March 2011

P15 taxi tip enforced in Cordillera

"Taxi Scramble"

TAXI drivers will start collecting an additional P15 mandatory tip for every ride any time within the week, a top transportation announced.

Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Regional Director Celina Claver said aside from the regular rate appearing on taxi meters, the riding public will have to pay provisional mandatory tip as soon as the agency issues an order this week.

In Monday’s public hearing with taxi operators and drivers, the Samahan ng Taxi of Cordillera Administrative Region (STCAR) and other taxi operators petitioned before the regional board for the immediate approval of their request for a mandatory tip due to the almost weekly increase of fuel prices.

Read more at Sun Star

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Project PEARLS Getting the Recognition They Deserve From People All Over the World

Tondo, Manila (March 25, 2010) – Project PEARLS, a small group of family and friends who share the same mission and passion in trying to make a difference in the lives of the poorest of the poor children in the Philippines is getting the recognition they deserve from people all over the world.

The focus of their outreach efforts is at Ulingan, a slum community in Tondo, Manila.  Ulingan sits on a dumpsite and a charcoal factory where over 400 families contend all day with the heat, fumes, dust, stench, flies and, at night, the mosquitoes and vermin.

In 2010, Melissa Villa, the founder of Project PEARLS saw some pictures of the Ulingan kids on the internet and decided to help them. She quickly found like-minded souls in Photo Kalye, a group of photographers who was already active in Ulingan.  Both groups decided to join forces and since then they have build a new day care center in Ulingan. After only 7 months in Ulingan, Project PEARLS and Photo KALYE have now weekly feeding missions and regular medical missions in place. They just launched a scholarship program for deserving children. Project PEARLS is also looking into livelihood programs for the mothers of Ulingan.  Project PEARLS & Photo Kalye have been successful with their outreach in Ulingan not just by the services they provide but by the passion, love and dedication that they place in every thing they do and by touching everyone they meet and inspire along the way. They have been welcomed by the residents in Ulingan and have gained their trust and respect. Ms. Melissa Villa has big dreams for the children of Ulingan but unlike others, she has the talent and the drive to make her dreams come true.

Project PEARLS  is not only about food and donations.  Project PEARLS wants to give those kids love, joy and show them that they are not alone. Those people genuinely care for them.  All Project PEARLS’ volunteers say that they are amazed and deeply humbled by the love and affection they get back from the children of Ulingan.

About Project PEARLS:

Project PEARLS is not a fancy outreach ministry; it is nothing large or grandiose; it doesn’t compete or seek for glory.  They just simply want to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and hold the hands of those who hurt.

“The best way to find yourself is to loose yourself in the service of others”- M. Gandhi The team and supporters of Project PEARLS have accomplished just that by helping underprivileged children in the Philippines have a better life by giving them P.E.A.R.L.S. Peace, Education, Aspiration, Respect, Love and Smile.

NEDA Board approves Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board approved the adoption of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016 during yesterday’s meeting at Malacañan Palace.

The NEDA Board, chaired by President Benigno S. Aquino III and co-chaired by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano W. Paderanga Jr., is the country’s highest development planning and policy coordinating body. Composed of different Cabinet Secretaries, the President of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, the Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the Deputy Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the NEDA Board is supported by the NEDA Secretariat headed by Paderanga as Director-General.

Paderanga said that the overarching theme of the PDP 2011-2016 is good governance and anti-corruption in achieving inclusive growth, which creates massive employment opportunities and significantly reduces poverty.

“Inclusive growth, not the trickle-down and jobless growth that we had in the past years, is the primary aim of the Plan,” said Paderanga.

Paderanga noted that the PDP 2011-2016 translates the President’s “Social Contract with the Filipino People” into effective, efficient and inclusive interventions that will guide government agencies.

During the NEDA Board meeting, Paderanga presented the summary of the Plan’s 10 chapters (see Appendix 1) that focus on the following five crosscutting key strategies:

(a) boosting competitiveness to generate employment; (b) improving access to financing; (c) investing massively in physical infrastructure; (d) promoting transparent and responsive governance; and (e) developing human resources through improved social services.

“To achieve inclusive growth, the country needs to achieve a high and sustained growth path, provide equal access to development opportunities across social spectrums, and implement responsive social safety nets that would assist those who are left behind by the character of growth,” said Paderanga.

