Philippine

Wedding Industry Expect Php1B Growth

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wedding

Event planning and management in marriages and weddings is growing business in this country and is expected to go global soon.

Players in this business call this the wedding industry and they expect this to grow to over Php1Billion in the short term.

The Philippine Association of Wedding Planners (PWAP) is helping the tourism industry, promoting tourism destinations, the PWAP leadership said.

Cost of weddings in the country go from Php500,000 to Php1 Million, PWAP president Liza Alviedo said.
Their entry to the global market is deliberate but slow, Alviedo said, adding that PWAP is joining trade fairs and expositions. Their first stop is in the Singapore at the Philippine Wedding Expo, a part of its global roadshows.
PWAP has established partnerships with upstart events companies for wedding expo in Singapore because of their shared vision of promoting the country’s wedding industry in the international market.

PWAP expect to sign up at least 150 contracts in the Singapore expo.

The association is supporting the Department of Tourism effort to promote the Philippines as the preferred wedding destination in the world even when its local market is reported have over 2,000 wedding events monthly.

The business in weddings could contribute to more economic activities. It has downstream business, especially inhiring of caterers, florists, musicians, photographers.

In a country where millions of its citizens are suffering economic difficulties, this report from the PWAP shows relief that solemnizing marriages continue to flourish and enjoy wide support.

The numbers pointed out by the PWAP cover only those who can afford their services. Multiply it a hundred fold and that’s the number of weddings all over this Christian country every month.

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LIES AND DECEIT

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By Al Labita

NOTHING to crow about the Aquino government’s self-serving claim that under its watch, the economy has expanded at a rate faster than what its officials could imagine.

Reckoned with realities, however, the growth only perpetuated the perennial rich-poor gap, one of the world’s worst, despite Aquino’s much-ballyhooed reform agenda.

While statistics only tell half a story, they nonetheless betray the painful truths lurking behind a façade of lies and deceit.
The inclusive growth Aquino has been harping on has been largely inclusive only among the few moneyed elite to the exclusion of the vast majority – the poor.

As the economy grows, it also exponentially drives up the wealth of those in command and control of the lives of Filipinos.
The figures are grim — only 40 families such as the Ayalas, Sys and Tans account for nearly 80 percent of the economy as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), an OpinYon’s research shows.

In stark contrast, some Asian neighbors had managed to whittle down the rich-poor ratio as they gained headway in democratizing their economy over the past decades.

In Thailand, the same number of families account for only 33.7 per cent of the economy and in Malaysia, 5.6 per cent, indicating how the Philippines has lagged behind in addressing the urgency to spread out the nation’s wealth.

Ironically, the glaring disparity vis-à-vis sharing a nation’s wealth explains why the Philippines has more billionaires (in US dollar) than in more prosperous Thailand and Malaysia.

GDP and PPP

They are the same people who take advantage of lucrative contracts, including profit guarantees and tariff increases, under the government’s Public-Private Partnership program (PPP), Aquino’s centerpiece in pushing infrastructure projects.
“The regime has consistently favored the few billionaires while further marginalizing the poor. Aquino now wants to enrich them even more by giving them various perks for the PPP projects,” says the militant Bayan Muna in a statement.
Based on the account of US-based magazine Forbes, the combined net worth of the Philippines’ 50 richest totaled US$65.8 billion in 2012, more than a quarter of the nation’s GDP.

Mostly of Chinese origin, these families own companies which have grown—aided largely by generous government incentives—to become conglomerates with shares traded on the Philippine Stock Exchange and in some cases offshore, notably in cash-rich Hong Kong and Singapore.

Millionaires to Billionaires

Their vast and diverse corporate tentacles extend far and wide, catering to the lives of Filipinos, literally from womb to tomb, leaving them with no choice but to enslave themselves under the weight of an oppressive western-style economic system.
As shown in the list of Singapore-based UBS Billionaires Census 2013, the Philippines ranked 9th in Asia, with 13 billionaires with a combined net worth of US$35 billion.

