Business Events Lifestyle

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Other locators will be selling various pre-loved items.

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

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

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

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


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

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

Business Lifestyle

SYKES treats employees, families to fun Halloween event

Treats not tricks greeted SYKES employees and their families who attended the Halloween and Family Day celebration last October 28 at the SYKES Grandhall in the Synergis Building in Mabolo, Cebu City.

Over a thousand people showed up to enjoy the joint celebration for Halloween and Family Day.

Sykes Cebu


Kids and adults alike enjoyed the fun games and abundant food and drinks.

A magician treated the attendees to several amazing magic tricks. Inflatables, face painting, and the photobooth added to the enjoyment.

The participants came in their favorite cartoon character outfits, and the kids prepared presentations. Best in Costume awards were later given out. Everyone went home with smiles on their faces.

Sykes Cebu


About SYKES Philippines

SYKES is a digital marketing and customer service global outsourcer, providing customer-engagement services to Global 2000 companies. With global headquarters in Tampa, Florida, SYKES’ sophisticated solutions satisfy the needs of major companies around the world, primarily in retail, communications, financial services, technology and healthcare industries.

SYKES’ differentiated end-to-end service platform effectively engages consumers at every touch point in their customer lifecycle, starting from digital marketing and acquisition to customer support, technical support, up-sell/cross-sell and retention. The company provides services through multiple communication channels encompassing phone, e-mail, web, chat, social media and digital self-service.

In 1997, SYKES became the first multinational call center in the Philippines. It paved the way for what is now known as the country’s sunshine industry. Taking the company’s pioneering spirit, it was also the first to venture outside Luzon, opening SYKES Cebu in 2003. The move created new possibilities and opportunities. To date, it takes care of more than 3,000 employees in Cebu alone. (Press Release)

Sykes Cebu


Sykes Cebu


Sykes Cebu


Sykes Cebu



Israel ambassador sees big potential for trade, tourism with Philippines

Israel sees a big potential for stronger trade, tourism, and diplomatic ties with the Philippines, said new Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz.

An important role of government, he added, is to create the conditions for nurturing business and one way to do this is to cultivate good political relations with other nations.

He explained during his courtesy call to the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) that his activities in the Philippines, which involved meeting local executives and business groups, serve to complement the four-day visit of President Rodrigo Duterte in Israel.

Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz
OPPORTUNITIES. Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz talks about trade and tourism opportunities with officers of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) during a courtesy call last October 23. Beside Harpaz is CCCI vice president for external affairs and relations Charles Kenneth Co.


Harpaz said there were special agreements signed between Israel and the Philippines during that visit, including business to business and government to government deals. He mentioned the oil exploration agreement that the Philippine government entered into with an Israeli company.

Israel has a lot to offer the Philippines, from innovations in agriculture and water management to new technology products, the Israeli ambassador also said.

“Your challenge is water management and quality. We can help you with this. Our challenge is not having enough water so we developed new sources. Saving water is also in our DNA,” Mr. Harpaz added, citing that Israel also excels in agriculture. Food security is one area where Israel and the Philippines can work on together.

He said his country also appreciates the role of Filipino caregivers, and the two countries recently inked a deal to regulate their working conditions. It is also looking at opening the hotel industry to Filipino workers, he further said.

Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz
TRADE LINKS. Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz with officials of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


According to Mr. Harpaz, the two countries can also benefit from increased tourism activities, noting that Filipinos do not need a visa to visit Israel. Many Filipinos travel to Israel as part of a pilgrimage tour to the Holy Land.

He also said they’re working on having direct flights between the Philippines and Israel as one way of further boosting tourism, adding he is confident that it will serve to increase visitor arrivals in both countries.

Israel might not manufacture mobile phones but it is responsible for many applications running on these devices. Waze, after all, was created by an Israeli startup, which is also behind other technology products pertaining to travel, transportation, and finance.

The Philippines in general and Cebu in particular can benefit from big companies in Israel outsourcing the manufacture of new products born out of research and development in Israel.

Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz
PRESS CONFERENCE. Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz answers questions of Cebu journalists during a press conference after a courtesy call with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry. With him are Honorary Consul of Israel in Cebu Emily Benedicto-Chioson (standing), his wife Shulamit, and Deputy Chief of Mission Yulia Rachinsky-Spivakov .

CCCI recognized as most outstanding chamber in Visayas

For its key role in accelerating business growth in Cebu, the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) was awarded the Most Outstanding Chamber in the Visayas.

The award was given by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) during its 44th Philippine Business Conference and Expo (PBC&E) last October 18 at the Manila Hotel.

CCCI outstanding chamber award
OUTSTANDING CHAMBER AWARD. President Rodrigo Duterte, assisted by PCCI Chairman George Barcelon and PCCI President Ma. Alegria Limjoco and other PCCI officers, hand the award for CCCI to President Antonio Chiu.


CCCI was cited for its exemplary leadership and dynamism, strong advocacy program, increased membership base, and effective delivery of services.

The award was handed over by President Rodrigo Duterte, along with PCCI officers.

CCCI special citation
SPECIAL CITATION. Receiving the award are CCCI President Antonio Chiu, Executive Director May Elizabeth Ybañez, and other CCCI staff.