The Socioeconomic Planning Secretary said that among the key targets of the PDP for the next six years are an annual economic growth of 7-8 percent and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals or MDGs (see Appendix 2).

The MDGs are a set of specific and time-bound development goals committed by international governments to be achieved by 2015.

Paderanga said that the Plan was developed with inputs not only from government agencies and local government units, but also from civil society organizations and private organizations.

“This is consistent with Memorandum Circular No. 3, which directed NEDA to coordinate the preparation of the medium-term plan in a consultative manner,” said the NEDA Director-General.

After the Plan’s approval, Paderanga said government agencies are now gearing up for its implementation, in which a critical element is the national budget.

“NEDA and the Department of Budget and Management have been working on ensuring that the budget is supportive of the Plan’s priorities and targets,” said Paderanga.

He added that agencies’ respective programs and projects that will support the PDP will be incorporated in the upcoming Public Investment Program (PIP) 2011-2016, which is the PDP’s companion document.


Chapters of the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016

1. Introduction
2. Macroeconomic Policy
3. Competitive Industry and Services Sectors
4. Competitive and Sustainable Agriculture and Fisheries Sector
5. Accelerating Infrastructure Development
6. Towards a Dynamic and Resilient Financial System
7. Good Governance and the Rule of Law
8. Social Development
9. Peace and Security

10. Conservation, Protection and Rehabilitation of the Environment and Natural Resources Towards Sustainable Development


Key Targets for Inclusive Growth in the PDP 2011-2016

Poverty incidence
  • 16.6% in 2015, from 33.1% in 1991
Employment creation
  • Annual average of 1 million jobs
  • Annual average labor force growth of 2.75%
Unemployment rate
  • 6.8-7.2%
Investment-to-GDP ratio
  • 22% by 2016
Other MDGs by 2015
  • 100% participation of school-age children in primary education
  • 1:1 ratio of girls to boys in primary education and 50% share of women in nonagricultural wage employment
  • 26.7 under-five mortality per 1,000 live births
  • 52 maternal mortality per 100,000 live births
  • Zero prevalence of malaria and tuberculosis


A Press Release by the National Economic and Development Authority


PLDT acquires Sun Cellular

The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) announced that it has completed the acquisition of Digital Telecommunications Philippines (“Digitel”) (PSE:DGTL) from JG Summit Holdings, Inc. (“JGS”) (PSE:JGS). PLDT now owns 51.55 percent equity stake of Digitel. Digitel has a hundred percent stake in Digitel Mobile Philippines, Inc., whose brand name is Sun Cellular.

PLDT will announce a tender offer for all Digitel common stock at the P1.60 per Digital share, and offered either PLDT shares at P2,500 per share of cash, at the option of Digitel Shareholders. Assuming all of Digitel minority owners agree, the total transaction consideration would be PHP74.1 billion.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval.

The following is PLDT’s press release:

JG Summit to exchange stake in Digitel for new PLDT shares at an issue price of P2,500 per share

• Transaction to have an equity value of P74.1 billion
• Consumers to benefit from wider and complementary array of products and improved quality of service
• Paired networks to accelerate continued expansion of broadband rollout and other next-generation technologies in both fixed and wireless space

MANILA, Philippines : 29th March 2011 – Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (“PLDT”) (NYSE: PLDT) (PSE: TEL) and JG Summit Holdings, Inc (“JGS”) (PSE:JGS) announced that at meetings held earlier today, their respective Boards of Directors approved the acquisition by PLDT of JGS’s and certain other parties’ ownership interest in Digital Telecommunications Philippines, Inc. (“Digitel”) (PSE:DGTL), comprising (i) 3,277,135,882 common shares in Digitel, representing a 51.55% equity stake; (ii) zero-coupon convertible
bonds issued by Digitel and its subsidiaries to the JGS Group which are assumed to be convertible into approximately 18.6 billion shares of Digitel by 30 June 2011; and (iii) intercompany advances of P34.1 billion made by the JGS Group and certain of such parties to Digitel and its subsidiaries (the “Assets”). Digitel is the 100% owner of Digitel Mobile Philippines, Inc., which owns the brand Sun Cellular.

