PLDT, Smart retailers win big at Ka-Partner Rewards 2019

Five brand-new millionaires, and more than 100 winners of motorcycles, mobile gadgets, load wallets, grocery items, and other premium items—these are the exciting highlights of this year’s Ka-Partner Rewards program of PLDT and wireless unit Smart Communications.

The program’s latest winners of P1 million in cash and livelihood packages are two housewives and sari-sari store owners from Leyte and Davao. The two winners join three other new Ka-Partner millionaires, bringing the total number of this year’s retailer-millionaires to five. The Ka-Partner program, which started in 2015, now has a total of 19 retailer-millionaires.

The winner from Leyte has a son who just graduated from college, and a husband who works as a taxi driver in Manila. “I sell load to add to my husband’s income and help pay for my son’s schooling,” she said. The couple hope that their son will soon find a decent job and get married.

Actor Jameson Blake serenades the retailers during the Amazing Ka-Partner convention held at SMX Davao.

Actor Jameson Blake serenades the retailers during the Amazing Ka-Partner convention held at SMX Davao.

Load as necessity

The retailer from Davao, meanwhile, highlighted the importance of having mobile load at all times. “I think load has become one of life’s necessities, like rice, sugar, cooking oil. It’s important because it allows us to communicate with others, especially during emergencies,” she said.

They encouraged fellow load retailers to sell more to improve their chances of winning the grand prize at next year’s Ka-Partner assembly. Load sales are automatically converted as entries to the raffle during the succeeding retailers convention.

PLDT-Smart Ka-Partner retailers are usually found at our neighborhood sari-sari or grocery stores. They can also be a friend or a relative from whom we can buy airtime credits or load, wherever they may be.

Close to 20,000 load retailers from all over the Philippines gathered for a day of entertainment, fun games, and exciting prizes at the PLDT-Smart Amazing Ka-Partner convention, which was held between May and August in 20 various locations nationwide.

The winner from Leyte (fourth from right) receives the grand prize during the Amazing Ka-Partner convention at Leyte Academic Center in Palo.

The winner from Leyte (fourth from right) receives the grand prize during the Amazing Ka-Partner convention at Leyte Academic Center in Palo.

Incentives to retailers

The activity is part of PLDT-Smart’s Ka-Partner Rewards program, which gives incentives to the companies’ more than 1 million load retailers to help them grow their businesses and enhance their livelihood, while enabling communities to stay connected.

This year’s convention theme is #PLDTSmartAmazingSaBenta as load retailers are assured of bigger income and better business opportunities given the improved mobile and internet experience of PLDT and Smart customers. The improved connectivity can be attributed to PLDT-Smart’s network upgrades, with the expansion of fiber network and accelerated deployment of Long-Term Evolution (LTE) service nationwide.

A lucky Ka-Partner retailer wins a raffle prize during the convention in Leyte.

A lucky Ka-Partner retailer wins a raffle prize during the convention in Leyte.

The convention is PLDT-Smart’s way of giving back to load retailers or Ka-Partners, whose sales account for a significant share of the company’s revenues.

The gathering featured topnotch entertainment from today’s hottest stars, and raffle draws where as much as P1 million was given away. The venues also hosted a trade fair, where Ka-Partners availed of products, services, and various opportunities to help them grow their business further.

Load retailers also received assistance in using the Ka-Partner app, which could help them keep track of their sales with its digital sales ledger and inventory management features. (Press Release)

Ayala Corp. to go cashless with GCash

Ayala Corporation (Ayala), one of the oldest and largest conglomerates in the Philippines, has adopted GCash’s Powerpay+ disbursement platform to release incentives to its employees at the parent company.

Powerpay+ is a bundled funds disbursement facility that allows companies to pay out salaries, commissions and allowances more conveniently and securely to people by crediting funds directly to employees’ GCash accounts. It provides the flexibility to disburse scheduled or recurring payouts and is easily accessible via mobile phone. GCash is operated by Mynt, a partnership among Globe Telecom, Ayala Corporation and Ant Financial.

Logical next step

“Digital payments within the group was a natural move for us at Ayala. As a 185-year-old company, we are taking advantage of a new digital format that gives our employees ease, convenience, and security. We used to give gift cheques, which later became electronic gift cheques, so the move to e-wallets was a logical next step for us following the increasingly digitally savvy lifestyle of our employees and GCash’s recent exponential growth as the country’s leading mobile wallet,” said John Phillip Orbeta, Ayala’s Chief Human Resources Officer and Corporate Resources Group Head.

Mynt CEO Anthony Thomas also emphasized the added security and convenience that are innate to e-wallets. He says that with a digital format, “you have a trail, you have the ability to send out money for any purpose. Payroll is one, but incentives, reimbursements, agent commissions—all these needs are taken care of through an enterprise interface which allows you to pay instantly, and even small amounts, making it very efficient.”

Daily tasks

Like the rest of GCash’s 20 million users, Ayala employees have been using the platform to accomplish daily tasks like buying prepaid load, paying bills online, booking movie tickets, sending money to other GCash accounts and traditional bank accounts, and transacting with over 50,000 QR-enabled merchant partners nationwide. GCash also offers GSave, which gives the highest savings rate in the country and requires no minimum balance, and GCredit, which uses alternative credit scoring models to provide microloans.

GOING CASHLESS. Anthony Thomas (left), President and CEO of GCash, and John Philip S. Orbeta, Ayala Chief Human Resource Officer & Group Head of Corporate Resources.

Orbeta says that using the Powerpay+ platform will simply take their Ayala employees’ GCash use to another level.

At Ayala’s 2019 Annual Stockholders’ Meeting last April, Ayala Chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said the company is undergoing a massive transformation to ramp up the digitalization of its companies, as this was key to propelling the company into the future.

Zobel emphasized that the corporation, with business interests in real estate, banking, telecommunications, water, power, infrastructure, industrial technologies, health care, and education, has started “to participate in digital businesses that we believe are disruptive. These

Digital transformation journey

investments are designed to complement our group’s traditional brick-and-mortar operations, future-proof our existing portfolio, and broaden the digital experience of Filipinos.”

“We spend significant time studying other markets that are in the advanced stages of digital maturity and we have teams constantly looking at emerging trends and technologies,” Zobel added. “Absorbing and learning from these experiences, we have become more deliberate in our own digital transformation journey and have elevated it into a group-wide strategic agenda.”

Aside from enjoying the benefits of going digital, Thomas said GCash users also contribute to Philippine environmental sustainability efforts through GCash Forest, a feature within the app that computes how transactions done via GCash help the environment. The app computes one’s carbon credits, which upon hitting a predetermined target will require GCash to plant a tree at the Ipo Watershed, the biggest source of water for Metro Manila. (Press Release)

Megaworld’s 1st half 2019 earnings up 18% to P8.9B

Residential, rental, and hotel businesses register double-digit growth

Megaworld, the country’s pioneer in and largest developer of townships, grew its net income by 18% to P8.9-billion in the first half of 2019 from P7.5-billion during the same period last year. Excluding a non-recurring gain of about P189-million in the first six months of 2019, the company saw a 15% increase in earnings compared to the same figure last year.

Net income attributable to parent company, on the other hand, rose 16% to P8.3-billion from P7.2-billion during the same period the previous year.

Double-digit growth

Megaworld’s earnings was fueled by a collective growth of 16% in its core businesses related to residential sales, leasing of Megaworld Premier Offices and Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, as well as operations of the brands under Megaworld Hotels. Each of the company’s core businesses exhibited double-digit growth from January to June this year.

