Thursday, 17 February 2011

Zest Air expects P8-b revenues, eyes more planes

by Jeremiah F. de Guzman
Manila Standard

Budget carrier Zest Airways expects passenger volume and revenues to rise significantly this year as it beefs up fleet and increases flights.

Zest Air president Alfredo Yao told Manila Standard in a phone interview that the carrier would launch regular daily flights between Kalibo and Beijing by the end of February or early March.

Yao, who also owns beverage company Zest-O Corp., said Zest Air was expecting delivery of two more Airbus 320s in April as part of a fleet expansion and planned to end the year with at least 10 Airbuses.

The carrier bought an Airbus 320 and leased one in December to bring its fleet to six Airbuses and four Modern Ark 60s.

“We are looking at over 2.5 million passengers this year from around 1.5 million passengers we handled in 2010,” Yao said. “We are also expecting a boost in revenues to P7 billion to P8 billion this year as a result of our continued expansion locally and regionally.”

Zest Air’s earlier plan to mount flights to Taipei, Palau, Singapore, Bahrain and Dammam remains in the pipeline and will depend on the delivery of more planes later this year.

“For the meantime, we will be focusing on China. We want to get at least a portion of tourists coming out of China,” Yao said.

He said flights from Kalibo to Incheon, Korea and Shanghai were getting good load factors. He said Zest Air was mulling over the introduction of flights from other Zest Air hubs to these destinations.

“We are currently expanding our operations to China as the market has over 50 million tourists last year,” Yao said.

Yao earlier said the airline planned to acquire wide-body aircraft in the third quarter of this year for long-haul flights to the Middle East.

The company plans to acquire two Boeing 777s for the long haul-flights, which may begin by the third or fourth quarter.

HSBC sees PHL peso to surge to 37.5:$1 in 2011

GMA News

The Philippine peso will likely appreciate to 37.50:$1 this year and to 35.50:$1 next year as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is seen to support a stronger currency to cushion rising inflation, Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC) said Wednesday.

HSBC managing director Frederic Neumann told reporters that the central bank will possibly allow the peso to appreciate further in the next two years to ease the impact of inflation due to rising prices of oil and food.

For this year, the peso is expected to appreciate steadily at 40.50:$1 in the first quarter, 39.50:$1 in the second quarter, 38.50:$1 in the third quarter, and 37.50:$1 in the fourth quarter, according to the British banking giant.

But when asked in an ambush interview, Wick Veloso — treasurer at HSBC Holdings Plc in Manila — personally believes that while the peso was bound to strengthen, the more realistic rate was around 41:$1 by the end of the year.

Veloso said the projection of the HSBC's economic research team in Asia was a "very aggressive projection." His view is closer to an earlier forecast released by US-based investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc., whose economists believe that the peso upside was limited to around 41:$1.

The country's macroeconomic foundation supports the bullish forecast growth of the peso over the near term, Neumann said. "Growth is expected to be strong. The exchange rate should reflect it."

Neumann said the domestic economy is seen to grow by at least 5 percent this year and strengthen further to 5.8 percent next year due to accelerating private consumption and government spending and investments.

He also said that since the Philippine economy is rapidly expanding, inflation — or the rate of change in prices — is expected to climb to 4.4 percent this year and to 4.8 percent next year, from 3.8 percent last year.

The BSP has said the country's inflation will likely average at 4.4 percent this year and 3.5 percent in the next.

Neumann pointed out that the Bangko Sentral was the only central bank in the region that has kept its policy rates steady when everyone in the region has acted preemptively against rising price pressures.

The Monetary Board has placed the overnight borrowing and lending rates at 4 and 6 percent, respectively, since July 2009.

Neumann is worried should the BSP keep its interest rates at record lows: "Unless interest rates go up, there will be a danger of inflation," he said.

Neumann said the Philippines should increase its interest rates since "the Philippines has stood out in the region" for not having raised its key rates.

