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Business Silver Buying

Exchange Rates UNITED STATES, Dollar 43.713000 JAPAN, Yen 0.429700 UNITED KINGDOM, Pound 73.735100 HONGKONG, Dollar 5.638000 SWITZERLAND, Franc 48.890500 CANADA, Dollar 40.136800 SINGAPORE, Dollar 34.939700 AUSTRALIA, Dollar 40.348000 BAHRAIN, Dinar 115.949600 SAUDI ARABIA, Rial 11.655900 BRUNEI, Dollar 34.800600 INDONESIA, Rupiah 0.003800 THAILAND, Baht 1.343300 UAE, Dirham 11.901800 EUROPEAN MU, Euro 59.685700 CHINA, Yuan 7.010900 Malaysia, Ringgit 13.617700 KOREA, Won 0.042700

Gold Buying (troy oz.)

US$ 19.50 US$ 1294.10

As of May 23, 2014

Peso-Dollar ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................. Exchange Rate

Php 43.713

5.50%

Repo Rate

Reverse Repo Rate

3.50%

Inflation Rate (Apr‘ 14)

4.1%

91-Day T-Bill Rate

1.440%

.............................................................................................................................................................................................................................

As of May 23, 2014

Source: BSP

Economy At A Glance Indicator Latest

Bloomberry back in black This is proof that the Group, without a third-party management company, has the ability and the acumen to manage an integrated resort.  During the year, the Razon-led management team labored on building its core business, while working on the expansion that would make Solaire a truly integrated resort. Solaire’s management focused on preparing and implementing its marketing strateg y and executing policies and procedures that resulted in significantly better margins. It also intensified promotion and marketing efforts through  the  unveiling  of  creative programs, hosting special events, launching promotions, establishing marketing presence in the Asian region and hiring experienced executives. Bloombery Resorts Corporation is the owner and operator (through its subsidiaries) of the Solaire Resort & Casino, the first property to open in Entertainment City along Manila’s Roxas Boulevard. With the opening of Phase 1-A by the fourth quarter this year, Solaire will become a truly world-class integrated resort.

Year Ago

Gross National Income Gross Domestic Product

7.8 (4Q 2013) 6.5 (4Q 2013) US$5.2 Exports billion (March 2014) US$4.72 Imports billion (Feb 2014) 4.1 Headline (April Inflation 2014) Rate 2.9 Core (April Inflation 2014) Rate 19.5% Underemployment (Jan 2014) Rate

8.1 (3Q 2013) 6.9 (3Q 2013) US$4.6 billion (Feb 2014) US$5.95 billion (Jan 2014) 3.9 (Mar 2014) 3.9 (Mar 2014) 17.9% (Oct 2013)

6.4 (4Q 2012) 7.1 (4Q 2012) US$ 4.7 billion (March 2013) US$4.71 billion (Feb 2013) 2.6 (April 2013) 3.1 (April 2013) 20.7% (Jan 2013)

Unemployment 7.5% (Jan Rate

6.5% (Oct 2013)

7.1% (Jan 2013)

2014)

GETTING rid of a third party to manage listed gaming firm Bloomberry Resorts Corp. turned out to be the key to its return to profitability. In this year’s first quarter, the company – owned by billionaire Enrique Razon – yielded an after-tax profit of P1.461 billion, a sharp reversal from a stunning P1.056 billion loss in the same period last year. The profit, a record-first for the casino and resort firm, came on the back of gross revenues of P7.381 billion, over 11 times in the same period last year. This is despite total expenses for the quarter rose nearly 2.5 times to P4.530 billion,  year-on-year, the company says in a report to the Philippines Stock Exchange. Operating expenses grew by 157 percent year-on-year to P4.515 billion. Gaming accounted for 95.7 percent of the company’s turnover, followed by revenues from hotel, food and beverage, 3.9 percent. This significant improvement in revenues was due to the Group’s ability to successfully manage and operate Solaire without a third-party management company.   “It is significant that we were able to turn a profit after only a year of operation,” says Razon, Bloomberry chairman and CEO.

Previous

Source: NEDA

As of May 23, 2014

This is proof that the Group, without a thirdparty management company, has the ability and the acumen to manage an integrated resort

Property bubble? BANKS are well-capitalized, allowing them to head off any risk and still keep their balance sheets healthy, stable and robust. Monetary authorities are alarmed over surging loan exposure in the real estate market, raising the specter of an asset bubble in an overheating economy. As monitored by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), loans extended by banks to property developers amounted to over one trillion pesos at end-2013, up 7.1 percent over the end of the third quarter last year. The lenders, including universal, commercial and thrift banks, were apparently buoyed by the market’s growth prospects over the long-term. Based on BSP data, land developers and construction companies accounted for 60 percent of the real estate loans, while borrowers acquiring residential

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properties took the rest of the loans.   BSP on guard The BSP also expressed concern over the rise of   investments in real estate securities which grew 7.8 percent to Php163.6 billion at end-2013 from Php 151.8 billion during the third quarter last year. Overall, the property exposure represented 21.8 percent of the banks’ total loan portfolio last year. Although some real estate loans RELS) are non-performing, they remained manageable based on BSP’s credit standards. At end-2013, the non-performing RELs of all types of bank accounted for 2.8 percent of their RELs, lower than the

3.2 percent posted at end-September last year. Amid threats of an asset bubble, the BSP remains on guard to assess and address potential concerns that may un-

dermine the stability of the financial system. As of 31 December 2013, the banks’ capital adequacy ratios (CARs) stood at 16.50 percent on solo basis and 17.65 percent on consolidated basis. These ratios remain driven by Tier 1 capital, the highest quality among instruments eligible as bank capital.  As a percentage of risk weighted assets, Tier 1 ratios stood at 15.37 percent and 15.82 percent on solo and consolidated basis, respectively. A strong capital position promotes financial stability by providing individual banks and the industry with an adequate buffer against unexpected losses that may arise during times of crisis.