Likewise, consolidated revenues of the company went up 18% to P31.7-billion during the first half of 2019 from P27-billion during the same period last year. Broken down, Megaworld’s residential business, rental, and hotel operations, accounted for 63%, 26%, and 4% of total revenues, respectively. The balance of 7% came from its non-core revenues.

Megaworld Hotels: The company’s hotel business was the fastest-growing segment for the first half of the year, growing 80% compared to the same period last year.

MEGAWORLD HOTELS. The company’s hotel business was the fastest-growing segment for the first half of the year, growing 80% compared to the same period last year.

“The current economic landscape is quite favorable so we continue to be optimistic on the remaining five months of 2019. Interest rates are on a downtrend, which is a very positive news for our residential business. Vacancies in both office and commercial segments are on an all-time low, and we don’t see this changing in the near future due to the robust sign-ups we are seeing from big companies and business owners. Tourism growth, likewise, remains strong, and this should continue to fuel our blossoming hotel operations especially that we are opening more hotels henceforth,” said Kevin L. Tan, chief strategy officer, Megaworld.

New inventory

Residential sales improved to P20.2-billion during the first six months of 2019 from P18.1-billion during the same period in 2018, registering a growth of about 11% year-on-year.

The company launched a total of P39-billion in new inventory during the first half of the year while sales reservations reached P80-billion by the end of the period.

On the rental front, Megaworld’s leasing revenues soared to P8.1-billion during the first six months of the year from P6.8-billion in the same period in 2018, a remarkable 20% growth year-on-year.

By yearend, the company is expected to complete more than 230,000 square meters of leasable space from its two rental brands of Megaworld Premier Offices and Megaworld Lifestyle Malls all over the country.

MCKINLEY HILL. The 50-hectare McKinley Hill in Fort Bonifacio celebrates its 15th anniversary this year and serves as a home to 90,000 office workers.

MCKINLEY HILL. The 50-hectare McKinley Hill in Fort Bonifacio celebrates its 15th anniversary this year and serves as a home to 90,000 office workers.

Megaworld Lifestyle Malls

Just a few weeks ago, the company announced that it plans to expand its Megaworld Lifestyle Malls footprint outside of Metro Manila with the opening of 8 new malls and commercial centers in key regional centers in the next three years. The plans will cover as much as 200,000 square meters of fresh retail inventory until 2022.

The company’s hotel operations under the Megaworld Hotels brand became the fastest growing segment during the first half of 2019, soaring 80% to P1.3-billion from P715-million last year.

Megaworld Hotels is expected to add another 1,000 room keys this year with the scheduled openings of Belmont Hotel Boracay and Savoy Hotel Mactan Newtown before year-end.

Megaworld Hotels now has 8 homegrown hotels across the country: Richmonde Hotel Ortigas, Eastwood Richmonde Hotel, Richmonde Hotel Iloilo, Savoy Hotel Manila, Savoy Hotel Boracay, Belmont Hotel Manila, Hotel Lucky Chinatown, and Twin Lakes Hotel.

Masterplanned townships, lifestyle communities

Celebrating its 30th year in the real estate industry, Megaworld already has 24 masterplanned townships and integrated lifestyle communities across the country, namely: Eastwood City in Libis, Quezon City, (18.5 hectares); Newport City in Pasay City (25 hectares); McKinley Hill (50 hectares), McKinley West (34.5 hectares), Uptown Bonifacio (15.4 hectares) and Forbes Town (5 hectares), all in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City; The Mactan Newtown in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu (30 hectares); Iloilo Business Park in Mandurriao, Iloilo City (72 hectares); Sta. Barbara Heights in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo (173 hectares); Boracay Newcoast in Boracay Island (150 hectares); Twin Lakes in Alfonso, Batangas near Tagaytay (1,200 hectares); ArcoVia City in Pasig City (12.3 hectares); Southwoods City in the boundaries of Cavite and Laguna (561 hectares); Davao Park District in Lanang, Davao City (11 hectares); Alabang West in Las Piñas City (62 hectares); Eastland Heights in Antipolo, Rizal (640 hectares); Suntrust Ecotown in Tanza, Cavite (350 hectares); Maple Grove in General Trias, Cavite (140 hectares); The Hamptons Caliraya in Lumban-Cavinti, Laguna (300 hectares); The Upper East (34 hectares) and Northill Gateway (50 hectares) both in Negros Occidental; Capital Town Pampanga beside the Pampanga Provincial Capitol in the City of San Fernando (35.6-hectares); Westside City in the Entertainment City in Paranaque City (31 hectares); and Highland City in Cainta, Rizal (24 hectares). (Press Release)

Pag-IBIG Fund taps PayMaya to offer convenient digital payments to members

In line with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to make public services more convenient for Filipinos, Pag-IBIG Fund has made it more convenient for its members to pay for their savings and loan repayments anytime and anywhere.

This convenient way to pay is now possible as the agency partnered with leading digital financial services firm PayMaya to bring digital and card payments to its online and branch channels.

Through the partnership, Pag-IBIG Fund members can now remit their savings and pay for their loan amortizations using any Visa, Mastercard, or JCB credit, debit, and prepaid card. PayMaya account holders can also pay using their mobile number linked to their e-wallet via Pag-IBIG Fund’s online portal.

One by Paymaya

PayMaya will also soon equip Pag-IBIG Fund branches nationwide with One by PayMaya point-of-sale (POS) devices, which will enable the agency to accept PayMaya QR payments and any Visa, Mastercard, or JCB credit, debit, and prepaid card. One by PayMaya is the only POS device that can accept multiple modes of cashless payments via swipe, tap, and dip for cards, and pay-to-scan via QR.

Aside from bringing convenience to customers, offering alternative cashless payment methods will also lessen cash handling in paying Pag-IBIG Fund dues for better security and efficiencies.

CONVENIENT PAYMENT OPTIONS FOR PAG-IBIG MEMBERS ANYTIME, ANYWHERE. The Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) and PayMaya formally signed its partnership agreement to offer digital payment options for Pag-IBIG Fund members online and through the agency's branch channels, delivering greater convenience and accessibility to its members nationwide. Present during the signing ceremony at the Pag-IBIG Fund Head Office in Makati City were Pag-IBIG Fund CEO Acmad Rizaldy P. Moti (2nd from left), PayMaya Founder and CEO Orlando B. Vea (2nd from right), Pag-IBIG Fund OIC - Support Services Cluster and Chief Legal Counsel Atty. Robert John S. Cosico (leftmost), and PayMaya COO and Managing Director Paolo Azzola (rightmost).

CONVENIENT PAYMENT OPTIONS FOR PAG-IBIG MEMBERS ANYTIME, ANYWHERE. The Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) and PayMaya formally signed its partnership agreement to offer digital payment options for Pag-IBIG Fund members online and through the agency’s branch channels, delivering greater convenience and accessibility to its members nationwide. Present during the signing ceremony at the Pag-IBIG Fund Head Office in Makati City were (from left) ), Pag-IBIG Fund OIC – Support Services Cluster and Chief Legal Counsel Atty. Robert John S. Cosico, Pag-IBIG Fund CEO Acmad Rizaldy P. Moti, PayMaya Founder and CEO Orlando B. Vea (2nd from right (leftmost), and PayMaya COO and Managing Director Paolo Azzola (rightmost).

All these channels complement the existing bills payment section in the PayMaya mobile app that already allows for in-app payments of Pag-IBIG Fund transactions for millions of PayMaya and Smart Padala by PayMaya customers.

