Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trumps Eye More Philippine Projects

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Two sons of American tycoon Donald Trump flew in from New York yesterday for the groundbreaking of Trump Tower Manila, a luxury tower to be developed by Century Properties Group and the first of what is hinted to be a series of property projects involving the Trump brand in the Philippines . This will not be our last project in the Philippines . We’re looking forward to rolling out a couple of things," Donald Trump Jr. said in a press briefing. He hinted that talks have started with the Antonio family-led Century group for follow-up projects.
Trump Tower Manila is a US$150-million, 56-storey residential development project of Century with the brand name and mark under license from the Trump. It will rise in Century City , the Century group’s 3.4-hectare flagship development along Kalayaan Avenue in Makati City in Metro Manila.
Century founder and chairman Jose Antonio said this project was very relevant in assisting the positioning of greater Metro Manila as a ¿cosmopolitan¿ city. He noted that cosmopolitan cities elsewhere in the region like Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore had captured a lot of investments and having a quality development and a strong brand should groom Metro Manila into a better position.
Quality will always be remembered long after the price has been forgotten," he said.
The residential units in Trump Tower Manila is selling at an average 200,000 pesos ($4,700) a square metre. Based on the size range of between 57 and 400 square metres, the smallest unit is priced at 11.4 million pesos (269,000) and the biggest at 80 million pesos ($1.8 million). The units will be turned over to buyers by 2016.
Robbie Antonio, Century managing director, said 70 per cent of the 222-unit residential development had already been sold since the project was launched in September 2011.
The fact that a Trump-branded development is rising in the Philippines is a testament to the increased confidence of the international sector in our country’s potential to become a world-class destination. As a standard bearer of excellence in residential living, Trump Tower Manila also positions the Philippines as the ideal place of residence for global citizens," the younger Antonio said.
We are overwhelmed with the tremendous success of this project in such a short time. Trump Tower Manila has already received accolades even prior to breaking ground, which is an incredible accomplishment further showcasing the strength of the local market and its increasing demand in the ownership of luxury real estate," Eric Trump said.
He added that the design of Trump Tower Manila was such that the Trumps wanted to have the best building not only in the Philippines but in Asia and the world."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

ICT-BPO $50B target ‘achievable’

By Mia A. Aznar Tuesday, June 26, 2012
OPTIMISTIC with the growth of the information and communication technology (ICT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) industries, the government targets a revenue of $50 billion from them by 2016.
ICT Office Executive Director Luis Casambre, speaking during yesterday’s Cebu ICT and BPO Conference, believes that at the rate the industry is growing, the target can easily be achieved.

Casambre said that the industry contributed $10.9 billion in revenues to the gross national product last year, the second highest after the the remittances sent by overseas Filipino workers.
He said that a revenue of $50 billion will easily lead to an increase in employment opportunities.
A year after the ICTO became an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology, Casambre assured that the agency has managed to proceed with their intended programs while facing the usual challenges that come with adjusting to a new office.
These include improving the ICT policy environment, expanding the E-government project, achieving Internet for all, having a Cyber Security Program and the continued development of the ICT and ICT-enabled industries.
Following the defacement of some government websites, he said the Cyber Security Program is meant to make sure unauthorized access to government websites is prevented.
This, he said, goes hand-in-hand with the E-government program.
“We have taken steps to secure the key sites under the care of the DOST but this is really only the surface of the task at hand. In collaboration with other national government agencies, as well as our partners in the private sector, we are developing security policies and standards that are to be implemented across all government agencies,” he said.
He said that among the projects his office is working on are the development of a National Broadband Plan, a clear Philippine ICT R&D Roadmap, and other initiatives to achieve a progressive and fair telecommunication policy environment.
On the Internet for all program, Casambre said they a working to have the unused TV spectrum as a way to provide broadband access to areas that do not have access to the Internet.
“Last week, we launched the TV White Space Initiative to explore the utilization of unused TV spectrum to provide rural broadband access in turn making delivery of educational content and expertise, basic and specialized medical knowhow, and even e-commerce possible.”
The technology will also allow them to blanket the countryside with sensor networks that will feed among others the DOST’s National Operational Assessment of Hazards or NOAH project with data, allowing it to protect, communities and industries.
“TV White Space technology enables data communications over distances of up to 30 kilometers, over water, through thick vegetation as well as through concrete walls, making it an ideal, cost effective solution for the country,” he explained.
He added that they also have a target to become an ICT-enabled government by 2016. He believes this feasible and that this is what both business and the rest of the public deserves.
Landmark decade
Casambre noted that this decade is a “landmark” for the ICT industry, with investor confidence in the Philippines at an all-time high and the world seeing the country as a good investment location.
“Last year the country achieved a 15-year high having attracted more than 6 billion dollars in foreign direct investment. Rating companies have upgraded the country’s investment status and our stock market is abuzz with activity, bringing our stock index to all time highs,” Casambre said.
Casambre said many international entities have rosy forecasts for the Philippines.
He quoted Bloomberg’s economist Tamara Henderson as saying the country’s budget deficit shrunk from 3.7 percent of the GDP in 2009 to just one percent, at the same level as Germany’s, and better than India’s 7.3 percent.
He also cited Morgan Stanley investor Ruchir Sharma who said investments in Brazil, Russia, India and China is “passé” because it would be wiser to put money in Turkey, Indonesia and the Philippines while a report by HSBC predicting that the country will become the 16th largest economy in the world by the middle of the century: up 27
places from today.
For Casambre, ICT is at the forefront of these positive developments, which is led by the booming IT-BPO industry.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 27, 2012.

