Saturday, 17 January 2009

More on 10 reasons why we should be happy in '09

Joey Concepcion
15 January 2009
The Philippine Star Business

Last week's column, again, elicited a lot of response from many people. These are even the people who I thought would not read my column entitled "10 reasons why we should be happy in '09". In fact, students even posted it in their personal blogs and social sites.

Anthony Pangilinan sent me what he thought should be the 11th reason. He wrote: no. 11, God still loves YOU Joey! Corruption is another 11th suggestion, which is a negative thought. Of course, there are still a number of people who believe that under this PGMA administration, the Philippines will not move forward.

Last week, the Philippines raised 1.5 billion dollars, being one of the four countries that were able to do so after the crisis. The other three are Brazil, Columbia and Korea, but the Philippine bond is the only one holding up quite well. This means that the Philippines has a great future, or else, it would not have been over four times oversubscribed.

This present financial crisis has more effects than the loss of financial properties. Just recently, a German billionaire committed suicide because he has lost what he has created and earned. This billionaire was even one among the 100 richest people in the world and holds the record for Germany's fifth wealthiest. After this death, another business tycoon committed suicide in Chicago. He was one of the tycoons in America's real estate industry. Even last year, the founder of the hedge fund Access International Advisors was also found dead and had apparently committed suicide. Reports say that he lost as much as 1.4 billion of his investments. The thought of being poor makes the rich decide to end their lives. This is why the financial crisis that the world faces today has hit the rich very hard. But, even though these people may have lost a lot, they are not even close to being poor compared to others.

Lately, I have been visiting my father-in-law Jose Orosa, who has been confined in St. Luke's Hospital. He is now in the ICU. His cancer, which started in the colon, has now spread all over. It is just a matter of days or weeks. As I look at a dying man, it makes me think of how others can take their own lives, when people who have been given their death sentence due to terminal cancer are still trying to fight for their lives.

It is a challenge to think about what is more important. This is a big challenge, as when we are brought up, we are told to succeed in life. Mostly, we achieve this through material wealth, because in the physical world the things that we can touch are the ones that make more sense. It is all about the cars that we drive and the houses we live in. In this very competitive world, we start school and we are supposed to excel. Our grades become the measure of our success. As we mature and graduate from school, our measurement of success is the wealth and fame we have achieved. It is all about how big our negosyo becomes, etc. But, life does end.

My father in law was a workaholic, unfortunately. Even until his last days prior to an operation that should have never been done, he was still busy. His children, all five of them, love him very much. They are not embarrassed to show the affection they have for their father. In the spiritual world, all these material wealth and power don't mean anything. As we get older, the realization becomes clearer for those who are open to embrace the more important non-material things in life. For those who have taken their lives because of wealth loss in this financial crisis, they have given up to the pressure of what this physical world demands.

As I write this column, it does not mean I am able to succeed in beating the temptations of this world. It is maybe through this process, as we see people move on to the spiritual world, when this realization becomes more real. When we get married, the priest would say "Til death do you part…" I wonder how many people really understand this and what it means to part with relationships and material things in the world we know. In pursuing our negosyo challenges in life, we should remind ourselves that these are all temporary things. For those who are fortunate to have a good life, maybe it is a bigger challenge. But, for those who have less or nothing, maybe it would be easier. But, as we all strive to move up in life and become successful, we should not part with the belief that being successful is being happy and contented. It is all about staying healthy, being able to help others, and above all, having stronger relationship with our Creator.


Go Negosyo receives the People of the Year Award from People Asia, a magazine owned by The Philippine Star. Annually, they recognized people who have contributed to the Philippine society. This year, Go Negosyo is one of the awardees. This goes to all the entrepreneurs who gave their time, effort and support in inspiring fellow entrepreneurs in the micro, small and medium group. The only way our country can move forward is through the creation of more negosyantes who will employ people. An enterprising Filipino culture is what we need. Thank you to The Philippine Star for helping us inspire this nation of Filipinos and continue to light the candle of hope.