In 10th place was Malaysia with 10 billionaires worth a combined US$37 billion, while Thailand ranked 11th with 10 billionaires worth US$25 billion.

As usual, ethnic Chinese taipans Henry Sy and Lucio Tan topped the list of the Philippines’ mega rich whose ranks had swelled as more of their kind continued to amass wealth at the expense of those marginalized by the government’s pro-rich, anti-poor economic policies.

Sy, who operates shopping malls, saw his assets surge 44 percent to US$7.2 billion in 2012 alone and remains the Philippines’ richest man.

Doubtful Data

According to the Forbes 2012 annual rich list, Sy and Tan whose businesses range from retail to property and other related ventures were worth a combined US$13.6 billion, equivalent to six per cent of the Philippine economy.
While GDP has undoubtedly risen over the past years, every Filipino’s share of it is unfortunately the lowest among Asean countries.

Based on the latest data of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), the Philippines’ per capita GDP) stood at only US$4,339 in 2012 compared with Singapore, $61,461; – Malaysia, $16,976; Thailand, $9,609; and – Indonesia. $4,971.
GDP is the amount of goods and services produced, while per capita is derived from dividing the population in relation to GDP.
While seemingly doubtful, the NSCB data hardly reconcile with Aquino government’s oft-repeated claims that GDP last year expanded by 6.8 percent and even bragged that it outpaced Singapore’s 1.3 percent, Malaysia’s 5.6 percent, Thailand’s 6.5 percent and Indonesia’s 6.2 percent.

Yet, the Philippines’ per capital GDP has been the lowest–and slowest—among its peer group since 2005 despite official claims that it is Asia’s fastest-growing economy.

Poverty Level

In what could be an indicator of the country’s ever-widening rich-poor gap, NSCB data also showed that high-income households accounted for more than half, or 60 percent, of the GDP.

The balance of 40 percent of the economy’s income was shared by the bulk, or about 84 percent, of the country’s population.
To be poor meant earning less than 16,800 pesos a year or P1, 400 a month or P47 pesos a day which covers 26.5 per cent of the nearly 100 million Filipinos.

As gleaned from the official poverty data of NSCB, the proportion of poor Filipinos to the total population has been surging from 24.9 per cent in 2003 to 26.4 per cent in 2006, and 26.5 per cent in 2009, an issue Aquino promised to address under his “Daang Matuwid” program of government.

Inclusive Growth?

The Philippines has one of the highest poverty rates among emerging Asian economies. The poverty incidence stood at 27.9 percent as of the first semester of 2012, almost unchanged from the 28.6 percent in 2009.

Aware of the magnitude of the problem, the government wants to bring down poverty incidence to 16.6 percent by 2015, an ambitious target difficult to achieve as the rich get richer and the poor poorer, given the economy’s bias for the affluent and the powerful.

In more ways than one, the economy is basically lopsided in structure allowing the oligarchs to gain too much control of the country’s resources and creating one of the worst income inequalities in Asia.

One wonders whatever happened to Aquino’s oft-repeated term “inclusive growth” which seeks to create jobs and reduce poverty by spreading the economy’s gains to trickle down to lower-income segments of society.

More importantly, the rich-poor disparity also draws attention to Aquino’s anti-poverty conditional cash transfer program which has a budget of more than P40 billion this year.

Capitalist vs. Socialist System

The program seeks to see 15 million of the nation’s poorest people receive money directly in exchange for their kids going to school and mothers and children getting proper healthcare.

In releasing its data, NSCB risked incurring anew the ire of Aquino who once bawled out the agency’s officials for portraying the economy in bad light contrary to his government’s rosy picture.

Sign of compassion for the disadvantaged sector of society may be gleaned from how the tycoons responded to the clamor for aid of the hapless typhoon victims in the Eastern Visayas region.