CCCI was also given a special citation to recognize its pioneering efforts in education, training development and workforce capacity building by institutionalizing the establishment of the Assessment, Certification and Accreditation System (ACAS) unit.

The ACAS unit contributes to PCCI’s vision to empower our human resources by providing them with the skills, competencies, and qualifications that will lead to gainful employment or self-employment. (Press Release)


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

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

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

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

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


P1.5 billion projected sales

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

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

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

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

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


Right in the center

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

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

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

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

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


More tourists expected

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

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

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


Accenture recognized for future-proofing workforce with digital skills

MANILA – Accenture is the recipient of the Talent Development Program award from the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP). The award recognizes Accenture’s ongoing employee training and learning initiatives for new and emerging technologies in the digital economy.

Accenture was commended for developing learning roadmaps that leverage digital platforms, mobile solutions, and collaboration tools to help employees upskill and reskill faster. Programs range from virtual learning and online learning boards to playhouses and innovation competitions. In addition, the association noted the importance of Accenture’s collaboration with industry and the academic community to foster an innovative culture among its employees.

Accenture was among the six top companies named under IBPAP’s Talent Development Program this year.

Accenture Talent Development Program award
AWARD. Accenture’s Human Resources Lead in the Philippines, Ira Reyes (center) received the Talent Development Program award from the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) during the recent IBPAP HR Summit. Accenture was recognized for developing learning and training programs that enabled employees to become conversant in new and emerging technologies and job-ready in the digital economy. With her are (from left) Aleth De Las Armas, IBPAP Talent Development High Impact Program Lead for Talent Attraction; Tata Medado, IBPAP Talent Development High Impact Program Lead for Industry-Academe Partnership and APC President; Cathy Ileto, IBPAP Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees and Head of Technical Working Group on Country Competitiveness; and Monchito Ibrahim, Undersecretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology.
Business Lifestyle

Snow World, theme park to open in Minglanilla in December

Tropical Cebu will soon get a taste of snow and winter weather when Snow World opens in December as one major attraction of the province’s first integrated family entertainment complex Belmont One.

Snow World will cover 2,000 square meters and feature temperature of negative 15 degrees Celsius, ice sculptures, a slide, snowfall and form part of the theme park Anjo World, said Belmont One President Chester Lim during the project’s recent groundbreaking.

The 3.5-hectare commercial complex in Calajoan, Minglanilla will open in phases its facilities that will include hotels, restaurants, retail and shopping centers, and theme park with rides, food stalls, and game booths.

Lim said they are working to have Belmont One complete and fully operational by 2019.

Anjo World Minglanilla
ANJO WORLD. Belmont One President Chester Lim leads the groundbreaking of the Anjo World theme park in Calajoan, Minglanilla.

Anjo World attractions

Together with Snow World, the theme park Anjo World will open with 10 of its 12 rides already operational by December. The two other rides, a 60-meter ferris wheel and bumper boats, will be ready by the summer months, added Lim.

When the family agreed to put up a theme park, Lim said they looked for a worthwhile attraction and decided on Snow World. Snow World was also looking to expand in Cebu, added its operation manager for Cebu Jonas Mateo.

Around 15 food stalls will also open by the end of the year. Other dining facilities include six restaurants and food carts selling such theme park staples as hot dog, popcorn, and cotton candy.

Lim said they named Anjo World after their parents, Antonio and Josephine, who suggested that they bring the enjoyable experiences they’ve had during their foreign travels to Cebu. The theme park has developed its own line of characters and will have a child mascot named Anjo.

Belmont Anjo World
BY SUMMER. The park’s 60-meter ferris wheel will be open by summer, officials said.

Commercial complex

According to Lim, Belmont One is currently in talks with local chains for the hotel component in the complex. Other establishments to rise up in the complex include Belmont Hardware and Robinsons Supermarket.

Lim estimates the project cost for Belmont One to be around 500 million pesos. He added that while the company has diversified into housing development in 2010, this will be its first commercial venture of this scale.

He added that Belmont One is expected to generate about 500 jobs. It took them five years to come up with the concept of an integrated entertainment complex that will cater to the whole family.

Anjo World plans


Belmont One Anjo World


Belmont One Anjo World


Belmont One Anjo World


Belmont One Anjo World


Belmont One Anjo World


Belmont One Anjo World


Belmont One Anjo World


Belmont One Anjo World


Belmont One Anjo World


Belmont One Anjo World


Business Tech

Want to market to Chinese tourists? Go digital, mobile, social, says airline exec

China is the world’s largest outbound tourism market and offers a lot of opportunities for destinations like Cebu and the Philippines, said AirAsia China, North Asia President Kathleen Tan.

To engage with Chinese tourists, however, brands have to go digital, especially mobile, Tan said.

“What’s happening is that if you look at China they now have 1 billion smartphone users, it’s a cashless country right now. Everyone pays using the mobile,” Tan said during an interview held at the launch of AirAsia’s daily Cebu-Shanghai flights.

AirAsia China Kathleen Tan
AIRASIA China, North Asia President Kathleen Tan with AirAsia Philippines CEO Dexter Comendador.


