Saturday, 1 January 2011



Ave Maria: Michael Bolton and Placido Domingo

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Azkals seek German shepherding

Cedelf P Tupas

MANILA—The national football team is seeking the guidance of the German Football Association (DFB) in an effort to strengthen the squad, which faces a busy year ahead.

Team manager Dan Palami is flying to Frankfurt on Jan. 3 to meet with German football officials and discuss areas of cooperation between the national team and the DFB.

“We will have exploratory talks on how the DFB can help our team,” Palami said.

Palami said he will try to look into the DFB database and search for quality players that have Filipino lineage.

The Azkals had two Filipino-German players who were part of the squad in the AFF Suzuki Cup, where they reached the semifinals for the first time.

Munich-based Manny Ott started in all three games in the AFF Suzuki Cup Qualifying Tournament in Laos, while Mark Drinkuth was part of the squad in the group stage in Vietnam. Both players did not join the team for the semifinals with Ott tied up because of academic commitments.

Palami said part of his initial itinerary was to meet with Filipino-German pros-pect Stephan Schrock to help him process his papers, but he ditched the plan because of the recent weather disturbance in Europe that could make it difficult for them to travel.

The best option for Schrock is to send his documents to Manila for his passport to be processed in time for the AFC Challenge Cup qualifying match against Mongolia on Feb. 9 in Bacolod City, Palami said.

The 24-year-old Schrock, who plays right fullback for Geuther Furth, has been regarded as an important player for next year’s campaign.

“He is one of the players we see that can really make an impact for the team because of his experience,” said Palami.

Schrock is set to join Greuther Furth in a training camp in Turkey next month, before joining the national team for the Challenge Cup.

If the Azkals hurdle Mongolia, they will join a group composed of Palestine, Myanmar and host Bangladesh that will play in Chittagong from March 20 to 31.

The Azkals are also seeing action in the qualifying tournament for the 2014 World Cup.

New Laguindingan airport seen operational by 2012


CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- The P8-billion Laguindingan International Airport located between the cities of Cagayan de Oro in Misamis Oriental and Iligan in Lanao del Norte will be completed in third quarter next year and should be ready to accommodate regular flights by February 2012, the regional office of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

"There was just a short lull when the funding source for air navigational system shifted from Germany to the Export-Import Bank of Korea," said Jaime H. Pacampara, chief economic development specialist of NEDA’s regional office, said in an interview. "Procurement of the air navigation facilities is now ongoing."
A NEDA report, dated Nov. 21, said 72.24% of the 400-hectare project has been completed, including the access road to the airport site from the national highway. -- LGD

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Video update: Skyway to Sucat

Photo update: LRT 1 and MRT 3

Sumitomo wins P4-b airport deal

Manila Standard

JAPAN’S Sumitomo Corp. said it has won a ¥9-billion (around P4.5 billion) contract to deliver next-generation air traffic control systems to the Philippine government, and to build a new air traffic control center at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Sumitomo said it won the first stage of the two-stage contract along with Thales Australia, the Australian subsidiary of leading French electric company Thales SA.

Sumitomo will be involved in the first stage worth about ¥9 billion, and the work is to be completed within 30 months or by May 2013, the company said.

It said it will also aim to win the contract for the second stage.

Stage one includes the construction of a new air traffic control center building within the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and the delivery of air traffic control systems to the new air traffic control center and to the major airports around the Philippines.

The second stage includes the installation of radars at the major airports, in around 10 sites, and the connection of the air traffic control center introduced in the first stage with the major local airports.

Philippine-based water project wins BBC World Challenge

Manila Bulletin

LONDON — A Philippine-based water project emerged as winner in the recent 2010 BBC World Challenge, a competition that recognizes and rewards small businesses from around the world that tackle environmental and social issues.

This year’s winner is Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc (AIDFI), a non-governmental organization based in Bacolod City, which won the top prize – a US$20,000 grant from Shell – for its hydraulic ram pump project The Only Way is Up.