PayMaya is the only digital financial services company with an integrated suite of solutions for consumers and merchants complemented by the widest remittance partner agent network. It is the financial technology arm of Voyager Innovations, the leading technology company in the country backed by PLDT, KKR, Tencent, World Bank’s IFC, and the IFC Emerging Asia Fund.

Its “one payment platform” enables the country’s top eCommerce sites, major retail and quick-service restaurants, government institutions, as well as MSMEs, allowing them to accept multiple kinds of cashless payments.

Making Pag-IBIG services more convenient

“With this partnership, our members now have an even wider range of options whenever they need to transact with Pag-IBIG Fund. For those who don’t want to leave their homes or offices, they can pay conveniently online. Overseas Filipino Workers would also be able to have easier access to payment options through our website powered by PayMaya. This is our way of bringing our services one convenient step closer to Pag-IBIG Fund members, wherever they may be,” said Acmad Rizaldy P. Moti, Chief Executive Officer of Pag-IBIG Fund.

Customer convenience and government efficiencies

“We are glad that government agencies like Pag-IBIG Fund are embracing digital payment technologies to help bring convenience to all Filipinos. We at PayMaya are proud to be the partner of Pag-IBIG in delivering more accessible public services, which is in line with our goal of digital and financial inclusion for the Philippines,” said Orlando B. Vea, Founder and CEO of PayMaya Philippines.

By equipping government agencies with digital payment options, PayMaya is also helping the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas achieve its goal of transforming 20% of all transactions in the country to digital by the year 2020.

To know more about the digital payment products and services offered by PayMaya to businesses and enterprises, visit (Press Release)

Bid July goodbye with up to P2,650 in cashback, more amazing perks from PayMaya

The rainy season is here and with it comes a deluge of discounts, cashback, and other perks as the leading digital financial wallet and app PayMaya brings more amazing surprises to all account holders every time they pay using their PayMaya account.

From today until July 31, you can get up to a total of P2,650 in cashback when you pay your purchases with your PayMaya account!

“With all of these perks and rewards, it’s time to leave your wallet at home because paying using your PayMaya account today brings you even more value than cash or your credit card! PayMaya is not just convenient, it also offers you the best cashback deals and discounts for all the things you have to pay every day–whether it’s shopping online, buying load, or paying at the supermarket,” said Raymund Villanueva, Head of Growth and Marketing at PayMaya.

Until July 31, PayMaya account holders can enjoy the following perks and discounts for every transaction:

  • Get up to 100% cashback every time you buy load (max. P200) in the PayMaya Shop so you can keep calling and texting your friends and family
  • Buy discounted Mobile Legends: Bang Bang gaming pins and get up to 100% cashback on all gaming pins (max. P200) for all-day power-ups for your games
  • Get P300 cashback when you shop online with your PayMaya card (min. P3,000 single transaction) so you can snag the latest deals on your favorite e-Commerce sites
  • Get P150 cashback when you send money of at least P3,000 to another PayMaya user so you can easily send money to friends and family
  • Get up to P1000 cashback whenever they pay using PayMaya QR at any partner merchants (for upgraded accounts) for more value each time you shop

And from July 29 to 31, PayMaya is multiplying the fun as users can get double the cashback on QR purchases (maximum P500), which means double the savings on every purchase so you can splurge on that gadget accessory or cute dress you’ve seen in the mall.

What’s more, qualified users who pay their bills with PayMaya can also have the chance to earn as much as P200 cashback for two bills paid from July 29 to 31.

Not yet a PayMaya account holder? Signing up for one is easy. Simply download the PayMaya app on the Play Store and the App Store and sign up using your mobile number.

Get started on transacting by instantly adding money to your account through more than 30 bank partners via Instapay, or through the more than 40,000 PayMaya Add Money channels nationwide that include Smart Padala by PayMaya centers, Smart stores, Bayad Center, SM Business Center, Robinsons Business Center, Gaisano Capital Business Center, 7-Eleven, ExpressPay, Palawan Pawnshop, Cebuana Lhuillier, RD Pawnshop, Shopwise, Wellcome, UnionBank ATMs, BDO, Metrobank, RCBC, iBayad, ECPay, VMobile and Touchpay, eTAP & Pay&Go Kiosks, among many others.

PayMaya, the digital financial services arm of Voyager Innovations, is the only FinTech company in the Philippines offering integrated consumer and merchant payment solutions with the widest on-ground branch network. It is the first to give millions of Filipinos an e-wallet that allows them to pay cashless transactions at any time of the day, anywhere in the world, and from any device.

To know more how you can maximize your PayMaya account, visit or follow @PayMayaOfficial on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. (Press Release)

Priland launches 2-tower Vertex Coast in Mactan’s resort neighborhood

Homegrown real estate developer Priland Development Corporation brings the resort concept to home and office with the launch of Vertex Coast in Punta Engaño.

The two-tower residential development will rise alongside Cebu’s most premier beach resorts and prime real estate in Mactan.

With a combined 738 units for residential and small office-home office (SOHO) use, Vertex Coast incorporates the 360 living concept that capitalizes on the spectacular views of the Mactan Channel, said Priland Sales Manager Irvin Paul Pastoriza.

Priland President Ramon Carlo Yap said they plan to break ground for the project by first quarter of 2021 and complete it three years after or in 2024.

Home office units

The mid-range development will offer customizable studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and penthouse units, making them the ideal investment for home, retirement, or source of rental income.

According to Pastoriza, three floors or 54 units in each tower will be set aside for small office-home office or SOHO use. SOHO units measure around 26 square meters for studio and 50 square meters for one-bedroom.

VERTEX COAST PRESS CONFERENCE. Priland President Ramon Carlo Yap (center) talks to reporters about Vertex Coast in Punta Engaño in Mactan. With him are Priland Sales Manager Irvin Paul Pastoriza (left) and Priland Chief Operating Officer Marcelino Relampagos.

VERTEX COAST PRESS CONFERENCE. Priland President Ramon Carlo Yap (center) talks to reporters about Vertex Coast in Punta Engaño in Mactan. With him are Priland Sales Manager Irvin Paul Pastoriza (left) and Priland Chief Operating Officer Marcelino Relampagos.

Yap added that the company decided to set aside a considerable number of SOHO units in its Punta Engaño development after observing a growing demand for office space, especially among small businesses.

Another Priland development, Paseo Grove Mactan, has been modified to incorporate two towers solely made up of spaces that can double as small offices.

Exceptional amenities

Purely residential units in Vertex Coast measure around 24-26 square meters for studio, 39-45 square meters for one-bedroom, and 53-67 for two-bedroom. Unit cost ranges from P3.1 to P15 million.

Encompassing a total area of 2,700 square meters, Priland’s mid-range development will feature exceptional amenities, according to company executives.

An amenity deck with a spacious lobby will allow residents to move between two towers with ease. Shared amenities include an infinity pool, kiddie pool, garden deck, gym, and game room. There will be multi-purpose rooms in both towers for functions.

Vertex Coast will also have commercial spaces open to establishments that will provide modern conveniences to homeowners.

Prestigious location

The Vertex Coast launch follows another successful Priland development administered under a similar group, Vertex Central in Cebu City. Pastoriza said Vertex Central is already 80 percent sold, with only the bigger and penthouse units still available.

In line with its goal to support a modern lifestyle, the company brings the Priland Advantage to every development.

Provisions for air-conditioning unit, telephone line, cable line, induction stove, and range hood are standard in all Priland Residences project, including Vertex Coast.

Located in Mactan’s prestigious barangay of Punta Engaño, the Vertex Coast neighborhood includes such top resorts as Mövenpick Hotel, Seagrove, Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa, Mactan Newtown, Emerald Bay, Sheraton, Dusit Thani Mactan Cebu Resort, Arterra Discovery Bay, The Reef, and Crimson Resort & Spa Mactan.

