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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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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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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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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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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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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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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…

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 Philippines Football League.

Global Cebu remains at second place with 21 points, two off leaders Meralco Manila, which saw its unbeaten streak ending in embarrassing fashion with a 7-0 loss to the rampaging Ceres Negros.

A win would have put Global on top on goal difference over Meralco.

Global Cebu FC Davao Aguilas

Matt Hartmann splits the Davao defense. (Photo by Albert Flores)

“The players tried really hard but Davao was better organized on defense and they were able to adjust well,” said Global Cebu coach Marjo Allado.

Global Cebu controlled the pace of the match but couldn’t break through in the final third. Misagh Bahadoran, who had two against the Stallions, was ineffective up front, while Sekou Sylla, who came in the second half for Paolo Bugas, couldn’t get past Keeper Marko Trkulja.

Global Cebu Davao Aguilas

Davao Aguilas Jordan Jarvis receives his citation from the Sportswriters Association of Cebu or SAC for making the national u19 team. (Photo by Albert Flores)

The Davao custodian, who was named the Man of the Match, also collected a last-minute header off Sylla deep in injury time to preserve the draw.

“I’m very happy getting the Man of the match but it was the team that helped me make those saves,” said Trkulja.

Global Cebu FC Davao Aguilas

Shu Sasaki (25) tries to get past his defender. (Photo by Albert Flores)

Shu Sasaki, whose bicycle kick capped Global Cebu’s 3-0 win over the Stallions, also had a brilliant chance but his first touch off a lovely through ball from Paul Mulders was just too strong.

“Obviously very happy with the results today compared to the last time. They were very organized and Trkilja managed the back four very well,” said Davao coach Gary Philippis, whose team lost to Kaya FC, 5-1, at home in their last game.

More photos of the match by Albert Flores

Global Cebu FC Davao Aguilas

Global Cebu FC Davao Aguilas

Global Cebu FC Davao Aguilas

Global Cebu FC Davao Aguilas

Global Cebu FC Davao Aguilas

Global Cebu FC Davao Aguilas

Global Cebu FC Davao Aguilas

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Batibot now on App Store

Educational app develops essential thinking skills among children Parents using iOS-powered smartphones and tablets can now download for free the Batibot mobile application, an interactive version of the beloved TV…

Educational app develops essential thinking skills among children

Parents using iOS-powered smartphones and tablets can now download for free the Batibot mobile application, an interactive version of the beloved TV show that helps enhance learning among children.

Earlier launched on the Android platform, the app features fun games that teach kids basic learning concepts like matching, sorting, and grouping. The app also lets children practice tracing letters with the proper strokes, and helps them identify shapes, colors, numbers, and letter sounds.

The Batibot app is the first educational app in Filipino that is aligned with the kindergarten curriculum of the Department of Education.

Aligned with curriculum

The app’s “Awiting Batibot” feature enables kids to sing along to Batibot songs, while “Kuwentong Batibot” contains local stories that promote good values.

What makes the Batibot app stand out from other educational apps is that it is the only app in the Filipino language that is aligned with the kindergarten curriculum of the Department of Education.

The Batibot app is the product of a collaboration among Smart Communications, Community of Learners Foundation, and developer startup OrangeFix. The app jumpstarted Smart’s efforts to work with various communities and organizations to create literacy apps in local languages.

Batibot app

The app features local stories that promote Filipino values.

Filipino language, values

Smart public affairs head Mon Isberto said that since the Batibot app was launched on the Android platform, a lot of parents had inquired as to when it would be downloadable on iOS devices.

“Many parents based here and abroad said their kids had grown up speaking English, and that they wanted their children to be proficient in the Filipino language too. The Batibot app will certainly help them brush up on Filipino in a fun, interactive way,” he said.

“When you search for educational content online, you’ll find that most of them are in English. There is a need for digital learning content that promotes the Filipino language as well as Filipino values. The Batibot app addresses that need,” Isberto added.

Kids can now have the fun Batibot experience that their parents had, through the Batibot app.

Technocart, School-in-a-Bag

To bring the Batibot app to remote, underserved communities, Smart installs the app in the tablets it donates to public schools under the TechnoCart and School-in-a-Bag programs.

