MyCebu.ph: Cebu News & Features

Re/Discovering Cebu, one story at a time

AI can displace workers but it can also triple BPO revenues: Banatao

Artificial intelligence (AI) can displace a large number of workers in the Business Process Outsourcing industry, Filipino tech pioneer Dado Banatao warned, but it can also allow the country to…

Tech pioneer Dado Banatao, AIM launch startup incubator

Bringing together the expertise of successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and the management training capabilities of the Asian Institute of Management, an incubator program headlined by Filipino tech innovator Diosdado “Dado”…

Accenture inaugurates 5th facility in Cebu, highlights new and emerging tech in providing solutions

Accenture inaugurated its 5th facility in Cebu on Wednesday with a hologram of one of its officials briefing the guests and handling the ceremonies in the Filinvest Cyberzone at the…

Sushisake at Radisson Blu Cebu pairs fine sushi, sashimi with premium sake

When Radisson Blu Cebu flew in Chef Jeff Yalung from the Middle East for a taste test, they asked him to create Japanese food that’s more than the usual fare….

Shell launches new V-Power line that “improves efficiency, cleanses engines”

Shell’s V-Power fuel line has been reformulated to increase fuel efficiency and engine cleaning capabilities, officials announced in an event in Cebu yesterday. “Part of our job is to really…

Oakridge holds Fitstrip Bazaar to promote wellness lifestyle

Fitness and healthy living advice from experts and athletes and access to wellness products marked the first Oakridge FitStrip Bazaar held from July 22-23, 2017 at Oakridge Garden Plaza. The…

Cebu startup takes on Uber, Grab; signs up Manila taxi operators

Just as global ride-hailing apps Uber and Grab are facing government regulatory problems, a Cebu-based startup today announced an agreement with taxi operators in Manila to expand its service to…

Ding How: oldtime Cebu favorite Chinese restaurant reopens

The restaurant that introduced dim sum to Cebuanos in 1969 reopens at Robinsons Galleria Cebu and brings back the popular dishes from the old Ding How menu. “When we talk…

Philippine chocolate queen Raquel Choa shares life journey, passion

She didn’t know it then but Raquel Choa spent her childhood days in a place that shaped what she would become: Philippine chocolate queen and the amazing woman behind Ralfe…

Global Cebu FC fails to break Davao Aguilas defense, settles for draw

Global Cebu FC wasted a golden chance to go on top after settling to a scoreless draw against a gritty Davao Aguilas at the Cebu City Sports Center in the…

Jpark presents beach fun, yacht cruise, top DJs in Havana by the Sea party

Get ready to let loose as Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark hosts the hottest event of the season at Cebu’s newest party place Havana by the Sea. The Groove Cruise…

Get ready to let loose as Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark hosts the hottest event of the season at Cebu’s newest party place Havana by the Sea.

The Groove Cruise All White Party brings together beach fun, luxury yachts, and top music DJs in one enjoyable celebration this August 19, 2017.

Move to the rhythm of eclectic beats mixed by popular DJs Dennis Garra, Raff, Maf, MC JL, Cathy Rock, Janice Dizon, and Maxe Perez in a night of drinks and dancing at top Cebu getaway Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark.

Havana by the Sea is an open-air restaurant and bar built along the shoreline that makes the most of Mactan’s spectacular coastal views.

Havana by the Sea

The second installment of the House-Kissed beach event showcases the newest Jpark destination Havana by the Sea, an open-air restaurant and bar built along the shoreline that makes the most of Mactan’s spectacular coastal views.

Check out Havana, go on yacht cruise along the Hilutungan Channel, or show off your dance moves on the beach at the House-Kissed Havana by the Sea Groove Cruise All White Party this August 19 at Jpark resort.

Party tickets

Event partners include y101 FM, Jokai Marine International Inc., Knottical Power, Mojitos, AirAsia, 97.9 Love Radio Cebu, 96.3WRock, Monster Radio Cebu and Magic 92.3 Cebu.

Ticket to this Cebu’s hottest party is only P500 for Regular Patron with One (1) standard drink, VIP Yacht (limited slots)P1,800 with unlimited pica-pica and cocktail drinks and consumable tables for VIP Silver P3,500, VIP Gold P5,000, VIP Platinum P8,500 and VVIP for only P10,000.

Get yours now! For more details and to reserve your tickets call 494-5555 and 494-5293 or go to www.jparkislandresort.com or our official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jparkislandresort/.

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Shell holds Bike Fair in Cebu, unveils Shell Advance Motorcycle Oil

With Cebu accounting for the largest motorcycle community in the Visayas, Shell picked it to host one leg of the Shell Bike Fair 2017 held last Saturday at the SM…

With Cebu accounting for the largest motorcycle community in the Visayas, Shell picked it to host one leg of the Shell Bike Fair 2017 held last Saturday at the SM Seaside City.

“It’s one way for us to thank our bikers for always supporting Shell,” said Recca Menchavez-Malabanan, Shell Advance Brand Manager during a press conference held before the event. “It’s also a day for us to recognize the different bike clubs.”

Shell Advance Motorcycle Oil

SHELL ADVANCE. The company highlighted Shell Advance Motorcycle Oil during the recent Shell Bike Fair 2017 in SM Seaside City Cebu.

The event also highlighted the recently launched Shell V-Power fuels and Shell Advance Motorcycle Oil.

“The two brands are any bikers’ reliable companion on the road: Shell Advance allows for a smoother ride by protecting the engine from wear and maintaining clean pistons, while the new and improved Shell V-Power is designed to deliver both performance and efficiency,” the company said in a press statement.

Shell Bike Fair Cebu

SHELL ADVANCE MOTORCYCLE OIL. (From left) Mark Malabanan, Shell V-Power brand manager; Recca Menchavez-Malabanan, Shell Advance brand manager; Ricky Altonaga, Pilipinas Shell district manager; Serge Bernal, Pilipinas Shell Lubricants marketing manager; Paz Tiongco, indirect sales manager for lubricants; and Brandon Briones, marketing implementer shortly after a press conference on the Shell Bike Fair 2017 in Cebu.

“The bike fair is, for us, about listening to our consumers on what they want and they like traveling,” said Serge Bernal, Shell Lubricants Marketing Manager.

Recca Menchavez-Malabanan, Shell Advance Brand Manager, gave journalists and bloggers a rundown of the advantages for bike owners to use their motorcycle oil. She said the Shell Advance Motorcycle Oil is the “complete package that offers complete protection for the bike.”

She said the formulation of the oil offers the key benefits of protecting against engine wear and high temperature while increasing fuel economy, cleaning the pistons, and retaining horsepower.

The bike fair was held at the SM Seaside Skyhall. Shell gave away a lot of prizes including 3 new bikes: a Yamaha Aerox, Suzuki Raider, and Honda CBR 150.

“For over 100 years, Pilipinas Shell’s products and services have evolved to meet the current needs of Filipino motorists. We want our customers to know that Shell is every Pinoy motorists’ partner as they face challenges on the road. Shell has evolved into more than just a gas station; it is a pit stop that fuels both you and your motorcycles,” said Anthony Lawrence Yam, Pilipinas Shell Vice President for Retail.

More photos of Shell Bike Fair 2017 Cebu

Shell Advance Motorcycle Oil

 

 

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BPO companies offer most jobs in Cebu; IT professionals get highest pay

Information technology (IT) employees continue to be the highest paid workers in Cebu, according to the 2017 edition of the JobStreet.com Cebu Jobs and Salary Report. The business process outsourcing…

Information technology (IT) employees continue to be the highest paid workers in Cebu, according to the 2017 edition of the JobStreet.com Cebu Jobs and Salary Report. The business process outsourcing (BPO)/shared services industry also continues to have the most jobs available in the region.

