Feature News Travel

MCIA to build Airport Village ‘to improve travel experience’

It takes a village to welcome home or send off a Filipino traveler and authorities at the Mactan Cebu International Airport want to create the space and ambience for that by building an Airport Village.

“We all know in the Philippines one person arrives, half the barangay comes to meet them. So we are creating the space that will allow all of these people to be there, to meet them and welcome them home,” said GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation Chief Executive Advisor Andrew Harrison.

“Our culture has always been for people to meet and greet our visitors as many of us as possible. No airport has that kind of facility – this is the first airport that will allow that,” said Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority General Manager Steve Dicdican.

Mactan Cebu Airport Village
PEDESTRIAN ZONE. The old MCIA arrivals road will be permanently closed and designated a pedestrian zone as part of the Airport Village.


Better experience

Harrison said, “the Airport Village is designed to provide a much better arrival experience for passengers and significantly expanded waiting areas for meeters and greeters.”

The Airport Village is scheduled to be completed by September 2019.

Escalators and high-capacity elevators will link arrivals and departures in the Airport Village.

The Airport Village is part of the renovation of MCIA Terminal 1 based on designs by Architects Budji + Royal Design. The terminal “will have its own unique identity further building on resort-airport themed concept seen with the newly-opened Terminal 2,” GMR Megawide said in a press statement.

Harrison said the Airport Village will have a range of services, tourist counters, transport counters, and various concessionaires.

Mactan Cebu International Airport arrivals pick-up zone
PWD-FRIENDLY. GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation Chief Executive Advisor Andrew Harrison demonstrates the ramp that people on wheelchairs can use to get on the bus that takes people from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 with stops on the car park. With Harrison is Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority General Manager Steve Dicdican.


Pedestrian zone

Dicdican said the increased space will allow the airport to have more local stores and products. He said it “is important for this resort-themed terminal to feature local products.”

Harrison said the Airport Village will be located at the arrivals area. The whole arrivals road will be closed to vehicles and “become a pedestrian zone.”

The increased space will also allow the airport to double the capacity for reclaim bags. Previously, 3 belts were set aside for domestic baggage and 3 for international. After the renovation, all 6 will be for domestic baggage.

Harrison said passengers might encounter “minor inconveniences” with work on the terminal and asked them to be understanding. He said the challenge with the project is that they are working with a “live terminal.”

MCIA Pick-Up Zone
NEW PICK-UP ZONE. Airport authorities recently opened this new Pick-Up Zone for passengers at Terminal 1.


New arrivals pick-up zone

Harrison and Dicdican led the inauguration on March 14 of the new Arrivals Pick-Up Zone in Terminal 1. The zone has several bays where passengers can be fetched by private vehicles. Waiting time in the bays is limited to 2 minutes.

With the opening of the new Pick-Up Zone, the old Arrivals Pick-Up Road in Terminal 1 will be permanently closed. Vehicles fetching passengers have the option of using the main car park between Terminals 1 and 2 or the new Pick-Up Zone.


Business Feature Tech

POSIBLE brings digital payments, financial tech to neighborhoods

Rather than drive to a mall and get stuck in traffic to pay your VECO dues, you can soon just go to your nearest sari-sari store that has a POSIBLE system in place and settle your electricity bill there.

POSIBLE is a Filipino financial technology company that seeks to drive financial inclusion by bringing these services to communities by working with micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

“We are talking micro – sari-sari stores, your neighborhood bakeries, auto shops. We are community-based as opposed to those that you can see in the mall. Our thrust is inside the community, your neighbor,” said POSIBLE CEO JG Puzon.

DIGITAL PAYMENTS. POSIBLE CEO JG Puzon demonstrates the use of their digital payments device in an interview with Cebu journalists.


Digital payments centers

Puzon was in Cebu last February 19 to formally launch the system here.

POSIBLE is a system that allows small neighborhood businesses to become digital payments centers.

Those interested to become agents can sign up by paying P45,000 for the package, which comes with the device and marketing materials. After that, they will need to pay P150 as monthly fee.

The device is “Filipino-developed and very localized. It was designed to work with how small Filipino entrepreneurs do business,” Puzon said.

The device offers more than 300 services from bills payment, remittances, prepaid loading, bus ticketing, bank deposits and even government transactions for NBI clearances, SSS, birth certificate and passport payments.

PAY VECO. Among the utilities you could pay using the POSIBLE device is VECO, the power company servicing Metro Cebu.


Bridging the gap

“We want to make the digital world accessible to people who do not necessarily have access to digital. A lot of people have smartphones but they don’t have bank accounts. This bridges that gap,” Puzon said.

He said the system allows stores to become online shops because they are able to sell via a catalogue and purchases are then delivered to their location.

Puzon said there are 3,200 POSIBLE agents nationwide, mostly concentrated in the General Metro Manila area, where they started in 2016. There are 50 agents in Cebu and, after last week’s formal launch, they are targeting 100 in the next 3 months. They are then planning to get 30 to 40 new agents per month as well as expand to nearby areas like Bohol and Dumaguete.

Puzon said they are confident with the prospect of the system in Cebu, which shares a lot of problems with Manila, especially on traffic. He said the ability to pay and transact in your neighborhood will be a big help to consumers.

Like any business, Puzon said potential earnings depend on things such as location and efforts put in by the business owner. The average earnings of their agents run to P4,000 to P5,000 a month. Some, however, earn as high as P30,000, he said.

CEBU LAUNCH. POSIBLE CEO JG Puzon during the launch of their financial technology platform in Cebu City.


Expand quickly

POSIBLE has now processed more than P5 billion worth of transactions, the company said in a statement.

Partnering with POSIBLE will help companies expand quickly throughout the country, Puzon said.

“It’s like having 3,200 branches right away. You can imagine how much it costs them to put up a branch – you rent a place, put a security guard, pay workers, put up aircon, etc. If they go on board with us, they are immediately nationwide,” Puzon said.

“It works both ways, it helps the small entrepreneurs, it also helps the big service providers,” he added.

Business Feature Tech

If everyone has gone digital, how do you stand out? Accenture report points way

Digital is no longer a differentiator for enterprises but “the price of admission to do business,” a top official of a global technology company said in a briefing on Tuesday.

Digital technologies are already an expectation and no longer a differentiator, said JP Palpallatoc, Managing Director and Accenture Digital Lead in the Philippines in a briefing for media.

“Now that everybody is doing digital, what will differentiate you?” Palpallatoc said in a briefing in Manila and connected via video conferencing with one of their offices in Cebu City.

Palpallatoc gave an overview on key technology trends in the next few years as identified by the Accenture Technology Vision 2019 report. He said the time we are in is “post-digital,” because using technologies is already a given in the enterprise.

“Just as people no longer say they live in the “age of electricity,” the days of calling something digital to insinuate that it is new and innovative are numbered,” Accenture said in its report.

The company said the “post-digital” era means companies need to “double down on completing their digital transformations to get the most value from those investments—and at the same time, turn a strategic eye toward what’s next.”

What’s next, Palpallatoc said, are a new set of technologies that will make a major impact in the next 3 years.

Accenture Tech Vision 2019


1) New technologies

Accenture lists these technologies as DARQ for Distributed ledger or blockchain, Artificial intelligence, extended Reality, and Quantum computing.

“Future-minded leaders know that mastering the next set of technologies will give them every advantage,” the company said in a video clip explaining DARQ.

Palpallatoc cited as example Volkswagen, which “uses quantum computing to study traffic flow optimization analysis and looking into the chemical structure of batteries to find out how to make better ones.” He said they are also using AI for its vehicles and extended reality through googles that guide its workers in repairing units.

Volkswagen also extensively uses the blockchain to increase the security of its system as well as for payments. Palpallatoc cited UnionBank of the Philippines as a local company “deep into the blockchain,” using it to connect rural banks and for internal processes.

2) Technology identity, individualized experiences

People’s use of technology creates an identity that enriches their demographic, which can then be tapped to created individualized experiences, Palpallatoc said.

“In the past, what we talked about in getting to know your consumer was called personalization. We used traditional demographics – are you female are you male do you live here, etc? ” he said.

“What we’re seeing from a post-digital area is going beyond personalization to individualized experiences and leveraging technology identity. These are the technology choices that individuals make as well as how they are using those technologies. That information is being used to enrich the demographics,” he said.

The Accenture report said 83% of respondents found that digital demographics allow them to identify unmet needs of customers.

Palpallatoc cited as example the SlicePay lending platform in India that targets unbanked students. By going over their social media for information on the vacations that they take or the restaurants they visit, they are able to identify to whom they lend money.

Another use case is the John Hancock Vitality Program, an insurance package that uses wearables like smartwatches to offer consumers discounts on their premiums if they meet fitness goals.

3) Empowered human workers

Empowered by technology and with improved skills and expertise, workers are becoming “human+,” said Palpallatoc.

“In a post-digital era, people are still central to the innovation agenda. We need to keep people front and center,” he said.

He said technologies like AI, analytics, extended reality are extending the capabilities of employees. Companies, however, “still recruit, hire and manage for the workforce of years past,” according to the Accenture study.

