Saturday, 18 December 2010

Etheridge: Mistake will make me stronger

Cedelf P Tupas

JAKARTA—Neil Etheridge was in a jovial mood yesterday, playing music in the team bus and joking around with teammates.

It was a far cry from the Etheridge that turned up in the locker room after the match the night before.

Etheridge was teary eyed as he admitted making the mistake that led to the goal that gave Indonesia a 1-0 victory in the first leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup semifinals.

“It was a normal ball and I was about to get it, then I slipped while trying to reach for it,” said Etheridge. “Unfortunately, that mistake cost us a goal.”

“More than myself, I felt I let the team down,” added the back-up goalkeeper with Fulham in the English Premiere League.

The 6-foot-3 Etheridge, whose mother Melinda Dula is from Tarlac, has been a pillar of strength for the Philippines in this tournament and that goal from Gonzales was just the second he conceded in four games in the tournament.

Etheridge actually recovered from that blunder, jumping out to collect crosses and denying what could have been a clear path for Indonesian striker Bambang Pamungkas to double the advantage in the 80th minute.

The Philippines’ coach Simon McMenemy came to Etheridge’s rescue, saying he should not be judged based on his lone mistake in the game.

“What we fail to remember is Neil is still only 20,” said McMenemy. “He’s in tears in the dressing room because he feels that he let the team down—but we tend to forget the number of times that he has saved the team.”

“He’s been incredible for us. He has such a great presence and it is very, very difficult to put the ball past him. He’s very disappointed that his mistake led to a goal, but he will learn from this and he’ll be back for the next game.”

Etheridge said the mistake will only make him stronger.

“I still have a lot of years ahead of me,” he said. “I know there will be a lot of big matches and sometimes I will make mistakes. But I’ll come back stronger on Sunday.”

No sulking for buoyant PH booters

Cedelf P Tupas

JAKARTA—It was a defeat that failed to put a dent on the Philippine Team’s morale.

The Filipinos refused to sulk after suffering a slender 0-1 loss to Indonesia Thursday night in the first leg of their Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup semifinal here.

“I think it’s pretty much open,” said team manager Dan Palami. “We can still come out with something on Sunday.”

The Filipino defense that had looked so solid in the tournament was finally unlocked before 70,000 boisterous fans at the Gelaro Bung Karno Stadium when Indonesia’s Cristian Gonzales headed home to an empty net after a mix-up by goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and Ray Jonnson.

It was the first goal conceded by the Filipinos in four hours of play in the tournament. The Philippines gave up a goal in the 64th minute against Singapore in their first game, before going on to shut out Vietnam and Myanmar.

It was also the first loss for the Filipinos in four matches of the tournament. The team has actually gone unbeaten in its last eight international matches.

In Manila, President Aquino yesterday commended the booters for their brave stand against the Indonesians, saying they can still come back in the second game.

The Philippines’ coach Simon McMenemy blamed the goal on the high noise level in the stadium.

“There was miscommunication, the players just couldn’t hear each other,” said McMenemy. “Unfortunately, I think that’s where the goal came from.”

“I think there was a one-meter hearing radius,” Palami added. “How much more with the players on the pitch?”

McMenemy said his squad deserved a lot of credit for its performance against the slick-passing Indonesians

“For us, I am very, very pleased with our performance,” the Englishman said. “We’ve come such a long way in this tournament and we’ve overcome so many odds to be here.

“Anybody who knows football will understand how difficult it was for us tonight and how good a performance it was that we produced.”

Fully aware that they can still make the finals if they win by two goals in the second leg on Sunday, the Filipinos were upbeatFriday as they took a break from training and paid a visit to the Philippine Embassy here.

The visit to the Embassy was a welcome respite for the Filipino booters, who were heckled and booed by Indonesian fans on their way to the stadium before the game Thursday night.

Some fans banged at the windows of the bus that ferried the Filipinos, while others flashed the dirty finger and hurled invectives at the players.

Brothers Phil and James Younghusband almost found the perfect payback for the abuse early on when they came close to scoring in the game.

The narrow win actually left Indonesian coach Alfred Reidl more relieved than happy.

“We saw why the Philippines are in the semifinals,” said Reidl, an Austrian, who has also coached Vietnam.

“They are a very strong team but I think that we deserved the win because we were the more active team. A 1-0 lead is still a very dangerous scoreline, so we will have to play to win the second match as well. It will be too dangerous to play for a draw in the second leg, so we cannot afford to play defensively.”

Palami said that, despite the adversities, the Filipinos pulled through so many times in the past, and there’s no reason to believe they cannot come up with another heroic stand on Sunday.

“One thing good about this team is its never-say-die attitude,” said Palami. “We scored in the 94th minute against Singapore and we still have 90 minutes to turn the game around.”

Saksi: PHL chosen to host 2012 AFP Suzuki cup

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

Philippines helps with Vatican Nativity Scene

Friday, 17 December 2010

Indonesia breaks RP Azkals’ unbeaten streak in Suzuki Cup

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) -- The Philippine Azkals paid dearly for a defensive lapse, enabling Indonesia to eke out a 1-0 win in their opening match in the Suzuki Cup semifinals at the jampacked Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta , Indonesia Thursday night.

An apparent miscommunication between Pinoy goalie Neil Etheridge and fullback Ray Jonsson allowed Indon striker Cristiano Gonzales to head in the solitary goal in the 32nd minute and give the hosts the upper hand in the 2-match series.