Tan said “social media is a must-have channel today” for brands.

“AirAsia is a very big brand in China because we started before anyone. We were the first low cost airline-we put the low cost concept into China. When we started no one has heard of the AirAsia brand, no one has heard what is the low cost concept,” she said. “So we spent a lot of years educating young Chinese and it is now a brand that when you search on Baidu, AirAsia is a brand name that pops out.”

Tan said this is important because young independent Chinese travelers comprise a huge market.

AirAsia China Kathleen Tan
MUST-HAVE CHANNEL. AirAsia China, North Asia President Kathleen Tan says social media is a must-have channel today for brands.
Business People

MVP is Asia’s telco CEO of the Year

PLDT and Smart Communications chief executive officer Manuel V. Pangilinan was named Telecom CEO of the Year at the Telecom Asia Awards ceremony held on June 26 in Singapore.

The Telecom Asia Awards is the region’s longest-running industry awards program, which seeks to recognize the continent’s premier service providers and telco executives. It is organized annually by Telecom Asia, the largest telecom publishing group in the region.

Also nominated for the award won by Pangilinan were Andrew Kwok of HGC Global Communications Limited, Bill Barney of Reliance Communications & Global Cloud Xchange, Chua Sock Koong of the Singtel Group, Dian Siswarini of XL Axiata, Ernest Cu of Globe Telecom, Vinod Kumar of Tata Communications, and Yang Jie of China Telecom.

Reinvent businesses

“I accept this award with caution and humility,” Pangilinan said. “I am very mindful that in this age of relentless disruption, each new day brings fresh challenges. If anything, this award serves as a reminder that we must keep striving to reinvent our businesses and improve the lives of our people.”

He added: “I must also thank my colleagues at PLDT and Smart for the great work they have done in transforming our network and creating new digital businesses for the group. In these times, collaboration is critical to success. This honor belongs to them as well, and I am proud to accept this on their behalf.”

Under Pangilinan’s leadership, PLDT and Smart have committed historic levels of resources to support network transformation. This year, capital expenditures are expected to reach P58 billion, and will likely stay at that level over the next two years, bringing the group’s total capex to nearly P260 billion since it embarked on its network and IT transformation programs in 2016.

Improved coverage

Aiming to bring world-class connectivity to Filipinos all over the country, Smart accelerated the deployment of Long Term Evolution (LTE), LTE-Advanced, and carrier aggregation technology by re-equipping cell sites with low-frequency and high-frequency bands for improved coverage, capacity, and speeds. Carrier aggregation is the capability of LTE-A to combine two or more radio frequency bands to deliver bigger bandwidth and faster data speeds.

Manny V. Pangilinan
MVP. PLDT and Smart Communications chief executive officer Manuel V. Pangilinan.

In the first quarter of 2018 alone, Smart installed more than 1,300 LTE base stations, raising the total count to more than 10,000. This year, Smart plans to double the number of LTE base stations on its network to about 17,700 and raise the number of LTE-equipped cell sites to 6,800.

The accelerated rollout has boosted revenues, with mobile data revenues jumping 21% to P6.5 billion in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2017. Data now accounts for 44% of the revenues of the wireless individual business.

Improvements in network

Third-party tests have also noted improvements on Smart’s network. Independent mobile analytics firm OpenSignal has cited Smart for having the Philippines’ fastest LTE network. Apart from winning the best in 4G LTE download speed award from OpenSignal, Smart was also cited for having the best overall download speed, best 4G latency performance, and best 3G latency performance.

Smart is also at the forefront of heralding fifth-generation wireless broadband technologies and services in the country, or 5G. Just last week, Smart, together with its technology partner Huawei Technologies Phils. Inc., successfully breached 5G speeds of over 14Gbps during a test held at the recently launched 5G TechnoLab, PLDT-Smart’s flagship facility for the research and development, standardization, and testing of 5G. (Press Release)

Business Feature Tech

Need a cab? Micab app now provides ride-hailing service for 3,000 Cebu taxis

Getting a taxi is now easier in Cebu, thanks to ride-hailing platform Micab that was developed by a team of young entrepreneurs.

If you haven’t installed it yet, download the Micab app from the Play Store or App Store to get access to 3,000 taxis enrolled in the platform for Cebu alone.

Micab Systems Corp. was granted accreditation as a transport network company (TNC) by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) last April 30, said founder and CEO Eddie Ybañez.

What makes Micab different from transport networks like Grab and Uber is it doesn’t charge a booking fee when you hail a taxi using the app.

Micab founder Eddie Ybañez
INTERVIEW. Micab founder and CEO Eddie Ybañez answers questions during an interview by Cebu journalists.


Taxi 2.0

Ybañez said taxis subscribed to the Micab platform pay P500 a month and the fee covers the tablet and data that drivers need to run the app.

Without the booking fee, Micab Systems Corp. plans to get its main revenues from MiAds advertising. It has partnered with ad agencies to get companies to advertise on the tablets in the taxis.

Ybañez said the Micab platform, which he co-founded with Kenneth Baylosis during the Startup Weekend Cebu in 2012, came about as a solution to the perennial difficulty of getting a taxi that he used to frequently experience.