Palpallatoc said, “71% of respondents said digital workers are more mature now compared to their organizations. Workers are waiting for the company to catch up. There is a need for company to change the way they organize their work to be able support the human+ workers and enable them.”

He cited as example the use by Unilever of technology and AI for interviews and assessment of entry-level hires. This resulted in a 90% increase in job applications and the shortening of time it took to fill the job from 4 months to a few days, he said.

Accenture Technology Vision 2019
TECH VISION BRIEFING. Reporters in Cebu join via video-conference a briefing on the Accenture Technology Vision 2019 by Managing Director and Digital Lead in the Philippines JP Palpallatoc.


4) Ecosystem security

Enterprises have found that security today requires that they also keep an eye out beyond their premises.

“In the past, their approach to security was my company first, secure your walled garden, make sure nobody gets in,” Palpallatoc said. “What we’ve seen with the advent of ecosystems is that you cannot just protect yourself, you need to protect each one of your ecosystem as well.”

Security is a team sport and enterprises have to protect each other, he said.

He cited as example the decision by Netflix to open source its security tools.

5) My Markets

Technology and data now allow companies to customize products and services and deliver them fast and on demand, Palpallatoc said.

This trend is “about using technologies like IOT (internet of things) on being able to capture the reality at that point in time and being able to respond,” he said.

“Technology is creating a world of intensely customized and on-demand experiences, and companies must reinvent their organizations to find and capture those opportunities,” Accenture said in its report.

The company reported that 85% of executives they surveyed said “that the integration of customization and real-time delivery is the next big wave of competitive advantage.”

Palpallatoc cited as example of hyper-customization a beverage company in India that offers different flavors depending on where these are sold. He said the company even has a custom flavor sold only for a few days a year – during a festival.

Community Feature

Columbia, Primer Group of Companies bring potable water to Sibugay school

Each day at school, Sibugay Integrated School Grade 6 student Riza Mae Ardiente spends P2 of her P20 allowance to buy water from a decrepit dispenser near the faculty office.

For P1, she gets about a glass of water in a plastic bag that she twirls on top to seal and then bites off on one side to suck in the liquid. She gets one in the morning and another after lunch. She counts herself lucky. Others in school only have P5 as allowance and those who do not have money often ask teachers like Ryan Steve Panerio, “sir, naa kay piso? (do you have a peso?)”

Starting this school week, Ardiente can save the P2. Her school now has potable water, filtered to World Health Organization standards by an Aqua Tower put up on Valentine’s Day by volunteers from Columbia Sportswear Company and Primer Group of Companies working with the Planet Water Foundation.

Columbia, The Primer Group Aqua Tower in Sibugay
WATER DISPENSER. Grade 6 student Riza Mae Ardiente gets P1 worth of water from this machine near the faculty office of Sibugay Integrated School.


Water supply not safe

The Aqua Tower can serve 1,000 people daily, more than enough for the school’s 765 students from Kindergarten to Senior High School and 25 teachers and administration employees, said Jinn Brunk, Columbia Sportswear Community Program Manager.

Brunk, who is based in the company’s headquarters in Portland, Oregon, was in Cebu to help the group put up the water tower and turn it over to the school community.

Before the tower was put up, the school only had spring water and deep well supply that were found not safe for drinking by a team from the Cebu City Health Department, said school principal Madeline Tinapay. There were cases of people getting sick because of the water, she said.

Tinapay said her school is “very lucky and thankful” to receive the donation.

The Primer Group, Columbia Aqua Tower
AQUA TOWER. Volunteers from Columbia Sportswear and The Primer Group prepare to erect the Aqua Tower that will provide potable water to students and faculty of the Sibugay Integrated School in a mountain barangay in Cebu City.


Aqua Tower filtration system

The Aqua Tower stores water and then makes it potable through a two-stage filtration process that uses ultrafiltration technology. The system uses activated carbon to enhance drinking water quality, according to the Planet Water Foundation.

Last Thursday, February 14, the team from Columbia Sportswear and The Primer Group of Companies went to Sibugay to assemble the tower, hold lectures on hygiene for students, and turn over the system to the school.

The group arrived mid-morning and then put together the different parts of the water tower. By lunch, it was up and ready for commissioning.

The community served a sumptuous traditional celebratory feast of lechon or roast pig, pansit, and native chicken soup. Tinapay explained It was a contribution of the parents, many of whom were unable to attend the momentous event for the community. Most families in the area grow and sell flowers and Valentine’s Day was one of their biggest business days.

Columbia Sportswear, The Primer Group Aqua Tower
VALENTINE CARD. Students gave a Valentine’s Day card to express their gratitude to Jinn Brunk, Columbia Sportswear Community Program Manager. Brunk was with the team that built the tower and turned it over to the Sibugay Integrated School last Valentine’s Day.


Environmental conservation

The tower is the 9th installation by Columbia. The company started the project in 2016 and has worked with their factories to build 7 in Vietnam and 1 in India. This is the first time they worked with a distributor, Brunk said.

“Columbia is very committed with environmental conservation. We are an outdoor apparel company. We make products for going outside and if the environment is not clean, is not preserved, people don’t want to go out. It’s that easy, ” Brunk told in an interview.

She said the company has been “actively working with NGOs in protecting the environment and we’ve noticed that water is such an important issue, especially in emerging markets.”

Brunk said this is the first time they are working with a distributor. She said they always work with local partners because “they know which communities need clean drinking water.”

Columbia The Primer Group Aqua Tower
FILTRATION SYSTEM. The heart of the Aqua Tower is this filtration system that purifies water to World Health Organization standards. Working on the system are The Primer Group Director Johnny Thai and wife Evelyn (standing left and center) and Regional Manager Dino de Leon (seated).


The Primer Group CSR programs

Primer Group Corporate Social Responsibility Program Manager Kristine Villaflor said they worked with the Department of Education (DepEd) Cebu City to identify the beneficiary of the project. DepEd shortlisted 5 schools that the Primer Group visited to evaluate in October. They eventually chose Sibugay based on their criteria.

Villaflor said The Primer Group has different CSR programs on such areas as eco-tourism, environment, institutional partnerships, and donations.

Brunk said that to make sure the program is sustainable, Planet Water will send someone to regularly inspect the Aqua Tower and check its water quality.

Columba Sports Wear, The Primer Group Aqua Tower
FIRST GLASSES. Students drink their first glasses of the water made potable by the Aqua Tower put up by Columbia Sportswear and The Primer Group.


Planet Water Foundation Program Manager Dario Operario said the filtration system will last 5 to 7 years before needing replacement.

Teachers and students thanked Columbia, The Primer Group, Planet Water, and the volunteers during the turnover in the afternoon. The commissioning ended with students playfully trying out the water tower in the rain that had been pouring since early morning. The students were washing their hands with soap according to the training they had earlier that day and drinking their first glasses of water filtered by the Aqua Tower.



More photos of the building of the Aqua Tower and its turnover to Sibugay Integrated School


Columbia The Primer Group Aqua Tower
BRIEFING. Planet Water Foundation Program Manager Dario Operario briefs volunteers from Columbia Sportswear and The Primer Group before the assembling of the Aqua Tower.


Columbia The Primer Group Aqua Tower
WATER FILTER. Jinn Brunk, Columbia Sportswear Community Program Manager, talks about the filtration system at the heart of the Aqua Tower.


Columbia, The Primer Group Aqua Tower
TURNOVER. Jinn Brunk, Columbia Sportswear Community Program Manager, Sibugay Integrated School Principal Madeline Tinapay and DepEd Cebu City Division Superintendent Dr. Bianito Dagatan lead the ribbon cutting ceremony that marked the turnover of the water facility.


Columbia Sportswear Primer Group of Companies
VOLUNTEERS from Columbia Sportswear Company and Primer Group of Companies with School Principal Madeline Tinapay after the turnover of the project.


Columbia Sportswear, Primer Group of Companies
Volunteers get ready to put up the water tower.


Columbia Sportswear Primer Group of Companies Aqua Tower
VOLUNTEERS put up the water tower.


Columbia Sportswear Primer Group of Companies
HYGIENE LESSONS. Evelyn Thai discusses tips on hygiene and sanitation and how students should make sure their water containers are clean.


Columbia Sportswear Primer Group of Companies Aqua Tower turnover
MEMBERS of the school’s drum and bugle corps perform during the turnover ceremonies.


Columbia Sportswear Primer Group of Companies Aqua Tower
COMMUNITY DANCE. The highlight of the event was when students led volunteers, teachers, parents, and fellow students dance “I Love Cebu.”


Columbia Sportswear Primer Group of Companies
CLEAN, SAFE DRINKING WATER. The Aqua Tower put up by Columbia Sportswear Company and the Primer Group of Companies will serve clean and potable water to up to 1,000 people daily.
Business Feature News

Cebu-Cordova bridge done by 2021; CCLEC signs P19B loan agreement

The Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) is on track to be finished by mid-2021 and will transform the economy and social landscape of Cebu, according to officials of the company undertaking the project.

The Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC) signed on February 7 a P19-billion loan and security agreement with 6 banks: Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, Development Bank of the Philippines, Robinsons Bank Corporation, Union Bank of the Philippines, Bank of the Philippine Islands, and Security Bank Corporation. CCLEC is a subsidiary of the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC).

The total project cost of CCLEX is projected to be P30B. The rest will be funded by MPTC through equity or supplemental loans, said MPTC President and CEO Rodrigo Franco.

CCLEX loan agreement
LOAN FACILITY. Representatives pose with the finance documents after the signing of the P19 billion loan agreement.


Vote of confidence as investment destination

“This financing facility is also a vote of confidence for the attractiveness of the City of Cebu and the Municipality of Cordova as investment destinations,” Franco said. “The CCLEX is expected to transform the economic and social landscape of Cebu.”

CCLEC President and General Manager Allan Alfon said in welcoming guests to the signing that he looked forward to the ceremonial drive-through to mark the opening in a little over 2 years.

Construction of the CCLEX started last July 5 and all 21 piles of the main bridge’s Tower 2 have been completed while 17 of the 21 piles at Tower 1 have been constructed. These, the company said, form part of the bridge’s main foundation.

Cordova Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy-Cho said her town has been preparing its people and implementing infrastructure projects ahead of the completion of the 3rd bridge.

Outstanding partnership model

Francisco Fernandez, executive assistant of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, said they could see the project “from our 8th floor office and we would testify that things are progressing very well. ”

Fernandez spoke for Osmeña during the signing and said the Cordova-Cebu City bridge was an “outstanding model for public-private partnership.”

“First, it reflects our philosophy that government should only provide a service that the private and civic sector are unable or unwilling to do so. Metro Pacific and all the other entities are willing to fill a need so please go ahead then we can reserve our resources for the other needs of our citizens.” Fernandez said.

The project is also a “model of bipartisan support.”

“This was approved by the previous administration and continued by the present administration and today it is receiving unanimous support from the council and all the other government and non-government agencies. It is a fantastic example of what unity can do,” he said.

“Most of all, it is outstanding because the taxpayers do not pay for this project, it is the users. Those people who are not willing or are unable to use this project, they do not have to pay for it. In fact, the City of Cebu and the Municipality of Cordova are not going to spend a single centavo of taxpayers’ money for the bridge,” he said. Instead, they will earn from this project.

3rd bridge Adelino Sitoy
MORE INFRA PROJECTS FOR CEBU. Secretary Adelino Sitoy of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office talks about other infrastructure projects being undertaken in preparation for the 3rd bridge.


More infra projects

Secretary Adelino Sitoy of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office said that as part of the preparation of the bridge, government has started to build a coastal highway from the CCLEX approach in the Cordova side to the Gabi Bridge “in order to be nearer to the beach areas of Lapu-Lapu.”

Sitoy said P187 million has already been released for the project with a further P400 million to be disbursed soon. He said what is needed after this would be a skyway to connect the bridge to the passenger terminal of the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

And there’s more, said Sitoy, who shared that he had been dreaming about the 3rd bridge for close to 30 years.

“We look forward to another bridge, to Getafe in Bohol from Cordova,” Sitoy added.

Events Sports

SM to stage 9th SM2SM run; huge prizes, premium raffle items at stake

For the 9th year, SM Cebu City will be holding the much-awaited SM2SM Run on February 17.

With over P600,000 in cash prizes and premium items like phones and TV sets to be raffled off, the SM2SM Run is the biggest running event in southern Philippines and one of the top events in the country.

“We just want people to have fun,” said Marissa Fernan, SM Prime Holdings Inc. Vice President. She said the run offers Cebuanos an avenue for a healthy activity that will also take them around Cebu City.

SM2SM Fun Run
FUN RUN. SM Prime Holdings Inc. Vice President Marissa Fernan talks about the SM2SM Run during a press conference. With her is Race Director Joel Baring.


SM City Cebu, said Fernan, is the only mall in the country that has consistently hosted a high quality running event like the SM2SM Run.

Race Director Joel Baring said they are hoping to sign up 6,000 to 7,000 runners this year. Last year’s edition had 5,000 runners.

Since registration was opened on December 15, 1,000 have already signed up, organisers said.

Registration fees for the run are P950 for the 21K, P750 for the 12K, P650 for the 8K, and P550 for the 4K. Students and persons with disabilities can get P100 discount in all categories by presenting their school IDs or PWD IDs. A group of 10 registrants can get 1 free slot. Registration is ongoing at the booth on the 2nd level of SM City Cebu Northwing, near Metro Dental and Flawless.

SM2SM Run Medals
FINISHERS’ MEDALS. Those who finish 21K and 12K will get these medals.


Those who sign up for Age Categories will need to submit a photocopy of a government ID.

Gun starts for the respective distances are 4 am for 21K, 4:30 am for 12K, 5 am for 8K, and 5:30 am for 4K. The route will cover Mabolo, Banilad, University of San Carlos Talamban, Lahug, University of the Philippines, Capitol, Fuente Osmeña, Plaza Independencia, and Sergio Osmeña Boulevard.

All 21K and 12K runners will have timing chips and will receive finishers’ medals if they complete their event.

SM2SM offers the most lucrative prizes among events in the country. The Male and Female 1st placers of the 21K Open Category will each receive P50,000. The 2nd placers will get P30,000 each while the 3rd placers will receive P20,000. Those who finish from 4th to 10th will each get P3,000.

WIDELY-ANTICIPATED. The SM2SM Run is the biggest in this part of the country. Present during today’s press conference are SM City Cebu Marketing Officer Donna Lobingco, Race Director Joel Baring, SM Prime Holdings Inc. Vice President Marissa Fernan, and Marketing Manager Annalee Flores.


Top male and female finishers of the 12K Open Category will each get P20,000. The 2nd placers will each receive P10,000 and the 3rd placers P8,000.

Apart from these prizes for top runners, SM2SM Run will be raffling off 9 Samsung Galaxy 9, 9 LED TV sets, and 9 trip packages outside the country. Fernan said they are still talking to a potential partner for 9 roundtrip tickets abroad.

SM2SM Run Route

SM2SM Run Route

Business Lifestyle

Bo’s Coffee turns Capitol branch into tribute store

Bo’s Coffee, a brand known for its promotion of Filipino coffee, has opened its first tribute store in its hometown in Cebu.

A tribute store, according to founder Steve Benitez, is a flagship branch that offers people a new coffee experience. He said the concept took 3 years to plan and was meant to “showcase the best of what we offer.”

The company picked Bo’s Coffee Capitol branch – the first Bo’s outlet, explained Benitez – for its first tribute store because it is “about paying tribute to our roots here in Cebu.”

Bo's Coffee Capitol Steve Benitez
SHOWCASE THE BEST. Bo’s Coffee founder Steve Benitez discusses the concept behind the tribute store during opening of the first such branch – Bo’s Coffee Capitol.


Bo’s Coffee expansion

Benitez founded Bo’s Coffee in 1996 and has since expanded throughout the country. It recently expanded overseas by opening 5 stores in Qatar. Bo’s plans to have 200 stores and be present in 5 countries by 2020.

Central to the tribute store concept is the coffee bar. Specially trained baristas are able to prepare coffee using Philippine beans in various ways – from cold drip to pour over.

Cold drip coffee
COLD DRIP COFFEE. Potent brew that takes about 8 hours to prepare. This one you drink on ice.


“The tribute store is where you can experience the best coffee in the Philippines,” he said.

It serves coffee made from coffee beans handpicked in Sagada, Benguet; Mount Kitanglad in Bukidnon; Mount Matutum in South Cotabato; and Mount Apo.

Purple Midnight Bo's Coffee
PURPLE MIDNIGHT. Tasty iced tea with wild hibiscus and blue ternate. This you must try.


Bo’s coffee bar

“Our version of a perfect blend is not only the sensuous taste and aroma of Philippine coffee but also the overall presentation of Philippine culture – its indigenous and nearly forgotten products, Filipino music and artistry, and even Philippine-grown tea,” Benitez said in a press statement.

Apart from just preparing your drink, the baristas at the tribute store’s bar can interact with customers and talk coffee with them.

Benitez said they are trying out the concept here with the plan of replicating it in other areas such as Manila.

Bo's Coffee
COFFEE BAR. At the bar, you can order coffee made from Philippine beans and prepared various ways by specially trained baristas.


“We will continue to work on giving the best customer experience,” Benitez said.

The store also highlights products by social enterprises they partnered with. The interiors highlight the work of local artisans such as renowned designer Kenneth Cobonpue.

Bo's Coffee Steve Benitez
BEST OF THE PHILIPPINES. Steve Benitez says the tribute store is the company’s way to “showcase the best of Philippine artistry and talent.”


“We want to showcase the best of Philippine artistry and talent in the most ambitious project we ever had. The tribute store will be the commemoration and statement of the brand’s promise that this homegrown brand will continue to pave empowerment to the communities we serve,” Benitez added.