While some, particularly Sy and Tan, handed out P100 million each, others were hardly in the news, apparently opting to work behind the scene with less fanfare.

Billionaire port king Enrique Razon  deployed heavy equipment to repair the damaged piers in Tacloban city and Leyte, while the Ayalas and banker George Ty chipped in P10 million and P50 million, respectively, worth of relief supplies.

The cost of putting the typhoon-ravaged Eastern Visayas region back on its feet amounts to a whopping P250 billion, a window of opportunity for the tycoons to share their wealth with those they derived their profits from.

Overall, while there is evidence of progress in addressing the yawning rich-poor gap, it is too slow. One study says it would take dozens of decade for the bottom millions of the nation’s population to achieve 10 per cent of the national income under the current rate of change.

Similarly, it raises questions about the Philippines’ pro-capitalist economic model vis-à-vis the egalitarian-oriented socialist type.

Kamag-Anak Inc.

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ONLY modest reductions in poverty have been made since the economic and political collapse of the mid-1980s. Without doubt, severe regional disparities remain and the gap between the rich and the poor of this country continues to widen. While 75 percent poor Filipinos live in rural areas, the urban poor have contributed to the rising share of total poor population since 1971. Manila, once the bustling center of post-war business activity, is no longer the promised land it used to be. Migrating to the city is no longer a guarantee of a better life.

By World Bank calculations, urban poverty stood at around 23 percent and rural poverty at 53 percent in 1991. The numbers are far worse today. Most of our poor have little education and are engaged in the agriculture, fishery and forestry sectors and anemic government support have driven our farmers and fisher folk to the brink of poverty.

Compared with the rest of East Asia, government performance on poverty reduction has been downright disappointing, because the Philippines has not been able to sustain growth long enough to better the living conditions of the poor.

Stranger even is the fact that poverty declines remained modest even during the times of rapid economic growth as government policies discriminated against labor, subsidized capital-intensive production and gave low priority to agriculture and exports. This resulted in growth that was narrowly based and inequitable—trapping many Filipinos in low-paying jobs while capitalists made money out of labor’s misery.

The rich get richer while the poor stay poor—and multiply. If you look closely, the rich in this country bear the same face with politicians and government executives. People who run big business are—more often than not—related to someone in government. “Kamag-anak Inc.” never really left the building. The same evils hounding our society back in the 70s remain with us today.
There is no quick fix and panacea for everything that bedevils this nation. But getting rid of crooks in government and in big business is definitely a good place to start.

GILLES GARACHON : Promoting French Tourism in the PH

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FROM being an unknown destination, the Philippines is slowly becoming a favorite destination for the French. And part of the growing interest in the Philippines is a result of the efforts made by French Ambassador to the Philippines Gilles Garachon.

Tour of Duty

Serving in Manila since 2012, Garachon has almost 27 years experience in the diplomatic service, having started his career in this field in 1985. Garachon is no stranger to Asia as he was named first secretary at the French embassy in New Delhi in 1989 and later became the consul of France in Hong Kong in 1993.

AMBASSADOR GILLES GARACHON AND WIFE ISABELLE
Ambassador Garachon and wife Isabelle

He served as his country’s political counselor in Bangkok (1999–2003) and as cultural counselor in Jakarta (2003–2007). Before his present assignment, he headed the human resources department of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While based here in Manila, Ambassador Garachon will concurrently serve as France’s non-resident ambassador to Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands. He succeeded former French envoy to the Philippines, Thierry Borja de Mozata.

Keep Momentum

Since taking the Philippine post, Garachon said French awareness of the Philippines has been increasing steadily because of aggressive cultural, political and academic exchanges between the two countries. “There is a momentum. And I think we have to keep this momentum. This is going to increase, I’m sure. There is plenty of room to increase the relations—of course—there is cultural relations, but also in the field of trade, in the field of politics, also the exchange of students between universities,” Garachon said in a newspaper interview during the French Embassy’s celebration of Bastille Day at his Makati City residence last July 14.