Receiving a long cross from Oktovianus Maniani, the 32-year-old naturalized Uruguayan soared and headed from 10 yards on the right wing as Etheridge, who left the goal unguarded, and Jonsson both tried to foil the attack.

The ball caromed off the left post and inside the net as the Indonesian crowd of 80,000, which included President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife, erupted in jubilation.

The outcome made the job doubly harder for the Azkals, who must not only win the second match on Sunday but also score more goals for a better aggregate tally to advance to the championship round.

But the defeat was nothing to be ashamed about for the Filipino booters, who, tuning out the hostile crowd, fought on even terms with their heavily-favored hosts, except for that costly error in the first half.

Filipino-British striker Phil Younghusband nearly scored the equalizer with a 25-yard back-to-the-goal strike in the 74th minute as Indonesian goalkeeper Markus Rihihina strayed away from the net to help out on defense.

Fortunately for Rihihina, an Indonesian defender was there to clear the volley over the crossbar.

For most of the match, however, Younghusband was a closely marked man with three Indonesian players collapsing on him every time he had possession of the ball during the physical match that where both sides were awarded 2 yellow cards apiece.

James Younghusband, Phil’s elder brother, and skipper Aly Borromeo were slapped one each for the Filipinos while Oktovianus Maniani and Gonzales also got one for the Indonesians.

Maniani earlier got away with what should have been his first yellow card when he elbowed Anton del Rosario in the nape in the 31st minute after being tackled by the Filipino defender.

Eight minutes later, Del Rosario and Indonesian midfielder Mohammad Nasuah butted heads as both attempted to clear the ball. Nasuah, a vital cog in the midfield, later returned with his head heavily-bandaged.

Del Rosario also figured in an argument with Gonzales late in the second half, refusing to be bullied by the stocky striker.

While the Filipinos pressed the attack at the onset of the second half in a bid to equalize, they lost steam in the middle of it and allowed the Indonesians to control the ball the rest of the way.

Most of their counterattacks fell short while the hosts found gaps in their defenses, which Etheridge fortunately managed to save.

Unlike their previous rivals, the Indonesians had scouted the Filipinos well and were ready for the visitors’ vaunted counterattacks.

With the AFF not implementing the away-goals rule, the Azkals can win the tie and advance to the final if they defeat the Indonesians by at least 2 goals in the second leg.

The Filipinos' next semifinal game against the Indonesians will also take place at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.

The game will be broadcast live by ABS-CBN Studio 23.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Semifinal Showdown

Philippines will meet Indonesian national team in the semi-finals of the tournament AFF Cup 2010, 16 December. Indonesia will first travel to the headquarters of the Philippines. Philippines-Indonesia semifinal tie is it has upped the stakes for both teams in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup
Indonesia has no excuse now; it must win this.

The Philippines, the tournament’s feel-good story, is looking to milk its underdog status even further.

To the Indonesians, the Filipinos are mere road kill.

To the visiting Filipinos, nothing would be more satisfying than to spring a highway robbery against a squad whose biggest weakness might be overconfidence.

The AFF’s decision to have both legs of the semifinal played in Jakarta just thickened the plot of a story that, at least on paper, screams utter mismatch.

It has never won the Cup but Indonesia has consistently knocked at the door.

The Indonesians, three-time finalists, are looking to end a run of futility that stretches back to when the tournament began in 1996, seven AFF Cups ago.

The Philippines didn’t even win a Cup game until it beat East Timor in 2004, a win that ended the Filipinos’ tournament-worst 15-match losing streak.

Indonesia’s domination in the group stage was long overdue.

The common sentiment among its millions of fans is: “We’ve been waiting for this a long time.”

The Philippines’ run in its group has left people scratching their heads.

Amazing 'Azkals'

Manila Times

The unexpected yet stunning victory recently of the Philippine soccer team over reigning champion Vietnam in the AFF Suzuki Cup has done more than just fill up our chests with pride. By winning and advancing to the semifinals that begin Thursday, the Philippine team—fondly called the “Azkals” —jolted

Filipinos who have long ignored football. On the political front, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri delivered a privileged speech on Monday extolling the Azkals and calling for a Senate investigation into the problems plaguing Philippine football.

Ironically, said Sen. Zubiri in his speech, the Philippine win also brought to national attention the sorry state of football in the country. After the Azkal victory, the Philippines tried but failed to host the semifinals, because the country lacks the accredited facility to host international football matches. He blamed the lack of passion and the “possible corruption” in the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) and other sports agencies that receive government funding. He also slammed the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) for inefficiency and negligence that apparently were to blame for the country’s national sports programs inadequacy in meeting international commitments and in carrying out their respective constitutional mandates to fulfill the needs of the youth.

The PSC is set to receive P400 million in the proposed 2011 national budget to fund various grassroots programs, Sen. Zubiri said in his speech. The commission is to receive P168 million for its operating expenses, and the rest is to be divided among the National Sports Associations, presumably including the one for football.

We support Sen. Zubiri’s call for a Senate investigation. We hope it will be productive in aiding lawmakers in revising or in crafting new legislation needed to strengthen, not just football, but the entire Philippine sports-development agenda. Many of the past Senate probes have not amounted to much, and so we will be watching the hearings with keen interest.

Also, we echo the senator’s call on President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd to show leadership in addressing the problems besetting the national sports development. We believe this issue provides him with an opportunity to deliver on his promise to fight corruption.

