Tuesday, 12 July 2011

"Over the next six to 12 months, money will begin to flood into the Philippines."

Situation getting worse, faster
Business Mirror

The data and news of the past week clearly show that the global financial and economic condition continues to deteriorate. There are no bright spots for those areas and nations that dominate the world economy.

While all eyes seem to be on Greece, in truth, the Greek debt situation is but a small pothole on the European economic road off the euro currency cliff in comparison to Italy and Spain.

Instead of the silly “bailouts,” already having reached $150 billion, the entire Greek debt could have been bought out for $240 billion a year ago. Talk about throwing good money after bad. The real problem looming for Europe is Italy holding around $1.5 trillion in debt that could go down the hill at any time. Greece is the smoke and mirrors that takes attention away from the more serious issues of Spain and Italy. The only reason we are not focusing on these two countries is to see if and how the European Central Bank handles Greece and Portugal.

While the Philippines has been upgraded by the debt-rating agencies, Portugal now joins the Third World with its government debt being downgraded to junk-bond status. I admit that I take great satisfaction in seeing the West, that for 20 years scolded, harassed and insulted countries like the Philippines for their economic policies, get what they deserve for following the debt-based wealth creation model.

The economic numbers out of the US are a complete disaster. There is absolutely nothing positive that can be lied about to make the situation be any better.

The June employment numbers have never been any worse when you examine the situation behind the data. The US needs to create 150,000 per month just to break even against population growth. The May 2011 figures were revised down to show only 25,000 new jobs. The June jobs numbers show only 18,000 were newly employed and this number is subject to downward revision in 30 days. While the actual nominal employment numbers are not as bad as a year ago, this is after $1.4 trillion was spent to simulate new jobs. Further, long-term unemployment, those without jobs for six months or longer have never been higher at 46 percent. Only about 60 percent of men over 20 are able to find jobs and working.

To return to employment levels in 2006, the US would need to create 11 million jobs. At a creation rate of 150,000 per month, that would take seven years.

When you look deeply into other data, the situation is even poorer. When people are fearful of the future, those that can, tend to save money. Those that cannot, borrow more. For May, spending at grocery stores actually dropped and spending at pharmacies was almost flat. Consumer credit increased after trending down for one year. And note this: consumer bank deposits increased in June, indicating that those with any excess cash are saving for future basic expenses.

While the US is the leader in the destruction of the global economic system as we know it, China is not helping things either and is suffering greatly.

In June the Chinese trade balance soared to $22.3 billion. The surplus was $13.1 billion the previous month and $20 billion a year earlier, an all-time record in gross exports that hit $162 billion in June, driven by all-time high exports to both the US and the European Union. This kills the idea that China will soon be a domestic-oriented economy. Further, the increasing trade deficit with China will take a chunk out of the forecast US gross domestic product. Buying things from abroad does not increase a nation’s economic activity.

An increasing trade surplus, with billions of dollars flowing in, is also the last thing China needs to control its inflation. The official numbers say Chinese inflation rose 6.4 percent in June from May’s 5.5 percent. The 6.4 percent is bad enough but as with most broad government numbers, it is probably half true. How bad is Chinese inflation for the average citizen? The price of pork, the country’s meat source, jumped 57 percent in June.

You better get used to this kind of gloom-and-doom situation because it is going to get worse. And while the Philippine government publicly does not seem to have a clue about global macroeconomics, you need to. Buy the peso. Buy the PSE. Buy the Philippines.

Foreign-money managers are quietly realizing there is much more money to be made in countries like the Philippines. Over the next six to 12 months, money will begin to flood into the Philippines. You should be there before the foreigners start to move in.

E-mail comments to mangun@gmail.com. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by CitisecOnline.com Inc.

Philippines chosen as Nokia's NetworkLabs hub

New R&D center is launched
Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines — Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), one of the world’s largest telecommunications, hardware, software and services firms, chose the Philippines as its new hub and Monday launched its research and development (R&D) center at the University of the Philippines - Ayala Land Technohub, Quezon City via subsidiary ETSI Technologies, Inc.

President Benigno Aquino III led Monday’s launching ceremonies.

NSN, which employs over 65,000 people in the more than 150 countries it operates in, is confident about the country's resource of skilled engineering students and graduates, stressed Paul Tyler, NSN Head of Asia Pacific Region. Hence, the company decided to locate its NetworkLabs in Asia in the Philippines.

The move will also strengthen the local IT and telecommunications industry, creating jobs domestically and heightening the country’s global presence while NSN develops the future of communications technology and connect the next billion people.

NetworkLabs is directly involved in research work and software development for 3G and 4G radio communication networks for NSN.

"The establishment of NetworkLabs will further enhance the presence of NSN in the Philippines and heighten the company's thrust to solve the 4G challenge," noted Ashish Chowdhary, head of Customer Operations East .

"NSN aims to provide the opportunity for the Filipino engineers to showcase their skills and knowledge on a global scale without having to leave their families yet benefit from the trainings, work exposure and globally scaled challenges NetworkLabs has to offer," Tyler added.