The HSBC official also said the remittances of overseas Filipinos and the projected surplus in the balance of payments all point to a stronger peso.

Investor pledges up 72.7% in 2010 to P542.6 billion

J. A. D. Hermosa
-- J. A. D. Hermosa

INVESTMENT pledges filed with four incentive-granting agencies rose by 72.7% to P542.6 billion last year with Filipino firms leading the pack, data released yesterday showed.

Manufacturing projects accounted for roughly two-fifths of the commitments recorded by the Board of Investments, Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and Clark Development Corp.

Filipino investors were behind two-thirds of the figure or P346.5 billion. This was a 79.9% increase from 2009. Foreign investors, meanwhile, pledged P196.1-billion worth of projects, up by 61%.

Nearly a third (29.8%) of the foreign direct investment (FDI) pledges came from Japan. The Netherlands, Korea, Switzerland, the United States and Cayman Islands trailed behind as other top sources of proposed FDI.

The committed projects from both Filipino and foreign investors are expected to generate 134,534 jobs once they come on stream. This, however, is 27% less than the employment figure forecast from investment pledges filed in 2009.

Most of the new jobs will be seen in PEZA sites as investments registered with this state agency are projected to create nearly two-thirds of the forecast employment.

A critical part of the food-supply chain

Business Mirror

As we have found out in the last two years, taking food for granted can be dangerous. When a country is hit with a 15-percent to 20-percent annual food-price inflation and the majority of its citizens are spending nearly half of their income on food, this is not politics that brings them to the streets.

In the Philippines I think we tend to look at our food-supply chain as the poor dirt farmer in the province and the giant food-processing conglomerate like San Miguel Corp. Yet, there is large middle ground.

Boo Chanco, writing in the Philippine Star yesterday, spoke of a conversation where San Miguel’s operations leader and visionary Ramon S. Ang (RSA) talked about San Miguel’s food business. “RSA essentially got bored with San Miguel’s traditional business—beer, beverages, food and packaging. They were not sexy enough. I remember him telling me that he could see only normal growth rates that simply do not excite him.” I will not comment on the sexiness of the food business, but Ang’s comments are revealing.

There is little more that San Miguel can do with its pervasive food business that would have a significant impact on its bottom line. The San Miguel group will have generated P520 billion in revenues for 2010. Probably nothing short of P10 billion to P15 billion in additional revenue from the food business would be worth San Miguel pursuing additional ventures. But there probably is an additional P10 billion to 15 billion to be made in the food business in the Philippines. What may rightly seem like economic crumbs to San Miguel opens a very large and very lucrative business opportunity for other, smaller companies.

This discussion is important because we are inclined to dismiss, if not completely put down, the agricultural/food-business potential of the country.

There are dozens of medium-large companies that make sure we have an abundance of food available and which could create wealth for the country through food exports. Few are publicly listed and, therefore, it is impossible to learn what the business model is, what their economic impact is, and what their plans are. However, two are listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange—AgriNurture Inc. and Alliance Select Foods—companies that are profiting from the business that the giant food conglomerates may ignore

Maybe you think of the Philippine food-supply chain by what you often see traveling the expressways. Foreign visitors love to take pictures of jeepneys fully loaded to overflowing with eggplant or buko or onions. But that is not the business model of a company that generates a billion pesos a year in revenue.

Ever heard of AgriNurture? Me neither. But when I started researching the Philippine food industry, I realized that I have contributed a few pesos to their approximately P50-million bottom line. The company started in 1997, and was listed as a public company in Australia in 2009. For 2010, it posted P1.5 billion in revenue. So what does AgriNurture do to make this kind of money? It is an integral and important part of the Philippine food-supply chain.

The large meat-and-poultry conglomerates created some of their success on contract growing, that is, providing small producers with funds and expertise and contracting to buy their production. For example, 80 percent of Philippine hogs are raised by very small producers.