Let me share with you other feedback from readers of this column:

"Hi Joey. Happy New Year. Just read your article. Article was very timely. It gives you confidence to think positive for 09 and also entertaining. Congrats again on the tremendous success of GO NEGOSYO." Vince Tanjutco

"Good evening Mr.Conception!i'm Monica,a psychology student here in Baguio.i just read your article in the philstar.its good that you've written such write-up because it gives us joy knowing that there are still reasons why we should be happy this year,amidst global crisis.i can't help but smile.Godbless!" Monica

"boss joey im touch and im proud to be a filipino im inspired in your ten reason why we should be happy , every filipino must read it it will boost our moral and the spirit to make new ideas be unleash the time is now!!! im noel lobo from pampanga and im proud to be a filipino!!! Keep up the goodwork Boss!! God Help Us" Noel

"Hi Joey, I really appreciate your enthusiasm on your latest column. Yes, there is no other way but UP in these tough economic times. I thank God for people like you who share the optimism and passion for economic growth. Innovation and creativity, I believe are key words for 2009. More power to GONEGOSYO!" Alvin Lizada

"…Filipino's are like bamboo trees and very resilient in any problem they are facing. We will survive during this hard times… If we Filipino can start Patronizing our own Goods (Filipino Made Products) . These measure will certainly can generate opportunities and can create jobs. It's been awhile that a company like yours RFM made a big consideration to augment the needs of our people by slashing down your market price in order to help people and thereby patronizing our own !!!!! Please continue to be the 1st Model Filipino Company to revolutionize the patronage your own products. I firmly believe by doing so, we will overcome any adversity at hand. God Bless for your Company and to you Sir!!!!" Edward P. Asis


For feedback, email me at or through SMS at our new hotline 0918-9656333. For free business advice, visit .
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Friday, 16 January 2009

Philippine bank lending grew 21.3% in November

The Manila Bulletin

The banking industry’s outstanding loans net of reverse repurchase agreements (RRPs) grew 21.3 percent year-on-year to P1.932 trillion in November, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) yesterday reported.

Including RRPs, bank lending rose 22.9 percent in the same period.

BSP said loans for production activities fueled the increase in loans, up 18.4 percent in November to P1.725 trillion. Under this heading the real estate, renting and business services sector also reported growth in loans or up 32.6 percent to P271.667 billion while agriculture, hunting and forestry increased by 33.1 percent to P261.398 billion.

BSP also said that loans for the transportation, storage and communication sector grew by 91.4 percent to P115.839 billion while wholesale and retail trade expanded by 29.3 percent to P232.867 billion.

Consumption loans, in the meantime, rose 20.6 percent to P163.731 billion. Credit card receivables amounted to P105.44 billion while auto loans also increased by 12.6 percent to P36.248 billion.

BSP said they will have to keep an extra watch on maintaining an environment that will support credit and a low-interest rate regime.

Presently, officials see inflation and the peso-dollar trend maintaining its current trend, which will enable the BSP to keep a flexible monetary policy.

Bank lending is an important economic indicator because credit conditions reflect confidence in the economy, which in turn, is a key ingredient for the effective functioning of the markets.

To ensure that credit conditions are stable and that there will be no credit crunch, the BSP approved several measures for this. The level of domestic liquidity is an "important indicator of monetary conditions and future economic activity."

The Monetary Board in November approved several pre-emptive measures including a cut in banks’ statutory reserves by two-percentage point to release P60 billion into the system.

The BSP also increased the budget for the peso rediscounting facility from P20 billion to P40 billion effective immediately.

Remittances to Philippines up 15.1% in Nov.

The Manila Bulletin

Remittances from overseas Filipinos (OFs) increased 15.1 percent year-on-year in November to $ 15.019 billion, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) yesterday reported.

For the month of November alone, remittances reached $ 1.3 billion, up 10.5 percent compared to the same period in 2007.

According to BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr.: "The steady stream of remittances from OFs continue to provide the economy with much needed foreign exchange liquidity in the midst of a challenging external environment."

BSP said the demand for Filipino workers abroad remain stable, specifically for professional and skilled workers.

Based on initial data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), in the first eleven months of 2008, the number of Filipinos deployed abroad increased by 24.4 percent to 1,221,829 from 982,286 a year ago.

The POEA data also showed that 90 percent of newly hired OF workers in the first ten months of 2008 consisted of professionals and skilled workers, and that the deployment was concentrated in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, and Hong Kong.