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5/23/2014 10:11:03 PM


Transport

Building Linkages for Understanding

STRINGS ATTACHED

DOTC corruption, the MRT-3 expansion, and economic imperialism

There is no need for open war in the Spratlys between China and the Philippines when certain corrupt officials at the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) are already selling us out to China. DOTC’s open bid for the second lot of the MRT-3 expansion project last May 21 was met with skepticism by several members of the concerned public,especially in social media sites, due to its track record of past corruption allegations. DOTC press releases are now aimed at putting out the fires recently inflamed by Czech diplomat Josef Rychtar’s allegations of extortion involving an earlier MRT-3 bidding. In his defense, DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya pointed out that Inekon, the Czech company which Rychtar pushed for, wanted not only to secure the supply contract through a government-to-government arrangement instead of public bidding, but to do so at a price that it would dictate: US$ 3.35 Million for each coach, or $174.46 Million for 52 coaches.

Too Convenient

What’s fishy about the awarding to long-running Chinese rail outfit Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Company is not that they won the bidding fair and square, as the government claims. The suspicion stems from the fact that Dalian is a Chinese-run supplier of train coaches, and their immediate bidding success comes at a time when tensions are heated up between China and the Philippines. Recent intelligence photos released by the Department of Foreign Affairs indicate that China is serious with its military expansion in the disputed Mabini/Chugua Reef. Considering that the first MRT-3 coaches were made in the Czech Republic, kicking them out of the bidding seems too convenient. Economics and politics sleep in the same bed, and mainland Chinese investments, from the national power grid, the giant malls that Filipinos shop in, down to t h e trains we ride in just screams economic imperialism.

To be fair, a number of Chinese Filipinos who engage in various businesses locally are suspicious about China’s silent economic expansion in the Philippines. Their parents and grandparents left mainland China because they refuse totalitarian rule.

Incompatibility Deniers

Now that the DOTC has opened another bidding for the MRT-3’s ancillary systems,costing Php836,463,049.86, which is close to a billion, it remains to be seen whether this project will not be tainted with corruption. It is very easy to feign transparency when the purpose is to shake off criticism. While this bid may not go to another Chinese-run company, the issue remains the same: train coaches that come from a different manufacturer altogether will require additional expenses. This would be way beyond what it might cost if only the government maintained its business dealings with the Czech companies who have proven track records in the railway industry. The DOTC insists that the new coaches from China are not incompatible, but train experts are not fooled. Each manufacturer follows a different set of designs, from the train itself to the support system that will allow the train to run. European railway systems have centuries of scientific, engineering, and technological prowess to back them up, and those trains have practically written themselves in history. There is also the issue of quality when it comes to getting trains from China. In 2011, there was the bullet train crash that put into question the industrial integrity of Chinese-made trains. The list of railway accidents in China is one of the longest in the world. Do we have to risk lives here for the

sake of saving the government billions?

The Irony of WEF

This is what looks appalling: the Philippines just hosted the Word Economic Forum, and President Aquino showcased the country as ‘the fastest-growing economy in the region next to China’, when all that the foreign delegates have to do is to look at the overcrowding in the nearest MRT-3 station. Pnoy mouths off words like ‘equity’ and ‘inclusive growth’ without flinching, when the most glaring display of inequity is shown in the government’s choice to sacrifice safety and quality over people’s lives. But then, what should we expect from a corruptionstained DOTC and the President who is too callous to stop it, even when lives are at stake? It wouldn’t be the first time, because the Aquino administration will be remembered afterwards with foulups that involve things that run on wheels, from the Luneta tourist bus massacre, to the security vehicle provided by Mar Roxas that was used to bring alleged PDAF scam mastermind Janet Napoles to jail, up to the recent problems that hound the MRT-3 acquisition.