Smart TechnoCart, which is donated to public schools with electricity, is a 2×2 ft mobile laboratory containing 20 tablets for students, as well as a laptop, projector, and mobile Wi-Fi with starter load for the teacher. The School-in-a-Bag, which is meant for remote public schools without electricity, is a backpack containing a solar panel, a laptop, five tablets, a mobile phone, a pocket Wi-Fi with starter load, LED TV, and learning modules.

Smart as well as individual and corporate sponsors have so far donated TechnoCarts to 40 schools, and School-in-a-Bag units to 18 schools all over the Philippines.

Teachers of the recipient schools are given training on tablet basics and on child and curriculum development.

Powerful learning tools

“Combined with guidance from elders, mobile devices and the internet can be powerful tools in enhancing learning among children,” Isberto said.

“Batibot helped shape a generation of Filipinos, many of whom are now parents and teachers. They now have an opportunity to share the Batibot learning experience with their children and students through the Batibot app,” he added.

To know more about Smart’s initiatives to use technology for the development of different social sectors like education, please follow the Smart Communities page on Facebook. Those interested to sponsor Smart TechnoCarts or School-in-a-Bag units may send an email to TechnoCart@smart.com.ph for more information. (Press release)

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Among Cebu CEOs, technology solutions have yet to make an impact: survey

Despite innovations in the field of finance, e-commerce, consumer services, transport and logistics, only a third of Cebu entrepreneurs believe that technology should be a business priority. Results of the…

Despite innovations in the field of finance, e-commerce, consumer services, transport and logistics, only a third of Cebu entrepreneurs believe that technology should be a business priority.

Results of the PwC Cebu 2017 CEO Survey showed that only 35 percent of business leaders look at how technology can help in the company’s overall strategic plan.

Less than half or only 48 percent of the 108 Cebu CEOs surveyed by Isla Lipana & Co./PwC Philippines feel threatened by the speed of technological advancements.

PWC Cebu CEO survey

Factors for successful innovation

The sentiments of Cebu businessmen are in contrast to the 80 percent of 2015 Philippine CEO survey respondents who consider technology breakthroughs like robotics, automated supply chain, enterprise solutions, and digital platforms as crucial to business transformation.

A slightly higher number or 50 percent of Cebu CEOs, which PwC Philippines calls Cebu’s next generation business leaders, see the need to continuously innovate to stay relevant for the long term.

The CEOs cited strong visionary leadership, right culture, willingness to challenge norms and take risks, capacity for creativity, and close collaboration with customers as factors for a successful innovation.

PwC Cebu 2017 CEO Survey

CEO SURVEY FINDINGS. Aldie Garcia, PwC Philippines lead branch operations partner, presents findings of the PwC Cebu 2017 CEO Survey. On stage are Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Melanie Ng and PwC Philippines chairman and senior partner Atty. Alexander Cabrera.

Technology as threat, opportunity

Aldie Garcia, PwC Philippines lead branch operations partner, said that for these CEOs, technology is both a threat and an opportunity.

“Our next generation business leaders believe the first to adopt will be the first to succeed,” he added.

Atty. Alexander Cabrera, PwC Philippines chairman and senior partner, said during a forum to share survey findings that “building a lasting legacy for the organization and the people they serve while growing the business is fundamental to our CEOs’ success.”

Vision for Cebu

Sought for their thoughts on how they envision a new Cebu, CEOs said focus should be on stronger partnerships between government and the private sector (83 percent), better investment incentives (63 percent), and maintaining and growing the local Cebu brands (49 percent).

PwC also found out that close to half of business owners were not originally from Cebu but moved here because of trade and economic opportunities.

Many of them or 77 percent worked for top companies as junior executives (40 percent), management executives (32 percent) , and board executives (10 percent) before going into business for themselves.

Series of CEO surveys

The survey was conducted by PwC Philippines in partnership with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) and marked the first of a series to be done on Cebu business leaders.

Melanie Ng, CCCI president, said the undertaking is “envisioned to benchmark the changes in how our CEOs think and innovate.”