Using the river’s flow to push water uphill without any other energy source, AIDFI has introduced the pump to 170 remote villages in the Philippines.

Plans are now afoot to spread the benefits of the ram pump far and wide among communities living
in mountainous regions.

Commenting, Auke Idzenga from AIDFI said: “Winning the World Challenge is a very special moment for AIDFI, the Philippines, and myself. With winning the competition I am confident we will be able to access additional funding and with it transfer the technology behind the ram pump to other countries worldwide. We are very grateful to Shell for awarding us this grant.”

Malcolm Brinded, Shell’s Executive Director of the Upstream International Business, who presented the winner’s cheque said: "Access to energy is critical to driving development and improving people's quality of life. This year's winner of World Challenge, a hydraulic pump delivering water to remote villages, could not be a clearer demonstration of that. At Shell, we are committed to using new technology to deliver a lower carbon energy future, and it's exciting to see that same ambition in action in the World Challenge competition."

Now in its sixth year, World Challenge is more popular than ever with more than 167,000 people around the world voting online for their favourite projects at This year 800 nominations were received from over 70 countries, from which 12 finalists were selected.

World Challenge has been supported by Shell since 2004 and is run in association with BBC World News and Newsweek. Since its inception, Shell has provided financial grants to 15 projects across the globe.

2011 prediction: Perfect weather

Business Mirror

Journalist and author Sebastian Junger wrote a book in 1997 about the 1991 Halloween Northeastern storm, a massive hurricane that hit the northeastern part of the United States. While researching his book, Junger spoke to a meteorologist who described the three different weather-related phenomena that combined to create what he called the “perfect situation” to generate such a massive storm. Junger subsequently named his book (and the title of the movie that came from it) The Perfect Storm.

Now a part of common language, a “perfect storm” refers to a rare combination of factors that come together to form the reality of a worst-case scenario.

So what is the opposite of a perfect storm? Perfect weather?

The condition of “perfect weather” does not necessarily mean calm and quiet. It means the coming together of conditions that create a most favorable, if not necessarily perfect, environment for success.

Businesses experience perfect weather when they introduce a new product at exactly the time the consumer is looking for that kind of product, at a price that is beneficial for both buyer and seller, and it comes out ahead of the competition. Examples might be the Sony Walkman tape player in 1979 and the similar iPod in 2001.

Wine-grape growers fully understand the concept of perfect weather; the right amount of rain and humidity, a few days of really hot temperatures but not too many, and cool nights but not cold enough to create frost.

In my humble opinion, the global financial and economic situation has created perfect weather for the Philippines going into 2011.

The Global Financial Crisis exploded due to a liquidity crisis. That is, credit suddenly was unavailable due to a collapse in the real-estate sectors of the US and Western Europe. Western business and consumer spending runs on credit. Without easy access to credit, businesses do not flourish and consumers do not spend. Suddenly there was no credit and the Western economics stopped in 2008 and 2009.

Since then, Western governments have pumped trillions of dollars into their economies in an effort get economic activity moving again by increasing liquidity or the amount of money in the economic system. It has not worked successfully. However, and here it gets good for the Philippines, all that “stimulus” has kept the Western economies alive just enough to benefit the Philippines.

While US economic growth is basically flat, Americans can still afford to buy a few electronic gadgets for Christmas, boosting our export industry. While Americans are looking at, realistically, a high double-digit unemployment rate, companies continue to hire Filipino workers. Deployments continue to grow, and remittances reach historically high levels, it seems like every month.

Business is good enough in the US to have companies increase their customer-service staffing to better serve a very competitive marketplace. But business conditions are bad enough that these same companies must use every option available, like outsourcing, to cut costs. One of the largest call-center operations in the Philippines, with over 10,000 employees, is forecasting to increase its staff here to 30,000 within the next three to five years.