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Think Green For A Better Planet

Environment

Invest in Resilience Legarda Tells WEF Senator Loren Legarda has encouraged both government and the business sector to include resilience at the core of private and public governance as she stressed that disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) is a wise investment, during the interactive session “Designing Solutions on Climate and Resource Risks” of the World Economic Forum on East Asia. “Globally, economic losses due to disasters are taking a toll on development. These losses will continue to escalate unless DRRM becomes integral to national development plans and business investment strategies,” said Legarda, who was named a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the WEF in the year 2000 in Davos, Switzerland. The United Nations report, Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2013, showed that global economic losses from disasters since 2000 are in the range of $2.5 trillion. “Poverty and inequalities worsen as natural hazards and climate change constantly affect the poor and keep them trapped in a vicious cycle of risk and poverty. We can ensure our economic resilience by reducing disaster risks, letting investors be aware of it, and requiring business investments to take into account DRRM measures,” Legarda said.
 The Senator said increasing public and private investments in advancing DRRM and climate change adaptation (CCA), and transitioning to clean energy, are the greatest economic challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. She also stressed that in areas that have been devastated by disasters, governments must build back stronger and wiser. Legislators are likewise urged to address gaps in policies through

measures that will: link science and policy-making; finance mechanisms for climate and energy solutions—including energy efficiency, clean technology and green infrastructure investment; and enable the private business and financial community to support comprehensive climate and energy policies and to invest in climate and clean energy solutions. She also urged the business community to embed DRRM in business processes to strengthen resilience, competitiveness and sustainability. Legarda said that robust business continuity planning is part of the private sector’s corporate social responsibility. “Private companies should mainstream resilience in their value chain. Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are especially encouraged to develop their BCPs because disaster impacts such as destruction of road infrastructure, bridges and local facilities have drastic effects on them. The business sector is also encouraged to conduct and share risk assessment and best practices of their companies,” she said. “Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation must be closely linked to development— the kind of development that does not create new risks but promotes resilient investments,” Legarda concluded.

and inequalities “Poverty worsen as natural

hazards and climate change constantly affect the poor and keep them trapped in a vicious cycle of risk and poverty

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5/23/2014 10:11:05 PM


VIRILITY and HAIR LOSS

Health

AT a certain age, a lot of men fear hair loss. Recent research shows that onefourth of a number of men aged 25-29 are more concerned with losing their hair, over other age-related problems like skin aging or graying hair. Society in general has come to associate a full head of hair with virility. Going bald is often seen as a loss of masculinity or power. It is a deficit that can usher in a crisis as exemplified by numerous cases of male menopause visible in a neighborhood near you. For a fear that is so common, the actual science of hair loss remains shrouded in mystery, myth and patent misinformation. Many of us have been raised on the belief that washing your hair daily will speed up the shedding process or — equally insane — that standing on your head or having a cow lick on your scalp will jumpstart lazy follicles. The Internet doesn’t help either: The supposed cures for hair loss are often as questionable as the causes they cite. Part of this confusion is due to the sheer variety of things that can provoke hair loss and thinning. There are, of course, genetic factors to consider, but other culprits include reduced blood circulation and chronic inflammation around the hair bulb. There are also a host of scenarios that can trigger reactive hair loss. These include fatigue, stress, anemia, thyroid problems, medication and drastic changes in diet that exclude essential vitamins and minerals (sulfur amino acids, fatty acids, metals, metalloids and vitamins B5, B6, H, PP, A, E and C in particular).

Environmental factors that can provoke shedding include silicone-based shampoos and heavy waxes, which literally asphyxiate the scalp. Needless to say, heavy smoking and drinking have enormous impacts too. Hair grows in cycles — anagen (the growth phase), catagen (the degradation phase) and telogen (the resting phase), and in a healthy scalp this cycle repeats around 25 times. So chill out — the hair will usually grow back. As you get older, the number of hair follicles will reduce but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to end up as bald as a coot (especially if you’re smart enough to take preventative action — see this month’s roundup for suggestions). The bad news is that the state of your shower floor might be a sign of male pattern baldness, a hereditary hormone imbalance that causes hair follicles to start shutting completely down. In cases of MPB, testosterone (your BFF since adolescence) is converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. DHT is your follicles’ enemy, as it slows down hair production and sometimes stops it completely. It’s important to distinguish between normal/chronic thinning and MPB (also known as androgenic alopecia). In MPB, your hair usually starts to recede at the hairline before

thinning at the crown, and the process can start surprisingly early for some guys. The actual pattern of loss is usually a good indicator of MPB. For some guys this can be a deceptively subtle shift that takes place over several decades. For others, it can happen in a couple of years and can be very distressing for a guy still in his 20s or 30s. It doesn’t help that run-ofthe-mill anti-hair-loss products are unlikely to have any real impact in cases of MPB. The solution, if you really feel you need one, involves either a) graciously accepting the hand you were dealt (recommended) or b) opting for hardcore meds, the kind that invariably come with their own set of side effects (including, I hasten to add, erectile dysfunction and depression). Minoxidil and finasteride tend to be the most popular drugs, the former going by the infamous trade name Rogaine. Or there’s surgery. Over the last few years, procedures like follicular unit extraction (FUE) have become increasingly popular, especially after rather public endorsements from the likes of Wayne Rooney and Calum Best. Unlike the dodgy-looking transplants from the 70s, FUE involves individually removing healthy follicles and painstakingly grafting them one-byone to the bald patches. (AskMen.com)