She added that the CEO Survey will provide a glimpse into the entrepreneurial journey of business owners that hopefully will inspire more entrepreneurs in the region. Respondents in the first CEO survey represent about 12 percent of CCCI members.

Other CEO Survey findings

Other survey findings showed that:

  • Majority of CEOs started their business in trading but have diversified to manufacturing, retail and wholesale distribution, and consumer and food beverage.
  • Over the next three years, business owners plan to enter the following industries: real estate and construction, tourism, food manufacturing, and consumer retail and technology.
  • Business leaders consider infrastructure, tourism, and technology as industries that need priority.

Survey presentation

PWC Cebu CEO survey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Asus ZenFone AR highlights augmented reality, virtual reality capabilities

From checking out how furniture looks in a room you’re decorating to seeing dinosaurs in the sala as you tell a story to your kids or even doing a virtual…

From checking out how furniture looks in a room you’re decorating to seeing dinosaurs in the sala as you tell a story to your kids or even doing a virtual and yet hyper-realistic tour of a car, augmented reality (AR) plays a central role in the Asus ZenFone AR.

The latest flagship device from Asus was highlighted during a gathering of developers in Mandaue City last Saturday.

Asus ZenFone AR

ASUS ZENFONE AR with VR headset and controller.

The ZenFone AR will be available starting July 17 but the company provided a preview during the Google I/O Extended Cebu 2017 last July 1. Mike Santos, of Asus product and brand marketing – smartphones, said they are working with developers to build AR applications for use on ZenFone AR.

Asus ZenFone AR specs

Santos did a demonstration for journalists and bloggers on the capabilities of the ZenFone AR. He said the phone supports both Google Tango and Daydream. Tango is an AR technology while Daydream offers immersive virtual reality or VR.

Santos said the phone is able to do this because of its top of the line specs: Snapdragon 821 optimized for Tango and up to 8GB of RAM. “That’s like your laptop,” Santos said.

Asus Zenfone AR Cebu

AR DEMO. Mike Santos of Asus product and brand marketing – smartphones demonstrates the augmented reality capability of the ZenFone AR with a virtual and yet realistic tour of a BMW unit.

The ZenFone AR has a TriCam system that lets the phone track your location as you move through space. It also has depth-sensing. This Santos demonstrated through an augmented reality tour of a BMW vehicle. Using the phone, Santos was able to show reporters and bloggers features of the car – from the engine to its interior – as if they were checking an actual vehicle.

Interior design, Harry Potter game

Santos also did a demonstration of how the phone can overlay furniture on a live camera view of a room: allowing a homeowner to preview design options. He also did a demonstration of how AR can be used for shopping of dresses via an augmented reality display of the items.

For its virtual reality capability, Santos did a demonstration through a Harry Potter game that transported the player to the popular book’s universe by donning the phone as a VR headset and using a controller to wield a virtual magic wand.

Asus ZenFone AR Cebu

VIRTUAL REALITY DEMO. Students check out the VR capability of the ZenFone AR with an immersive Harry Potter game.

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Celebrity chef Tristan Encarnacion talks burgers

An afternoon of burger-making with celebrity chef Tristan Encarnacion at Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino demonstrated three distinct ways to prepare this very American fare sans the beef patty….

An afternoon of burger-making with celebrity chef Tristan Encarnacion at Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino demonstrated three distinct ways to prepare this very American fare sans the beef patty.

Waterfront Cebu prepares a line-up of activities in its “4th of July” celebration of Filipino-American Friendship Day, from the American food buffet available at UNO up to July 4 and the exhibit of American retail brands to the make your own burger event with chef Tristan today, July 3.

Chef Tristan’s ultimate chicken burger featured chicken marinated in buttermilk. The pulled pork adobo with “mungga,” meanwhile, combined baby back ribs cooked adobo-style until tender flavored with mung beans gravy and topped with sweet mango.

BURGER FLAVORS. (From left) Cardava banana peels as patty, pulled pork adobo with monggo gravy and topped with diced mango, and ultimate chicken burger.

Taste of the burger patty

He told media and bloggers who attended the event that the trick to making burgers is to consider the amount of fat to lean meat in the patty.