"While there are concerns that deployment could decelerate in the coming months due to the continuing global economic slowdown, the POEA indicated that the decline could be mitigated by strong labor demand in Canada, Bulgaria, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar," said the BSP.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Devotion, Filipino style

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Philippine NorthRail project set to resume

Paolo Romero
The Philippine Star

After months-long delays due to cost and design issues, the construction of the $503-million NorthRail project is expected to resume this month after the Filipino and Chinese parties to the venture finally resolved their differences, officials said.

North Luzon Railways Corp. president Edgardo Pamintuan said a team of Filipino engineers met with their counterparts in China National Machinery and Equipment Corp. (CNMEC) in December.

He said both sides resolved their differences on engineering and design of the 80-kilometer project spanning from Caloocan City to Clark Freeport in Pampanga.

CNMEC is the main contractor of the project funded by a soft loan from the Chinese government. The project is expected to reduce travel time from Caloocan to Clark by about two hours.

Work on the NorthRail project, which has been the subject of congressional investigations, was suspended last July over disagreements on engineering designs and cost overruns.

CNMEC said last year it could not continue with the project due to rapid escalation of cost of materials.

“Finally, we are going to resume construction. Before, we could not see eye-to-eye but now we have agreed on a final design,” Pamintuan said.

On the issue of increased costs, Pamintuan said he has proposed to President Arroyo, as chairman of the National Economic and Development Authority Board and Investment Coordination Committee, to seek $300-million funding for the additional expenses.

Pamintuan said CNMEC has agreed to resume construction even if the payment for the additional costs remains uncertain.

It was reported that the increased costs were due to foreign exchange losses, inflation and design changes from the original contract.

The firm also agreed to push through with the construction for Section 1 (Caloocan to Malolos) and Section 2 (Malolos to Clark) of the project even as the 18,000 families living along the route are still being relocated.

The Chinese contractor had wanted to pursue construction once the area is fully cleared of settlers to enable them to work quickly, but “they (CNMEC) agreed to do segmental or even simultaneous work as we relocate the families,” Pamintuan said.

Rail body awards 3 contracts

By Roderick T. dela Cruz
The Manila Standard

The Light Rail Transit Authority, operator of the LRT Line 1 system which is being extended from Monumento in Caloocan City to North Avenue in Quezon City, has awarded three more contracts worth more than P1.3 billion to various contractors.

Documents from the government-owned rail operator showed that the new contracts covered telecommunications, automated fare collection system, and track works of the P6.3-billion north extension project.

The whole project involves the construction of a 5.71-kilometer elevated line, including three new LRT stations (Balintawak, Roosevelt and North Avenue) that will connect Line 1 to Metro Rail Transit Line 3.

The consortium of D.M. Consunji and First Balfour earlier won the contract for Package A and Package A2 of the project with a combined cost of P2.8 billion and Package B worth P830 million.

The DMCI-First Balfour consortium has started excavation works and board piles at the project, which is due for completion by May 2010.

The LRTA yesterday said the new contracts included the telecommunication component of the electro-mechanical system of the project, which was awarded to Alcatel-Lucent Philippines.

The telecommunication component’s approved budget for the contract was P308.98 million.

Meanwhile, the automated fare collection system also under the electro-mechanical package was awarded to AP Trans. The contract has an approved budget of P328.61 million.

Daxi SA won the contract to provide electro-mechanical subsystem track works, which had an approved budget of P676.86 million.

Meanwhile, the LRTA said it was negotiating with two bidders—the DMCI-Beta-Siemens joint venture and Bombardier for the signaling component under electro-mechanical system. It had an approved budget of P329.58 million.

Convenience store bucks gloomy forecasts

Honey Madrilejos-Reyes / Reporter
The Business Mirror

THE tough environment caused by the global financial crisis is not going to hamper the expansion plans of Robinsons Convenience Stores Inc. (RCSI) this year.

In an interview on Friday, company president Johnson Robert Go Jr. told the BusinessMirror about 80 more Ministop branches will be opened in 2009 in Metro Manila and Luzon.

RCSI is the local franchise holder of one of the country’s leading 24-hour convenience stores, a brand that originated in Japan.

The new stores will cost about P400 million to put up, according to Go. In 2008, RCSI opened 60 stores, closing the year with a total of 230 branches.

“Our continued expansion clearly shows that we continue to be bullish on the industry because of many contributing factors, like the continued success of the outsourcing business resulting in the increasing number of customers,” said Go.

