Business Tech

PLDT launches P1-billion data center in Cebu

Built from the ground up to withstand an intensity 8 earthquake, secured with 11 layers of protection, powered with electrical capacity enough for 1,600 households, and completed at a cost of P1 billion, the 2nd Vitro data center in Cebu was launched by PLDT yesterday.

The facility was built with quadruple the capacity of the first one that was built in Cebu in 2012, which is now 96% utilized. That, PLDT officials said, illustrates the increasing demand for and embrace of the utility of data centers by businesses, including local enterprises.

Vitro Data Center Cebu 2 illustrates the “stellar rise of the Vitro network and the way it has revolutionized how enterprises from all over the country do business,” said PLDT and Smart Chief Revenue Officer and EPLDT Group President and CEO Eric Alberto. The Vitro network “is now the largest network in the country with 10 locations covering the entire length and breadth of the archipelago. It is internationally recognized and certified.”

PLDT Vitro Cebu 2 lobby
The lobby at PLDT Vitro Cebu 2.

Accelerate digital transformation

“The addition of a second data center in Cebu ensures that even more businesses can gain access to the benefits of having world-class data management,” Alberto said. “All this is in keeping with the vision that started 18 years ago – to accelerate the digital transformation of the Philippines.”

Today’s business environment is marked by heightened risks, said Vice President and Head of PLDT Enterprise Disruptive Business Group Benedict Patrick Alcoseba. He said an an important way to help companies manage business risks is to provide them “digital infrastructure that helps them with business resiliency and continuity.”

PLDT Group EVP and Chief Revenue Officer and ePLDT President and CEO Eric R. Alberto
SUPPORT COMPANIES. PLDT Group EVP and Chief Revenue Officer and ePLDT President and CEO Eric R. Alberto says, “this new state-of-the-art facility is part of the PLDT Group’s nationwide effort to support local organizations and enterprises of all sizes—helping them store, manage and safeguard mission-critical data from cybersecurity threats and physical disasters.”

Alcoseba highlighted key features of the data center launched yesterday – 4 days of uninterrupted full load operations during a power outage and without refuelling, 99.99% service availability, 11 layers of facility security, cyber defense, and a highly resilient configuration in power, cooling, and connectivity.

Stability, reliability, security

“If I were to summarize what Vitro Cebu 2 is all about, it’s about providing business stability, ensuring ultimate reliability, and security of clients. When you talk about security it’s all about peace of mind, knowing that they are in a facility that will allow them to run, regardless of what happens,” Alcoseba said.

PLDT said in a statement that “the second Cebu VITRO Data Center is supported by PLDT’s robust fiber optic network spanning over 187,000 kilometers, enabling the delivery of digital solutions nationwide.”

PLDT Vitro Cebu 2
PLDT officials after a press conference held to launch the new facility. In photo are (from left) ePLDT Chief Information Security Officer Angel Redoble, ePLDT Group Chief Technology Officer Dave Simon, ePLDT Group SVP and Chief Operating Officer Nerisse Ramos, PLDT Group EVP and Chief Revenue Officer and ePLDT President and CEO Eric R. Alberto, PLDT SVP and Head of PLDT & Smart Enterprise Business Groups Jovy Hernandez, and PLDT VP and Head of Disruptive Business Group Benedict Patrick Alcoseba.

The new facility in Cebu has a capacity of 800 server racks, bringing the nationwide network’s capacity to 9,150 racks, said ePLDT Group SVP and Chief Operating Officer Nerisse Ramos. With that addition, total utilization of the entire network is now at 35%, said Alberto.

This increasing adoption contrasts with the tepid initial response of a few years back, said SVP and Head of PLDT & SMART Enterprise Business Groups Jovy Hernandez.

Vitro Cebu data center

“Six years ago when we launched Vitro Cebu 1, the companies weren’t really going into data centers. Over the past 6 years, a lot of companies, even small and medium enterprises, saw the value – why will I put up my own cooling system? I can never make my own cooling system on my own scale similar to the one here. As more companies now rely on their servers, which traditionally were hosted only in my room at the back of my office, we’re seeing a lot more demand,” Hernandez said.

Alberto said the pace of technology adoption has accelerated. “More and more companies are undergoing their own digital transformation where they have to look to technologies to be able to enable their business to be competitive,” he said. “Looking toward the future, I think it is imperative now that you get connected and you expand your market beyond the typical brick and mortar physical sphere of your legacy market.”

PLDT Vitro Cebu 2 security
SECURITY LAYERS. The security monitoring room in PLDT Vitro Cebu 2. The facility is protected by 11 security layers, including finger-vein scanning features, special CCTV cameras, and 24/7 monitoring and surveillance.

“The rapid pace at which technology changes, particularly in hardware and software, is forcing a lot of business owners to rethink their digital transformation strategies. Are we going to spend CAPEX to be able to own this hardware and software or are we going to turn into an expert partner who has the skill, the reach, plus the attendant and necessary connectivity by which to protect me from high CAPEX outlay into an OPEX?” Alberto said.

Adding to the equation is the “managed service that aptly protects me from cyber security attacks that have become more prevalent, more dynamic, and disruptive,” he said.

PLDT Vitro Cebu 2 Benedict Patrick Alcoseba
PEACE OF MIND. “If I were to summarize what Vitro Cebu 2 is all about, it’s about providing business stability, ensuring ultimate reliability, and security of clients,” said Vice President and Head of PLDT Enterprise Disruptive Business Group Benedict Patrick Alcoseba.

PLDT expertise, scale, network

He said businesses that build such facilities on their own have to contend with the rapid technology advances that quickly render systems outdated.

“So are you gonna take the obsolescence risk? And do you have the capability to be able to provide the necessary cooling, the power, the security, the connectivity, plus the cyber security protection? Do you want to own these elements where you don’t have the scale nor the expertise?” Alberto said.

“These are the challenges that we put to the market and we present ourselves in PLDT Group to be the trustworthy and leading partner when you are ready to look at those issues and you are prepared to take on the world through technology,” he said.

PLDT Vitro Cebu 2 cooling towers
The cooling towers at the facility.

“Our expertise, our scale, our buying power, our connectivity, our investments in network connectivity and diversity, our purpose-built data centers with security experts and the managed services experts actually are resources that no one particular company – no matter what the size – will be ever able to scale to,” Alberto said.

Hernandez said their customers are “pretty diverse” in terms of size and location. “More and more companies from our Asian neighbors are actually looking at the Philippines. Before when you talked about data centers in Asia, it was only 2 countries — Singapore and Hong Kong. That’s it. But the Philippines is now being looked at even by international companies as a place for them to co-locate.”

PLDT Vitro Cebu 2
COLOR-CODED. Lines in the facility are color coded – blue for primary and yellow for secondary.

No longer just contingency but business strategy

Ramos said that changes in the business environment encourage them to build capacity. She said that they often ask themselves, “are we over-building?”

“But the reality is whenever we have discussions with our clients, in all industries, even government, dati ang usapan, we need a data center for contingency, but right now that’s not the discussion anymore. The discussion is about the need to be hosted because of risk management, because it’s a business strategy. (It’s no longer) simple contingency but part of a business strategy. This kind of discussion is happening in their boardrooms, not anymore at the IT level,” Ramos said.

Alberto said demand for data center services will increase with the changing business environment. “This is the wave of the future – big data, analytics, AI. Artificial Intelligence is machine learning. It’s growing. And machine learning must be fed with continuous data, historical as far back to be more accurate and current,” he said.

PLDT Vitro Cebu 2
SECURITY LAYER. Entry and exit to the facility include going through this security-controlled turnstile.

Cebu student teams dominate Smart innovation contest

A system that allows students to set up classes online for special lessons on areas they need help with was picked this year’s winner of the SWEEP (Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program) Innovation and Excellence Awards.

The project, called Team ERYL from the University of San Carlos (USC), won the top prize of P300,000 during the live pitching and final judging held today in Makati City. Sportify by a team from the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R), and Salvar by another USC team completed the top 3 winners and domination by Cebu of the annual innovation contest.

ERYL is mobile platform that allows students to set up classes online, whether 1-on-1 or by group.

“Students may opt to join existing classes that they are interested in or organize one themselves. When the class is ready, they select from the teacher pool someone they want to handle the lesson. They are then given the teacher’s details, including contact number,” the project brief said.

Smart Sweep winners
CEBU TEAM SWEEPS SWEEP AWARD. The teams from University of San Carlos and University of San Jose-Recoletos with their awards for topping this year’s SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards. At left is Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering. At right is Ramon Isberto, Public Affairs Head of PLDT and Smart. (Photo by @SmartNewsroom)

Four teams from Cebu, 3 from USC and 1 from USJ-R, made it to today’s finals.

When asked about Cebu’s dominance of the contest, Smart Visayas-Mindanao public affairs head Attorney Maria Jane Paredes said she was elated by the turnout.

“Congratulations to USC and USJ-R and all the other winners. The winning projects address specific concerns and have practical uses. The first prize winner bridges the gap between teachers and students and allows students to set up classes online,” Paredes said.

Smart Sweep Team ERYL
Smart SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards winners.

Placing 2nd and winning P200,000 is Sportify from USJ-R. It is a web and mobile platform that seeks to connect sports enthusiasts, from players, coaches, to talent scouts. Sportify “gives the opportunity to our aspiring Filipino athletes specially who are located in the provinces and isolated areas, to be discovered and have that chance to be the next big name in sports,” the project brief said.

Completing the triumvirate is Salvar, an application that seeks to address problems on mental health. The app by a USC team allows users to search and set appointments with mental health care professionals. The team won P100,000.

Smart Sweep Sportify
Smart SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards 2nd placer.

“The app will allow users to have their therapy done through the application’s video-chat feature. This app will address the problem of accessibility to mental healthcare, mainly the distance, lack of mental healthcare providers within communities, and the stigma that scares people from asking for help by digitizing the mental healthcare process,” according to the project brief.

