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BFAR promotes use of aerators to increase shrimp production By Eva Visperas (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 12, 2013 - 12:00am DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources(BFAR) is introducing a mechanized aquaculture system that would increase production of shrimps by as much five times using a especially-designed aerator. Dr. Westly Rosario of BFAR said he has started adopting the system in a fishpond at the sprawling BFAR center in Barangay Bonuan Binloc here as he wants shrimp growers in Pangasinan to adopt it for “smart farming and for the Philippines to be globally competitive” for the shrimp industry. “We want to promote this mechanized farming system for better fish production per unit area,” Rosario said. “With the aerator, mechanically, we inject oxygen,” he said. In other countries, he said, the system has already been adopted. In the Philippines, Rosario said, the system could be ideal for vannamei shrimps. He said the country needs an excellent machine that is cost efficient. The machine, donated to the center by a friend, creates micro bubbles for faster transfer of oxygen from the air to the water vital for the shrimps’ survival. Rosario said Pangasinan which is gifted by nature with aquaculture potentials with hundred of fishponds, particularly in its coastal areas, produces until now shrimps good for household consumption only. Other countries had been using this aerator machine for high values fish species, he said. The right response He said this is the right response to proper and profitable shrimp growing especially that there is a problem on climate change. Some fish farmers have the wrong notion they have to use the machine 24 hours, he said. He said from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., dissolved oxygen of fishponds is at its highest level and slowly declines later and its lowest is 4:00 a.m. to 9 or 10 a.m. and it increases again. With this mechanically-injected oxygen, there would be 24-hour assurance of enough oxygen supply for the shrimps, he said.

There is a system being adopted now so that there would only be certain times when oxygen level is low that the power generated aerator has to work, Rosario said. Rosario said he was introduced with this kind of aerator by an American company whose representative visited Pangasinan who wants to have a tie-up with a local fish grower for importation of shrimp products to Vietnam. “I am not promoting the machine or its brand..We want this system to be adopted as a normal activity of a fish farmer. They are afraid to use this due to perceived high cost of electricity. But this is compensated by the volume of their production once the use the system that would offset their electricity expenses,” Rosario said. “Before we had luxury of area (of fishponds) but some were sometimes empty. But there is now a reversed situation because there is flooding so it’s better to have small area with bigger production,” he added. Taking advantage of the challenges Rosario said there is a current disease problem that affects shrimps in some countries, particularly Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, China by the Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS). Though Philippines is not affected “yet we are shrimp importer”, he said. Thus, the Department of Agriculture-BFAR banned importation which poses problem on restaurants, he said. Philippines also banned importation of crabs and lobsters and other crustaceans which are also possible disease carriers. The Philippines has no EMS so we can really promote culture of shrimps because first we are importer and second we can be exporter, Rosario said. He said there is no recorded-disease yet (on EMS). Rosario also cited bio security of culture facilities. Aerator is one of them to balance water quality for maximum growth, he said. “Normally without aeration, you’re lucky if you produce one ton per hectare using the present system like “blind” system of culture (referring to the traditional way of growing),” Rosario said. He said in other countries, they use only small areas to produce in great quantity, say for 2,500 square meters fishpond, they can produce 10 tons like in Vietnam and Thailand. But they were hit by EMS so the Philippines should take advantage of the situation, he said. But first is where to get replenishment for the import from the said countries, Rosario said.

He said infrastructure-wise, Pangasinan is ready because of the existing molecular pathology laboratory at the BFAR Center here which detects at very early stage when a shrimp is already a virus-carrier. He said there also about nine private hatcheries availing themselves of the services of the laboratory to ensure they grow disease-free shrimp fry. BFAR can refer interested shrimp growers to these reputable hatcheries certified free of any known diseases. “So our only problem now is how to teach these farmers of culturing shrimps that would not be stricken with diseases and how to maximize use of their fishponds related to production,� Rosario said.

Gov’t to use P120-B coco levy funds next year By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 12, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Beginning next year, the government intends to use billions in coconut levy funds, which the Supreme Court had ruled belong to millions of coconut farmers. It is not clear how much these funds, contributed by farmers in the form of a coconut levy during the Marcos regime, now amount to. But according to the Senate committee on agriculture, the money should now reach P120 billion. In a memorandum to agency heads, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad has indicated that the use of the coco levy funds starting in 2014 is one of the administration’s approaches to promote “inclusive growth,” meaning to make people feel the benefits of the country’s economic growth. The economy grew by an unexpected 6.6 percent last year, but poor sectors of the society are complaining that they don’t feel the much-ballyhooed growth, which economists say has been cornered by the rich. Abad said a proposed “integrated coconut industry and poverty reduction roadmap” is now with President Aquino. He said coconut farmers and other people depending on the coconut industry comprise about 60 percent of poor Filipinos. “Dire poverty occurs among coconut farmers even while there is a huge growth potential from the coconut industry, with around $935 million in annual export receipts and 5.2 percent value added contribution in agriculture,” he said. He noted that based on official data, around 28 percent of coconut farmers have no access to a national highway, 21 percent are five kilometers or more away from a national highway, and 13 percent are more than two kilometers but less than five kilometers from a national highway.

Gov’t, firms bat for ecology Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:47 am | Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—Three major government departments, a top university, a leading broadcaster and an environmental watchdog have committed themselves to the cause of the environment and the socioeconomic uplift of Filipino communities through ecotourism and agriculture. To this end, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Tourism (DOT), Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), ABSCBN Broadcasting Corp. and ABS-CBN Foundation’s (AFI) Bantay Kalikasan have launched Green Initiative with the aim of protecting the country’s biodiversity and at the same time eradicate poverty. Under the partnership, the DENR, DA, DOT, ADMU and AFI will carry out individual strategies aimed at improving the quality of life in communities in Romblon this year and Bicol in 2014. The DENR, through Secretary Ramon Paje, has committed to build the infrastructure to protect the project sites. “The Green Initiative is more than just an initiative. Ecotourism is the only activity that can generate income for the country without exploiting its natural resources,” said Paje. He announced the DENR will release P10 million for Mt. Mantalingahan in southern Palawan and another P10 million for Mt. Guiting-guiting on Sibuyan Island, Romblon. The money will go to hire forest guards and set up educational forest trails.