The TNC accreditation is a step forward in the company’s vision of a Taxi 2.0, which will involve clean and modern cabs driven by polite and friendly drivers. Although drivers can see a passenger’s destination in the Micab app, they won’t be able to cancel a booking once they’ve accepted it.

Micab target

The Cebu-based Micab company also now covers Metro Manila, Baguio, Bacolod, and Iloilo. In Manila, taxi bookings through Micab now go as high as 10,000 per day.

Although 80 percent of taxis in Cebu are already covered by the Micab platform, it still has to catch up with Manila in terms of usage, said Ybañez.

He added that they will continue to work with LTFRB and other government agencies “to innovate how Filipinos commute across our cities” to reach a shared goal that is the convenience of the country’s riding public.

Micab Eddie Ybañez
NO BOOKING FEE, NO SURGE PRICING. Micab founder and CEO Eddie Ybañez says their app does not charge a booking fee.


Digital hailing stations

Ybañez said they will also be soon deploying what he described as digital taxi hailing stations in major malls in Cebu City. Through these stations, commuters without the app can book a Micab unit.

The target for the year is to increase the number of taxi units enrolled in the Micab platform from 5,000 to 15,000.

Ybañez also said they will be building a system based on Micab for route-based units like buses, jeepneys, and vans-for-hire. He said this would likely be deployed early next year.

Business Events

Cashback, discounts, freebies at GCash Digital Weekend Cebu

Have you tried paying through GCash QR scan to pay? Head to the Cebu IT Park from May 18 to 20, use GCash QR to shop with merchants, and get exclusive discounts and freebies.

GCash QR is a system launched last year that allows you to quickly pay via scanning a QR Code at the counter. We wrote about the experience in using it here: With GCash Scan To Pay, transactions are quick, cashless.

If you still haven’t tried it, this weekend’s event will be a great venue to test the future of payments. During GCash Digital Weekend Cebu, get 50% cashback on your first transaction. You can get a stamp packet that allows you to win prizes as you complete the stamps by purchasing from GCash QR merchants.

The popular weekend food market and culinary destination Sugbo Mercado now also accepts GCash QR.

Gcash QR scan to pay Cebu Digital Weekend Cebu IT Park


Gcash QR scan to pay Cebu


Gcash QR Cebu
GCash QR is now accepted in Sugbo Mercado.

Gcash QR scan to pay Cebu

Business Tech

Move to intelligent operations key to do well in business: Accenture

Companies able to tap innovative talent, harness insights from large amounts of data and applied intelligence and tap benefits from the cloud and smart partnerships will be in the best position to survive disruption and do well in business, a recent global report said.

The report by HfS Research and Accenture said the future belongs to organizations that have transformed themselves into “intelligent operations”, said Accenture Operations Lead in the Philippines Benedict Hernandez in an interview on Tuesday.

“The future is about taking your business processes to become intelligent operations,” he said. “That is really capitalizing on digital disruption, access to phenomenal amounts of data, and the need to disrupt or improve the customer experience.”

Accenture Benedict Hernandez
MOVING TO INTELLIGENT OPERATIONS. Accenture Operations Lead in the Philippines Benedict Hernandez discusses results of a study that showed the importance of turning processes into intelligent operations in a press briefing in Cebu.


Move to intelligent operations

“The move to intelligent operations is fast becoming a make-or-break proposition for organizations, with 80 percent surveyed saying they are concerned with disruption and competitive threats, especially from new digitally savvy entrants.” Accenture said in a report on the study.

“It’s exciting to be looking at what used to be known as BPO (business process outsourcing) or BPS (business process service) and the challenge in front of us is how do we take our clients to an intelligent operations status to actually deliver all these benefits,” Hernandez said.

The research identified 5 essential components of intelligent operations: innovative talent, data-driven backbone, applied intelligence, leveraging the power of the cloud, and a smart partnership ecosystem.

Innovative talent

To move to intelligent operations, businesses need employees skilled in the new IT – data scientists, analysts, and experts on technology such as the cloud, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence.

In the case of Accenture operations, Hernandez said “talent is very important to us” and the company has 11,000 business advisors globally. “These are process experts who understand where is it that we can apply digital enhancements so that the client actually benefits.” The company also has 49,000 cloud practitioners and 4,000 data scientists globally.

“Having said that, you also have your current workforce that you continue to invest in so that they can actually be up-trained and re-skilled,” he said. Training workers to a redefined and changed nature of work is the “heavy lifting that companies need to be doing.”

“Because we’ve been automating so much over the past couple of years, what we have done is majority of the cost savings in automation is actually re-invested in up-training and upskilling everybody,” Hernandez said.

Accenture augmented reality
AUGMENTED REALITY. Members of an Accenture team demonstrate the use of augmented reality that allows people to virtually check out automobile models.


Data-driven backbone

Companies accumulate a large volume of data. The challenge for their clients, Hernandez said, is “how are you able to access and harness all of that data and run analytics, whether it’s predictive or prescriptive, so that you can actually improve the way the companies are performing?”

In one of the booths during the internal innovation roadshow at Accenture, a team showed how companies can spot trends in collection of payments by analyzing volumes of historical data.