The report also shows that some of Cebu’s specialists in the junior executive and managerial levels actually earn more compared to the average of their specializations nationally. Cebu’s banking (P30,415 average) and PR/communications (P27,125) specialists in the junior executive level earn more compared to the national averages of P27,188 and P26,948 of the same specializations, respectively.

Moreover, the average earnings of Cebu’s managers in corporate strategy and real estate are also higher compared to the national average. Corporate strategy managers in Cebu earn P13,587 more compared to the national average, while Cebu’s real estate managers earn an average of P81,625, which is close to twice the national average of P48,976.

Job trends in Cebu, Central Visayas

The data on job trends for Cebu and Central Visayas also show similarities with the national list, with BPO/shared services, retail, and manufacturing topping the list of industries with the most jobs.

The report also delves deeper into which specializations the BPO/shared services firms want to hire. Specialists in IT and education are now more in demand than their tech support and telesales counterparts, the latter seen as traditionally more “employable” by BPO/shared services companies.

The report also includes the results of a survey done on fresh graduate hiring behavior participated in by 30 Cebu and Central Visayas employers.

Applicant’s attitude

According to the study, all respondents claim to have hired one for the past 12 months and they are now keener on looking into a candidate’s attitude as a primary qualification rather than previous work experience or academic honors. Second, while the rest of the country does not regard school as a primary consideration when looking at a fresh graduate’s profile, Central Visayan and Cebu respondents consider it the third most important factor, after field of study relevance.

Employers were also asked to rank particular attributes of their fresh graduate hires. While they scored highest on willingness to learn, personal grooming, and punctuality, they would need to improve on their sense of initiative, task management efficiency, and going beyond the call of duty.

With the information presented on the report, JobStreet.com aims to inform employers of current employment trends. “With the dynamism Cebu’s job market, we hope to equip all our employers with all the tools that should enable them to be more competitive in the eyes of jobseekers and the rest of the job market,” JobStreet.com Country Manager Philip Gioca said. (Press release)

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AI can displace workers but it can also triple BPO revenues: Banatao

Artificial intelligence (AI) can displace a large number of workers in the Business Process Outsourcing industry, Filipino tech pioneer Dado Banatao warned, but it can also allow the country to…

Artificial intelligence (AI) can displace a large number of workers in the Business Process Outsourcing industry, Filipino tech pioneer Dado Banatao warned, but it can also allow the country to triple revenues in the sector.

If the country does it right, Banatao said, AI will help the Philippines bring BPO revenues to up to $120 billion in just two to three years.

“AI will affect almost all aspects of our lives,” Banatao said during a press conference on Thursday to inaugurate the startup incubator he started with the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

He said that his group built a basic AI solution that’s “not even the best that we know we can do” and yet it was good enough “to replace their agents in the US doing frontend BPO (services).”

Displacement inevitable

“It does displace a lot of workers but we did this in the US, meaning we displaced agents in the US. If we can do that then we will do it here. Because we don’t want to get attacked by other countries with that same expertise,” Banatao said. “We would rather have Filipinos do that displacement because it is inevitable.”

There is no AI if there is no IA (information architecture) and that will generate data science jobs for those who will be displaced from work, said Banatao.

AIM-Dadao Banatao Incubator

AIM-DADO BANATAO INCUBATOR. AIM President and Dean Jikyeong Kang with Diosdado “Dado” Banatao during a press conference to mark the inauguration of their incubator.

“It means is that there has to be an organization of data. The meaning of data is very important. Data science will address those things to help AI,” he said.

But to be employable for these new jobs, people need to be retrained, Banatao stressed. “In most cases they will have to take at least the first two years of engineering that covers the plain and simple calculus and statistics and so on and go on to the more higher-level learning data science.”

New kinds of jobs

“What is important for us to remember is that yes there will be plenty of jobs that will disappear but then there will be new kind of jobs that will be created,” said AIM President and Dean Jikyeong Kang.

“What AIM is trying to do is just like 49 years ago when we were established as the pioneering management school in the region and produced the region’s top CEOs,” she said.

“We want to do the same kind of role and have the same kind of impact so we will not be looking at a time when the BPO industry is no longer viable in this country. We have already trained the right kind of people with the right kind of toolboxes and skillsets so they will be able to take that industry to the next level.”

We can beat them

Banatao said that as a way to shore up on capabilities, he hired 20 AI engineers in the Philippines. He said one of the AI companies he funded has the fastest engine in the world.

“It is competing against the biggest companies out there, the Googles and Amazons and so on. We can beat their engines. And we had started the process of bringing that here by training some of the scientists and engineers at DOST,” he added.

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Tech pioneer Dado Banatao, AIM launch startup incubator

Bringing together the expertise of successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and the management training capabilities of the Asian Institute of Management, an incubator program headlined by Filipino tech innovator Diosdado “Dado”…

Bringing together the expertise of successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and the management training capabilities of the Asian Institute of Management, an incubator program headlined by Filipino tech innovator Diosdado “Dado” Banatao seeks to develop early-stage local startups.

The AIM-Dado Banatao Incubator is located in the AIM campus in Makati City and has the physical capacity to host 11 startups of up to 6 people each, said AIM President and Dean Jikyeong Kang during a press conference at the facility last Thursday.

What differentiates their incubator?

“How do we differentiate our incubator? We have a rock star in Dado. Right there we think we make a huge distinction. He is not only an inventor, engineer but he is also an entrepreneur and that makes a huge difference,” Kang said.

Banatao built several companies in Silicon Valley, among them Chips & Technologies, S3 Graphics, SiRF, Marvell, and Inphi. “He is best known for pioneering two technologies that are widely regarded as the cornerstones of today’s PC: chipset and graphics acceleration architecture,” AIM said in a press statement.

Banatao is chairman of the Philippine Development (PhilDev) Foundation, an organization that seeks to boost economic growth in the country “through education, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

AIM-Dado Banatao

AIM-DADO BANATAO INCUBATOR. AIM President and Dean Jikyeong Kang with Diosdado “Dado” Banatao after a press conference to mark the inauguration of their incubator.

Foundation for success

“The combination of business knowledge and innovation is going to be the foundation for success of the incubator,” Banatao said during the event.

The incubator received a P14.8 million grant in initial funding under the Department of Science and Technology Incubator Creation Program.

The program will tap people with “experience in building technology-based, innovative, and very successful companies in Silicon Valley,” he said. But this will always be grounded on “local culture and practices.”

“When we say we’ll be bringing in Silicon Valley experience and expertise, we’re not talking superficial, somebody who was there for a few months or few years. We’re talking about people who are actually successful, who actually made it there and who knows how to make this kind of project work in a national arena,” said Kang.

As example of the type of expertise the facility will tap, Banatao cited how they brought in 6 Google engineers who then wrote software for the incubator to cover all aspects of mentoring.

Science, technology focus

Banatao said the early stages of forming a startup to work on an idea “is the toughest with the highest failure rate.”

“Unless there is help from investors or friendly mentors, founders of the company are either suicidal or “crazy”, putting at risk their life status, family, friends, and future,” he said.

The incubator is looking for startups with science and technology solutions in communications, agriculture, health, artificial intelligence, internet of things, and other deep technology.

AIM-Dado Banatao Incubator

INCUBATOR. Phildev executive director Chips Guevara gives journalists a tour of the AIM-Dado Banatao Incubator located inside the AIM campus in Makati City.