One Humble Man

P

ermit me to write about one humble man who, some insist, should be a National Artist. He shall be holding his retrospective show starting June 6 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Hugo Yonzon Jr. (May 24, 1924-October 17, 1994) was a prolific painter but had only a few one-man shows in his lifetime. Plaudits and awards came early in his career but he posited himself as just one good craftsman, doing what he was obsessed doing, painting the way he thought it should naturally be done. He grew up in Singalong, Manila and spent vacation in his lawyer-nurse father’s hometown San Luis, Pampanga, at the foot of the fabled Mt. Arayat. Inspired by the scenes and the kabalens, the subject matters of his paintings were almost entirely rural folks, their myths, and history. After World War II, Hugo Yonzon Jr. was accepted as a scholar at the School of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines, counting in his batch Malang, Araceli Limcaco (Dans), Napoleon Abueva, Larry Alcala, and Juvenal Sanso. But school wasn’t for him. After only one

semester, he plunged headlong into the professional field. He went to work with a string of advertising agencies, becoming an art director in so short a time. After these, he became consulting artist for newspapers. He moonlighted for comics, magazines, and educational books. He was one of the pioneers in comics after the War and cont r ibuted in Halakhak, Mabu hay, Hiwaga and other publications. His Boboy Yonzon most significant comics illustration was for the series “Sawa sa Lumang Simboryo (Python in the Old Belfry)” that was made into a movie classic in 1952 Yonzon’s sharp wit and a wry sense of humor were also reflected in his most popular daily comic strip “Sakay en Moy” which first appeared in 1953 in what was then the country’s number one newspaper, the Manila Times. The strip ran for 19 years in that paper. Another creation was “Dalaginding” (young

MyPAD

lady) that came out weekly in Philippine Graphic magazine. He worked long hours. When he worked with ad agencies (Philprom, Adcraft, Philippine Advertising Counsellors, Hontiveros Associates) during daytime, he painted and did commissioned works during the night. And when he worked with the papers (Evening News, Daily Express, Daily Globe), from dawn the night, he painted and accepted other works during the day. His early oils such as Squatters (1947), Fishermen (1948) and Tuba Makers (1948) were characterized by dark tertiary hues, such as parsley green against dried cinnamon red, or sinking navy blue against rust to dust brown. His figures were unsmiling and stoic, with their abs and specs exhibiting eight-days-aweek of brutal toil. From the mid-fifties to the mid-sixties, Yonzon forayed into distorting, fragmenting, flattening, and texturing his

Taste genes may predict tooth decay

W

e are doubly excited about these interesting times in dentistry because another study shows that genes may be a reason why some people are more prone to tooth decay, or dental caries. Researchers have observed high levels of caries-causing bacteria in identical pairs of twins but no similar level among fraternal pairs twins. These are the preliminary findings of a study involving the largest group of twins ever gathered for oral health research. It involves 1,100 pairs of male and female identical and fraternal twins up to 21 years old living in poor neighborhoods in the northeastern Brazilian city of Montes Claros. They are at risk for caries because of inadequate water fluoridation and inability to access dental care. Twins can be monozygotic (“identical”) when they develop from one zygote that splits and forms two embryos. Or they can be dizygotic (“fraternal”) when they develop from two separate eggs that are fertilized by two separate sperm. A zygote is the initial cell formed when a new organism is produced by means of sexual reproduction. The pioneering study by New York University (NYU) dental researchers Dr. Walter Bretz and Dr. Patricia Corbyt is funded by a $1.7 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). The researchers are looking at the role genetics play in dental caries, observing for example that a pair of identical twins develops caries on the same tooth surfaces over the course of several years. Twins were also chosen be-

subject matters, as exemplified by the prize-winning Procession (1955), Boats (1959), and Exodus (1960). The emotion that they exuded was that of hope. In 1962, his Banaue, very geometrical but majestic and once again very texturized, won top prize in a competition conducted by the Tourism Board. In 1971, at age 47, quite late, Yonzon had his first one-man show; at the La Solidaridad Gallery in Malate. His subject remained the ordinary folks, very much recognizable but within environs seemingly scissored into several planes and applied in thin oil paint. On these are textures of done tiny, soft stubbles or like dancing rice stalks from a distance, applied patiently with small brushes. On his sixth and last oneman show at the Lopez Museum in 1989, Yonzon’s oils became figurative, with slight traces of cubistic influence. Friends and art critics described Hugo as a painter looking for a style. Maybe. All because he refused to be pegged down to a genre and was fearless in exploring depths of expressing visions. Early on, he would humor his colleagues by joining either the realistic category WE TAKE A STAND

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Wellness is Life

THE DENTIST IS IN

Dr. Joseph D. Lim cause they live together and have similar dietary habits and health practices. A genetic predisposition to caries may be seen by comparing identical twins – who share all their genes – against fraternal ones, who share an average of half their genes. If identical twins tend to develop caries one way, while fraternal twins show no such pattern, genetics may plays a leading role. If caries development follows similar patterns in both identical and fraternal twins, environmental factors may be the reason. The study will assess the relative significance of 15 potential factors in caries development. These include anatomical problems, such as porous enamel and deep pits and fissures in the teeth; salivary protein profiles; oral bacteria levels, sucrose taste preferences and other factors linked to both genetics and the environment. It will look as well at socioeconomic concerns, such as a lack of access to fluoridated water and dental care. By the end of the five-year study, the researchers will develop a risk assessment equation that assigns numerical values to various factors in caries development. Working in collaboration with Dr. Thomas Hart, a geneticist at Turn to page 13