The SWEEP Awards was started in 2004 as a venue for college students to build applications to address community problems and needs. It is part of SWEEP, a collaboration between Smart and the academe aimed at raising “the standards of engineering and IT education in the country.”

Smart SWEEP Salvar
Smart SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards 3rd placers.

PC still center of work: Dell EMC

Despite talks we are at the end of its era, studies show the PC still remains “the center of how work gets done,” said Dell EMC Country General Manager Ronnie Latinazo.

It is important for companies to get technology right because it underpins the modern office and impacts how work is done, he said during the launch last week of Dell EMC devices designed for the corporate market.

“We’ve heard people say the PC is dead, that it’s the end of the PC era but actually we’re seeing growth and if you look at the technology still coming out in the market, many of these center around the capabilities and technologies available on the PCs,” Latinazo said.

Ronnie Latinazo changing workforce
CHANGES IN THE WAY WE WORK. Dell EMC Country General Manager Ronnie Latinazo talks about the transformation of the workplace and employees caused by advances in technology.

Tech and work transformation

He said work has fundamentally changed because of advances in technology, which improves 10X every five years. With advances in tech, devices are getting faster, more powerful, and even smaller, he said.

“To a large extent, the definition of work has changed. In the past, work was a place, I’ll go to work, I’ll go to the office. After five o’clock, I go home, I switch off, its personal life. But that has really changed. The business hour is no longer 9 to 5, it’s as soon as you wake up and probably before you sleep,” he said.

Dell 7390 laptop
LATITUDE 7390 CLAMSHELL. Valerie Fontano, Dell Client Technologist, talks about the feature of the Latitude 7390 laptop, designed for the “mobile professional seeking power on the go.”

He said that data shows 60% of employees work even after business hours and 2/3 do some business at home.

Latinazo highlighted the importance of tech solutions for companies saying 42% of employees indicated they would quit a job with poor technology. It also has an impact on recruitment with 82% saying a company’s state of technology influences the job they take.

He said this trend will continue, as can be gleaned by the finding that 44% of millennials think their workspace isn’t smart enough.

Latitude 5290 2-in-1
MOBILE OFFICE. Martin Diez, Business Development Manager, talks about how the Latitude 5290 2-in-1 allows you to work from anywhere by offering the “power of a laptop and flexibility of a tablet.

Different personas in use of tech

He said Dell EMC studied how people worked and came up with seven different personas based on where and how they perform tasks. These personas were either desk-centric, remote workers, or always on the go.

Latinazo said they found that 52% of the workforce spends some if not all of their time working remotely. The company also found that 72 percent of employees see collaboration increase with “more grab and go technology.”” For on-the-go professionals, 39% of the group uses multiple devices while traveling for work.

Dell Latitude 7390 2-in-1
BEAUTY, PRODUCTIVITY. Michelle Juliano, Field Marketing Manager, Client Solutions Group, talks about the features of the Latitude 7390 2-in-1. Dell said that in the device, “beauty and productivity intersect.”

“Only Dell has the right technology for every work style,” Latinazo said. “We would be in the best position to serve all the requirements of a workforce given the breadth of the products that we have, the technology that we bring to the market, and the innovations that we introduced.”

He said there is a need to transform the way companies deploy tech resources and look at the “whole lifecycle.”

Dell Latitude laptops launch
NEW DELL DEVICES. (From left) Valerie Fontano, Dell Client Technologist; Ronnie Latinazo, Country General Manager, Dell EMC Philippines; Martin Diez, Business Development Manager; and Michelle Juliano, Field Marketing Manager, Client Solutions Group during the launching of new devices meant to help employees in a workplace transformed by technology.

Launch of new Dell Latitude devices

“Dell can provide help in all the key phases in this life cycle – from planning to deployment to supporting and maintaining it and even to a large extent in helping them refresh it because best practice shows that the cost of ownership of these machines become much higher after three years,” he said.

During the event, Dell EMC highlighted the Latitude 7390 2-in-1, Latitude 7390, Vostro 5370, Latitude 5290, as well as various accessories to help improve the experience in using the devices at home, in the office, and on the road.

The devices come with top of the line specs and thin and light design to meet the requirements of the new workforce, company officials said during the event.

Latitude 7390
Latitude 7390. Impressive power in a premium design. A 13-inch business-class laptop built for business professionals who want power while staying mobile. Featuring Intel 7th and 8th Gen Core i processors.


Latitude 5290 2-in-1.
Latitude 5290 2-in-1. The device offers “security with style.” Dell describes it as “our most secure 2-in-1 detachable with the power of a laptop and flexibility of a tablet.”


Latitude 7390 2-in-1
Latitude 7390 2-in-1. “Work in luxury with this 13-inch 2-in-1 convertible featuring a superior display, Intel Core 8th Gen Processor, exceptional battery life and security keep you productive anywhere,” Dell says in its product page.



Dell launches new Latitude laptops


Facebook Live of launching


HMD Global launches new Nokia phones in Cebu

Durable and reliable. These are some of the words that come to people’s minds when Nokia is mentioned, said HMD Global Country Manager Shannon Mead.

HMD Global is the one-year-old Finnish startup behind the resurgence of Nokia mobile phones.

NOKIA PHONES. Shannon Mead, Philippines Country Manager of HMD Global, discusses with Cebu journalists and bloggers the lineup of Nokia phones now available in the market.

“Durable, reliable. They’re what comes to mind when consumers are asked what they think about when we say Nokia,” Mead said during the company’s launching of new devices in Cebu.

“We actually dusted off some old phones and they’re still working. So, I think that really brings to life the message of durability and reliability,” he said.

Nokia 7 plus Cebu launch
PRO CONTROLS. Shannon Meads shows the pro controls that come with the camera of the Nokia 7 plus.

Pure, up-to-date Android

A key component of the reliability is Nokia’s approach to Android, their phones’ operating system.

“A strategic part for us is our take on Android. When we introduced our product portfolio in early 2017 to the world, we talked about pure, secure and up-to-date Android. We made that a promise and we’ve kept that promise,” Mead said.

New Nokia phones launch in Cebu
CEBU LAUNCH. HMD Global Philippines Country Manager Shannon Mead and Head of Marketing Gibby Peñaflor launch the new Nokia phones in Cebu.

The Nokia 8, Nokia 6, and Nokia 5 are already on Android Oreo 8.1, which is the the latest release.

“For the Nokia 5 currently on promo at P8,990 to have Oreo 8.1 when some of our competitors are only getting Android 8 on their flagship devices – I think we’ve made that promise and we’ve been able to keep it,” he said.

Nokia 1
NOKIA 1. Shannon Mead talks about the Nokia 1, a 4G phone that comes with Android Oreo (Go edition), a version of Android optimized for devices with 1GB RAM or less. It retails for P4,290.

New Nokia phones

Apart from the OS upgrades, Mead said the monthly security updates that they send out are also important. With these updates, “you can always ensure that the device has got the latest version which optimizes your battery life but also ensures that any malware, any glitches that have come in in the previous month are resolved.”

Mead led the launching in Cebu of the Nokia 7 plus, Nokia 1, New Nokia 6, and Nokia 8110 4G.

Nokia mobile NewSeum
LOOKING BACK, AHEAD. Shannon Mead and Gibby Peñaflor open the Nokia mobile NewSeum exhibit in SM City Cebu. The exhibit takes Nokia fans back in time through old phones while displaying the innovations done by Nokia through the years with newer Nokia devices. The exhibit will run in SM City Cebu until April 30.

“HMD Global is proud to continue the story of Nokia mobile through the qualities that we first loved such as durability and innovation, designed to suit every need and style. As a key market, we are committed to building and strengthening our presence in Cebu,” Mead said in a statement.

“We are optimistic that with the new generation of Nokia Android smartphones and our classic but highly upgraded feature phone, the Cebuanos will get the best mobile experience across all price points,” he said.

Nokia 8110 4G

Year 1 achievements

Mead said that in HMD Global’s first year, they introduced 11 phones which he described as a “pretty amazing feat.” The company was also able to open an office in 80 countries.

“We’re able to be on sale in 170 different markets. For a brand-new company to have a presence in 170 markets and to introduce 11 new phones into the market is pretty great,” he said.

The company also made its mark when Nokia devices were able to enter the top 5 for smartphones in 15 markets.

“We are number one in value shipments when it comes to feature phones. We’re actually making a lot of headway when it comes to our overall ambition, which is to be a top 5 brand in the next 3 to 5 years when it comes to smartphones as well as extend our feature phone leadership and make it the largest brand,” he said.

Expansion outside Manila

This year, Mead said HMD will put more effort in expanding to areas outside Metro Manila.

“When we looked at success of our 3310 and the Nokia 6, Cebu was always at the top. We can’t ignore that. We need to go deeper in those markets and further out into provincial areas,” he said.

Nokia 7 plus

The flagship device combines beautiful design and manufacturing, powerful specs and great cameras, the company said. The phone comes with cameras with Carl Zeiss optics.

Nokia 7 Plus

Key specs

  • Precision machined from a single block of 6000 series aluminium with anodised edges for added style and strength where you need it most
  • Ceramic-feel coating brings a unique tactile feel and comfortable grip while elegantly hiding antenna lines
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 Mobile Platform and 4 GB RAM for powerful performance and optimised power consumption and 2-day battery life
  • Rear dual camera with ZEISS optics – 12MP primary camera with large pixel size and wide aperture for great scenic photography, and secondary 13MP telephoto lens for 2X optical zoom
  • 16MP front camera with ZEISS optics and high-quality lowlight capability
  • New Pro Camera mode gives the ultimate intuitive manual control over camera settings for advanced users and shows the impact of your adjustments in real time

The Nokia 7 plus is available in Black/Copper and White/Copper and retails for P21,990.