Empty spaces at SRP ‘worry lender’

by Jujemay G. Awit
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
WHAT happened to the South Road Properties (SRP)? Why is there more grass than infrastructure?
These were among the questions raised by the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA), which gave the Cebu City Government the loan for the SRP.

JICA officials met with Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama last Monday and it was during that meeting that they shared their disappointment that development in the area was slow.
The questions irked Rama.
“I didn’t like it. I am thankful for the loan but kinsay tag-iya sa SRP, sila o kita (who owns the SRP, them or us)?” Rama said.
He reportedly asked the JICA officials about the ballooning debt of the City Government on the SRP because of a stronger yen.
If it is the intention of JICA to help, he also, then the agency should also work to protect Cebu City’s loan from another increase. JICA is a lending agency that prioritizes developing countries.
The City’s loan from JBIC has grown three-folds since 1995 because of fluctuations in the yen’s value.
The City Government budgets P589 million every year for debt servicing; it will have to keep paying until 2020. Rama said this represents billions of services removed from Cebu City’s constituents.
This prompted Rama to call the Cebu City Council hambugero (haughty) after Councilor Noel Wenceslao proposed an ordinance that provides that no person, employee or official of the City Government will be authorized to sell, dispose, transfer or convey any lots in the SRP without prior approval from the City Council.
“Maybe the vice mayor (Joy Augustus Young) is not doing his job,” said Rama. At the caucus, he said, it should have been pointed out that there was no need to file such an ordinance.
That would have saved Councilor Wenceslao from being embarrassed for such “ignorance,” the mayor said.
Even JICA is aware of the political bickering in Cebu City, which the agency officials also raised during the Monday meeting.
This brought Rama to revisit the proposal to have a separate authority to manage the SRP.
This will be different from the SRP Management Office (SRPMO), which does not have powers over financial resources.
The SRP Office that Rama envisions will be apolitical and have overall authority over SRP concerns.
One problem that City Administrator Jose Marie Poblete is facing now is the reconciliation of resources and documents.
Rama directed Poblete and Bu Varquez of SRPMO and the Cebu Investment Promotions Center (CIPC) to make an SRP presentation last year yet. The presentation is supposed to take up the balance of the loan and how much payment the City has received from developers like SM Prime Holdings Inc. and Filinvest Land Inc.
In the absence of a separate SRP office, though, Poblete has to tap accounting and other departments to make a holistic presentation.
The mayor also wants the CIPC to liquidate the financial assistance that the City Government gives the organization, which is also the marketing arm of the SRP.
Rama said he wished that the reconciliation of records can be done immediately so he can include this in his State of the City Address early next month.
Rama said a separate office is also what JICA wants.
This way, the management of SRP will transcend politicians and will not be under a “one-man” rule. Rama was apparently referring to Rep. Tomas Osmeña.
Rama, though, reminded the congressman that he does not own the SRP. Osmeña has called the project his “baby.”
The idea behind waiting a few years to sell the SRP is that the price of the property will be about P40,000 in a couple of years, Osmeña has repeatedly explained.
He also wants to be more discriminating on the investors because he does not want new developers to compete with SM and Filinvest.
Rama, though, recognized that the creation of a separate office for SRP will have to go through the Cebu City Council, where his allies form the minority.
This is why he opted for the creation of an SRP ad hoc committee to study and recommend disposition of SRP lots because it will be under the executive branch.
The mayor recognized, though, that he cannot sell the SRP without authority from the council.
Rama said that JICA has been regularly monitoring the progress of SRP and they want to see a faster development. So far, there are only two locators in the area.
JICA is already aware of the ad hoc committee formed and the mayor hopes the committee will soon metamorphose into an SRP Office.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 27, 2012.

Public Works department approves 1 of 2 flyovers

|Wednesday, June 27, 2012 CEBU CITY -- The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Central office gave the go-signal for the flyover at the Gen. Maxilom Ave.-M.J. Cuenco Ave. intersection. But it deferred the implementation of the flyover beside the Asilo church on Gorordo Ave., also in this city.
The flyover on M.J. Cuenco Ave. was allowed to proceed after a traffic impact study showed it will improve traffic flow more than the Archbishop Reyes Ave.-Gorordo Ave. flyover would.