Bo’s Capitol has 300 square meters of space and can seat up to 110 persons. It is open daily from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Business Events Lifestyle

Looking for gift ideas? Check out Pop District Bazaar in Mandani Bay on December 10-11

Rather than giving your usual Christmas gifts, why not hand out artisanal products made by local small businesses this year? One of the best places to buy these products from will be the Pop District Bazaar on December 10 to 11 at The Tent, in Mandani Bay in Mandaue City.

Jayneil Enriquez, District Events Head of Marketing and Promotions, said Pop District Bazaar highlights small businesses in Cebu and offers them a venue to sell their products.

She said most of the locators are “lifestyle vendors” who sell garments, toys, and other fashion items. She said there are also vendors of men’s gear and locally crafted bags and shoes, including branded pairs made in Carcar.

Pop District Bazaar
PRESS CONFERENCE. Organizers talk to bloggers and reporters during the announcement of Pop District Bazaar.


One of the fashion locators is No Filter, a Cebu-based company whose products include NSFW (not safe for work) shirts with texts about sex.

“We sell parody and gag tees. We have statement tees that are bold enough to express the thoughts you are too afraid to say. We have no filter, we say what we want to say. If offended ka, wa mi labot,” No Filter says in a disclaimer near their items.

Enriquez said one locator imports hard-to-find cosmetics such as certain lines of lipsticks.

She said Pop District Bazaar will have 2 types of food vendors: outdoor tenants that cook a varied range of menu and food types and indoor tenants that offer packaged products.

SumTim Fishy
FOOD. These jars of delicious gourmet danggit are sold by SumTim Fishy, one of the locators of Pop District Bazaar.


Among the food locators is SumTim Fishy with its delicious jars of gourmet danggit. The small company named after the owner’s children was present during the press conference to display their products.

Other locators will be selling various pre-loved items.

Mitch Ledesma, District Events Head of Resource Mobilization and Sponsorship, said they expect more than 100 locators during the bazaar.

District Events General Manager Charmaine Ong De Leon said the idea behind the event is to support local businesses and give a venue for Cebuanos to see what they can offer.

District Events Head of Leasing Ruby Pansoy said the event supports online and startup businesses. She said the theme of the bazaar is “Polar Express.”

No Filter Cebu shirts
OFFENDED? “Wa mi labot,”says No Filter, a company that sells statement shirts that include text about sex.


Local music will also be highlighted during the event with the company’s partnership with FatBoys Production. Local and national “influencers” will also be made available for meet and greet during the event.

To make it easier for people to go to the venue, the company has partnered with Angkas, which assured them of priority for bookings from the venue. The company said they are also talking to MyBus to make it easier for attendees to go to and from the venue.


Megaworld to build Spanish-inspired residential tower in The Mactan Newtown

To be built in time to mark the 500th year of the circumnavigation of the world by the ship that inspired its name, the La Victoria Global Residences will add 181 units to the residential inventory at the 30-hectare township The Mactan Newtown in Lapu-Lapu City.

“We launch this tower 500 years after Magellan was appointed captain of Galleon Victoria’s expedition and we hope to complete this in 2022 when we commemorate the ship’s 500th year of circumnavigation,” said Megaworld Cebu Properties, Inc. President Noli Hernandez.

The building is the 4th residential tower at the township in Lapu-Lapu City. It will have 20 storeys with 181 units ranging from studio of up to 40 square meters, 1-bedroom units of up to 53 square meters, 2-bedroom units of up to 80 square meters, and 3-bedroom units of up to 118 square meters.

Megaworld La Victoria Global Residences Noli Hernandez
NEW RESIDENTIAL TOWER. Megaworld Cebu Properties, Inc. President Noli Hernandez with an artist’s rendering of the La Victoria Global Residences, the company’s 4th residential tower at The Mactan Newtown.


P1.5 billion projected sales

Hernandez said units will be sold starting at about P160,000 per square meter. He said the company projects total sales of the project to reach P1.5 billion.

All units will have their own balconies that face the sea and mountains, Hernandez said during the press announcement today in Cebu City.

The main lobby of La Victoria Global Residences “will be designed with elements and installations that are significant to the Spanish expedition,” he said.

He said that the tower will have an amenity deck at the 3rd level with an infinity pool and kiddie pool. It will also have a covered pool lounge and wooden sunbathing deck.

Megaworld La Victoria Global Residences
LAUNCHING. Megaworld Cebu Properties, Inc. President Noli Hernandez and Megaworld Corp. Senior Assistant Vice President and Head, PR & Media Affairs Harold Geronimo talk about La Victoria Global Residences during its launch in Cebu today.


Right in the center

“La Victoria is actually right in the center of the whole township. We are placing so much importance on this project not only because it signals the success of our township but also because of its historical significance,” he said.

Megaworld launched in 2011 its 1st residential development in the township, 8 Newtown Boulevard. It was named Best Luxury Condo Development in Cebu in the 2016 Philippines Property Awards and the Outstanding Residential High-Rise Development in the 2016 Real Estate and Property Awards by FIABCI-Philippines.

The following year, the company launched One Pacific Residence. This won the Best Residential Architectural Design in the 2017 Philippines Property Awards, the company said. In 2016, Megaworld launched One Manchester Place.

Most units, except for a very few, have been sold, said Hernandez.

La Victoria Global Residences at The Mactan Newtown.
La Victoria Global Residences at The Mactan Newtown.


More tourists expected

“We already sold out 3 residential projects and more foreign retirees still looked for properties in our townships. More people who found work inside the Mactan Newtown are also looking for their own residential spaces,” Hernandez said.

“In a few years we also expect more tourists to come to our townships as we bring our 2 Megaworld homegrown hotel brands: Savoy Hotel and Belmont Hotel to the Mactan Newtown,” he said.

The Mactan Newtown is Megaworld’s only township that has its own beachfront. The company said it hosts 10,000 BPO and office workers. It is also the location of the Lasallian-supervised Newtown School of Excellence.


Working on a desktop? You must install this app

When you look into how you work on a desktop or laptop nowadays, you’d probably find you do most of your work on a browser.

When before we used to send emails via software like Outlook, now many of us work on emails using browser via products like GMail and custom domains running on online services provided by Google and Microsoft.

When before we had to work on documents and share files through local company networks or via USBs or CDs, now many of us use office suites online like Google Drive or Office 365. Apart from the ability to work from anywhere, these services also have built-in collaboration and file sharing.

Station OneNote
ONENOTE. Station allows you to use services like Microsoft OneNote in a single app and then quickly switch among the different work windows.


When before we used to call up colleagues through internal company phone systems or PBX (remember extension numbers?), now we collaborate via chat systems like Slack or even Facebook Messenger.

With all these services going online, many of us end up working with several browser tabs or windows open. At times, you might end up accidentally closing a tab because it occupies the same browser instance of a site you want to leave. The arrangement also leaves your work windows alongside productivity sinkholes like Twitter or Facebook.

That is where the Station app is useful. It organizes hundreds of web applications and services into a single app and makes them accessible via a smart dock.

Station was also built as “as a work only, distraction-free platform.” Apart from the interface that encourages you to focus on your work window, it also centralizes the notifications, the bane of modern connectivity.

Rather than get buzzed every time somebody shares a file on Google Drive or sends an email or even a chat message, your notifications are listed in a single central window. You also have the option to snooze notifications for a period of time or turn these off by toggling a Do Not Disturb button.

SHARED SPACE. Station simplifies the on-boarding of co-workers based on shared apps via company email addresses.


Station has all the important work web apps that your company probably already uses: GMail or the soon-to-be-sunsetted Inbox by Gmail, Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Facebook Workplace, Hangouts, Trello, Asana, among hundreds of others.

Tools like Google Keep, Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, even SimpleNote are there. For messaging, there’s Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Chat, Skype, WeChat, and even Telegram.

Station also supports Android Messages, which allows you to send and receive messages on your computer via a connected Android device.

Station is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. I work on all three platforms and this makes Station indispensable. Whereas before I’d use different apps to use the same set of online services on different operating systems, now I just use Station. This is how I use OneNote, which has native apps for Windows and Mac but not for Linux.

It also allows you to use multiple accounts for services that allow it. That way, you can have Station open your personal email along with your office address.


Marco Polo holds tapas night to open Sabores de España

Where 2 of Cebu’s pre-eminent food writers head to, there you follow. In last night’s Sabores de España opening at the lobby lounge of Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, it was the station that held Manchego cheese.

I’d return with Manchego cheese in my luggage, culinary writer Aissa dela Cruz told our group of bloggers and writers. She said she buys it during trips outside the country because it’s “so much more expensive here.” It’s hard cheese so it keeps well, she pointed out.

Dr. Nestor Alonzo, food columnist for The Freeman, quickly headed to the platter shortly after hamming it up with Marco Polo Plaza Cebu General Manager Brian Connelly as he took photos of the tapas spread. “Take photos of him taking photos,” Connelly said as he playfully posed with Alonzo.

Marco Polo Sabores de España
Manchego cheese


Culinary journey

And it was to the Manchego cheese – traditional Spanish cheese, Alonso explained to me – that I returned to again and again last night.