The DOT, through Secretary Ramon Jimenez, committed to facilitate tourism infrastructure and complementary investments through the Department of Public Works and Highways. “Our role is to create positive awareness for these ecotourism sites. We create positive awareness of local and international tourists and, more importantly, we create awareness within the government itself,” Jimenez said. The DA, through Secretary Proceso Alcala, committed to provide the infrastructure needed to uplift agricultural production, while the Ateneo through Fr. Jett Villarin will churn out baseline data and monitor the projects. The Philippine Medical Association, through its president, Dr. Leo Olarte, has also committed to conduct medical and dental missions for the indigenous people at the ecotourism sites. The Miss Earth Foundation, meanwhile, will support the public relations and marketing aspects of Green Initiative while ABS-CBN will facilitate media exposure for the projects. “There is no single person or institution that can bring this country forward but if there are many key institutions and people that believe in their heart that this is the way to go and commit to it— in truth, in service and the common good —I have no doubt in my mind that our country is going to see a brilliant future,” Gina Lopez, ABS-CBN Foundation managing director, said.

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Mango development agency sought Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:16 am | Sunday, May 12th, 2013 A lawmaker has filed a bill establishing the Philippine Mango Industry Development Authority (PMIDA) to adopt a comprehensive program to revitalize mango production, processing and marketing in the country. Rep. Jun Omar Ebdane (2nd District, Zambales), author of House Bill No. 6393, said mango was a high-value crop. “The country made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for having the sweetest mango in the world,” Ebdane said in a statement. However, Ebdane said, the Philippines couldn’t meet the demand of other Asian countries like Hong Kong and Singapore, lagging behind India with 10.8 million metric tons (MT) in annual harvest; China with 3.6 million MT; Thailand with 1.72 million MT; and Pakistan with 1.7 MT. “Although the country is a major mango-exporting country, its average annual production is only 1.4 million metric tons,” Ebdane said. The other major markets of fresh mangoes are Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia. The bill would make PMIDA an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture.

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Biggest bamboo products facility opens in Aurora By Manny Galvez (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 12, 2013 - 12:00am

SAN LUIS, Aurora – The government, in partnership with the private sector, launched here last Monday the country’s biggest facility for engineered bamboo products in a bid to maximize its enormous economic and ecological potential as an industry and turn the province into a major producer of bamboo by-products in the country. The P6-million Aurora Bamboo Center (ABC) was unveiled in a grand launching in a twohectare area in Barangay Nonong in this town which is projected to produce at least 18,000 bamboo poles annually into processed products for furniture, school desks, wood parquet, tiles, home furnishings, and musical instruments among others. Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo said the ABC is the largest shared service facility (SSF) of the DTI. The ABC is among the five facilities that the government has so far launched in the country. “I have been to Kalinga, Benguet, Davao and Bicol, and by far this is the biggest SSF for bamboo production,” Domingo said. Domingo said they expect to launch 700 more SSFs in the country at a cost of P700 million. He said these SSFs could generate jobs in the countryside and realize the vision for inclusive economic growth of the Aquino administration. DTI undersecretary Merly Cruz said the SSFs could benefit up to 35,000 Filipinos nationwide. Aside from the two DTI officials, the launching of the facility was graced by Sen. Edgardo Angara, Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo and member mayors of the provincial chapter of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines led by Baler Mayor Arthur Angara and Ariel de Jesus, chairperson of the 26-member Aurora Buffalo Multi-purpose Cooperative (ABMC) which will run the facility.

Senator Angara said the country could draw inspiration from the experience of China where one province is even mass-producing bamboo products worth up to $5 million. He said the province is an ideal place for bamboo since it rains even during summertime and where bamboo is harvestable in three years. Angara said a Danish company is entering into a joint venture to put up a 1,000-hectare bamboo plantation inside the Aurora Special Economic Zone in Casiguran in northern Aurora. “It’s a great opportunity for Aurora where bamboo will partner with our coco coir products which are being exported to China,” he said. “Our economy is now growing. It is a galloping economy. What we only lack is the creation of jobs in the countryside,” he added. The ABC is a joint project of the DTI and the Rural Empowerment Assistance and Development (READ) Foundation Inc. of the Angaras. Aldrin Veneracion, DTI business development unit chief, said the facility is expected to generate an initial 22 jobs and up to 300 indirect jobs in the province. It would also benefit 170 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and manufacturers and 150,000 furniture makers in the province through the provision of a kiln dryer. The facility houses P6 million worth of service equipment such as band saw, molders, planers, motorized rollers, platters, dust collectors and sharpeners for lamination, cutting, cut-outs and bending. Bamboo-engineered products than can be made at the center are slat flooring, school desks and woodworks, while semi-processed products include wine holder, chair with sea grass, organizer, e-bamboo cabinet, wall clock, driftwood table, console table with mirror and coco bowl. There are around 1,000 species of bamboo in the world, 49 of which grow abundantly in the country among which are Kawayan tinik (Bambusa blumeana), Bayog (Bambusa sp.), Kawayan kiling (Bambusa vulgaris) and Giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus asper). Like rice and corn, bamboo belongs to the Graminae family of grass and is considered by forest scientists as a “poor man’s lumber” owing to its tensile strength. Tensile strength refers to the stress or load a piece of bamboo can hold without breaking. As the world’s fastest growing plant, bamboo can grow up to a meter a day, can reach maturity in five years, and can be harvested once every two years for about 120 years. Bamboo is considered a sound investment not only because of its $10-billion international market value, but also because it has thousands of products, requires a low capital investment, is profitable, environment-friendly and fast-growing, offers quality, has available technologies and there is available vast tracts of land for pole production.