AgriNurture has the same concept with farm produce. They call it their Farm-to-Plate model. Providing famers with demo-farming and contract growing, they distribute and retail fresh fruits, vegetables and processed food all over the Philippines. Beginning in 2001, the company diversified into other various agro-commercial businesses, specifically focusing on the export trading of fresh Philippine carabao mangoes, kinalabaw variety.

In 2009 the local distribution of fruits and vegetables through its branded First-Class Agriculture and Lucky Fruit and Vegetable accounted for two-thirds of its revenues and was the chief driver of income growth. That’s P700 million bringing vegetables and fruits to the table. And this produce was not piled high on old slow- moving jeepneys distributing to the SM Supermarket, Makro, Puregold, Metro Gaisano and Waltermart, and the wet markets that account for 70 percent of the distribution of produce in the country. It takes 700 employees and over P1 billion in hard assets to make this happen and to make corporate profits.

While we may not be able to produce all the rice we need, we do have an excess of other crops. AgriNurture exports homegrown fruits such as coconut, banana, pineapple, tamarind and papaya, as well as mango nectar, coco juice, coco cream and coco milk to China, the Middle East, North America and the European Union. In 2011 exports are expected to exceed 60 percent of total revenues, with bananas creating a billion pesos in sales for the company.

In spite of all the negative talk you hear about foreign countries doing all they can to stop Philippine agri imports, AgriNurture is one of the few accredited companies that have the capacity and license to export fresh mangoes to Japan and Korea. It went out in 2010 and bought a Filipino company funded by the Koreans just to export to Korea. It also owns a couple of Chinese-food companies to insure its presence in China.

What the principles at AgriNurture are doing successfully is not rocket science because the same basic process of getting food from farm to table is the same now (with technological advancements, of course) as it was a thousand years ago. In fact, its bottom line has not grown as fast as revenues because it has been hiring more professional managers.

Ramon Ang is described as one of the biggest and best risk-takers in Philippine business. But these companies that have risked their fortunes and futures and succeeded with Philippine agriculture are vitally important. While San Miguel may rightly bring further success to the Philippine power, mining, and infrastructure sectors, these other companies are doing the same for our orphan child of agriculture.

E-mail comments to PSE stock market information and technical analysis tools provided by Inc. Coming soon, watch for

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Shameful Senators

Manila Times

I wish to express my deepest condolences to the family of the late General and Secretary Angelo Reyes. Like many others, I was shocked at his sudden and tragic demise. Gen Reyes, in a series of emotionally-charged, televised Senate hearings, was accused of pocketing at least P50 million from the Armed Forces when he retired. He took his own life on Feb 8.

I first met Gen Reyes in the early 1990’s in Davao City, when I accompanied my late father Lieutenant General Thelmo Cunanan, who was then Chief of the Southern Command, on his two-week inspection of all the military units in Mindanao. At that time, Gen Reyes was a one-star general and the commander of the Philippine Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade, which was directly under Southcom.

At a dinner hosted by my father, I very impressed by Gen Reyes’s sharp intellect, grasp of issues, and eloquence. I remember thinking to myself that this man could be Chief of Staff one day.

My next encounter with Gen Reyes came several years later, during the height of the East Timor conflict. By that time, my prediction had come true—he had taken over the helm of the military under the Estrada administration.

Following the resignation of President Suharto, a UN-sponsored agreement between Indonesia and Portugal allowed for a UN-supervised popular referendum in Timor in August 1999. The resulting clear vote for independence in the eastern part of the island was met with a campaign of violence by pro-integration militia, with the tacit support of the Indonesian military.

Dad, who had retired from the military and had just finished his ambassadorial stint in Cambodia, was tasked by Jaime Cardinal Sin and former President Cory Aquino to lead a humanitarian effort to West Timor, which was then deluged with tens of thousands of East Timorese refugees, fleeing the militias who were cutting a bloody swathe of destruction across the island.