Appropriate sports development

In fact, we hope the President uses his high popularity to develop a number of athletic programs other than basketball, which for now is the country’s most popular sport. Not a few people have suggested that the Philippines should promote athletic programs that are physically appropriate for Filipinos. Evidently, Filipinos are not built for basketball, where tall players are the norm rather than the exception.

Football—or soccer—is but one of the many team sports that merit government attention, if not additional funding. It is the most widely played game in the world, with some 265 million registered players, as of the count in a 2006 survey of all the FIFA member associations and their affiliates. And there are other sports.

For instance, the Philippines could also look at developing baseball. Not only is baseball more suitable to Filipinos physically, the sport also offers more career opportunities for professional athletes. Note the number of Fil-Americans in major league baseball, like pitcher Tim Lincecum of the World Series champion San Francisco Giants. Professional leagues in Japan and Taiwan also offer career opportunities for Asian baseball players. Filipino professional basketball players, however, have but a small chance of playing in the National Basketball Association or in other professional leagues, because the basic requirement is height.
The same goes for volleyball, swimming, and most of the athletics events, except middle- and long-distance running.

The government could redirect funds to the sports programs that develop skills in games that average Filipinos can excel in, particularly football. Government can also increase funding that support the sports-development programs of public schools, from elementary to college. If we wait to train our athletes until they enter university, obviously they will be no match against those who have been playing competitively since they were toddlers.

Good luck to the Azkals

Most successful athletes started playing their sport at a young age. The same is true with soccer and probably with many of the players in Team Azkal.

The team was to leave late Tuesday for Jakarta, where they face a tough match against the Indonesians who will enjoy home-court advantage. Indonesia may be a football powerhouse and the obvious favorite, but we think the Azkals have heart.

The Filipino players also have history on their side. In his privileged speech, Sen. Zubiri reminded us all about a Filipino among football’s greats—the all but forgotten Paulino Alcantara. He was the all-time top scorer in the world of football with 356 goals in 357 games from 1912 to 1916, the senator said in his speech.

It seems that football is in our blood after all. We just forgot about it until the Azkals reminded us by defeating defending champion Vietnam in the AFF Suzuki Cup. The Philippines and Indonesia are the only teams that have suffered no losses in this tournament. Indonesia is ahead of champion Vietnam and us in the group standings.

No matter the outcome of the match against Indonesia, the Azkals have already won the hearts of Filipinos everywhere.

Of course, we hope for the best. And so our final message goes to the Azkals facing a tough opponent: You make us proud, regardless of the game’s outcome. But all the same, give ‘em hell.

MetroPac eyes rehab of MRT-3

Manila Standard

Metro Pacific Investments Corp., a unit of the Hong Kong-based First Pacific Group, has committed to invest for the rehabilitation of the 11-year-old Metro Rail Transit Line 3 in Edsa.

“We have initial discussions with the government on how we can work together for [MRT-3],” Metro Pacific chairman Manuel Pangilinan said in an interview late Monday.

Opened in 1999, the 13-kilometer MRT 3 runs from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, where average daily ridership is estimated at 400,000. The system has 24 trains. Around 20 are plying the stretch simultaneously during peak hours while the rest are being refurbished or under repair.

Pangilinan said Metro Pacific planned to increase the capacity of the train system by adding modern rails cars, refurbishing the old trains, expanding the platforms, increasing the number of escalators and improving the signages, lighting and signaling systems.

“It badly needs improvement,” he said.

Pangilinan said Metro Pacific, after acquiring the the 29-percent stake of the Sobrepeña group, was keen on raising its stake in the train system by bringing in additional capital for its rehabilitation.

“We prefer to put the money into the system to expand and upgrade it than to take out the existing shareholders,” he said.

Pangilinan said Metro Pacific though had started preliminary talks with private shareholders over the possible sale of their stake in the MRT 3.

MRT general manager Glicerio Sicat said in a phone interview that the government was open to selling its stake to Metro Pacific and settle for concession fees. Jeremiah F. de Guzman

First predictions for 2011

Business Mirror

From an economic standpoint, this may turn out to be the best Christmas season in recent memory. Retailers are forecasting a 15-percent jump in sales. Even Philippine Airlines is looking at a 10-percent increase in holiday bookings.

And ignore all the “expert” nonsense about consumer spending being fueled by overseas-worker remittances. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) just released a survey showing that the relatives of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are actually saving, not spending, their remittances. “The percentage of OFW households that utilized their remittances to savings climbed to 43.7 percent. BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said that ‘The percentage of Filipino families with OFW relatives who are turning to savings has increased significantly from 7.2 percent in the first quarter of 2007 when the survey started. On the other hand, he explained that the percentage of those who apportioned part of their remittances for major purchases and investments declined.’”

The Philippine economic forecasts for 2011 are lower and slightly more pessimistic than for 2010. Is that a valid prediction?

Having asked that, there is only one issue of importance for 2011. What will happen to the US dollar? Everything else economically, here and abroad, depends on the answer to that question.

The US Federal Reserve under Chairman Ben Bernanke is planning a massive infusion of money into the US and world financial systems. It is unprecedented in global history. Bernanke believes that he can do something that has never been done before— print a trillion dollars of new money, pump it into the economy, and force economic growth without triggering massive inflation. That is his prediction for 2011.

But what about some of the chairman’s past predictions?