Business opportunities available involve nursery production, mass propagation through tissue culture, bamboo farming, primary processing and production of finished products. Blesila Lantayona, DTI regional director for Central Luzon and cluster coordinator of the National Bamboo Industry, said the launch of the facility in this town is crucial because of the government’s resolve to develop the bamboo industry owing to the global demand for bamboo products. She said the global trade of bamboo products averaged $1.49 billion in 2007-2010. With the threat of global warming and climate change, and the growing demand for eco-friendly alternative to wood to conserve the world’s remaining forests, international market value for commercial bamboo is expected to hit $20 billion by 2015. Some 45 percent of the total bamboo market will be accounted for by emerging products. The major markets for bamboo products are the European Union (EU), United States, Japan, Canada, China, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico and Australia. China is the top exporter of bamboo products with a a market share of 46 percent, while the US is the largest Western consumer of bamboo with annual bamboo products imports of $300 million, 95 percent of which come from China. About 57 percent of imports are bamboo flooring and baskets. The Philippines is the world’s sixth biggest exporter of bamboo products with a total export value reaching $30 million in 2009. A sustainable bamboo industry will position the Philippines as the second largest bamboo producer in the world, next to China. In the country, local demand for bamboo products amounts to P450 million mainly for school desks and chairs of the Department of Education and materials for housing projects of the National Housing Authority. Aside from the EU, US, Japan, Canada, China, Singapore, South Korea, Mexico and Australia, Philippine bamboo products are exported mainly to Russia, Hong Kong, South Africa, India, Norway and Turkey with handicrafts and furniture as major export products. To promote the bamboo industry development project in the country, Executive Order 879 was issued creating the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council which directed the use of bamboo for at least 25 percent of the desk and other bamboo furniture requirements of public elementary and secondary schools and prioritizing the use of bamboo in furniture fixtures and other construction requirements of government facilities. The reasons for the issuance of the EO were: to firm up the country’s contribution to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ goal to reforest at least 500,000 hectares with bamboo from 2010 to 2020; utilize bamboo in helping mitigate climate change and reduce the impacts of natural disasters; use it as cash crop for farmers; corner a large share of the $10-billion global market; enable local government units to participate more actively in planting and processing of bamboo into various products, and to strengthen the bamboo industry in general.

In Central Luzon, bamboo production is being pump-primed under the National Greening Program being pushed by President Aquino and Secretary Ramon Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Maximo Dichoso, DENR Region 3 director, said a total of 7,848 hectares of bamboo plantation is being targeted throughout Central Luzon by 2016, mainly for riverbanks stabilization and stream erosion control. With a carbon sequestration potential of about 12 tons per hectare, the bamboo plantation set under the NGP is expected to sequester up to 94,176 tons, he said. Also present in the ABC launch were DTI undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya, Department of Education chief of physical facilities and schools engineering division Oliver Hernandez, provincial administrator Alex Ocampo and DTI provincial director Edna Dizon.‐bamboo‐products‐facility‐opens‐ aurora                                

GSIS relaxes restrictions on loan privileges By Sarah Hilomen-Velasco Published: May 12, 2013 Manila, Philippines --- The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has relaxed restrictions on loan privileges of its members who are delayed or deficient in their premium payments to avoid suspension. GSIS President and General Manager Robert Vergara said the GSIS Board which met April 25, approved the remedial policy that starting July, under which suspended agencies may restore their regular status through several options. One, they can pay their premium delinquencies in full; two, restructure their arrearages and commit to settling these through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with GSIS; or three, pay at least 90 percent of obligations for any three consecutive months, and then enter into a MOA with GSIS for the settlement of its premium deficiencies. Vergara said that unless the suspended agency pays its arrears in full or honors its obligation to pay under the terms of the agreement, retirement benefits of employees will be based on periods with paid premiums. However, GSIS will still consider the length of service in determining the member’s eligibility to retire, or a minimum of 15 years. He noted that those who fail to remit at least 90 percent of the mandatory premium contributions for a due month (10th day of the following month) or comply with the terms of their agreement, will receive a notice from GSIS. The notice will inform the agencies that it has not received the prescribed amount for the due month, and that continued non-payment will reduce their employees’ entitlements adversely affecting the loanable amounts and retirement benefits. Vergara added that GSIS will also coordinate with Agency Authorized Officers and heads of employees’ union and personnel office to inform them of the failure to remit the required payments. “We enlist our members’ cooperation to ensure that the mandatory premium obligations and other amounts due the pension fund are remitted to the system to guarantee they receive the correct level of benefits,” he said.Teachers groups lauded the new policy of the state pension fund. Benjie Valbuena, president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Manila Public School Teachers’ Association, bared that public school teachers depend on GSIS loans to pay their children’s school fees. “We are so glad that the new GSIS Board is implementing reforms in their policies to help small earners among government employees make both ends meet,” he said. Benjo Basas, president of Teachers’ Dignity Coalition, also commended the GSIS management for acknowledging its members’ plea. We are thankful for this ‘dramatic improvement’ and for hearing our opinions and acting on our needs. We hope this continues,” he said. To date, more than 200 agencies have concluded similar agreements with the pension fund – restoring the full benefits of over 800,000 employees, including the Department of Education.

Gov’t sustains fund releases pace By Chino S. Leyco Published: May 12, 2013 The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is expecting that the government could sustain the pace of fund releases it incurred in the first three months of the year, optimizing the allocations as well as utilize these in a timely and efficient way. In a statement, Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad said that the government continues to support programs and services that are crucial to the Aquino administration’s development agenda. In the first three months of the year, the government posted a 19 percent year-on-year growth in fund releases to P960.8 billion from P809.3 billion in the same period last year. Abad said that the government has already released P960.8 billion at end-March, representing about 76.8 percent of the government’s P2.006 trillion approved national budget for this year. “We expect our fund releases to sustain this pace. Ultimately, we want the implementation of the National Budget to fulfill its primary objective: to institute rapid, inclusive and sustainable growth in the country, where the dividends of good governance go directly to the people,” Abad added. Meanwhile, releases from the P2.006-trillion 2013 budget—including those drawn from Special Purpose Funds and Automatic Appropriations — amounted to P1.4 trillion or 69.8 percent of the total program. “The improved pace of our releases in the first quarter affirms the Aquino administration’s commitment to enhance our expenditure strategy, as well as facilitate the quick delivery of public services to the Filipino people,” Abad said. “As we continue to advance fund releases to support President Aquino’s priority programs and projects, we urge our national agencies to optimize their allocations and utilize these in a timely and efficient way,” he added. Abad also confirmed that P915.2 billion or 94.8 percent of the department budgets have been rolled out to facilitate the swift implementation of key programs and projects in the first semester of the year. Big ticket items under specific budget releases for departments and agencies include those for infrastructure projects (P1.78 billion released), the Department of Agriculture’s farm-to-market roads (P783 million), and Basic Educational Facilities (P684 million).DBM has also released P45.7 billion or 16 percent of the budget allotted for Special Purpose Funds (SPFs), posting a 235.4 percent increase from the same period last year.

Bank deposits rise to P4.4T By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 12, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Bank deposits increased more than a tenth in the first two months of the year, highlighting the strength of local lenders to provide credit to a growing economy, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said. Total deposits hit P4.403 trillion as of end February, 10.7 percent up from the previous year’s P4 trillion, figures from the BSP’s First Quarter Inflation Report released last Friday showed. “The continued growth in deposits reflected depositors’ sustained confidence in the banking system,” the report stated. A large deposit base allows banks to extend more credit through lending which, in turn, provides credit to finance projects and boost economic activity. The BSP has repeatedly pointed to this huge liquidity in stressing local banks’ strength. Demand deposits — used to fund checking accounts — posted the fastest year-on-year increase of 11.6 percent by crossing the trillion-peso mark to P1.079 trillion. P964.16 billion a year ago. Savings deposits jumped 10.7 percent in the comparative period. This money, usually accessible through automated teller machines, rose to P2.202 trillion from P1.966 trillion a year earlier.