If businesses and consumers are not borrowing money to create spending and economic activity, then maybe (the Western governments think) you need to put borrowed money “on sale” by lowering interest rates. Global interest rates have never been any lower. Here again, a failed Western economic policy is great for the Philippines.

A company can borrow money in the US for virtually zero interest rate. They then move that money to the Philippines and buy government debt or local corporate debt and make a bundle on the interest-rate difference. Here is the perfect weather situation. Philippine interest rates are high in comparison to the West, making our debt very attractive. But because this economy is not dependent on a massive credit for economic growth, we have not had to match the low interest rates of the West. Therefore, local money stays home in the Philippines and foreign money floods in to make a higher return.

From the Philippine Star: “The country’s balance of payments surplus surged to hit an all-time high of $13.17 billion in the first 11 months of the year from $5.206 billion in the same period last year, while the gross international reserves surged 39 percent to hit a record level of $61.3 billion from $44.17 billion.”

The fact that so much money has come into the Philippines in 2010 gives us the tools to further and more effectively benefit from perfect weather. The greatest advantage that wine growers receive from ideal weather conditions is the ability to pick the grapes at the perfect time of ripeness. For example, if the temperature is too hot, the grapes must be picked at a time when they are too sweet. Too low temperatures mean picking later when the grapes are too acidic. The perfect weather gives the growers more flexibility.

The Philippines now, perhaps for the first time in history, has the ability to react to whatever the world financial weather brings. If oil prices spike up dramatically, the peso can be allowed to appreciate to offset high prices. If the government needs to borrow money, low interest rates keep costs down and the strength of the economy allows borrowing in pesos and not foreign currency. If the Western economies suddenly turn down again, the economy has become more focused on local business activity and growth than in the past.

As 2010 comes to a close, it is only proper that we count our many blessings from this year. Thank you for your continued support for my small effort to bring, I hope, a slightly different perspective to the business and economic discussion. This column will return to celebrate the New Year on January 4, 2011.

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Sunday, 26 December 2010

Low carbon, high growth with clean technology

Imelda V Abaño
Business Mirror

Sitting comfortably in a small nipa hut by the sea, 42-year-old fisherman Juanito Ilumet has been staring for hours at the 15 giant tri-blade windmills lined up along the 9-kilometer shoreline facing the South China Sea in Ilocos Norte in northern Philippines. He could not imagine how the abundant wind in their remote coastal village can be used for clean-power generation, which helps them improve health, education, livelihood and economic condition.

“The power source has transformed daily life in our villages,” Ilumet said as he points at the tall, white windmills in the province’s town of Bangui. “The benefits have been astounding because our children began to study longer at night, working in the kitchen for women is not troublesome, health centers have been providing better services, villagers are returning from the cities and our income has improved.”

Ilumet said about 600,000 people in the northern province, including his own family, were grateful, as most of them lived without electricity before.

The first of its kind in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia, the $54-million Northwind Bangui Bay Project that harnesses wind into electricity in Northern Luzon has been in operation since 2005, providing as much as 40 percent of the power needed by the entire province. The windmills produce up to 25 megawatts of renewable energy.

“We are seeing so much improvement in the daily activities of thousands of people in the villages. Wind power is the best way to electrify and develop this part of the country. We are at the beginning of an energy revolution in the Philippines,” Dino Tiatco, Northwind Power Development Corp. plant manager told the BusinessMirror.

Tiatco explained that the wind farm presents many benefits such as increased energy security, jobs creation, reduced dependence on imported fuels, improved air quality and curb carbon-dioxide emissions.

In the Philippines wind power is one of the most advanced forms of renewable energy, making the government device a wind-mapping data that would take off in constructing more wind-farm projects in different parts of the country, said Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary Mario Marasigan.

“The potential for harnessing wind remains high in the Philippines. The interest of investing in wind energy has been on the rise,” Marasigan said, adding that there are at least 62 wind projects in the DOE.