Strong commitment, passion

“They have to be 120 percent committed,” Kang said. “Dado likes to use the expression that they have to be suicidal. We don’t exactly want anybody committing suicide, it means they have to be really, really committed, passionate and have energy to take it all the way.”

Time isn’t a strict criterion for the program, Banatao said. “Along the way, the investors and the people involved will judge as to whether that company can get to the next step, whatever that step maybe. We don’t want to continue to lose money simply because of time.”

Startups can stay until the incubator deems them ready. “Sometimes we may just ask the startup to leave the incubator after just a few months because the idea may not be that good in the first place and we made a mistake in accepting them,” he said.

Mentoring by AIM network

Kang said the incubator “will also take advantage of the fact that this is housed at AIM. It’s a management school, it’s a business school. We will provide them with the mentoring that will come from not only our faculty and distinguished alumni but also businesses and the larger community. That amounts to a huge advantage.”

Phildev executive director Chips Guevara said the incubator will work on a “rolling application with no set deadline.” A startup can apply so long as there is a spot in the program. All applicants must fill out the form on the AIM website at https://aim.edu/dado-banatao-incubator.

In talking about the push for technology startups, Banatao said that “as we did our research, we found out that it’s only through innovation will a country develop its economy. Through economic development we will see significant positive effect on poverty.”

 


What Startups Get

  • World-class mentorship from serial entrepreneurs, top executives, industry experts, including individuals with a successful track record in Silicon Valley
  • Access to the global funding network of Dado Banatao, PhilDev, and AIM
  • Education and training calibrated to the needs of the startup’s founders
  • Resources from selected partners
  • Rent-free, dedicated office space with high-speed Internet connectivity inside the AIM Campus in the heart of the Makati CBD
  • Demo nights and exclusive networking events for business development and investments

 

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Accenture inaugurates 5th facility in Cebu, highlights new and emerging tech in providing solutions

Accenture inaugurated its 5th facility in Cebu on Wednesday with a hologram of one of its officials briefing the guests and handling the ceremonies in the Filinvest Cyberzone at the…

Accenture inaugurated its 5th facility in Cebu on Wednesday with a hologram of one of its officials briefing the guests and handling the ceremonies in the Filinvest Cyberzone at the IT Park in Lahug, Cebu City.

That part of the program was meant to highlight a key character of the facility: a center for agile development and design thinking to produce innovation using “new IT.”

“This floor is very much in ‘the new IT’,” said Accenture managing director Arvin Yason, who hosted the ceremony as a hologram. With a lot of open spaces and movable furniture to allow quick reconfigurations as well as huddle areas and design-thinking spots, “we instill nimbleness and agility in the way we work.”

Accenture in Cebu

HOLOGRAM. Accenture inaugurates its newest facility in Cebu with a hologram of managing director Arvin Yason leading the ceremonies (3rd from left). With Yason are (from left) managing director JP Palpallatoc, Jun Sa-a of CIB.O, and Accenture country managing director Lito Tayag.

Commitment to Cebu

The opening of the new facility is also “a manifestation of our commitment to Cebu,” said Accenture country managing director Lito Tayag. He also said the company is on track to meeting the 1,000 in additional workers it committed to employ at the start of the year to mark their 10th anniversary. He said they’ve already hired an additional 800 workers for Cebu, bringing its workforce here to 5,800.

“Cebu is an integral component, a strategic part of our practice here in the Philippines,” Tayag said. “More than the numbers – and we’re very happy with the numbers so far – it is really the value, the kind of innovative services that we deliver out of our Cebu operations.”

The new facility will showcase technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, augmented reality, and the internet of things.

Cebu talent

“We are very happy about the kind of talent that we have here but just as importantly, we would continue to develop these talents,” Tayag said in a press conference held after the inauguration and facility tour for journalists and members of the academe.

Tayag, Yason and JP Palpallatoc, managing director and Accenture digital lead in the Philippines, led the tour of the facility.

Among the highlights of the event was a demonstration of a parking system that allows people to know ahead, via a mobile app, available spaces in a business such as a mall. The system, built by a Cebu team as part of a company-wide innovation contest, also allows for people to reserve parking slots and even pay digitally.

Another product presented to guests was a crisis response and management system that allows Accenture to keep track of its employees and know whether they are safe or in need of assistance after an emergency like a natural disaster. Alerts can be sent out on various platforms like email, SMS and mobile notifications.

Accenture also showed guests how a redesign of the Qantas website resulted in higher sales. They also demonstrated an augmented reality app that makes print materials such as a map of an amusement park interactive and multi-media as well as overlay ads and information triggered by location data.

Accenture Cebu

PASSION PROJECTS, DESIGN THINKING. JP Palpallatoc, managing director and Accenture digital lead in the Philippines, introduces the team that built a system for parking that uses apps to inform drivers of available spaces and let them reserve locations and pay for it.

Redesign retail experience

More than digital, Accenture also highlighted how they were able to reinvent the physical retail experience for customers of Smart Communications using design thinking and various technologies. This resulted in a 249% increase in foot traffic, 80% reduction in waiting time and 169% increase in store sales in the redesigned stores.

During the tour, officials stressed the design thinking approach into providing solutions to their clients. “To deliver delight consistently at the speed that our clients desire for their customers, we need to start with design thinking and user-centricity,” Yason said.

The way the newly-inaugurated facility is configured also plays a key role in how Accenture is “upskilling, reskilling, cross-skilling and multi-skilling our talent,” he said. From being focused on “classrooms” in teaching workers new skills, Accenture has started to “enable nooks and areas where people, while on break, can start learning new IT in smaller bite-sized formats, whether via video or an app or game that we develop.”

Accenture Cebu

CRISIS COMMUNICATION. This system enables Accenture to keep track of its employees, notify them during emergencies, and get feedback on whether they are safe or not.

Empower workers

Other locations will be retrofitted based on the new facility’s design because workers gave positive feedback that the configuration “empowers them to work in the new IT – working agile, doing standup meetings, being able to collaborate,” said Yason.

The facility helps Accenture “future-proof our people,” Tayag said.

“We’ve grown tremendously in Cebu for the last 10 years. That growth is a reflection not just of Accenture’s capabilities but also the capabilities of the local market in terms of talent, the way the academe has been producing talent for us,” Yason said.

Accenture is among the top tech companies based in Cebu. It has been given that recognition by the Cebu IT-BPM Organization for several years. The company’s other locations in Cebu are in Pioneer House, Robinsons Cybergate Cebu, eBloc Tower 2 and eBloc Tower 3 at the IT Park.

Accenture in Cebu

TREMENDOUS GROWTH IN CEBU. Accenture managing director Arvin Yason (left) and country managing director Lito Tayag after holding a press conference with Cebu journalists shortly after a tour of their 5th facility in the province.

Position as innovation center

Yason said the company is looking for engineers with good grasp of AI, robotics, and analytics to staff their locations.

“Our clients sit on top a lot of data but a lot of that is what we call dark data – they don’t know what they have. We are partnering with them to leverage more and more of that dark data to create revenue where there was no opportunity in the past. (We do this) through the power of data visualization and analytics and eventually AI as well,” Yason said.

Tayag said that what the company wants to foster among its workers is a mindset for innovation as they move up in the “value chain of our services.”

“At the end of the day, we believe that we can position our services here in the Philippines from an innovation standpoint rather than purely from a delivery standpoint,” he added.