Nokia 7 Plus


Nokia 1

The device is a “a 4G smartphone for every Juan.” The phone copmes with Android Oreo Go edition, a version of Android optimized for devices with 1GB RAM or less.

The Nokia 1 comes with interchangeable Xpress-on covers.

Nokia 1

Key specs

  • Familiar design and reassuring quality of a Nokia phone in our most affordable package yet
  • All the smartphone essentials – 4G LTE, quad core, rear camera with flash, front camera, dual SIM and voice control

Removable 2150mAh battery which lasts a full day with normal usage

The Nokia 1 is available in Warm Red and Dark Blue for P4,290.

Nokia 1 specs


New Nokia 6

The device is 60% faster than its predecessor and now comes with “enhanced Dual-Sight, ZEISS optics, USB-C fast-charging, a more compact screen-to-body ratio, Nokia spatial audio and pure, secure and up-to-date Android Oreo.”

New Nokia 6

Key specs

  • Crafted from a single block of 6000 series aluminium finished with two-tone anodization to stand out from the crowd
  • Robust and made to take everyday knocks thanks to the seamless aluminium unibody and sculpted 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Bright 5.5” full HD IPS laminated display with great contrast in a more compact form
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 Mobile Platform available with either 3GB or 4GB RAM (32GB/64GB ROM)
  • 16MP rear camera with ZEISS optics and dual-tone flash for crystal clear images. 8MP wide-angle front camera
  • Nokia spatial audio capture and playback technology
  • 3000mAh battery with USB type-C fast charging. Get 50% charge in just 30 minutes

The new Nokia 6 features two configurations of 4GB RAM / 64 GB ROM in Blue/Gold color blend for P15,990.

New Nokia 6


Nokia 8110 4G

The latest model out of the Originals family is the Nokia 8110, known both as The Matrix phone because it figured in the movie series and the banana phone.

Nokia 8110

The Nokia 8110 is a 4G phone that can serve as Wi-Fi hotspot.

The phone runs with KaiOS with a standby time of 17 days both using GSM and LTE.

Mead said the Nokia 8110 will be shipping in May. He said pricing will also be announced in the coming weeks.

Community Tech

Dell EMC turns ocean plastic into packaging; recycles e-wastes into new components

When you unbox the highly-rated XPS 13 2-in-1 you will find packaging made of recycled ocean-bound plastics, the result of a key project that is part of the Dell EMC Legacy of Good global corporate initiative.

Dell EMC collects plastics from beaches and waterways and recycles these into product packaging, which is a first for the industry, the company said.

Dell EMC will turn eight tons of ocean-bound plastic into packaging this year, with a goal of using 10 times that volume by 2025, said Elizabeth Pabunag of Dell EMC Corporate Communications. Pabunag gave a briefing on the company’s key corporate social responsibility program to journalists at their office in the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.

Dell EMC recycled packaging.
RECYCLED PACKAGING. Elizabeth Pabunag of Dell EMC Corporate Communications shows the packaging tray made from recycled ocean-bound plastic (right). At left is the one made from bamboo.

Sustainability at every stage

In 2017, Dell EMC reported that its recycling program kept 16,000 pounds of plastic from entering the ocean. The plastic recovered from beaches and waterways are refined, mixed with recycled plastic bottles and food containers, and then molded into packaging trays for the company’s products.

Pabunag said Dell EMC takes a “lifecycle approach” on recycling that focuses on “sustainability at every stage.” She said 99% of the company’s manufacturing waste is diverted from landfills into the “world’s largest recycling program with services in 83 countries and territories.”

She said 22 million pounds of plastic parts have been created under this closed-loop plastics supply chain since May 2014.

Dell recycling program
RECYCLING PROGRAM. Dell EMC reported that by recycling plastic into packaging such as the one in the photo, they kept 16,000 pounds of plastic from entering the ocean.

E-waste into new components

Apart from plastics, Pabunag sa Dell EMC also recovers precious metals from electronic products and recycles them into components.

“Currently only 12.5% of e-waste is recycled into other products. As a result, it’s estimated that Americans throw away $60 million in gold and silver every year through unwanted phones alone,” Dell EMC said in a press statement.

Dell EMC Legacy of Good
TARGET. Dell EMC will turn eight tons of ocean-bound plastic into packaging this year, with a goal of using 10 times that volume by 2025, said Elizabeth Pabunag of Dell EMC Corporate Communications.

Pabunag said Dell EMC is the first to recycle gold from old computers into new motherboards. She said its supplier in Tawain was able to make connectors for 6 million new motherboards from 2.27 kilos of gold that the company recovered from discarded motherboards.

Less environmental damage

The process causes 99% less environmental damage and avoids $1.6 million in “natural capital costs.”

Pabunag also highlighted the company’s partnership with actress and entrepreneur Nikki Reed for the Circular Collection by Bayou with Love and Dell, a limited jewelry line made from gold recovered by Dell EMC’s recycling program.

Feature Tech

Here’s how to make your internet connection (a bit) faster, more private

When you connect to a website, the first thing that happens is that your device queries for the location of the servers that host the content.

When you type an address like, for example, your system needs to find the numeric address or the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the server that hosts the site, such as This arrangement, called Domain Name System (DNS), is analogous to a phonebook.

That process is what technology company Cloudflare wants to speed up with its recent announcement on the availability of the DNS service. The service is run in partnership with the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre or APNIC, the regional registry that manages the allocation of IP addresses.

Here’s an explainer video on DNS

“Unfortunately, by default, DNS is usually slow and insecure. Your ISP, and anyone else listening in on the Internet, can see every site you visit and every app you use — even if their content is encrypted. Creepily, some DNS providers sell data about your Internet activity or use it target you with ads,” Cloudflare said in announcing the free service.

By default, your connection uses the DNS settings of your Internet Service Providers or ISP such as PLDT Home. To use the services of, you just need to adjust settings in your router, computer, or phone.

CHANGING ROUTER SETTING. To use the service, you need to change a setting in your router or device. The image shows the setting change for the PLDT DSL modem.

I switched our home connection for a couple of days now and there are discernible improvements in the speed of the loading of pages. Before, we used Google’s public DNS, which are and

Before Google’s public DNS, we used for some time OpenDNS, which are and OpenDNS has the added functionality of blocking harmful locations such as phishing sites and filtering porn content.

Cloudflare DNS
FAST. DNSPerf ranks as fastest DNS service globally.

DNSPerf data back up the service’s claim to being the fastest. It ranked at number 1 with a query speed of 13.67 ms. OpenDNS ranked 2nd with a speed of 20.69 ms. Google’s public DNS had a speed of 34.46 ms.

Cloudflare DNS
SPEED, PRIVACY. The new DNS service by Cloudflare and APNIC offers speed and guarantees privacy, according to its announcement.

But a key draw to the service is its guarantee on privacy.

“Frankly, we don’t want to know what you do on the Internet—it’s none of our business—and we’ve taken the technical steps to ensure we can’t,” the service announcement said.

The partners said the “will never log your IP address (the way other companies identify you).” To back their claim, the partners said they signed up KPMG to audit their systems to make sure they are doing what they promised.

Feature Tech

Carousell app makes buying, selling as easy as taking pictures

Selling items online should be as easy as taking pictures. That is the key concept behind Carousell, an app-based online selling and classifieds platform that started in Singapore and is now in Cebu.

“It started with three students from the National University of Singapore. Five years ago, buying and selling was difficult. There were a lot of steps, a lot of layers, and it was very inconvenient. They joined this hackathon in Singapore and that was the problem they were trying to solve, that selling should be as easy as taking a picture,” said Carousell marketing executive Marita Galvez.

Galvez said in an interview that the founders named the app after the Kodak carousel slide projector. She said they saw in the device the simplicity that they aspire for in their product.

Carousell app
BUY AND SELL ON MOBILE. Carousell marketing executive Marita Galvez demonstrates the app during an interview.

Strong Carousell growth in Philippines

Carousell started in Singapore and has branched out into 19 locations, including in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia. They expanded to Manila and Cebu only last year.

Galvez said growth as measured in the number of listings has been robust in the Philippines. In 6 months, Carousell had 500,000 listings in the Philippines. It took the company 2 years to gather that number of listings in Singapore.

Carousell app
CAROUSELL allows you to filter listings by location.

“People really wanted a platform to easily buy and sell items. We also have celebrities selling inside the app. Most of the listings are fashion,” Galvez said. “It’s like a high-end online ukay ukay of pre-loved items.”

Growth in Cebu has also been robust, with the province now logging 500,000 listings and recording a transaction every 5 minutes.

Quick posting

She said they found in the app that “there’s art culture here.” She said there are artists in Cebu who sell paintings in the app.

Top searches in the app are for items related to fashion and parents and babies. Electronics is a growing category within the app, she said.

COMMUNITY. The app allows users to join community groups based on location, interests or schools.

She said it takes 30 seconds or less to take a picture and then list it in the app. She said they allow sellers to list as many items as they want for free. Carousell does not take a cut from the sale nor impose charges.

“In the Philippines we’re not monetizing, maybe in a few years. Our focus is to grow. Countries like Singapore and Hong Kong we do already. An example of how we monetize is to do a bump, where you pay and the listing goes up,” she said.

Young market

Galvez said what differentiates them from other platforms is that their market is young, largely millennials, and very active.

“We have a lot of students because they want a sideline to earn money,” she said.

Carousell app
RESPONSIVE, QUICK. We tried searching for items in the Carousell app and found the experience very responsive. Posting an item for sale is just as quick.

Users also group themselves into various communities within the app. There are communities by locations, shared hobbies, and schools. You can only join school-based communities if you have an official email address.

Carousell held a meetup with “power-sellers” in Cebu yesterday. These are users who are able to sell 50 to a hundred items a week. Galvez said they asked for comments about the app – feedback that will be sent to the product development team to improve Carousell.