Boosting clean technology

THE harsh implications of climate change, the increasing prices of fossil fuel, deepening oil supply insecurity and the growing appetite for a sustainable energy is driving every nation in Asia to tap indigenous sources of renewable energy. Most countries are boosting the use of solar, wind and geothermal energy for rural households.

According to International Energy Agency (IEA) executive director Nobuo Tanaka, an ambitious mix of policies and technologies were needed to reduce global carbon-dioxide emissions from energy over the next decades.

“Low-carbon technologies are the only way for the world to have a sustainable energy,” Tanaka told the BusinessMirror at a side event during the December Cancun climate-change talks. “Clean technology that moves countries to low-carbon economy is a tough path, but [one that] will be very beneficial in the future.”

The IEA presented in early December during the Cancun climate-change conference the result of its global Energy Efficiency Governance study, saying that comprehensive and effective energy efficiency governance is needed urgently.

“Improved energy efficiency is a critical response to the pressing climate change, economic development and energy security challenges facing many countries,” the report stated.

For Philippine Climate Change Commissioner Heherson Alvarez, it is critical to find alternative sustainable energy solutions now, but he sees a growing demand for renewable energy and that governments around the world have begun to invest in clean technology such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass.

“We want to see our country move on to a sustainable path of development that promotes clean energy,” Alvarez said. “Countries, including the Philippines, can benefit from harnessing clean technology and this includes creation of green jobs, a low-carbon economy and a sustainable energy.”

A booming investment in Asia

WHILE there are many interested investors on renewable energy in Asia, most of it has not been put up on a significant commercial scale, according to the World Bank (WB).

“It is booming in Asia. But governments must begin to take action now to further incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency into the world’s energy mix,” WB vice president for sustainable development, Katherine Sierra earlier told the BusinessMirror.

Sierra said the benefits of renewable energy—such as hydropower, geothermal, biomass, wind and solar—are considerable. Although she says environmental benefits are clear, less obvious is mitigation of energy-security problems, such as ensuring reliable supply of energy in its various forms.

The Bank has become the largest single source of finance for environmental investments, technical assistance and capacity-building in developing countries. More recently, the WB has been asked to manage the world’s largest new source of concessional resources to stimulate low-carbon and climate-resilient growth, the Climate Investment Funds, including the Clean Technology Fund.

“Developing countries, including low-income [ones], will need to consider how they respond to future risks and opportunities, with renewable energy being one of many solutions to address climate-resilient development,” Sierra said.

To boost renewable-energy projects, Sierra revealed that multilateral agencies are mobilizing $40 billion in investment for low-carbon technologies in the developing world.

On the other hand, Global Wind Energy Council secretary-general Steve Sawyer said that some wind power development, for instance, has already taken place in quite a few of the countries in Asia.

Sawyer told the BusinessMirror that while wind energy would have been dismissed as “too expensive” by most developing countries just a few years ago, the continuing success of the technology in an ever-widening group of countries has changed that attitude to one of dramatically increased knowledge about wind generation and the role it can play in a country’s power mix.

“Given the excellent wind resources in Asian countries and government initiatives for exploiting it, such development would have a considerable impact,” Sawyer said.

According to the Global Wind Energy Outlook 2010 report, wind energy could attract around $3.9 billion worth of investment in Asia every year, and create around 40,000 jobs by 2015.

“With the right technology and government policies in place, Asian countries such as the Philippines can have a secured and sustainable energy for the next decade,” Sawyer stressed. “Depending on new sources of clean energy will certainly make a country reap the accompanying economic, environmental and energy security benefits.”

As for fisherman Ilumet, new clean technologies such as the wind turbines installed in their village benefit his family and his people. For him, harnessing different forms of renewable energy such as wind enables them to gain access to electricity and improve their quality of life.

“It’s a huge change. We have never experienced this kind of happiness in our villages. We now see a bright future ahead of us and our children,” Ilumet said as he showed a bunch of wood carvings of windmills that his wife and children will sell to tourists a few meters away from the wind turbines.