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GCash launches GoPay, Philippines’ 1st mobile money QR payment system

GCash has launched the nation’s first QR payments via smartphone, a move expected to change the landscape of how Filipinos pay for their purchases. Dubbed “GoPay”, it is the newest…

GCash has launched the nation’s first QR payments via smartphone, a move expected to change the landscape of how Filipinos pay for their purchases.

Dubbed “GoPay”, it is the newest feature within the GCash app, which allows customers to use their GCash account to pay for goods and services by simply scanning QR codes displayed by merchants and establishments.

For consumers, this eliminates the hassle of bringing money, waiting for change, or getting into misunderstandings over payments. Merchants, on the other hand, would no longer need expensive machines to process mobile money transactions but only QRs with a unique code that is linked to their GCash wallet.

Cashless society

By making QR codes available to anyone, even to ambulant vendors and sari-sari store owners, GCash will be paving the way for a cashless society which means faster, more convenient, and secure transactions for both merchants and consumers.

“Our goal has always been to make finance more inclusive by building a cashless ecosystem. GoPay QR payments solution will close the loop and drive merchants accepting GCash payments. We plan to extend this service from all types of retailers nationwide down to our favorite fishball vendor.” said John Rubio CEO and President of Mynt, a subsidiary of Globe Telecom dedicated to developing payments solutions using GCash.

Mobile money convenience

JM Aujero, Mynt Merchant Acquiring Head added, “With GoPay QR, consumers don’t even need to bring cash when they go shopping or when they eat out. It is the best option for people who do not want to use credit cards but are either wary of having cash with them due to safety reasons or just want the convenience that mobile money offers.”

To use GoPay, a customer with an iPhone or an Android smartphone just needs to download or update to the latest version of the GCash App, register for an account, and fund his GCash wallet at any of over 12,000 GCash Partner Outlets nationwide. Once done, he has to open the GCash App and swipe left on the page. The GCash App will bring up the phone’s camera, at which point he has to “scan” a partner store’s QR code and enter the amount to be paid.

GoPay will be rolled out within the next few weeks at select partner stores. Its introduction is in line with the thrust of Ant Financial, parent company of Alipay and strategic partner of Mynt, to accelerate financial inclusion and upgrade payment services in the Philippines. Alipay popularized QR code payments in China.

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Globe rolls out GoWiFi to boost Cebu connectivity for Ironman triathlon event

When triathletes swim, bike, and run in Cebu tomorrow, spectators will be able to share photos of them in action via fast and reliable internet connection by GoWiFi, the premium…

When triathletes swim, bike, and run in Cebu tomorrow, spectators will be able to share photos of them in action via fast and reliable internet connection by GoWiFi, the premium public WiFi service of Globe.

“Globe supports the triathlon and multisport community, and we want to create an immersive experience for spectators by providing the best Wi-Fi and LTE experience in the area,” said Albert de Larrazabal, Globe Chief Commercial Officer.

Globe will set up several cell sites on wheels, small cells, and Wi-Fi hotspots to augment the network quality at the race venue and allow supporters to share photos and updates about the race. They may also track their favorite athletes in real-time using Athlete Tracker, developed by mobile solutions company Xurpas. Supporters simply need to text TRI (space) to 2600, at PHP 1.00 per update. This service is available to all networks.

Premium WiFi service

GoWiFi is Globe Telecom’s premium WiFi service available in more than 1,000 locations and 10,000 access points around the country, all of which provide high-speed internet connectivity to users. They are available in major transportation hubs like Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) and select Light Rail Transit (LRT) stations, key airports around the country, and tourist spots. They are also available in hospitals, local government units, schools and universities, as well as malls, convenience stores, coffee shops, and restaurants.

The service is open to everyone regardless of network provider, and is compatible with any WiFi-enabled device. Users are given free minutes daily which they can use to browse social media, check emails, watch videos, and download files.

“Our goal for GoWiFi is to provide our customers fast and reliable internet access, especially in high-traffic locations. And since Ironman is one of biggest sporting events in the country, we want to give everyone, whether you’re a triathlete or a supporter, the chance to connect and share their epic Ironman experience” said de Larrazabal.

Yearly event

The Philippine leg of the world-renowned triathlon began in 2009 with a race in Camarines Sur. It is the local leg of an international triathlon, organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). The name 70.3 is used for the Half Ironman, and refers to the total distance covered in the race: a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bicycle ride, and a 13.1-mile run.

Each year, thousands of participants take part in the triathlon, including celebrities, politicians, and former champions. This year, more than 2,500 triathletes from 51 countries will join the upcoming race, which will start and end at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resorts and Spa. Last year’s champion, Australian Tim Reed, will be back to defend his title.

COBRA Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines will take triathletes through the beachfront of Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa, the Marcelo Fernan bridge, the Cebu International Convention Center, Plaza Independencia, the Cebu South Coastal Road Tunnel, Mactan Newtown, and Punta Engaño.

For more information on GoWiFi, visit the website at http://www.globe.com.ph/gowifi, or check out @GoWiFiPH on Facebook and Twitter.

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RDRRMC lauds Smart efforts during Cebu earthquake drill

The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of Central Visayas recently recognized Smart Communications (Smart) for its services and efforts instrumental to the successful conduct of the Nationwide Simultaneous…

The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of Central Visayas recently recognized Smart Communications (Smart) for its services and efforts instrumental to the successful conduct of the Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill in Cebu.

During the drill, Smart deployed its multi-equipment on wheels and free calls assistance via satellite phones; provided connectivity via LTE SIM cards to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office and Wi-Fi courtesy of PLDT to the Cebu Provincial Capitol; and disseminated preparedness and safety tips via LED ads within the city.

SMART earthquake drill

The photo shows Smart Public Affairs Visayas-Mindanao Head Atty. Maria Jane Paredes and Public Affairs Manager NN Navarro (second and third from left) receiving the plaque from Department of Science and Technology VII Regional Director Ed Paradela (left) and Office of Civil Defense-Central Visayas RD Connie Ornopia, during the National Disaster Resilience Month culmination and awarding rites held in Cebu City.

Through its #SafePH advocacy, Smart has been supporting various government initiatives aimed at cultivating a culture of preparedness among Filipinos.

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Sushisake at Radisson Blu Cebu pairs fine sushi, sashimi with premium sake

When Radisson Blu Cebu flew in Chef Jeff Yalung from the Middle East for a taste test, they asked him to create Japanese food that’s more than the usual fare….

When Radisson Blu Cebu flew in Chef Jeff Yalung from the Middle East for a taste test, they asked him to create Japanese food that’s more than the usual fare.

His creation is now the centerpiece as Radisson Blu Cebu merges traditional Japanese cuisine with modern flavors and came up with new dining concept Sushisake.

Located at the upper lobby of the hotel, the newly-launched restaurant is small and intimate and offers a fine selection of sushi and sashimi prepared in traditional Edomae style as well as an impressive collection of premium sakes.

Sushisake Radisson

DYNAMITE SUSHI. Chef Jeff’s specialty combines tuna, salmon, grouper, and a creamy crab as topping.

Sushisake features the traditional and specialty rolls of Chef Jeff, who has over 10 years culinary experience with international hotel brands in the Middle East, said Radisson Blu Cebu director for sales and marketing Ann Olalo.

Sushisake menu

The menu carries sushi servings that deviate from or improve upon traditional flavors and ingredients.

Sushisake Radisson Blu

TRADITIONAL AND SPECIALTY ROLLS. Sushisake features traditional and specialty rolls paired with a premium sake collection.

One example is Chef Jeff’s dynamite sushi, which combines tuna, salmon, grouper and has creamy crab as topping.