As part of their drive to spur growth, Carousell gives away items within the app. These prizes are those that are of interest to millennials like Starbucks cards. Their last major giveaway was a trip to Singapore.

Business Tech

AI to boost revenues, create more jobs: Accenture report

Rather than displace human workers, artificial intelligence or AI will create more jobs and boost company revenues, according to a report by Accenture.

If businesses invest in AI and human-machine collaboration, they could increase revenues by 38% by 2020 and raise employment levels by 10%, the report said. Globally, that increase could amount to $4.8 trillion.

Investing on new technology like AI and the training of employees for the new IT is already “urgent,” said Lito Tayag, Country Managing Director of Accenture in the Philippines.


Augment workers

He said the survey, done on 14,078 workers and 1,201 business leaders across the world, showed that both business leaders and employees see the value of working with AI.

Tayag said in a tele-press conference with Manila and Cebu media yesterday that 74% of business leaders say they will “automate tasks and processes to a large/very large extent in the next 3 years.”

Of the number, 97% say “they will use it to augment worker capabilities,” the report pointed out.

“Often people only think of AI boosting growth by substituting humans. But actually, huge value is going to come from the new goods, services and innovations AI will enable,” the Accenture report quoted MIT Economics Professor David Autor as saying.

Lito Tayag Accenture
APPLIED INTELLIGENCE. Lito Tayag, Country Managing Director of Accenture in the Philippines, discusses the key findings and recommendations of the Future Workforce: Reworking the Revolution report in a press conference with Manila and Cebu journalists.

Urgency to invest in training, new IT

Tayag said the report found that workers “are impatient to work with AI,” with 67% saying it is important to develop skills to work with intelligent machines, 62% saying these technologies will have a positive impact on their work, and 45% believing AI will help them do their jobs more efficiently. He cited examples of how employees become more efficient by working with intelligent machines and AI. The openness to develop new skills to work with AI is supported not only by millennials, at 75%, but also baby boomers, at 56%, the report said.

When asked about the PwC Cebu 2017 CEO Survey that showed only 35 percent of Cebu business leaders look at how technology can help in the company’s overall strategic plan, Tayag said the gap “points more to the urgency.”

He said the CeO survey vis-a-vis the Accenture report “highlights the need to actually accelerate even just the basic acceptance of the reality” of what he described as the new IT like AI and machine learning.

“On one hand we are already looking at the implementation, in Cebu they are still looking at the acceptance that this is something important for them to do,” he said.

Tayag said AI and human-machine collaboration are business differentiators that can bolster companies in a disruptive business environment.

“Do you want to risk the disruption that will be brought about by others who are going to do this reworking of processes?” he said.

Accenture Reworking the Revolution

Key recommendations

Tayag said the study found business leaders “underinvesting in skills development” with only 3% of executives planning “to significantly increase investment in skills development in the next 3 years.” He said, however, this could also be the case of businesses already investing heavily in training and no longer planning to “significantly increase” efforts.

“To achieve higher rates of growth in the age of AI, companies need to invest more in equipping their people to work with machines in new ways,” said Mark Knickrehm, group chief executive, Accenture Strategy. “Increasingly, businesses will be judged on their commitment to what we call Applied Intelligence – the ability to rapidly implement intelligent technology and human ingenuity across all parts of their core business to secure this growth.”

Tayag said the report made 3 key recommendations on how leaders can “shape the future workforce in the age of AI.”

1. Reimagine Work by reconfiguring work from the bottom up. Assess tasks, not jobs; then allocate tasks to machines and people, balancing the need to automate work and to elevate people’s capabilities. Nearly half (46 percent) of business leaders agree that job descriptions are already obsolete; 29 percent say they have redesigned jobs extensively.

2. Pivot the Workforce to areas that unlock new forms of value. Go beyond process efficiencies and prepare the workforce to create new customer experiences. Fuel new growth models by reinvesting the savings derived from automation into the future workforce. Foster a new leadership DNA that underpins the mindset, acumen and agility required to seize longer-term, transformational opportunities.

3. Scale up “New Skilling.” Measure the workforce’s level of skills and willingness to learn to work with AI. Using digital platforms, target programs at these different segments of the workforce and personalize them to improve new skills adoption.

Community Feature

Vivant Foundation pioneers solar power curriculum in Bantayan, donates equipment

Through photos and imagination. That was how Electrical Installation and Maintenance (EIM) students of Bantayan National High School learned some of their lessons, said Grade 12 student Mc Jemart Martinez.

Not anymore. The students will soon start working with actual wires, pliers, and other electrical equipment after the Vivant Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of Vivant Corporation, donated equipment to the school last Saturday.

The donation includes materials and equipment for EIM and the new solar power component that Vivant Foundation formulated with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Education (DEPED).

Vivant Foundation donation Bantayan Island
EXTRA ADVANTAGE. Vivant Foundation Executive Director Shem Garcia said the pioneering solar power track of the Electrical Installation and Management course in Bantayan National High School will give its students “that extra advantage that’s needed for the future.” Also shown in the photo are the equipment that the foundation donated to the school last Saturday.

Electrical course with solar component

“No school in the Philippines offers EIM with the solar component and we found that it was time that somebody did, especially considering that renewable energies are playing a bigger part of our power distribution and generation,” said Vivant Foundation Executive Director Shem Garcia. “Tomorrow’s electricians need to know how to handle solar power so together with TESDA and DEPED, we created a new curriculum that would be taught for the first time in the entire country here in Bantayan National High School.”

Garcia said that for Bantayan National High School, they are donating equipment listed by TESDA as requirements for teaching the EIM course. Before the donation, the school had to make do with the scant materials that were available, said teacher John Ray Tejero Tapales.

Tapales and Martinez said they were excited to be able to work with the equipment in their EIM classes. The school has 36 Grade 12 EIM students and only 15 Grade 11 EIM pupils. Tapales said sign-ups to the course dropped after students realized there were no equipment.

Training for teacher

During the summer break, Tapales will be going to Cebu City for training on the solar component, said Garcia. Vivant Foundation also donated solar panels, inverters, and batteries so they will learn to set the system up, he said.

“We’re not the first group to do solar panel electrification for off-grid areas like in mountain schools in Luzon and Mindanao and island schools in the Visayas,” Garcia said in an interview. “But what we have that’s unique is incorporating the idea of having a larger high school that offers EIM and updating their course to include solar. In exchange for them getting the equipment and the training, they’re gonna check in on the island school that’s being electrified to make sure that it’s maintained.”

Garcia said maintenance is important when it comes to solar power. Solar panels are designed to last up to 25 years but installations that are not maintained break down after just a few years.

The students who will be trained will be the ones to maintain the solar power rooftop installation that Vivant Foundation is donating to nearby Hilotongan Integrated School. The rooftop installation will power the school’s lighting and the batch of 100 computers that arrived last year but haven’t been turned on for lack of power, said Garcia.

Vivant Foundation Bantayan Island
TRAINING. Raji Roullo (left), planning and design engineer of Vivant, explains how solar panels work to a group of Electrical Installation and Maintenance students of Bantayan National High School.

Cheaper in the long run

The foundation will be spending P3.3 million for the solar power system and more in logistics cost to power the school in Hilotongan.

“It sounds like a lot but it comes out cheaper in the long run than paying fuel for the generator. And also, consider that their generator only did their light bulbs and their electric fans and they had a hundred computers that they couldn’t even turn on,” Garcia said. “The hundred computers arrived towards the end of last year but they haven’t put it on yet because they don’t have electricity.”

The system will be installed in Hilotongan from March to May, in time for the opening of the new school year.

After Tapales is trained, he will then handle the solar power component for the 2nd year of the EIM course.

Garcia said the instructor and the top students can then make quarterly trips to Hilotongan to check on the solar power setup. They will also be the ones to handle repair requests. This partnership will also give the students the needed hours of on-the-job training for their certification.

This training on solar, he said, will give students “that extra advantage that’s needed for the future.”

The students will have a lot of opportunities in a growing industry, said Provincial Board Member Horacio Franco.

Vicant Foundation Bantayan Island
AGREEMENT. Vivant Foundation Executive Director Shem Garcia signs the agreement that covers the donation and program. Seated at right is Provincial Board Member Horacio Franco. The donation was held last Saturday at the Bantayan National High School.

Increasing interest

Garcia said that with solar “getting cheaper” every year, they hope to encourage adoption in areas like Bantayan Island.

With heightened awareness on eco-tourism and environmental issues, “there would be increasing interest in solar and especially if businesses know that there are people who can do the maintenance and repair,” he said.

Garcia said their foundation decided to focus on technology and K to 12 education after going around the different communities in the Philippines to study the needs that they could address.

“At the same time, I also went to a symposium by PhilDev and USAID where they were talking about how we needed to increase our innovation in our country because we actually lag behind our other ASEAN neighbors in science education,” he said.

They started with donating science labs and equipment as well as training teachers in Palawan, where they have a power plants.

The Bantayan Island project, he said, is “a big part of our next step.” He said they intend to make it nationwide and would be assessing its impact, particularly of the solar power curriculum, for the needed improvements.

Self-sustaining program

He said the students in Bantayan who will be trained on solar power can potentially serve the community, including five other islet schools.

“That’s basically the idea – that it would be self-sustaining on the education side. It creates people that are skilled at jobs that are growing in demand. Solar is getting cheaper every year, so the demand has been increasing every year. And we think places like this are ideal to have people educated in solar because it is known for the beautiful beaches, the beautiful water,” Garcia said.

When Hilotongan Integrated School is energized with solar power, Garcia said they could do other side projects like putting up an adult learning program on computers during weekends, when there are no regular classes.


Unboxing the moto g5s plus

For a mid-range phone, the moto g5s plus is crafted as a premium device. It is a fast and responsive phone, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.0GHz octa-core processor with ample RAM at 4GB and LTE connectivity.