Since starting the Ministop business in 2000, he said their operations have never felt any adverse impact from crises like the change in government administration, fuel-price hikes and rice-supply shortage.

Such positive note is encouraging them to evaluate the potential of expanding to the Visayas and Mindanao. “Maybe two years down the road we would have presence in those areas. What is important for us is to first establish that there is a critical mass in the areas to complement our network of stores,” said Go.

RCSI will also explore tie-ups, for instance, with real-estate firms for them to be able to put branches in the various developments.

Most of the Ministop branches are operated through franchisees with 5 percent to 10 percent of the total number of stores being company-owned.

The brand entered the Philippine market in December 2000 following a joint-venture agreement among the Gokongwei group, the Mini Stop of Japan and Mitsubishi.

Its closest rival is 7-Eleven, the pioneer 24-hour convenience store that is run by the publicly traded Philippine Seven Corp.

Philippine switch to poll automation irreversible

Written by TJ Agcaoili
The Business Mirror

THE approval by Congress of the multibillion-peso budget for poll automation in 2010 ensures the use of optical mark reader (OMR) and direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines, raising hopes of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that the polls will be clean and orderly.

This is what James Jimenez, Comelec director for education and Information, told a weekend forum in Manila, adding, “An automated election system is irreversible. Definitely, no manual [system], as we have to move forward.”

He said that bidding for the voting machines and technologies may be held in February or March.

The OMR requires voters to fill out a paper ballot that is then counted by a special machine, as opposed to the DRE which allows voters to use a touch screen or touch pad and records the individual votes and totals.

Jimenez said last week’s Social Weather Stations survey showed 92 percent of Filipinos support an automated election system because they believe it would eliminate massive poll cheating.

He said automated elections using the OMR and DRE systems succeeded on August 11 last year in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). “It is fast and we can hold a proclamation immediately, and there were no election protests in the last ARRM polls.”

The use of the machines that he mentioned has, however, elicited strong protests from many sectors and individuals, such as Sens. Loren Legarda and Richard Gordon, owing to possible faults in the hardware and software of these systems, as indicated by problems during the pilot use of the systems in the ARMM.

Jimenez acknowledged the Comelec must consider the objections and other factors. “We have biometrics and others, but if we do not have matching systems, we have to use alternative ways. What is important is that we must achieve the one voter, one vote paradigm.”

“I heard Senator Legarda is concerned with the garbage in, garbage out [issue]. She wants that the voters’ list be cleaned and we are working on the concern raised by the senator,” he said.

Ten reasons why we should be happy in 2009

Joey Concepcion
The Philippine Star Business

Upon reading all the columns these days, there is nothing but bad news about 2009. Not that I disagree with many of the views, but I think things will be different. The Philippines will be far better than many other countries. Here are 10 reasons why I think we should be happy in 2009.

1 – We (Philippines, Inc.) have a unique business model, which is now more Service-based, through the export of manpower services and the migration of Filipinos to countries like America, Canada and countries in Europe. A lot of Filipinos continue to be one of the best performers in different industries, especially in the fields of medicine, construction, domestic service, among the many services provided. Many Filipinos, especially in America, take on two jobs and work very hard. Many of them even own the nursing homes in America. This is an industry wherein many Filipinos really excel. This strength comes from many generations of respect for elders. For example, the mano po tradition is still commonly practiced up to now. When a Pinoy eats, he never fails to say "Kain tayo!" and offers his food to be shared. These simple gestures show the many generations of respect. Our yayas who leave their families to take care of our own children are, in a way, traini ng for many who plan to go to Asian countries to do the same with higher pay. These OFW remittances will continue, which contributes to our GDP. In a way, this is the same as the oil that the Arabs have, or what durable products China has for exports to America. This is also now greatly affected as Americans have slowed down on consumption. Even though other countries, especially China, is well known for their export of hard goods, people will always have the option to put off buying furniture, toys, appliances or their other products. But, services are different because these are always needed. Our country's export of services via OFWs, call centers and BPOs is very unique. Compared to This service is hard to replace, as Filipinos have the passion to serve and a natural advantage in communications skills especially when abroad. Even here in our country, a call center operator would make 300 dollars a month. This is just equivalent to three days wage of an American working in a call center. With the crisis in their country, they would have to relocate here.