On July 1, 2005, he said this about economists who worried about a housing-market collapse. On CNBC: “It’s a pretty unlikely possibility. We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.”

Bernanke was not worried about subprime mortgages either. In a speech on May 17, 2007, he said: “We believe the effect of the troubles in the subprime sector on the broader housing market will likely be limited. The vast majority of mortgages, including even subprime mortgages, continues to perform well.”

The chairman has had some serious problems looking into the future concerning the economy. He said this on January 10, 2008: “The Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.” He continued with that prediction in June 2008: “The risk that the economy has entered a substantial downturn appears to have diminished over the past month or so.” And his economic crystal ball did not work well for 2009 and 2010 either, “The forecast we have is for the economy, in terms of growth, to begin to turn up later this year. We think the unemployment rate will probably peak early in 2010 and then come down relatively slowly after that.” Bernanke said that in May 2009.

Here are his latest comments about the Fed’s plan to pump nearly $1 trillion more into the economy by June 2011, made on December 5, 2010, during a television interview. Q: “Many people believe that could be highly inflationary. That it’s a dangerous thing to try.” Bernanke: “Well, this fear of inflation, I think is way overstated. We’ve looked at it very, very carefully. We’ve analyzed it every which way. One myth that’s out there is that what we’re doing is printing money. We’re not printing money. The amount of currency in circulation is not changing. The money supply is not changing in any significant way. What we’re doing is lowering interest rates by buying treasury securities.”

Bernanke is the most dangerous man on earth. If the Fed is not pumping new money into the economy, what is going to stimulate economic activity? His argument about interest rates going lower is total nonsense. Interest rates in the US have never been any lower these past two years and have brought no significant economic activity.

If by then there will not be a massive infusion of cash into the mainstream US economy, then that trillion dollars will be used to fund the $300-billion government budget deficit and thereby increase more, the US debt obligation of $14 trillion.

What happened recently as it became clear that European government debt was out of control? The euro fell from its $1.60 high in 2008 to $1.20 low during the Greece crisis six months ago. The euro is down 8 percent in the last month.

If there is an attack on the dollar and it goes lower, there will be massive inflation in the US as that economy is dependent on imported goods and energy.

Assume that Bernanke will buy government debt at low interest rates, the desirability of the debt will go down because the only way to ever pay it off so much debt is with newly printed, lower-value money.

I predict inflation will be a great US problem and that we will see a large devaluation of the dollar in 2011.

This is what you want to look for to test my prediction that the dollar is under attack.

During the first quarter of 2011, gold moves above $1,500 per ounce. Crude-oil prices move and strongly hold above $100. There will be a strong and sustained stock-market rally in the US. By March 2011, official US inflation will hit near 1 percent.

For the Philippines, we will have a continuation of the stock-market rally which will see the next wave up putting the index at 4,500 to 4,800. The peso will move below 40 much more quickly than anyone thinks it will. Foreign investment will accelerate due to peso appreciation and to take advantage of favorable government and corporate financial stability.

The year 2011 will outshine 2010 for the Philippine economy.

E-mail comments to PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by Inc.

$61-B GIR exceeds foreign debt

Business Mirror

THE country’s gross international reserves (GIR) reached a total $61.05 billion at end-November, the central bank reported on Wednesday. And, with the country’s foreign debt standing at only $55 billion as of latest count, this marks the first time the GIR would exceed debt levels.

The scenario was quietly predicted very early this year by Joey Concepcion III, chairman and chief executive officer at RFM Corp. On Wednesday, after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) report on the GIR data, he made another prediction: the foreign-exchange reserves will nearly double and hit $100 billion within two years.

That is something to watch out for, according to observers, and in Concepcion’s mind the $100-billion GIR level is not too far out of hand at all.

“At the current trend where you will count the direct foreign investments on the Private-Public Partnership [PPP] projects and other tourism-related projects, the $100-billion reserve in two years is achievable,” Concepcion said.

The PPP pertains to a massive, multiyear infrastructure buildup program seen to attract long-horizon investors whose funding requirements should help feed the continued flow of foreign capital into the country.

“This is probably the first time that our reserves have exceeded our external debt. The big jump in foreign-exchange [FX] reserves is mainly due to BSP’s decision to take delivery on maturing FX forward. In terms of reserves, we now rank higher than Argentina, Hungary, Canada, the UK, among others. Our reserve is 37.5 percent of GDP,” Concepcion said.

BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. had reported the GIR was $4.1 billion higher in just one month to $61.05 billion at end-November, as a consequence of the merchandise exports, services receipts, overseas Filipino remittances, as well as investments.

The sharply higher GIR, which stood at only $45.45 billion at the start of the year, highlights the impact of massive flows of foreign capital seeking higher yields in emerging markets like the Philippines. While seemingly harmless for now, that is feared to come back and haunt the BSP regulators later when inflation begins to kick up.

To keep the local unit, the Philippine peso, from sharply appreciating, the BSP moderated the natural impulse to gain value by selling some of its dollar holdings, but in volumes too small to stem its steady appreciation.

The Philippine Dealing System has reported on the 5-percent year-to-date appreciation of the local currency, which averaged 10.1 centavos lower on Wednesday to only P43.938 per dollar.

“At the rate our central bank is defending the peso, they are flooding the system with a lot of pesos. Interest rates have to go down to the levels of 3 percent to stop the peso from appreciating. For the first time, I am seeing a 5-percent loan rate on one of my mortgages,” Concepcion said.