“The taste of the patty depends on the doneness of the meat. Those who want rare to medium rare patties should ensure more lean meat in the mix,” he added.

A third burger had of all things banana peel as the main ingredient.

Chef Tristan Encarnacion

Chef Tristan Encarnacion demonstrates the making of burgers in an event for bloggers and journalists at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino.

Cardava banana

To make it, chef Tristan said he boiled the peels of the cardava banana for about an hour, removed and washed them, and simmered them again in boiling water until tender. The peels are minced with a knife before spices and seasoning as well as eggs and bread flour are added.

Once formed into patties, these can be stored in the freezer to cook later. To complement the banana peel as patty, he added tomato salsa as topping.

Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino

Pulled pork adobo burger with “mungga” combines baby back ribs cooked adobo-style until tender flavored with mung beans gravy and topped with sweet mango.

To give it the smoky taste of beef, one can choose to add a dash of steak sauce or mix meat with the banana peel to form the patty.

Waterfront Cebu is looking into making the burgers available in the menu.

chef Tristan Encarnacion

The ultimate chicken burger features chicken marinated in buttermilk .

 

chef Tristan Encarnacion

BANANA PEEL. This burger has a patty made of cardava banana peels boiled, minced, and cooked with spices.

 

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Cebu Landmasters CEO named Entrepreneur of the Year

Jose Soberano III, who steered his homegrown business Cebu Landmasters, Inc. to an initial public offering (IPO) earlier this year, was picked Entrepreneur of the Year during the 2017 Grand…

Jose Soberano III, who steered his homegrown business Cebu Landmasters, Inc. to an initial public offering (IPO) earlier this year, was picked Entrepreneur of the Year during the 2017 Grand Chamber Awards.

Soberano received the award from the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) during the Grand Chamber Awards and Fellowship Night last June 30 at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

The awards night capped the Cebu Business Month 2017 celebration.

Soberano, chairman and chief executive officer of Cebu Landmasters, Inc., left Ayala Land in 2000 to build what is now the top local housing developer in Metro Cebu.

Jose Soberano III

Jose Soberano III speaks during his awarding as the Entrepreneur of the Year during the 2017 Grand Chamber Awards.

Prestigious award

The Entrepreneur of the Year is the most prestigious among the five awards bestowed by the chamber. The other awards are Corporate Social Responsibility Institution, Small Business Entrepreneur, Countryside Entrepreneur, and Young Entrepreneur. The awardees are chosen by the CCCI board of trustees and past presidents.

CCCI President Melanie Ng said Soberano distinguished himself as the only Cebuano entrepreneur to bring his company public.

“Receiving this most prestigious award is thanks to my whole Cebu Landmasters team whom I consider family. They are the main reason why CLI is where it is today: number one in Cebu and soon to be number one in Visayas and Mindanao,” Soberano said in a speech during the awarding

P12 billion expansion

Soberano announced earlier this year a P12 billion expansion in the Visayas and Mindanao to address the need for housing, offices, and commercial spaces. CLI has simultaneous development projects in Cebu, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Cagayan de Oro, and Davao for 2017.

Saying he has confidence in the economic prospects of the Visayas and Mindanao, Soberano urged local entrepreneurs to become champions in their turf and, at the same time, leverage opportunities beyond Cebu and the region. (Press Release)

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ITF 2017: Travel deals to Philippine, international destinations up for grabs

A special section showcasing luxury resorts and a “super seat sale” by Cathay Pacific are just a few of the travel deals available in the upcoming International Travel Festival (ITF)…

A special section showcasing luxury resorts and a “super seat sale” by Cathay Pacific are just a few of the travel deals available in the upcoming International Travel Festival (ITF) 2017 from July 14-16 at Ayala Center Cebu.

Stephanie Villahermosa, ITF project director, said that over 80 exhibitors had already signed up for the travel event a day before its media launch last June 21.

They include hotels and resorts, tour and travel agencies, as well as local and international airline companies.

Seat sale

Cathay Pacific Cebu manager Catherine Sin said they will offer promo fares to destinations like Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand and super discounted rates to Southeast Asian countries, China, and Korea during ITF 2017.