Embassy data showed French tourist arrivals in the Philippines increased by 14 percent from 29,591 in 2011 to 33,709 in 2012.
Garachon said promoting the Philippines in France was his “main difficulty” as an ambassador, as most French knew only nations that figured in their history.

“French people… see the geography very linked to history. And if a country has historical links with France, then it appears on the map. But for the Philippines, we never had any historical connection. Not at all. So for French people, the Philippines is just a question mark,” Garachon said.

“So part of my job and part of the job of the ambassador of the Philippines in Paris is to make French people discover more about the Philippines,” Garachon, who had been posted to Hong Kong, Jakarta and Bangkok before being assigned to Manila, said.

Philippine Exhibit

To boost its image in France the Philippines hosted a three-month exhibit of pre-colonial art at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris from April to July. “I think this exhibit is a great occasion. [All over] Paris, you had a signboard about this exhibit about the Philippines, with beautiful pictures,” Garachon said.

“People loved it and because they were discovering something completely new. In France, nobody knows about the art of the Philippines. And so they discovered it and they enjoyed it very much,” he said.

The exhibit brings together Philippine pre-colonial art and artifacts from collections in the Philippines, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and the United States.

It is the largest exhibit of Philippine art in Europe, according to the French Embassy in Manila.

History of Relations

History tells us that the relations between the Philippines and France go beyond 60 years. A French consulate was established in Manila in the late 19th century, during the time when the Philippines was still a colony of Spain.

When the Spanish expedition under Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines, 15 Frenchmen were among its crew. This includes Jean Petit of Angers, lieutenant of Trinidad and Bernard Calmette, chaplain of San Antonio.

French missionaries also contributed to the spread of Christianity in the Philippines. The first Diocesan seminary in the Philippines, the seminary of St. Clement in Manila, was set up with the aid of French Monsignor Charles-Thomas Maillard de Tournon in 1704.
French traders, technicians, soldiers, and officers and crews under the Manila Galleon trade also came to the Philippines. The French recognized the potentials of the Philippines in the trading sector by the 17th century. France discovered the potential use of abaca in the manufacture of naval supplies, particularly ropes. Despite the Spanish colonial government’s restrictions against foreign trade, French and other foreign traders were already in Manila before it was formally opened for foreign trade.

First Consul

France became the first country to establish a consul in Spanish Philippines, followed by Belgium, the United States and finally Great Britain in November 1844. France established its consul in Manila in March 1824.

Diplomatic relations between France and the Philippines was officially established on June 26, 1947 with the signing of the Treaty of Amity. The short-lived First Philippine Republic had a diplomatic representative in Paris in 1898 when the United States and Spain were negotiating the terms for peace in what has come down in history as the Treaty of Paris.

French travel accounts of the Philippines in the 18th and 19th centuries help Filipino historians recreate the past. These publications are illustrated with charming photographs and engravings that provide a visual link to the Spanish Philippines.

Historic Visit

In a historic visit to the Philippines last October French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault met with President Benigno Aquino III and discussed ways to enhance the two countries’ political, economic and cultural relations.

Ayrault was accompanied by a 130-member delegation composed of ministers, parliamentarians and businessmen. The visit, founded on the theme, “Enhancing Philippine-French Relations Through Political, Economic and Cultural Cooperation” is intended to renew bilateral ties between the Philippines and France and propel the countries economic partnerships to greater heights.

Bilateral Trade

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), bilateral trade between the the Philippines and France amounted to U$1.143 billion in 2011 as French investments in the Philippines reflected a “significant increase” with total approved investments of PhP1.145 billion, up 90 percent compared to 2010.

The DFA said that French companies such as LaFarge, Total, AXA and Alcatel “have strong presence in the country and have committed to increase their investments in the coming years.”

