged Trillanes to show where the funds were and how the money was illegal. “I will distribute it to the people,” she said in a statement, using a mix of English and Filipino. “I never pretended to be what I am not.” Bloomberg News
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Funds returning to Asia after Trump’s election
unds are returning to Asia after the knee-jerk withdrawal following Donald J. Trump’s election as US president, and declining volatility means debt in India, Indonesia and South Korea are attractive, money managers said. BlackRock Inc., Aberdeen Asset Management Plc. and Aviva Investors share their views on picks in Asia, the impact of President Trump, the outlook for Asian central banks and the dollar:
Indonesia n President Joko Widodo is cutting red tape and boosting revenues with a tax amnesty, brightening the outlook for Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. He has laid out an infrastructure blueprint to build ports, roads and railways to spur growth to 7 percent by the end of his term. These reforms provide a “nice tilt to the right direction but nothing too aggressive that it completely shatters the fiscal balance and current-account balance, which keeps things positive for the currency,” said Leong LinJing, a Singapore-based investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management, which oversaw $374 billion as of end-2016. BlackRock ranks Indonesia debt as its top pick in Asia after India, according to Neeraj Seth, head of Asia credit at the firm, which oversees $5.1 trillion. He also likes the short-end of the curve for South Korean bonds. Rupiah-denominated govern-
ment debt delivered a return of 3.3 percent in the past three months, the best performance in emerging Asia.
“Even though there’s a lot of uncertainty, volatility has been really low,” said Mary Nicola, an investment strategist with Aviva Investors in Singapore. “In this environment, it still bodes well for risk and carry, in general. We still like Indonesia bonds, there’s fundamental support to it, as well. We still like India, especially the currency. The rupee has been less volatile than some of the other currencies and it’s probably a bit more insulated from Trump’s protectionist rhetoric.” Funds will continue to return to Asia, said BlackRock’s Seth, calling the withdrawal of money after Trump’s election victory a “knee-jerk reaction”. “You’ll see the f low picture continuing. It might not and probably will not be the same as the uptick we saw post-Brexit. It was a different scenario where you had a lot of investors going into the Brexit referendum very light on risk, very light on EM [emerging markets] ex posure or Asia exposure,” Seth said. “There has been some changes in
terms of investor positioning but nevertheless, given the broader valuation differences in developed markets versus emerging markets, and given the better growth potential in Asia compared to the rest of the EM, I think the inflows will continue.” It may also be too early to assess the impact of potential protectionist US policies on Asian bonds, according to Seth. “There will be some re-negotiations on the trade pact levels. At the same
time, I don’t think you are looking at some big disruption from a trade f low perspective.’’
The dollar is expected to sustain its gains as the Federal Reserve proceeds with more tightening, Aviva’s Nicola said. “If the Fed’s going to continue to hike—we expect three hikes this year—but if the ECB is still easing and BOJ is also not going to taper anytime soon then the rate differential
still works in favor of the dollar.” In Asia most central banks are at the end of their monetaryeasing cycle, BlackRock said. China has started tightening, and there may be cases to be made for the Philippines and Malaysia to also consider rate hikes, Seth said. “For Malaysia, we think that policy will remain unchanged this year but a case could be made for rate hikes given the weak currency, rising inf lation and improving economic
outlook in line with commodity trends,” he said. Indonesia may be the exception, even after cutting interest rates six times last year, according to Aberdeen’s Leong. “Should things stabilize on the global front, the bias is still for a cut in the policy rate,” Leong said. “Growth is still on the weak side, commodity prices are not really climbing and food prices should stabilize given the improving monsoon.” Bloomberg News
Trump, the Russian ship and suspicious minds F
or days, news reports have noted the presence of a Russian naval ship lurking in international waters off the East Coast of the United States. For some critics of President Donald J. Trump, the vessel has become a symbol of the administration’s ties with Russia. Trump himself referred to the ship at a marathon news conference on Thursday, saying his critics probably think “the greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles offshore right out of the water. Everyone in this country’s going to say, ‘Oh, it’s so great.’ That’s not great. That’s not great.” A Coast Guard official on Thursday said the presence of the intelligence ship, called the Viktor Leonov, so close to American shores is not unprecedented, and is not a cause for alarm. The vessel has been traveling along the Eastern Seaboard and was spotted near the states of Connecticut, Virginia and Delaware. Capt. Andrew Tucci, who oversees Long Island Sound and coastal Connecticut, said the Coast Guard knew the Russian ship had been traveling from the Caribbean “for some time.” “This vessel was transiting all up the Eastern Seaboard, and the Coast Guard and other military and federal government agencies are aware,” Tucci said. By the time the public learned of it on Wednesday, it had started to move in the direction of a submar ine base in Groton, Connecticut, stay ing at least 30 miles offshore. Tucci said that his region is
traversed mostly by commercial fishing vessels and oceangoing freight ships, but that the Coast Guard had no reason to contact the Russian ship. Asked how often a foreign military ship passes off the US coast, he said, “A couple times a year.” “It may not be a daily occurrence, but it is not unusual,” he said of the appearance of the Russian vessel. “This vessel was in international waters for the entirety of a transit, so it is not a violation of American sovereignty in any way,” Tucci said. “A nd yes, Ru ssi a n vesse l s transit through international waters,” he added, “and certainly American vessels transit through international waters, and it is a legitimate and lawful activity that doesn’t raise any particular concerns.” United States territory extends 12 miles out to sea. W h i le t he sh ip wa s being treated publicly as little more than a maritime curiosity, its presence became entangled in the political discourse. That was especially true after Michael T. Flynn’s resignation this week as national security adviser amid a scandal over his contact with a Russian diplomat. Trump, who spent part of the news conference denouncing leaks to the press, later used the ship as an example of a national security matter that he would not discuss with journalists. “So when you ask me what am I going to do with a ship, the Russian ship as an example, I’m not going to tell you,” he said. “But, hopefully, I won’t have to do anything, but
I’m not going to tell you.” Earlier in the week, some had seized on the Russian ship as a symbol. Rep. Joe Courtney, District of Connecticut, a member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, said on Wednesday on the House f loor and in a published statement that the presence of the Russian “spy ship” about 30 miles from the Groton submarine base was one of several “destabilizing” actions by Russia and its president, V ladimir Putin. “This unacceptable, aggressive action, combined with the buzzing of US Navy ships in the Black Sea yesterday, are clearly testing the resolve of a new administration,” Courtney said in the statement on his web site. “While I have total confidence in our Navy’s vigilant, responsible readiness, the White House needs to move past their seeming infatuation with Putin and treat him like the serious threat to global peace and security that he has been for the last five years.” In Congress, the representative said the appearance of the ship fit into a Russian pattern of aggression, including the recent deployment of a new cruise missile that US officials say violated a landmark arms control treaty. “ This administration needs to wake up and recognize that and move on to a bipartisan effort to respond to this threat,” Courtney said. “And they can do that by again disclosing all of the background regarding Geneneral Flynn’s interactions with the Russian government, because it is part and parcel of all those
President Donald J. Trump, at his news conference on Thursday, mentioned the Russian ship that has been spotted off the Eastern Coast of the United States. Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
incidents which I listed in terms of aggressive actions that are happening in real time as we are here in Washington, D.C., today.” Though Rep. Jim Himes, District of Connecticut, said in a statement on Wednesday the ship did “not present a direct threat to our physical safety”, he added that its appearance was troubling, however, viewed in conjunction with the stories of “Russian ties and interference in the Trump administration and the recent deployment of a Russian cruise missile in apparent violation of international agreements.” He added, “In my opinion, Russia is making a show of strength and pushing established boundaries and norms to gauge the reaction of a new administration in disarray.”
Sen. Chris Murphy, District of Connecticut, said that while the appearance of the Russian ship was not “wholly unprecedented,” it showed the Trump administration had given Russia the green light to “flex his muscles”. For years, the 300-foot ship, which has equipment monitoring sonar and communications and carries defensive weaponry, has been patrolling near naval installations on the East Coast and was spotted two years ago near the Navy’s Trident ballistic missile submarine base in Kings Bay, Georgia, The Hartford Courant newspaper reported. “It’s been going on for years,” said Jeff Walsh, a retired Navy senior chief, who served 22 years aboard attack submarines and who works at Electric Boat in Groton.
Walsh was quoted by the newspaper as saying that the attention roused by the ship was amusing to people who understand the context. “It’s going to keep going on until everyone wants to play nice.” The Associated Press quoted an unnamed military official as saying the ship had made a port call in Cuba previously and was monitored off Delaware’s coast. It was not immediately clear how long the Russian ship had remained off the Connecticut coast. Tucci said he did not have information about the location of the Russian ship on Thursday. “It came up here, it turned around and left, and to my knowledge the last briefing I got, it was headed back down,” he said.
New York Times News Service
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They’ve been on the same court together three times this season, Kevin Durant and his new Golden State Warriors teammates beating Russell Westbrook and the Thunder all three times.