The agreed consideration for the Assets is P69.2 billion which will be settled by the issuance of one (1) new PLDT share for every P2,500 consideration payable for the Assets. PLDT will engage an independent financial advisor to review the transaction and render a fairness opinion on the transaction and the consideration payable by PLDT.

PLDT will announce later its intention to conduct a tender offer, being a mandatory tender offer for all the remaining Digitel shares held by the public shareholders of Digitel (who hold, in aggregate, approximately 48.45% of the issued common stock of Digitel) to purchase their Digitel shares of common stock. Under the tender offer, it is anticipated that PLDT will offer to purchase Digitel shares at the price of P1.60 per Digitel share, which will be paid in the form of
either PLDT shares issued at P2,500 per share or cash, at the option of the Digitel shareholder.

The contemplated tender offer price will be equivalent to the fully diluted price per share of Digitel, assuming full conversion of the convertible bonds. Should all minority shareholders of Digitel accept the offer by PLDT, PLDT will issue a total of 29.65 million new PLDT shares for the acquisition of the Assets and of the remaining Digitel Shares held by the minority shareholders under the tender offer, representing approximately 13.7% of the enlarged issued
share capital of PLDT on a fully diluted basis.

Assuming full acceptance by the minorities of Digitel, the total transaction consideration would be P74.1 billion.

PLDT will seek the requisite shareholder approval for the issuance of the new common shares as payment for the purchase price of the Assets, and regulatory approvals for the transaction.

The completion of the transaction will require the following regulatory approvals: (i) the approval by the National Telecommunications Commission (“NTC”) of PLDT’s acquisition of the Digitel shares; (ii) the approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) of the
valuation of the Assets; (iii) the approval by the Philippine Stock Exchange (“PSE”) of the block sale of the Digitel shares; and (iv) the confirmation by the SEC that the issuance of the PLDT common shares to JGS is exempt from the registration requirement of the Securities Regulations Code. The issuance of the PLDT shares as payment for the purchase price of the Assets also requires the approval of the shareholders of PLDT. The sale of the Digitel shares
is subject to the consent of certain creditors of Digitel and Digitel Mobile Philippines, Inc.

A representative of JGS is expected to join the Board of Directors of PLDT.

This transaction is intended to be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2011.

PLDT’s investment in Digitel is expected to achieve substantial benefits for the consumers, the general public and the shareholders of PLDT and JGS. It will leverage the combined expertise of the PLDT Group and Digitel to create a more capable telecommunications company which will be better-positioned to provide higher quality and even more affordable services to fixed line, wireless, and broadband subscribers addressing a wide range of consumer demand –
from voice to SMS to data and Internet and video services.

PLDT intends to keep the mobile operations of Digitel separate and intact, and to maintain and capitalize on Sun Cellular’s operations and significant brand equity to continue serving specific segments of the market, especially those who prefer “unlimited” type of services.

Digitel’s fixed line operations can complement those of PLDT’s in terms of both geographic and population reach, while adding approximately 450,000 subscribers to PLDT’s current base of
1.8 million subscribers. PLDT can quickly provide enhanced broadband services in Digitel’s service areas. Digitel’s subscribers are also expected to benefit from PLDT’s extensive infrastructure, particularly its nationwide fiber optic network and its international cable and satellite facilities.

PLDT will also make available to Sun subscribers its wide range of service offerings particularly in terms of 3G and broadband. Over the last few years, PLDT’s wireless subsidiary, Smart Communications, Inc., has been steadily advancing its Internet for all advocacy and making mobile broadband more affordable and widely available so that all Filipinos may benefit from it. Mobile broadband networks can generate economic activity as they enable fast-developing, technology-driven ecosystems.

PLDT envisages significant cost efficiencies from the transaction via capex optimization, colocation of base stations, consolidation of overlapping technical systems, implementation of shared services, bulk purchasing of network equipment, communication devices and other materials and elimination of other duplicated costs. Improved network utilization and service quality can also be achieved through complementary technologies and greater network density.