The slowest growth came from time deposits or those which are stored for a particular length of time until maturity. BSP data showed money from these accounts went up almost a tenth to P1.122 trillion. The central bank deposits data differ from that of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp., which is the more expanded version to include, among others, money in foreign currency deposit units. PDIC data is also released every year, while that of the BSP comes out every quarter through the inflation report. While banks have kept huge deposits more than enough to support lending, these have not stopped them to tap the central bank for additional funding to some sectors. As of April, peso loans granted by the BSP to banks under its rediscounting facility expanded 5.4 percent to P12.678 billion from P12.028 billion a year ago, the central bank said in a statement. Credit was extended to universal, commercial, thrift and rural banks. Of the total availments, 87.1 percent went to fund commercial operations, 4.6 percent for capital expenditures, 1.9 percent for agricultural and industrial activities and 0.4 percent as permanent working capital. The rest, accounting for six percent of total, went to “other services.” The BSP did not elaborate. On the other hand, dollar loans usually granted to exporters dipped 0.8 percent year-on-year to $52.4 million during the first four months, official data showed. This benefitted 25 exporters.‐deposits‐rise‐p4.4t                      

Tacloban folk reject Aquino tirade By Marvin T. Modelo | Posted on May. 12, 2013 at 12:01am | 1 views TACLOBAN CITY—Angry residents of this city flooded local airwaves and berated President Aquino for belittling Tacloban folk and supporting mayoral candidate Florencio “Bem” Noel, who is facing at least two disqualification charges before the Commission on Elections. A female caller told radio station DYBR the President’s public bullying of Mayor Alfred Romualdez was uncalled for and was an insult at the people of Tacloban City which has improved significantly over the last few yeas. A telephone reactor to a news program of local television station PRTV 12 said he and his family will no longer vote for any candidate of the Liberal Party because he was deeply hurt by the statements of the President, who disparaged Romualdez to support Noel. But residents noted that Tacloban City is now sixth among highly-urbanized cities in the country from the lowly position of 22 in 2008 and the Aquino administration itself, through the Department of Interior and Local Government, has awarded the city government for its performance. “The city was awarded the DILG Gawad Pamana ng Lahi Award for 2012, Outstanding City Cooperative Development and Livelihood Assistance Office, PNP Service Award for Best LGU, Seal of Good Housekeeping and Revenue Efficiency Collection awards among others.” said City Administrator Tecson Lim. The President made the remarks after Noel was criticized by Tacloban residents for allegedly “forcing” his way into a radio station to berate broadcaster Manuel Marta.According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Noel stormed into the dyBR radio station on April 26 after Marta’s program. Marta said in his complaint to the Comelec that he also received death threats on April 27, when an anonymous caller at the station told him a grenade would be thrown at the station if Marta did not stop criticizing Noel. Another Tacloban resident, Bernardino Hidalgo of Barangay San Jose, also filed a disqualification complaint against Noel who supposedly screamed at him for purportedly following his group. Hidalgo claimed Noel’s bodyguard also pointed a gun at him, the NUJP added.‐folk‐reject‐aquino‐tirade/ 

Stock index closes at new alltime high By MST Business | Posted on May. 11, 2013 at 12:01am | 227 views

Stocks rose for the third day, sending the benchmark index to a new record level, as investors cheered the positive employment data in the US as well as the strong corporate earnings of listed local companies. The Philippine Stock Exchange index, the 30-company benchmark, jumped 67 points, or 0.9 percent, to close at a new all-time high of 7,262.38 on Friday. It topped the previous record finish of 7,215.35 registered on May 3, following announcement the country received its second investment grade score from a debt rating agency. The heavier index, representing all shares, also added 35 points, or 0.8 percent, to settle at 4,517.42, as gainers led losers, 92 to 72, with 48 issues unchanged. Value turnover amounted to P7.4 billion. Alliance Global Group Inc., the holding company of taipan Andrew Tan, was the most active stock, with value turnover reaching P656 million. It rose 5.6 percent to P26.45. GT Capital Holdings Inc. of taipan George Ty climbed 4.2 percent to P860. Alcorn Gold Resources Corp. was up 3.6 percent. Meanwhile, Japan’s benchmark stock index surged Friday after the dollar hit a four-year high against the yen. Gains were modest elsewhere as traders digested a positive US jobs report. The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo jumped 3 percent to 14,612.81, its highest level since January 2008, after the dollar traded above 100 yen for the first time in more than four years. Traders have been selling the Japanese currency in reaction to moves by the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to stimulate the economy by pursuing super-loose monetary policy.

The dollar also got a boost from speculation that the Fed might revisit its own aggressive monetary policies after the US Labor Department said Thursday that unemployment claims dropped to a five-year low last week. South Korea’s Kospi fell 1.6 percent to 1,948.18 amid jitters over competition with Japan, whose weakened currency puts South Korean exporters at a disadvantage. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.2 percent to 23,161.56. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2 percent to 5,208.50. Benchmark in Singapore also rose while those in Taiwan and Indonesia fell. The US jobs report also raised the possibility that the Federal Reserve might reconsider some of its policies to help the economy. With Bloomberg, AP‐index‐closes‐at‐new‐all‐time‐high/                               

Foreign investments up By Julito G. Rada | Posted on May. 11, 2013 at 12:00am | 226 views

Foreign direct investments in February 2013 grew 127 percent to $436 million from $192 million year-on-year, the Bangko Sentral said Friday. “By FDI component, gross equity capital placements aggregated $230 million, significantly higher by 74.2 percent from its year-ago level of $132 million. The bulk of these equity capital investments, which came from Japan, the US and Hong Kong, were directed to water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities; manufacturing; arts, entertainment and recreation; and real estate,” the Bangko Sentral said. These gross equity capital placements were partly offset by the $15-million withdrawals of investments, resulting in $215-million net inflows of equity capital during the month. “The sustained inflows of FDI reflect investors’ increasing optimism over the country’s growth potential notwithstanding the uncertainties on the strength of the global economy,” the Bangko Sentral said. It said these developments were an indication of improved investment climate in the country on the back of sound macroeconomic fundamentals.‐investments‐up/             

Dollar surges in Asia trade after G7 meet Published on 13 May 2013  Hits: 29  Written by AFP   

TOKYO: The dollar broke through the 102-yen level in Asian trading on Monday, after Tokyo sidestepped criticism over the unit’s steep decline at a weekend Group of Seven (G7) meeting in Britain.