Officials of the DPWH central office presented to local stakeholders on Tuesday the results of the traffic impact study that started last December, following the strong opposition of some sectors against the proposed flyovers.
The DPWH Manila’s Project Monitoring Office (PMO) recommended that the proposed flyover project on M.J. Cuenco Ave. proceed, subject to road right-of-way acquisition and widening of both approaches.
In shelving the proposed flyover project on Gorordo Ave.-Archbishop Reyes Ave. intersection, DPWH said an alternative solution should be considered, preferably an underpass for both left turn to Gorordo and F. Sotto Drive.
DPWH said the road on both approaches of the proposed flyover near the Asilo Church should also be widened to accommodate two lanes per side, before any flyover or underpass is proposed.
Sun.Star Cebu tried to contact the proponent of both flyovers, Representative Rachel del Mar (Cebu City, north district), but text messages sent to her phone Tuesday night were not answered.
Representative Tomas Osmeña (south district) said he would not seek reconsideration on the deferment of the flyover near Asilo.
“The tunnel is OK with me. It’s going to cost almost double, though,” he said in a text message Tuesday night.
About P600 million has been set aside for the two flyover projects.
Osmena, former north district congressman Raul del Mar, City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) Executive Director Rafael Yap and officials from the Department of Budget and Management attended on Tuesday afternoon the presentation of the study’s findings and the DPWH regional office’s recommendations.
Representatives of the Movement for Livable Cebu, a group that wants alternatives to the flyovers, were also present.
Carmelito Tizon of the DPWH-PMO said the Traffic Impact Study was aimed at determining the present traffic characteristics of the selected intersections and what solutions would be appropriate.
DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson ordered the study when he issued a moratorium on flyover projects last year, following complaints of the Movement for Livable Cebu and Mayor Michael Rama and Citom.
As part of the study, the traffic situation at the Archbishop Reyes-Gorordo Ave. and Gen. Maxilom Ave.-M.J. Cuenco Ave. intersections was observed for 16 hours, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
During that period, 95,805 vehicles passed through the Gen. Maxilom Ave.-M.J. Cuenco Ave. intersection, with an average of 6.69 minutes waiting time before a vehicle gets to cross the intersection in the morning. In the afternoon, the delay is reduced to 4.9 minutes.
If the flyover is constructed, the delay will be further reduced to 1.92 minutes in the morning and 1.16 minutes in the afternoon, or a reduction of 71.3 percent and 76.3 percent, respectively.
The proposed flyover on Archbishop Reyes-Gorordo Ave. intersection pales in comparison in terms of impact.
With a traffic volume of 53,945 vehicles during the 16-hour period, the waiting time to cross is 16.21 minutes in the morning and 4.92 minutes in the afternoon.
With the flyover, the delay will be reduced to 14.2 minutes in the morning and 3.95 minutes in the afternoon, or a 12.5 percent and .97 percent reduction, respectively.
But with an underpass, the waiting time will be reduced to 1.39 minutes in the morning and .82 minute in the afternoon, or a reduction of 91.4 percent (14.82 minutes) in the morning and 83.3 percent (4.10 minutes) in the afternoon.
“That’s why they allowed the flyover on M.J. Cuenco to proceed, because it will have a more significant impact according to the study,” Citom’s Yap said. (LCR of Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 27, 2012.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

American Standard provides best comfort and savings

IT is projected that by 2013, 36 states in the United States could be facing a water shortage problem. Why should we be alarmed?
Although we are in the Philippines, it is not impossible that we could be confronted by such, especially if we don’t help conserve water today.
How to do it?
Noel Tolosa, American Standard marketing manager, reiterated the following tips: “Turn off the faucet while you’re brushing your teeth for that saves about eight gallons of water per day; Take a shower instead of using a bathtub for by using the shower you use 25 gallons at the most, compared to immersing yourself in a bathtub which will consume 70 gallons; and run the dishwasher only when it’s full.”
Tolosa said 75 percent of water is used in the bathroom, which is why it is best to fix leaky faucets and toilets.
A faucet that leaks at a rate of one drip per second wastes more than 3,000 gallons of water annually, while a leaky toilet wastes some 200 gallons daily, Tolosa shared.
Tolosa also said that a better way to conserve water at home is to use products that help save water.
“If you are concerned about conserving water then make your own contribution by using only good bathroom and kitchen products offered by American Standard,” he said.
American Standard maintains an environment-friendly approach through water-saving products and fixtures that make use of green technology, which significantly cuts down on water usage.
The brand’s line of urinal and toilet creations employ a dual-flush system that reduces the amount of water wastage. The system allows a choice between a 0.8-gallon flush and a standard 1.6-gallon flush triggered by a simple two-button actuator at the top of the tank.
In addition to having control over what kind of flush to use every time, the dual-flush toilet system efficiently saves up to 43 percent on water consumption, while the urinal and a flush-valve product save up to a staggering 86 percent.
On the other hand, American Standard’s IDS faucet makes use of a 1.5PM water-saving bubbler, which also employs a special technology that ensures constant water flow without being influenced by water pressure. Variations using Click Technology and Low Flow in their faucets and showerheads allow up to 77-percent less water consumption, which results in a perfect combination of water saving and comfort.
American Standard collectively applies these eco-friendly breakthroughs in bathroom technology to its line of modern and sophisticated bathroom environments.
The recently launched Concept Cube, a line of compact but beautiful and stylish bathroom fixtures, offers a seamless blend of sleek modern lines with innovative technology.
With strong and simple lines, Concept Cube achieves a contemporary look with its signature soft inner rim, which is ideal for even small bathrooms common in today’s condominium housing.
The SatisAsteo water closet collection, on the other hand, reflects American Standard’s mantra of innovating products to meet its customers’ changing lifestyles.
This product features amenities like LED dim lighting, soft music, automatic seat open and flushing, twin-nozzle bidet, and air-spurification system that eliminates bad odor and airborne fungi and bacteria.
The company’s EuroZen line makes use of innovative design to combine convenience with bathroom hygiene in a sleek and compact water closet.  It achieves luxury and comfort with state-of-the-art functions like siphon jet-tornado flushing, powerful massage/cleanse function, deodorizer, warm dryer, nozzle with automatic cleaning, antibacterial nozzle, seat heater, and lift-off and slow-close seat cover.
American Standard also shows its playful side by exploring vibrant palettes with its line of iColor Hand Showers. The line conjures a whimsical fantasy world of plastic and bubble.
The design of these iColor Hand Showers rightfully suits today’s fun-loving and imaginative homeowners through a fascinating play with art, science and technology. The line of products pushes the boundaries of the human imagination—with refreshing results.
To sustain its position and continue to set trends in the industry, American Standard employs the services of highly creative individuals who have established names in other industries like automotive, fashion, home and furniture and luxury items, among others.
Some of these include David Chipperfield, Ronen Joseph, Achim Pohl and Tomas Fiegl (Artefakt), Mark Sadler and Khumtong Jansuwan, all of whom have earned awards from prestigious design groups.
Another personality that lends his talent and vision to American Standard is award-winning Italian designer Franco Bertoli.
With his Ventuno collection, Bertoli creates a union of forms and geometric edges that fit the pattern of today’s urban architecture and elements of modern style.
The collection offers cosmopolitan consumers and sophisticated urbanites the sensation of pure harmony in every bathroom.
As a world-leading provider of bathroom products, American Standard keeps its edge by allowing consumers to express their own style.
By combining exclusive design with environment-friendly technology, the company achieves sustainability that keeps it at the forefront of the industry, as well as provides consumers with comfort for both the body and mind.