“When we announced PLDT’s 2010 results a month ago, I underscored then the need to undertake major changes in the face of the changing dynamics of the telecom industry, including the anticipated explosion in the demand for data services. In this regard, we are pleased to deliver a transaction that addresses that need. Though this initiative alters the country’s telecom landscape, we expect competition within the industry to remain very robust
given that other operators, including new entrants, are formidable and well-funded. And as I have alluded to in previous statements, we face growing competition not just from other telcos but also from the so-called “over the top” or OTT service providers that offer social networking, instant messaging and VoIP services. In the face of muted revenue growth and elevated capex requirements, this transaction provides a solution that not only addresses those concerns but
also benefits consumers and improves the country’s broadband infrastructure while enhancing shareholder value”, said Manuel V. Pangilinan, Chairman of PLDT.

“In making this decision, JG Summit went through a rigorous review of its strategic options and concluded that PLDT is the best partner for all our stakeholders – Digitel subscribers should reap benefits from PLDT’s sizeable infrastructure and leading-edge platforms. The transaction should also bring significant value to JG Summit’s shareholders without relinquishing our participation in the Philippine telecommunications industry”, stated James Go, JGS Chairman
and CEO.

ING Bank N.V. acted as financial advisor, and SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan as legal advisor to PLDT while Romulo, Mabanta, Buenaventura, Sayoc and de los Angeles acted as legal advisor to JGS.

BPO sector eyes new markets

Not wanting to rely on the United States for all of its business, the local business process outsourcing sector is stepping up its push to enter new markets, including untapped clients in the US and potential customers in the United Kingdom and Asia-Pacific.

According to Gillian Joyce Virata, executive director for information and research of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines, the Asia-Pacific region, in particular, is an area of very huge potential.
“Because of the growth in the Asia-Pacific region, there’s now a big demand (for BPO services). We’re trying to capitalize on our language capabilities. The biggest demand is for Mandarin, Japanese, Thai, Bahasa and Korean,” she said.

She said that because of the country’s big population of Filipino-Chinese and native Chinese, it was not very difficult to find Mandarin speakers. Also, the influx of Koreans studying English in the country could also be used to the industry’s advantage by tapping them for jobs with Korean language requirements.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

WOW CARAGA 2011 – PayanigsaBislig: A Celebration of Thanksgiving

Kalagans recently celebrated the 16thfounding anniversary of Caraga, dubbed as Wow Caraga 2011.

As an administrative region under Republic Act 7901, it is composed of the six cities of Butuan, Surigao, Bislig, Cabadbaran, Tandang and Bayugan, and the five provinces of AgusandelNorte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat group of islands.  This year, Bislig City hosted the celebration; thus, the tagline “PayanigsaBislig.”

The celebration officially opened with the Bird Parade participated in by students of different schools wearing bird head gears. They converged at the De La Salle John Bosco College (DLSJBC)Gymnasium for the Bird and Wildlife Forum organized by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines and the Philippine Eagle Foundation.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Assistant Secretary Domingo Ramon C. Enerio IIIled the ceremonial ribbon cutting to formally open the Wow Caraga Exhibit which included the trade fair, the exhibits of regional line agencies, the “Birds of Bislig” photo exhibit, and the garden show at the grounds of DLSJBC.  Also present were DOT-Caraga Director Leticia Tan, DOT Regional Office XI (Davao) Director Arturo P. Boncato, Jr., Bislig City Tourism Officer Lorelei Teresa D. Lim, and Bislig City Tourism Council President Bert Dormendo.

“The people of Caraga have a lot to be thankful for with the environment they have been endowed with but such great endowment comes with great responsibility. The people of Caraga must continue to protect the environment not only for themselves but also for future generations,” Mr.Enerio conveyed in his message ushering the festival showdown.

The Calagan Festival Grand Showdown was participated in by different contingents, namely Agusandel Sur’s Naliyagan, Surigao del Norte’sLubi-lubi, Bislig City’s Karawasan, Surigao del Sur’s Paladong, and Bayugan City’s Diwata.  Each contingent showcasedits own festival with clear storylines and scenariosfocused on thanksgiving.

Other highlights include the Seach for MutyangCaraga 2011, the Calagan Culinary Show and Live Competition, the Calagan Singing Star Quest and the wild-bird watching activityheld at PICOP forest.  Wild bird watching is the new tourism product of Bislig City.