“When you take a bite, something explodes in your mouth. That’s why we call it dynamite,” Yalung said during the restaurant’s recent launch.

Chef Jeff Yalung Radisson Blu Cebu

CHEF JEFF YALUNG has over 10 years culinary experience with international hotel brands in the Middle East.

Chef Jeff also offers the special california, so called since it combines ingredients other than the usual crab sticks and cucumber plus a secret sauce.

A few other specialties include the surf and turf, spicy crab roll, and dragon roll.

Sushi specialties

Olalo said Chef Jeff can do over 50 sushi varieties infused with his own rich sauces and marinades and even welcomes the opportunity to create more. This is what makes Sushisake different from other Japanese restaurants in Cebu.

Sushisake Radisson Blu

INTIMATE VENUE. Located at the upper lobby of the hotel, the newly-launched Sushisake is small and intimate.

She added that they envision Sushisake as innovative and trendsetting, and took great pains with the restaurant layout and furnishings.

The restaurant lights were inspired by chopsticks and the menu incorporated certain design elements: waves of the sea, a fishnet, and rice grain.

Sushisake is open from 6:00-10:00 p.m.daily. Guests are encouraged to make dinner reservations by calling (63 32) 402 9900 or by sending an email to reservations.cebu@radisson.com.

More photos of Sushisake

Radisson Sushisake

SAKE. Sushisake features an impressive collection of premium sakes.

 

Radisson Blu Cebu Sushisake

KANI SALAD of crabstick, cucumber, white cabbage, and orange tobiko with Japanese mayo and ponzu dressing.

 

Radisson Blu Sushisake

Fresh fruits.

 

Radisson Blu Cebu Sushisake

Mochi ice cream.

 

Radisson Blu Cebu Sushisake

Yuzu tart with sake meringue and green tea ice cream.

 

Radisson Blu Cebu Sushisake

Sesame seed panna cotta and coconut ice cream.

 

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Asin is in: Colgate Introduces New Colgate Active Salt Toothpaste in Philippines

Colgate, the toothpaste brand most recommended by dentists, has introduced to the Philippine market the Colgate Active Salt Toothpaste, its first toothpaste that contains the natural goodness of salt. Colgate…

Colgate, the toothpaste brand most recommended by dentists, has introduced to the Philippine market the Colgate Active Salt Toothpaste, its first toothpaste that contains the natural goodness of salt.

Colgate Active Salt formula combines salt with calcium and minerals. With regular brushing, it helps fight germs to give people healthy gums and strong teeth.

Colgate Active Salt

Developed after extensive consumer research, Colgate Active Salt addresses most Filipinos’ pressing oral health concerns. Its refreshing minty taste infused with the natural ingredient of salt brings a unique brushing experience.

“Filipinos have a strong affinity with the traditional benefits of salt for oral care. Colgate Active Salt combines this natural ingredient with Colgate’s trusted formula. It is a unique and effective toothpaste perfect for the whole family to use for healthy gums and strong teeth, with regular brushing” said Mr. Danai Sirisuvun, Senior Product Manager at Colgate-Palmolive Philippines.

Colgate Active Salt is now available in leading supermarkets and sari-sari stores nationwide. It retails in three sizes that are priced at PHP105 for 180g, PHP85 for 132g, and PHP25 for 35g. (Press release)

Colgate Active Salt

COLGATE ACTIVE SALT. Mr. Danai Sirisuvun, Senior Product Manager at Colgate-Palmolive Philippines, with endorser Jodi Sta. Maria.

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Shell launches new V-Power line that “improves efficiency, cleanses engines”

Shell’s V-Power fuel line has been reformulated to increase fuel efficiency and engine cleaning capabilities, officials announced in an event in Cebu yesterday. “Part of our job is to really…

Shell’s V-Power fuel line has been reformulated to increase fuel efficiency and engine cleaning capabilities, officials announced in an event in Cebu yesterday.

“Part of our job is to really understand our consumers – who they are, what they really want. What we know is that they have evolving needs,” said Pilipinas Shell Fuels Brand Manager Maan Abas in a press conference in Cebu City yesterday.

Driving in the Philippines is a challenge because of the traffic, Abas said. To help deal with this, Shell’s new V-Power line contains fuels innovation that increases engine efficiency.

Shell Fuels Scientist Mae Ascan

IMPROVEMENTS. Shell Fuels Scientist Mae Ascan discusses the improvements offered by the new V-Power line of fuels in an event in Cebu City.

Extensive research, development

The new Shell V-Power line uses proprietary Dynaflex technology that took the company more than 5 years to develop, involving tests of over 250 cars and exceeding 3 million kilometers, said Shell Fuels Scientist Mae Ascan.

Shell has 170 fuels scientists in 5 fuels technology centers all over the world. Ascan is based in the center in Malaysia.

Ascan said Shell continually innovates on fuels because “engine technology is evolving and we want to make sure we are keeping pace.”

Shell V-Power Cebu

SHELL V-POWER exhibit in SM Seaside City.

Maximize energy from fuels

“Maximize the amount of energy that you can get from your fuel – this is what we are trying to tackle. Reduce the wastage of energy,” she said.

The new Shell V-Power, Ascan said, addresses 2 key issues that impact engine performance – build-up of deposits and friction.

Ascan said engines are getting smaller and yet more powerful. This trend provides a “harsher condition for your fuel.” Injecting fuel involves very high pressures through a microscopic hole. This, Ascan explained, makes formation of deposits on such parts as nozzle holes and inlet valves that will ultimately impact engine performance.

Shell V-Power Cebu launch

TEAM SHELL. Shell officials during the Cebu launch of the new V-Power led by Shell Fuels Scientist Mae Ascan (5th from left), Pilipinas Shell Fuels Brand Manager Maan Abas (6th from left), Brands and Communication Manager Raine Capadocia (4th from left) and Marketing Implementer Brandon Briones (7th from left).

Cleaning molecules

Ascan said Shell V-Power “contains cleaning molecules that help remove up to 80% of deposits that have already formed.” The active cleaning power has “the twin effect of improving system condition and restoring lost performance,” Shell said in a press statement.

The new V-Power fuels also contain friction-reducing molecules, “helping engine parts that are difficult for lubricating oils to reach, including the vital area in the engine between the piston ring and the cylinder wall,” the company said.

Shell V-Power Cebu

SHELL V-POWER brand activation at the SM Seaside City.

The new Shell V-Power Diesel, on the other hand, “is designed to help restore up to 100% of your engine’s performance by removing deposits from fuel injectors,” the company said.

The new fuels have been available throughout the country, including Cebu, since June 8, Abas said.

The pump prices of the new V-Power fuels are similar to the old line it is replacing. The “fuel got better at the same price,” Ascan said.

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Swiss goodness on the table in Cafe Marco in new culinary journey

Explore the rich culinary goodness of Switzerland in Café Marco from July 30 to August 04 as Marco Polo Plaza Cebu marks the 11th year of its Swiss culinary journey….

Explore the rich culinary goodness of Switzerland in Café Marco from July 30 to August 04 as Marco Polo Plaza Cebu marks the 11th year of its Swiss culinary journey. The hotel’s world-class chefs will recreate Swiss goodness from A to Z – from Alpine-dried beef to chocolates, cheese fondue, sausages and Zurich-style sliced meat. These will be served alongside Café Marco’s international buffet favorites.

The annual culinary event is held to mark Swiss National Day.