Building on trust and quality

THE Philippine real-estate industry has obviously bubbled for the last decade and it continues to grow just like in other major countries in Asia. As a matter of course, most real-estate developers have relied on subcontractors to build their properties, but with New San Jose Builders Inc. (NSJBI), this was not the case.
Since its inception in 1986, NSJBI has provided high-quality but affordable housing for Filipino families. The company is a pioneer in total vertical integration, from architecture, engineering and construction to interior design, marketing and sales. NSJBI has its own design, planning, construction, as well as sales and marketing units where everything is conceptualized, developed, built, sold and finished under the auspices of one company.
As a result, it is not only able to build faster than any other developers but also able to transfer the savings of requiring less subcontractors to its buyers.  New San Jose Builders is one of the first condominiums in the country. It integrated stores into its podium area such as gyms, groceries, beauty salons, etc. In fact, some of its tenants have actually started their own businesses right beneath their place of residence. NSJBI will soon add another first as it integrates a full-fledged sports complex into its buildings.
NSJBI is fully committed to helping every family to not just own their dream homes but to also have the lifestyle they choose. NSJBI’s developments are located at locales with established infrastructure as well as business and commercial districts.
Ready for occupancy is the Victoria Towers, which is located at the heart of Quezon City’s entertainment center. Victoria Towers on Timog Avenue has three towers and it is the only residential complex in the area that has its own commercial complex. Victoria de Tomas Morato, another prime dwelling in Quezon City, is now pre-selling.
For those who value accessibility and a stress-free commute, Victoria Station 1 offers unencumbered access to the GMA Kamuning Station of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT). Victoria Station 1 is also minutes away from government offices, schools and shopping centers.
Students and growing families can take advantage of Victoria de Manila 1’s convenient location. Victoria de Manila 1 is situated on Taft Avenue, Manila. The development is just several steps from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), the University of the Philippines-Manila and St. Paul University. It is also minutes away from De La Salle University (DLSU) and the university belt on Recto Avenue.
Enjoying perfect sunsets, great nightlife and the convenience of living at the heart of the metro is possible with Victoria de Malate. Made with the quintessential professional in mind, Victoria de Malate shortens their commute to the metro’s business districts as well as gives them easy access to the metro’s hottest nightspots.
New San Jose’s first great development north of the Metropolis, Isabelle de Valenzuela, is located at McArthur Highway. It is the first lifestyle high rise in the area. Isabelle de Valenzuela features bi-level units and personalized interior finishing. Its Tower A is ready for occupancy. Three more towers are in the works.
NSJBI’s sprawling development, Metro Manila Hills Community (MMHC), is located at the foothills of the Sierra Madres in Rodriguez, Rizal. Designed as a locale made up of distinctive communities, the houses in MMHC’s six phases feature distinctive themes and styles. MMHC is the only development that features a 20-meter-wide lighted boulevard over a kilometer long that runs through its center. This boulevard is set to have an array of shops.
Three phases now have houses, which are ready for occupancy. Single-detached units in Metro Manila Hills, the project’s first phase, are almost completely sold out. Its second phase, MMH Townhomes, is also gaining popularity with its generous frontage and space-efficient design. On the other hand, the three-bedroom homes at the Mediterranean-inspired Isabel Terraces are also making waves with its optional pool installation.
Victoria de Makati, which is located on de la Rosa corner Washington streets in Makati, offers NSJBI’s trademark bi-level unit concept and personalized interior finishing. Perfect for those who want to set up a home office, the twin tower is a 27-floor condominium that also features a central commercial podium.
Another one is the Fort Victoria Condominium at the Bonifacio Global City, which is NSJBI’s crown development, strategically located near the Makati Central Business District, top urban cities, malls, churches, schools and hospitals. This iconic structure is comprised of three juxtaposed towers rising from a central podium filled with house and commercial amenities, including al-fresco dining spaces and a grand fountain.
Fort Victoria eloquently captures the style and form and function necessary for modern city living while taking into full account the constraints of space, site constraints and market factors. The curved towers are designed not to have inner units and have bay windows incorporated at all loft levels affording our residents with a commanding view of the Fort and the surrounding golf courses. The condominium sports a truly luxurious design because it has no inner facing units. Its curved towers are designed not to have inner units and have bay windows incorporated at all loft levels.
On its 25th year, NSJBI pushes its vision for the Filipino family further by providing venues for health and wellness. The company’s latest developments—Victoria Station 2 in Quezon City and Victoria de Manila 2 on Taft Avenue in Manila—are equipped with two-hectare sports complexes, which will have basketball, badminton, squash and tennis courts, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a six-lane bowling alley and a wellness spa.
NSJBI President Jose “Jerry” Acuzar is also a believer in showcasing Filipino craftsmanship and ingenuity. In 2001 he began its heritage resort—Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan. The resort takes visitors back in time with its authentic 19th-century principalia mansions and bahaynabato.
A celebration of Filipino heritage, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is composed almost entirely of structures painstakingly transported from various parts of the country. These heritage homes were rebuilt and restored “brick by brick” and “plank by plank.”
According to NSJBI strategic marketing and corporate communications manager Gina de los Reyes Virtusio, “Acuzar is a visionary man. He bought housing materials from junkshops and put them altogether. A church inside Las Casas is now being constructed and it will be finished before the year ends.”
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is managed by the Genesis Hotels and Resorts Corp. Its amenities include the traditional Filipino restaurant Marivent Café, tapas bar and deli TabernadelSeñorPepe, El Museo artifact museum and art gallery, as well as function rooms and outdoor social activity centers.
Visit for more information.
(Tet Andolong)