Gayoso sparkles for Eagles, de Castro shines for Tigers
TENEO withstood its biggest challenge yet in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 79 men’s football tournament with a 1-0 squeaker over De La Salle recently at the Moro Lorenzo Field. Jarvey Gayoso slipped past Inigo Gonzales and scored from near the box in the 36th minute for his league-best fifth goal, which turned out to be all the Blue Eagles needed in the match. University of Santo Tomas, meanwhile, gave Coach Marjo Allado a fitting belated birthday gift with a 2-1 conquest of University of the East for the Tigers’ first win. Ateneo solidified its hold of the top of the table with four straight victories. The Green Booters, meanwhile,
By Tim Reynolds
Saturday, February 18, 2017 A5
The Associated Press
HE next time Russell Westbrook walks into a locker room to get dressed for a game, Kevin Durant will be there and donning the same uniform. Get ready for, perhaps, the best subplot of All-Star Weekend. Russ and KD, together again. The former Oklahoma City teammates are going to be Western Conference teammates on Sunday night when the league holds its annual All-Star Game in New Orleans. And after the Thunder went into the break by beating the New York Knicks on Wednesday night, the inevitable question was posed to Westbrook: Are you ready for this? “I’m excited about All-Star weekend,” said Westbrook, the two-time reigning All-Star Most Valuable Player. “I think, in general, just being able to be there and enjoy the opportunity...humbled by the opportunity to be there.” So the question was sidestepped. It’ll get asked to both Westbrook and Durant again—likely many, many times—over the coming days. They’ve been on the same court together three times this season, Durant and his new Golden State Warriors teammates beating Westbrook and the Thunder all three times—most recently last weekend in Oklahoma City, when Durant and Westbrook went one-on-one at times. This will be different. Probably awkward, too. “I don’t know,” Westbrook said. “We’re going to find out.” It was the breakup that shook the National Basketball Association (NBA) last summer: Durant left Oklahoma City as a free agent and chose to sign with Golden State, a team that won the NBA title in 2015, went to The Finals again last season and has the league’s best record this season. The Warriors already were a superteam, and then they landed another superstar. Durant insists he tries to ignore anyone who criticized his decision. “I define my career, at the end of the day,” Durant said. “And it’s pretty damn good so far.” Durant and Westbrook had great seasons with the Thunder, even getting to the 2012 NBA Finals where they lost to Miami in five games, but never were able to hoist a championship banner together. So Durant moved on, and their relationship—whatever it was—essentially ended. “He plays for his team. I play for my team,” Westbrook said. “Let him do his thing. I do my thing. And that’s it, plain and simple.” What might make this even more daunting for Westbrook is that Durant is coming with his newest friends. Golden State has four All-Stars in Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, not to mention West Coach Steve Kerr. Durant and Curry will start; Thompson and Green are reserves, like Westbrook. The Thunder and the Warriors have both completed their pre-All-Star Game schedules, so that means the first interactions between Durant and Westbrook in New Orleans might come as early as Thursday. All-Stars all get rooms at the same hotel, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re at risk for an awkward elevator ride together. It’s common for players to make their own arrangements for the weekend. They’ll see plenty of each other, no matter where they stay. At minimum, this is what’s expected on the interaction front: Durant and Westbrook will be together for media-day interviews on Friday, the West team practice on Saturday, team photos pregame Sunday, and then the actual game. There’s also some time with NBA Entertainment—photos, videos, social media—awaiting both teams, though players aren’t always together in those moments. Teams also usually have some sort of meeting, if for no other reason than to go over less-than-elaborate game plans for Sunday night. This much about the West game plan is known: Kerr will use all four Warriors together at least in one stretch. “That’ll be really cool,” Thompson said last month. “I wonder who the fifth player will be.” Maybe Durant and Westbrook really will be teammates again.
stayed with four points in fourth place. “I’m so happy with the result,” Blue Eagles Coach JP Merida said. “Playing against La Salle, it’s difficult. They followed the game plan. But in the end, it was our defense that pulled through.” The Growling Tigers claimed their first full point after opening the season with two straight losses, while the Red Warriors remained at one point. John de Castro put UST ahead in the 56th minute to cap the come from behind victory. UE opened the scoring in the 10th minute behind Jo Mallen’s header before AJ Pasion nailed the equalizer three minutes before halftime.
IN SEARCH OF STREAK A
TENEO de Manila and Far Eastern University (FEU) return to action against winless opponents at the resumption of Season 79 University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) women’s volleyball action today at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City. But Ateneo will play Adamson University starting at 4 p.m. without Head Coach Tai Bundit, who flew to Bangkok for his mother-in-law’s wake. Assistant Coach Sherwin Meneses will call the shots against the Lady Falcons. FEU, on the other hand, face similarly winless but dangerous University of the East (UE) in the 2 p.m. match. Ateneo came from behind to beat FEU, 25-19, 24-26, 19-25, 25-16, 15-11, in its last outing, a hard-earned victory that continued to reveal flaws in the Lady Eagles’ chemistry. Ateneo opened the season with a loss to National University, but came back strong against University of Santo Tomas and found itself tied with archrival and defending champion De La Salle on a 2-1 win-loss record. The Lady Spikers were shocked by the vastly
improved University of the Philippines Lady Maroons, 22-25, 21-25, 19-25, to also reveal vital weaknesses in their armor. Meneses admitted the team is still adjusting to the postAlyssa Valdez era, but stressed he has the material in setter Jia Morado and spikers Jho Maraguinot, Bea de Leon, Michelle Morente, Kat Tolentino and Maddie Madayag that would make them contenders anew this season. “I am seeing continuous improvement, especially in the players’ attitude. Coach Tai and I are happy so far with the balanced scoring that we are seeing,” Meneses said. “I hope we keep on improving and maintain this up to the end.” The Lady Tamaraws are hoping to improve on their 1-2 card when they take on the Lady Red Warriors, who, despite losing their first three matches, gave all their opponents a scare. In men’s play, back-to-back defending champion Ateneo (3-0) tries to preserve its perfect record when it battles Adamson University (0-3) at 10 a.m. FEU (2-1) and UE (0-3) take the court at 8 a.m. Lance Agcaoili
FORMER Oklahoma City teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (right) are going to be Western Conference teammates on Sunday night when the league holds its annual All-Star Game in New Orleans. AP
‘Luchadores’ lead cast in Lucha Underground new season on Kix
ROPKICK, brainbuster, boston crab, pilediver and moonsault are just some of the moves in the action-filled world of wrestling, making the sport a treat to watch, especially when a wrestler gets to crash his opponent to the ground. Thanks to Kix, fans will get to satisfy their cravings for more wrestling action when the channel unfurls the second season of Lucha Underground. The Lucha Underground Season 2 kicks off at 9 p.m. on Monday. Lucha Underground features luchadores and wrestlers from around the league. Kix will make a smashing comeback filled with new twists and turns in its second season. As the series continues, Catarina will take charge of the Lucha Underground temple in the absence of
owner Dario Cueto, causing the temple to be a “much darker place.” Individual champion Mil Muertes and trios winners Disciples of Death control the operation. And with their pursuit to dominate, Catrina hires King Cuerno to take the Gift of the Gods Championship from Fénix. There is a lot to look forward to in the second season, especially when Rey Mysterio joins the roster of wrestlers. “I am excited by the opportunity to join such an extraordinary group of athletes and be a part of the Lucha Underground family,” Mysterio, a former World Wrestling Federation champion, said. “It is a privilege to be able to represent this sport and have a chance to share my love of lucha with passionate wrestling fans around the globe.”
DATE WITH GENIE
Eugenie Bouchard keeps her word after the Atlanta Falcons lost the lead in the National Football League’s Superbowl LI and agrees to a date with a fan, John Goehrke. They watched the National Basketball Association game between the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday in New York. AP
A6 Saturday, February 18, 2017
The power of visualization for golf By David Mackenzie “Visualization is the most powerful thing we have.” —Nick Faldo
he Golf State of Mind coaching philosophy is about using everything you have to get the most out of every performance. Visualization is one of those things that doesn’t require any physical skill to learn, but as Nick Faldo says, it’s the most powerful thing you have.
The world’s best athletes use the practice of visualizing a great performance before the action for a very good reason—it works! Visualization has been proven to: n stimulate the muscles necessary to perform an action; n program the mind and muscles prior to playing to increase confidence; n control pre-round nerves and relax the body and mind; n reframe from negative to positive outcomes; n Help with swing changes; n Help recovery from injury; n Improve concentration
THE SCIENCE OF VISUALIZATION FOR GOLF
Movement is initiated by the brain. When you want to perform a physical action, the best way to do it is to first feed the brain a picture of that action and the desired outcome of that action. The brain doesn’t know the difference between a real and imagined action (the sensory input into the brain is the same). So, when you visualize a physical action, you’re actually stimulating the same muscles that you would use to perform the real action. Sports scientists call this “Functional Equivalence”. A study was done by Sports psychologist Richard Suinn, which involved skiers being monitored by an EMG machine (a machine that detects muscle activity) while imagining skiing down a slope. The results showed that even though the skiers weren’t moving, the exact same muscles they would have used during a downhill ski were activated. So, when you simply think about a physical action you are essentially getting those muscles you need ready for action. In golf, if you don’t have a clear picture of the shot you’re about to hit, you’re quite simply wasting a valuable opportunity to prepare the brain to activate the exact muscles required to execute it. To access those muscles, the brains uses specific “neural” pathways to send impulses to those specific muscles. When you’re visualizing, you’re telling the brain which pathways it needs to use.
VISUALIZATION BEFORE A GOLF SHOT
I’m going to assume you have a good course strategy and you’ve picked the best target for your shot. But how will the ball get there? What does a good shot look like? Here’s where your visualization comes in...
2 WAYS TO VISUALIZE A GOLF SHOT
To visualize a shot, you need to get a clear picture of the path the ball will travel on to reach the target. Is it a fade or a draw? Low or high? How will it bounce when it lands? Make the picture as vivid as you can. If you’ve seen the Shot Tracker technology they use to show the shape of a shot on the Professional Golfers’ Association Tour TV coverage, that’s what you’re looking for. This type of visualization is called “outcome visualization”. The other way to visualize is to actually see yourself hitting the shot (with the flight of the ball, too). This is the one I prefer as you actually get a look at the swing you need to make, which will help you repeat that movement. This type of visualization is called “Process Visualization”. You might have heard Jack Nicklaus’s famous quote of imagining himself hitting the shot during his preshot routine. He describes having a very vivid image, like it was a color movie. After Jordan Spieth’s win at Augusta last year, his coach talked about the virtual image reel they’d been working on showing Jordan’s best shots, which he could recall during play. Imaging past successful shots is easier than imagining new shots as you already have them in your memory. This would not only help his neurons to fire in the same way and produce similar
movement patterns, but seeing that past success also helps evoke a positive mood. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep a “success journal” of your best shots. When your focus is on an image of your desired outcome, and you can keep that focus on that image (even when you’re over the ball), your focus is on something external. Golf is a hard game because you are not looking at the target when you hit the ball. When you throw a basketball, you have the information of where the target is in relation to you as you make the throw. Your focus is on the target as you throw the ball, not on your body, which makes it a lot easier. This is called “external focus”. When your focus in on what your body must do to hit the target, it’s called “internal focus” and it makes the game a lot harder. Your movement is not as fluid and free-flowing and it leads to more inconsistencies in your swing. When you’re on target or externally focused, you’re a lot more committed and assertive with the action. In golf, the best way to achieve this “external” focus and make sure you don’t have technical thoughts, is to use visualization and try to imprint an image of the target in your mind so you can see it when you’re not looking at it. Tiger Woods used to say that he could still see the target when he is looking at the ball. Nick Price said he felt like he had a camera looking out of his left ear, which allowed him to see the target in his mind as he looked at the ball.
IN BETWEEN GOLF SHOTS
NINETY percent of the game of golf is in between shots. What you think about during this time can affect your mood, your tension levels and your execution of the next shot. Visualization can help you manage this time. If you find staying in the present in between shots (the ideal place to be) difficult, you can use visualization to take you to a calm place, to help you stay relaxed and avoid thinking about something stressful. This is especially useful when you’re under pressure in tournaments. What you visualize in this case is a personal preference, but it could be a favorite vacation spot or spending time with friends, anything that is going to make you feel relaxed. Conversely, if you think about something that is stressful to you, it’s likely that your heart rate will increase and your muscles will become tense.