or the modernist category of the Art Association of the Philippines competitions and run away with the top prizes from both. He also romped away with medals in photography and caricature. Characteristically humble, Yonzon always dismissed that he was just a “good craftsman”. He always under-rated himself. He considered one of his major works the mural on our culture that was mounted in the Philippine pavilion at the New York World’s Fair in 1964. He loved Philippine rural scenes and historical stories as subject matters. He also did such murals for the Philippine Village Hotel, their whereabouts now unknown. Yonzon and his wife Vitaliana (Betty) Dagani of Agusan begot fourteen children. Ribbed one buddy, journalist Neal Cruz, the number of mouths to feed were what impelled him to work long hours. As friends would declare: “his works, before the paint could even dry, were snapped up at quickly by art lovers”. It was only after his death in 1994 that his children, mostly his five sons, went into painting. His shoes were difficult to fill. That is very much evident in his retrospective show at the CCP.

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Foreign

Fostering International Relations

Leaders Call for Food Security

in South-East Asia

I

South-East Asian countries are making good progress in reducing hunger, but more action is needed  Rising demand and climate volatility are placing increasing pressure on food systems Innovation, investment and partnerships are needed to achieve lasting food security The World Economic Forum is developing a new partnership, Grow Asia, to support ASEAN’s food security goals

n a region deeply vulnerable to the vagaries of natural disasters, climate change and food security – and where on average half of the population rely on agriculture for their livelihoods – participants in a session on agricultural transformation, at the World Economic Forum on East Asia, pledged their commitment to an innovative new regional solution. Government and business leaders, alongside farmers and scientists, called for improved collaboration, linkages and technology transfers under the regional umbrella initiative Grow Asia as the best way to ensure food security in the region. Grow Asia, developed in tandem with the ASEAN Secretariat, is designed to advance food security and promote sustainable and inclusive agricultural growth as well as facilitate more active links across the entire value chain. “We have more than 300 million smallholders in Asia and they are the most vulnerable,” said Franky Oesman Widjaja, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Indonesian agribusiness company Sinar Mas. “Sustainable agriculture is the only way forward.” Noting that the challenge lies not only in producing more sustainable food amid an expanding global population, Estrella Penunia, Secretary-General of the Asian Farmers Association for

Sustainable Rural Development in the Philippines, spoke of the need for tighter links from rice fields up. “The challenge for small farmers is how to link to services, how to organize ourselves as a group so we can better access services and negotiate better with private companies,” she said. Acknowledging the complexities of attaining food security in the future, Ho Hsing-Chan, Group Managing Director, ASEAN, DuPont, Singapore, pointed to migratory trends that see more people in cities and the reluctance of young people to enter the farming sector. “We are struggling to get young people to come into the farming sector,” said Hsing-Chan. “The children of farmers are reluctant to be farmers themselves.” However, Robert S. Ziegler, Director-General, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Philippines, said the future holds tremendous challenges and tremendous opportunities. He spoke of the “biological revolution”, how the development of resilient, higher-yield crops will help to ensure food security. “We know that climate change will throw at us major challenges. But we have at our disposal a tremendous array of new tools. Our understanding of biology, molecular genetics, this whole biological revolution, will allow us to

develop crops that will withstand the onslaught of climate change.” In Vietnam, a country forecast to be among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, pilot programs over recent years have shown how science can mitigate the risks, said Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam. He said that multistakeholder, market-based initiatives had seen farmers boost their yields and income, while at the same time significantly reducing waste and emissions. He also emphasized a collaborative response: “The best response will come from everyone, not only the government.” Lisa Dreier, Senior Director, Head of Food Security and Development Initiatives, World Economic Forum USA, also emphasized the need for new approaches and partnerships in the region. “The ASEAN region has significant potential to be a leader in environmentally and socially sustainable food production to further food security in the region. Realizing that potential will require innovative new approaches, including partnerships.” The 23rd World Economic Forum on East Asia, hosted with the support of the Government of the Philippines, is took place in Metro Manila on  21-23 May 2014. The theme of the meeting is, Leveraging Growth for Equitable Progress.

know that climate “Wechange will throw at

us major challenges. But we have at our disposal a tremendous array of new tools

- Robert S. Ziegler

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Shaping the Future

InfoTech

PNoy Deaf to PH BPO Woes The country’s economy benefits immensely from the BPO industry, but very little is being done by government to address the problems brought over by a rapidly-growing industry, other than self-serving, obligatory praises. The Philippines should expect stronger competition for a slice of the BPO pie in the Asia-Pacific region in the years to come. China is making steps to become an emerging rival in an industry dominated by the Philippines and India. ASEAN member Malaysia is also getting into the competition. We should not be surprised when our best call center employees move to other ASEAN countries, because these countries will offer double salaries and job security. The Oxford study also pointed out that the Philippines’ inability to improve infrastructure will limit investors only to developed areas such as Manila and Cebu. Our roads and highways leave much to be desired, and this will turn away investors who will find it cheaper to do business elsewhere in the ASEAN region.

Declarations of rapid economic growth in the recent World Economic Forum are marred by the neglect of BPO workers’ rights, infrastructure failures like snail-speed Internet connections, and public safety issues. Several workers groups in the business process outsourcing industry felt put down because President Benigno Aquino turned a deaf ear on their concerns. Pnoy did not discuss the issue of pay cuts in BPOs servicing US clients during US President Obama’s visit.