In Photo: Casa San Miguel in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar and Casa Vyzantina in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

Banks sold P16.6-billion receivables in January-May

THE various banks sold receivables collectively worth P16.6 billion in the first five months and helped fuel aggregate lending which has been growing in double-digit rates for 17 straight months already.
This was 64.3 percent higher than a year earlier when the banks brought for rediscounting at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) receivables worth only P10.1 billion.
Of the amount, the bulk of 78.3 percent or P13 billion represented commercial loans while 18.2 percent or P3.02 billion were loans obtained for capital expenditure purposes, or for permanent working capital, for housing and for other services.
Loans for capital expenditure purposes equaled 6.4 percent, other services equaled 8.7 percent, permanent working capital another 2.9 percent and housing loan only 0.2 percent.
These numbers validate the monetary policy stance that peso liquidity remains supportive of non-inflationary growth and readily available no matter the caution thrown in the wake of the economy’s having exceeded expectations by growing at a fast clip averaging 6.4 percent in the first quarter.
But while peso rediscounting during the period remained strong, dollar rediscounting activities were weak, mostly because the country’s exporters regularly taking their receivables to the rediscounting window have not been as active as they were in the past.
According to the BSP, the aggregate dollar rediscounts for the period amounted to only $66 million which was 21.5 percent lower than a year earlier when total rediscounts at that time aggregated $84.1 million.
Economists at Barclays Bank, HSBC, Moody’s Investor Service and many others have tied the lackluster export sector activities in the Philippines to the lack of demand from markets in the United States and the euro area.
As a result, the 10 commercial banks regularly servicing the trade-finance activities of Filipino exporters have not been as active in rediscounting their dollar-denominated receivables like in the past.
Rediscounting allows the banks to sell their receivables to the BSP at a discount to their face value but more than make up for the paper loss by quickly turning around and lending the money again to other borrowers.
But only banks with no outstanding regulatory issues may avail themselves of the privilege as the BSP refuses to open the window to those with unresolved matters at hand.