Sabores de España, now on its 12th year, is part of the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s widely anticipated and annual Culinary Journeys. The series highlights the culinary prowess of the Marco Polo team – from Bisdak favorites in January to Swiss, Indian, Spanish, and French throughout the year.

Sabores de Espana Marco Polo Plaza Cebu
Chorizo in puff pastry


“I also want to remind everybody that this is the 12th year that we’re holding this event,” Connelly said in a short speech to open the event. “It is our commitment to continually develop the different cuisines in the different parts of the world, in different countries, so that we could share the rich tapestry of food around the world with our guests, our friends, and our customers,” he said.

Connelly said he grew up in a part of the United States that was colonized by Spain and thus was heavily influenced by Spanish cuisine.

Dr. Nestor Alonzo and Marco Polo Plaza Cebu General Manager Brian Connelly.
Dr. Nestor Alonzo and Marco Polo Plaza Cebu General Manager Brian Connelly.


Cutting of jamon serrano

He ended his speech with a recommendation for the guests to try Marco Polo’s sangria saying their culinary team did a great job in preparing them. He particularly recommended the white sangria.

To officially mark the opening of Sabores de España, Marco Polo held a ceremonial cutting of the jamon serrano. Connelly led the cutting along with longtime Spanish food consultant Gema Pido, Amigos de España en Cebu President Myra Gonzalez, and Honorary Consul to Spain Anton Perdices.

Cutting of jamon serrano Sabores de España
CUTTING OF THE JAMON SERRANO. Cutting the jamon serrano to mark the opening of Sabores de España are (from left) Marco Polo Plaza Cebu General Manager Brian Connelly, Amigos de España en Cebu President Myra Gonzalez, Honorary Consul to Spain Anton Perdices, and longtime Spanish food consultant Gema Pido.


After the ceremony, Gonzalez gave a short speech wishing the festivities success.

Sabores de España will run until Sunday, September 16. On these dates, Spanish dishes such as the mainstay paella, jamon serrano, fabadas, lengua estofado, and assorted tapa will be made available along with the international lunch and dinner buffet spread in Cafe Marco.


Facebook Live broadcast of the opening




More photos of the Sabores de España opening


Chef Juanito Abangan Sabores de España
Chef Juanito Abangan oversees preparations of the Spanish spread.


Marco Polo Cebu Sabores de España


Sabores de España
Olives and manchego cheese


Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Sabores de España


Sabores de España Marco Polo Plaza Cebu


Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Sabores de España


Sabores de España



Milo-FCB Road to Barcelona trains kids football skills, values

More than just skills, participants to Milo Philippines’ Road To Barcelona will be taught the values of humility, effort, ambition, respect, and teamwork, officials said in a press conference at the Cebu Parklane International Hotel today.

About 160 boys and girls from all over the country will gather at the Cebu City Sports Centre this weekend for a football camp by coaches from the renowned FC Barcelona Youth Academy. The Road To Barcelona, a partnership between Milo and FC Barcelona, is now on its 2nd year.

The participants, who are all from 10 to 12 years old, will be trained to play football the “Barca way” by Jordi Aguilar and Albert Batalla. That involves training on ball skills, keeping possessions, and the vaunted tiki-taka system of possession play and passes, Aguilar said.

Milo Road to Barcelona
ROAD TO BARCELONA. Leading today’s press launch in Cebu of the Milo-FCB Road to Barcelona Philippines Camp are (from left) Robbie De Vera, MILO Consumer Marketing Manager; Albert Batalla Fernandez, FCB Youth Academy Coach; Ethan Jacob Roxas, MILO-FCB 2017 Delegate; Jordi Aguilar Roca, FCB Youth Academy Coach; Nimrod Quinones, Cebu Football Association Board Member; and Michael Reyes, Assistant Organizer.


Values of teamwork

But more than these skills are values like teamwork, Aguilar said. As example, he cited their practice of a group celebration of victories and goals to recognize that achievements are by group effort and not of the individual alone.

Milo Philippines will pick 7 players from the 160 that it will bring to Spain for a 9-day training camp in Camp Nou in Barcelona, the home of FC Barcelona.

Milo Philippines Consumer Marketing Manager Robbie de Vera said, “Milo is very excited and honored to continue its advocacy to get more kids into sports and help advance Philippine football with FC Barcelona. Our goal for this year is to further enrich the ‘Road to Barcelona’ experience by reaching more Filipino kids and reinforcing the values that encourage more kids to dream big and become champions in life.”

The event is done in partnership with the Cebu Football Association (CFA).

Improve local football

CFA board member Nimrod Quiñones said events like Road to Barcelona help improve the level of local football. He said local coaches will be helping during the 2-day camp and would also be picking up lessons and tips that they will bring to their respective clubs and schools.

Quiñones said during the press conference that there is noticeable improvement in the skills of the current crop of young football players compared with their age group a few years back. He credited this to programs like those undertaken by Milo.

Milo Road To Barcelona
ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EXPERIENCE. Ethan Jacob Roxas, who was one of those picked to join the FC Barcelona training camp last year, shares his experience in today’s press launch.



De Vera said they will pick the players to bring to Spain based on an evaluation process that takes into account 70% values and 30% skills.

Organizers said Cebu was chosen to host the event because it is among the football hotbeds in the country. The province has the most number of licensed football coaches, de Vera said. It also had the most number of participants to the program, he added.

Also present in today’s press conference was Ethan Jacob Roxas of Paref-Springdale. Roxas was among the players brought to Spain by Milo in the inaugural Road To Barcelona last year. Roxas said the program allows young football players like him play with athletes on a higher skills level.

Events Tech

Access sites, apps for free and win prizes with freenet app

More than just an app by which you can access websites and apps for free, freenet is now a platform where users can win prizes and rewards.

“Our freenet users get to enjoy free data access to our partner sites, while getting rewarded at the same time with points that they can redeem for items in the freenet shop. With the Dailygaya raffle promo, they get the chance to win more rewards. We’re happy to share this awesome digital experience to more Cebuanos,” said Dindo G. Marzan, managing director of hatch, the digital marketing technology arm of Voyager Innovations.

Marzan was in Cebu recently to share the update on freenet with local bloggers and journalists.

Freenet Cebu
FREENET. Dindo Marzan, Managing Director for hatch, marketing technology arm of Voyager Innovations, talks about freenet in a briefing with Cebu bloggers and journalists.


Digital campaigns

Freenet started as a way for people to access websites and apps like Facebook for free. It’s more than just free access now, Marzan said during the press conference.

He said companies like Lazada and BPI partner with their platform to mount digital campaigns. With BPI, for example, the bank saw an increase in mobile banking after a campaign for people to use its app with freenet, Marzan said.

The app now has 7 million users.

To reward its users, freenet is giving away prizes ranging from PayMaya credits, smartphones, to brand new motorcycles via its Dailygaya raffle promo. The promo runs until September 29. You can register until September 24.

Freenet Dailygaya prizes

There have already been 2 Cebuano winners in the promo, Marzan said.

To join, one only needs to install the freenet app and sign up for an account.

On Sundays, P2,000 worth of Sodexo GCs are up for grabs. On Mondays and Fridays, freenet will give away 10,000 freenet points that can be used to redeem airtime load, data packages, as well as gaming pins.

On Tuesdays, freenet gives away PayMaya credits while on Wednesdays, they will raffle off a Supreme 4K action cam. On Thursdays, users have a chance to win a Huawei Y6 2018. On Saturdays, freenet users get the chance to win 3 JBL FLIP speakers, a GoPro session, an iPhone 7+, a PS4, or a Yamaha SZ1.

Winners are announced daily on the freenet Facebook page.

Freenet Cebu
DAILYGAYA PROMO. From left, Kim Vargas, Senior Public Relations Officer for Voyager Innovations; Dindo Marzan, Managing Director for hatch, marketing technology arm of Voyager Innovations; Nick Wilwayco, Head of PR and Communications for Voyager Innovations, during the Cebu briefing on freenet.


Freenet concert

With freenet, those who shop on Lazada and transact via PayMaya can do so free of data charge. It also has Netzee Hour, which allows people to use certain sites for free on different hours of the day: post photos on Facebook from 7am to 8am, read tweets on Twitter at from 12pm to 1pm or play Mobile Legends and PUBG from 8pm to 10pm, the company said in a press release.

Members of the freenet community are also offered “missions” that allow them to earn points that can be redeemed for prepaid load, data packages, gaming pins and gift coupons. Users also get the chance to watch FREENIVERSAYA: A freenet concert on September 20 by redeeming a concert ticket inside the app using their points. The concert will have performances by artists like Bamboo, KZ Tandingan, Gloc9, Moira Dela Torre, Shanti Dope, Ben&Ben, and Hashtags.

Freenet can be downloaded by users of any network. Those in Smart, Sun, and TNT, however, get free access to apps and sites of top brands in the country including PayMaya, Lendr, Lazada, Philippine Star, and many more.


Cebu schools dominate Accenture innovation contest

A student project that seeks to teach speech to children with cleft palate was named the grand champion of Accenture Philippines’ Program The Future 2018 today during the finals in Taguig City.