MAKING SWING CHANGES DURING PRACTICE
To make a swing change you need to create new neural pathways and make that change part of your “muscle memory”. Neural pathways are what connects your brain to the muscles. You can also think of it as carving a groove in your nervous system for the signals to flow along and activate only those muscles needed for the action. Visualization is a key factor on this. When you try to make a swing change, it’s important that you try to imagine what that looks like before you do it. Ben Hogan would sometimes spend hours hitting balls in practice without hitting many shots, because he was using visualization to help him learn a new movement in his swing. Each time you make that particular movement, the neural pathways are strengthened and you’ll more likely be able to access them on the course.
TRY THIS VISUALIZATION EXERCISE:
I want you to imagine playing a chip shot from about 3 yards off the green. You’ve got about 30 feet of green to work with and most of it is downhill right to left. The pin is out. Assess the shot and play it in your mind. See everything about it. Now answer these questions: How far onto the green did the ball land? Did you have an exact landing spot picked out? How high was it? How did it roll to the hole? Did it go in? Did ii barely made it or did it hit in the back of the hole and bounce in? Bonus question: What did you look like as you were playing the shot? If you hadn’t thought about any of these things, then you need to improve your visualization!
The 6th green at Pradera Verde with the Zambales mountain range in the background
A golf oasis ri was once a des Text & Photos by Mike Besa
hen I last visited Pradera Verde in Lubao, Pampanga, only nine holes was truly ready for play. The clubhouse was unfinished so we checked in for our round at the wake park over a kilometer away. The yardage markers hadn’t been put in and the bunkers on the back nine didn’t even have sand in them. But what was there was most impressive. The fairways were plush and the greens, even though they had been recently sanded, rolled true. While not long enough to brutalize the average golfer, it was a course that posed a good challenge. The fairways wound around the numerous water hazards. If anything, the fairways were a bit too generous. There was little to challenge the tee shot and left easy approaches into the generous greens. Almost a year passed before I could make a return trip back to Pradera Verde. Then I got a call from the architect and builder, Mike Singgaran inviting me and a few friends to the course’s grand opening. I couldn’t have been more excited. The now-completed clubhouse is expansive. The lockers, and the rest of the facilities, have ample room to move around and things are far from cramped. The food, as befits any club in Pampanga, is delicious and was doled out in ample servings. But it was the golf course that I
had driven three hours to see. I wasn’t disappointed. The golf course had been tweaked a bit since our last visit. Fairway bunkers had been added on a few holes, pinching the once overly generous fairways to put a bit more pressure on the tee shot. The fairways are better than ever. The ball sits up so nicely you feel like you could take a driver off the deck on longer approaches. The greens stood up well to two shotgun starts on the same day. They’re still a bit firm so your approach shots aren’t going to stop dead but time will fix that. They still roll beautifully even after over 200 golfers played through. They can only get better still. Tif-eagle is proving to be the ultimate grass for Philippine greens. It stands up very well to our climate and the ball rolls perfectly on it. The golf course isn’t overly long, playing right at 7,000 yards from the black tees. You do have to be mindful of the abundant water hazards that line the fairways. Successfully navigating them is the key to a good score here. On the best holes, you will need to challenge the water to get into the best position to attack the green. Take the par-5 third for example. It’s a demanding hole with out of bounds all along the left and water on the right from 200 yards in. If one doesn’t take on the water hazard, the hole plays much longer than its 521 yards. The large green might seem an easy target for a third shot with a wedge but it has four distinct sections with varying
contours to spice things up. At 383 yards from the tips, the fifth hole might seem like a pushover but water is in play both off the tee and on the approach coming into the green. It takes a confident drive to take on the water for the optimum angle into the green. Bunkers on both sides of the fairway guarding that position add pressure to the tee shot. The green is generous but features water on three sides so you’ll need to be precise with the approach shot. Both nines at Pradera Verde end with par 5s. The ninth is quite a test with water running all the way up the left from tee to green. Bailing out to the right won’t do you any favors as it’s littered with strategically placed bunkers. When the wind is up, this hole can be a real test. The 15th should be the club’s signature hole. A true island green, there’s water everywhere. The green is large but that’s a double-edged sword. Find the wrong tier and you could be left with a 50 or 60-foot putt. Better players will feel good about attacking the pin even in the more difficult positions because two huge bunkers on either side are there to catch errant shots. The back half of the green is a mercifully flat section with a very slight slope down to the front. But halfway down, the slope steepens and the green breaks in varying directions along the way. The shorter inward nine is home to one of my favorite short holes on the golf course. Seventeen is a devilish little par 4. From the tee
one is hard-pressed to decide where to aim the tee shot. There seems to be sand everywhere with just small patches of green at which to aim. Challenging the bunker in the center of the fairway is the ultimate line to the ideal spot from which to attack the small green. It’s guarded by bunkers on two sides and water on the third so precision with the approach shot is of the utmost importance. The finishing hole, as noted earlier, is a par 5 with a twist; another island green. There’s out of bounds on the left and a hazard all the way up the right so anything can happen here. It will take a massive tee shot to give you the confidence to go for the green in two. Laying up proves to be the best option as the multitiered green is no pushover. All in all, Pradera Verde proved to be a very pleasant golf course. It’s not overly difficult but you’ll need to play thoughtfully to post a good score. The facilities are topnotch and are open to all who desire to walk its plush fairways. Green fees are P2,000 on weekdays and P2,500 on the weekends. Excellent accommodations are available at the wakeboard park at the entrance of the property, making staying the night and playing a couple of rounds here a good option. Best of all, work is still in progress on a second 18, which will make staying and playing a must down the road. Pradera Verde is a welcome addition to the country’s portfolio of golf courses and makes the province of Pampanga one of the best destinations for golf tourists both foreign and local.
TaylorMade M family: Really, perceptibly better L The TaylorMade brand ambassadors and staff on hand to welcome the new M family. PHOTOS by Mike Besa and Marty Ilagan
AST December we broke the story of how TaylorMade had upped the ante with the new M family line of golf clubs and how they somehow managed to eke out even more performance out of the hottest drivers, fairways, hybrids and irons on the market. In the middle of January, we received an e-mail from TaylorMade Philippines asking if we’d kindly spend a day with them at the Ayala Southlinks Golf Club to sample the entire M line of golf clubs. They didn’t have to ask twice! Whenever a golf equipment manufacturer sets out to improve a product that is already a performance leader on the market, there is a real danger that they just might screw it up instead. But that clearly wasn’t the case with the TaylorMade M siblings.
Callaway GBB Epic Sub Zero driver
Saturday, February 18, 2017 A7
Callaway GBB Epic V
Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic and Epic Sub Zero
With a name like ‘Epic’, it had better be good I
ises in what esert of lahar
The island green 15th at Pradera Verde
f you’re going to give a golf club a name like “Epic”, it had better be good. The story behind the name started at Callaway as the code name of the new driver. Sometime during the development phase, the engineers at Callaway were impressed enough with the results that they decided to stick with the name. The Epic is Callaway’s premier driver; a carbon/ titanium composite head packed with what Callaway believes is the best technology on the planet today for making a golf ball fly far down the fairway. Callaway has been adding carbon fiber to its driver designs for more than a decade, using the material to make lighter and lighter crowns that have steadily improved the performance of new models. This year the company brought carbon fiber to the soles of its drivers, a shift as dramatic as each driver’s vibrant green highlights. According to Callaway, more than 50 percent of the Epic and Epic Sub Zero drivers are made from carbon fiber. The marquee technology for both the Epic and Epic Sub Zero, however, is something golfers can’t see. It’s called Jailbreak, a structure of two parallel titanium rods located behind the club face that connect the sole and crown. The rods serve to stiffen the crown and sole so they don’t flex as much at impact, Callaway says, which allows the club face of the drivers to flex more and return more energy to the ball. More energy means more ball speed and more distance, and Callaway is claiming an improvement of up to 2 mph in its player testing. Jailbreak technology has its origins in Callaway Big Bertha Alpha driver. The Alpha had an internal tube that connected the sole of the driver to its crown. In that tube, a weighted rod that was heavier on one side could be positioned in one of two ways; first with the heavy end on the bottom to lower the center of gravity and increase the launch angle and secondly with the heavier end closer to the crown to lower the spin and ball flight. It worked well enough but there was something else going on in the
driver that the engineers at Callaway didn’t understand at first. Investigating those properties were what lead to Jailbreak technology as it exists today. The Great Big Bertha Epic driver has a adjustable weight track much like that on the Great Big Bertha driver it supplants. The track is shorter and the adjustable weight now weighs 17 grams, which Callaway claims will allow up to 21 yards of left to right shotshaping adjustment. The Great Big Bertha Epic Sub Zero driver replaces the GBB Alpha driver and has two weight ports in the sole. Putting the heavier weight closer to the club face raises the center of gravity and lowers spin at the cost of forgiveness. Moving the heavier weight to the rear makes the club easier to hit while raising the club’s launch characteristics while increasing spin slightly. To help you swing the club faster, both Epic drivers feature Callaway’s proprietary Speed Step technology, created with direct input from aerospace experts, to improve airflow around the clubhead. There will be four standard shaft offerings in four different weight classes: 40, 50, 60 and 70 grams. Each is a premium, Tour-proven shaft that is engineered to promote speed, power, stability, feel and control. They are: n 40g Class: Mitsubishi Diamana (Green) M+ n 50g Class: Mitsubishi Diamana (Green) M+, Project X HZRDUS T800 n 60g Class: Fujikura Pro Green, Aldila Rogue M•AX n 70g Class: Aldila Rogue M•AX If none of those shafts meets your requirements, there are a host of premium shafts available by special order without an upcharge. If Callaway’s previous composite drivers are any indication, the Epic siblings should be among the longest drivers on the market today. Both the Great Big Bertha Epic and the Great Big Bertha Epic Sub Zero drivers will soon be available in the Philippines. We’ll be there at the launch, so watch this space. Mike Besa
epic Hero Jailbreak
I’ve had the previous generation M1 in my bag for the last year and I’ve reached parts of the golf course off the tee that I never have in my playing career. I’m not getting any younger or stronger, so to hit the golf ball those distances, the credit goes completely to the M1. With that as a background, the preview of the new M family at Southlinks was eagerly anticipated. Pacsports Philippines had both the M1 and M2 families on display and available for testing. The session started on the driving range then after a few photo-ops and many balls sent far down range, the ultimate test—a full 18-holes of golf with the M clubs of our choice. The quick takeaway here is how much easier both drivers are to hit. The 2017 M1 in its most forgiving setting (with the CG weight all the way in the
back) is now easier to hit than last year’s M2, making more accessible to a broad spectrum of golfers. I was paired with Pacsports General Manager Jaye Escuadro, teaching professional Joel Altea III and young touring professional Miko Alejandro and among the four of us we had both M1 and M2 drivers, the M1 fairway woods and hybrids, the M2 irons and the new TP milled wedges. Being intimately familiar with the M1 driver, I opted to spend the most time getting to know the new M2. Really there’s nothing to it. Like its predecessor, the only available adjustment is for loft. So once I got the trajectory I wanted, I was good to go. The new M2 is ridiculously easy to hit and long. I was nursing an injury sustained in a car accident so I wasn’t at my best but
I needn’t have been concerned. If I was lined up properly, the ball always seemed to find the fairway. No small feat on the tiny landing areas at Southlinks. The new M1 felt instantly familiar. I didn’t spend as much time with it as I would have liked but first impressions are most favorable. The club is noticeably louder than its predecessor, a change that TaylorMade chose to make based on customer feedback about the 2015 M1. Although there’s nothing wrong with my M1, I liked the new one so much, I’m probably going to go out and get one. Equally impressive were the M1 hybrids and fairways. Easy to hit in every situation and as long as fairway woods and hybrids need to be. The milled wedges were also a revelation. Soft feeling with a versatile sole grind, they performed admirably from a
variety of situations. The surprise of the day was the M2 irons. Like the rest of the M2 family, they were extremely easy to hit and very, very long. I hit an 8-iron roughly 170 yards on the long par-3 16th hole at Southlinks. That’s not a typo. This is the perfect iron for those looking to hit the ball higher and further with less effort. By day’s end, all of us walked away greatly impressed with the TaylorMade’s new M family. They are, as TaylorMade boasts, better in every way. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the driver, fairway, hybrid, irons or wedges; TaylorMade gave the whole line meaningful updates that will make a difference on the golf course. Look out for product demos in your neighborhood and at your golf course. You will be impressed. Mike Besa
A8 Saturday, February 18, 2017 • Editor: Efleda P. Campos
Shrinking worker pool pressures retirement programs worldwide
HE world’s working-age population is shrinking faster than expected, leaving fewer people to support a growing number of seniors, according to the Bloomberg Sunset Index.