Exploitation

According to BPO workers rights advocate Ian Porquia, BPO clients from the US are pressuring employers to cut down basic salary to as low as P10,000 to P12,000 on entry level. In the early 2000’s, entry-level employees received as much as Php20,000 to Php25, 000. Porquia says that despite the promising benefits in the BPO industry, the growing financial crisis is in fact forcing companies to streamline and lessen these benefits. The recent merging of different major BPO companies will eventually force lay-offs that will only contribute to the number of the country’s around three million qualified but unemployed professionals. The BPO industry may be growing but it is leaving workers shortchanged in the long run. Most BPO employees do not have job security, they are not allowed to form unions, they are not allowed to petition for profit sharing and appraisal on their pay. Porquia reveals that call center employees like him are simply left to take calls and eventually outgrow this norm inside the industry.

Public Safety Fail

Call center workers are always exposed to dangers on the road, especially at night. A glance at past two years’ news headlines will reveal cases of call center employees mugged,harassed, assaulted, raped and killed in transit. Corrupt cops, crooked taxi drivers, and various types of malicious entities lurk around call center areas in the metro, looking for their next victim. Women are especially vulnerable in this, as a large number of late-night call center workers are young women have reported being sexually-harassed and as-

360 degree hinged laptops

Gadget Review

saulted even in well-lighted streets. A Facebook source months ago tells of one male taxi driver assaulting a petite young woman who works in a BPO in Makati simply because the woman complained about the driver’s jacked-up fare rate. Female employees who bring their case to the local police only get told that they were assaulted because of the way they dress. The local police force needs to be schooled in handling cases involving violence towards women rather than resorting to victim-blaming.

The HP Pavilion x360

ASEAN 2015 Bane

An Oxford study shows that the incoming ASEAN 2015 integration may dampen the rapid growth of the Philippine BPO industry. Major international firms will start to rationalize their operations when trade and employment barriers in the region are lowered. There is a slow and silent exodus of BPO workers getting offers in Thailand and Malaysia, and this trend is expected to increase in pace in 2015, when regulations for migrant workers start to loosen in the Southeast Asian region. Even if the Philippines is strategically-placed to gain additional business, the BPO industry should not become complacent. Regional and international firms plan to take advantage of economies of scale in their BPO operations, especially for services that need English proficiency.

HP showed us a 360 degree convertible PC at MWC 2014, a hybrid which allows users to convert from laptop to tablet easily. Weighing just over 3 pounds, the laptop is equipped with an 11.6-inch diagonal highdefinition (HD) SVA display, Intel Pentium processor and an HP TrueVision HD webcam. In addition, the hybrid computer -- aimed at Millennials -- sports up to 8GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. The HP Pavilion x360 is expected to be available in the Brilliant Red color.

THE INTERNET OF THINGS

I

t is said that the so-called “internet of people” (as it is called now) is or was already built, and nothing else is needed to make it complete. The next step it is said, is the so-called “internet of things”, a term that obviously refers to anything and everything that does not involve the direct action or the direct participation of human beings. The other term for this “internet of things” is “machine to machine” (M2M) commerce, a more apt term perhaps, because it clearly implies that there are really no human beings that are directly involved. As it is generally understood, the “internet of people” involves people talking to each other, as in really talking verbally to each other, or via text, email or social networks. On the other hand, the “internet of things” involves machines “talking” to each other, as in virtually “talking” to each other. This figure of speech is akin to the old notion of two modems “handshaking” with each other, yet another figure of speech. The figure of speech continues, because in reality, it

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is not always a case of machines “talking” to each other, but more of chips and sensors “talking” to each other. If it sounds like I am already talking about robots that would seem to be the case, but not yet really in exact terms. Mention the word “android” nowadays, and people would think of the operating system that competes with Apple and Microsoft. Mention the word “android” a few years back and people would think of “Data”, a fictional character in the movie “Star Trek” that is perhaps the closest imagination of what an android does or looks like. In this context, it would be easier to explain that R2D2 and C3PO are the robots, meaning to say that they are not androids. I say that “machine to machine” is more apt, because it is easier to imagine two or more machines “talking” to each other, for instance a server “talking” to another server or a server “talking” to a computer, also known as a “client”. Strictly speaking however, the server actually “talks” not to the computer itself, but the chip or the

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sensor inside the computer. In the movie “Star Wars”, we saw how the computers inside the robots (or the chips or the sensors) inside the robots “died” when the servers also “died”. In the movie “Elysium”, we saw how the robots shifted loyalties when the servers were “captured” (or compromised), another way of saying that the servers “talked” with a different set of instructions when they commanded the robots otherwise. Bringing this discussion down to more understandable terms, the so-called machines could be referred to as “appliances” that are programmed to do certain things, including the programs (also known as the sets of instructions) that would command to “talk” to each other. As much as it is easier to imagine refrigerators and bread toasters “talking” to remote servers or devices, there are actually more profound (more useful) applications such as medical devices that would talk to each other in the whole new world of telemedicine. The common denominator between the “internet of people”