PHL’s young population can sustain economy–BSP survey

DAVAO CITY—Unlike developed economies, the Philippines has a current and definite advantage: a steady supply of a young work force capable of sustaining its economic growth, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said.
The first Philippine Consumer Finance Survey (CSF) conducted by the BSP has shown that the country has a young population that would “indicate a significant increase in the labor force over the next decade.”
Diwa C. Guinigundo, BSP deputy governor for the monetary stability sector, said here this week the country is seeing a big net participation rate in the labor force, with the young population expected to turn in big numbers within the next decade.
The net participation rate was computed from the number of people entering the labor force against those going out in retirement.
“The young age group of those aged 5 to 24 years old comprises 51 percent of the population,” he said. “Comparing it with those going out of the labor force, there is a big net participation rate.”
The survey shows that the 5-24 years old age group accounts for 21.5 percent of household members, while the 55-64 years old age group and the elderly (65 years old and over) comprise 6.9 percent and 5.4 percent of households, respectively.
“That means there would be more people who would be entering the labor force every year for the next decade,” he said.
“These figures indicate that a significant increase in the country’s labor force could be expected over the next decade,” the BSP survey said.
With the trend, the BSP said “the age dependency ratio, currently estimated at 0.6 could further drop to 0.5, translating to about two working-age household members for every one nonworking-age household member.”
The Philippines would find itself at an advantage compared to developed economies “with mostly an aging population and who are forced to look for their labor requirement from the developing countries.”
“We would have a sustainable economy in the next decade compared to them,” Guinigundo said.
But he said the sustainability would not mean better prospects to export migrant workers and easing up the domestic labor employment squeeze.
“They don’t have to go out. The economy is capable of providing jobs,” he said, citing the economic growth in the first quarter, for instance, that already reached 6.4 percent of the gross domestic product, the second-biggest growth after China, he said. “This means that businesses in the country would need to expand their operation by 6.4 percent more.”
Guinigundo said that through the years, domestic employment absorption was relatively acceptable although the International Labor Organization said growth in the economy was yet to be felt by the sectors that need to be pulled up from poverty.
The CFS survey result shows that less than half, or 43.2 percent of households, actually depended on wages and salaries of employed workers. One in five households continued to receive financial assistance from family members working abroad.


DPWH budget set for overpass in front of Mormon temple

Another flyover is planned for Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City, this time to rise in front of the new Mormon temple.
The project is one of six approved flyovers in the list of the Department of Public Works (DPWH) 2012 regular infrastructure projects, two of which were dropped and realigned for other projects.
The P201 million Gorordo Avenue-Doña Modesta Gaisano Street flyover is proposed to be located between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints temple and JY Square Mall, said DPWH 7 spokesperson Marie Mignon Nillama.
But DPWH is still preparing the program of works so the project is “not final”, Nillama added.
A moratorium on all flyovers is still in effect as ordered by Public Works Secretary Rogelio Sison last year but road widening work about to start in some proposed sites is being watched closely by flyover critics who fear this is preliminary to a lifting of the freeze order.
The flyover in front of the Mormon church was approved in November 2011, said Nillama.
It is located near a corner popularly called “iskina (corner) Sudlon.” The corner road of Doña Modesta Gaisano leads to government offices like the Cebu Provincial Police Office and Ecotech Center in Sudlon, as well as the entry of Beverly Hills.
Three other flyyovers were approved in November 2011 for the DPWH 2012 infrastructure list – the Mambaling attachment (an extension of the existing Mambaling flyover), the M.J. Cuenco-General Maxilom Avenue, and Gorodo Avenue-Archbishop Reyes Avenue.
The last one – Gorordo Avenue-Archbishop Reyes Avenue project – drew the strongest opposition last year by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, and environment and heritage advocates because it would rise in front of the Asilo dela Milagrosa.
Catholic nuns of the over 50-year-old shrine objected to the loss of private property in the road setback and loss of solemnity in the area.
Implementation of these four proposed flyovers are “still pending in Manila” because bidding and approval of projects worth more than P150 million are handled by the DPWH central office, Nillama explained.
The flyover project near the Asilo dela Milagrosa was already bidded out to a winning contractor, just like the flyover in Mabolo along M.J Cuenco Avenue.
The recent developments alarmed the Movement for a Liveable Cebu (MLC), a group that grew out of opposition to the flyovers.
“All of us are shocked. These (flyover projects) have already been denied. There was a letter saying the hold order has not been lifted,” said MLC convenor Rudy Alix referring to the flyover moratorium.
Around 15 MLC officers were having their weekly meeting when sought by CEBU DAILY NEWS for comment.
“We'd like to meet with DPWH in public and ask questions,” said MLC convenor Joel Lee, owner of a Lahug hotel and well known permaculture advocate.
“Are they fooling us? What does Secretary Singson's moratorium mean? The government is about the people. Didn't the president say the people are his boss? Unsa man diay ni? We challenge them to a meeting.”
The DPWH 2012 list of regular infrastructure projects mentions six approved flyovers.
Of the six, two were realigned while four others will “push through,” said Nillama.
The implementation of the (1) M.J. Cuenco-General Maxilom Avenue, (2) Gorodo Avenue-Archbishop Reyes Avenue, and (3) Gorordo Avenue-Doña Modesta Gaisano Street flyovers are “still pending in Manila.”
Bidding and approval of projects worth more than P150M are handled by DPWH head office, Nillama explained.
The M.J. Cuenco flyover has a budget of P181 million and includes road widening and drainage, said Nillama.
The Archbishop Reyes-Gorordo Avenue flyover will cost P161 million, a DPWH fact sheet said.
The P154 million Mambaling project is a left-turning northbound attachment to the existing Mamabling flyover which serves south-bound traffic.
The attachment will lead to the Sound Road Properties (SRP) through an access road heading to the SM Seaside City passing through C. Padilla street.
“Road widening, traffic light installation, and landscaping underneath has started under 2011 regular infra projects. It has a separate budget of P100 million with P60 million for both traffic light and road-right-of-way (RRW) while the P40 million is for improvement landscaping. We have asked CITOM to help us with the traffic light. The road widening for Mambaling has already started,” said Nillama.
Affected homeowners near the proposed M.J. Cuenco-General Maxilom flyover earlier complained about “unfair” boundaries and as a result, the original scope was changed, said Engr. Lea Legre of DPWH Planning and Design Division.
A reduced 17.74 meter total clearance (8.87 meter each) for both left and right lane from the center island is set by DPWH, she added.
The budget for two remaining flyover projects, one in Mandaue and another in Cebu City, were diverted to smaller projects.
The P189M Ouano Avenue to Plaridel Street flyover in Mandaue city was realigned to three projects: the Butuanon bridge rehabilitation and two drainage projects in Plaridel Street and Ouano Avenue, Nillama continued.
To avoid “redundancy” with the proposed flyover near the Mormon temple, a proposed Gorordo Avenue-Salinas Drive flyover was converted to road widening projects and “narrowing” of the center island fronting JY Square Mall, she said.
The realigned project in Lahug has the same budget as the flyover that will “push through.” /