International Travel Festival 2017

TRAVEL DEALS. A special section showcasing luxury resorts and a “super seat sale” by Cathay Pacific are just a few of the travel deals available in the upcoming International Travel Festival 2017 from July 14-16 at Ayala Center Cebu. Photo shows organizers, partners, and guests during the media launch.

During the travel event, national flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) will offer a seat sale to domestic and international destinations as well. The company already has an ongoing seat sale for its recently started Cebu-Tagbilaran route starting at base fare of only P500 up until October 2017.

SilkAir, regional wing of Singapore Airlines, will also join ITF 2017 and offer low fares to various destinations.

Luxury resorts

Now on its fourth year, the travel show organized by MyEventology grows even bigger and will now include a special section featuring several luxury resorts throughout the country.

According to Villahermosa, these include Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa, El Nido Resorts, Manila Hotel, and the Eskaya Beach Resort and Spa in Bohol.

She added that previous ITFs had enjoyed high foot traffic based on the official visitor count by Ayala Center Cebu to an average of 90,000 persons daily for the three-day event. Over a hundred exhibitors, including tourism offices of the different Philippine regions, signed up for ITF 2016.

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Marco Polo Plaza serves Thai food in latest culinary event

Pad thai, tom yum goong, pineapple fried rice, and other delectable dishes are highlighted in the Cafe Marco buffet as Marco Polo Plaza Cebu celebrates the vibrant flavors of Thailand…

Pad thai, tom yum goong, pineapple fried rice, and other delectable dishes are highlighted in the Cafe Marco buffet as Marco Polo Plaza Cebu celebrates the vibrant flavors of Thailand in Thai Sojourn.

Thai Chef Nontra-Udon Buapha came all the way to Cebu from the Marco Polo Prince Hotel in Hong Kong and is currently at the helm of Cafe Marco’s kitchens churning out top-notch Thai delicacies.

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Thai Sojourn

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Thai Sojourn. (Photo by Rafelle Allego)

Up until June 27, Cebuanos will get to enjoy the best of Thai cuisine on top of the regular buffet spread at Cafe Marco.

At the opening of Thai Sojourn last June 23, restaurant staff in delicate and colorful chut thai welcomed diners.

Marco Polo Thai Sojourn

Thai Chef Nontra-Udon Buapha of the Marco Polo Prince Hotel in Hong Kong. (Photo by Rafelle Allego)

Media guests invited to the opening were served Thai Chef Buapha’s selection, which highlighted stir fried squid, steamed fish, pad thai, chicken satay and pork, pineapple fried rice, and mango sticky rice.

Thai Chef Buapha, who has over 38 years of experience in the kitchen, was also present to explain the intricacies of Thai cuisine.

Pineapple salad.

Pineapple salad. (Photo by Rafelle Allego)

For drinks, Cafe Marco served a refreshing cold milk tea with a hint of ginger that perfectly complemented the spicy dishes and the delightfully sweet and fruity “Summer Forever.”

Thai Chef Buapha said Thai food is made of the freshest ingredients. In the same way, the Thai cuisine served at Cafe Marco made use of natural local produce.

Marco Polo Thai Sojourn

Chicken and mango salad. (Photo by Rafelle Allego)

Take advantage of Café Marco’s on-going special lunch buffet promo at Php 880 net from Monday to Friday until July 31, 2017.

For bookings and inquiries, please email fb@marcopolocebu.com or call Cebu: (63 32) 253 1111 or Manila at (63 2) 887 1263.

More photos

Marco Polo Plaza Thai Sojourn

Pomelo salad. (Photo by Rafelle Allego)

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Thai Sojourn

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Thai Sojourn is ongoing at Cafe Marco until June 27. (Photo by Rafelle Allego)

 

Marco Polo Plaza Thai Sojourn

Thai Chef Buapha said Thai food is made of the freshest ingredients. In the same way, the Thai cuisine served at Cafe Marco made use of natural local produce. (Photo by Rafelle Allego)

 

Marco Polo Plaza Thai Sojourn

Thai Chef Nontra-Udon Buapha with new Marco Polo Plaza Cebu general manager Brian Connelly. (Photo by Rafelle Allego)

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Accenture launches rapid innovation center in the Philippines

Systems that detect whether mining vehicles are overloaded or its drivers exhausted to an augmented reality platform to train people how to operate machinery or decorate a house were​ put…

Systems that detect whether mining vehicles are overloaded or its drivers exhausted to an augmented reality platform to train people how to operate machinery or decorate a house were​ put on display as Accenture launched today its rapid innovation center in the Philippines.