Conventional measures of oldage dependency calculate the ratio of people ages 65 and older with those of working age: 15 to 64. But many people stop working well before 65: Men in 66 percent of the 177 countries Bloomberg evaluated and women in 78 percent can begin receiving retirement benefits earlier. So the Bloomberg index calculates dependency based on each country’s statutory pensionable age, revealing substantial differences in some places, with 2016 estimates from organizations, in-
cluding the World Bank and United Nations. Nigeria, with a statutory pensionable age of 50, has only 4.8 workers supporting each senior, compared with 19.4 as indicated by conventional measures. Russia has 2.4, instead of 5.1; and Colombia has 4.5, instead of 9.4. As seniors increasingly outnumber people still in the work force, pressures rise on investment pools, medical systems and funds to build economies for future generations. “The demographics cannot be ignored, but there are solutions,” said Suzanne Kunkel, director of
the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. “Those solutions need to be cultural, political and economic. There is no magic answer. The reality is China will deal with it differently than Italy.” Asia could be facing the toughest choices in allocating resources. The Asia Pacific Risk Center estimates the region’s elderly population will rise 71 percent by 2030, compared with 55 percent in North America and 31 percent in Europe. The retirement age in China —with almost 22 percent of the world’s 65-plus population—is 60 for men and 55 for women. The Bloomberg Sunset Index shows 3.5 workers supporting each senior there; conventional calculations indicate 7.3. Seniors in France, where the retirement age is 61.6, are the least supported, with a ratio of about two workers to each retiree, the index shows. In the US the ratio is 4.4 to one.
Americans can start receiving Social Security at 62, with a sliding scale for full retirement benefits from 65 to 67, depending on the year of birth. In June the Social Security Administration estimated the program’s trust fund will run out of money in 2034, though the timeline could be extended by raising the retirement age even more. “There are other-than-alarmist views about population aging,” said David Ekerdt, director of the Gerontology Center at the University of Kansas. “Advanced economies face rather different challenges depending on the social provisions they have promised and the declines in fertility that have occurred in these nations.” The US, for example, has “very high health-care costs for all citizens,” he said. “I would also say, politically, that it’s a large leap to assume that social spending, if reduced for one group, would be applied to another group.”
Other countries also raised retirement thresholds in the past four years. In France it’s now 61.58, up from 60. For Greek men, it’s 67 instead of 65. For Italian women, it’s 65.58, up from 62. The National Social Security Fund in Kenya, the country’s largest pension fund, is turning to private equity and seeking investments abroad to boost returns. The Bloomberg index shows 11.7 workers supporting each senior there, compared with 19.4 by conventional calculations. In Japan, where many people work beyond the statutory pensionable age of 65, payments from the government-run pension system account for more than 10 percent of GDP. Last December parliament approved a bill allowing for smaller payments if consumer prices and wages decline. Taking it a step further, Japan replaced silver sake cups it gives new centenarians with cheaper silver-plated ones.
Senior citizens, PWDs back tax reform plan
SIDE from international institutions and acknowledged economic experts, the Department of Finance (DOF)-backed Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) now pending in Congress has also earned the support of private citizens. One of these CTRP supporters is Jose Malvar, a senior citizen and a person with disability (PWD), who wants legislators to pass this tax-reform plan in its entirety. In a copy of his letter sent to Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua, Malvar acknowledged that the proposed CTRP of the DOF should be studied with a “holistic” approach in mind rather than for legislators to just zero-in on specific tax proposals. Malvar’s letter highlighted the well-studied, balanced provisions of the first package of the DOF’s tax-reform package, as contained in House Bill (HB) 4774, that Rep. Dakila Carlo E. Cua, who chairs the chamber’s ways and means committee, filed in the chamber last month. Malvar said the concerns of lawmakers on the impact of the CTRP on transport and power costs could be suitably addressed by separate complementary measures that will help protect the poor and other vulnerable sectors. HB 4774 aims to lower personal income tax (PIT) rates and, at the same time, proposes revenue-compensating measures, such as adjustments in oil and automobile excise taxes, or cover the projected revenue losses from the lower PIT collections. Cua’s bill also includes a provision earmarking up to 40 percent of the proceeds from the incremental fuel excise-tax revenues for targeted transfer programs that will benefit the country’s poor and vulnerable sectors, including indigent seniors and PWDs. “The proposal is holistic. It should be examined on a total perspective instead of focusing on certain provisions that may cause
KIDLAT TAHIMIK WITH U.S. AMBASSADOR Kidlat Tahimik, 75, “the Father of Philippine Indie Films”, and his wife Katrine de Guia speak with the US Ambassador to the Philippines
Sung Kim at the Ambassador’s Residence in Camp John Hay.
disadvantage to certain sectors,” Malvar said in his letter. “The tax-reform agenda addresses tax simplification and reduces the tax burden of 4 million taxpayers by increasing their income-tax exceptions to reasonable levels in line with the inflation of the last 20 years,” he said. Malvar noted even if he is both an elderly citizen and a PWD, he stands to directly benefit from the tax-reform plan because, even at his advanced age, he still pays income, percentage and real-estate taxes arising from his business of renting out townhouses. “Although I am a voicehandicapped very senior citizen, I am one of the 4 million taxpayers who will benefit from the proposed tax reform agenda. My retirement income comes from my
investment in townhouses that I rent out. Kindly note that I not only pay income taxes, but also percentage taxes and real estate taxes,” he said. Cua’s bill retained the original DOF proposal to exempt from the PIT those with a net taxable income of P250,000 and below, but included a provision exempting the first P82,000 in 13th month pay and other bonuses from the computation of the PIT. Aside from also adjusting fuel and automobile taxes, Cua’s revised CTRP package under HB 4774 includes lowering the rates for estate and donor’s taxes and expanding the value-added tax (VAT) base, but retaining the exemptions enjoyed by senior citizens and PWDs. Complementary reforms to this revised tax package include
introducing a sugar-sweetened beverage tax, indexing the motor vehicle user’s charge to inflation, and granting an amnesty to past estate-tax cases. Moreover, the revised plan also includes legislated administrative reforms in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and of Bureau of Customs, like the adoption of a fuel marking and monitoring system to prevent oil smuggling—not only to collect the correct taxes but also to ensure that only highquality petroleum products and not adulterates fuel re sold in the market—along with the use of e-receipts; the mandatory link of the point-of-sale (POS) systems of establishments directly to the BIR; and relaxing banksecrecy laws for investigating and combating tax fraud. Seven former DOF
secretaries—Cesar Virata, Jose Isidro Camacho, Jesus Estanislao, Roberto de Ocampo, Jose Pardo, Cesar Purisima and Juanita Amatong—have given their full backing to the DOF’s CTRP, which, they said, would “correct the structural weaknesses” of the country’s system and serve as a tool to decisively attack poverty and achieve inclusive growth. Former National Economic and Development Authority director generals Arsenio Balisacan, Emmanuel Esguerra, Cielito Habito, Felipe Medalla and Romulo Neri also backed the CTRP, along with formerDOF undersecretaries Romeo Bernardo, Joel Bañares, Cornelio Gison, Lily Gruba, Milwida Guevara, Jose Emmanuel Reverente and Florencia Tarriela.