Applied intelligence

Applied intelligence is using automation, analytics, and AI to improve processes. While many people see cost savings as a big driver for this, Hernandez said automating a process “benefits many other areas.”

“When the process works better, the end-customer experience is better, and there’s less of the routine tasks that people are doing, it allows the employee experience to also be better,” Hernandez said. “Now I don’t have to do all those mundane, repetitive, boring tasks because applied intelligence has already taken care of that. I can now make use of my human talent and skills to do more judgement, creative, problem-solving, more challenging, and more interesting kinds of activities.”

Automation can also eliminate human errors that expose companies to risk and compliance issues.

Leverage the power of the cloud

Companies are already plugging into “what’s available out there and have infrastructure as a service” rather than building their own. This allows them to be agile and flexible in their technology infrastructure.

“Buying and maintaining your own technology infrastructure is very costly and it actually becomes obsolete faster and faster because of just the rate of evolution,” he said.

With cloud companies continuing to evolve their offerings, “you’re able to get to the latest every time, you don’t need to do your own investment for that,” he said.

Accenture innovation roadshow
INNOVATION ROADSHOW. Accenture Operations Lead in the Philippines Benedict Hernandez with employees taking part of the innovation roadshow that highlights new IT like big data analytics, augmented reality, and AI.


Smart partnerships

Companies have also realized they “don’t have to be an expert in all areas” and could just tap partners to move to intelligent operations.

“In the case of Accenture, we have about 150 enterprise partners around the world of different technology and services that we work with. In AI alone, we don’t do AI on our own – we do a lot of R&D on AI but we partner a lot with Google, Microsoft, and Amazon Web Services,” Hernandez said. “The main thing about the partnership ecosystem is that you can plug in to who are the best enterprises out there in their particular fields.”

This migration to intelligent operation is well underway and the nature of work that the company is getting from its clients have markedly changed.

“A lot of the companies getting into operations partnerships with Accenture is actually to innovate their operations to become more intelligent operations. And this is an example of a smart partnership ecosystem. Because they realize that I can’t do this alone. I don’t have the expertise, I don’t wanna build all that expertise so I can actually transform myself. Why don’t I work with Accenture so they can take my process to become more intelligent,” he said.

Where next opportunity is

From cost arbitrage years back, clients conversations have moved beyond that into “how do I make my process more digital, how do you allow my operations to save me money, to give me insights so I can actually improve my cash flow position, how I can be more competitive?” he said.

He said the move to intelligent operations “is really where the next opportunity for us and our clients.”

“My hope is when you now say BPO or you think about Accenture and intelligent operations, these becomes the example that comes to mind versus traditionally what we think about in BPO terms.” Hernandez added.

Business Entrepreneurship Tech

Tholons chair: Cebu must embrace, see opportunities in digital disruptions

Cebu needs to improve in the areas of digital credentials and skills to move up to the top 10 in the Super Cities of the World list of Tholons, Inc.

Avinash Vashistha, Tholons chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), said Cebu continues to score low in such areas as open innovation, startup culture, cybersecurity, and digital competitiveness.

A Tholons team computed the average scores of the top three and bottom three of the top 20 in the Super Cities list and measured where Cebu fell within the range.

A panel (from L) composed of Jonathan de Luzuriaga, moderator, and resource persons Cebu City Councilor Joy Augustus Young, Symph CEO Dave Overton, Tholons Chair Avinash Vashistha, and Accenture, Inc. Cebu Delivery Center Lead for Technology Arvin Yason discusses Cebu City’s ranking in Super Cities of the World list.

He said Cebu did not fare well in the following areas: 3.5 against a high of 7.2 in digital credentials and 3.8 against a high of 7.14 in quality of life, citing political, social, natural, and commercial risks. Vashistha was one of the speakers of the 2018 Transformation Summit held today, May 16, at Bai Hotel in Mandaue City.

Digital, talent skills

For digital skills and scale, Cebu was in the 4.6 range against the top average score of 8.12. This category looks at the digital talent and evolution of a particular place, also taking into consideration as well the prevalence of mobile and Internet users and patent grants for technology ideas or products.

“All industry in the future will be technology-enabled. We can’t ignore the impact of digital because it is transforming the way business is done,” Vashistha added.

When Cebu thinks about what it needs to do in the area of digital, it has to look at the examples set by Singapore and Seoul. Tholons ranks the two cities as among the top 25 digitally competitive cities throughout the globe.

Compared against the average high score of 8.9, Cebu’s ranking of 6 for talent skills and quality could do with some improvement, according to Vashistha. Cebu rose to seventh place in the list of best outsourcing sites but fell to 12th place in 2017 when Tholons added new digital categories.

New tech opportunities

2018 Transformation Summit Speaker Avinash Vashistha, Tholons, Inc. chair and CEO, talks about what it takes to be part of the top Super Cities of the World list.

He added that Cebu should also focus on the opportunities instead of threats posed by digital disruptions, citing that trillions of dollars in new technology investments from 2013-2022 will result in the creation of more than 200 million jobs. India and the Philippines currently hold close to 5 million jobs in the IT-BPM industry.

These jobs will come in bulk from three main areas, including robotic process automation, big data analytics, and mobile app testing.