Liquid Studio is an “open center where clients co-innovate with Accenture engineers to turn concepts into applications and solutions with speed and agility,” the company said.

While it is a venue where Accenture clients can work on innovation to stay ahead in business, it is also a place where the company’s workers can be trained or work on the latest technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality, said Ambe Tierro, senior managing director and technology lead, Accenture in the Philippines.

Accenture Liquid Studio Philippines

ACCENTURE LIQUID STUDIO. Leading the launch of the Accenture Liquid Studio in the Philippines are (from left) Ambe Tierro, senior managing director and technology lead, Accenture in the Philippines; Accenture Technology Services group chief executive Bhaskar Ghosh; and JP Palpallatoc, managing director and Accenture digital lead in the Philippines.

Technology innovation hub

It will also serve as a hub in the technology ecosystem in the Philippines, she said.

JP Palpallatoc, managing director and Accenture digital lead in the Philippines, said the Liquid Studio would be a place where the company can co-innovate with universities and schools as well as startups.

The center will help answer the question “how do you use technology to create business value?” said Accenture Technology Services group chief executive Bhaskar Ghosh.

During Thursday’s launch at the facility, which occupies an entire floor with about 2,000 square meters in the Uptown Place 3 at the BGC in Taguig City, Accenture showcased technologies on the connected home, artificial intelligence, internet of things, drones, analytics, robotics, and augmented reality.

Speed up development

The rapid innovation approach with agile methodologies can hasten development time from months to a matter of days or weeks, Palpallatoc said.

Among those they put on demo for journalists who covered the launch was a system that is able to scan faces and identify the person, take note of personal characteristics, and determine the mood: whether he or she is happy. It can be deployed in advertising displays that can tailor the marketing material based on data captured by the system.

That system was built in a matter of days by an Accenture team member. Also built quickly and shown on demo was an internal chatbot platform on which the company can provision systems or work on technical tasks just by messaging.

Data analytics

The company also showcased a mini-racing track with toy cars that used the Oracle cloud to display a dashboard of data analytics gathered by the toy vehicles. It shows how using analytics can help managers determine such things as vehicle fuel efficiency. They also showed a model of a system that can monitor and manage mining vehicles. It can guard against overloading and offer data to increase operational efficiency. It can even determine whether the driver is already exhausted by, among other things, monitoring for micro-sleeps via a camera.

The company also showed a crop monitoring system that used sensors, drones and thermal cameras to monitor the health of plants.

In demonstrating the use of augmented reality, the company showed how using an app, people will be able to focus the camera on a car engine and know its parts and how to do such things as replace the battery. The information is overlaid on the actual display of the vehicle. They also demonstrated how using Microsoft’s Holo Lens, people can preview how furniture, carpets and other accessories will look in the actual room.

Palpallatoc said augmented reality is a great technology to tap in training workers. He said it can provide a safer and cheaper alternative to working on an actual equipment.

Social benefits of technology

The Liquid Studio is part of a network of facilities throughout the world. This makes sure innovation is available to clients in its various facilities globally, said Ghosh.

During the launch, Ghosh highlighted the social benefits of technology by showing how an employee in Manila with hearing and speech impairment was able to work with colleagues in India by tapping AI to facilitate video communication. This, Ghosh said, will enable more people to join the workforce. He said it will enable managers to have a more diverse employee pool, including those who previously would not have been able to work.

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Marco Polo Plaza Cebu marks Independencia with rich Luzon cuisine

The bagnet of Ilocos, sisig of Pampanga, bulalo of Batangas, and many more Luzon dishes will serve as the highlight of the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu culinary festival Independencia from…

The bagnet of Ilocos, sisig of Pampanga, bulalo of Batangas, and many more Luzon dishes will serve as the highlight of the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu culinary festival Independencia from June 8-15 at Cafe Marco.