Wealthy Japanese elderly will have to pay more for nursing care
OK YO — E l d e r l y p e o ple with relatively high income will have to pay more to receive nursing care under draft law amendments approved on Tuesday by the Cabinet aimed at sustaining the national nursing-care insurance system in the rapidly graying nation. The change would affect about 120,000 people, or 3 percent of the total beneficiaries, beginning in August 2018, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said. Beneficiaries of nursing care currently pay 10 percent or 20 percent of fees, depending on their income, for care at home or facilities. PNA/Kyodo
Pampanga solon pushes for more tax exemption for elderly care
ORMER President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is pushing for additional tax exemption for taxpayers who care for their elderly parents. Arroyo has filed House Bill1522, which seeks to amend paragraph B of Section 35 of Republic Act 8424, or the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997 to include an additional exemption of P25,000 for each elderly parent being cared for by a taxpayer. “An additional exemption of P25,000 for each elderly parent shall be, likewise, allowed to the individual taxpayer, provided that the elderly parent is chiefly dependent on and living with the taxpayer,” Arroyo stated in her bill. Under the measure, an elderly is defined as any parent who is at least 60 years old with no means of support. The current law allows an individual taxpayer an additional exemption of P25,000 for each dependent child, not exceeding four. Arroyo said this measure seeks to relieve taxpayers who are taking care of their elderly parents from additional tax burden and also allow them to save money, which can be used to meet the nutrition, education, medicines and other basic needs of other dependents. Arroyo said Republic Act 7432, or the Senior Citizens Act ,had allowed a taxpayer, who is head of the family, to include a senior citizen as a dependent under the NIRC. However, this privilege was not expressly provided under RA 8424 which is why there is a need for a new legislation in order for individual taxpayers to fully avail of this additional tax exemption, she noted. PNA
Chua said only with the sizable increase in revenues through tax reform can the government meet its goal of drastically reducing poverty and transforming the country into an upper middle-income economy in 2022 by spending big on infrastructure, human capital—education, health, lifelong training, and research and development (R&D)—and social protection for the poor and other vulnerable sectors. The Duterte administration’s target is to ramp up spending on infrastructure to P1.83 trillion, education and training to P1.27 trillion, health to P272 billion and social protection, welfare and job generation for the poorest of the poor to P509 billion by 2022 for a total amount of P2.2 trillion in investments yearly over the next six years. PNA
Saturday, February 18, 2017
The Millennials BusinessMirror
Thespian urges stronger appreciation for theater B By Rizal Raoul Reyes
EING in the theater since her elementary days, actress Micaela Pineda urges millennials to develop a stronger appreciation for theater.
“Theater develops patience and appreciation for things that are not instant, because it is a product of a long and tedious process,” Pineda told the BusinessMirror. “It is nice to see things develop in a longer way rather instant manner.” She adds people, especially millennials, should abstain from electronic gadgets. According to Pineda, doing so will enable them to understand humanity through time. “That is art.” With theater, Pineda points out the audience can experience the “possibility of human error, which is interesting to see and watch.” “The beauty of the theater is that every show is not the same, and it gives different audience interactions,” she added.
THE 30-year-old Pineda considers herself an “old soul”, as she values things from the past. In fact, she recently bought a manual camera. “I take joy in seeing pictures that will bring surprises when they’re developed,” she said in an interview during a rehearsal break of Repertory Philippines’s 2017 opener Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike. Bitten by the theater bug since she was 8 years old, Pineda knew already she was born to perform. “I’ve been watching Repertory shows as long as I can remember.” Even as a child, Pineda enjoys performing for people, singing and acting before a crowd. “I think, my exposure to a lot of [theater] plays, listening to a lot of
musicals and lullabies from cassette tapes developed my appreciation.” When she was 12, she enrolled in Audie Gemora’s Trumpets for a summer workshop that provided her a deep foundation for her craft. At 18, she made her debut as a professional actress in Trumpets’s cover of Little Mermaid. After high school, she went to the University of the Philippines Diliman, and took up theater arts. In college, she was mentored by the likes of Floy Quintos, Tony Mabesa and Anton Juan.
PINEDA pursued graduate studies in London to study musical theater under the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. Her stint in the British capital was memorable, because she was the first Filipina who finished Master’s in Musical Theater in the United Kingdom. Pineda said agents recognized her talent and Asian roots, and offered her to audition. “I had a niche market, and my classmates were telling me that I was so lucky.” Nevertheless, the bubbly Pineda experienced homesickness since Day One in the British capital. Even though she signed with an agent, she told her group she had to go back to the Philippines. After finishing her masteral studies, Pineda immediately packed her bags and went home. She became part of Repertory Philippines’s ensemble of the Producers and appeared in a couple of shows before appearing in the A Game’s Afoot. Prior to her Repertory Philippines stints, she appeared in
PINEDA will also wear an entrepreneur’s hat by managing the family business: a bed and breakfast establishment in Tagaytay City. “This is not a new business for us, because the family has been in this business since I was young,” Pineda said. Moreover, she and her two business partners are managing Shutterheads, a company specializing in providing photography services to artists and professionals. “We also cater to families and other people who want to have professional photos for their Facebook accounts,” Pineda said. Pineda sees no problem in juggling her career as a theater actress and restaurant manager. “Being involved in the restaurant business is a pragmatic move to be able to pursue my passion in theater,” she said. “Going through this Tagaytay thing gives me steady income, allows me to go to places where I want to go and, more important, continue my acting without worrying about the finances.” She also worked as an assistant professor in UP, but requested to be
lecturer to address her other commitments, such as managing the business and performing in theater.
PINEDA said she is very happy on the current state of Philippine theater. It has shown impressive growth in the recent years, as manifested mainly by the emergence of several theater companies, she added. “This means more work for us artists. Sometimes, the demand is greater than the supply,” Pineda said. She is also happy Asians are getting recognized worldwide for their talent onstage. With various credits in her acting résumé, Pineda yearns to do the role of Eliza Doolittle in Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady, which was popularized onstage by Julie Andrews and onscreen by Audrey Hepburn. Pineda is in a zone when she is performing for her countrymen. She could have grabbed the opportunity to perform in London. But she said her heart belongs to the Philippines. “I am happy where I am,” Pineda said. “I came back to the Philippines because I wanted to perform here.” She added she has no regrets. “I belong here.”
‘Coolness factor’ draws developers to East Austin By Joe Gose
New York Times News Service
USTIN, Texas—About five years ago, a young bartender in downtown Austin told Josh Delk that she was renting a house on the other side of nearby Interstate 35, in the lower part of a rambling East Austin neighborhood that stretches from the Colorado River north to 12th Street. The neighborhood was perceived to be a place to avoid after dark, so the fact that she rode her bike to and from work, often in the wee hours, was eye-opening. At the time, Delk, a vice president with the commercial real-estate firm Transwestern Development Co., was overseeing the construction of apartments in a trendy area south of the river and was courting her generation. “I said, ‘You’re my demographic,’” recalled Delk, who had witnessed fits and starts of development in East Austin over the years. “And I thought, ‘Has East Austin finally arrived?’” He and other developers quickly discovered the answer. Bar and restaurant operators were expanding downtown’s vibrant Sixth Street entertainment district into East Austin. Millennial renters and singlefamily home rehabbers were moving in and gentrifying the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. The Lance Armstrong Foundation’s move into a converted East Austin warehouse had also generated interest among
creative companies looking for new locations. (It is now the Livestrong Foundation.) In 2014 Transwestern acquired property at Sixth and Comal streets and last year completed a 346-unit apartment building with groundfloor retail and restaurants. It also developed and then sold a 94,500-square-foot office building occupied by Condé Nast and the concert and event promoter C3 Presents, among others. “This is a creative neighborhood,” Delk said, “and edgier companies are positioning themselves appropriately.”
DEVELOPERS have built hundreds of apartments in the area, and more are on the way. They’re primarily targeting
blocks on either side of Sixth Street in proximity to the Plaza Saltillo commuter rail station at Fifth and Comal streets. Developers have also added about 140,000 square feet of office space, and they have proposed adding some 770,000 square feet in the coming years, according to the Austin real-estate brokerage Aquila Commercial. “The main reason people are coming to the east side is for the coolness factor,” said Jay Lamy, a principal with Aquila Commercial who represented C3 Presents and is an investor in the neighborhood. “If we can keep the residential, retail, restaurants and hotels coming, it’s only going to fuel the desire for more companies to locate here.” The most ambitious project proposed to date, however, has been the most contentious. The Endeavor
Real Estate Group, a local developer, and Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Austin’s regional public transportation provider, have joined to turn an old 11-acre rail yard into a “transit-oriented development”—a dense mix of uses near public transportation—at Plaza Saltillo. The plan calls for 800 apartments, 120,000 square feet of office space and 110,000 square feet of stores and restaurants. Columbus Realty Partners, a Dallasbased apartment developer, is also a partner. The developers have agreed to lease the rail yard from Capital Metro for about $200 million over 99 years.
THE Austin City Council last week held the first of three required votes on the plan and gave it preliminary approval. The council, however, sided with neighbors who were unhappy over the Austin Planning Commission’s decision to allow the office building next to Interstate 35 to rise 125 feet, more than double the height prescribed for the neighborhood, and reduced it to 70 feet. Still, the council asked developers and residents to reach an agreement that would allow the office building to rise more than 70 feet. Capital Metro has said that maintaining it at 70 feet could reduce additional lease revenue by $36 million over the life of the lease, or a net present value of $4 million.
Gen Z in PHL harder to impress than Gen Y A new AdReaction study from Kantar Millward Brown (KMB) recently released reveals members of Generation Z have their own distinct behaviors, attitudes and responses to advertising. “Having grown up in an on-demand world of infinite choice, Gen Z in the Philippines are harder to impress than previous generations,” Jane Ng, KMB Philippines group account director for technical and innovation, was quoted in a statement as saying. “Gen X and Y are more receptive to novel formats, such as sponsored lenses or native ads than Gen Z.” Ng added that brands that want to target Gen Z effectively need to concentrate on providing their audience with humorous executions that resonate with the interests and issues facing this younger, more skeptical generation. The study, titled “AdReaction: Engaging Gen X, Y and Z,” is the first-ever comprehensive global study of Gen Z, the British multinational market research firm said in a statement. The study provides guidance on how marketers can engage more effectively with this increasingly important group, the company added. According to KMB, the Gen Z population—now aged 16 to 19—numbers approximately 2 billion globally. The Gen Z makes up 30 percent of the population in the Philippines. KMB said the study highlights Gen Z in the Philippines are harder to impress compared to the older generations. “As digital natives, they have grown up with digital technology and, therefore, expect more from brand advertising and are less easily impressed with new formats, such as augmented reality or sponsored lenses, than previous generations, favoring humor as the key characteristic of a successful ad.”
KMB said the study identifies three key opportunities for brands in the Philippines to connect with Gen Z. The first is respecting their online space. “Within the digital space Gen Z are most positive toward mobile rewards video and skippable preroll [with net positive scores of 52 percent and 38 percent],” KMB said. “However, their least favorite formats are the invasive kind—for example, pop-ups, which score -5 percent.” The second is finding the right creative approach. “Globally, the use of music and celebrities make Gen Z more receptive to advertising than other generations,” KMB said. “In the Philippines, however, the difference is less pronounced.”