The team from Cebu Institute of Technology University won the top prize with their Tingog app, which seeks to help children with cleft palate and speech difficulties learn how to speak. Tingog is meant to complement professional speech therapy, the students said in an earlier interview.

The CIT students won P300,000 while the school got P50,000.

A team from University of San Carlos won the Accenture Tech Vision Award for its project, Tactus. The project taps internet of things and artificial intelligence to allow blind people to read via a glove that transforms words into Braille feedback on the finger tips.

CIT Accenture Program The Future
SPEECH HELP. Cebu Institute of Technology students receive their grand prize for winning Accenture’s Program The Future 2018 with Tingog, an app that seeks to help teach speech to children with cleft palate. (Photo from Accenture’s Twitter page)


Sumulong College of Arts and Sciences completed the winners with a project aimed at preventing flash floods by using sensors.

Five teams from Cebu made it to the national finals. CIT had another finalist that proposed using tech to manage and monitor Cebu City’s free medicines program. University of the Philippines Cebu made it to the nationals with its Cancervive, an app to support cancer victims in their treatment. University of San Jose Recoletos, meanwhile, had a finalist team that proposed a portal to analyze and assess needs of communities hit by calamities.

Program The Future is an annual event started by Accenture five years ago as a way to link up with the academe.

“The intent really is through the months-long program, we want to help students rediscover their power to shape the future through technology,” Accenture Advanced Technology Centers in the Philippines Managing Director Arvin Yason said in an earlier interview.

“We’re also helping them see that it’s not just about technology it’s also about creativity, imagination, teamwork–because we’re a very team-oriented organization–and the power of technology to make the world a better place,” he added.


Boost your internet connectivity with Linksys mesh WiFi system

With family members having multiple devices requiring good internet connectivity, modern homes now require good WiFi coverage. Apart from good internet provider service, one can improve coverage by using new devices like a mesh WiFi system.

Signing up for high-speed Internet service and using the default modem as WiFi router is like having a large pipe and using a faulty faucet, said Linksys Philippines Country Sales Manager Jason Villados.

Among the common problems of WiFi connectivity at home are: dead spots in certain areas, multiple SSIDS or WiFi access point names, gadgets not always connecting to the strongest network, interruptions during real time streaming such as during Facetime or Skype calls, speed reduction due to channel interference, and multiple and inconsistent product experiences working with various devices.

Linksys Velop WiFi
WIFI NODES. The WiFi nodes for the Velop mesh WiFi system extends coverage and makes consistent the connectivity in various parts of your house or office.


Villados said all these problems can be solved by using a mesh WiFi system like their Velop Whole Home MeshWifi Systems.

Villados launched Velop in a press event in Cebu City on Tuesday.

Seamless WiFi experience

He said a home mesh WiFi system like Velop offers a “seamless WiFi experience similar to an enterprise system.” He said it offers consistent and complete coverage of a home or even a small office.

Using a router and extender setup will have unstable WiFi signal that degrades over the distance. This can present a problem when one uses a gadget and moves to another part of the house, Villados said. The setup also provides poor WiFi to such devices as security cameras or smart TVs.

A mesh WiFi like that of Velop, on the other hand, “creates continuous connections at the edge, providing high performance WiFi to devices on the edge of the home, such as security cameras,” he said.

Linksys Velop Home WiFi
CEBU LAUNCH. Linksys Philippines Country Sales Manager Jason Villados talks about the Velop Whole Home MeshWifi Systems during the launch in Cebu.


Simple to set up

“Velop is compatible with any ISP modem or gateway,” the company said in a statement. It comes in several packs that differ on the number of nodes. The different nodes are placed in various areas of the house or office to create the seamless connection.

Villados said the system is very simple to set up and one needs only to install an app to be guided on the configuration as well as the optimal placement of nodes for a reliable and consistent connection.

The company said the system offers True Modular Mesh Design. “Each node is built to connect with each other over WiFi or wired Ethernet or combination of the two for best performance. They auto-configure to connect in multiple different mesh topologies.”

Linksys Velop WiFi
SMART HOME. Devices such as security cameras, smart speakers, plugs, and lights work best when you have good WiFi coverage. This is something Velop can address, the company said.


Velop also has Intelligent MeshTechnology “that simplifies WiFi networking and optimizes end-to-end performance. The Velop system adapts to a user’s WiFi needs. It self-heals and optimizes to consistently deliver fast, flawless WiFi everywhere in the home.”

Automatic updates

The system is interoperable and one can just add nodes to extend coverage.

Velop also “comes with custom Amazon Alexa “skills” that can turn the guest network on/off and read back the credentials of both the main and guest networks.”

With automatic software updates, Velop “will always remain up-to-date and highly secure without having to update hardware.”

Linksys Velop WiFi
VELOP comes in different packs with different number of nodes.


“Velop will automatically monitor for updates and apply new software that unlock new features, resolution to security vulnerabilities, and improved performance as they become available,” the company said.

In Cebu, Velop can be purchased in NGenius IT Hub, Metro PC, Thinking Tools, Octagon Computer Superstores, and Silicon Valley.

The Dual-Band systems cost P5,995 (1-pack), P10,995 (2-pack), and P15,995 (3-pack).


Vivant Foundation lights up Hilotongan School with off-grid solar power installation

WHEN students of Hilotongan Integrated School (HIS) were ushered into the computer lab after a turnover ceremony on Friday morning, Grade 9-Prudence pupil Barbi Villadolid headed to computer unit 7, opened Microsoft Word, and typed 2 words: Thank you.

Villadolid expressed on her computer monitor the gratitude the school and the wider island community felt for being the recipient of an off-grid solar power installation by the Vivant Foundation.

The foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of Cebu-based energy company Vivant Corporation, installed solar panels, batteries, and the system that finally allowed the school to use computers that have been idle for lack of power.

Vivant Foundation Hilotongan
TURNOVER. Vivant Foundation Executive Director Shem Garcia (center) turns over a solar panel to Hilotongan Integrated School Principal Nelita Cervantes to mark the turnover of the solar power system that now powers the school. The turnover was held at the school last Friday. With them on stage are Vivant Corporation Assistant Vice President Grant Clark (4th from right), DepEd 7 Assistant Regional Director Salustiano Jimenez (4th from left) and other officials from DepEd and the local government unit.


LED lights, electric fans

The solar power system also allows the school to finally have LED lights and electric fans in its classrooms.

Before the system was installed, students took turns using a laptop charged by a generator, said Vivant Foundation Executive Director Shem Garcia.

HIS Principal Nelita Cervantes said that to use computers, students used to take a 30 to 45-minute boat ride to Bantayan Island that costs P20 roundtrip and rent computers at an internet cafe by the minute. That is a fortune for students lucky to have P10 as daily allowance, Cervantes said.

Hilotongan Vivant Foundation
COMPUTER LAB. Grade 9 student Barbi Villadolid (left) works on her unit during a tour of the computer lab after the turnover ceremony. The solar power installation donated by Vivant Foundation powers this computer lab as well as the lighting and ventilation in all of the school’s classrooms.


Now, Villadolid said in an interview, they are able to listen to lectures comfortably in their airconditioned computer lab and use the computers to work on their assignments and projects. From presentations on manila paper, she said, they have started to submit digital reports.

“Our school rooms are now well-lighted and well-ventilated because of solar power. Our students can now use computers,” Cervantes said during the turnover ceremony at the school.

Hilotongan is an island barangay off Bantayan Island. It is accessible by boat only during high tide.

Improve students’ performance

The donation is seen to help the school improve its performance in educational measures, said Department of Education (DepEd) Central Visayas Assistant Regional Director Salustiano Jimenez. He said the facility and the comfort of studying with the electric fans in classrooms and air conditioning in the computer lab will increase the interest and eagerness of students to attend classes.

Garcia said the foundation chose HIS because it has the biggest student population, at 734 pupils, among un-energized islet schools in Cebu Province.

Juvimar Montolo of DepEd Cebu Province said she is sure academic performance will improve at the school. She said the area performed poorly in science and she sees the donation as helping the school do better on the subject.

The solar rooftop panels power the 2 computer processing units and 46 monitors connected to it in the high school computer lab. It also powers the 6 computers in the grade school computer room and the air conditioning for both rooms.

The installation also powers the school’s sound system as well as the perimeter lights that secure the campus at night. Vivant also upgraded the school’s electrical wiring.

Hilotongan Island Vivant Foundation
ROOFTOP INSTALLATION. This rooftop installation powers the schools computer lab and the lighting and ventilation in all classrooms. Vivant Foundation made sure the system will function even under cloud cover.


More than enough

“The solar power system includes inverters and batteries that ensure that lighting and appliances continue to function even when there’s cloud cover and that perimeter lights remain on at night,” the company said in a statement.

The solar rooftop system is more than enough for the school’s future load, the foundation said.

Garcia said the foundation spent over P4 million for the Hilotongan project. The installation, however, is just one component of the Liadlaw Off-Grid Solar Electrification Project. The project is named after Liadlaw, the pre-Christian Visayan god of the sun.