Speculation that the US Federal Reserve could be the first among major central banks to roll back its huge monetary easing policy also boosted the dollar, as data pointed to a brighter outlook for the world’s biggest economy. Markets are keeping a close eye on US retail sales later in the day and a batch of Chinese economic data, dealers said. “The general theme is that the US dollar is dominating proceedings,” said Tim Waterer, senior trader at CMC Markets in Sydney. The greenback bought 102.04 yen in morning Tokyo trade, against 101.62 yen in New York City on Friday. It settled back to 101.85 yen later on Monday afternoon. The euro also gained on the Japanese currency at 132.16 yen from 132.03 yen in US trading, while it weakened against the dollar to $1.2974 from $1.2993. Traders cheered the outcome of the G7 talks, which began a day after the dollar cracked the 100-yen level for the first time in four years. Finance officials vowed not to weaken their currencies, but did not directly criticize Japan for the yen’s rapid fall from the Bank of Japan’s aggressive easing policy. Japanese media have interpreted the G7’s relative silence on the yen as tacit approval of Tokyo’s policy which had previously stirred criticism, particularly from Europe, that it could set off a global currency war. In other forex trading on Monday, the Australian dollar slipped below parity with

the strengthening greenback for the first time in about a year on fears that the mining-powered economy was slowing. A weekend article in the Wall Street Journal said that the Fed had come up with a strategy to wind down its $85-billion per month bond-buying program, which had placed downward pressure on the dollar. The story “is making the rounds of the market and investors are giving it a careful reading”, Yuji Saito, director of foreign exchange at Credit Agricole in Tokyo, told Dow Jones Newswires. Saito added that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke “skipping the G7 prompted some speculation in the market that the Fed might be seriously thinking about the nearterm kick-off for the exit.” The dollar was stronger against other Asia-Pacific currencies. It gained to 29.81 Thai baht from 29.62 baht on Friday, to Taiwan $29.86 from Tw$29.58, and to P41.17 from P41.13. The greenback also gained to Singapore $1.2415 from Sg$1.2357, to 54.95 Indian rupees from 54.50, and to 9,743 Indonesian rupiah from 9,734 rupiah. The Australian dollar changed hands at 99.89 US cents compared with $1.0084, while the Chinese yuan fetched 16.57 yen from 16.45 yen.‐business‐news/47424‐dollar‐surges‐in‐asia‐trade‐ after‐g7‐meet               

Experts warn of possible stock market fall Published on 12 May 2013  Hits: 128  Written by AFP   

PARIS: Optimism is blowing through stock markets around the world, lifting many of them to record high levels but this contrasts with widespread economic gloom and leads some analysts to wonder if some of it is just hot air. Records have been created with increasing speed since the beginning of May. The main DAX index in Frankfurt has reached a new record high level, and the markets in London and Tokyo have returned to the levels reached in October 2007, just before the financial crisis began. Wall Street in New York City is leading the way and sets a fresh record almost every day. But the stock market in Paris lags behind. The main CAC 40 index has just risen to the level last reached in the middle of 2011 and is far below the record high level of almost 7,000 points set in October 2000 and still trails the 4,332 points registered just before the collapse of Lehman Brothers bank in the United States in September 2008. Analysts at Swiss Life private investment managers commented recently that the markets “are swimming in the midst of paradox,” questioning the strong rises at a time when the global economic situation is a long way from being stabilized and is even deepening in some places, including in Europe. In financial circles, experts give various explanations for the rise of stock markets in mature economies. Some hold that it is an artificial bull market driven by huge amounts of money pushed into economies by central banks. Others said that the rises are justified, because investors are anticipating a recovery of the world economy and a recovery of those stocks which have fallen heavily. “The dichotomy between the real economy and the financial sphere is widening and this is worrying,” commented Guillaume Garabedian, a portfolio manager at French brokers Meeschaert Gestion Privee. He held that, that stock markets were rising mainly because central banks had been applying highly accommodating monetary policies, reducing their key interest rates and pushing huge amounts of liquidity into the financial sector. All classes of assets have been boosted by this, even the riskiest assets such as debt bonds issued

by crisis-hit countries in southern Europe, which are able to place their bonds despite still being in difficulty. The rise of asset prices could even lead to a new financial bubble, some analysts are beginning to warn. At Capital Spreads, Jonathan Sudeira said that “despite the efforts of the central banks, the volume of trading is falling and the high levels reached by some shares is beginning to look unjustified for traders who are being asked at the same time not to take account of the economic situation.” The bulls view The “bulls,” meaning those who think that share prices will continue to rise on a healthy and justified basis, also have their arguments. At the moment, they seem to have the upper hand. Portfolio managers in dealing rooms said that investors are encouraged by signs that the US economy is recovering, by underlying strength of activity in Germany, encouraging statements by the leaders of big companies about the outlook for the end of the year, and by the removal of the risk that the eurozone might collapse. At French Natixis bank, economist Philippe Waechter said that apart from the policies of the central banks, the situation in the United States, still the guiding light for stock markets around the world, was satisfactory and explained why optimism had lifted the indices. “There is growth, certainly it is moderate, but it is there and so there is positive anticipation,” he said. Waechter noted that portfolio managers were looking for good rates of return from the shares they hold, and consequently were inclined to go for riskier shares, which offered higher returns. In addition, companies which were cautious about trying to expand their businesses, were buying their own shares, which pushed up the value of those stocks. “Overall, we are in a context which is extremely favorable for stock markets,” he said. Garabedian said that the question boiled down to analyzing the fundamental causes of the rise. “Because if the markets are rising for reasons, which are not sufficiently viable, the correction will be severe,” he warned.‐business‐news/47351‐experts‐warn‐of‐possible‐ stock‐market‐fall   