Leading French companies like RATP Dev and Thales have also expressed their interest to participate in the bidding for flagship projects under the country’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.

The Philippines and France are expected to be sign contracts in various various sectors such as energy, aviation and aeronautics, transportation, infrastructures, electronics, healthcare and environment in the next few years.

France has been supportive of Aquino administration’s development priorities particularly in the areas of “climate change, green infrastructures, sustainable urban development and services including transport, water supply and sanitation, agro-forestry and biodiversity protection, and capacity building for local government units.”

People Exchange

Both countries also enjoy a strong people-to-people exchange as there are 50,000 Filipinos in France and about 4,000 French nationals living in the Philippines.

Most Filipinos in France are engaged in the services sector and skilled professionals. In 2011, Filipinos in France remitted a total of $51.3 million.

LYDIA DE ROCA : From Sidewalk Peddler to Millionaire

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LYDIA’S Lechon is a household name here in the Philippines, But not many people know that its entrepreneur Lydia de Roca started her business by selling lechon in a small stall in Baclaran market.

In the late 60s, the family-owned lechon store—known as “Mang Turing and Aling Ingga’s Native Lechon”, was doing good business with a modest store located at the Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Baclaran. Lydia, helped out in the said store.

Benigno and Lydia de Roca

In 1969, after some courtship, Benigno de Roca (a son of another lechon business owner) and Lydia got married. The happy couple had a joyous occasion after their wedding and with PhP500 started their own lechon busiess–Lydia’s Lechon. In a television interview, Lydia related how she used to go with her father, who was a butcher, and how she started selling lechon in Baclaran at the age of 12. “Ito ang naituro sa akin ng tatay ko noong araw, hanggang sa nagtinda ako ng lechon. Twelve years old ako sa bangketa ng Baclaran,” she said. “Yung P500 na yon binibigay ko na sa tatay ko. Pinambili ko na ng baboy niya… Marami yun, P20 lang nun ang baboy eh,” she said. Aside from pigs, she used the money to buy charcoal and sauce for the lechon.

Hard Work

At that time, Benigno was a jeepney and bus driver, so they had to work hard to support their children. “Mahirap ang buhay namin. Pero nagtiyaga kami talaga. Pinagsumikapan namin… Naranasan ko pa yung bahay na nakatuntong sa ilog… Yun ang unang-unang inupahan ko, diyan sa may Tambo sa Paranaque, P35 ang upa sa isang buwan,” she said. Customer’s would flock to Lydia’s Lechon to sample the good food sold there. A big break for the couple’s business came along when one day when executives from the Hyatt Regency Hotel came along to buy some Lydia’s Lechon specialties. From that simple visit came daily lechon orders from the hotel.
“Maski nga di ko kinakaya kinakaya ko eh. Hindi pwedeng mahina ang loob mo. Sasabihin mo, ay ano kaya ang gagawin ko? Tatanggapin ko kaya? Mahirap kaya ito? Kaya ko kaya ito? Ako palaging yes,” she said.

The fame and praise for Lydia’s Lechon spread by word of mouth to many prospective clients, including other hotels and restaurants, and food caterers.

In the 1970′s, the Lydia’s Lechon boneless with paella recipe got the first prize in a competition for local chefs and it soon became one of the specialties of restaurant. It was a boost for the de Roca couple’s business.

One-Table Restaurant

After selling lechon from the market for 22 years, de Roca finally opened a restaurant–with a single table–along Roxas Boulevard in 1986.

“Talagang restaurant ang target ko. Kaya lang wala akong kapital pa eh. Hindi ko rin magagawang restaurant. Pero trying hard ako na maging restaurant, kaya naglagay ako ng isang lamesa at isang silya,” she recounted. Soon customers started coming to her restaurant and one of her frequent customers was mall tycoon Henry Sy, Sr., who always had lunch there on Sundays. “Nagkakwentuhan kami tapos meron daw siyang SM Food Court baka raw gusto kong magtayo ng ano… Sabi ko, oho gusto ko,” she said.