About Priland

Part of a well-established and diversified group of companies that has excelled for over 20 years, Priland Development Corporation channels decades of business expertise into providing families and investors with quality real estate properties.

GCash innovations foster growth of Philippines’ gig economy

With its 20 million users composed mostly of young, working Filipinos, GCash has tailored its mobile financial platform to fuel the growth of the country’s gig economy.

Anthony Thomas, president and chief executive officer of Mynt (Globe Innovations, Inc.), which operates GCash, said the company sees a huge opportunity in the gig economy and continually innovates to address the needs of freelancers and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

“Most of our businesses are micro-businesses, and the gig economy is alive and well. A lot of opportunity comes from freelancers or businesses that employ just a few people. GCash could be a very convenient disbursement platform for them,” Thomas said at the IN_PACT Asia 2019 forum held on May 28 at the ADB headquarters in Manila.

GCash solutions

The Philippines’ leading mobile wallet and a pioneer in fintech services, GCash provides an efficient end-to-end payroll to payout solution for Filipinos operating outside the usual employment schemes, Thomas said. It also allows payment acceptance through QR transactions, and InstaPay transfers, which lets users send money to any banks in the Philippines for free.

“We make it very easy to accept payments offline through QR codes, or online with minimum to no cost so entrepreneurs, small businesses and freelancers can really focus on what they need to do rather than worrying about administrative problems in their lives and businesses,” he said.

The Mynt CEO was one of the speakers representing the fintech sector at the IN_PACT Asia forum, which this year centered on “Convening for Collective Impact.” The event gathered more than 300 social designers and innovators, and over 30 thought leaders and experts on social innovation and impact.

Anthony Thomas speaking at the ADB In_Pact Asia 2019 - Convening for Collective Impact

Anthony Thomas speaks at the ADB In_Pact Asia 2019 – Convening for Collective Impact.

Financial inclusion

The Philippines, which has one of the youngest workforces in Asia, is an emerging hub for social entrepreneurs, numbering nearly 165,000, and online freelancers, estimated to be around 1.5 million. Self-employed Filipinos make up 26.9% of the country’s 41.2 million labor force, the second biggest category of employed workers, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Still, financial inclusion remains a challenge as 2 out of 3 Filipinos do not have access to bank accounts, and 9 out of 10 do not have access to loan credit.

“But the smartphone penetration is good, and the Philippines is an increasingly social media savvy country… What we’re doing is incentivizing people to go online,” Thomas said, presenting GCash’s financial services, which include GScore, GCredit, GSave and GInvest.

Financial services platform

“We’re not stopping at just creating payment convenience in your day-to-day lives. We are ultimately a financial services platform where we collaborate with lenders, asset managers, banks, and insurance companies. And we’ve already launched a way where we’re giving people a digital identity,” he said.

UNDP resident representative Titon Mitra, who was also a guest speaker at the forum, recognized that the most impressive social innovations were coming from emerging economies, citing fintech companies like GCash.

“In a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, innovations are imperative,” Mitra said. “It’s not just about fostering social innovations but fostering social innovations with a coherent purpose. If we’re going to drive social innovations the right way, we have to make it everyone’s responsibility.” (Press Release)

Tap social media, digital tools to grow your business, Facebook tells Cebu companies

Businesses that embrace technology and social media grow at incredible rates, according to an official of Facebook Philippines.

With platforms like Facebook, there has never been a better time to have a business idea or solution and connect that idea with someone who will need it, Facebook Philippines Client Partner Chay Mondejar-Saputil said in a media briefing last Friday in Cebu City.

Facebook Philippines held last Friday an Accelerator Workshop to train Cebu businesses on online marketing, branding, and digital tools provided by the platform. Saputil said the business tools offered by the social media giant “level the playing field” for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB).

Reach potential customers

“Whereas before only big businesses were able to reach out to a large number of people, now even small businesses can reach hundreds of thousands” of potential customers using Facebook and its tools, she said.

More than 50 million Filipinos are connected to an SMB page on Facebook, the company said in a press statement. About 130 million people outside the country are connected to a Philippine-based SMB on the platform, it added.

The biggest shift right now is how we are so connected to our mobile phones

Chay Mondejar-Saputil, Client Partner, Facebook Philippines

Saputil said a survey of small businesses showed that by using technology and social platforms, 86% were able to sell their products outside their geographic boundaries and to customers in other provinces and even abroad. The same survey also found that 91% of businesses saw these tools as having helped them attract customers and 73% said they were able to hire more people. She said 82% of businesses reported increased sales because of the Facebook platform. She also said that 60% of these companies built their businesses on Facebook.

Saputil also shared what she said were the four Cs that are important to do well online: community, curation, conversation, and commerce.

Facebook Accelerator Workshop Cebu

Empower SMBs with training

Facebook Philippines said the digital skills training they conducted for SMBs started in 2017 and have trained over 5,000 small businesses in 23 cities all over the Philippines.

“We are glad to be working with Facebook in helping create inclusive, innovation-led growth for Philippine SMBs. Ninety-nine percent of businesses in the country are SMBs and they are the backbone of the Philippine economy. Together with Facebook, we will continue to empower SMBs as their success ultimately translates into more jobs and economic opportunities for Filipinos,” said Department of Trade and Industry Central Visayas OIC Assistant Regional Director Ma. Elena Arbon.

Jackie Morales of Digital Printing PH said platforms like Facebook allowed their company to operate fully online. Digital Printing PH started with two physical locations in Manila. Morales said that with the shops, they were limited by their location and their customers were mainly students. By going online, they were able to attract corporate customers from all over the country and even abroad.

Fully online, relocate to Cebu

She and her husband eventually decided to go fully online and relocate to Cebu, having been attracted to the province after spending their vacation here. Morales said her biggest consideration in going online is her being a mother. With the physical stores, she barely had time with the responsibilities of running their operations while raising a child. By going fully online, she now has more time for the family and for herself. She said she was able to travel more since she could run the business from anywhere.

EMPOWERING ENTREPRENEURS. (From left) Jackie Morales of Digital Printing PH; Gina Romero, CEO and co-founder of Connected Women; Facebook Philippines Client Partner Chay Mondejar-Saputil; and Facebook Philippines Communications Manager Michelle Fojas brief reporters and bloggers about Friday’s Accelerator Workshop for Cebu businesses.

EMPOWERING ENTREPRENEURS. (From left) Jackie Morales of Digital Printing PH; Gina Romero, CEO and co-founder of Connected Women; Facebook Philippines Client Partner Chay Mondejar-Saputil; and Facebook Philippines Communications Manager Michelle Fojas brief reporters and bloggers about Friday’s Accelerator Workshop for Cebu businesses.

Gina Romero, CEO and co-founder of Connected Women, said technology is empowering to women and allows them to connect with other female entrepreneurs and share tips and experiences. Romero used to be a flight attendant while selling used laptops on eBay. With technology, she was able to run the business wherever her assignment was. She later on started organizing sessions for women entrepreneurs. She has brought that online by tapping Facebook and her community now has 35,000 members.

Saputil said tools like Messenger foster interaction with the community and potential customers. She said this “conversational commerce” drives business and will be increasingly contributing to transactions in the coming months.

Mobile is biggest shift

Romero said they had to hire a dedicated employee to handle chats and would be adding another person soon. She said people prefer to use Messenger chat than other avenues like email and contact forms. Morales said she often has a deluge of chat messages that she has to use the “away” option because she is unable to deal with all messages.