SCIENCE WORKS Ike Señeres and the “internet of things” is Internet Protocol (IP), the protocol that enables machines and devices to “talk” to and “understand” each other. Strictly speaking therefore, the so-called “internet of people” is actually made possible by the “internet of things”. The people in this case are simply just the users, while the machines and devices are the enablers. I have a particular bias for telemedicine because of its potentials to improve the health of people, but there are other meaningful applications such as farm automation. I also have a bias for farm automation because of what it could do for food security (read as the survival of mankind), but no less important is home automation, office automation, factory automation and store automation. As

I see it from my perspective, any form of automation could not be separated from instrumentation, because it is really the instruments (the machines, devices, chips and sensors) that make automation possible. I think that aside from M2M commerce, the most exciting technological development is the deployment of programmable logic controllers (PLCs) in the internet cloud, a technological breakthrough that will now make farm automation and factory automation cheaper and easier. PLCs could be considered as the heavy duty industrial computers that are the more powerful cousins of the personal computers (PCs) that are used in homes and offices. Brace yourself, because the world of the future will be a world of M2M commerce, commanding (or instructing) everything that affects our daily lives, such as transportation and weather forecasting. As it is now, chips and sensors could already report the weather cheaply yet accurately. For feedback, email iseneres@yahoo.com or text +639083159262

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etc. WANNA WATCH? WHILE in the playground with his friend, Little Johnny noticed that Jimmy was wearing a brand new, shiny watch. “Did you get that for your birthday?” asked Little Johnny. “Nope.” replied Jimmy. “Well, did you get it for Christmas then?”. Again Jimmy says “Nope.” “You didn’t steal it, did you?” asks Little Johnny. “No,” said Jimmy. “I went into Mom and Dad’s bedroom the other night when they were ‘doing the nasty’. Dad gave me his watch to get rid of me. Little Johnny was extremely impressed with this idea, and extremely jealous of Jimmy’s new watch. He vowed to get one for himself. That night, he waited outside his parents’ bedroom until he heard the unmistakable noises of lovemaking. Just then, he swung the door wide open and boldly strode into the bedroom. His father, caught in mid-stroke, turned and said angrily. “What do you want now?” “I wanna watch,” Johnny replied. Without missing a stroke, his father said, “Fine. Stand in the corner and watch, but keep quiet.”

UNUSED

A wife arrived home after a long shopping trip, and was horrified to find her husband in bed with a young, lovely thing. Just as she was about to storm out of

the house, her husband stopped her with these words: “Before you leave, I want you to hear how this all came about. Driving home, I saw this young girl, looking poor and tired, I offered her a ride. She was hungry, so I brought her home and fed her some of the roast you had forgotten about in the refrigerator. Her shoes were worn out so I gave her a pair of your shoes you didn’t wear because they were out of style. She was cold so I gave her that new birthday sweater you never wore even once because the color didn’t suit you. Her slacks were worn out so I gave her a pair of yours that you don’t fit into anymore. Then as she was about to leave the house, she paused and asked, ‘Is there anything else that your wife doesn’t use anymore?’ “And so, here we are!”

THE NOTE

John woke up one morning with an enormous erection so he turned over to his wife’s side of the bed. His wife, Heather, had already awakened though, and she was downstairs preparing breakfast in the kitchen. Afraid that he might spoil things by getting up, John called his little boy into the room and asked him to bring a note to his wife. The note read: The Tent Pole Is Up, The Canvas Is Spread,

The Hell With Breakfast, Come Back To Bed. Heather answered the note and then asked her son to bring it to her husband. The note read: Take The Tent Pole Down, Put The Canvas Away, The Monkey Had A Hemorrhage, No Circus Today. John read the note and quickly scribbled a reply. Then, he asked his son to bring it to his wife. The note read: The Tent Pole’s Still Up, And The Canvas Still Spread, So Drop What You’re Doing, And Come Give Me Some Head. Heather answered the note and then asked her son to bring it to her husband. The note read: I’m Sure That Your Pole’s The Best In The Land. But I’m Busy Right Now, So Do It By Hand!

HEART ATTACK?

A married fellow gets home early from work and hears strange noises coming from the bedroom. He rushes upstairs to find his wife naked on the bed, sweating and panting. “What’s up?” he asks. “I’m having a heart attack,” cries the woman. He rushes downstairs to grab the phone, but just as he’s calling,

Laughs and The Extraordinary

perience an erection ever again!” “Of course you will,” one of the doctors soothed. It’ll just have to be someone else’s, that’s all.”

CAUGHT! his 4-year-old son comes up and says, “Daddy! Daddy! Uncle Ted’s hiding in your closet and he’s got no clothes on!” The guy slams the phone down and storms upstairs into the bedroom, past his screaming wife, and rips open the wardrobe door. Sure enough, there is his brother, totally naked, cowering on the closet floor. “You bastard!!!” says the husband. “My wife’s having a heart attack, and all you can do is run around the house naked scaring the kids?”