Lydia de Roca lechon

In April of 1989 the first branch of Lydia’s Lechon outside of the southern part of Metro Manila , in Timog Avenue, Quezon City was established. This was followed by other stores on the eastern part of the Metro. From there, fast food outlets of Lydia’s Lechon mushroomed within the popular malls of the metropolis. Although originally intended to be a close family corporation, the first franchise of Lydia’s Lechon was sold in 2005 for a fast food and retail outlet at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City. Today, they are known as the biggest chain of lechon outlets in the country. Presently, there are 21 branches of Lydia’s Lechon located in the Greater Manila area and Cavite.

Hands On

Now, Lydia’s Lechon has some 15 branches in SM Food Courts, which account for some Php30,000 in daily sales.
The couple is now the proud owner of a 1,500 square-meter property in Baclaran, with a mansion and several luxury cars. It also houses the restaurant’s commissary and roasting area.

lydias lechon

The De Roca couple also have their own piggery in an 8-hectare property in Malvar, Batangas where they raise 800-1,000 pigs.
In 2011, De Roca was awarded by Go Negosyo as one of the most outstanding women entrepreneurs of the Philippines.
Despite her success, De Roca remains humble and thankful that her four children—who have all graduated from college—are not spoiled and have helped the business flourish.

“Seven years old pa lang sila dinadala ko sila sa bangketa, kaya ang pangaral ko sa kanila eh sinusunod naman nila ngayon,” she said.
Up to now, De Roca still wields a knife and deftly chops up a lechon at the restaurant.

“Dito nag-simula ang swerte ko sa buhay. Kung sa tingin mo di ako marunong mag-tadtad ng lechon, umasenso kaya ako,” she said.
The smallest lechon sells for PhP6,500, and the capital for each one is in the neighborhood of PhP3,000. Lydia’s Lechon is also famous for its signature sauce made using a special recipe, de Roca said, noting this is still something none of her employees know about. Lydia has kept her lechon naturally simple but with no short cuts. It’s slowly cooked for two hours over charcoal and flavored only with tanglad, pandan, and murang sibuyas.

In Defense of Small Businesses

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by Ike Señeres

AS WE see vivid images of super typhoons devastating our islands, we should also be reminded of the very strong economic storms that are already hitting our country every day now, causing daily damage that could cost more than a series of storms and earthquakes could possibly cause. As we talk about the apparent lack of preparations to address these natural disasters, we should also be reminded that we are not prepared for these economic storms either, with practically none of the so called “safety nets” in place.

It is a good thing that natural storms could be forecasted. Economic storms on the other hand do not need any forecasts, because these are certain to come, and in fact they already have. As we speak, local products are being clobbered in the local markets, and scores of small businesses and small factories have already closed. The damage is already being felt, even before the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) is fully in place by 2015, and even before all the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements will be fully implemented.

One way or the other, the natural storms that are coming to our shores would have something to do with climate change and global warming, even if it could be argued that storms would naturally happen even without these two factors. That said however, regardless of what side of the argument you are with, there is no argument that the effects of climate change and global warming would definitely affect small businesses and small factories, as it has already happened in many cases. When we say small businesses, it should already include the business of farmers and fishermen.

I remember that when the issue of “safety nets” was discussed many years ago, there was a consensus that the government should not count all projects that all the projects that are in the normal course of public services delivery. What that means is that the government should come up with new and original “safety nets” that would be on top of, and different from what are normally provided by them. At that time, nobody really knew what that meant, and that is still the case now.

In the lack of understanding what “safety nets” would really mean, I would instead define it to mean anything and everything that would make a local product survive the onslaught of foreign products. Actually it should not be limited to plain and simple survival alone, because it should objectively mean success in the local and foreign markets, defined in terms of gross sales and market shares. I will add to that the fact that this boils down to product competitiveness. If that sounds to you like a sink or swim scenario, you are right, because that is what it really is, and much more than that, it is actually a life or death situation.