According to the company, the Gen Y is the group that find these cultural aspects most appealing, with 62 percent agreeing that music makes them more receptive and 27 percent citing celebrities (compared to 47 percent and 23 percent for Gen Z, respectively). “The characteristic that makes Gen Z in the Philippines most positive toward ads is the use of humor, at 53 percent. However, this is still far lower than the scores for Gen X [65 percent] and Gen Y [67 percent].” The third opportunity for brands in the Philippines to connect with Gen Z is to be more social. Gen Z are heavy users of social platforms when it comes to the number of platforms they visit, according to KMB. These range well beyond Facebook and YouTube, and include Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. KMB said 25 percent of Gen Z in the Philippines access Instagram several times a day and 13 percent access Snapchat at the same frequency. Gen Y is even more social, with 32 percent and 14 percent, respectively, while Gen X is less engaged on these social channels, with 18 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
DESPITE being the generation that grew up with mobile technology, Gen Z’s daily usage is lower than that of older generations. KMB said 66 percent of Gen Z in the Philippines spend more than an hour a day on their mobile device, compared to 81 percent of Gen Y and 84 percent of Gen X. However, TV, radio and print consumption are also all lower for Gen Z, with just 49 percent of Gen Z watching an hour or more of TV each day compared to 74 percent for Gen Y and 86 percent for Gen X. This means brands need to work hard to capture the attention of Gen Z when they are consuming media— either traditional or digital—or risk being missed altogether, KMB said. Interestingly, Filipinos of all generations are happy to watch longer video formats. Globally, all generations prefer short videos. However, in the Philippines all generations favor video ads of up to 20 seconds. Gen Z are also starting to use ad -blocking software, with 29 percent using it on desktop and 17 percent using it on mobile. But it’s not just the younger generation—Gen Y are also using blockers, with 32 percent using desktop blockers and 20 percent using mobile.
WITH their skepticism toward advertising, it’s harder to engage Gen Z with branded content compared to Gen X and Gen 3Y. Rizal Raoul Reyes
Saturday, February 18, 2017
N a disaster-prone country like the Philippines, technologies developed by the private sector to mitigate the impact of natural disasters is a big help in the government’s disaster risk-reduction management (DRRM) program.
Such is the preposition of PLDT Inc. for the launch last month of its smartphone it calls “Smart SOS Dispatch”. The listed telecommunications firm said the device is “a leading-edge response mechanism that ensures effective, end-to-end incident management.” According to Jov y Hernandez, PLDT executive, the device’s mechanism is patterned after the 9-11 emergency response system
of the United States. It “ has always been a model to emulate with regards to security and public safety,” Hernandez said. “ The technology to make the same happen in the Philippines is available through mobility and the Internet-of-Things. Smart SOS Dispatch is designed to do just that.” According to Hernandez, the device was designed to enable
C small and large communities such as large-scale companies, loc a l gover n me nt u n it s a nd schools, “ bolster their public safety answer points and emergency response systems”. Hernandez explained the device offers a mobile solutions package that combines a PLDT subsidiar y’s network coverage with an Internet protocol-based P u sh To Ta l k a nd e merge nc y-response application. T he combo allows the communication between a command center and first responders. Units are shock- and water-resistant (IP68) Android devices. By introducing the device, PLDT said the whole emergency reporting, response and recording process “becomes more instantaneous and reliable.” The cloud-based system has the ability to collect all necessary information reported
by a caller to a command center. This information is recorded and processed through a customer relations management system and sent to all responders. Through this automation in information assessment and transmittal, time and resources are saved as calls are instantly directed to only the most relevant and nearest response units for dispatch. A mobile application helps field teams to coordinate via one-to-one or one-to-many, for rapid, widespread and secured communications. Hernandez emphasized local officials are key in the rollout of the device on a nationwide basis. “We look forward to partnering with all local government units in implementing the system n at ionw ide. Tec h nolog y cannot do it alone,” he said. “ Technology-plus-people is the right formula.” Rizal Raoul Reyes
ONTENT delivery network (CDN) services provider Akamai Technologies Inc. announced on February 15 distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks greater than 100 gigabytes per second (Gbps) increased 140 percent year-over-year from the fourth quarter of 2015. According to Akamai, the largest DDoS attack in the fourth quarter of last year, which peaked at 517 Gbps, came from Spike, a non-Internet of Things (IoT) botnet that has been around for more than two years. “If anything, our analysis of fourth quarter 2016 proves the old axiom ‘expect the unexpected’ to be true for the world of Web security,” Akamai Senior Security Advocate Martin McKeay was quoted in a statement as saying. McKeay surmised the attackers, in control of Spike, felt challenged by Mirai and wanted to be more competitive. “If that’s the case, the industry
ICROSOFT Corp.’s Asia operations report released on February 13 identified Asia-Pacific markets, especially the emerging ones, as among those at the highest risk of cybersecurity threats. In a statement, the company said three out of the top five global spots for rate of malicious software (malware) encounters are in the region. Out of the top five locations across the globe most at risk of infection, two are located in Southeast Asia, namely Vietnam and Indonesia. Both locations have a malware encounter rate of more than 45 percent in the second quarter of 2016, which is more than double the worldwide average of over 21 percent during the same period. The Philippines is No. 7 on the list, with an encounter rate of 35.6 percent. However, even markets in the region with higher levels of IT maturity, such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore, have displayed malware encounter rates that are below the worldwide average, highlighting the diverse cybersecurity landscape in the Asia Pacific, the company said. Based on the report, the Philippines has 5.99 drive-by download pages per 1,000 Uniform Resource Locators compared to
In this March 8, 2012 file photo Egyptian activist Samira Ibrahim (left) and Mona Eltahawy, a prominent Egyptian-born US columnist, center, march in downtown Cairo, Egypt, to mark International Women’s Day. The Associated Press has found that the prominent American author is among dozens of activists, lawyers and human-rights advocates who have been targeted in a sweeping cyberespionage campaign blamed on the Egyptian government. AP
By Raphael Satter The Associated Press
A R I S — A me r i c a n - E g y p t i a n aut h o r M o n a E lt a haw y is one of many a c t i v i s t s a nd hu m a n r i g ht s advocates targeted in a sweeping cyberespionage campaign blamed on Egypt’s government, The Associated Press has found. A booby-trapped e-mail sent to Eltahawy and examined by the AP shows that she was targeted by the same password-stealing technique used to try to compromise staff at more than half-a-dozen Egyptian human-rights organizations. Digital clues, such as matching e-mail addresses employed to send the malicious messages and the use of the same credential-harvesting web site, proved the same actor was involved. Eltahawy, a fierce critic of Egypt’s government who has frequently complained about state surveillance, said she felt violated but not surprised. “I’m used to this from the Egyptian regime,” she said in a series of telephone conversations with the
AP. “I’m not trying to belittle what they’ve done, but I’m used to this.” Officials in Cairo have yet to speak publicly about the barrage of malicious messages, also known as phishing emails, sent to civil society figures in recent months. The campaign, exposed by i nter net w atc hdog g roup Citizen Lab earlier this month, prompted Eltahawy to tweet that she was among its targets. Eltahawy’s partner later forwarded copies of the emails to the AP. The message itself was closely tailored to Eltahawy’s concerns. An outspoken commentator on feminism, the Arab world and Egypt, Eltahawy was a constant media presence during the country’s 2011 uprising. She also has a sizeable following on Twitter, where she regularly shares news about activists caught up in Egypt’s grinding crackdown on dissent. Ever since Egypt’s 2013 military takeover, local rights groups have had their assets frozen, their staff detained and their leaders banned from traveling abroad. On December 7 women’s rights
attorney Azza Soliman was arrested. In the following week, Eltahawy fielded social media messages about the lawyer’s upcoming court date. So when she received an e-mail labeled “an important document about Azza Soliman,” she opened it right away. “I usually never go and click on documents that are sent to me by people I don’t know,” she said. “But because this was Azza and I was very upset about what had happened to her, I immediately went and clicked.” Eltahawy said she realized she had been fooled, especially after she received additional suspicious e-mails the next day and realized there was activity on her account she didn’t recognize. “Someone logged onto my computer from another neighbourhood in Cairo!” she wrote to her partner via WhatsApp at the time. “Those [expletive] bastards!” Eltahawy and other activists blame the government for the break-in. An Egyptian Interior Ministry official insisted to AP— on condition of anonymity—that
officials weren’t involved. Circumstantial evidence, such as bits of Arabic slang in the malicious sites’ code, isn’t conclusive. The AP sent a message seeking comment to the e-mail address used by Eltahawy’s hacker earlier this month, but the message went unanswered. Hours later, the e-mail account was deleted. Eltahaw y’s experience demonstrates the power of phishing, which consists of deploying bogus e-mails to entice people to give up their passwords. It’s the Swiss Army knife of electronic espionage—ubiquitous, cheap and, done well, it can break in almost any where. Eltahaw y’s hackers even appear to have by passed an additional security measure known as t wo-factor authentication by sending out a second round of malicious messages. Eltahawy paid them a grudging compliment. “This is a testament to how good they are with these phishing things,” Eltahawy said. “They know how to get you.”