2 - In the years to come, we will be entering a low interest regime, with the Americans taking interest rates to almost zero. This will force other countries to lower interest rates. If Japan has had low interest rates for nearly 15 years and if America's economy will remain sluggish, we could be looking at low rates for quite some time. This can lead to our advantage. If our central bank will not lower rates, we may see a stronger peso this coming year or at the very least a much more stable peso. If interest rates are lowered, this will benefit a lot of entrepreneurs and would be also good for business. The peso may slide to the levels of 50, but this will also be good for the exporters, OFWs, call centers and BPOs.

3 - Oil has come down from the highs of 145 levels. As I have mentioned in my past columns, when oil was at that level, it was caused more by the hedge funds pushing oil beyond its real demand. Within two months, we have seen oil collapsed to a low of 30s. Now, it has recovered to high 40s. Assuming that oil would average between 50 and 60 for the year, this will still be a big boost for the tourism industry, as air travel will become cheaper. Our logistics cost in transporting products, being a country with seven thousand islands, will go down. The cost of power will go down, helping the consumers and the negosyantes with plants running at lower energy costs. This will also prevent an excessive conversion of farm lands to be used for alternative fuel, which should be discouraged. Instead, this option should be managed, so that irrigated and productive land will be used to make us self-sufficient in terms of producing rice.

4 - We will see inflation come down very fast. Commodities have come down, from the price of steel to raw materials and food like skimmed milk, wheat, oil, soybean, corn and others. By the beginning of the second quarter, when most of the companies that hedged would have been consumed, we should see prices come down. Another possibility would be no price increase this year. In fact, our company RFM has already reduced the price of our pasta. It is now one of the lowest in the market. Even our milk, hotdogs and corned beef are priced lower; as we are already taking some losses since the replacement cost have come down. This is going to be good news for the consumers.

5 – Philippine election spending will start early as usual. I expect this will be happening sometime midyear, as we will definitely have elections in 2010. The excitement of the 2010 elections will be felt very early. This spending should filter through the economy as early as the third quarter this year.

6 - Manny Pacquiao will beat Ricky Hatton. This will give the Filipinos greater pride. There will be more of the Collezione C2 shirts with the Philippine map to be worn by Filipinos, and less of the polo shirts. We will see a proliferation of proud Filipino shirts with the Philippine flag as its banner. All these lead to building the nationalistic spirit. This is also something that is very important to our country.

7 – The year 2009 will be the last full year of PGMA in office. I am not saying she has done a bad job. In fact, she has prepared well our country for the global financial crisis. This last year of her term, many of those running would want her to already finish her term. This year, we should see her stay in office, with less of impeachment noises. If we are able to weather this global crisis and PGMA is able to deliver economic growth, this will vindicate her as she finishes her term.

8 - The political drama will unfold. Many Filipinos look forward to this. Who will PGMA endorse as administration candidate? Who will Manny Villar pick as his running mate? Will Mar marry Korina? Will it be Loren or Chiz for president? Will Vilma Santos run for vice president?

9 - The world avoids a depression.


Sunday, 11 January 2009

Philippine farmer training program to continue

BusinessWorld Online

Over 14,000 field schools have been established nationwide to teach farmers up-to-date farming methods and technologies, the Agriculture department said on Friday.

In a statement, it said that so far, some 400,000 farmers had been trained to "select, adapt and apply knowledge-intensive technologies and use resources available to them more efficiently."

Training focused on organic farming to offset the high cost of chemical fertilizers and encourage environment-friendly methods..

Agriculture department technical adviser Jesus N. Binamira claimed participants had cut their use of chemical fertilizers by half and increased the application of organic-based farming techniques by over three times.

The department last year noted a drop in chemical fertilizer use following significant oil price volatility. It expects to have missed the 2008 palay production target of 17.3 million metric tons by 2.36% in part to high fertilizer prices.

Continuation of the farm training, the department said, will "keep farmers in specialized agricultural fields to plant their own crops using new technologies, so they can gather their own data, do experiments, make their own decisions, and create their own working networks."

The Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) has already trained 1,800 agricultural technicians that will teach farmers, ATI planning division chief Renato B. dela Cruz said.

The agricultural technicians will, in turn, train 80,997 participants in the field schools until March this year, he added.