Vashistha said during the summit that digital shifts will also require upskilling and reskilling the industry workforce. Degree programs must also include cultivating the culture of innovation in universities through innovation labs and partnerships with industry stakeholders. Other ways will involve utilizing digital media for Cebu’s branding initiatives and collaborating with a global network of startups through mentorship programs.

The 2018 Transformation Summit is organized by the Cebu IT BPM Organization (CIB.O) in partnership with the Cebu City Government and Sykes. Other sponsors include Accenture, Lexmark, and Cognizant.

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.
Business Events

CCCI forges partnerships for Cebu Business Month 2018

The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) will celebrate Cebu Business Month 2018 with public and private sector partners.

CBM 2018 is organized by CCCI in partnership with the Cebu Provincial Government, Cebu City Government, and several other partners.

CBM 2018 sponsor Waterfront
SPONSORSHIP. Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino General Manager Anders Hallden (center) during the ceremonial signing of the sponsorship contract for Cebu Business Month 2018. With Hallden are (from left) Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) Executive Director May Ybañez, CCCI President Antonio Chiu, CBM 2018 Chair Benny Que, and CBM 2018 Publicity and Ways and Means Chair Lilu Aliño.

Below is a complete list of CBM 2018 sponsors.

Event Partners

Department of Science and Technology (DOST)
Department of Tourism (DOT)
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)

Omnibus Co-Presenter

Cebu Holdings, Inc./Ayala Center Cebu
PLDT Enterprise/Voyager/Paymaya
Robinsons Land Corporation/Robinsons Galleria Cebu
SM Prime Holdings, Inc.
Unionpay International Southeast Asia
Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino

Omnibus Platinum

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

Omnibus Diamond

Cathay Pacific
Cebu Landmasters, Inc.
F2 Logistics Philippines, Inc.
Golden Prince Hotel and Suites
Lexmark Research and Development Corporation
Oriental Port and Allied Services Corporation
Philippine AirAsia
Taiheiyo Cement Philippines, Inc.
The Insular Life Assurance Company, Ltd.


Treasure Island Industrial Corporation

Prime Partners

Alcordo International, Inc. (Alcordo Advertising)
Businessworld Publishing Corporation
GMA Network, Inc.
Manila Bulletin
Ocean Fast Ferries, Inc. (Oceanjet)
Skycable Pacific ATV

Media Partners

Brigada 93.1 News FM CEBU
Cebu Daily News
Expat Travel Lifestyle Phils.
Graphicstar Imaging Corporation
Greenworld LED Solutions, Inc.
InnoPub Media
Sonshine Radio
Sun.Star Publishing
The Freeman

CBM 2018 Specific Event Sponsors

Aboitiz Power Corp.
Bank of the Philippine Islands
BDO Unibank, Inc.
Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corp.
Cebu Pacific Airlines
CT4 Philippines, Inc.
Eastern Communications
Global Business Power
GT Cosmetics Manufacturing, Inc.
Hyundai Cebu, Inc.
Ng Khai Development Corporation
Oakridge Business Park
Philippine Airlines
Seaoil Philippines
Security Bank Corporation
Tsuneishi Technical Services Philippines

Business Events

CBM 2018 schedule highlights innovations for business

Organized by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Cebu Business Month (CBM) was envisioned as the engine of Cebu’s growth towards global competitiveness.

Now on its 22nd year, CBM 2018 banners the theme Innovate Cebu to underscore the importance of innovation in all aspects of business.

CBM is one of CCCI’s flagship projects. It is held yearly on the month of June.

Below is the full CBM 2018 schedule of activities:

June 1

Grand Opening Salvo
The Terraces, Ayala Center Cebu

June 1-3

One Town, One Product Exhibit
Organizer: Department of Trade and Industry
Ayala Center Cebu

June 8

Cebu International Film Festival (Cebu.CIFF) Curtain Raised
Organizer: Cebu.CIFF
SM Seaside City

June 10-12

Lumba’g Laag sa Sugbo: A Race to Cebu’s Hidden Attractions
Organizer: CBM 2018
SM Seaside City to South of Cebu

June 14

Tourism Innovation Forum
Organizer: CBM 2018
Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

June 19-20

Innovation Summit
Organizer: CBM 2018
Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino

June 21

Business-in-Golf Tournament
Organizer: CBM 2018
Alta Vista Golf and Country Club

June 22

MSME Industry Educational Tour
Organizer: CBM 2018
Different Companies

June 23-24

Sugbo Entertainment Expo (SEE) Cebu
Organizer: Enigmaworkz
Robinsons Galleria Cebu

June 29

Grand Chamber Awards and Fellowship Night
Organizer: CBM 2018
Oakridge Pavilion

Business Tech

CCCI forges partnerships, lines up big events for CBM 2018

To help inspire, promote, and grow the business community, the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) partnered with top companies and government agencies and invited high-profile personalities for Cebu Business Month (CBM) 2018.

AirAsia Group chief executive officer (CEO) Tony Fernandes and Utah Valley University president Dr. Astrid S. Tuminez will be among the speakers of the month-long business event scheduled this June 2018.

Benedict Y. Que, CBM 2018 chair, said this year’s business month theme is aimed at helping local companies deal with digital disruptions.