Saputil said tools like chatbots will enable entrepreneurs like Morales to deal with the volume of customer inquiries.

Romero said platforms allow her members to interact with each other. She shared how a post or question by a member would often generate hundreds of answers by others in the community by the time she reads it when she wakes up in the morning.

Saputil also emphasized the importance of thinking mobile in doing business in today’s digital and connected world.

“The biggest shift right now is how we are so connected to our mobile phones,” Saputil said, citing a study by We Are Social that indicated Filipinos spent up to 10 hours a day online, mostly via phones.

“Most of our users are on the phone. Think of what your photo will look like on the phone, if you can’t read what’s on the photo on the phone then I would say 90% of our users won’t be able to read it as well. If it’s on the phone, the rule is the bigger the better,” she said.

Saputil also said that based on feedback and their experience in attending and holding events in Cebu, “I feel and I see that digital transformation is happening here.”

Miss Universe Catriona Gray is the face of the new Smart Signature Plans

Catriona Gray’s journey to the Miss Universe crown is an inspiring story of a woman who has reimagined herself to win the most coveted beauty pageant title, bringing pride and honor to our country.

Make no mistake about it, Catriona could have simply rested on her laurels with her Top 5 finish in Miss World 2016, plus a flourishing career as a commercial model. But, fueled by the support of family and friends, the now 25-year old beauty queen decided to embark on a much bigger dream that revealed the goal slayer in her – someone who is confident with her vision, and put every ounce of her energy to realize it. The rest, as they say, is history.

Fast-paced digital lifestyle

“Catriona’s inspiring story and her disposition as the ultimate goal slayer makes her the perfect ambassador for Smart Signature, a new mobile experience that prioritizes customers,” said Oscar A. Reyes, Jr., PLDT-Smart SVP and Consumer Business Market Development Head.

“Designed to cater to a new generation of goal slayers like Catriona, Smart Signature keeps up with the fast-paced digital lifestyle of our customers and empowers them as they tick off more milestones in their career or life,” he added.

“I’m very goal-oriented, and once I’ve set my mind on something, I put my heart and soul to it, and make sure I have all the tools to make it happen,” said Catriona, whose dedication showed in her hands-on approach to preparing for an international title: from putting together her own team or designers, trainers and creatives to displaying her proud Filipino heritage in her captivating national costume and now iconic gowns.

“This is why I am thrilled to represent Smart Signature, which empowers everyone with the digital experience they need to achieve more and realize a much better version of themselves. With Smart Signature, we have one less thing to worry about while pursuing our goals and making a difference.”

Tech-savvy beauty queen

Catriona uses digital platforms not only to connect with family, friends, and fans, but as an effective way to get her voice out there as an advocate for educating the youth and raising HIV/AIDS awareness.

But what else does the most beautiful woman in the world do when she’s online? For starters, she listens to music. “I never like it when it’s quiet. So, I stream music all the time,” she shared. She also enjoys watching videos, especially during her downtime. Here’s a fun fact: She likes watching beauty and make-up videos online, and even trained to do her own make-up as part of her preparation for the MISS UNIVERSE competition.

As an only child who lives away from her parents, and with a hectic travel schedule, she also heavily relies on mobile apps to constantly keep in touch with family and friends.

Always a go-getter, Catriona is ready to embark on her new role as endorser for Smart Signature. It’s going to be a hectic reign, but it’s a journey that she has prepared for all her life, and one that she hopes will inspire more Filipinos.

“I would love to share to people that my story is not an overnight success, and there were years that I really struggled. But I never gave up,” she revealed. “I always play to my own strengths. You need to find a circle of people that believe in what your goals are. And in this digital age, you need a mobile partner that will always prioritize your needs.”

Postpaid reimagined

Smart Signature prioritizes subscribers on the Smart LTE network, the country’s undisputed fastest mobile network as awarded by world-renowned firms including Ookla, OpenSignal, Tutela, and P3. This prioritized network experience makes sure that you can enjoy consistent data to connect to their favorite apps, sent messages in real time, and make uninterrupted calls – even during peak hours.

Smart Signature comes in four plans – Plan S, Plan M, Plan L and Plan XL – with generous data allocation; worry-free unlimited calls to Smart, Sun, and TNT; worry-free AnyNet call minutes to PLDT landline and other networks; and unlimited texts to all networks – so you never have to worry about connecting with family, friends, and colleagues on any network.

Experience a reimagined postpaid and achieve more with Smart Signature Plans now! Sign up as a new subscriber, or upgrade your current Smart Postpaid Plan for free, at select Smart Stores nationwide.

Learn more about the Smart Signature Plan perfect for your lifestyle at (Press Release)

VECO inaugurates upgraded Consolacion substation

To meet the demands of growing residential developments and the vigorous economy in the northern part of its franchise area, the Visayan Electric Company, Inc. (VECO), inaugurated its upgraded Consolacion Substation on May 10.

The Consolacion Substation, which was built in 1995, originally had a 33MVA capacity. Assistant Vice President for Engineering Operations Noel Modesto said VECO saw the need to improve, rehabilitate, and upgrade the substation to 66MVA to improve reliability and flexibility to better serve its customers in the municipalities of Consolacion and Lilo-an.

Consolacion Mayor Teresa Alegado, in her speech during the inauguration, said the municipality is thankful that VECO keeps up with the demands of the municipality’s growing economy.

“We in Consolacion consider VECO as a partner in growth and development and we are very thankful that VECO readily answers the call of the times. In fact, VECO is several steps ahead. Seeing that Consolacion is growing rapidly, you are also preparing your facilities to meet the demands. We look forward to working with you more and we assure you that we will always be hand in hand in the development of Consolacion,” the mayor said.

CONSOLACION SUBSTATION UPGRADE. VECO inaugurated its upgraded Consolacion Substation last May 10. Consolacion Mayor Teresa Alegado attended the event and praised the utility for “keeping up with the times.”

A substation is a set of equipment where voltage is transformed from high to low, which is suitable for supply to consumers.

VECO has a total of 19 substations. It started the rehabilitation works at the Consolacion Substation in October 2017 and upgraded its capacity in August of 2018. The upgrading of the Consolacion Substation is also in preparation for the upcoming rehabilitation of the nearby Paknaan Substation, which will be implemented by June this year with a 2020 targeted commissioning. Rehabilitation and upgrading works for the Calamba Substation in Cebu City into 66MVA is ongoing and is expected to be completed this year.

Owned and managed by publicly-listed Aboitiz Power Corporation and Vivant Corporation, VECO serves the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay, Naga and four municipalities of the greater part of Metro Cebu — Liloan, Consolacion, Minglanilla and San Fernando. (Press Release)

Coding the future of payments: GCash breaches 50k QR merchant mark

The use of QR for mobile digital payments is very popular in various emerging and developed economies. In China, for example, mobile digital payments account for over half of the country’s total transaction volumes.

In the Philippines, the use of the technology is still in its nascent stage, and has yet to see an explosion in usage.

Despite that, GCash, operated by Globe Fintech Innovations Inc. (Mynt), sees the value of setting up as many QR-enabled merchants as possible, as it believes that the future of mobile digital payments lies on innovative technologies.

Secure, convenient

“QR payments provide security and convenience to both merchants and their customers. Our thrust as a mobile wallet is to acquire as many merchant partners as possible — even micro-entrepreneurs such as taho vendors — to future-proof us from the expected boom in usage,” said JM Aujero, Vice President for Merchant Solutions.

Already, GCash has breached the 50,000 merchant mark in the first quarter of 2019, a huge milestone for the company that introduced this technology first in the Philippines in 2017.