Posted on May 12, 2013 09:45:08 PM

Corporate regulator warns of more scams THE SECURITIES and Exchange Commission (SEC) has cautioned the public against dealing with Future Net-Networking Marketing Association of the Philippines, Inc. and Future Net Credit Cooperative -- two nonprofit groups illegally conducting networking activities via a pyramid scheme.   “Future Net, being a nonstock and nonprofit organization, cannot and should not engage in investment-taking business, whether on its own or in conjunction with its affiliate or related entity,” SEC said in an April 30 advisory posted on its Web site on May 8. SEC described Future Net as a nonstock, nonprofit firm with the purpose of “promoting social entrepreneurship.” According to the advisory, Future Net has been engaged in illegal networking, “promising huge profits or sky-high returns, including direct and indirect referral commissions, net loan commissions, satellite referral commissions” within a short time in exchange for member recruitment, while members of its affiliate, Future Net Credit Cooperative, are promised privileges such as loan availment as well as “social, educational, medical, dental, and insurance benefits.” “Their mode of operation features that of a classic pyramid scheme since participants attempt to make money solely from recruitment of new participants in the program otherwise selling cooperative membership,” the advisory read. Last month, SEC warned the public on Biztower International Corp., which illegally offers securities and investment products, and on pyramid marketing schemes dubbed “Oneline” or “Monoline” involving the sale of Vitamin C product kits. In March, the regulator also identified a firm, Connectacons, Inc./Connect Gems, as the group behind the illegal sale of insurance plans in Davao City, as well a double-your-money pyramid scheme targeting teachers in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur. SEC had been ramping up its investor protection efforts since October last year, when it ordered Aman Futures Group Philippines, Inc. to stop offering unregistered securities after the group was charged for siphoning roughly P12 billion from the Visayas- and Mindanao-based investors. -- FJGDLF

Posted on May 12, 2013 09:48:41 PM

Solar energy option mulled CAGAYAN DE ORO -- With the primary source of electricity in Mindanao -hydro -- compromised by climate change, two firms in the southern region of the island are tapping solar energy.   One of the firms is Cargill Oil Mills Philippines, Inc., which operates in General Santos City. “We are putting up a 2.3-megawatt (MW) solar power plant for our copra-crushing plant in Barangay Tambler (General Santos City) as our first option given the lengthy brownouts we’ve been experiencing through the years,” Ruther S. Baroy, Cargill’s senior plant manager, told local media. “At present, we are sourcing our power from the South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative, with our back-up diesel generator as a second option.” Prolonged brownouts, he added, have forced the company to increasingly operate its back-up generator set -- an expensive option that erodes the price competitiveness of its crude coconut oil. Another plant considering solar energy is Japanese-owned Nakayama Technology Corp. in Digos City, Davao del Sur which manufactures bricks and granite wall panels as well as metal studs and runners. A local contractor claimed that plans for a solar facility for that company’s factory are being discussed. “We are in talks to construct a 1.6-MW solar plant for (Nakayama’s) factory,” said Amado V. Santos, vice-president for marketing of Scintillant Corp., distributor for Enfinity Philippines Renewable Resources, Inc. Nakayama officials have been unavailable for comment. -- R. M. D. Baños


Posted on May 12, 2013 08:16:17 PM

Security Bank profit grows MID-SIZED Security Bank Corp. (Security Bank) saw profit rise 11% in the first quarter, supported by growth of its lending business and non-interest income.   A WOMAN mans a booth of Security Bank Corp. at an investment conference in Makati City in this photo taken last March 12. -- JLC In a statement released over the weekend, Security Bank said it booked a net income of P1.2 billion in the first quarter, 11% more than the P1.1 billion recorded in the same period last year. This translated to a 13.18% return-on-equity, or net income earned as percent of stockholders’ investment. Security bank’s total lending portfolio grew by 21% to P119.2 billion in the quarter ending March. CRITICAL SUPPORT “In support of economic development, loans went to critical sectors such as power, utilities, infrastructure, wholesale and retail trade, food, agriculture and consumer goods,” Security Bank said in its statement. Similary, deposits grew by about 22% to P141.8 billion in the same period. The bank pointed out that “significant investments to increase its branch network” last year enabled the bank to “strengthen its core businesses and develop new businesses such as consumer lending.” As of end-March the bank had 172 branches nationwide, while Security Bank Savings -- its thrift bank arm -- had 38 branches. Security Bank’s non-interest income surged by 230% to P1.1 billion, with service charges, fees and commission rising by 60% and profit from trust activities increasing by 22%. “Gains from the trading portfolio also increased as the bank took advantage of the favorable market conditions,” Security Bank said.

The bank’s operating expenses rose 45% to P1.7 billion due to branch network expansion in 2012 that resulted in more branches and employees and higher rental payments. “Our operating expenses and cost-to-income ratio reflect the impact of our investments in branch expansion. Cost discipline remains a priority and we aspire to maintain the favorable cost-to-income ratio comparisons relative to industry benchmarks,” the statement quoted Joselito E. Mape, Security Bank chief financial officer, as saying. The bank’s total resources grew by a fifth to P258.9 billion. In the same statement, Security Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Alberto S. Villarosa said: “Our business results as well as the execution of our business expansion strategy are on track with our objectives.” “The bank is well-positioned to service the requirements of our customers and key sectors of the economy during this exciting period for our country ushered in by its rating upgrade to investment grade by Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s. The Philippines broke through a critical rating level and this opens up the country to new investment opportunities,” he added. In the same comparative three-month periods, Security Bank’s non-performing loan ratio -the proportion of soured loans to total loans -- improved to 0.69% from 1.20%. Its capital adequacy ratio (CAR) -- a key measure of a bank’s financial strength -- was 19%, with its Tier 1 CAR at 17%. The bank’s shares closed at P200.80 apiece on Friday last week, 2.97% or P5.80 more than their P195 close the day before. -- A. R. R. Gregorio

Posted on May 12, 2013 09:14:16 PM

Looking ahead with 20/20 foresight  (First of two parts)

No one can truly predict the future. With enough information, however, it can be anticipated -- which is why companies need to look forward with one eye on risks and the other one on opportunities. This is the new business paradigm discussed in the recently released Ernst & Young global report Business Pulse: Exploring Dual Perspectives on the Top 10 Risks and Opportunities for 2013 and Beyond.