NO MORE ERECTION

This poor bloke went to hospital for a circumcision but, because of some f*ck up during the operation, he ended up having a complete sex change. All the doctors and nurses had gathered around his bed as he was waking up so they could give him the bad news. Naturally, the poor bloke went to pieces and started crying when they explained what had happened to him. “sh*t!” he moaned. “this means I’ll never be able to ex-

A policeman sends his wife and kid to a resort for a vacation. After a week he joined them in the hotel. As soon as he came to the hotel room he wanted to make love to his wife and gave her “the look”. Whispering under her breath, the wife says “No darling, we can’t do it here, our kid is watching!” Husband replies, “You’re right, lets go to the beach.” After a while they make their way to the beach, they start to make love on an empty beach. All of a sudden, a policeman walks up to them. “Put your cloths on immediately, shame on you, you can’t do that in public!” Embarrassed, the husband admits “You are right, but I had a moment of weakness. We hadn’t seen each other for an entire week. Now, I’m a policeman too, and it would be very embarrassing if you fine me.” The cop thought for a second and said “Don’t worry... you are a colleague and it is your first time. But this is the third time I caught this b*tch making love on this beach in the last week and she will have to pay.”

MYSTERY NEWS

GHOST SEX SPECTROPHILIA, or ‘ghost sex’, is a fetish classified as the paraphilia in which a person experiences a physical attraction to ghosts or spirits – and apparently it is a growing trend. Increasing numbers of ‘spectrophiliacs’ are reportedly ‘visualising’ sexual experiences with saucy spirits. Actress Natasha Blasick caused quite the stir among professionals recently when she made the controversial claim that she has had sex with ghosts on multiple occasions, swearing that the experiences were ‘really, really pleasurable’. She said: “It was fun. I think ever since I was a child I always wanted to know if there is anything more to this world, I was always asking the questions and I think this made me feel kind of reassured that there is something more than what we can see with the naked eye. “It gave me comfort, support and love.” But the Paranormal Activity 2 star isn’t the first of her peers to report antics with a spirit. Singer Ke$ha reported her naughty nookie with an incubus last year, claiming the romp inspired the track Supernatural which was a hit for the star in 2012. Ke$ha believed her experience was an opportunity to engage with the supernatural in ‘a sexy way’, and assured fans that she was very open to such an experience. However, despite these celebrities’ beliefs that they take ‘comfort’ from their experiences, such claims have sparked skepticism from experts in the metaphysical and paranormal. Hawaiian medium Patricia Mahi says, “My opinion is to avoid ghost sex in the same way one would avoid sex with any stranger. “The experience described as ‘ghost sex’ may be related to a condition known as sleep paralysis, which renders a person awake and aware – but unable to move with a sensation of something heavy pressing down on them. “My advice is RUN! But seriously, my advice to anyone who has encountered a succubus, incubus or experienced ‘ghost sex’ should do his or her best to avoid any further contact.”

“It can be a very dangerous world out there and I would seriously recommend that they seek the immediate help of a strong spiritual person to rid them of this potentially harmful activity. “I recommend that they contact a sensitive that specializes in ‘clearing’ unwanted entities.” While Ms. Mahi has never personally experienced ‘ghost sex’, she believes as sex is such a driving force within our lives that a form of ‘energy transfer’ similar to sex as we know it could be possible with a spirit. “Just because we die doesn’t mean that our appetites for food, sex, love and companionship die with us.” “I feel that they exist in varying degrees as they do with all people here on earth and death is merely a phase change in that energy from one state, the physical, to another, the non-physical,” said Ms Mahi. Ms Mahi said: “Sightings of spirits can be fueled by our emotional states of grief, loss or loneliness. “We are still waiting for proof on many of life and death’s mysteries.” Paranormal explorer Robert Monroe published a series of Out Of Body Experience books, in which he explores the possibility of beings experiencing a form of sex with spirits that also described the event as an ‘energy transfer’ between them. “One would not have sex with an anonymous person from the street and feel safe or secure about it, and in the same vein, why would any sane person think that having sex with an anonymous entity would be a good idea?”

REMBRANDT BALITAAN

THE topics ‘unified ID system’ and ‘unfair labor practices’ were discussed at the Balitaan sa Hotel Rembrandt recently. SSS people Yolanda de los Reyes, assistant project supervisor, ID card production department and Beth Suralvo of public affairs department, explained how the unified identification system works to ease the services for members of Social Security System. Reden Alcantara, president of a labor union at NXP (formerly Phillips), has been fighting for his co-workers reinstatement since they were replaced by contractual personnel and their rights as workers were violated. With them in photo are forum host Erick San Juan, and Sammy Martin of PNA.

TASTE... From page 9 the NIDCR, the research could lead to new methods for identifying those most at risk for caries. Hopefully, dentists could then conduct genetic tests at the dental clinic. That would be a most welcome development for dentists worldwide, including those in the Philippines. We are particularly interested because members of the Philippine College of Oral Implantologists, which I helped establish, participate in continuing education courses at the the New York University WE TAKE A STAND

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College of Dentistry, founded in 1865 and one of the premier dental schools in the United States. ••••• Dr. Joseph D. Lim is  the Dean of the College of Dentistry, National University, President/CEO of Dr. Smile Dental Care & Laser Center and honorary fellow of the Asian Oral Implant Academy and the Japan College of Oral Implantologists. For questions on dental health, email  jdlim2008@gmail.com  or text 0917-8591515.

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