By comparison, I would say that dealing with a natural storm is easier than dealing with an economic storm. On the part of many local politicians, that could be as simple as delivering a few relief goods and taking lots of pictures. There is really no need for a closure, because the actions would end as soon as the evacuation centers are vacated, and that is it. In the case of economic storms however, the first line of casualties are not people, so there is really no rush for dramatic photo opportunities.

In the case of economic storms, the local products in the local markets are the first to die, and their deaths would ultimately result in the death of the factories, being the second line of defense. It could be said that the third line of defense would be among the ranks of the workers who would lose their incomes as their jobs would also die. Complicated as the sequence would appear to be, the cause of it all is the death of local products, and that is where we should fight back first, to make our products more competitive, so that these could stand up strongly to the foreign invaders and win the fights too.

Making products more competitive is a no brainer, because there is a science behind that. As a matter of fact, many big local companies have already perfected that science, and many of their products are now doing very well in the local and global markets. The rules of the marketing game are very clear. Aside from having a good product, what are needed are good product positioning, good branding, good labelling, good packaging and good advertising. There is no way out of these rules, because companies would have to play the game or die.

Again by comparison, the big companies could very well stand up on their own, and would therefore not need any help from the government. Obviously, the only ones that would need help from the government are the small businesses and the small factories. This is not really a new discovery, because we have known this all along. For so many years now, we have also heard many government agencies reporting that they are implementing programs along this line, but nothing seems to stick, and we are not seeing local products winning in the local and global markets.

The lack of financing is often said to be the cause of local product failure. That could be true, but in reality, any product doing well in the market should not have any problem in getting investors. And if the product is really doing well, the cash flow would be good too, and the only need for more financing would be for expansion purposes. We should really aspire to produce more local products that are global winners. Otherwise, we will just be a consumer economy, found at the lower end of the value chain, with no value added of our own.

For feedback, email iseneres@yahoo.com or text +639083159262

In the Midst of Tragedy

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by Herman Tiu-Laurel

IN the midst of the tragedy of the 6th category mediocrity and incompetence that is BS Aquino and his government team the volunteerism of many Filipinos gave hope.

Taipan Millan, a young citizen with a group of his peers mobilized members  of civic and business groups like the Rotary Club of Caloocan and companies like Frabelle Fishing Corporation to ship food and relief goods to various parts of Leyte and Samar that were not being reached by the mainstream  foreign and government relief operations getting clogged up on the roads and airports.

Fishing vessels Chrysanthemum and  Brilliant Star leaves Sangley for Tacloban while Woodrose from Navotas goes to Ormoc, Sogod, Tacloban, Biliran, Tanauan and Guian, and Verbena leaves Navotas for Sogod only.

One of our OpinYon writers, Liza Gaspar sought help to locate her Aunt Noemi and family in Brgy. San Isideo, Sta. Fe, Leyte. We’ll ask Frabelle Fishing to radio their ship captains to help in the search when arriving in the different disaster towns.  Others who have need to search for anyone there can text us at our numbers below which we will relay to the ships.

The Spirit of Struggle

As the nation struggles with the crisis in the Visayas other daily struggles continue. The rise in Meralco power rates in November-December due to ill-timed maintenance operations of Malampaya raises the question: “Doesn’t the DoE have an obligation to keep power rates steady and at continuously affordable rates anymore to help people and enterprises maintain predictable overhead cost?” The authorities used to ensure such steady supply to make home and business planning possible by maintaining a balance in the power supply mix.

In the midst of the continuing struggle heroes often go unsung, but this week we will sing our hymns of praise to Mang Naro (Genaro) Lualhati, one of the leaders of LAMP (Lawyers Against Monopoly and Poverty) who in 2003 won the P30-billion refund of the income tax Meralco had been charging to consumers (which it is still doing).
Mang Naro passed away last week at the age of 92 leaving behind his message through his son Antonio, that the struggle for people’s justice against the power plunder of Meralco and its cohorts in the ERC and Congress should be sustained.