It comes with dual 13-megapixel rear cameras and a photo enhancement software that “make it easy to do more with photos.” The camera comes with a selective focus mode that “makes it easy to take professional-looking OOTDs, adding a beautiful blurred background effect” or bokeh. The camera comes with a Professional Mode that allows you to control such settings as Manual Focus, White Balance, Shutter Speed, ISO, and Exposure.

It has an 8MP wide-angle front camera that comes with an LED flash and “a new panoramic mode to capture even more.”

moto g5s plus
moto g5s plus. Unboxing the moto g5s plus. The phone’s headline features are its fast processor, ample RAM, turbo charging, and dual cameras.

The moto g5s plus has a 5.5-inch full HD display, which is great for watching movies on the device. It also makes using the phone – even doing work on it like writing, reading and sending emails, and processing documents – easy and enjoyable.

It comes with a 3000mAh battery that gives you enough power for a full day of normal use on a single charge. The moto g5s plus also comes with a TurboPower charger that gives you 6 hours of battery life in just 15 minutes of charging, a feature that’s perfect for people on the go.

The phone has an all-metal unibody that feels solidly and well built. The company said the moto g5s plus has a water repellent nano-coating.

The phone comes with Android 7.1.1 Nougat but the company has confirmed it would be receiving the Oreo update. The phone comes with stock Android, which is good because you don’t get the bloated crap of unwanted apps and add-ons that come with the Android version used by other brands.

moto g5s plus
MANUAL CONTROLS. The moto g5s plus’ camera has an option to manually set settings with an easy to use slider controls.

I got a review unit earlier this week and have been using it for a few days. It has since taken over as my primary device – not just for the novelty of it but because of its premium features and overall performance.

The phone has a fingerprint reader to unlock it as well as other functions. It’s quick to recognize fingerprints and is among the most responsive of phones with the feature that I’ve tried.

The phone is priced at P14,999.

moto g5s plus Technical Specifications

Dimensions: Height: 153.5 mm / Width: 76.2 mm / Depth: 8.04 – 9.5mm (at camera) / Weight: 168g

Software: Android 7.1.1, Nougat

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor with a 2.0 GHz octa-core CPU, 650 MHz Adreno 506 GPU

Display: 5.5-inch, IPS LCD, Full HD, 1080p, 401 ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass 3

Storage (ROM): 32 GB Removable storage that supports up to 128 GB microSD card (sold separately)

Memory (RAM): 4 GB

Battery: 3000 mAh, mixed usage up to 24 hours

Charging: TurboPower charger included (up to 6 hours of battery life in 15 minutes of charging)

Rear camera: Dual 13 MP cameras with depth editing software, f/2.0 aperture, color balancing dual LED flash, 8X digital zoom (for photos), active viewfinder (recognizes QR codes and barcodes)

Front camera: 8 MP, wide angle lens, f/2.0 aperture, LED flash

Video capture: 4K Ultra HD video, 30 fps

Speakers: Bottom port loud speaker, 2-mic support

Water repellent: Water repellent nano-coating

SIM card: nano-sim / dual-sim on select models

Connectivity: MicroUSB, 3.5mm headset jack

Bluetooth technology: Bluetooth 4.2

Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 & 5 GHz)

NFC: Yes

Authentication: Fingerprint reader

Color: Lunar Gray or Blush Gold

Feature Tech

With GCash Scan To Pay, transactions are quick, cashless

I ordered a pretzel and picked up a loaf of ciabatta to go yesterday at the Abaca Baking Company in Ayala Center Cebu. Instead of reaching for my wallet at the cashier, however, I took out my phone.

I opened the GCash app, chose Pay QR and scanned a QR Code – some sort of barcode – placed near the cashier. The app then prompted me to enter the amount of my bill and after I did so, I was told that the transaction was successful and I got a digital “receipt.”

Just like that, I made my first QR code payment.

GCash Scan To Pay
NO CASH. Using GCash, you can buy bread at the Abaca Baking Company and pay the exact amount it by scanning a QR code at the counter. The cafe is among the about 90 shops in Ayala Center Cebu accepting payments via the system.

Convenient payments

It was quick, convenient, and glitch-free. There were no more counting of bills and coins. The cashier did not need to ask whether I had change – a perennial holiday shopping rush problem in stores. I paid the exact amount in less time than it took for cashiers to perform regular transactions.

I also had an updated record of my GCash transactions right within the app: from purchases to receipt of money to cellphone loads.

And since my first GCash Scan To Pay transaction happened this weekend, I also had a 20% cashback on my purchase.

My first QR Code payment happened during GDay in Ayala Cener Cebu. The event, which closes today, was held as a way to promote use of GCash, said Lhen Pavia, VisMin Business Development Head for Mynt, the fintech arm of Globe.

GCash Scan To Pay merchants

GDay in Cebu is held at the Ayala Center Cebu. The mall is also the first in the province to use GCash Scan To Pay QR code payments. It launched with 50 merchant partners on November 29 and now has about 90 merchants toward a yearend goal of more than 100.

In Davao, GDay is held in Ayala Abreeza Davao.

During GDay, all participating merchants offer a 20% cashback on top of the Christmas sales discount when customers pay using GCash Scan To Pay. The 20% cashback offer is up to P500 per store, per day and will be credited within 3 days.

Moviegoers who use the GCash App to buy tickets at the Ayala Cinemas will also enjoy a P100 one-time cashback. The cashback is only applicable to one ticket per user per day.

GCash will also raffle off P10,000 GCash 3 times daily to customers who will scan to pay for their purchases on partner merchants during the promo period.

GCash Scan To Pay
SCAN TO PAY. With GCash, you just scan a QR Code to pay the exact amount for your purchase or bill.

Cashless transactions

“The key is to build an ecosystem for cashless transactions,” said JM Aujero, Mynt Head for Merchant Solutions.

Aujero said regular tasks – such as people buying things, paying for services or receiving their salaries – can be vastly improved if turned into digital operations.

He said merchants can easily and quickly accept digital payments by tapping the GCash platform. They don’t need to buy or rent expensive terminals, deal with certain documentary requirements, or sign up for high cost services and platforms. They just work with GCash, get a QR Code sticker, and start accepting payments, Aujero said.

He also said they are working to add basic analytics to the system so that their vendors would know their top times or highest earning products, among other important information.

Pavia said they are working with more merchants to quickly roll out GCash QR Code payments throughout the country. They are talking to malls and store chains first so that they can easily scale deployment, she said.

GCash Scan To Pay
GCASH MERCHANTS. GCash is working to have more than 100 establishments in Ayala Center Cebu accept QR Code payments.

Enthusiastic response

She said response to the system has been very enthusiastic with merchants quickly signing up when they started inviting stores.

They are also deploying it to non-retail institutions like schools. GCash can be used not only in canteens but also in paying for school fees. Pavia recounted how a school in Mindanao has a pawnshop inside the campus because it was through it that parents sent money to pay tuition. She said the problem on sending money for school fees can be easily solved by GCash and they are currently working on how to simplify this via integration into the school’s existing system.

Aujero said they are working to expand use of the platforms and this year’s investment by global electronic payments leader Ant Financial of the Alibaba Group provides a strong boost to make this happen in the Philippines.

Alipay pioneered QR Code payments in China, where it has 520 million users. In India, it has 300 million users.

Community Tech

Cebu students get coding intro in Hour of Code in Accenture

School principal Rosemarie Novabos was apprehensive. Her students at OPRRA National High School only started ICT classes this year and they were already being invited by Accenture to join Saturday’s Hour of Code.

While she told ICT coordinator Vince Impel to “immediately say yes” to the invitation by Accenture, whom she described as an important stakeholder of their school, she admitted to being apprehensive because the activity involved “coding.”

Hour of Code Accenture Cebu
This will be fun, Accenture Managing Director, Technology Arvin Yason tells students of OPRRA National High School at the start of their Hour of Code session.

Excited by sessions

Her students, on the other hand, said they were excited by the opportunity. Most said in an interview that the only experience they had with computers before the Hour of Code at the Accenture office in Cebu IT Park was to play games. Impel said their lessons so far were only on how to use the PC and some office applications.

For Grade 10 student Marites Hagoyahay, time on the computer meant using Facebook and YouTube. But on Saturday, she was among the first to finish 2 modules for the Hour of Code – essentially 2 hours of work in less than an hour. One involved control of Disney characters on the screen by manipulating blocks of code and the other an introduction to concepts on artificial intelligence (AI).

Accenture Hour of Code Cebu
Grade 10 student Marites Hagoyahay works on the intro to AI module as Accenture employee Jon Alistair Ong looks on.

It was really fun and exciting and I learned from it, Hagoyahay said in an interview.

When asked if she is considering a computer science course, she nodded enthusiastically but said “mahal man kaayo if direct computer engineering. Plano nako is accountancy lang sa and then after, engineering.” (Computer engineering is very expensive. I plan to take up accountancy first and then take up engineering after.)

Encourage to take up STEAM

“We must give our students, our youth, that kickstart to encourage them to go to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics),” said Accenture Managing Director, Technology Arvin Yason. “This Hour of Code is a fantastic example, fantastic venue for organizations like Accenture.”

Yason said students should be exposed to code since “it’s a great first step towards a career in technology. It is a great first step towards a career in computer sciences.” He recounted how his father’s decision to buy a personal computer when he was young led him to try out coding and eventually guided him to a career in technology.

Accenture Hour of Code Cebu
FIRST TO COMPLETE. Kenth Bryan Suquib was first to complete the tasks in his group. Although he has been considering taking up Chemical Engineering, he said he is also looking into programming as a career option.

He said he’s hoping the Hour of Code will also have a similar impact on the students they hosted.

Accenture chose OPRRA National High School because it is a recipient of computers donated by the company.

“We’re very happy to know and see how technology is enabling these students and all it took is one yes and a commitment to say yes, we wanna do it. Now they are enabling more of their students with all these skills,” said Accenture Media and Analyst Relations Lead Grace Cuenca.