Suits TheCSuite J. Carlitos G. Cruz

The report shows that more and more executives are realizing the need to optimize their existing business by cutting costs and increasing efficiency while, at the same time, finding ways to be profitable in shrunken markets and/or expanding into emerging markets. They cannot afford to just wait for mature markets to recover from the global financial crisis. In fact, the succession of fiscal issues from the euro zone to the United States demonstrates that global economic recovery is likely to take a while. The report is based on a survey of companies in 21 countries across various industry sectors, with relevant insights from executives and Ernst & Young specialists. It focuses on the top 10 risks and opportunities, clustered into four primary categories: cost competitiveness, stakeholder confidence, customer reach and operational agility. While not all risks and opportunities may apply to our local market, the report provides much introspection, particularly for domestic companies that are expanding internationally. COST COMPETITIVENESS The survey shows that businesses are putting significant effort into cutting both costs and prices in order to compete in shrunken mature markets and competitive rapid-growth markets. Based on the Ernst & Young risks and opportunities radar, this first risk cluster only shows risks associated with cost competitiveness. This is perhaps something that strategic business leaders should note: opportunities for growth may not lie in the direction of simply reducing costs and prices, but in other less quantifiable areas. RISK: PRICING PRESSURE Competition is at an unprecedented level: more companies are competing in rapid-growth economies; lowcost online shopping is becoming more popular; and consumer behavior is shifting. Pricing pressure is generally higher in mature, near-saturation markets where companies are more entrenched; companies therefore need to look towards innovation and creating cost savings from supply chains and operations to mitigate pricing pressure. Conditions are perhaps slightly different in emerging markets. In countries like ours, where the concepts of "unli," "budget" and "buy one, take one" are still powerful motivators, pricing pressure can be a tool for building market share or sales generation. Ultimately, pricing must be measured against quality, value, and

of course, volume-handling capacity if companies want to gain and retain customers. RISK: CUTTING COST AND PROFIT PRESSURE For many companies, the obvious cost-cutting measures have already been taken. What else needs to be done? How can companies make deeper cuts and improve profits, without sacrificing performance? Perhaps the key lies in knowing the difference between eliminating waste and simply cutting costs. Companies should examine their current capital investments and ask how they fit into the overall business strategy, rather than simply doing short-term cost-cutting. They should study whether process improvements can improve efficiency, like testing supply chains against customs duties and fuel price sensitivities, and developing far-shore, near-shore and onshore facilities. RISK: MARKET RISKS Cost cutting and profit pressure are greatly affected by market risks such as commodity price volatility, interest and exchange rates, currency prices and equity risk. High prices of commodities, e.g. oil, metals, gas, and others, significantly affect price pressure and location and distribution decisions, necessitating careful risk management. Scenario planning becomes even more important for companies that are heavily dependent on market conditions. RISK: MACROECONOMIC RISKS The macroeconomic outlook is grim: larger industrialized European economies have been damaged by falling export growth and weakening domestic demand. Companies must accept that the "current downturn" is likely "the new normal" for business, and need to develop governance structures that align their risk profile and exposures more closely with its strategy. RISK: SOVEREIGN DEBT In Europe, debt crises are raging in a number of countries, forcing governments to focus on access to funding. The narrowly averted US fiscal cliff still has many unresolved issues and some economists are concerned about a slowdown in China’s economy. Closer to home, however, there may be some good news. Japan’s economy, which has been sluggish for two years, may be due for a revival, thanks to the appointment of Haruhiko Kuroda as the new Governor of the Bank of Japan. Here at home, our own economy has been steadily growing and getting stronger, as evidenced by our second investment grade rating, this time from Standard & Poor’s Rating Services, following the upgrade from Fitch last March. RISK: POLITICAL SHOCKS With more companies making forays into new markets, the risk of being affected by political upheavals increases commensurately. Some examples include the turmoil in the Middle East, the nationalization of oil company YPF in Argentina, and reviews of mining codes in western Africa. Globally, there seems to be a move towards protectionism, with further restrictive measures likely to happen. In a way, this benefits us. The Philippines’ political and economic stability in recent years has significantly increased our attractiveness as an investment destination and companies are reaping the rewards of more investor confidence. STAKEHOLDER CONFIDENCE Many companies, particularly financial organizations, are now forced to operate under the general feeling of uncertainty and mistrust engendered by the crisis. It is now necessary for companies to listen and engage with a wider field of stakeholders and not just their shareholders. RISK: EXPANSION OF GOVERNMENT’S ROLE More and more, the public is questioning the role of corporations in society, while governments are asking how they can prevent the crisis from repeating. This has resulted in greater scrutiny and tighter regulation

for companies across numerous industries, such as financial services, energy, pharmaceuticals, and others. Surveys have shown that people (77% in China, 54% in Brazil, 51% in the USA) now want government to have more oversight and regulatory control over companies. The risk of this stance is that strong government intervention may discourage investment, particularly if issues such as expropriation risk and resource nationalism come into play. RISK: REGULATION AND COMPLIANCE State intervention usually takes the form of new or tighter regulations, which can mean more prohibitive compliance costs for most companies. Usually, companies will increase manpower or hire outside specialists in the area of risk management and mitigation, because even incremental changes can have significant impact. For multinationals, it is important to remember that risk management frameworks across multiple jurisdictions, perhaps even continents, can be interrelated. It is also important to build good working relationships with regulators, ensuring open channels of dialogue and communication.

OPPORTUNITY: EXCELLENCE IN INVESTOR RELATIONS With the move towards greater transparency, companies can take this opportunity to show investors their intentions, practices and strategic direction. For example, companies that are transparent about social and environmental issues may find that their investors are more willing to commit to big, long-term investments. With the current atmosphere of uncertainty, full disclosure can greatly reassure investors of a company’s risk management capabilities. OPPORTUNITY: LEVERAGING CSR AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE Visionary companies are seeing an opportunity to increase public confidence, especially in markets where government funding is stretched too thinly, by promoting meaningful corporate social responsibility (CSR) actions. Corporate philanthropy, which has been increasing in recent years, is an excellent way for companies to enhance their image, although it is equally essential that these efforts be communicated well and carefully, especially in the area of social media. OPPORTUNITY: INVESTING IN CLEAN TECHNOLOGY Clean technology or cleantech, while very important in order to deal with climate change, becomes less of a driver in challenging economic conditions. Nonetheless, companies should not lose sight of the opportunities to be gained since "good environmental behavior" can translate into more business, better reputation and potential savings, e.g. avoiding rising carbon emission costs and increased energy efficiency. Locally, the use of cleantech is still in its infancy, though more companies are including sustainability and the use of renewable resources as part of their long-term agendas. In next week’s article, we will look at the risks and opportunities to be found in terms of customer reach and operational agility.

J. Carlitos G. Cruz is the Deputy Managing Partner and Assurance Head of SGV & Co. This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinion expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.