“We want to be as pervasive as our partner Ant Financial is in China. QR is the future of payments, and we are committed to lead in this arena here in the Philippines,” he said.

The QR technology of GCash is far reaching, spanning from Luzon to Visayas and down to Mindanao, including popular tourist destination Boracay.

Empower MSMEs

This particular technology is empowering micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to adopt into the digital arena. Aside from giving them access to millions of customers, the QR payments solution of GCash allows merchants to enjoy auto-sweeping of their daily transactions into their account.

It likewise provides a better performance evaluation of the business, as the system provides for QR transaction reports, which allows enterprises to study and analyze their transactions real time. Cash handling issues are also addressed through the QR payments system.

GCash offers merchants no set up fees, a huge customer base, lower rates than most debit and credit cards, a chance for increased marketing, and access to periodic reports to oversee their business performance.

“Merchants and social sellers can leverage on the ubiquity of GCash in the Philippines, as well as benefit from this simple, cost-effective, and secure alternative to cash,” he said.

Get more users

GCash is embarking on a battle against cash to capture more users this year, and the need to increase the number of merchants in the GCash platform only continues to be more pronounced.

The GCash QR payments solution, he explained, is supportive of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ goal of reducing cash payments and increasing the share of non-cash transactions to 20 percent of the total volume by 2020.

“Our aggressive stance in fighting for more QR-enabled merchants stems from the fact that every day, more and more GCash users onboard the platform. Use cases for QR payments also continue to sprout,” he said.

“With Ant Financial as our partner, we are well-equipped to deliver the best QR experience in the Philippines. Ant Financial will also help us in strengthening our hold while massively scaling up our QR reach in the country,” he said. (Press Release)

Accenture Named Best Employer of the Year at International ICT Awards Philippines

Accenture has, for the third time, been named “Best Employer of the Year” at the annual International ICT Awards Philippines, recognized for its industry-leading initiatives in developing talent, advancing inclusion and diversity, and supporting the welfare of its employees.

Organized by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and supported by the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines, the International ICT Awards Philippines recognize outstanding companies that have exhibited leadership and excellence in the local information and communications technology (ICT) industry.

As a people-driven company, Accenture remains focused on developing and upskilling our workforce, enabling them to deliver innovative services to our clients in this digital age.

Lito Tayag, country managing director for Accenture in the Philippines

The Best Employer of the Year award, which Accenture also won in 2008 and 2017, is given to the company that has showcased leadership in elevating employee potential and success by institutionalizing a talent-led approach that paves the way forward to a more diverse, inclusive and future-ready workforce.

EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR AWARD. Sheryll Quito (second from left), human resources lead for Accenture Advanced Technology Centers in the Philippines, holding the Best Employer of the Year trophy from the International ICT Awards Philippines. This is Accenture’s third time being recognized for its employee-focused programs that help in the professional and personal development of its workforce. With Sheryll Quito are (from left to right) Julian Payne, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and chairman of the organizing committee of the International ICT Awards Philippines 2019; Meanne Quiambao, vice president for sales of Globe Business; Peter Macquera, senior vice president of Globe Business; and Maria Ahtisa Manalo, Miss International 2018 1st Runner-up.

“We are honored to be named Best Employer of the Year for the third time, reaffirming our leadership position in the local ICT industry and our commitment to building a community of innovators across our facilities in Manila, Cebu and Ilocos,” said Lito Tayag, country managing director for Accenture in the Philippines.

“As a people-driven company, Accenture remains focused on developing and upskilling our workforce, enabling them to deliver innovative services to our clients in this digital age. Moreover, we are steadfast in our commitment to become the most inclusive and diverse employer in the industry, as highlighted by the expansion of our parental benefits package and the EDGE Move Certification that recognized our efforts in promoting gender equality in the workplace,” Tayag added. (Press Release)

Restaurant, gym and yoga centers, other lifestyle outlets planned for Axis in Vibo Place

Shared office spaces and more units for lifestyle outlets are just some of the new and exciting developments at Axis Entertainment Avenue on Vibo Place.

The Country Basket restaurant, which is known for its chicken dishes as well as breads and pastries, and an architectural showroom are set to open in May at a newly completed cluster expansion, said Axis General Manager Andre Allen Suarez.

Opening soon in another building cluster is a yoga studio and an eyelash extension facility.

Axis Entertainment Venue expansion plans

Axis General Manager Andre Allen Suarez says they plan to fill the new cluster building with a gym, spa or salon, convenience store or pharmacy and are currently looking for locators.

Axis expansion

Suarez added that they will also add 11 units in a new two-storey building that’s currently being constructed after Burger King. This will increase the gross lease area of Axis by 28 percent.

The plan is to fill the new cluster building with a gym, spa or salon, convenience store or pharmacy and are currently looking for locators.

“We already have several restaurants. What we’re looking for now are activities for our customers. We’re listening to their needs,” Suarez explained.

Axis Entertainment Avenue on Vibo Place
NEW DEVELOPMENTS. Shared office spaces and more units for lifestyle outlets are just some of the new and exciting developments at Axis Entertainment Avenue on Vibo Place.

He estimates the schedule of building completion to be around the end of 2019 or early 2020.

Shared offices

One other thing that is currently in development at Vibo Place is a shared office space that is intended for startups, entrepreneurs, and freelancers.

Suarez said they have converted what used to be a serviced apartment spanning 800 square meters into small office spaces that can fit a minimum of three to five people. An events space and a bar are two unique features of the new facility.

According to him, shared office locators will have the advantage of a strategic address in Cebu City.

The Abaca Group plans expansion while keeping quality of products

Amid baking challenges and overcoming the perception of being expensive, The Abaca Group has managed to achieve healthy growth—starting out in 2006 with a boutique resort + restaurant and expanding to eight brands with over 20 outlets in Cebu today.

Several more will be added to the number this 2019, including Red Lizard branches in Manila that will be opened through a franchising agreement, said The Abaca Group Founder Jason Hyatt.

“The only requirement for expansion is that customers can’t notice,” he added, citing the need to maintain the group’s exceptional food and service.

Chef Patrick Corpuz, Director for Business, credited their consistent growth to a strengthened team. The company is set to open another Abaca Baking Company in Ayala Center Cebu and Luncheonette outlets in SM City Cebu and Ayala Center Cebu.

The Abaca Group
COMPANY GROWTH. The Abaca Group Director for Business Chef Patrick Corpuz (left) and founder Jason Hyatt discuss with reporters the company’s expansion plans.


Filipino restaurant at The Reef

The Reef Mactan Hotel and Residences, where Abaca plans to put up a Filipino restaurant, is also scheduled for completion and opening this year.

Mr. Hyatt said their vision for the Filipino restaurant is it should replicate home cooking and showcase local ingredients.

“Isn’t it strange that we don’t have Filipino restaurants in our hotels?,” he asked, adding that tourists who come to the country usually ask for places where they can try local food.

The Abaca Group founder also announced he has been tapped to handle the food and beverage management of the upcoming “apart’hotel” Citadines in Cebu City and has created a separate business for this purpose.

According to him, what they wanted to do was create partnerships with developers that will allow them to open commissary kitchens in hotels to aid in their expansion.

The Abaca Group
CHALLENGE. The Abaca Group Founder Jason Hyatt says the requirement for their expansion is the need to maintain the group’s exceptional food and service.


Expansion opportunities

To put up an Abaca Baking Company in other areas, added Mr. Hyatt, the challenge is to figure out how to make baked goods travel.