Remittances highest at $15.45B in Oct.

J. Vallecera
Business Mirror

THE remittances of overseas Filipino workers pushed to its highest level this year, totaling $15.45 billion at end-October, or $1.67 billion higher than in September.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. traced the higher remittance level to the steady stream of remittance flows from both sea-based and land-based workers that allowed the 10-month remittances to post a 7.7-percent growth year-on-year.

“The sustained remittance flows into the country were due to the sustained robust demand for skilled and professional Filipinos. This, combined with the increasing presence of bank and nonbank money-transfer conduits both locally and internationally, as well as the expanding range of products and services offered by financial intermediaries to overseas Filipinos and their beneficiaries, contributed to the strong inflow of remittances,” Tetangco said in a statement.

He also traced a part of the improvement to “the continuing efforts to improve on the variety and coverage of the global remittance networks that have enabled more overseas Filipinos to send remittances using more innovative financial services offered in the market.”

Tetangco cited preliminary data obtained from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration indicating that for January-November 2010, approved job orders stood at 578,535, about four-tenths or 39.2 percent of which were comprised of processed job orders for service, production as well as professional, technical and related workers.

The bulk of the approved job orders were mainly for jobsites in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

According to Tetangco, the bulk of remittances came from the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Japan, UK, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Italy, Germany and Norway.

Motivation will not be a problem - McMenemy

JAKARTA: While disappointed that the Philippines will not be hosting a semi-final match in this year's AFF Suzuki Cup, coach Simon McMenemy feels that his side will have no problem finding their motivation in the hothouse atmosphere of the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on Thursday.

Due to the lack of a suitable venue in the Philippines, the Azkals will have to play both legs of the last-four clash in the intimidating atmosphere of Jakarta.

"Finding out that we weren't going to play in front of a Filipino crowd for what is probably the biggest game in Philippine history was a real disappointment for those who have worked so hard to grow football in the Philippines," said McMenenmy, who was appointed as Philippines coach on a short-term contract four months ago.

"It would have been a fantastic achievement to bring a team like Indonesia to the islands of the Philippines for the semi-finals of such a prestigious competition. But things happens and the facilities just weren't good enough.

"But the one nice thing about playing in front of 80,000 away fans is that finding motivation is very straightforward. There's not much that I can say that stepping out on to the field and seeing 80,000 people won't do for the players."

For McMenemy, the key thing for his players will be to maintain their composure – something which they did successfully when they beat Vietnam 2-0 in Hanoi during the group stage.

"It will be down to keeping our composure given what we are about to face. If we can do that, we'll be in for a very good game," said the Englishman.

"Not many of our Filipino players have seen a crowd of 80,000 people, let alone played in front of them. It is difficult to prepare for that other than to stay totally focussed on the task at hand and to stay as composed under pressure as much as possible.

"As with Vietnam, we faced a very hostile crowd out there and a very expectant crowd. We were able to use that to our advantage and I think that the players rose to the occasion as well because they don't often get the chance to really show what they can do on that platform."

According to McMenemy, the public reaction in the Philippines to their country's newfound football success will also act as a spur to the players.

"Tomorrow, the nation will be watching it live at home on TV and it will be huge memory in the minds of our players. My team talk will be about making sure that memory lives long in the minds of those watching by putting out everything and leaving that on the field when the whistle blows.

"It's amazing about the amount of interest there is in Filipino football now. We are very lucky that our performances so far in have led to the interest in football in the Philippines growing massively. As a judge of that, our last training session before we left Manila was done in front 3,000 people which, to be honest, took our players by shock.

"But the reality is that we are now in a footballing nation and we are playing against a powerhouse in Southeast Asian football. We have to be very respectful of that and we know well that we are very much the underdogs in this tie.

"We try to bring everything we can out to the field and we give 110 per cent. And what we've been finding is that that passion, that fight and that spirit has been providing the results for us. So we will do exactly the same tomorrow and even given that it is possibly a much more harder scenario than we've had so far, we're hoping that our hard work, our passion and our spirit will shine through again."

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

PHL Azkals train for semi-finals match vs Indonesia

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

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

Filipino football facing brand new era

Boxer Manny Pacquiao may be the Philippines' best loved son and basketball the sport revered across the land, but the run to the semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup by Simon McMenemy's team could be about to have a major impact on football in the archipelago.

The Philippines' history in the game may not be auspicious but it is amongst the oldest in Asia; the country featured in the first-ever international match played on the continent, when the Philippines lost 2-1 to China back in 1912 and was one of the 12 founding members of the Asian Football Confederation in 1954.

But while football throughout Asia has developed markedly since, the game has barely taken hold in a country more enthralled by the influence of the United States and the sport of basketball that now so dominates the nation's sporting landscape.

The events of the last two weeks, though, could see that start to change. As the Philippines prepare for their first-ever appearance in the semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup, the nation of more than 90 million people is sitting up and taking notice.

President Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino has already sent his message of congratulations to the team and social networking sites were buzzing throughout the group stages as the country and the tournament witnessed something special taking place.

Draws with Myanmar and Singapore coupled with an historic win over defending champions Vietnam have qualified the Filipinos for the last four, an astonishing achievement few would have predicted before the tournament commenced.

Much of the credit has gone to the England-born contingent within the team's ranks and boosted the squad's quality.