Jessa Chrisna Marie J. Agua, Correspondent

Gwen Mactan-Cebu airport is not for sale


Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said partnership with the private sector is welcome in the expansion of the Mactan international airport, but not selling it.
This was her response to the proposal of PLDT chairman Manny V. Pangilinan to “privatize” the Mactan airport as an essential step to develop Cebu as an international hub for travel and tourism.
Pangilinan’s suggestion, first privately discussed with Governor Garcia in Manila in May, was revealed in detail during a roundtable discussion with editors of community papers Thursday evening after the PLDT annual stockholders meeting.
Sought for reaction, Garcia said any expansion of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) should be done within the framework of the government’s Public-Private Partnership program (PPP) because the government-owned facility is not for sale.
Airport officials agree.
“Pure privatization may not happen,” said MCIA general manager Nigel Paul Villarete.
He said Pangilinan’s statement “is not only reflective of the airport but the region's viability as well. This means Cebu is growing fastest as a tourism destination.”
Governor Garcia said a distinction must be made because privatization is to sell to the private sector.
“In the case of MCIA, we are already starting the process to offer this to the private sector for PPP,” she told reporters.
The passenger terminal building is one of 22 recently approved PPP projects along with the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit Demonstration Project. /Carmel Loise Matus and Jessa J. Agua, Correspondents

Developers urged: Help fix slums

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Saturday, June 16, 2012
WITH tremendous growth in real estate, a developer is asking his colleagues in the industry to look beyond their own developments and help do something about urban decay.
“The best is surrounded by the worst,” said Jose Soberano III, president of Cebu Landmasters Inc.
Asked to speak on redeveloping Cebu’s informal housing sector during yesterday’s Emerging Industries Forum, which was one of the activities for Cebu Business Month, Soberano lamented that as Cebu continues to develop, colonies of informal settlers also abound.
Pointing out the successes of Cebu IT Park, Cebu Business Park and future developments at the South Road Properties, Soberano noted that not far from these areas were neighborhoods of informal housing.
He called this a picture of contrasts.
Soberano said the private sector can be part of the solution and not leave everything to the government.
He presented four initiatives that the private sector can do that he hopes will help solve the proliferation of informal settlers in urban areas.
His first initiative is for developers to support countryside development and to go vertical in urban centers.
Soberano said larger tracts of land at cheaper prices are available outside the metropolis, and would make it easy to entice the low to medium market to relocate in such areas. However, he said to make these viable developments, they should also take into consideration the business activities in these areas to support their projects.
In urban areas, Soberano suggested offering quality and affordable vertical housing.
A second initiative that Soberano suggested was to create awareness of projects that are affordable for the masses.
Soberano said many who live in informal settlements may not be aware of the alternatives or do not know that they can afford to buy better homes for their families.
He noted that many who live in informal dwellings live well, as they are able to buy for themselves appliances and good food to feed their households. He added that there are residents of such dwellings who earn a combined income of P20,000 a month, which is enough to buy a low-cost housing unit.
The challenge, he said, is attracting this market and showing them that buying their own home can be an option for them.
The third initiative that he introduced is to redevelop idle lands to construct affordable homes with the necessary infrastructure and public amenities.
He believes that if properly approached, landowners of such properties will be willing to have their lands developed, instead of paying taxes annually without seeing returns. He said many lots in the North Reclamation Area have been turned into garages and storage lots.
Consumer confidence declined in the second quarter this year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported, as Filipinos braced for expenses at the opening of the school year. However, most respondents also said the conditions were right for buying big-ticket items, like real estate. “Respondents’ views were driven by the consideration that real property is a good investment,” the BSP also said.
The fourth initiative Soberano brought up was a project being undertaken in India.
Soberano cited the large-scale slum rehabilitation being undertaken in Dharavi, one of the most populous slums in Mumbai. The Dharavi Redevelopment Plan aims to make India slum-free by 2025 by redeveloping the slum area into an integrated residential complex with condominiums, health centers, commercial and recreation areas.
“Do we even have a small percentage of that dream?” Soberano asked.
He urged those present to choose their initiatives rather than stick to the “status quo and manifest our basic hopelessness.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 16, 2012.