Since ABC prides itself in fresh breads and pastries, it needs to find a way to bake everyday and bring the products across great distances.

Partnerships with other businesses that will allow them to put up their own kitchens in hotels and similar developments will help solve this particular challenge, said Mr. Hyatt, adding that The Abaca Group will need such collaborations to grow nationwide.

Mr. Corpuz said they have several concepts in mind for additional brands that will probably be introduced in the next two years.

“We’re streamlining our product line and trying out different techniques,” he cited. The different Abaca outlets serve to cater to different business segments.

The Abaca Group


Challenges to growth

Through its growth years, The Abaca Group also had to contend with a reputation for being expensive.

While this has hounded them for a few years, Hyatt said they see it as working to their advantage now.

According to Corpuz, the typical business model of targeting a specific price point has worked well for their restaurants.

All through the years of serving quality and exceptional food, albeit at prices seen in the past as costly, the market is now finally ready for The Abaca Group.

The Abaca Group


The Abaca Group


The Abaca Group


Cebu Pacific starts Cebu-Shanghai route by April 15, offers 1 peso promo base fare

CEBU Pacific Air has opened a new international route to Shanghai from Cebu, offering promo base fare of 1 peso until the end of the company’s anniversary month of March.

Cebu Pacific’s Cebu-Shanghai and return flights will be six times weekly starting April 15, 2019.

Charo Logarta Lagamon said the new route will make Cebu a bigger international hub, as it also connects other Visayas areas like Dumaguete and Iloilo as well as Mindanao cities like Davao and Cagayan de Oro with Shanghai via Cebu. Logamon is Director for Corporate Communications Corporate Affairs of Cebu Pacific.

Logamon and Director for Marketing Blessie Cruz led today’s announcement in Hai Shin Lou in Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

The new Cebu-Shanghai route increases the airline’s international destinations out of Cebu to six.

Cebu Pacific Cebu-Shanghai
TO SHANGHAI. Charo Logarta Lagamon, Cebu Pacific Director for Corporate Communications Corporate Affairs, announces the start of the Cebu-Shanghai route.


Cebu-Shanghai flight schedules

Cebu Pacific will fly the Cebu-Shanghai route six times weekly, departing Cebu every Monday and Friday at 6:45 p.m., every Tuesday and Thursday at 7:05 p.m., and every Wednesday and Saturday at 11:55 p.m. Flight arrives in Shanghai at 10:45 every Monday and Friday, 11 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday, and 11:10 p.m. every Wednesday and Saturday.

Flights to Cebu leave Shanghai at 11:45 p.m. every Monday and Friday and 11:55 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Arrival times in Cebu are: 4 a.m. every Monday and Friday and 4:10 a.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Cebu Pacific currently has a network of 37 domestic and 26 international destinations with 2,100 weekly flights.

Cebu Pacific Cebu-Shanghai
ANNOUNCEMENT. Cebu Pacific Director for Corporate Communications Corporate Affairs Charo Logarta Lagamon and Director for Marketing Blessie Cruz led the announcement of new routes.


What to do in Shanghai

Shanghai is a major industrial and commercial hub in China with quite a colorful colonial history.

That ancient network of trade routes called the Silk Route which connected East and West started out of Shanghai, and visitors can check out such attractions as The Bund, Yuyuan Gardens, and Shanghai Tower, added Lagamon.

Cebu Pacific said it is committed to growing the Cebu hub, by continually increasing flight frequencies and adding more domestic and international routes.

Lite Ferries launches bigger ship for Cebu City-Ormoc City route

A new and faster roll-on roll-off or RORO passenger ship will service the Cebu City to Ormoc City route starting Monday, March 25.

M/v Lite Ferry 19 will be launched tomorrow as the twin sister ship of m/v Lite Ferry 18. It was built in 2002 and is the youngest vessel to ply the Cebu-Ormoc route. It is also the fastest ship on the route, with a travel time of 4 and 1/2 hours.

The vessel is equipped with 2 new Ningbo diesel engines built in 2017, with a total power of 7,800 HP. It has a maximum speed of 16.8 knots and service speed of 15 knots.

m/v Lite Ferry 19 Cebu Ormoc
CEBU-ORMOC. M/v Lite Ferry 19 will be the fastest ship to service the Cebu City-Ormoc City route, covering the distance in 4 and 1/2 hours.

Lite Ferries President and Chief Executive Officer Lucio E. Lim, Jr. said the ship is intended to improve their servicing of the existing Cebu to Ormoc route. The acquisition of the new ship is also part of Lite Ferries’ efforts to contribute to the modernization of the country’s shipping industry.

“This is in answer to the call of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to modernize the Philippine domestic fleet. By the end of the year, 50 percent of our fleet will be either brand new or 20 years below upon acquisition,” Lim said.

A ceremonial ribbon cutting is scheduled during tomorrow’s launch aboard m/v Lite Ferry 19. Guests scheduled to join the ceremony are Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Labor Undersecretary Renato Ebarle, and Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez.

Lim will lead the launching together with COO Fernando A. Inting, VP for Ship Management Jonathan Lim-Imboy, Assistant Manager for Operations Jethro Lim-Imboy, and other members of the Lite Ferries management.

M/v Lite Ferry 19
ACCOMMODATIONS. M/v Lite Ferry 19 can accommodate a total of 856 passengers.

When it starts servicing the route, m/v Lite Ferry will leave Cebu City for Ormoc City at 11 a.m. daily and from Ormoc City to Cebu City at 11 p.m.

The company said in a press release that m/v Lite Ferry 19 has interior-designed accommodations with hotel like features and amenities including an air conditioned 40-seater restaurant, a fully stocked canteen that will open overnight, an information desk, and multi-purpose kiosk.

It has two economy passenger decks, tourist class, business class, and four executive cabin rooms that can accommodate a total of 856 passengers. Its deck pathways have bigger spaces than Marina standards and its facilities are compliant with international maritime standards.

M/v Lite Ferry 19 Cebu Ormoc

Lite Ferries continues to improve its existing fleet by acquiring more vessels, with deliveries expected later in the year.

Lite Ferries’ main ticketing office is located at the Lite Ferries Corporate Building, Lite Port Center, M.J. Cuenco Ave., Barangay Tejero, Cebu City. For booking and inquiries, you may visit our website at

Xiaomi launches stunning Redmi Note 7 in the Philippines

Xiaomi recently launched Redmi Note 7, the latest smartphone in the highly popular Redmi Note series. Redmi Note 7 continues the series’ tradition of featuring a large display and excellent battery life, and pushes smartphone photography to a new level in this price range. Redmi Note 7 will be available from March 27, with prices starting at P7,990.

“We are marking our second year in the Philippines inspired by our Mi Fans’ strong love of Xiaomi, which propelled us to become the best-selling brand in the biggest online sales events last year,” said Steven Shi, Head of Southeast Asia, Xiaomi Global.

“As we update our multi-brand strategy in January with Redmi becoming an independent smartphone brand, we are strengthening our commitment in the Philippines by launching the latest device under the superior quality yet extremely cost-effective Redmi brand, the Redmi Note 7. This comes with an 18-month warranty, making sure that Filipino Mi fans will be able to get the best out of the device,” he said.

Redmi Note 7 Nebula Red.
Redmi Note 7 Nebula Red.


Stunning all-new design

Redmi Note 7 marks the greatest shift in design in the series, sporting a new premium style with the front and rear covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The gorgeous 19.5:9 Dot Drop display measures 6.3 inches diagonally and has an FHD+ resolution of 2380 x 1080. The Redmi Note 7 screen’s high pixel density and accurate colors (84% NTSC color gamut) offers one of the finest visual experiences in its class.