Conditions in the refugee camps were squalid, with a host of diseases like malaria, malnutrition, dysentery, and hepatitis spreading among the inmates. Dad had flown to West Timor several weeks before to lay the ground work for the medical team. My brother Conrad and I then followed with 24 doctors and nurses, several tons of relief goods and medicine, and a contingent of journalists in a Philippine Air Force C-130.

The original plan was for the cargo plane to stay in the West Timorese capital, Kupang, for one night, leaving the aid workers behind for three months to continue their work. However, upon arrival, the refugee problem was simply overwhelming and there was a need for the C-130 to stay longer. Dad rang up Gen Reyes and explained to him the situation. The latter immediately realized the problem and, without hesitation, ordered the Air Force to extend all possible assistance to the team—an act that saved many the lives of many East Timorese.

That was General Reyes: smart, bold, and decisive. These were traits that he would display in future crises that were far more serious and pivotal to our nation’s future.

During the Arroyo administration, I would often bump into Gen Reyes and exchange pleasantries with him, in the course of his carrying out his Cabinet duties—from Secretary of Defense to Environment. A very decent and kind man, the general will truly be missed by his relatives, friends, and colleagues, and all those who had the privilege and honor of knowing him.


I strongly condemn Senators Antonio Trillanes and Jinggoy Estrada for their shabby treatment of Gen Reyes, during the Senate hearings into the alleged corruption in the military. It pained me to see this old soldier berated by a former coup plotter and the son of a convicted plunderer and, at one point, co-accused himself of the same crime. It’s obvious to everyone that Trillanes’ and Estrada’s merciless attacks against Gen Reyes were nothing more than pure political vendetta for past differences.

It disgusted me to hear Trillanes address Gen Reyes, who had been in government for 48 years—much longer than Trillanes has been alive—like some petulant schoolboy. “You have no reputation to protect,” barked the self-righteous former junior Navy officer, whose failed mutinies cost the government and private sector billions of pesos in business and lost investment opportunities.

It isn’t my intention to defend Gen Reyes. The Senate investigation brought out issues that he should have directly addressed in the proper forum. What I am against are legislators hauling witnesses to televised congressional hearings where they have no chance to defend themselves and where their reputations and lives are wantonly ruined by the likes of Trillanes and Estrada, who act as judges, juries, and executioners “in aid of legislation”. How many more lives will you destroy, Trillanes and Estrada? Shame on you.
Short URL:

2010 OF Remittances Surpass 8% Growth Projection; Full-Year Level Reaches US$18.8 Billion

Bangko Sentral
Media Releases

Cumulative remittances from overseas Filipinos (OF) coursed through banks were more robust than expected in 2010, rising year-on-year by 8.2 percent to US$18.8 billion, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. announced today. The 2010 level slightly exceeded the BSP’s forecast of US$18.7 billion remittances, or an 8.0 percent year-on-year growth for the year. Remittances from sea-based and land-based workers rose by 11.9 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively. For the month of December 2010 alone, remittances grew by 8.1 percent, registering its highest level at US$1.7 billion.

The stable flow of remittances continued to provide strong support to domestic demand, with the remittance level for the year accounting for close to 10 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The major driving factors that helped accelerate the growth in remittances were the diversity of the destinations and skills of overseas Filipinos combined with the expanding network of bank and non-bank service providers both here and abroad to capture a larger share of the global remittance market. The continuing innovation of financial products and services (e.g., web-based remittance service, automated remittance machine, reloadable/reusable money/cash cards, among others) being offered in the market to facilitate money transfers have likewise contributed to the resilience of remittances throughout the year.

As of end-December 2010, commercial banks’ established tie-ups, remittance centers, correspondent banks and branches/representative offices abroad expanded to 4,581 from 3,730 at end- December 2009.