On Sunday, July 30, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu continues its merry tradition as Café Marco celebrates Swiss National Day over Sunday Brunch. From 11:30 am onwards, get ready to come together with a delightful company of international friends. The event will also be graced by the First Secretary and Consul of the Embassy of Switzerland to the Philippines, Mr. Gregor Fristche.

Swiss culinary journey

Celebrate with a fabulous Swiss buffet spread, great entertainment, and lots of fun and exciting raffle prizes. Sunday Swiss Brunch is priced at P1,450 net per person, inclusive of healthy coolers, or P1,800 net per person inclusive of unlimited sodas, chilled juices, local beer, and wines. Advanced reservation can be done through the Hospitality Desk or by emailing fb@marcopolocebu.com.

For inquiries and reservations, call 253-1111 or email mpplaza@marcopolohotels.com. You may also visit our local website at www.marcopoloplazacebu.com. For real time updates, like our Facebook page at facebook.com/marcopolocebu or follow us on Twitter at @5StarinCebu.

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Oakridge holds Fitstrip Bazaar to promote wellness lifestyle

Fitness and healthy living advice from experts and athletes and access to wellness products marked the first Oakridge FitStrip Bazaar held from July 22-23, 2017 at Oakridge Garden Plaza. The…

Fitness and healthy living advice from experts and athletes and access to wellness products marked the first Oakridge FitStrip Bazaar held from July 22-23, 2017 at Oakridge Garden Plaza.

The weekend activity was intended as a family event and to promote a wellness lifestyle, said Oakridge Realty and Development Corp. Director for Sales and Marketing Estee Marie Plunkett.

She added that they’re looking at holding it on a more regular basis.

Oakridge Fitstrip

Organic vegetables and fruits.

On the first day of the Oakridge Fitstrip Bazaar, Mary Deen of Love Yoga World shared her fitness journey in “Getting Everyone on the Mat.” She also led an hour of outdoor yoga for interested guests at the garden plaza.

After Deen, Pio Gerardo Solon of Epic Performance Fitness talked about getting physically and mentally fit for the Ironman triathlon event.

Oakridge Fitstrip Yoga

Mary Deen of Love Yoga World holds a yoga session.

Oakridge Fitstrip Bazaar exhibitors

Held in partnership with Rustan’s Supermarket Cebu, the event also served as an opportunity for small-scale wellness entrepreneurs to display their wares, added Plunkett.

Made available were beauty and wellness products by Human Nature, Mary Kay, and Gale’s Garden, which sold refreshing desk cacti and succulents.

Oakridge Fistrip

Fruit juices.

Macology 101, which made available its Salted Egg Potato Chips by Little Chef; Ultra Green Coffee Cebu, an organic product whose benefits include weight loss, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, and natural detoxification; Leylam Shawarma for shawarma overload; and Thirsty Juices and Shakes for refreshing fruit juices were among the food exhibitors.

A food preparation demo happened on the second day of the Fitstrip Bazaar. Chef Geoffrey Broutin of L’Artisan showed how to make “Quick Healthy Meals on the Go.”

Oakridge Fitstrip

Desk cacti and succulents.

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Healthcare gets boost from award-winning Smart innovation

A few years ago, workers at the Samboan rural health unit (RHU) in Cebu had to file and search for patient records manually. The practice was time-consuming, especially for patients…

A few years ago, workers at the Samboan rural health unit (RHU) in Cebu had to file and search for patient records manually. The practice was time-consuming, especially for patients who had to wait for their files to be retrieved before seeing a doctor. It also posed a risk of paper records being damaged during disasters, and of handwriting being misread.

Now, the Samboan RHU and selected public health facilities in Cebu, Iloilo, and Quezon City can retrieve files with a few clicks on a laptop, and can thus serve more patients. They can also refer patients to better-equipped health facilities electronically, and remind patients of appointments and medication via SMS. Furthermore, they can submit relevant patient information to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. for faster processing of claims and health statistics.

All this and more are made possible by SHINE OS+ (Secured Health Information Network and Exchange), an electronic medical record and referral system run by Smart Communications and the Ateneo Java Wireless Competency Center.

Launched in 2011, SHINE OS+ is now being used by a network of 86 RHUs, 44 private hospitals, and 32 public hospitals. It primarily targets RHUs, which use the system for free, as these are mostly situated hours away from tertiary hospitals, which have specialists and more advanced equipment. Paid plug-ins and extensions are also available to private clinics and hospitals.

Recognized here and abroad

SHINE OS+ has been recognized by three local and international awards programs this year alone. It won a Silver Anvil at the Anvil Awards, given by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines; and a Merit Award at the Philippine Quill Awards, organized by the International Association of Business Communicators-Philippines.

More recently, SHINE OS+ was announced as winner in the healthcare category of the Golden World Awards, organized by the International Public Relations Association.

“SHINE OS+ revolutionized how patient health information can be recorded, retrieved, reported to various health agencies, and used for e-referrals to higher health institutions. With just a click of a button, one can search which patients have particular conditions, or check disease burden. Samboan, a town about four hours away from Cebu City, can now send advanced notice to hospitals and other SHINE OS+ users that patients are coming their way,” said Dr. Ianne Jireh Cañizares of Samboan RHU.

Atty. Maria Jane Paredes, Smart public affairs center head, said the digitization of health records could also help policy makers develop more appropriate health programs.

“Because health information is more organized and can be accessed faster, authorities can identify the most common cases in a particular area and can craft health programs accordingly,” she said.

Continuous improvements

Being an open-source platform, SHINE OS+ allows developers from anywhere in the country and the world to create additional features that can fill more gaps in the health sector. It does this while keeping patient records private.

Among the relatively new features created are an electronic prescription module, a disease-tracking and monitoring plug-in, an offline version of the program for those with limited internet access, and Android and iOS+ apps for use of health workers on the field.

Health facilities interested in using SHINE OS+ may send an email to inquiry@shine.ph. (Press release)

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Cebu startup takes on Uber, Grab; signs up Manila taxi operators

Just as global ride-hailing apps Uber and Grab are facing government regulatory problems, a Cebu-based startup today announced an agreement with taxi operators in Manila to expand its service to…

Just as global ride-hailing apps Uber and Grab are facing government regulatory problems, a Cebu-based startup today announced an agreement with taxi operators in Manila to expand its service to more commuters nationwide.

MICAB, a startup that started in Cebu that is now also incorporated in Singapore, today announced an agreement with the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association (PNTOA) and Association of Taxi Operators in Metro Manila (ATOMM).

The agreement expands the service area of MICAB, which is currently operating in Cebu and Iloilo with a fleet of 800 taxi units, said MICAB CEO Eddie Ybañez.

MICAB monthly bookings

He said MICAB currently serves 20,000 passengers with combined monthly bookings of 200,000.

PNTOA and ATOMM, Ybañez said, have a combined network of 20,000 taxi units. He said they plan to launch in Manila with 3,000 taxi units and scale up to 7,000 units by yearend. The company is also planning to expand to Davao.

In terms of application capability, MICAB is similar to Uber and Grab, Ybañez said. They differ in the business model.

Unlike Uber and Grab, MICAB does not directly deal with drivers. It engages with “premium taxi companies” and provides them an app-based system to dispatch units. MICAB works with Ken Taxi in Cebu and Light of Glory in Iloilo.

MICAB Manila

MANILA EXPANSION. MICAB, a ride-hailing app that started in Cebu, has expanded in Manila and signed up operators at the capital. In photo after the signing of the agreement are (from left) Pablo Sarmiento (left) of the Association of Taxi Operators in Metro Manila, MICAB CEO Eddie Ybañez, Atty. Bong Suntay of the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association, and David Vacher of MICAB. (Contributed photo)

No regulatory issues

Because of that, Ybañez does not see any regulatory issues for MiCab .