For the whole duration of Independencia: Flavors of Northern Philippines, diners will get to experience the rich and vibrant cuisine up north.

Jessica Avila, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s culinary consultant for Independencia, said they decided to focus on the rich flavors of Luzon for this year’s Philippine food festival.

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Tawilis salad.

Best dishes

“Some of the best dishes in Philippines are from the north, such as Pampanga and Bulacan. We also included food from such places as Ilocos and Baguio,” she added.

Brian Connelly, new Marco Polo Plaza Cebu general manager, said the Philippines gained independence from Spain 119 years ago and the hotel has honored this national celebration with a food festival for the past five years.

The culinary journey Independencia has featured food from across the country and this year it puts focus on the rich cuisine of Luzon, he added.

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Bulalo

Buffet rates

Diners can expect such signature Luzon dishes as pochero, bringhe, Bicol express, tapang Taal, ukoy, bistek Tagalog, and kare-kareng dagat, sisig santol, and tawilis salad to be served during lunch and dinner at Cafe Marco on top of the international spread all throughout Independencia.

Regular buffet rates apply even during Independencia but Cafe Marco currently has a special promo for weekday lunch at P880 net per person.

For more info on the culinary festival, call 253-1111 local 8429 or email mpplaza@marcopolohotels.com.

More Independencia photos

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Jessica Avila, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s culinary consultant for Independencia, with the hotel’s chefs.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Bagnet

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Buko salad and leche flan.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Dinakdakan

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Kare-kareng dagat.

 

Marco Polo Independencia

Adobong manok sa buho.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Ukoy.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Tapang Taal.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Bicol Express

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Bistek Tagalog

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Santol sisig.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Ginataang bilo-bilo.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia.

Various kakanin.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Burong Mangga.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Tokwa’t Baboy.

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Skywaterpark Cebu highlights Philippine culture in Pasundayag night

Traditional Philippine dances like the tinikling, pandanggo sa ilaw, palayok, Polynesian-inspired performances, and an impressive fire show marked the debut of the Pasundayag cultural night at Skywaterpark Cebu on June…

Traditional Philippine dances like the tinikling, pandanggo sa ilaw, palayok, Polynesian-inspired performances, and an impressive fire show marked the debut of the Pasundayag cultural night at Skywaterpark Cebu on June 2, 2017.

Simon Yang, Skywaterpark vice president, said the cultural show will now be a weekly event, held every Friday night, and include a scrumptious dinner buffet with steak, lechon, and a salad station.

Skywaterpark Pasundayag

EVERY FRIDAY, traditional Philippine dances will be performed at the Skywaterpark.

Traditional songs, dances

Yang said that when he came to Cebu for the first time, he wanted to experience the local culture. Skywaterpark came up with the event to provide a venue where foreign visitors can see and appreciate traditional songs and dances.

He added that they’ve come to realize that local guests also love watching ethnic performances because these bring back memories of schooldays when they knew the dances by heart.

A very important feature in the show, according to Yang, is letting guests participate by teaching them the tinikling or the pandanggo.

Skywaterpark Pasundayag

FIERY FINALE. An exciting fire show ends the the wonderful performance.

Cultural show, dinner buffet

He said part of the plan is to eventually hold the cultural show thrice weekly. Skywaterpark, located at the sixth floor of JCentre Mall, can accommodate 250 to 300 guests for the cultural night.

The cultural show with dinner buffet has regular rate of P3,000 but Skywaterpark currently has a special promo for locals at only P1,500. It does not include the use of the waterpark.

Skywaterpark Cebu currently holds a pool party every Saturday night and Sunday brunch for families with a host of activities for kids. Yang said they’re thinking of themes for the other days as well.

Skywaterpark Cebu day use rate is P1,000 net for adults and P900 net for kids 12 years old and below. Use of the waterpark facilities is from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Facebook Live of show

More photos

 

Skywaterpark Simon Yang

Simon Yang, Skywaterpark vice president, answers questions of reporters during the launch.

Skywaterpark Pasundayag

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