“Today, we see and hear of the paradigm shift facing businesses. On our 22nd year, we align with the needs of companies through the theme Innovate Cebu,” Que, who is also Golden Prince Hotel and Suites president, said during the CBM 2018 Grand Launch last May 10.

CBM 2018 sponsorship
SPONSORSHIP. Marco Polo Plaza Cebu general manager Brian Connelly (center) during the ceremonial signing of the hotel’s sponsorship of Cebu Business Month 2018. With him are (from left) Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) Executive Director May Ybañez, CCCI President Antonio Chiu, CBM 2018 Chair Benny Que, and CBM 2018 Publicity and Ways and Means Chair Lilu Aliño.

Innovation Summit

The Innovation Summit, Tourism Innovation Forum, Grand Chamber Awards, and Lumba’g Laag sa Sugbo are just among the activities throughout June 2018 for Cebu Business Month. Check out the full CBM 2018 schedule here.

Scheduled for June 19-20, the Innovation Summit aims to bring together policy makers, industry business sectors, academe, innovators, and other business support institutions essential to creating an ecosystem that supports enterprise development and increase innovation capabilities of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Benny Que
CBM 2018 CHAIR Benny Que speaks during the launch of the event at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

Fernandes, who is behind the highly-successful budget airline company AirAsia, will talk about “Flying Open in the Skies” during the two-day forum. Tuminez, first woman president of Utah Valley University and Microsoft External and Legal Affairs Regional Director for Corporate, will touch on “A Technology Revolution for All.”

Other Innovation Summit speakers: Secretary Fortunato T. dela Peña, Department of Science and Technology (DOST); Research and Development Undersecretary Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, DOST; Dr. Soontorn Piromsartkoon, GlowGlobe Lighting System Co-Inventor; Robert Y. So, President and CEO, Eco-System Technologies, Inc.; Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr., Department of Information, Communication, and Technology (DICT); David Lim, Senior Vice President, Solid Group, Inc.

CBM 2018 sponsors

CCCI forged partnerships with top businesses as well as government units and agencies to bring about a CBM 2018 that will have a huge impact on Cebu businesses especially the small and medium enterprises.

The month-long business event is organized by CCCI in partnership with the Province and City of Cebu and with the support of DOST, Department of Tourism (DOT), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Antonio Chiu
CEBU BUSINESS. CCCI President Antonio Chiu gets interviewed after the ceremonial signing with CBM 2018 sponsors.

CCCI also collaborated with Cebu Holdings, Inc. and Ayala Center Cebu; PLDT Enterprise, Voyager, and Paymaya; Robinsons Land Corporation and Robinsons Galleria Cebu, SM Prime Holdings, Inc.; UnionPay International Southeast Asia; and Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino.

Another sponsor, the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, will host the Tourism Innovation Forum on June 14, 2018. The event is a venue for tourism industry stakeholders to network, interact, and discuss issues and concerns as well as share relevant information and solutions for the continuous growth of the sector throughout the country. Here is the complete list of CBM 2018 omnibus partners and sponsors.

Business Tech

2018 Transformation Summit to tackle AI adoption, digital innovation

Cebu needs to develop a pool of skilled workers and adapt to digital disruptions like artificial intelligence (AI) to secure its position as an IT-BPM hub.

These crucial issues that affect the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) sector will be tackled during the 2018 Transformation Summit scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 16.

“The need for human resource is the most critical of objectives to ensure Cebu sustains its operations as an ICT hub regardless of challenges,” said Gregg Victor Gabison, president of the Cebu IT-BPM.Organization (CIB.O).

He added that a main focus of CIB.O is sustainable growth for ICT in Cebu, and the group had worked on talent development through the years even when it was still known as the Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology or Cedf-IT.

Transformation Summit
TRANSFORMATION SUMMIT. (From left) Cebu IT-BPM.Organization (CIB.O) President Gregg Victor Gabison, Managing Director Wilfredo “Jun” Saa, Jr., and Sykes Vice President for Area Operations and Shared Services Group John Sneed during the press conference to announce the holding of the 2018 Transformation Summit on May 16.

Transformation Summit topics

Another advocacy of CIB.O right now, according to Gabison, is for Cebu to inject more AI systems in ICT operations.

The summit carries the timely theme “Embracing New Realities” to reflect the need for AI integration and digital innovation in the IT-BPM industry, said CIB.O Managing Director Wilfredo “Jun” Saa, Jr.

The group will bring in Avinash Vashistha, chairman and CEO of Tholons, Inc., to talk about the Super Cities of the World during the 2018 Transformation Summit.

Other forum topics include:

  • Effective Industry-Academe Partnership on Talent Development by Convergys Senior Director for Talent Acquisition Lorelie Juntilla,
  • From the Pioneer to More Complex Services by Sykes Vice President for Area Operations and Shared Services Group John Sneed,
  • Digital Cities of the Philippines by OIC Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. of the Department of ICT.

AI, high value IT services

Saa also cited the need for IT-BPM companies to shift to high value and complex services, focusing specifically on artificial intelligence.