Posted on May 12, 2013 08:23:03 PM

The stand in Baler, Aurora THE TOWN of Baler is not important in the Fil-Hispanic conflict at the end of the 19th century. But to both Spaniards and Filipinos, it is a symbol of courage and loyalty to one’s homeland.   Lt. Saturnino Martin Cerezo arrived in the Philippines in April 1897 and, with 53 men commanded by Lt. Juan Alonso Zayas. He soon saw action in the skirmishes against Bonifacio’s fighters. Soon he was posted at Baler to relieve the Spanish forces that had, since October the previous year, withstood the persistent Filipino effort to dislodge them. On July 27, a more numerous Filipino force attacked them. Again, they sought refuge behind the thick walls of the parish church of Bale, where they held on during the entire siege of Baler. On Oct. 18, Lt. Zayas died, and Martin Cerezo assumed command of the Spanish detachment. Four days later, he took over as the new politico-military leader, when Capt. Enrique de las Morenas also died. Cerezo and a medical officer were the only two remaining commissioned military officers of the survivors. On Feb. 14, 1899, four months later, Capt. Olmedo Calvo arrived, bringing a note from Gov. Gen. Diego de los Rios, informing them of the end of the conflict, and ordering them to end their resistance. Thinking it was a trick of the Tagalog revolutionaries, Martin Cerezo paid no attention to the note. An American unit aboard the gunboat Yorktown tried to rescue the Spaniards. But the Filipinos drove them away. Several times, the Filipinos bombarded and attacked the church of Baler, more than once engaging the Spaniards in free hand-to-hand combat. And yet, the handful of Spanish survivors bested them. Then, on June 2, 1899, Martin Cerezo came upon a Madrid newspaper announcing that peace had been signed and the war was over. Simon Tecson, leader of the besiegers, agreed that they would allow the Spaniards to "retreat," not surrender. To their credit, the Filipinos rendered to the haggard, famished Spaniards with fitting military honors when they walked out of the church. The siege lasted 333 successive days. Aguinaldo himself honored the survivors of Baler at his military quarters in Tarlac. On June 2, 1899, the last Spanish flag over the Philippines was brought down. Finally, on July 29, 1899, the Spaniards boarded the boat Alicante for Barcelona. Martin Cerezo was duly promoted to the rank captain. Without doubt this unusual loyalty to the Spanish flag was one of the most glorious episodes in Philippine colonial history.,Aurora&id=70093#sthash.tZmEf1OS.dpuf

Posted on May 12, 2013 08:25:06 PM

Imagination and memory "MEMORY IS a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, and the things you never want to lose." -- (Quote from The Wonder Years) Memory and imagination are fascinating functions of the brain. Rev. Jesse Jackson declared, "My heart can believe it. I know I can achieve it." Imagination is in the realm of the possible and what could happen. It is limitless. Children and creative individuals, for example, have active imaginations and use their right brains. Colors, dreams, numbers and images exist in their minds. These subjects can take form one day -in an art work, a building or an invention. "Imagination is a soul-fueled exercise, ending in delight!" Jungian psychologist Rose Yenko commented. The great film director Alfred Hitchcock never sat among the audience to watch his films. When asked if he missed hearing them scream, he replied, "No, I can hear them when I’m making the picture." Memory is about what has transpired. We have a data bank that stores details from the time we are in the womb. We have happy, sad, mundane experiences that are remembered when provoked. Thus babies can remember sounds -- classical music or loud noise, words and feelings. They respond to the same stimuli when they are children and adults. Toddlers can recall celestial phenomena such as the solar eclipse, earthquake, falling stars, full moons, Mars the red planet. They are sensitive to exuberant fireworks -- bursts of color and explosions. Kids absorb everything they hear and see like a sponge absorbs water. Their memory is fresh and uncluttered. Learning and retention are easy. (It is important that we keep our promises and do what we say because children do not forget.) As we mature (and add chronological years), we notice little quirks. Our short term memory plays tricks. Beyond a certain age, people joke about "senior moments" and being forgetful about little things. "Where are those reading glasses?" (They’re on top of one’s head. "Where are the keys?" (In one’s pocket.) "Who is that person?" (The face is familiar but ummmmmm…) These are awkward moments that occur occasionally. One takes them in stride and with poise. Forgetting is normal. When one is still a teenager, it is panic time during exam week. A bright student suddenly forgets the algebraic formula or the chemical composition or the important historical date. At a thesis defense, he forgets a critical explanation for a theory. It is a lapse that happens due to nerves, cramming, lack of sleep or all of the above. What is very interesting is that a person can recall minute details about a childhood adventure but she cannot remember a trauma or people associated with that event.

One would rather remember the happy times. When one undergoes a devastating experience, the brain has a protective mechanism that blocks certain painful memories. An individual develops selective recall. One "forgets" the sad, heart wrenching moments of grief and loss. Victims of abuse suppress the memory. It is a defense mechanism the individual use so he can function. Psychological therapy and spiritual counseling are needed to deal with such traumas. A support system and time can heal the wounds eventually. Moving on takes time. Having an elephant’s memory is a "figure of speech" that refers to a person’s ability to recall names, dates, details. Recently, it took on a different meaning when an internet video showed how baby elephants are tortured in training. These repetitive tactics using canes are used when the animals are being taught to perform circus tricks. Elephants and other animals -- especially humans -- can never forget cruelty, suffering and pain. An individual with a photographic memory has the gift and advantage of remembering innumerable images, numbers and details. However, he may find it exasperating occasionally when he cannot recall dates and names. This could be due to stress, anxiety, worry or a simple overload of things happening too quickly or simultaneously. One needs to use an internal sieve to sift through the overwhelming, assorted, distracting stimuli and objects. The brain’s memory bank can only store so much information. Overload can cause "brain freeze." Memory experts say that one can thaw the freeze with practice. De-clutter the brain. Visualize pleasant scenes. Do crossword puzzles. To remember names: Pay attention. Visualize the name. Create mnemonic associations (ROYGBIV for colors of the rainbow -- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet). Here are more tips: Remind yourself. Write a list. For a healthy brain, limit alcohol intake. (Too much alcohol kills brain cells that will not re-generate). Notice how the "older seniors" (the elders) have excellent long term memory. They can recount clearly what had happened several decades ago -- the war, the first meeting, the first trip and so forth. However, they forget what happened yesterday, a few hours or minutes ago. The frequent class reunions in preparation of jubilee celebrations are occasions to reminisce the good old days. People like to enhance their recollection of events, to remember the pleasant things and how perfect things seemed to be.

2013 05 12 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor - gcm  
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