The other component, which is unique in the country, is the equipment donation and training of senior high students of Bantayan National High School on solar power installation and maintenance as part of the Electronic Installation and Maintenance (EIM) national certificate.

Training of students

The Bantayan students who will be trained on solar power will then maintain the off-grid installation in Hilotongan. This exchange allows the EIM students to get actual experience on solar power and HIS to have its systems checked regularly and maintained.

The donation and new EIM curriculum that incorporates solar power has sparked interest among students in Bantayan National High School. For the first year of EIM, 32 students enrolled in the course. This dropped to 15 the next year when students realized there were no equipment to work with. After Vivant’s donation, enrolment this year shot up to 90.

When these students graduate, they will have 2 certifications: for EIM and solar power.

Hilotongan Vivant Foundation
BIGGEST POPULATION. Hilotongan Integrated School was chosen as pilot beneficiary because it has the biggest student population among un-energized islet schools in Cebu Province.


A step ahead

Apart from maintaining the Hilotongan system, these Bantayan students will be able to work on other solar projects in the area, Garcia said.

He said he talked to people who have businesses in Bantayan Island and they told him their hesitation with using solar power is the lack of workers to maintain it. Garcia said the foundation hopes that when the students graduate from the course, they can serve as local workers to maintain installations and encourage businesses to adopt solar power.

Garcia said the students will be “a step ahead of other electricians” when solar power use at home and business go up exponentially as it did in China and other developed countries.

He said the foundation hopes to work on more schools in the future.


Hilotongan Vivant Foundation
HILOTONGAN Island is 30 to 45 minutes by boat from the mainland Bantayan Island.

Top Chinese restaurant Hai Shin Lou opens in Cebu

The freshest ingredients prepared by top-notch chefs from Hong Kong are what distinguishes Hai Shin Lou dishes from those of other Chinese restaurants, said one of its founders.

Hai Shin Lou held a soft opening today, August 8, 2018, as part of preparations to a grand inauguration on October 10. The Cebu branch of the highly-regarded Chinese restaurant is located at the ground level of Marco Polo Plaza Cebu. It is only the restaurant’s second branch – the owners previously having decided not to expand beyond the first one they set up in Makati City, said co-owner Alejandro Tengco.

Hai Shin Lou Marco Polo Plaza Cebu
Steamed Shrimp Dumpling


Hai Shin Lou Cebu
Pork Siomai

Tengco said their group is very particular with the food and service at the restaurant, which they opened on December 8, 2003. He said they thought that expansion via franchises would dilute the brand and these new locations would not be able to keep the quality.

Seafood King

Tengco said that among the restaurant’s most loyal patrons were the Ty family and their businesses. Through the years, the Tys told them they wanted to open a Chinese restaurant and wanted to work with them. Tengco said they were eventually convinced and saw the opportunity to partner with the family and open in a top hotel in Cebu.

Hai Shin Lou means “Seafood King” and the phrase banners the restaurant’s specialty, Tengco said in an interview. The restaurant is so particular with the quality of their ingredients that they produce their own soy sauce and chili sauce, which Tengco highly recommends. In preparing its tasty Fish Fillet with Home Made Bean Curd in Hot Pot, he said they use fresh Lapu-Lapu that they fillet themselves. The tofu they also made from scratch in the kitchen.


Hai Shin Lou Marco Polo Plaza Cebu
Taro Puff.


Hai Shin Lou Cebu
Barbecue Pork


Hai Shin Lou Cebu
A personal favorite: Soyed Chicken.


Hai Shin Lou Cebu will be headed by Executive Chef King Kwong Chan, one of the best roasting chefs in Hong Kong, the restaurant said. Working with him are Chinese Dimsum Chef Moon Chau Lo and Chinese Wok Chef Raymund Hui, who are also from Hong Kong.

Fine dining Chinese cuisine

We are fine dining Chinese cuisine, Tengco said. We do not compete with these “noodle stores.”

Tengco said that in terms of menu prices, Hai Shin Lou Cebu will be about 10% higher than those offered by Chinese restaurants in the city. The restaurant will also have menu packages that start from P7,888 for a table good for about 10 to 12 persons.

Tengco is confident that just as how it fared in Manila, Hai Shin Lou Cebu will also be the top Cantonese food destination in Cebu.

He said that they will soon offer in Cebu roast goose, which is a favorite among many food afficionados, with some flying to Hong Kong just to buy it.

Hai Shin Lou Cebu
Steamed Shrimps.


Soft opening

Tengco said they are still tweaking the operations and enhancing the training of the staff now that they have finally opened to the public. He said they would only be catering to 50 diners at a time during the soft opening and advised people to call ahead for reservations at +6332 234 8155 or +6332 234 8188 or send an email to [email protected].

He said they are also working to source ingredients from local suppliers.

Hai Shin Lou Cebu is open daily at 11:30 am to 2:30 pm for lunch and 6 pm to 10:30 pm for dinner. The restaurant said in a statement it will serve full capacity by the second week of September,

The restaurant has a capacity of 200 persons with 9 private rooms.

More photos of the soft opening of Hai Shin Lou Cebu



Hai Shin Lou Cebu
Fish Fillet with Homemade Bean Curd in Hot Pot.


Hai Shin Lou Cebu
Fresh Crab Meat With Seasonal Vegetables.


Hai Shin Lou Cebu
Snow Ball.


Hai Shin Lou Cebu
Almond Jelly With Fruit Cocktail.


Hai Shin Lou co-owner Alejandro Tengco
HAI SHIN LOU STORY. Co-owner Alejandro Tengco talks about how they started Hai Shin Lou and why they eventually decided to open in Cebu.


Hai Shin Lou Cebu
PRIVATE DINING. Hai Shin Lou Cebu has a capacity of 200 persons with 9 private rooms.


Hai Shin Lou Cebu
SOFT OPENING. Hai Shin Lou Cebu is currently in soft opening and would only be catering to 50 diners at a time.
Community Feature Tech

5 Cebu teams make it to national finals of Accenture Program The Future 2018

Technology solutions to monitor Cebu City’s free medicines program, facilitate and track donations for calamity-hit communities, teach speech to kids with cleft palate, support cancer patients deal with their disease, and help the blind read via conversion of text into Braille feedback topped Saturday’s Accenture Program The Future 2018 in Cebu.

The five student teams chosen from the 11 that joined the semifinals in Cebu will head to Manila on August 18 to compete in the national finals.

“Your solutions and apps prove that you can accomplish extraordinary things by combining talent, collaboration, technology, and compassion for others,” said Accenture Advanced Technology Centers in the Philippines Managing Director Arvin Yason during the awarding of winners.

“Help future-proof talent”

Program The Future: The Accenture Technology Campus Challenge, Yason explained in a press conference after the event, was started five years ago to reach out to the academe.

“Through Program the Future, Accenture is actively collaborating with the academe to help future- proof talent, equipping them with the necessary skills to succeed and lead in the digital age,” the company said in a briefing paper.

“The intent really is through the months-long program, we want to help students rediscover their power to shape the future through technology,” Yason said. “We’re also helping them see that it’s not just about technology it’s also about creativity, imagination, teamwork–because we’re a very team-oriented organization–and the power of technology to make the world a better place.”

Arvin Yason Accenture
EXTRAORDINARY ACCOMPLISHMENTS. Accenture Advanced Technology Centers in the Philippines Managing Director Arvin Yason: “Your solutions and apps prove that you can accomplish extraordinary things by combining talent, collaboration, technology, and compassion for others.”


New technologies to solve social problems

This year, the competition’s theme is “Tech4Good.”

Accenture said the competition provides students the opportunity to learn about new technologies such as blockchain, cloud, Internet of things or IoT, extended reality, data analytics, and artificial intelligence.

The students underwent training and mentoring sessions by Accenture employees on design thinking and the new technologies that they should tap in building their solutions, Yason said.

He said the program received 132 submissions from 21 schools all over the country.

In Cebu, the following teams won and will compete in the national finals:


Team: A1 of Cebu Institute of Technology University
Project: Aeon

Cebu Institute of Technology University
Team A1

Aeon is an app and platform that will help Cebu City Hall’s Long Life Program, a project that delivers maintenance medicines to residents with with hypertension, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. The app aims to solve problems on the program such as manual recording by digitizing records. It uses GPS to verify and track deliveries. It also has a predictive stock ordering capability to make sure there is enough stocks for beneficiaries. The platform can also be used to gather health data of beneficiaries to evaluate potential health risks.


Team: Aid 2.0 of University of San Carlos
Project: Tactus: Tactile text to Braille glove for the blind

University of San Carlos
Team Aid 2.0

Tactus taps AI and IoT to transform text into Braille feedback on the fingertips of a glove. The team says it offers a “portable, wearable, and affordable” solution for the blind and visually-impaired to read.


Team: Amigos of University of San Jose Recoletos
Project: JUANation

University of San Jose Recoletos
Team Amigos

The project taps IBM Watson AI to analyze data from verified news sources about calamities and then generate assessments, based on location and population, on needs of the community for donations. It also taps the blockchain for monitoring of the donations.