Hour of Code Accenture
AI CONCEPTS. For this year’s Hour of Code, Accenture built a module that introduced participants to concepts on AI.

Intro to AI concepts

Accenture has hosted Hour of Code in Cebu for 3 years, mostly with students of Passerelles Numérique. What differentiates this year’s session is the inclusion of an introduction to AI.

Accenture built a module for students to “discover how various AI techniques can teach a robot to explore a new planet — including recognizing animals and plants, understanding a new language, and conversing with inhabitants.”

Yason said encouraging the youth to take up coding is important in light of what he described as a “global war for talent.”

Shortage of talent

“There is a large demand for computer science professionals globally. In the US. for example, there are for any given year demand for almost half a million computer science jobs. And they only graduate 40,000 CS majors every year. Not enough to fill the demand,” he said.

In the Philippines, there is also a shortage of talent.

Hour of Code Cebu
VOLUNTEERS. Accenture programmer Joyce Anne Dreyfus gives Grade 10 student Clint Manolat tips in programming Elsa to move on the screen. When Accenture Cebu opened slots for volunteers to the Hour of Code, it was filled up in minutes, said Managing Director Arvin Yason.

“We see a problem if we don’t work with academia, we don’t work with government to really encourage students into a career in technology,” he said.

Yason said Accenture employees were also enthusiastic in volunteering for the program, with slots filled up in minuted.

“It’s providing opportunities to people. It’s a way for us to pay forward, invest in the youth, and invest in the country also,” he added.

Community Tech

Robotics Cup builds foundation for future tech workers

“Failure in our school is not an option,” said Ana Mariolla Martinez-Quijano. “It is a necessity.”

Quijano is the founder and managing director of Compass Education, which promotes STEAM education and 21st century learning skills built on creativity, innovation, collaboration and critical thinking. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.

“Failure in a STEAM classroom is a necessity because we’re trying to inculcate in our kids, as young as they are, that sometimes the most profound lessons they will learn are actually in their mistakes,” Quijano said during the media briefing for the 3rd Robotics Cup at the Accenture office in eBloc 2 at the Asiatown IT Park.

Accenture, Compass Robotics Cup
MEDIA BRIEFING. (From left) Accenture managing director Arvin Yason, Compass Education managing director Ana Mariolla Martinez-Quijano, and engineer Tristan Abando of DOST 7 during the media briefing on the 3rd Robotics Cup held last month.

Hands-on learning

The 3rd Robotics Cup was held last November 11 and 12 at the SM Seaside City.

Winners of the event included student teams that offered solutions to such issues as trash, transportation, weather monitoring and health. (See photos below)

Quijano stressed the need for students to learn in a hands-on environment.

“When you just let your kids sit down and memorize, you waste their brains. We believe in hands-on learning. Children are hungry for that,” she said. “We can’t sit down the whole day listening to facts. I don’t get that.”

The Robotics Cup was supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Accenture.

Better understanding

“We believe in Accenture that there is a need to bolster efforts to create a better understanding of these technologies,” said Grace Cuenca, Media and Analyst Relations Lead of Accenture in the Philippines, during the press briefing.

The partnership to support the event “is growing,” said engineer Tristan Abando of DOST 7.

“We are very happy because it’s really the private industry that’s spearheading to introduce this to our young kids. Robotics is one of the areas where the DOST is a delving into, especially for our research and development,” Abando said.

Accenture managing director Arvin Yason said the partnership for the event does not just lead to students understanding technologies like artificial intelligence or AI but to actually “build skills for AI.”

Accenture AI
FACIAL RECOGNITION. A demo of a system built by an Accenture employee that is able to scan a crowd and deduce demographic data such as age and moods. Among potential applications are for use by retail establishments or even a quick survey of people’s responses.

Opportunities on AI

Yason said Accenture defines AI as any system that can, on its own, sense, comprehend, act, and learn.

“Three of these core components of AI are already part of the kits that the participants are using,” Yason said. “What differentiates true AI is the learning portion.”

He said AI is an important technology because it can increase profitability of companies. “We’re looking at AI doubling the profitability in the next 10 to 20 years,” he said.

Yason said AI can also boost productivity.

He said Accenture has identified 4 imperatives that industries, organizations, and even nations need to focus on to maximize opportunities in AI.

“I’ll focus on the first one: preparing the next generation for artificial intelligence. There is a need to consciously focus actions and ensure that the upcoming generation of people not just developers but also artists etc. are prepared to maximize the AI potential,” Yason said.

He said Accenture is doing this through various initiatives internally and externally. Supporting events like the Robotics Cup, he said, is among the key initiatives.

Robotics Cup winners

PULSO. Krisha Suico, Gwyneth Seciban, John Hora of the Philippine Science High School-Central Visayas Campus built Pulso, an Arduino-based pulse rate monitoring device. It alerts registered guardians via SMS and contacts the nearest hospital whenever the user’s pulse rate reaches a critical limit. The team won 1st place in Everyday Solutions.


Robotics Cup Accenture
WEATHER MONITORING. Gregory William Liu, Charis Philip Palacio, and TG Giles Geonzon of Philippine Science High School-Central Visayas Campus built ARAW or the Arduino-Powered Assistive Weather Monitoring Device. The system seeks to provide accurate and real-time information on “health influencing weather parameters.” They won 1st place in Growing City Solutions category.


Robotics Cup Cebu
RECYCLING. Hyeonseo “Rose” Kim, Clarice Alexandria Asero, and Chelsea Megan Sim of SAGE Prepschool House built a model of a recycling facility with a claw machine that picks up and segregates trash for cleaning and recycling. They won 1st place in the Loving Our Planet category.


Robotics Cebu
MONORAIL. Cowan Noel Adlawan, Andre Paramide, and Sean Lerin of Blessed Trinity Achiever’s Academy built this model of a monorail. “If people ride it, there will be less cars on the road. It is similar to a train but it will be helpful to our environment because it will not run on fossil fuels,” they said. They won 1st place in Traffic Solutions.


Robotics Cup Cebu
GripAID. The Philippine Science High School-Central Visayas Campus team of John Burtland Allosada, James Gabriel Casia, and Cleo Agustein Sevilla created GridAID as a way to help people with grip disabilities by providing them additional grip strength. The team said GripAID is lightweight and low-cost and can be powered by a consumer power banks such as those used for phones and other portable gadgets. They got an Accenture Innovation Prize.


Robotics Cup Cebu, Accenture
SAFETY FOR BIKERS. The team of Mike Payo, John Burtland Allosada, and Jojemar Janea of the Philippine Science High School-Central Visayas Campus built Safemo, a proximity-sensing device with GPS tracker for bikers. The Safemo alerts the biker whenever a vehicle is near. The team also won an Accenture Innovation Prize.

Business Tech

GCash launches Scan to Pay QR code payments in Ayala Center Cebu

You can now pay 50 stores in Ayala Center Cebu just by scanning a code via your phone using the GCash mobile app.

The digital and cashless Scan To Code payment system was launched yesterday afternoon by Globe president and CEO Ernest Cu, who bought coffee and pastries in Abaca Baking Company by scanning a QR or quick response code near the cash register area.

Among the 50 stores that can accept payments via QR code scanning are Bo’s Coffee, Chika-an, Casa Verde, and Rose Pharmacy. By the end of the year, more than 100 stores will be able to use this payment option, the company said.

GCash scan to pay
SCAN TO PAY. Globe president and CEO Ernest Cu scans a QR code with his GCash app to pay for the coffee and pastries he bought from the Abaca Baking Company in Ayala Center Cebu.

Easy to set up

Officials said it is easy for vendors to integrate the payment system since all they need is the QR code.

“The people who have used it are amazed at the speed, amazed at the convenience of it,” Cu said in an interview during the launch. He flew into Cebu from Davao, where they also launched the system by partnering with the NCCC supermarket chain.

To pay using the system in partner stores, customers just need to open the GCash app then tap Pay QR, then choose Scan QR and then point the camera at the QR Code near the cash register then tap Pay.

“It is high time that our customers at Ayala Center Cebu experience the convenience of cashless transactions and offer scan to pay with GCash. This way, more people will have hassle-free options in making their transactions as they shop or dine at the mall,” said Ayala Center Cebu general manager Bong Dy.

Before the launch, Globe gave journalists and bloggers a preview on how to set up GCash and use the app to buy cellphone load. GCash allows its users to shop online, pay bills, and send money through the app.

GCash Scan to Pay
LAUNCHING. Globe president and CEO Ernest Cu answer questions of Cebu reporters during the launch of GCash Scan To Pay in Ayala Center Cebu.

Digital payments convenience

Cu highlighted the convenience of digital payments, saying cash “is a real burden for both the merchant and the buyer.”

“I heard a chain of 70 stores in the food business saying they accumulate 2 million pesos worth of coins before Christmas because they are afraid to run out. That’s a problem we need to solve,” he said.

Cu said he is “very confident” people will eventually adopt digital payments “because it solves a problem.”

“I personally have been using GCash for 4 years now. We started in the Globe tower. There was resistance in the beginning but then people used it and there was 99 percent satisfaction rating among employees,” he said.

Analytics for vendors

For merchants, satisfaction is even higher, said Cu.

“When merchants start the day, they just open up. There’s no need to prepare the cash register. And they get analytics, when is your heaviest transaction time? We can finetune the way we curate the vendors or the partners inside our food hall. Alam namin kung sinong malakas kung sinong mahina. Alam namin kung sinong malakas at the certain time of the day. We can do those analytics for them,” he said. “Which guy buys the most from you? Who are your repeat customers? You wanna do a campaign for them? Pwede rin. So many things we can do.”

He said digital payments create opportunities, especially for small business. “When I say small, I mean really small, kasi remember the GCash payment can be enabled for even your balut vendor, your cigarette vendor, your mais vendor. Kasi it requires no POS, just that particular QR code. That’s all you need,” Cu said.