E T R O B A N K G ro u p s u b s i d i a r y Philippine Savings Bank revealed it expects an increase in cybercrime. Now that technology has become more sophisticated and accessible to most people, c ybercrimes have increased worldwide, the second-largest savings bank said in a statement. Majorit y or 50 percent of fraud incidents are associated with online payment channels, and such incidents are seen to increase in the next few years. Automated teller machine fraud and cases of identity theft—the two leading security concerns among consumers in the region—and online scams have caused alarms to the general public, prompting authorities to take action. “We have expected an increase of cybercrime and identity theft cases in the country considering that gadgets and the Internet have become cheaper and more accessible to most people,” PSBank Vice President for Information Security Division Dan Duplito was quoted in a statement as saying. Duplito explained that “the Internet has become an integral part of our lives” and, hence, “it is important to be extra careful with the information that we share online.” PSBank said consumers can find protection in Republic Act 8484 or the law
should be prepared to see other botnet operators testing the limits of their attack engines, generating ever larger attacks.” Akamai’s report revealed that seven of the dozen fourth quarter 2016 mega attacks, those with traffic greater than 100 Gbps, can be directly attributed to Mirai. “As we saw with the Mirai botnet attacks during the third quarter, unsecured IoT devices continued to drive significant DDoS attack traffic.” McKeay, who is also the senior editor of Akamai’s “State of the Internet/Security Report”, added: “With the predicted exponential proliferation of these devices, threat agents will have an expanding pool of resources to carry out attacks, validating the need for companies to increase their security investments.” He sa id t hat add itiona l emerging system v ulnerabilities “are expected before devices become more secure.” Oliver Samson
the worldwide number at 0.55. Drive-by downloads are malware or threats downloaded from the Internet which are usually unintentional. For example, downloading an executable program or movie file without knowing the malware attached. “With increasing malware encounters and sophistication of cyber attacks, cyber security is becoming a mission critical priority for most organizations,” Raul Cortez, who leads Corporate, External and Legal Affairs at Microsoft Philippines, said. According to Cortez, it generally takes an average up to 200 days for organizations to find out that they have been breached. “With no sign of abatement in the future, what companies need is a secure modern enterprise posture, which involves well-integrated ‘Protect-DetectRespond’ investments and capabilities, with a strategic focus on the core pillars—identity, apps, data, infrastructure and devices,” Cortez was quoted in a statement as saying, “Additionally, organizations should also strongly consider adopting trusted cloud-based services to enjoy the highest levels of data protection, leveraging the cloud provider’s enterprise-grade security and privacy expertise, assurances and certifications.” Oliver Samson
regulating the issuance and use of access devices to fight fraud. The law was passed nearly two decades ago to protect the rights and define the liabilities of parties in commercial transactions by regulating the issuance and use of access devices, such as credit cards. Access devices are any card, plate, code, account number, electronic serial number, personal identification number, or other telecommunications service, equipment, or instrumental identifier or other means of account access that can be used to obtain money, good, services or anything of value or to initiate a transfer of funds. In the latter part of 2016 House Bill 4702 was filed. It aims to put stiffer penalties to those proven to have committed c ybercrimes. Currently, violators are only imposed a P10,000 penalty fee and imprisonment of six to 10 years. In the bill, an increase of the penalty from P10,000 to P3 million to P5 million and imprisonment for a minimum of 20 years was proposed. Pending the passage of the bill, Duplito recommends to working closely “with your bank to see how you can protect your finances”. “Being aware of the different online scams and ways on how fraudsters steal people’s identity will also help you stay alert and protected.” Oliver Samson
YMANTEC Corp. said risks remain high as enterprises embrace cloud applications and infrastructure at an unparalleled rate. Without proper visibility, control and protection of public cloud workloads, organizational risk is substantially increased as enterprises move to leverage their applications in these cloud environments. “Enterprises are experiencing a fundamental shift in the way their employees and customers consume technology,” the cybersecurity company said in a statement. “ The inf lux of personally owned devices, ubiquitous highspeed Internet and cloud-based computing platforms is redefining the traditional IT [information-technology] landscape, and delivering advanced operational capabilities.” Symantec explained that with the adoption of fully outsourced cloud applications and infrastructure, critical assets, data and users are moving well beyond the traditional corporate security perimeter. “Unfortunately, most security providers are simply providing isolated parts of what is required to secure these transformations, yet the cloud generation mandates a new model of integrated security,” Symantec said. “The value to the enterprise of shifting to cloud applications and services is undeniable,” Symantec
USINESS -process outsourcing (BPO) provider Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) Inc. has expanded its partnership collaboration with Avaya Inc., HGS announced recently. In a statement, HGS said the enhancement in their deal with Avaya seeks to provide a high-performance contact center platform for its international customers. The Bangalore, India-headquartered firm claims the enhancement in the agreement will bring further cost savings and service improvements for 10,000 voice-based contact-center seats that serve customers in the United States, Europe and Asia Pacific. “With technology disrupting customer engagements in multiple ways, providers, such as HGS, must innovate to ensure the relevance of contact centers to its customers,” Avaya Philippines Country Manager Edgar
pple Inc. products reseller Power Mac Center Inc. (PMC) recently announced the launch of its exclusive partnership with Adam Elements International (AEI) Co. Ltd. AEI specializes in cables, smart health products, and on-the-go iOS storage units. “We Filipinos are massive
President and COO Mike Fey was quoted in a statement as saying. “At the same time, cyber criminals look at this new, borderless infrastructure as a potential goldmine.” Fey said enterprises today must ensure safety for mobile users and remote offices from anywhere in the world, while, at the same time, protecting organizational data as it is in transit. “As users and remote offices move beyond the traditiona l perimeter, advanced protection must follow them regardless of their location.” Enterprises making the move to cloud are often stuck with the challenge of manually creating completely new policy sets with new vendors, which can be a significant burden to deploy and maintain. “Today’s cyber criminals are constantly evolving their approach to accessing organizations’ data and the need for customers to use disparate solutions to protect themselves is a challenge in itself,” Doug Cahill, senior analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group, was quoted by Symantec as saying. “Vendors that integrate multiple solutions to address cloud security holistically, help create operational efficiencies and allow customers to take full advantage of the cloud while helping to ensure their critical information is secure and protected.” Oliver Samson
Doctolero was quoted in a statement as saying. A consistent user of Avaya technology since 1999, HGS said it is satisfied with the partnership. The Indian pure play business and service provider claims that partnership enabled them to achieve up to 40 percent lower cost of technology when setting up contact center operations. “Smart organizations today view their contact center as the first line of engagement with customers and a key pillar in building and retaining customer trust and loyalty,” HGS Philippines CTO Sandeep Marwah was quoted in a statement as saying. “Contact centers today are not just about providing an agent at the end of the telephone line. Technology is changing the dynamics of customer expectations and how they prefer to interact with businesses.” Rizal Raoul Reyes
photography enthusiasts,” PMC Marketing Director Jose Alvarez was quoted in a statement as saying. “Whether selfies, documenting our travels or celebrations, we always make it a point to capture great moments and scenes that we almost always max out our phones’ memory capacity.” Rizal Raoul Reyes
Story & photo by Rizal Raoul Reyes
Saturday, February 18, 2017
OFTWARE solutions developer Amdocs Ltd. said it is now time to push further to promote the brand in the Philippines. “Amdocs is not a fast-moving consumer good [FMCG]. The consumer world does not need to know us,” Alita Wong, Amdocs Asia Pacific head of marketing, told reporters. “Within the service provider, local system integrator and the local solutions in the Philippine industry environment, we want to go up more.” Wong recently visited the country and met with partners and potential clients to determine their needs in the digital economy. Being a software company, Wong sa id t he C hester f ie ld , Missouri-based company did not follow the path by technology giants, such as Cisco and Hewlett Packard, to build their name in the market. She said during an interview on February 8 that the computer hardware brands have an easier time to get the attention of the market as compared to the software companies because of their stronger visibility.
“Now is the time we reached a pace where we have accomplished a bit on customer’s confirmation.” Right now, Amdocs is searching for the next leading-edge in software development, according to Wong. She added that the next breakthrough might not come from Amdocs. “ D e ve lo pi n g t he ne x t bi g thing in software is not going to be a walk in the park because this requires a lot of enabling factors before it could happen.” The Philippines can be a possible site, according to Wong. “It can come from the local community whether education, banking or even system integration or other innovative things they do over the platform.” Amdocs recently conducted a forum with partners and clients to determine the business models and the opportunities that can be tapped in the local market. Wong said Amdocs is quite
open-minded and is very eager to see ideas that can be tapped in this marketplace. She said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), led by Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, is still the biggest market for Amdocs. Since many organizations in the Asean bloc are continuing in building the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, Wong said the enterprise segment is the way to go. “Enterprise business does not only include multinational corporations but also include government offices and local govern-
ment units,” she said. “It is a good business for the country and the future of the industry.” Wong told the customers they can tap Amdocs in their various because it is not just a portfolio of billing and customer-relations management (CRM) but can also offer a broader range of products on big data analytics, Omnichannel, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and checkbooks. Furthermore, Amdocs does not need to bundle with a telecom to market its services. It is a platform with an open application programming interface that can produce new opportunities. “It can be an Internet of Things [IoT] approach,” Wong explained. “It requires more than the technology platform and also requires a business case that requires partners to bring various capabilities to the table such as financial services, security and cloud data center.” She explained that Amdocs realized early on that “collaboration is the way to go”. “There is no single vendor under the sun that can set all the things people can do,” she added. “We cannot also be uptight that it should be all Amdocs.” You have to realize the business models and opportunities you have and that can possibly make it happen for the company, Wong said.
By Stacy Cowley
New York Times News Service
ALLETS can be lost, stolen or forgotten, but most people today would not be caught dead without their phones. Banks understand, and are grabbing on to that trend. Customers who do not want to fumble around in their wallet for their automated teller machine (ATM) card—or who have misplaced it for the umpteenth time—will soon be able to unlock cash dispensers’ coffers by using their phone. JPMorgan C hase, whic h has more ATMs in the United States—18,000—than any other bank, has activated this technology on a few hundred machines in four test cities, including Miami and San Francisco. Six thousand more are upgraded and ready to go. Bank of America and Wells Fargo plan to introduce cardless options to all their machines by the end of the year. And while swiping an ATM card may not exactly seem onerous, bankers think going cardfree will be a hit with consumers. “It’s about having the choice,” said Jonathan Vel line, Wel ls Fargo’s head of ATM and branch banking. “If you’ve lost your card or left home without your wallet, chances are you still have your smartphone in your hand.” But, of course, any new financial technology brings with it new security holes. For decades banks have battled “skimming”, in which criminals sabotage ATMs to steal the information off a card and use it to clear out people’s accounts. The replacement of magnetic-stripe cards with chip cards significantly reduced that problem, but mobile access brings in new worries. One Chase customer recently had $2,900 stolen from her account through the bank ’s new cardless system—which she had never used. A thief got her online banking username and password, installed Chase’s mobile app on his or her phone, and used it to withdraw cash. Unlike most cardless
A customer uses her smartphone and an automated teller machine (ATM) to do banking transactions, at the Bank of America Tower in Manhattan on January 27. Major banks are already testing—and will soon offer more widely—teller machines that give you access with your phone, dispensing with the need for an ATM card. But the feature raises new security issues. James Estrin/The New York Times
systems, Chase’s does not require customers to enter their four-digit PIN at the cash machine. Chase refunded the customer’s lost money and immediately made security changes. “We’ve put safeguards in place to protect our customers,” said Michael Fusco, a Chase spokesman. The bank ’s system still does not require PINs, but Chase is confident it can detect and prevent similar attacks, he said. Other banks have fared better, and say their fraud rates on mobile ATM transactions are significantly lower than those for traditional card-swipe withdrawals. Wintr ust Financia l, which operates community banks in Illinois and Wisconsin, added
cardless access to all its 250 cash machines nearly three years ago. Thanks to multiple layers of security, there has been no fraud so far, said Thomas P. Ormseth, a senior vice president at the bank. (“Knock on wood,” he added.) How the mobile systems work varies from bank to bank—and, sometimes, even within one bank. Most of the major banks are using a technolog y called nearfield communications ( known as NFC), which enables devices to exchange information wirele s s ly o ve r shor t d i st a nce s. Modern smartphones usually contain an NFC chip, which is used for many mobile payment systems, including Apple Pay and Android Pay.