Meanwhile, the latest report from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that for January 2011, 16.9 percent (or 7,822) of the total approved job orders of 46,238 were processed. These processed job orders comprised mainly of service, production, and professional, technical and related job categories needed in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

For the period January-December 2010, the major sources of remittances were the U.S., Canada, Saudi Arabia, U.K., Japan, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Italy, Germany and Norway.

Government erred in deporting 14 Taiwanese to Beijing

(We are posting this and related articles for the sake of OFWs who are adversely affected by government action--or inaction.)

Business Mirror

On December 27 last year, the National Bureau of Investigation, in a joint anticrime operation with the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China, arrested 24 foreigners—14 from Taiwan and 10 from mainland China—for their involvement in an alleged investment scam.

Then, early in the morning of February 2, all the 24 suspects were deported to mainland China by Philippine Immigration authorities.

This would have been a routine anti-crime operation by Philippine authorities involving foreigners. And it would have been another crime story in the papers that would have passed unnoticed by ordinary Filipinos.

What the incident has led to instead is a full-blown diplomatic row between the Philippines and its nearest neighbor to the north. Taiwan, greatly incensed by the Philippine move to deport their citizens to the mainland, immediately took three countermeasures on February 7: a strict review of the applications of Filipinos who wish to work in Taiwan, the cancellation of preferential treatment for Philippine nationals to file visa applications for free online, and the recall of its de facto ambassador to the Philippines.

These three countermeasures indicate extreme displeasure on the part of the Taiwanese. And unless the diplomatic row is settled soon, this could jeopardize our economic, trade and labor relations with Taiwan, which now hosts some 80,000 Filipino workers, many of them factory and household workers.

The Taiwanese are understandably upset that their nationals were deported to Beijing instead of to Taipei.

In a “firm and solemn protest” conveyed to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Donald C.T. Lee, representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (Teco)—the unofficial embassy of Taiwan in the Philippines—said the deportation was carried out despite the issuance by the Court of Appeals of a writ of habeas corpus on January 31 ordering the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director, Bureau of Immigration (BI) and Deportation and the Department of Justice to appear and produce the Taiwanese before the Court at a scheduled hearing on February 2 at 2 p.m.

Lee said he was not given any opportunity to directly communicate with our government officials regarding the issue, no prior notification of the deportation was given to his office and the deportation itself proceeded secretively at midnight, “which showed no due respect to the Government of the Republic of China.”

Lee added that the Philippines abandoned its own sovereign jurisdiction, contradicted the nationality principle of jurisdiction in international law, and succumbed to pressure from Beijing. He also said that the deportation was “very inhumane and unfair…and gravely impairs our trust in the Philippine government, as well as betrays the long-lasting friendship between Taiwan and the Philippines.”

Taiwan now wants the Philippines to apologize for what happened. “The Philippines must show goodwill and exert extra efforts to repair the good relations between our two countries, which has been damaged by the very unpleasant incident,” Lee’s official protest said.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima maintains that the Taiwanese were rightfully deported to mainland China. “The Philippine government has decided that deportation to [China] will ensure that the suspected criminal elements are successfully prosecuted. It is also consistent with our national interest that we protect our country and citizens from undesirable aliens,” she said.

But the government claim that the Taiwanese were deported to Beijing because they were undocumented is disputed by Teco, which said that the 14 Taiwanese received immigration clearance at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport with passports issued by the Taiwanese government. Teco says that when the 14 Taiwanese were arrested, most of their passports were taken away by the law-enforcement officers. Teco subsequently provided the BI with all the information about them, including certified copies of their new passports issued by Teco.

So why is Justice Secretary de Lima now saying that the 14 Taiwanese were undocumented?

If the 14 Taiwanese had the proper documents, then their deportation to Beijing means that Manila simply kowtowed to Beijing because we adhere to the “one-China” policy, and because the Aquino administration is afraid of economic and trade sanctions from Beijing.

President Aquino said last week that he would send an emissary to Taiwan “to explain why we decided the way we decided.”