“AI is here and it’s real. It should be part of the way we do things. We need to do more complex services because a lot of cities, countries compete for simple (IT-BPM) tasks,” he added.

At the same time, the summit will discuss the impact of the K to 12 program on the industry. Saa said Cebu can make use of its senior high graduates to sustain industry growth.

According to Saa, a few pilot Cebu City high schools now implement the Learning English Application for Pinoys or LEAP, and majority of senior high students who undergo LEAP immersion get offered jobs by IT-BPO companies upon graduation.

Registration fees

He encouraged IT-BPM stakeholders to join the summit, which will be held at Bai Hotel. They may register online at

The registration fees for the different sectors are: P2,000 for academe, ICT councils, and local government units; P2,500 for CIB.O members; and P4,000 for non-CIB.O members.

The fee already covers meals and snacks for the plenary sessions and conference kit.

Business Community

Cebuano energy firm, partners launch hybrid power plant and micro-grid

Vivant Corporation, a publicly listed energy company established and based in Cebu, broke ground Tuesday to launch Palawan’s first hybrid power plant with a micro-grid to electrify the growing needs of the area that hosts the Puerto Princesa Underground River, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Vivant partnered with WEnergy Global and Gigawatt Power Inc. to form the Sabang Renewable Energy Corporation (SREC), a Department of Energy-registered renewable energy (RE) developer that aims to provide households and businesses in Barangay Cabayugan, Puerto Princesa with 24/7 electricity.

The project is expected to be operational in 2019 and will be run by SREC under an Energy Regulatory Commission-approved Qualified Third Party (QTP) Agreement with the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO). As QTP, SREC is authorized to generate and distribute electricity in Barangay Cabayugan, which has been waived from PALECO’s franchise area.

ENERGY. Vivant and its partners will provide households and businesses in Barangay Cabayugan, Puerto Princesa with 24/7 electricity. (Creative Commons Photo by Ryan Kaldari)

Renewable, reliable energy

“We are proud to become part of a project that supports the economic development of Barangay Cabayugan by providing renewable and reliable energy,” said Emil M. Garcia, SREC chairman and VP-Operations of Vivant Corporation.

The hybrid power plant will consist of 1.4 MWp solar PV with a 2.3 MWh battery storage system and 1.2 MW diesel generators to power its 14-circuit kilometer distribution facility. Due to its solar component, SREC will provide an average of 50% of renewable energy and will be less vulnerable to the volatility of imported fuel prices.

Every year, thousands of tourists visit Cabayugan—located about 80 kilometers north of Puerto Princesa city proper—but only a few households and tourism-related establishments in the area have electricity, with supply lasting for about three to six hours from small diesel generators. The SREC project will electrify more than 650 residential, public and commercial establishments that will enjoy uninterrupted power supply.

Hybrid power generation technology

“We will continue to invest in projects that empower communities and improve everyday living, particularly in off-grid areas,” Vivant Corporation COO Arlo G. Sarmiento said.

SREC’s hybrid power generation technology will avoid about 25,700 metric-tons of CO2-equivalent emissions over a 20-year lifetime. (Press Release)


Fire-proof your business to protect your assets

The rising temperatures during the summer months put properties at risk of fires. From 2013 to 2017, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) recorded 77,724 fire incidents, averaging 15,545 fire incidents every year. In this time frame, the BFP estimates that property damage reached P23.273 billion or an average of P4.65 billion every year.

Avoiding fire emergencies becomes vital to the operation of every business. Here are a few things to keep in mind to fire-proof your business:

1. Research fire safety requirements. Your business property needs to comply with the fire safety requirements as mandated by the Fire Code of the Philippines. Additionally, for new businesses, acquiring a Fire Safety Inspection Certificate is a pre-requisite for various permits and licenses from local governments and other government agencies. Taking time to research these requirements will help you cover all your bases.

2. Install fire safety equipment. This encompasses fire detection systems like alarms, to firefighting equipment like fire extinguishers and automatic sprinklers. Should a potential fire start in your property, the equipment help control and avoid the spread of fire and ensure the safety of people in the property.

3. Conduct regular fire drills and training. It is not enough to have fire safety equipment if nobody knows how to use it. Fire drills can teach personnel how to suppress a fire, and if needed, how to evacuate the property. These not only help people absorb the emergency plan better but can also update them on any changes that have been made in fire safety equipment and fire escape routes.

4. Routinely review and maintain fire prevention mechanisms. Like most things, equipment and processes need to be reviewed in order to ensure that they function should the need arise. Inspecting, replacing or repairing faulty equipment, combined with checking and updating evacuation plans will better the chances of avoiding losses in fire emergency.

5. Get protection from fire and other business and property damage. Business insurance, like Malayan Insurance’s Business Protect, covers fires and a wide range of other risks such as liability, accidents and Money, Security and Payroll. Business Protect is an SME insurance package that offers asset protection for business establishments such as retail stores, offices, restaurants, clinics, shops and even small kiosks. For as low as P2,750.++, you can rest assured that in the event of a fire emergency, your business is protected.

To learn more about Business Protect, visit

Founded in 1930, Malayan Insurance is a member of the Yuchengco Group of Companies. Malayan Insurance is the leading non-life insurer of the Philippines. (Press Release)