Players such as the Younghusband brothers Phil and James, former Wimbledon defender Rob Gier, midfielder Chris Greatwich and Fulham goalkeeper Neil Etheridge have played key roles in pushing the team towards previously unattained heights.

And for all the talk of reaching the semi-finals and their impending clash with Indonesia, everyone within the game in the Philippines is hoping the appearance in the knockout phase of the competition will lead to longer-term achievements.

"I think it's important that we ride this wave," says central defender Gier. "We'll do as much as we can to get momentum going in the Philippines."

For a country without a football infrastructure and no national league to talk of, the achievement has been remarkable. But now one eye is fixed on using the achievement to turn the state of the game in the Philippines around.

"There's so much potential there," says London-born James Younghusband, who has been living in Manila for the last year. "There are so many kids who love the sport and it's just a shame that there's no proper structure.

"There's no opportunity for them to develop their interest and skills in the sport like there would be in Europe or in other places. But hopefully that will start to change."

The Philippines' lack of footballing facilities means the country's first foray into the semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup will see them play both legs at Indonesia's imposing Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta.

Possessing their own version of the imposing 90,000-seater venue is a pipedream for football in Philippines, but coach McMenemy is hopeful that the success tasted so far in the tournament can lead to bigger and better things for the country.

"The president of the country sent us a goodwill message and he has said we are trying to make an attempt to enter the international arena of football," said the coach.

"If he's recognising that then hopefully he will recognise that we can't do that on our own and that he being president can help make those changes. Like building a stadium, for one.

"I'm told that once he said that, the channel he said that on received hundreds of emails saying: Build us a stadium, build us a stadium. We have to start thinking ahead in those terms.

"We are just hoping that this is the snowball being tipped off the top of the glacier and hopefully it rolls a long way."

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A 2020 vision for the Philippine economy (I)

Dr Bernardo Villegas

MANILA, Philippines—For whatever it is worth, I have a vision for the Philippine economy for the year 2020, a decade from now.

I do not claim that it is as an accurate a vision as the term 2020 connotes physically. It comes from a whole set of judgments I am making about present economic and political realities in the global, Asia Pacific, and local scenes, and how things will play out in the next ten years. Among other perceptions about the Philippines emanating from world leaders, I am taking off from the statement by former US President William J. "Bill" Clinton, who in a recent visit to the Philippines remarked that the Philippines is now "at a whole new age."

Key to this assessment by Mr. Clinton is that the Philippines is one of the emerging markets that will lead the world in economic growth for the next twenty years, partly due to its large domestic market.

First, I am making the assumption that President Benigno C. Aquino III will deliver on his promises about economic reforms. He will follow closely the footsteps of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), who in the last six years has transformed a deeply corrupt and mismanaged country into an economic model in the Southeast Asian region by making significant strides in good governance and economic reforms.

As can be read in the article accompanying this short essay, Indonesia is about to receive an investment grade from credit rating agencies because of impressive macroeconomic reforms and success in combating corruption. Transparency National in its 2010 Report entitled Corruption Perceptions Index 2010 ranks Indonesia six notches above the Philippines when six years ago, Indonesia was close to the bottom of the list as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

I am of the opinion that the Philippines under President Aquino will be able to improve its ranking in this Corruption Perceptions Index by aggressively prosecuting tax evaders and corrupt government officials. This will pave the way for the Philippines to attract significantly more Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) approximating the $7 to $10 billion received in 2009 by Vietnam and Indonesia, the two countries most comparable to the Philippines today.

I am forecasting that the Philippine GDP will grow at an average of at least 7 percent per annum, emulating the growth rates that India and Vietnam have been able to register over the last five to ten years. I use these two Asian economies as a standard because they too are low in global competitiveness rankings in both governance and efficient infrastructure.

Despite these deficiencies, they have been able to grow at 7 percent or more, giving me the confidence that at this "whole new age" we have entered under the present leadership, we can also attain the growth rate necessary for us to make a significant dent on our poverty problem. Growing at 7 percent or more for a decade, we can reduce our poverty rate to about 15 percent in 2020 from the present 31 percent.

Today, Indonesia already has a 14.1 percent poverty rate. Our savings rate will be above 30 percent of GDP (which is already its present level) while our investment rate will be about 25 percent of GDP, the present average in the Asean region. This will be a significant improvement from the present investment rate of 17 percent. Such a big rise in investment will be mainly due to huge investments in infrastructure through the Private-Public Partnership Program of the present Administration, bolstered by some $7 billion annually of FDIs, the level of Vietnam today.

I am assuming that private investments, both local and foreign, will flow heavily into the 7 Big Winners, identified by the various foreign chambers of commerce. In Agribusiness, these investments will be in processed food/beverages, fruits and vegetables, and marine/seafood—the sectors that have bright export markets, especially to China and other Northeast Asian countries.

These exports will be especially facilitated by the removal of tariffs on agricultural products scheduled for 2015 under several Free Trade Agreements such as the AFTA + 3. Even today, China buys more than 50 percent of its banana imports from the Philippines. As this decade evolves, the demand for high-value food products from our Northeast Asian neighbors will increase rapidly. Given significant improvements in our rural infrastructures, we will be able to supply such increasing demand.