“We are not really subject to LTFRB’s TVNS regulations as our business model is to partner with taxi companies only. All our taxi operator partners are 100% compliant with LTFRB’s franchising regulations,” he said in an interviews.

The MICAB app functions similarly with both Uber and Grab.

“Application wise it’s the same, we will be adding in more features that is not currently present with Grab and Uber,” Ybañez said.

MICAB, however, does not impose surge pricing and collects only a low booking fee, he said.

Revenue model

The startup does not take a cut from drivers’ revenues. Its business model, Ybañez said, is “targeted geolocation advertising.”

“Our focus for the coming months is to successfully launch MICAB here in Manila, develop customer base, increase brand awareness through excellent customer service and solidify the taxi partner network,” he said.

MICAB started out as among the startups funded in the 2013 batch of IdeaSpace Foundation, the incubator of the Manny V. Pangilinan group of companies.

The startup, however, is looking beyond ride hailing. It is scheduled to launch later this year its MIHEALTH app, in partnership with “one of the largest HMO in the Philippines.” It will also launch MICARGO, in partnership with Gothong Southern Shipping Lines, in August.

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Ding How: oldtime Cebu favorite Chinese restaurant reopens

The restaurant that introduced dim sum to Cebuanos in 1969 reopens at Robinsons Galleria Cebu and brings back the popular dishes from the old Ding How menu. “When we talk…

The restaurant that introduced dim sum to Cebuanos in 1969 reopens at Robinsons Galleria Cebu and brings back the popular dishes from the old Ding How menu.

“When we talk about our first experience with Chinese food, we think of steamed rice, siomai, and spring rolls. Cebuanos got to know dimsum through Ding How and it is an experience that is unique to Cebu,” said Steven Kokseng, marketing manager of Harbour City Dimsum House, Inc. The company owns and operates the Harbour City, Dimsum Break, Ding Qua Qua and Ding How brands.

Ding How reopens in Cebu

Steamed rice is a Cebuano favorite.

Ding How Dimsum House opened along Colon Street in 1969 but a shift in the Cebuano preference for fastfood in 2000 prompted the company to replace it with Dimsum Break.

Steven said they noticed over the past few years a growing sophistication among Cebuano diners characterized by an openness to try new things and feel this is the right time to bring back the Ding How brand.

Ding How reopens in Cebu

Egg tarts.

Ding How menu

Today’s Ding How is for customers who want to relish dim sum and eat at a more leisurely pace, according to business development manager Christopher Kokseng.

He said the company’s three other brands are more associated with quick dim sum fixes, adding that a good location was one of the things taken into consideration when they brought back their “grandfather brand.”

Ding How reopens in Cebu

Ding How spread.

The company also looked into the old recipe books and did research and development so it can serve Ding How’s “heritage” dishes with a modern spin.

Dim sum orders like the crystal scallop and kuchay dumplings, baked shaopao, pork trotter, custard with salted egg bun are revived from the old menu and exclusively offered at Ding How.

Although they looked at what people enjoyed before and made it available again, Christopher said they also continue to serve the current favorites throughout their restaurant brands.

More photos of Ding How reopening

Ding How reopens in Cebu

Cabbage pouch.

 

Ding How reopens in Cebu

HERITAGE DISHES. Ding How looked into the old recipe books and did research and development so it can serve “heritage” dishes with a modern spin.

 

Ding How reopens in Cebu

Custard with salted egg bun.

 

Ding How reopens in Cebu

Crystal scallop and kuchay dumplings.

 

Ding How reopens in Cebu

Baked shaopao.

 

Ding How Cebu

Pork trotter.

 

Ding How reopens in Cebu

 

Ding How Cebu

Harbour City Dimsum House, Inc. business development manager Christopher Kokseng and marketing manager Steven Kokseng answer questions in a press conference on the reopening of Ding How.

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Tutelage Learning Center brings progressive education to south Cebu

With its small class sizes, individualized program for regular and special education students, child-centered curriculum, Tutelage Learning Center is every parent’s dream school. What’s even better for preschool and elementary…

With its small class sizes, individualized program for regular and special education students, child-centered curriculum, Tutelage Learning Center is every parent’s dream school.

What’s even better for preschool and elementary kids, Tutelage Learning Center (TLC) will start classes on August 1, 2017 in a second and bigger branch in Pakigne, Minglanilla.

Ava Kristine Rosello, vice president for administration, said they offer all levels of instruction from playgroups to sixth grade as well as early interaction programs for children with special needs.

Tutelage Cebu started out in 2006 with tutorial programs to aid schoolchildren and added classes gradually until they were able to offer the complete primary education levels. Its first school is located on Edros Road, Cebu City.

Tutelage Learning Center

PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION. Officials of the Tutelage Learning Center talk about their school in a press conference. TLC will start classes on August 1, 2017 in a second and bigger branch in Pakigne, Minglanilla.

John Dewey philosophy

TLC espouses the John Dewey method of instruction, which follows the progressive rather than the traditional way of teaching, explained senior curriculum advisor Lanore V. Suico.

She added that aside from the fewer students in Tutelage classrooms, they are also active participants, problem solvers, and planners in classes.

“John Dewey believed that kids learn best if they are doing the activities firsthand. At Tutelage, children express their thoughts and ask questions,” Suico also said.

Curriculum adviser Yollymar Lemente said that aside from the learning they get from academic lessons, kids are also taught such competencies as finance and life skills.

Teacher-student ratio

Riza Sorbito, TLC director, said their ratio per teacher is six to eight kids for the playgroup and nursery levels and 12 for the graders.

She said Tutelage is K-12 ready and has accreditation from the Department of Education (DepEd).

The school, she assured, has zero tolerance for bullying but teachers promote positive discipline.

Tutelage Learning Center decided to open in Pakigne, Minglanilla to cater to residents of the town as well as those in Talisay and Naga.

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Philippine chocolate queen Raquel Choa shares life journey, passion

She didn’t know it then but Raquel Choa spent her childhood days in a place that shaped what she would become: Philippine chocolate queen and the amazing woman behind Ralfe…

She didn’t know it then but Raquel Choa spent her childhood days in a place that shaped what she would become: Philippine chocolate queen and the amazing woman behind Ralfe Gourmet, The Chocolate Chamber (TCC), and just recently, Batirol.

At a young age of seven, Choa went to live with her grandmas in a secluded mountain in Cebu when her parents separated.

It was in that remote community in Balamban in the early 1980s that she first encountered tablea, the bitter chocolate rounds that were popular with the villagers.

Chocolate Chamber Batirol Raquel Choa

BATIROL. The kiosk store concept is named after the wooden beater used to mix the tablea to make the sikwate. This is the latest project of Raquel Choa, who is dubbed the Philippine chocolate queen.

The Chocolate Chamber founder

Today, Choa is recognized for her work to elevate the quality of the products made from local cacao beans, starting with the chocolate buffets she organizes at her home in Cebu City and through her artisan chocolates and chocolate-flavored food and drinks that are available at The Chocolate Chamber restaurant.

The next step in her chocolate journey will be to make mainstream and add a new spin to tablea-based local delicacies such as “sikwate” and “champorado” through the Batirol.

Choa said the Batirol is a kiosk store concept created for franchising and it is a part of the business that her children will manage.

It is aptly named after the wooden beater used to mix the tablea to make the sikwate and was a fixture in households of old Cebu, said Choa’s right hand man Edu Patino.