NetworkLabs currently employs close to 300 IT specialists and management staff and is hiring at the rate of 100 to 200 high level software developers quarterly. As the first of its kind R & D center in Asia, it is internationally recognized in telecommunications and has been supporting all R &D teams around the world.

With its Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) accreditation and its potential to become the 4G/LTE Telecommunications Radio Center-of-Excellence in the region, NetworkLabs is expecting to promote and strengthen the Philippine IT sector by taking the lead and making a significant investment in the country.

"By spearheading this effort, NetworksLabs will encourage other companies to bring their R & D more to the Philippines. The company will be the pioneer in a Silicon-Valley like environment where IT incubation start-up companies provide new and innovative software solutions. This will help strengthen the Philippine IT and telecommunications industry," according to Cesar Jacinto Castro, NSN Philippines Country Director.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Cellphone used as teaching tool

Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines — Thousands of students in 850 public elementary schools throughout the country are expected to perform well in core subjects including English, Math, and Science through the innovative mobile teaching program called “Text2Teach.”

In partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd), the Phase 4 of the program will kick off soon as the proponents work to bring Text2Teach to Visayas and Mindanao and to upgrade the 205 satellite schools from the earlier

The plan was announced at the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with signatories include Education Undersecretary Yolanda Quijano, Ayala Foundation Co-Vice Chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Nokia Director for Community Involvement Gregory Elphinston, and Globe President and CEO Ernest Cu.

According to Cu, by the time Phase 3 ends in August, the total number of Text2Teach-enabled schools will have reached 555, benefiting about 40,000 pupils, and almost 1,800 school heads, teachers and DepEd officials.

Quijano said Phase 4 also marks the beginning of a stronger partnership with the local government units. “DepEd regional offices will play a vital role in teachers training while LGUs will provide bigger counterpart funding for the program,” she said.

Phase 4 also sees Pearson Foundation returning to the program as a key component in developing new downloadable educational materials for English, Science and Mathematics.

Text2Teach has been helping improve the performance of students all over the country, particularly in the three basic subjects through downloadable educational videos using Nokia mobile phones and Globe internet connection since its Philippine launch in 2004.

Using mobile technology, Grades 5 and 6 students can watch any of the almost 400 educational audio and video materials loaded in the Nokia N86 8MP phones and equipped with the Nokia Education Delivery (NED) application.

“NED allows teachers to download and easily access educational audios and videos on Math, Science and English specifically designed for the project, providing a highly effective visual aid for teachers,” said Cu. “It also creates an interactive, student-focused learning environment in the classroom which makes the students eager to go to school,” he added.

Aside from the Nokia N86 8MP phone and educational videos, Text2Teach recipient schools also get a Globe SIM card provided with P150 worth of free pre-paid load monthly for one year, a color TV, and three-day teacher training and teachers’ guides.

According to Alma Fernandez, a teacher at Carael Elementary School in Dagupan City, the effectiveness of the program is evident in helping students appreciate a complex subject like science. “Before we had Text2Teach, I had to
rely on my imagination. I gave a lot of examples and used a lot of visual aids to make sure they understand the subject,” she said.

With Text2Teach, Fernandez said there is a better appreciation of what is being discussed.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Of Bishops and Pajeros

Alvin Capino
Manila Standard

Bishop bashing is the favorite sports nowadays in the light of the controversy on the alleged misuse of the funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office by the previous administration.

But it would seem that the criticisms against the Catholic bishops and the Philippine Catholic Church are unfair and sometimes only half true.

Indeed there might be basis for the Catholic bishops to feel that they are being singled out for the attacks. As a Catholic Church official correctly pointed out, the report of the Commission on Audit showed a P1.5-billion private account of the PCSO which is not authorized by the Department of Finance. There are also questionable expenses to the tune of P1.9 billion but the focus of the controversy appears to be on the P6.9 million donation to the Catholic Church.

Perhaps Blue Ribbon Committee chair Teofisto Guingona III can help put things in perspective by acceding to the request of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines president, Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar to invite the bishops to the Senate hearing so that they can air their side.

It would seem that the explanation of the bishops is lost in the media frenzy. Perhaps their appearance at the Blue Ribbon committee might help clear things up.

For example, the side of Butuan City Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, who has been one of the principal targets of the frenzied media bashing for asking former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for a 4X4 Pajero, has been lost in the shouting of those who want to crucify him.

A Catholic Church official correctly pointed out that detractors of the Bishop of Butuan are glossing over is the fact that Bishop Pueblos is not only the bishop of a huge diocese encompassing the provinces of Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte. He has also been a member of the Caraga peace and order council and was a member of other government-created bodies like the Zenarosa Commission that was tasked to dismantle private armies in the region.

It goes without saying that Bishop Pueblos, who is apparently one of the pet peeves of Malacañang nowadays because of his critical comments on President Aquino, is active in community and charitable work.

Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Vidal has clarified that despite impressions created by media reports, the vehicles donated by PCSO to some Catholic bishops were not luxury vehicles and all of these vehicles, as well as other PCSO donations, were used for projects for the poor.

Vidal detailed the use and nature of the donations given to the so-called “Pajero 7” Bishops.

He said Bontoc-Lagawe Bishop Rodolfo Beltran was given a P600,000 PCSO donation in April 2007. Part of the money was used to purchase a 10-year old Nissan Pathfinder pick-up amounting to P280,000 which was used for medical missions for far flung areas in the diocese. The rest of the funds was used for the Alay Kapwa programs of the diocese.

He cited the case of Abra Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian who received a donation of P1.129 million in January 2009. The money was used to buy a second-hand Mitsubishi pick-up to transport people and material for various projects in the diocese.

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo was reported to have purchase a Pajero from a donation from PCSO but Cardinal Vidal said what was actually bought was a van and the rest of the donation was used by the Social Action Center for distribution of medicine and other relief goods during calamities in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Cotabato City and Shariff Kabungsuan.

A Pajero was supposed to have been bought by Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad but what was actually bought was a pick-up used for community work in depressed areas in the province.

He said Bishops Romulo Valles of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga bought a Toyota van while Bishop Ernesto Salgado bought an Isuzu utility vehicle for their respective Social Action Centers from the PCSO donation. The remainder of the donations was used for various medical outreach programs in poor communities in their diocese as the other bishops had done.

The Catholic Church in the Philippines has been the partner of the government in rendering assistance to various depressed communities from medical missions to relief operations and many others.

It is right that when there are opportunities government agencies, like the PCSO, should help the Church in its charitable work.


Reading again the open letter of best-selling author Steve Ray to Filipino Catholics is a welcome respite from all the negative media reports and commentaries.

We would like to thank our friend and classmate lawyer Emi Sison for the sending again via email the letter of Steve Ray who wrote the popular books Crossing the Tiber (his conversion story), Upon This Rock (on the papacy) and John’s Gospel (a comprehensive bible study guide).

The open letter is heartwarming and makes me proud to be a Catholic and Filipino. Here it is:

We stepped into the church and it was old and a bit dark. Mass had just begun and we sat toward the front. We didn’t know what to expect in Istanbul, Turkey. I guess we expected it to be a somber Mass but quiet and somber it was not – I thought I heard angels joyously singing behind me.

The voices were rich, melodic and beautiful. What I discovered as I spun around to look did not surprise me because I had seen and heard the same thing in other churches around the world. It was not a choir of angels with feathered wings and halos but a group of delightful Filipino Catholics with smiles of delight and joy on their faces as they worshiped God and sang His praised. I had seen this many times before in Rome, in Israel, in the United States and other countries.

Filipinos have special traits and they are beautifully expressed as I gazed at the happy throng giving thanks to God. What the special traits which characterize these happy people? I will share a few that I have noticed – personal observations – as I have traveled around the world including the Philippines.

FIRST, there is a sense of community, of family. These Filipino Christians did not sit apart from each other in different aisles. They sat together closely. They didn’t just sing quietly, mumbling, or simply mouthing words. No, they raised their voices in harmony, together as though they enjoyed the sense of unity and communion among them. They are family even if they are not related.

SECOND, they have an inner peace and joy which is rare in the world today. When most of the world’s citizens are worried and fretful, I have found Filipinos to have joy and peace – a deep sense of God’s love that over shadows them. They have problems too, and many in the Philippines have less material goods than others in the world, yet there is still a sense of happy trust in God and love of neighbor.

THIRD, there is love for God and for his Son Jesus that is almost synonymous with the word Filipino. There is also something that Filipinos are famous for around the world – their love for the Blessed Mother. Among the many Filipinos I have met, the affectionate title for Mary I always her from their lips is ‘Mama Mary.’ For these gentle folks Mary is not just a theological idea, a historical person or a statue in a church – Mary is the mother of their Lord and their mother as well, their ‘mama’.

The Philippines is a Catholic nation – the only such nation in Asia – and this wonderful country exports missionaries around the world. They are not hired to be missionaries, not official workers of the church. No, they are workers and educations, doctors, nurses and housekeepers that go to other lands and travel to the far reaches of the earth, and everywhere they go and take the joyous gospel of Jesus with them. They make a somber Mass joyful when they burst into song. They convict the pagan of sin and they always keep the love of Jesus and the Eucharist central in their lives.

My hope and prayers, while I am here in the Philippines sharing my conversion story from Baptist Protestant to Roman Catholic, is that the Filipino people will continue to keep these precious qualities. I pray they will continue loving their families, loving the Catholic Church, reading the Bible, loving Jesus, his Mother and the Eucharist as many other religions and sects try to persuade them to leave the Church, may God give them the wisdom to defend the Catholic faith.

As the world tempts them to sin and seek only money and fame and power, may God grant them the serenity to always remember that obedience to Christ and love for God is more important than all the riches the world can offer.

May the wonderful Filipino people continue to be a light of the Gospel to the whole world.

Be a proud Filipino.