In the IT-BPO sector, as Oscar Sanez, President and CEO, of the Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP) forecasted in a gathering of foreign chambers of commerce last October 28, 2010, a 20-percent annual growth can be sustained at least till 2016, bringing total revenues by that year to $25 billion. A conservative estimate for 2020 will be $40 billion in total revenues, approximating what the electronics industry accomplished in 30 years of operations. In the same forecast, Mr. Sanez estimates that by 2016, there will be 1.4 million people employed in the BPO industry with increasing share of new, higher-valued services while sustaining the Philippine global leadership in Customer Relations Marketing (CRM). The Philippine share of global markets will expand, especially in the UK, Asia Pacific, EU while sustaining its established position in the US, just behind India. My assumption here, of course, is that we will be arresting the deterioration of Philippine education, especially at the primary and secondary levels.

With the focus on infrastructure development under the present administration, I expect a quantum leap in the quality of our roads, bridges, airports, seaports, water supply systems, waste disposal, and other public utilities. Through the PPPs, successes with Manila Water and North Luzon Expressway will be replicated in other sectors and regions. In the Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011 of the World Economic Forum, the Philippines ranks 104 in Infrastructure as a basic requirement for investment and growth compared to 83 of Vietnam and 82 of Indonesia, two of our closest peers.

By 2020, I expect the Philippines to move to the low 80s in the same ranking, giving Vietnam and Indonesia closer competition. I am bullish in this regard because the persons occupying leadership positions in the departments directly involved in infrastructures (Public Works and Highways, Transport and Communication, Energy) under the Aquino administration are admired for their integrity and professional competence. We can be sure that the funds earmarked for infrastructures will not be wasted or misallocated through corruption.

For comments, my email address is

Passports delay a huge inconvenience to OFWs—recruiters


MANILA, Philippines—Prospective overseas Filipino workers are having a hard time getting their passports appointments, a recruitment industry leader said in a news release. tried to get the reaction of consular officials, but they have not responded as of posting time.

Eduardo Mahiya, president of the Federated Association of Manpower Exporters Inc., said the two- to three-month backlog for getting an appointment at the Department of Foreign Affairs passport processing facilities is unacceptable.

He noted that the DFA special lane for OFWs is only reserved for returning OFWs with visas and a Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) contract.

What about the thousands of prospective workers who apply for new job openings that are being marginalized by the long wait for their appointments at the consular office? he asked.

Mahiya said overseas contract workers have to be at their jobsites at a specific time and any delay in their arrivals hurts their chances of going abroad and earning for their families.

And even if the passport applicant is willing to pay the express service of P1,200, the current backlog still results in a long processing time of 15 working days, longer than the 10 days before.

Passport applicants are also frustrated when they return for their release date only to be told to return the following week.

Mahiya also said fixers inside the facility offer to fast-track appointments for P5,000 to P10,000 per applicant.

DoST develops mono-rail

Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines — The government’s effort is now in progress to develop the first-ever Filipino railway system, in line with its bid to reduce traffic and address the problem of overcrowding in mass transport, Department of Science and Technology (DoST) Secretary Mario Montejo disclosed on Tuesday.

He said they are already in the initial phase of developing the country’s very own rail-based local mass transit, which would eventually be tested around the University of the Philippines (UP) campus in Diliman, Quezon City.

As soon as it is developed, the DoST chief said, the new mode of transportation would be plying around the university to ferry passengers, while showcasing the green sights inside the sprawling campus.

The system DoST intends to develop is similar to the MRT and LRT, except that it runs on a single rail, which acts as its sole support and guideway.

Formally called the Automated Guideway Transit (AGT), the local mass transit promises to make a tour around the Diliman campus easier, faster, and safer.

“We are coming up with a local AGT to address the problem of overcrowding in our mass transports. This is how we would want local science and technology work, to respond to the people’s needs,” Montejo said.

The DoST and UP laid the ground for the country’s first local prototype of AGT through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Dec. 6, 2010 at UP Diliman.

The MoU formalizes the intent of both the DoST and UP to establish a prototype of AGT, consisting of two 60-passenger coaches, to traverse a two-kilometer test track inside the campus.

Currently, travelling around UP Diliman is somewhat confusing due to the distance between the colleges.

Some students come in late in their classes while a newbie gets lost not only because of distance but also due to the campus’ intricate route.

With the coming of the AGT, hopping from point to point will definitely come easier.

“DoST and UP’s pitch for the AGT has many good reasons. Firstly, the AGT requires very minimal as it is usually elevated, leaving the university’s environment undisturbed. Secondly, it costs less to build, and its track is definitely cheaper compared with other railway transportations,” Montejo said.

He said developing the AGT locally will cost only a fifth compared with the price of importing one.

Montejo said that with its compact size, AGT does not completely block landscapes and the skyline.

As it has its own route and track, he added, it will not interfere with the existing transport modes, and will be traffic- and accident-free.

To set the AGT project in motion, the DoST is designing the detailed engineering plan and preparing the framework and schedule of activities, among others.

Survival of the smartest

John Mangun
Outside the Box
Business Mirror

There are some people who are (and there is no nice way to put this) cheap. Not thrifty but cheap as in cheapo, miserly, tight-fisted, and stingy. I am one of those types of people.

I would rather buy three pairs of cheap shoes than one pair of high- quality footwear. When it comes to spending money on me, I look for almost anyway to avoid paying full price even if it means buying a used or even an inferior product. Not all the time and not for everything, but often enough so that I can proudly wear the label of being “cheap.”