From where I stand, all that the Taiwanese want is an apology for the mistake of the Philippine government. Why can’t the President do this, for the sake of the 100,000 overseas Filipino workers in Taiwan?

How the private sector feeds us better

Business Mirror

It has been impossible for the last year to pick up a newspaper and not read about the surging increase in commodity prices. We probably tend to think about commodities as being crude oil or gold or corn. However, by definition, a “commodity” is a consumable and covers a huge range of materials, usually raw materials.

Copper is mined and eventually turned in a wide range of both industrial and consumer products from simple wiring to components used in the highest-tech electronic products. But eventually that copper is consumed. Cotton is spun into fiber and woven into cloth that is used for clothing. But here again, eventually that cloth, no matter how many rags and rugs it eventually finds its way into, is consumed.

Obviously the most easily understood example of a commodity, a consumable, is food. It is grown, harvested either as a plant or a butchered animal, perhaps processed and distributed, but eventually it is eaten and consumed.

Although not necessarily in short supply, the world has spent centuries trying to get all sorts of commodities from their point of origin to the ultimate consumer. The Age of Exploration was an economic venture to get gold, cotton and tea as examples from where they were to where they were wanted. Although the production of commodities is critical, perhaps even more critical is the transportation and final distribution of those goods. Remember the Philippines grew and flourished from 1565 to 1815 on the back of the Manila Galleon trade, bringing primarily silver and spices, along with porcelain, ivory, lacquerware and processed silk cloth to Europe.

The migration of people and cultures around the global also piggybacked on this transfer of goods and raw materials as individuals and companies set up trading posts to facilitate this commodity business.

Each country had at least one commodity that it wanted from someplace else and also had a commodity to sell to pay for its imported items. Perhaps the most notorious example was the British East India Company monopolizing the opium trade from India, selling the opium to China in return for Chinese tea, which was then shipped back to Europe. China attempted to stop England’s opium trade, resulting in two losing wars costing China Hong Kong and other concessions. Interestingly though, the way China finally beat the British was by increasing its own poppy growing so that by 1906, China was producing 85 percent of the world’s opium, effectively killing this very lucrative British enterprise.

Opium aside, agricultural food products are the most important and critical items. Not now and not a thousand years ago are nations willing to subsist only the food that they can grow. In truth, agricultural, food self-sufficiency has always meant to be able to produce enough of whatever a nation can efficiently, in order to buy other foodstuffs from trading partners.

While we think of the commodity trade as being a global phenomenon between countries, exactly the same dynamics occurs within each individual country or region. The more efficiently and cost effectively agricultural production is moved around a country, ultimately all citizens are beneficiaries of a better and often healthier food supply and at a lower cost.

American Clarence Birdseye perfected the ability to flash freeze and ship high-quality fish from Labrador, Canada, to New York. He created “frozen food.” New Zealander William Soltau Davidson developed refrigerated sea shipping, which is the foundation of nearly all food exports. Davidson is responsible for the Asia-wide (including the Philippines) use New Zealand dairy products now a hundred years after his creation. Another American, William Davis fashioned the refrigerated railroad car to ship meat carcasses to the Eastern United States from the production areas of the Midwest that then led to fruits and vegetables from the West also being moved to the population- rich East Coast. The economic benefits boomed in the agricultural areas like California as people flocked to become farmers now that they had a market for their produce.

Now we come to the 21st century, and we seem to have a worldwide problem with basic commodity foodstuff. That is not to say that in prior times, mass starvation occurred due to natural disasters. But the current situation is man, no, I should say government-made.

Notice one thing that is lacking in all of the examples above that revolutionized food production and distribution? No government interference. None of the innovators listed above waited for government policy to make the life-changing improvements in our food-supply chain. No government departments, no presidential speeches and no interference; just the free market making life better for literally billions of people.