Beware of Gift Trojan Horses

While Filipinos have to accept any and all offers of aid and support now, they should also be wise and wary. An Internet blogger reminds us citing, Claro M. Recto “walang libre sa kano” U.S. writer, David Swanson in “Let’s Take Advantage of Suffering Filipinos!” sarcastically headlines a report on a USA Today columnist proposal to “…use the U.S. military to aid those suffering in the Philippines—as a backdoor means of getting the US military back into a larger occupation of the Philippines…. While the Philippines’ representative at the climate talks in Warsaw is fasting in protest of…the earth’s climate”.

Swanson also headlines, “How the US can dress up war as disaster relief to the Philippines”. The U.S. is puffing up its aircraft carriers and military relief role to: 1) justify to Americans massive US military spending and, 2) its pivot to Asia. Deprecating BS Aquino and RP government highlights incompetence to justify U.S. insertion. Meanwhile jet setting Pinoy anthropogenic global warming alarmist Yeb Sano waxes melodramatic using the Leyte tragedy to fast and reinforce false “man-made global warming (GW)” theory. Go to Center for Research on Globalization’s list of funding for the fraud.

The Next Disaster

It’s not “if” but “when” the next natural disaster will strike the Philippines and our families in the line of another super typhoon or an Intensity 9 earthquake. Government should lead in getting every barangay to fabricate heavy equipment at the lowest cost–see Open Source Ecology for free plans on how ordinary people can make hydraulic cranes, forklifts, bulldozers to free people from heavy debris; instead of PhP60 billion CCT going to waste. Learn from Cuba which buses threatened communities by the hundreds of thousands to safe grounds, as in Katrina with only two deaths compared to U.S. 1,800 deaths.

I am not leaving the fate of my children and grandchildren to mediocrities in government or the NGOs. I am buying used car jacks, crowbars ad steel cables for every room my houses my children’s homes. I constantly monitor seismic news and typhoon news. Dusan Zupka of the U.N. International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction opined, “I would dare to say that Cuba is a good example for other countries in terms of preparedness and prevention.” The people’s welfare is top priority for the revolutionary Cuban government, in the Philippine the people is last in priorities.

Final Words

It’s from Peque Gallaga: “We cry desperately for demonstrable government response–we get almost next to nothing. It is increasingly apparent that local media goes hand in hand with self-servicing Malacañang press releases…What our leaders tell us is contradicted by …by the victims in these areas who are slowly able to give us the true picture of the realities of the situation….I read Marvin Xanth Geronimo who was there when Yolanda struck: that TV personalities and politicians like Mar Roxas and Ted Failon going to Tacloban for the photo op. They never helped;… Korina Sanchez calling Anderson Cooper “misinformed”. Cooper was in Tacloban. Korina was not…

“All those people who charge us for criticizing, for being negative, for Aquino bashing – I am done with these people. In a very Yellow Army way, they try to hide behind an illogical argument that we cannot help if we criticize.…. This man (Aquino) who is totally unprepared for the most difficult job in the country.

So my friends, as far as I’m concerned, you choose him or you choose the people. But if you instruct me again to stop bashing this man … I will unfriend you in Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, and out in our leaderless streets.” As bad is a business newspaper’s headline lately, “7% growth rate still possible” says rating agencies when Yolanda proves their growth are meaningless to the people.
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(Catch Herman Tiu Laurel’s weekly show at GNN Destiny Cable Channel 8, Skycable Channel 213, www.gnntv-asia.com Sat., 8 p.m. and replay Sun., 8 a.m.; tune to 1098AM, Tues. to Fri. 5pm; ; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com; and text reactions to 0923-4095739)