He said the important challenge is to solve problems on cashing in. He said a key funder of GCash accounts are the more than 300,000 employees who receive their pay via the system.

GCash Scan to Pay QR Code
GCASH APP. You can Scan To Pay via the GCash mobile app.

Financial inclusion

Another key challenge is to raise awareness, he said.

“But we will hit the inflection point and it becomes the de facto standard of payment. I mean it happened in China, there was acceleration. It happened in India. Smartphones are coming with lower prices. A P3,000 gets you a decent Android now, which can make this happen,” Cu said.

He said the system is also a way to increase financial inclusion.

“As we gain records of your financial transactions, we are now able to give you a credit score. Together with your telco transactions, we can loan money in micro amounts, automatically. And say because of your transaction record you’re eligible for a loan of X pesos. You can also pay back through GCash. That way you don’t even have to enter a bank,” Cu said.

Feature Lifestyle Motoring

Ford Philippines trains Cebu drivers on safe, smart driving

You are twice as likely to die if you don’t wear a seatbelt, Cebu drivers and traffic enforcers were told during the Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) of Ford Philippines in SM City Cebu earlier today.

Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of dying in an accident by 50% for front seat passengers and up to 75% for rear passengers, the instructor told the packed room. Everyone has to wear seatbelts because those who don’t are usually thrown off their seats during accidents and can injure or even kill those who buckled up, he said.

Ford Philippines driving skills for life
DON’T USE PHONES, GADGETS WHILE DRIVING. Ford Philippines AVP for Communications EJ Francisco taks about the #ParkYourPhone social media campaign to remind people not to use phones and other gadgets while driving.

Philippine situation

The DSFL “is a global program aimed at teaching drivers the necessary skills for safe and smart driving beyond what is learned in standard driver education programs,” said Ford Philippines AVP for Communications EJ Francisco.

Many Filipino drivers and even enforcers do not know existing traffic laws, fail to practice basic road courtesy, and disobey traffic signs, leading to accidents and traffic congestion, Francisco said.

Although the DSFL is a global program, it is customized to the driving environment and road condition of the Philippines. It’s long-time partner in the country is the Tuason Racing School.

Ford Philippines Driving Skills For Life
BLURRED VISION. A volunteer struggles to walk straight while wearing beer googles, which simulates the effect of drinking 4 bottles of beer, during a demonstration to show the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Dangers of distracted driving

The DSFL has classroom sessions and actual driving time to teach attendees safe and fuel-efficient driving. This year, the program added modules on the danger of distracted driving. This is partly to support the implementation of the Anti-Distracted Driving Law in the country, Francisco said.

Ford Philippines is also doing a #ParkYourPhone social media campaign to remind people not to use phones and other gadgets while driving.

“At Ford, we want drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel at all times because nothing is worth losing that special connection for,” the company said.

Since its launch in 2008, more than 20,000 Filipinos have joined DSFL sessions, Francisco said.

Ford Philippines
WHEN TO CHANGE TIRES. Driving Skills for Life Instructors show how to spot indicators on when to change your tires.

2017 program targets

For 2017, Ford Philippines is targeting to cover at least 1,500 participants with specific focus on public utility drivers like those for buses, jeepneys, taxis, and transport network vehicle services, “recognising their critical role as motorists in ensuring that roads and passenger journeys are safe.”

The program is also expanding to more areas outside Manila.

“We have always valued road safety at Ford, so we’re happy to bring our DSFL program to Cebu, mindful of the fact that there is a growing need to install to drivers the importance of safe driving,” Francisco said. “We are hopeful that through this program, drivers will be able to understand the critical role they play in ensuring that our roads are safe.”

Business Events Feature Lifestyle

Japanese brand Miniso opens 1st store in Cebu

Quality products for a “very affordable price,” that’s what Miniso offers in its store, a company official said during the opening of its first branch in Cebu.

Miniso opened in SM City Cebu on November 3. The store has been packed with shoppers since then.

Filipinos have taken to the store brand and response has been very good, said Miniso Philippines Inc. president Michael Hong in an interview during the opening.

Miniso Cebu
ELECTRONICS like these headphones are a popular category in Miniso.

Miniso branches in Philippines

Hong said Filipinos are amazed with their product offerings. “Wow. A lot of wows. A lot of suprises,” he said.

The SM City Cebu branched is the 36th in the country. They opened in the Philippine in June 2016, said Hong. Miniso will be opening 10 more by yearend, he said.

Miniso Cebu
OPENING. Miniso and SM officials lead the opening of the store.

He said they’ve always wanted to open in Cebu, being a major city, but had to wait for space to be available. They will soon open in SM Consolacion and SM Seaside City.

Hong said they are also considering a store in Ayala Center Cebu.

Miniso Cebu
NOW IN CEBU. Miniso has opened in SM City Cebu. It will soon be in SM Consolacion and SM Seaside City.

Wide range of products

Miniso sells a wide range of items from gadgets, stationery, kitchenware, toys, bags, cosmetics, among its many categories.

“What’s important is the value for money. We offer good quality but at a very affordable price. It’s not cheap – it’s really the value for the money,” said Hong.

Miniso Cebu
MINISO pens.

He said Miniso is a Japanese brand and the Japanese take pride in quality control, he said.

“Good quality, unique style, trendy, reliable and low price. These are the features of Miniso’s products,” the company said in its website.

More photos of Miniso’s opening in Cebu

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Our stash of Miniso notebooks.

Feature Tech

Cebu company builds platform for emergency response, management

Helping relatives in Leyte after Typhoon Yolanda wrought its devastation four years ago this month made IT professional Cloyd Dedicatoria realize how woefully unprepared the country was for dealing with widescale devastation and emergencies.

Dedicatoria, founder and chief executive officer of Sugbotek, drove to Leyte with a family member to bring food, water and other supplies needed by relatives. He said government response shocked him. There was disorder to the point looting “became normal.” Relief goods were not immediately distributed because of problems in managing distribution, he said.

A response team from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority arrived seven days after Yolanda hit and just as Dedicatoria was heading back to Cebu. The team was delayed after getting stranded.

Response coordination

“I think the problem is the coordination. How we can set up a communication system nga ma usa ta ni, ma integrate ta ni,” Dedicatoria said in an interview on Monday.

What he saw in the response to Yolanda made him think about setting up a system that will integrate disaster response and management, he said.

When the officials of 7core Communications Inc., the hardware and connectivity company that he is a part of, were planning company initiatives for 2014, he proposed spinning off a software unit to build, among other things, a system for emergency response and management.

During the Kadaugan sa Mactan in April of 2014, Dedicatoria and his team set up a command center to manage and monitor peace and order during the annual festival. In Sinulog 2015, they created a friend finder app.

Guardian Cloyd Bere Dedicatoria
EMERGENCY RESPONSE. Cloyd Bere Dedicatoria, founder and CEO of Sugbotek, talks about the Guardian app and system that seeks to be a platform for emergency response and management.

Emergency response, management

In the coming weeks, Dedicatoria and his team will test the deployment of an emergency response and management system informed by his Yolanda experience. The Guardian app and system will be deployed in an initial group of four Cebu City barangays – Apas, Tisa, Sto. Niño, and Poblacion Pardo.

Guardian is more than just an app – it is a system that links citizens, government agencies that deal with emergencies, first responders, and volunteers.

Guardian has two versions of its app, one for responders and another for volunteers. The team is still working on the apps and will be making these available on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

Report incidents

Through the app, citizens can report incidents such as a fire, crime, or medical emergency with just one tap on the app. That report will be received and processed by a Guardian command center. Using technology and algorithms, the command center will then forward the report to the appropriate agency.

Using internet connectivity, algorithms, and other tech, Guardian makes emergency reporting and response simple, Dedicatoria said.

The Guardian ecosystem also simplifies volunteering and the deployment of volunteers. This, he said during the interview, was added because of what they observed during the Yolanda response – many wanted to volunteer but there wasn’t a system that facilitated sign-ups and managed deployment.

Strict vetting of volunteers

Dedicatoria said volunteers will be added into the system after a strict vetting that includes clearance from the barangay and other government units, submission of identification papers, and personal appearance. Once added into the system, volunteers can be deployed to help deal with an emergency.

When asked about vulnerability of the system to prank reports – a frequent problem of phone-based systems as reported by police, Dedicatoria said this wasn’t an issue. They get a lot of information from reports – including location and the machine identification of phones – that they can trace those who use the app to send prank reports.

The Guardian team is already looking ahead and beyond the current capabilities being deployed. Dedicatoria said they are working on a system that will use TV white space to make sure there is still connectivity even if the telecommunications infrastructure is down. This is another lesson he learned from Yolanda.

Deployment for LGUs

The Guardian team and the four barangays are still awaiting donated computer units from a utility company before the initial deployment will start. Barangays, Dedicatoria said, will serve as incident centers that will receive the initial report. The barangay unit can be as minimal as just two manned computers, one to serve as call taker, the other as dispatcher.

Guardian is talking to several local government units, including the Cebu Provincial Government, for a possible province-wide deployment of the system.

The system is free to deploy – the LGU, however, will need to spend for equipment that will be used for it. If a barangay is interested to use Guardian, Dedicatoria said, they can just sign up and if they already have computer units with internet connectivity, they can immediately tap the system.

Barangays without computers and internet connectivity can just sign up for a monthly subscription that will come with computer units, connectivity and enable them to tap Guardian, Dedicatoria said.

The system, he added, is extensible and can be deployed not only for government agencies but as an enterprise solution for companies like utilities. This, he said, will be a paid service that can help support the free deployment in barangays and other government units.


SaladStop! brings “freshness back to the table” with healthy salads

Fresh ingredients sourced locally, homemade dressings made daily, and a wide variety of healthy options for your bowl of greens. These are what SaladStop! offers, a company official said in a recent press event in Cebu.