One time I bought a computer table at half-price. My six-year-old son immediately pointed out that there was no shelf for the keyboard. I told him to hold the keyboard on his legs and pretend it was a laptop. He refused and that computer table now holds a small used television that I bought.

I have always objected to going to the National Book Store and paying P400 or P500 for a new best-selling book. I am the one you see at the discount bookstores around town buying paperbacks for P50 or less. You know the books I mean; no cover or if there is a cover, inside you will find something written like “Happy Birthday” and the date June 4, 1992.

So I walked into National Book Store over the weekend and saw a table filled with hard-cover books with a sign reading “Sale: P99.” Here were hundreds of books, some still on the US best-seller lists for P99! They looked brand new. How could we in the Philippines be buying these books, most costing $25 or more for P99?

Every one of these books had come from a public library. Some still had the microchip attached inside to keep people from stealing them from their hometown library.

I had read some time ago that state and locally funded public libraries in the US were closing because they just did not have the money to stay open. And because there was no money to even store the books, these were being sold at a huge discount to get rid of them. And they eventually wind up in countries like the Philippines at a price cheaper than what it costs to produce a locally printed book.

The reason for this story is to illustrate how times have, are, and will continue to change. This is not your father’s or grandfather’s global economy. It is not even the global economy that we knew just a decade ago.

The problem with too many people is that they are slow to adjust their thinking to changing times and conditions.

For decades, the Philippine export industry has cautioned and complained about a strong peso potentially hurting their business. And they were right. But this is 2010 and the situation has changed. That “strong peso” argument is just not as valid as it used to be. Through 2010, the exporters complained and worried about the peso. And guess what. From BusinessMirror: “Neda Director General and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Dr. Cayetano W. Paderanga Jr. said that with October export earnings growing by 26.4 percent to $4.74 billion, the January-October export earnings have posted a growth of 37.1 percent or $43 billion. With a growth of 26.4 percent, the Philippines posted the highest export growth in Southeast Asia in October 2010.” Here is the most important point that most local newspapers did not understand or highlight.

The same factors that pushed the peso higher (a declining dollar), also increased the price of our exported goods offsetting losses from a stronger peso. Growth of the volume of exports is strong but the growth of the revenue from exports is stronger.

Look at US economic policy. The Federal Reserve lowers interest rates to almost zero. The traditional idea is that this would allow US banks to borrow from the Fed at a very low rate and loan those funds to boost economic activity. But this is 2010 and things have changed. Why would US banks loan money to US businesses that are not doing very well in the economy and that are not very interested in borrowing money? So what do the banks do? They borrow the money from the Fed and ship it overseas to buy Philippine government debt and loan to Filipino companies at a higher rate than they can get in the US, and they are loaning to borrowers that are more stable and secure.

But the Fed still thinks its 1982 when the last recession ended.

Another good example of changing scenarios is China. The economic wonder child of the 20th century is ready to implode and few are acknowledging that fact. While certain Philippine government policymakers would like this country to become an economic satellite of China, the Chinese economic miracle is fading fast. From Forbes: “China’s consumer price index jumped 5.1% in November. The year-on-year increase was the biggest in 28 months.” But that is not the worst news. From CNBC: “Construction is 60-plus percent of GDP, compared to exports of 5 percent,” said James Chanos, who is the founder and president of Kynikos Associates. China has built new cities that are now essentially empty. When construction is 60 percent of your economy, and you are building lots of things that people don’t need, it’s hard to manage this type of bubble.”

Already the smart money is looking at countries that depend on China to buy their exports and avoiding those countries. Do we really want China to be our largest trading partner?

Charles Darwin wrote, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” A nation’s survival and prosperity depend on effective actions that are creative and adaptive. Being able to properly and effectively adjust to the world depends on an accurate evaluation of the changes going around us.

E-mail comments to PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by Inc.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Philippines-Azkals will stick to own brand of play vs Indons

Dennis Gasgonia |

The Philippine football team is likely to use its tried and tested formula in winning when it faces Indonesia in their upcoming semifinal games next week.

Siblings James and Phil Younghusband, both members of the Azkals football squad, said it’s their own brand of play that brought them to the semifinals of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.

“I think we're gonna stick to what we've been doing, 'cause that's what's gonna carry us through the end,” James told dzMM’s Sportstalk on Saturday.

The Azkals’ defensive style is heavily based on defense, which has frustrated opposing teams in the Suzuki Cup.

The Filipino booters drew with the fancied Singapore team, 1-all, before stunning Suzuki Cup defending champion Vietnam, 2-0.

They earned a seat in the tournament semifinals by drawing with Myanmar, 0-0.

“The way we played gets results, whether we may have wanted to attack the whole game. It's very frustrating sometimes but if it gets results, it gets results,” said Phil.

They will be facing the Indonesians twice in the Final 4, with one of their semifinal games taking place at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta.

The other semifinal match could take place at the same venue or, if the AFF approves, it could be staged at the My Dihn Stadium in Hanoi, Vietnam.

After Vietnam lost its game to the Philippines, Vietnamese national football coach Henrique Calisto criticized the Askal’s defensive tactics, which he described as “poor.”

"If they think they can win the championship based on that, then poor football. If the Philippines think they can win playing that way then my dear, poor, poor football in this region," he said.

"Football is not this, football is not putting eight players in front of the area with no offensive system," he claimed. "They were fighting and I respect the players but if you think this is football then you are wrong."

Sunday, 12 December 2010

A Tribute to the Azkals

By ABCruz2310