Go to any supermarket or grocery in the Philippines and see the thousands of food products created by the private sector—from 10 different brands of hot sauce and canned tuna to dozens of different types of vegetables, both indigenous and “foreign” available to the public. What else is interesting, in spite of two decades of what I think is failed government agricultural policy, many of the now-common vegetables and fruits locally grown (lettuce for example) were very costly and rarely available until the last few years.

Certainly, the government has provided additional infrastructure, farm-to-market roads being the prime example. However, it is the private sector, individual companies that have made the difference in supplying better and lower-cost meats, fish, produce and processed foods.

Note this also: in 1976, nearly 60 percent of Philippine merchandise exports was food. That percentage bottomed out in 1999 at 4.5 percent. The percentage has doubled in 2009.

It is important to understand how private enterprise has been responsible for the vast improvement over the years of the Philippines’ basic food supply. I will continue this discussion on Thursday by looking at two very different companies in more detail. It is difficult to research complete information as most of these companies (with the exception of San Miguel and other large firms) are private and information is unavailable. However, two very different food-chain supply companies are listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange; Alliance Select Foods and AgriNurture Inc., and we will look at their business models.

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

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Pinoy invention causes sensation on YouTube

'Pure energy' vehicle draws attention of DoE, DoST
Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines — A little over three months ago, googling “Ismael Aviso” would have you come up with a couple of YouTube videos showing a stationary, skeletal-looking car with a running engine fed not with petroleum but with power apparently coming from a box of capacitors and a thick, horizontal antenna that collects and harnesses free-flowing energy.

Now, Ismael Aviso has his own gleaming feature page over free energy concepts-sharing website Pure Energy Systems Wiki (PESWiki) that practically hails the Filipino as the next big thing in green technology.

“When we hear of electric vehicles, we typically envision a trunk full of batteries. Not so with an electric vehicle prototype developed by Filipino inventor, Ismael Aviso. In his small prototype vehicle, one 12-volt battery is all that is needed, because his vehicle is not running from the storage capacity of the battery, but the battery is merely serving as the delivery point for the energy that is being harvested from unseen energy all around us through his special circuitry,” wrote Sterling Allan in Aviso’s PESWiki page.

Aviso, the 54-year-old mineral water business man and electric car inventor from Navotas City, is on his way to becoming a viral presence online, if he isn’t already.

His emergence over the Internet and on the pages of this daily could not have come at a better time for Filipinos, whose one enduring headache has been the high cost of domestic fuel.

Since November, when Aviso was still improving on his design, petroleum prices have climbed by R4 to R5 a liter, depending on fuel product.

“Nations all over the world are making a stake on electricity-powered cars,” Aviso bared. “Pinoy e-car technology is better, cheaper and more efficient. We should not be left out; instead of importing this technology, we must employ this know-how to build our own e-cars and sell it to the world.”

Both the Department of Energy (DoE) and Department of Science and Technology (DoST) have taken notice of his fuel-less car invention, which, when repackaged into a conversion kit, can turn petroleum-guzzling vehicles into electric ones.

The DoST will lead the conduct of a possible road test this month on Aviso’s car, to be witnessed by DoE’s Alternative Fuels and Energy Technology Division.

The spectacled and gray-haired Aviso remains hopeful that a successful test run would lead him to investors and venture capitalists, that is, if the government doesn’t help finance his endeavor.

“The Philippine government can help me gain an easy way to get a huge loan from a bank. From then on I’ll focus on producing conversion kits,” he said, simplifying his plan.

Aviso manages to send a powerful message in one of his YouTube videos wherein he drove around his impoverished town aboard his bare-bones prototype car, providing a first-person view of his neighborhood.

“Here’s the picture of where I’ve been living for the past 35 years, but I’m happy. Most people here have low salaries and cannot afford decent homes or nutritious food.”

“Maybe I can do something to uplift the living condition of my neighborhood once I get the right car manufacturer to mass-produce my conversion kit.” he said, even as the people whom he is referring to seem to ignore his strange-looking car as he passes by.