“What we take to heart at Salad Stop is the whole sourcing and farm-to-bowl concept. In Cebu, we are sourcing 99% of our produce locally. We work with the local farmers and the only item imported from Manila is our spinach. All the rest we source here,” said SaladStop! director and co-owner Katherine Desbailles Braha.

What SaladStop! wants to do is “bring freshness back to the table.”

SaladStop Cebu
OH CRAB LAH! This is inspired by a favorite Singapore dish, the chili crab. This bowl is a mix of romaine, crab sticks, grated eggs, vermicelli, cherry tomatoes, red onions, croutons, and Singapore Chili Crab.

Very good response in Cebu

Braha was in Cebu last October 17 for a media event in the SaladStop! at the Ayala Center Cebu, the company’s 10th outlet in the Philippines and the first outside Manila.

SaladStop! Cebu has been open since July and the response has been “very, very good,” said Braha.

“We were very pleasantly surprised by Cebu. We were expecting it to be a little bit slower than Manila but definitely we’ve seen a huge crowd,” Braha said in an interview. She said they decided to open in Cebu upon frequent requests via social media of their Manila customers.

SaladStop! offers a wide variety of healthy choices, Braha said, comprising 60 different toppings and 18 homemade dressings.

SaladStop Cebu
SALADSTOP! IN CEBU. SaladStop! director and co-owner Katherine Desbailles Braha talks about the restaurant in an event with bloggers and journalists in their branch at the Ayala Center Cebu.

Homemade dressings made daily

“We take pride in our dressings. Everything is homemade so we don’t use any paste. Because it’s made from scratch, it has a 2-day shelf life and we have to do it daily,” she said.

At SaladStop!, “diners can either make their own or try 10 specially crafted signature salads and wraps.”

The restaurant highlights what they call as the “Eat Wide Awake” movement, which stresses the importance of proper nutrition and diet toward a healthy lifestyle.

SaladStop Cebu
TUNA SAN is a delicious mix of romaine, seared tuna, avocado, edamame, cherry tomatoes, mandarin orange, sesame seeds, and Wasabi Honey Soy.

“To us an important question is where the food comes from and also for us to be 100 percent transparent,” she said. Braha said people can use their website to make their own salads and calculate the nutritional information.

SaladStop! has an app that allows people in Singapore, where they started, to pre-order and earn points. This will be made available to Cebu next year yet.

SaladStop Cebu
HAIL CAESAR is a wrap of romaine, shaved parmesan, grated eggs, croutons, bacon bits, and classic caesar.

Good-tasting and healthy food

“Contrary to popular belief that good-tasting food can only be prepared fast if it’s unhealthy, the Desbailles family proved everyone wrong by establishing SaladStop! in Singapore back in 2009. The very first store offered a number of quick and healthy but flavorful alternatives to a society that was increasingly dependent on fast food,” the company said in its information sheet.

With their Eat Wide Awake push, SaladStop! said they want people to “stop and think about their food. Understand where it comes from and dream about the hands, soil, and time that made it possible.”

Braha said the company is considering to open another branch in Cebu next year. They will open 2 more outlets in Manila this year. SaladStop! is currently present in Singapore, Japan, and Indonesia. She said they will soon open in Barcelona and Korea.

SaladStop Cebu
GO GEISHA. This bowl contains romaine, red and white cabbage, firm tofu, asparagus, carrot, soba noodles, snow peas, edamame, cucumber, sweet corn, sesame seeds, and Japanese miso.

Business Properties

Property24, real estate portal of OLX group, launches in Cebu

Growth in real estate in the Philippines is in the “upscale” category but consumer demand is highest for “affordable” properties, an official of a real estate portal said.

This does not necessarily indicate a mismatch between supply and demand. Rather, it shows that Filipinos are “upscaling” and want to see “value for their money,” said OLX Operations Director and Head of Real Estate Ferdie Perez.

It also shows the important role played by real estate portals like Property24, Perez said. Property24, which is part of the OLX group, is a website that lists properties for sale or lease.

No mismatch; role of portals

“There is no mismatch. Affordability here means, rather than the absolute peso amount, rather than the absolute price, it is more or less the value for money,” Perez said. “And we see that not only in real estate. It’s also the trend that we see in FMCGx (fast-moving consumer goods, in F&B in hotels and restaurants. The trend now is Filipinos is upscaling. People want to feel the value of their hard-earned money.”

Officials of Property24 and OLX were in Cebu this week to introduce the real estate website to local journalists and bloggers.

The site already has 6,000 Cebu properties listed and they will be expanding aggressively in the province. Perez said this is the most number in terms of listings compared to other web verticals.

Property24 Cebu
PROPERTY24. OLX Operations Director and Head of Real Estate Ferdie Perez introduces Property24 in a press conference in Cebu City. The property portal is part of the OLX group.

Cebu real estate sector

He said they want to expand in Cebu because “there are a lot of local developers here.”

Perez said their data shows that the real estate sector in Cebu is distinguished by 1) strong growth in BPO, tourism, and remittances; 2) increased demand for condos; and 3) popularity of townhouses and duplex units outside Metro Cebu.

The top considerations for Cebuano property buyers, according to Perez, are presence of nearby shops (74%); accessibility (44%); kids infrastructure (40%); safety (39%); and public services (36%).

The top cities in property searches are Cebu City at 47%; Mandaue City, 17%; Lapu-Lapu City, 12%; Talisay City, 7%; and Consolacion, 5%.

Unlike other portals, Property24 is meant for professional sellers such as brokers and agents, Perez said. The website verifies the identity of sellers before they are allowed to post. For brokers, they require Professional Regulation Commission or PRC IDs; for agents, they require proof of identity and the name of their brokers.

Perez said Property24 also performs regular audit and review of listings to make sure these are legitimate.

Property24 works on a subscription model and those who want to post pay a fee based on different packages. Perez said the fee is minimal compared to potential earnings by brokers and agents if they make a sale on the platform.

OLX, Property24 Cebu
COMBINED PLATFORM. The combined OLX and Property24 platforms generate 300,000 in sales leads monthly, an official said. In the photo are (from left) Mix Martinez, Category Manager for Real Estate; Hazel Juson, Cebu Head of Sales Real Estate, OLX Philippines; Ferdie Perez, Head of Real Estate, OLX Philippines; Charisse Vilchez, PR Lead, OLX Philippines; and Timmy Deal Agua, Brand Marketing Officer, OLX Philippines.

Monthly traffic, sales leads

He said the combined monthly traffic of OLX and Property 24 is 2 million people. The combined platforms generate 300,000 leads every month. These are inquiries via email, SMS, and chat, said Perez.

“When combined, both platforms give sellers a rise in web traffic and increase in potential buyers, delivering better value for subscription fees. Buyers are equally rewarded with more property options, higher seller engagement, and more pages viewed,” the company said in a press statement.

Perez said Property24 also offers the “win-win exchanges” pioneered by OLX.

He said 75 percent of real estate professionals already use online tools to sell property and supporting this with face-to-face and on-site selling. He said online tools lead to faster turn-around and more sales. Offline, agents sell 2 to 3 units a month. Online, they are able to sell an average of 7 to 8 units.

Property sellers, buyers win

Perez said Filipino users are already starting to be comfortable with buying items online. Almost half are already looking for properties online, he said.

With the Property24 platform, “buyers win because they are able to find the perfect property they are looking for their families. Sellers win because they sell more, and they sell faster. Ultimately the country wins because the economy grows faster, real estate grows faster,” Perez said.

Property24 Cebu.

Events Tech

Huawei launches Nova 2i in Cebu

Huawei unveiled in Cebu today its latest mid-range phone, the Huawei Nova 2i, and the company said local response has been “overwhelming.”

The Nova 2 was launched in key locations in Manila, Visayas and Mindanao today. In Cebu, the phone was launched in SM City Cebu and Ayala Center Cebu.

The first 100 buyers of the phone yesterday got a free JBL Flip 3 portable speaker.

Huawei Nova 2i Cebu
HUAWEI Nova 2i. Huawei area retail supervisor for Cebu Alvin Gales demonstrates key features of the Huawei Nova 2i during a press briefing held alongside the nationwide launch of the Huawei Nova 2i.

4 cameras, large display

The Nova 2i’s key features are its image quality with its 4 cameras and its large “FullView” 5.9-inch display.

“The Huawei Nova 2i pushes the boundaries of design with a massive 5.9-inch screen with FHD+ resolution and 18:9 aspect ratio. But while the screen may be big, the device remains compact thanks to a high screen-to-body ratio and slim metallic unibody,” the company said in its product information sheet.

The company said its dual front camera and dual rear camera allows users to “take stunning selfies and professional-looking photos with a bokeh effect.” It also offers an extensive array of options and controls for the camera, including the popular setting for wider aperture and one for food photos.

Huawei Nova 2i Cebu
CEBU LAUNCH. The Huawei Nova 2i was launched in Cebu today at the SM City Cebu (above) and Ayala Center Cebu.

Huawei chipset, battery

The phone is powered by a Huawei Kirin 659 octa-core chipset. The phone comes with a 3340 mAh battery. The use of AI to gauge how the owner uses the phone and the fact that Huawei created the chipset mean the phone is able to do more with its power capacity, bloggers and journalists were told in a briefing during the launch.

The phone comes with a 4GB RAM and a 64GB storage that is expandable via a memory card through its hybrid dual SIM setup. That means you can use the second slot either for a 2nd SIM or a memory card to increase storage capacity.

Huawei Nova 2i Cebu
NOVA 2I. Local response to the Huawei Nova 2i launch was “overwhelming,” a company official said.

The Nova 2i has LTE connectivity.

The phone comes with Aurora Blue, Graphite Black, and Prestige Gold. But for the launch, only Graphite Black is still available.

The Huawei Nova 2i retails for 14,990 and is available on a 0% 6-month plan via Home Credit.