Class-leading camera for amazing photos even in low light

On the back, Redmi Note 7 sports the Samsung ISOCELL Bright GM1 backside illuminated CMOS sensor that has 48 million physical pixels. When taking pictures, the sensor uses Samsung’s Tetracell technology that merges four pixels to work as one large 1.6µm pixel. This greatly increases light sensitivity and makes the resulting 12MP image much brighter and clearer, even in low-light conditions.

Xiaomi couples Redmi Note 7’s cameras with the latest AI features, including the night mode photography feature that was introduced along with Xiaomi’s flagship Mi MIX 3, as well as AI scene detection, AI beautify and AI portraits that allow users to create amazing photos with ease.

Mr. Peaker Gao, Country Manager, Xiaomi Philippines
Mr. Peaker Gao, Country Manager, Xiaomi Philippines


Uncompromised performance and battery life

Redmi Note 7 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 AIE SoC, with a 2.2GHz maximum clock speed, ensuring uncompromised peak performance when playing games and processing data.

Redmi Note 7 carries on the Redmi tradition of excellent battery life with its large 4000mAh battery, which will last over a day for almost all users. Recharge via the USB Type-C port, and enjoy shorter charging times thanks to support for Qualcomm Quick Charge 4. Redmi Note 7 also includes an IR blaster capable of controlling numerous home appliances, such as televisions or air conditioners. In addition, it comes with Smart PA audio for louder and higher-quality sound.

Redmi Note 7 Philippines


Built to last

Redmi Note 7 is built to be reliable, designed to last so users can use it worry-free for longer. It features Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back, making it less vulnerable to damage from drops. Corners on the chassis are also reinforced, further improving durability. In addition, buttons and ports come with watertight seals to lessen the impact of accidental splashes that may occur in everyday use.

Redmi Note 7 will come in Space Black, Neptune Blue, and Nebula Red, and will retail at P7,990.00 for the 3GB+32GB version, P9,990.00 for 4GB+64GB, and P11,490.00 for 4GB+128GB. The first 100 customers who will purchase the device online will get Mi in-ear basic earphones and t-shirts. It will be available on Lazada and Mi Authorize Stores. (Press Release)

Redmi Note 7 Philippines

TOA Global opens in Cebu, seeks accounting professionals

A large number of accounting firms in Australia, New Zealand and the United States are looking to hire accountants, bookkeepers, finance professionals and other support roles. Due to the steady demand for different offshore roles, TOA Global anticipates more positions to open in the coming months.

“2018 has been an awesome year for TOA Global. We’ve witnessed an enormous amount of growth—we’re now at over 1,000 accounting and support professionals. This year, we are amplifying our efforts to bring more awesome opportunities to people here in Cebu,” said TOA Global Founder and Chairman Nick Sinclair.

Cebu talent

“The amount of talent here in Cebu is astounding. As a matter of fact, during the last CPA board exam, 11 of the highest scorers are from universities in Cebu. That’s an awesome indicator of the quality of professionals we can tap for our clients,” Sinclair said.

A market leader in dedicated outsourcing solutions for accounting firms. TOA Global is continuously on the lookout for talented professionals. The introduction of the Cebu facility is part of its continued efforts to establish a footprint in the country’s major economic hubs.

Currently, the company houses more than 1,000 employees in its one Manila office and three Clark sites. Construction of another building in the Philexcel compound in Clark, Pampanga is ongoing. The Cebu facility brings to six TOA Global’s base of operations.

TOA Global


Australia training

Thanks to the opportunities made available by TOA Global, several of its Luzon-based employees have already been sent to Australia for training and leisure. It’s only one of the many perks accounting professionals enjoy at the company.

TOA Global aims to bring these sought-after global career opportunities previously available only to those in Luzon to exceptional Filipino accounting professionals in the Visayas and Mindanao region who wish to explore broader career paths.

The thriving business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in Cebu—bullish economy and upbeat atmosphere—gives accounting professionals more reasons to explore career opportunities here, like work-life balance, enhanced learning, skills development, and global career advancement.

Ideal offshoring destination

“Our expansion reinforces the fact that the Philippines is an ideal offshoring destination. The influx of job requests from enterprises not just in Australia but other countries like the UK, New Zealand, and the US, shows that businesses value the work ethic, skills, and knowledge of Filipino professionals,” said TOA Global CEO Craig Mansell.

A significant factor in the company’s robust growth is its focus on people. Empowering its employees through platforms for learning and development has allowed TOA Global to provide excellent services to its clients and create more opportunities for local professionals.

“We are always on the lookout for highly talented and motivated professionals who aspire to grow in their careers,” said Mansell. “If you think you are one of the A-players we are looking for, join us today.”

Interested applicants can send their applications to [email protected]. They can also view available job openings on the official website,

Professionals in Philippines have better work-life balance than those in Singapore, Malaysia: study

Filipinos have some of the best experiences of work-life balance in Southeast Asia, according to a new study by recruitment portal Nearly two thirds (65%) of working professionals in the Philippines said they are generally satisfied with their current work-life balance, although 28% said they would like more options to spend time with their friends and family.

The study found 41% of Filipino professionals feel “content” with the balance of their personal and professional lives – significantly higher than employees in Singapore and Malaysia, where just 24% and 32% respectively reported feeling the same way.

● 41% of Filipinos feel ‘content’ with their balance between personal and professional lives.
● 59% of professionals said having flexible working hours that are suited to their lives and needs is a key aspect of work-life balance.
● 44% said their managers are supportive and understand that there is life beyond work

#WorkLifeBalance campaign

The data was gathered from more than 1,000 respondents across Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines as part of Monster’s #WorkLifeBalance campaign, which aims to explore working professionals’ sentiments around work-life balance and raise awareness among employers as to what aspects of work-life balance are most valued by their employees.


The major aspect of work-life balance for Filipino professionals is having flexible working hours that are suited to their lives and needs (59%). Beyond this, Filipinos want to be able to leave work on time (51%), while 47% say they simply strive to find the right blend between work and life.

On the employer side, bosses in the Philippines were more accepting of work-life balance, with 32% offering official flexi-work policies – this is more than double the numbers reporting the same across Singapore and Malaysia. An impressive 44% of Filipino respondents said their managers are supportive of them finding balance – once again trumping Singapore (23%) and Malaysia (31%).

Overall, almost half of respondents across all three countries rated their current overall work-life balance as “average, but could have more balance”. More than 80% felt good work-life balance can enhance productivity and positively impact the business.

Positive impact on business

“The Philippines is considerably ahead of its Southeast Asian peers in terms of fostering a workforce that is satisfied with the equilibrium between their professional and personal commitments. This has a positive impact on the business, increasing engagement and boosting happiness levels, which in turn encourages higher productivity and overall business growth,” said Abhijeet Mukherjee, CEO, – APAC & Gulf.

“A supportive company culture, understanding managers, and clearly communicated initiatives go a long way in helping employees cultivate better balance. As more professionals seek non-financial incentives, employers need to be proactive in taking necessary steps to attract and retain quality talent.”

Online recruitment platform is launching its first #WorkLifeBalance campaign this March, aiming to highlight the the importance of ensuring that professional responsibilities do not overpower other aspects of the lives of employees, and to encourage employers to formulate policies which promote a wholesome, complete and harmonious life.

Please see this infographic for a full breakdown of the survey findings. (Press Release)

POSIBLE brings digital payments, financial tech to neighborhoods

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

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

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

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


Digital payments centers

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bridging the gap

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

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

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

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

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

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


Expand quickly

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

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

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

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