At Bank of America, customers with compatible phones and a digital wallet app can tap their phone on the cash machine’s wireless pad to authenticate their identity. From there, customers enter their personal identification numbers and carry out transactions in the usual way. Wells Fargo is also testing NFC and adding the hardware it requires to all of its cash machines. But in the meantime, it has a simpler approach: one-time access codes. Customers can log in to Wells Fargo’s mobile app and request one, which is good for 30 minutes. At the 900 Wells Fargo ATMs that are set up to accept the codes so far, the customer types in the code and then their PIN to withdraw cash.
A12 Saturday, February 18, 2017
Fuji Xerox PHL bullish, launches cloud, mobility-ready printers
By Rizal Raoul Reyes
UJI Xerox Philippines (FXP) Inc. sees a bright scenario for its local operations, as its executives said the economy shows “good indicators of sustained growth and determined leadership”. “We see outstanding opportunities in the Philippines mainly because of the decisive style of the President, the high growth of the gross domestic product and the great performance of the stock market,” Ken Kozak, FXP printer channel sales general manager, said in an interview at the sidelines of the launching of its two new color printer models in Makati City. Citing International Data Corp. (IDC) data, Kozak said Fuji Xerox’s sales rose to 20 percent in 2016, from 3 percent in the previous year in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region. This indicates a growing consumer confidence on the brand, he said. In anticipation of a greater need from the local market, Kozak said the local office of the Minato, Tokyo, Japan-headquartered firm expanded its manpower from eight to 21 people. “We will also build a robust dealership network and ex-
pand our channel to cover a big part of the country.” For a closer focus on their target market, Kozak said FXP will be adding teams in scanners, printers and government accounts to push their respective products. Kozak said FXP has also bolstered its service centers to 122. “We have a service center as far as Puerto Princesa in Palawan.” The company said the newly launched printers is positioned in the small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) market segment. According to Kozak, the two printers are under FXP’s DocuPrint C315 series. The “dw” model is a single function printer, while the “z” model provides support for four functions: print, copy, scan and facsimile. According to Kozak, FXP has also harnessed the cloud to complement its product line. With the firm’s cloud service hub, users can access files in
Ken Kozak, Fuji Xerox PC sales general manager, at the sidelines of the launching of its two new color models—DocuPrint CP315 dw and CM315 z—held in Makati City. Roy Domingo
multiple-listed cloud storages in one search, which saves time and effort, according to Kozak. “As far as mobility is concerned, our comprehensive mobility options on the DocuPrint C315 series allow a user to print documents conveniently and securely,” he added. “Users can print directly through
an iOS support mobile device without downloading a mobile app or print driver.” Android users, meanwhile, can print documents using smartphones and tablet devices, as both models are Mopria Alliance-certified, Kozak added. The certification comes from
the group cofounded by Xerox in September 2013. According to their mission statement, “The Mopria Alliance is a nonprofit membership organization of leading global technology companies with the goal of providing simple wireless printing from smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.”
Hooq appoints Tech pioneers optimistic of virtual currency in PHL new tech exec What are the benefits of investing
SI AN video-on-demand ser v ice prov ider Hooq Digital Holdings Pte. Ltd. recently beefed up its management team with the appointment of M ichaela Fleshman as chief technology officer. F leshman is a veteran in the media industry and has over 20 years of experience in global organizations, such as the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) Worldwide, Viacom, Financial Times and AOL. “We are elated to welcome Michael as part of our senior leadership team. At the same time, we are ecstatic by his depth of experience in the digital media space, and I have no doubt he will lead our technical team to new heights as we expand aggressively into new territories, new products and new platforms in 2017,” Hooq CEO Peter Bithos was quoted in a statement as saying. Bithos said on January 31 that Fleshman will initiate plans on the strategic planning and development of Hooq’s product and platform, with the view of ensuring the firm stays ahead of the curve in the over-the-top space, spearheads innovation and delivers flawless customer experience. Prior to joining Hooq, Fleshman established and led the charge at digital strategy and development consulting firm Notting Hill Digital after spending almost 20 years in CTO roles for top media companies, including BBC Worldwide, where he led the teams responsible for the development of BBC Store, as well as the creation of new platforms for all of BBC Worldwide’s digital properties. “I am excited to be part of such a dynamic start-up, and I look forward to driving the company into its new phase of innovation and technology,” Fleshman said. Fleshman is an alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and becomes a geek in his free time by trying out the latest technologies and gadgets.
HE use of bitcoins in the Philippines is still in its early stage. Although Filipinos are known in the global arena as heavy users of short messaging services and Facebook, the use of bitcoin is not yet pervasive in many areas, such as business-to-business transaction and shopping. Nevertheless, John Bailon and Miguel Antonio Cuneta made a leap of faith by establishing Satoshi Citadel Industries (Bitmarket.ph) Inc. in 2004, because they support and believe in the potential of bitcoins. Moreover, Cuneta and Baylon are pushing the propagation of blockchain technology, regarded as coding breakthrough. This coding breakthrough—which consists of connected blocks of transactions— enables competitors coexist in a digital ledger across a network of computers without need for a central authority. Cuneta, Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI) cofounder, shares in an interview via email the different insights of the bitcoins industry in the country today and the importance of bitcoins in the digital economy.
Why did you and your cofounders put up Satoshi Citadel Industries?
When we started SCI, we did not even consider ourselves as a start-up. The founders just had a common passion for the potential of the technology behind bitcoins, and decided that we wanted to set up a service that would allow any merchant or professional to accept payments in bitcoins and not have to worry about understanding the technology behind it. The goal was to give the small players in Philippine e-commerce a way to enter the digital economy without credit cards or other similar but prohibitive payment methods. From there, it just evolved very fast into what it is today.
What are the benefits of bitcoins to the financial system of the country? What is its role in the economy? The main benefits of a free, open
in bitcoins? As a follow-up, what are the challenges in investing in bitcoins?
We do not encourage people to speculate in the price of bitcoins, as it is a very volatile and risky asset to hold. We provide financial services using bitcoins as an underlying technology, instead. Investing in bitcoins is something that needs a lot of research and understanding of the technology and the market. If you wish to buy and sell bitcoins safely, we provide services that can facilitate this, such as Buybitcoins.ph.
Do you think it will take a longer time for the Philippines to accept bitcoins?
and decentralized payment system like bitcoins are still being discovered as we speak. Number one, it does not cost anything to use this technology. Two, it is open-source and available to all, and allows for interoperability between different bitcoins-related services. Currently, it allows merchants to accept payments online without the need for credit cards or PayPal (which has fraud, chargebacks and prohibitive cost). It has also spawned a new industry pioneered by SCI, called “Rebittance,” or “bitcoins remittance”. It allows for much cheaper transfer of money to the Philippines, which is especially useful for millions of overseas Filipino workers. The role of bitcoins in the economy is still very tiny, but has the potential to become a very large and robust industry in the near future, if developments continue at today’s pace.
How does bitcoins trading work?
bitcoins trading works like foreign-exchange trading.
People buy and sell bitcoins on international exchanges using US dollar, Chinese yuan, euros, Japanese yen, etc., and this allows the price of bitcoins to be determined by the free market.
Can you describe the current bitcoins market in the country today?
The Philippines has one of the most active bitcoins industries in the world today. Several start-ups have been established and have achieved some degree of success in terms of traction, volume and VC investments. SCI, for example, closed its seed round of investment with the backing of South Korean tech giant Kakao, a $10-billion company. The volume of bitcoins transactions is growing month on month, and most of the past negative image of bitcoins is now replaced by legitimate interest from all sectors of finance and technology. It is a few years away from making it to the mainstream market, but the growth is comparable to the early days of the Internet industry.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas already released Circular 944 last week, the new regulations for virtual currency business that wants to operate in the Philippines, which means that bitcoins technology platforms, such as SCI, are basically considered legitimate services today. For mainstream users to start using bitcoins, it will take several years, just like any new technology. We will need to provide a “killer app” for bitcoins to be easily used by anyone, and that is what SCI is working on developing today.
How does SCI help bitcoins trading in the country? SCI’s flagship service today is Rebit.ph, a bitcoins-remittance service. This means that there are a lot of bitcoins coming from abroad into the country. We provide every necessary service for any person to buy, sell, remit, pay bills, accept payments and other kinds of financial activities, using bitcoins technology. We also provide a lot of educational talks for the general public, mostly in universities, to teach the new generation of finance professionals, computer programmers and entrepreneurs about the revolutionary technology behind bitcoins.
How Google Chromebooks conquered education hubs By Anick Jesdanun The Associated Press
EW YORK—The Google Chromebook, a type of str ipped-dow n laptop, isn’t a practical mobile device for many people—mostly because it basically turns into an expensive paperweight whenever it can’t find a Wi-fi connection. Yet, Chromebooks have defied expectations and made major inroads in an unexpected environment—US schools. In retrospect, that shouldn’t be too surprising. Chromebooks are cheap and easy to manage, making them popular with budgetconstrained schools with limited tech-support staff. And Wi-Fi is now common enough in US schools and homes to make an internetdependent device practical for students. Google doesn’t want to stop there. It’s releasing new models, in partnership with Samsung, that are designed to appeal to a broader range of consumers. They have several tablet-like features, including a stylus, touch controls and a 360-degree hinge that allows you to turn the screen faceup. One starts selling Sunday for $449; a more powerful version comes out in April for $100 more. Google and its manufacturing partners are trying to shed the Chromebook’s perception as underperforming budget devices. But even with premium models, expanding beyond US schools won’t be easy.
Chromebooks get schooled
FOR personal computers and tablets, Chromebook’s share of the US education market was 49 percent last year, up from 40 percent in 2015 and 9 percent in 2013, according to IDC figures released this week. But education accounts for just 14 percent of the 110 million devices shipped in the US last year— and Chromebooks make up just 9 percent of that broader total. Their numbers are also low abroad, even in schools. The Chromebook’s popularity in US education is also largely limited to grades K-12, analysts said. Macs and Windows laptops are still dominant on college campuses.
CHROMEBOOK S use a lightweight operating system designed to get people online faster, without having to wait around for the computer to start up. Much of the heavy lifting on Chromebooks gets done on Google’s remote servers, so Chromebooks themselves don’t need fast chips or lots of storage. Early on, though, that made Chromebooks seem cheap and underpowered, which “soured consumer expectations right off the bat,” IDC analyst Linn Huang said. Online storage for photos and documents online was much less common in 2011 when Chromebooks launched, so their limited local storage was initially unappealing. And the few apps available for Chromebooks didn’t work offline, at least at the time.
BUT what constrains consumers can actually be liberating in education. Most kids don’t need laptops on the bus or other locations where they can’t connect to Wi-Fi. And they don’t miss business software like Microsoft Office; Google’s online apps for documents and spreadsheets do just fine for homework. “What surprised us was how quickly it took off in education,” said Kan Liu, who oversees Chromebooks at Google.