Raquel Choa Batirol

PUTO-SIKWATE, CHAMPORADO. The puto sikwate and champorado used to be mainstays of the Cebuano dining table. Raquel Choa aims to make these mainstream again.

Food, drinks in Batirol menu

Batirol menu includes local favorites like sikwate, a drink made from tablea dissolved in water, and Chocondense, which is sikwate sweetened with condensed milk. Chocomallow is a chocolate drink topped with mallows.

This new twist to Ralfe Gourmet, Inc. intends to draw in the millennial crowd so drinks come hot or chilled. Since Batirol also seeks to reintroduce the wonders of tablea to young Filipinos, it makes available such delicacies as puto sikwate or sticky rice sprinkled with unpolished sugar and paired with sikwate and champorado or chocolate porridge.

Raquel Choa

Raquel Choa shares her life story.

The 41-year-old Choa also adds to the Batirol menu her soft rolls flavored with chocolate and baked with fillings like bacon and such Filipino favorites as longanisa and tocino.

In addition, she will also introduce one other use of a cacao-based product and that is using chocolate lava for painting, which will be one of the activities offered through Batirol.

Chocolate Chamber Batirol

SOFT ROLLS. Raquel Choa and her children with soft rolls flavored with chocolate and baked with fillings like bacon and such Filipino favorites as longanisa and tocino.

Maria Cacao tales

The journey from her early years to founder of Ralfe Gourmet, Inc. took a circuitous route but Choa said the bedtime stories of her grandma, Nanay Nila, sustained her all through those years of hardship.

“Oh, she was a great storyteller. I grew up with her bedtime stories. One in particular was about Maria Cacao. She was the queen of the cacao forest and she travels through the river to the open sea on a ship that turns to gold when she docks. That magical story of Maria Cacao warmed my heart and my love for the chocolate drink made with tablea, sikwate as we call it, remained even when my parents got back together and brought me back to the city after six years,” she said during a small gathering in May.

Chocolate Chamber Batirol

COSMETICS. Raquel Choa introduces her cosmetics line that include cacao butter for skin care.

During a trip she made to New York late in 2016, Choa said she met a lot of chocolate makers as well as boutique and shop owners.

“I realized that what makes us unique is we have a story to tell. Our chocolate has life, soul, and spirit and it comes from our ancestors,” she said.

Chocolate Chamber Batirol

SIKWATE. Just add hot water and these sticks turn into sikwate.

Casa de Cacao chocolate tours

Ralfe Gourmet holds chocolate appreciation tours at Casa de Cacao, which is also her residence in Casals Village in Mabolo, Cebu City.

Woven into these events is her chocolate story and the circumstances that led to her passion for creating products out of cacao. These are not limited to artisan chocolates or even chocolate-flavored food and drinks but include beauty products as well.

“The mountain where I came from, it was beautiful. The river was clear, it had a lot of rocks. I remember swimming there. In that mountain, there were a lot of treasures,” she added, recalling how they would collect banana leaves to sell for one peso a sack and coconut shells to turn into charcoal just to be able to buy kerosene for the house lamps.

Chocolate Chamber Batirol

RICE CRISPIES and peanuts make for a tasty chocolate snack.

Tablea beginnings

The mountain lass left Balamban but she would return decades later, grown up and married with eight children, to her grandma, Nanay Nila, and her other grandmothers, Nila’s sisters, to remember her childhood and learn more about the tablea that had featured prominently in her younger years.

“I got married when I was 16. I became a housewife. I stayed home and raised my children. I brought them to picnics in Ayala and I painted. I’m an artist by heart. I became an interior designer. Then our house in Cebu City was burned down in a fire. We had to stay in Lutopan for two years while we recovered. My kids had to transfer to La Salle,” she said.

It was there that she developed a friendship with the mother of her daughter’s classmate who was from Argentina.

Chocolate Chamber Batirol

CHOCOLATE PAINTING. Raquel Choa shows a painting done by a friend and using chocolate lava, one of her latest products.

Chocolate journey

Choa introduced the tablea to her Argentinian friend who had reservations about it at first because it looked dirty. She recalled how they decided to produce quality tablea and make a business of exporting it but it never took off because her friend had to return for good to Argentina.

“She left me with 300 kilos of tablea. I said to myself, ‘I’m a fighter’. I’ve been through so many challenges in my life. I can’t afford not to tell the whole world that we Filipinos know how to make chocolate in our own way,” she added.

She vowed that once her house in Cebu City was finished, she would focus on making chocolate as her artist’s canvas. About five years ago, she organized the first chocolate buffet at Casa de Cacao and that had been the beginning of her chocolate journey.

Chocolate Chamber Batirol

PAINTINGS. Raquel Choa and her kids with their paintings that use chocolate lava.

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Volunteers get boost from Smart-initiated Operation Smile app

Finding cleft patients has always been one of the biggest challenges for Operation Smile. Most of them are either located in impoverished, remote areas, or some of them are just…

Finding cleft patients has always been one of the biggest challenges for Operation Smile. Most of them are either located in impoverished, remote areas, or some of them are just not confident enough to seek treatment due to their physical appearance.

An initiative by PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, however, seeks to address this problem. The Operation Smile patient-mapping mobile application, which was conceptualized by Smart for Operation Smile Philippines (OSP), was deployed during a recent medical mission in Bacolod City.

“Most patients are in the provinces. The challenge is how to find them. Another challenge is that when you have a facial deformity, you don’t go out,” said Wiggy Fontanilla, OSP president. “This mapping and tracking system changes the whole endeavor by coming up with a heat map of patients.”

Better access, monitoring

At the Bacolod medical mission, volunteers have recorded cleft patients’ details using the app, as Operation Smile aims to store patient information on the Web for better access and monitoring.

Arleen Antolo, 24, a speech teacher at Hope Foundation and volunteer for Operation Smile, travels for at least two hours from Bacolod to far-flung rural health units and barangay health centers in Negros Occidental to meet with other volunteers and cleft patients for possible inclusion in succeeding medical missions.

Antolo, who has been a volunteer for three years now, said her love for teaching and for children were what drove her to help in Operation Smile. “It feels good to help cleft patients, and see them smile. Being treated will definitely help them have a better future,” she said.

Operation Smile app

Operation Smile volunteer Arleen Antolo (left) takes a photo of a 7-month-old cleft patient using the Operation Smile app in Barangay Bago, Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental.

Lessen paperwork

She expressed appreciation for the app, which she used to record patient details during the Bacolod mission. “This will help lessen paperwork—we won’t need to carry folders of patient records, which may get lost or even get wet when the rain comes,” Antolo said.

The Operation Smile app is available as a free download for iOS and Android devices. Anyone can download and use the app—just open an account and follow the instructions on uploading patient information.

Patient details gathered through the app will be uploaded to the central server of Operation Smile, which will use the information to monitor patients’ treatment and plan for the locations of succeeding medical missions.

Closer to communities

“In our efforts to use technology for good, we partner with institutions such as Operation Smile, which seeks to bring healthcare closer to communities. We support Operation Smile as it aims to eradicate the backlog of cleft conditions worldwide,” said Ramon R. Isberto, public affairs group head for PLDT and Smart.

For its part, Operation Smile has expressed its appreciation for Smart’s efforts. “We sincerely appreciate all that [Smart has] done to help us give people with cleft conditions new smiles,” the global Operation Smile unit said on its Twitter account. (Press release)

To support Operation Smile, Smart subscribers may also donate by texting SMILE (space) (amount) to 4483.

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