Team: Repository Blues of University of the Philippines – Cebu
Project: Cancervive

University of the Philippines – Cebu
Team Repository Blues

The project is a support platform for people with cancer deal with their ailment. It has a profile of the patient, a private diary to track the treatment, reminders and tracking of medications, and a community portal for interaction with other cancer patients and medical personnel.


Team Coop of Cebu Institute of Technology University
Project: Tingog

Cebu Institute of Technology University
Team Coop

Tingog is an app that aims to teach speech to children with cleft palate. It is meant as a complement to professional speech therapy. During the presentation, team leader Fritz Hoyle said the team will be working with Smile Train Philippines to deploy the app, whatever the outcome of the contest.

Yason said the teams in this year’s edition of the event “pleasantly surprised us in terms of the readiness of their prototypes.”

Unlike in the previous staging of the events when they focused on specific technologies, Yason said this year is more open-ended in terms of solutions.

Integrate multiple technologies

“That actually mimics real life. In real life, we rarely deliver solutions just on one technology. When we build solutions for our clients, we integrate multiple technologies,” Yason said.

“The evolution this year is tech for good. We wanted these students to actually look at society’s problems and ask themselves how can we start solving these problems with new and emerging technologies,” he said.

The 10 finalists that made it to the national competition will get P20,000 cash each team. The team that deploys solutions closely aligned with Accenture’s Tech Vision will receive P50,000 cash. The grand champion will win P300,000 cash and the school will receive P50,000. The Accenture mentor of the winning team will get a gadget.

Community Entrepreneurship Tech

OCEAN18 conference in Cebu to focus on how to protect, expand homegrown innovation

A conference that started after the World Economic Forum was held in the Philippines in 2014 will focus this year on homegrown innovation and “how to protect, grow, expand, and make sustainable our own industries.”

“We’re beginning to worry about our industries, like we consume a lot more shoes from outside the Philippines than shoes made here. We’re beginning to lose our furniture industry, we’re beginning to import more and more rice, we’re beginning to depend so much on imports and our exports are also declining so we wanna try to make sure that we can focus on that,” said Winston Damarillo, co-chair of OCEAN18 and founder and CEO of Amihan Global Strategies.

Multi-sectoral strategy for growth

The Open Collaboration with East Asian Networks or OCEAN18 will be held in Cebu this November.

Organizers said that the conference seeks to “shape the future of the Philippines by bringing together indiepreneurs, sector industry champions, and policy makers to create a multi-sectoral strategy for economic growth.”

Damarillo said indiepreneurs or independent entrepreneurs are early-stage ventures “have the potential to scale up tremendously and shake up their sectors.”

Damarillo is a venture capitalist and founder of several successful startups.

Unlike in the previous two stagings in 2014 and 2016, however, this year’s OCEAN conference will have a series of masterclasses throughout the country starting in this Friday, July 27, at the Crimson Resort and Spa in Mactan, Cebu.

OCEAN18 Cebu
HOMEGROWN INNOVATION. Cecilia Martinez-Miranda and Winston Damarillo discuss the theme of the OCEAN18 conference in Cebu and masterclass roadshow.


6 high-impact sectors

This will then be followed by masterclasses in Iloilo, Davao, and Manila.

The masterclasses will focus on 6 high-impact sectors identified by the team: Creative Economy, Education, Food, Global Filipino Engagement, Healthcare, and Tourism, said organizer Cecilia Martinez-Miranda.

This Friday, Damarillo said indiepreneurs will learn about business basics that are “foundational” to enterprises.

This Friday’s masterclass in Cebu will have Damarillo, who is also a WEF Young Global Leader, discuss key business fundamentals. Niña Terol of Kick Fire Kitchen will handle a session on design thinking techniques, and Richard Dacalos of Upstart the Game will talk about effective pitching.

At the end of the day, participants will close the master class with a round of benchmark pitches.

Global Filipino

In coming up with the 6 high-impact sectors, Damarillo stressed the importance of engaging the “Global Filipino.”

“We call them OFWs. That is so 1980s because we tend to forget that 10 million Filipinos are no longer in the Philippines and some of them go out to work overseas but a good part of them are Filipinos who have emigrated from the Philippines who still care a lot about the Philippines. And they remit a lot of money,” he said.

“The idea of this particular discussion is how do we look at those Filipinos who are still very connected to the Philippines as an expansion of our market. The Filipinos who are not in the Philippines, they have a lot of buying capability. They would be the most likely to patronize our exports. And they miss the Philippines, they miss our content. they miss our products and I think it’s a huge opportunity for us to address them as a buyer of our services and not just remitter of money,” Damarillo said.

The masterclass workshops are free and organizers will choose 6 teams to represent each high-impact sector and attend the OCEAN18 in November. They will also get mentorship and assistance in getting access to markets.

Filipino way

Damarillo said that in encouraging entrepreneurship, the country should look to build “Filipino startups the Filipino way, not the Silicon Valley way, not the Singapore way.”

“I think the model that would work in the Philippines is more like the examples of Injap Sia of Mang Inasal, from small to big and growing it. An example more like Penshoppe of Bernie Liu, right from tshirt to an empire. More like Jay Aldeguer from tshirts to Island Souvenir,” Damarillo said during the press conference to announce OCEAN18.

Damarillo said that what differentiates OCEAN18 and the masterclasses from other events is that “we’re going grassroots.”

“We wanted to make sure that as many people are touched. Dili lang siya novelty, it impacts our overall economy not just the tech economy,” he added.

OCEAN18 is a collaboration among the Global Shapers Communities of the Philippines, independent initiatives of the World Economic Forum; DevCon Philippines, a nonprofit aimed at promoting IT Pinoy Talent, and Kaya Collaborative, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring, educating, and mobilizing diaspora youth as partners to long-term, locally led social change in the Philippines.

Feature Tech

Boost your home, office security with network cameras

Easy to install and convenient to use, the CP Plus network camera line offers a great option for home and office security.

With increasing incidents of theft and vandalism near where we live in Lapu-Lapu City, our family decided to install a security camera. We studied options for video surveillance including standard CCTV packages and decided that our best option was to use an IP camera system.

Unlike the old analog CCTV camera, IP or internet protocol cameras are digital video surveillance systems that connect to your home network and the internet. The digital capability allows you to remotely control the camera, store video footage, listen to and talk to people within audio range, and even set triggers such as movements to capture photos and video clips.

ezykam cp plus
CONTROL. You can control and configure your ezykam cameras on your computer by accessing it using its IP address (example To find out your camera’s IP address, you can use an app like Fing. Notice the REC notification to indicate that the camera is recording video. This was triggered by the motion detection system when the trisikad passed by.

We checked on a few options and decided on the Ezykam line of CP Plus. I had attended a company demo some months back and was familiar with the line.

Ezykam EP10, HC10

We got the Ezykam models EP10 and HC10 from CP Plus distributor RC Goldline. The EP10 retails for P3,490 (now on sale for P1,888) while the HC10 sells for P2,490 (now on sale for P888). The 2 units have basically the same functionalities except for a key difference: the EP10 allows 360-degree pan and tilt while the HC10 is fixed.

Installation and setup of the devices were easy. You just need to follow the manual on which parts to attach to which, download the app, and then go through the process of connecting to the devices. To connect, you just need to scan a QR code at the bottom or behind the unit. Not being a handyman, it took me longer to install the camera to the ceiling outside the house than to set the system up. You can then control or configure your ezykam camera through your desktop by entering its IP address (such as To find out the IP address of your camera, you can use an app like Fing to scan your network.

CP PLUZ ezykam EP10
CP PLUS EZYCAM EP10. This has pan and tilt capability.

Ezykam app for iOS, Android

The ezykam app for iOS and Android also makes it easy to monitor not just one camera but several others on your phone. That way, you can actually surround your house or office with different ezykam units and have a comprehensive video surveillance system that costs less than what CCTV systems used to sell for.

The ezykam cameras have a motion detection system with sensitivity settings that you can define. You can then set it to send you an email whenever it detects movement and provide app notifications. At the same time, it will also take photo snapshots and videos and save it to a microSD card for later retrieval via app download. You can also set it to send these files to a NAS or network attached storage via FTP if you have a home computer network.

CP Plus ezycam HC10

You can also set the ezykam cameras to record videos on certain days and hours. The system will just overwrite the data on your microSD if it needs the space.

The exykam also has excellent night vision capability of about 10 meters. The video and photos it takes at night are clear and people’s features are easily discernible.

Video monitoring

You can also define several preset views with ezykam for devices like the EP10 that supports pan and tilt. That way, you can let the camera pan to a certain view just by entering its preset number. You can even set it to do vertical and horizontal patrols.

We’ve used the cameras for several weeks now and are very happy with its performance. We’re now assured that if anything untoward happens within our immediate vicinity, we’ll be able to capture it on video. It also allows us to remotely check our home whenever we’re out for work or even traveling. The most important feature, however, is that all these capabilities and control are available on the phone.

CP Plus ezykam phone
MONITORING, CONTROL ON YOUR PHONE. You can monitor and control your network of CP Plus ezykam cameras on the phone via its iOS and Android apps. This makes home or office security mobile and convenient.