Developer aims for middle

By Katlene O. Cacho

Saturday, June 16, 2012
CEBU’S list of residential developers keeps on growing, with the addition of Contempo Property Holdings Inc., a new developer that wants to focus on affordable vertical projects.
Beverly Dayanan, Contempo’s president and chief executive officer, said in a press conference Thursday that Contempo will address the “market gap” in the housing industry, specifically for the middle-income market segment.
Dayanan, who is also the president of ProHomes Development Inc., believes the new company would be able to provide “more than the usual concept of residential projects” here.
Contempo has an authorized capital stock of P100 million and was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission last February.
Range: P1.5M to P1.8M
The company’s flagship project sits on a one-hectare property along H. Cortes St. in Mandaue City. It will have three residential condo towers with close to 800 condo units, whose completion is targeted within four to five years.
“We will be spending close to P1 billion for the development of this complex,” she said.
Dayanan declined to further disclose details of the project but said 50 percent of the development is dedicated to amenities.
She also said the condo units are priced within the range of P1.5 million to P1.8 million.
Tetta Baad, Contempo’s marketing and sales consultant, said the projects will be market-driven.
“We did a consultative study to pinpoint the best features that the Cebu market likes,” she said.
According to Baad, the top three factors that the middle-income market looks for in a condominium product are its affordability, accessibility to public transportation, and accessibility to destinations like schools and malls.
“The location is already given, but this middle-income market looks for a product whose price is within their reach, has affordable monthly amortization and low down payment amount,” she explained.
The company is set to launch the entire project this year, including its first condominium tower.
The National Economic Development Authority (Neda) 7 said construction and real estate activities in the region will continue to flourish this year, driven by the strong demand in the BPO and tourism industries as well as surge of overseas remittances.
Neda 7 said the strong interest shown in residential units, especially condominium units in urban areas, is also a result of the aggressive promotion of Cebu as a second home.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 16, 2012.

Cebu’s growth critical to IBM–manager

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Saturday, June 16, 2012
 Katlene O. Cacho
THE new president and country manager of IBM Philippines pledged to support Cebu in its transformation and growth, tourism promotion, and talent development.
“We are bullish in the Cebu market not only because of our long-standing presence here but because Cebu’s growth is critical to the growth of IBM,” IBM Philippines president and country general manager Mariels Almeda Winhoffer said in a press conference yesterday.
She noted that IBM has chosen the Philippines as one of its 20 growth markets, where the company is making focused investments to capture higher growth in emerging countries.
Under her leadership, Winhoffer, who is the first Filipina to hold such a high position in the American technology firm, said that IBM will continue strengthening the relationship it has established with various universities here in terms of talent development.
“We will be looking at the curriculum and how we can further elevate the value-proposition in light of the new technology and the new era of computing,” she said.
Winhoffer said they will continue helping the academe produce a high-value talent pool through internship programs, among others.
Dod Peralta, a leader of IBM Philippines Global Delivery Center (IT), noted an improvement in addressing the industry-academe gap. He said IT companies now have further reached out to the academe by offering internship programs at the junior and senior years of the students.
Peralta said there is already an urgent response related to the industry’s skills requirement as the students will be trained and exposed to various projects before they graduate.
“We are now slowly moving away from the traditional ‘hire-train’ model,” he said also adding that the company is working with the Philippine Software Industry Association to promote internship programs for all IT companies.
Winhoffer also met with some government officials to discuss social business, analytics, and next wave technology.
Last year, six senior IBM executives from the United States, Sweden, Germany and Italy worked closely with various cities and municipalities in Cebu Province through the newly formed Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board (MCDCB).
The IBM team shared their expertise in helping Cebu craft development plans that would address issues on land planning, governance and traffic.
“If Cebu would come together and collaborate in executing all the plans, then Cebu will top other cities,” Winhoffer said.
Winhoffer is the fourteenth country general manager, and the first female president of IBM Philippines. She succeeded James Velasquez, who has been appointed director for maintenance and technical support, IBM Global Technology Services IBM ASEAN.
Winhoffer will assume responsibility for all of IBM’s operations in the Philippines, including the company’s sales and distribution, systems and technology, software and services units, and fully owned subsidiaries offering global delivery.
“If we would be able to bring a lot of business here; tourism would come naturally,” she said.
Peralta said Cebu’s mix of businesses coupled with a 30-minute drive to the beaches is already a compelling destination for business operations. “There is a lot of future for Cebu. The key premise is how can IBM be essential to Cebu?” said Winhoffer.
Her visit to Cebu was also to spearhead the Mangrove Plantation Establishment and Maintenance project in Poblacion, Aloguinsan today in collaboration with Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 16, 2012.