Re/Discovering Cebu, one story at a time

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

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

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

When you type an address like Facebook.com, for example, your system needs to find the numeric address or the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the server that hosts the site, such as 31.13.72.36. This arrangement, called Domain Name System (DNS), is analogous to a phonebook.

That process is what technology company Cloudflare wants to speed up with its recent announcement on the availability of the 1.1.1.1 DNS service. The service is run in partnership with the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre or APNIC, the regional registry that manages the allocation of IP addresses.

Here’s an explainer video on DNS

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

By default, your connection uses the DNS settings of your Internet Service Providers or ISP such as PLDT Home. To use the services of 1.1.1.1, you just need to adjust settings in your router, computer, or phone.

Cloudflare 1.1.1.1

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

I switched our home connection for a couple of days now and there are discernible improvements in the speed of the loading of pages. Before 1.1.1.1, we used Google’s public DNS, which are 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4.

Before Google’s public DNS, we used for some time OpenDNS, which are 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220. OpenDNS has the added functionality of blocking harmful locations such as phishing sites and filtering porn content.

Cloudflare DNS

FAST. DNSPerf ranks 1.1.1.1 as fastest DNS service globally.

DNSPerf data back up the service’s claim to being the fastest. It ranked 1.1.1.1 at number 1 with a query speed of 13.67 ms. OpenDNS ranked 2nd with a speed of 20.69 ms. Google’s public DNS had a speed of 34.46 ms.

Cloudflare DNS 1.1.1.1

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

But a key draw to the 1.1.1.1 service is its guarantee on privacy.

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

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

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Mactan Doc starts expansion, breaks ground for Medical Arts building

To better cater to the growing local and tourist population, Mactan Doctors Hospital will undergo a three-phase expansion starting with the construction of a Medical Arts Building. Dr. Potenciano “Yong”…

To better cater to the growing local and tourist population, Mactan Doctors Hospital will undergo a three-phase expansion starting with the construction of a Medical Arts Building.

Dr. Potenciano “Yong” Larrazabal III, chairman and president of the CebuDoc Group of Hospitals, said it has been a longtime dream of the company to make Mactan Doctors in Lapu-Lapu City a major player in the health industry.

“One of the marching orders I’ve given down the line is don’t let the patients cross the bridge. For this to happen, the expansion must ensure that Mactan Doctors Hospital carry the complete facilities and offer affordable rates,” he added.

Mactan Doctors Hospital expansion

TIME CAPSULE. Dr. Potenciano “Yong” Larrazabal III, chairman and president of the CebuDoc Group of Hospitals, lead company officials and partners in laying down the time capsule to mark the groundbreaking of the Medical Arts Building at Mactan Doctors Hospital.

3-phase expansion

After the construction of a new Medical Arts building, the second phase of the expansion will be to transform the space currently occupied by the clinics into a two-storey structure that will house the emergency room with a 24-hour concierge.

Increasing hospital capacity from 160 to 300 beds will be the third phase of the expansion, added Larrazabal. He led the groundbreaking of the Medical Arts building last March 10. Once completed, the structure will have at least 50 shared clinics.

Mactan Doctors, which is part of a network of facilities under the CebuDoc Group of Hospitals, will spend from P150 to P175 million for the whole development. According to Larrazabal, each phase of the expansion will take about six months.

Healthcare demand

This will be the fourth expansion by Mactan Doctors since its opening in 1993, said Medical Director Dr. Joselito Montesclaros. He added that the move is necessary because the demand for healthcare in Mactan has risen exponentially with the increase in the number of residents and tourists.

Mactan Doc expansion

CEREMONY. Mactan Doctors, which is part of a network of facilities under the CebuDoc Group of Hospitals, will spend from P150 to P175 million for the whole development.

Mactan Doctors will also be introducing medical procedures previously offered only in Cebu City hospitals, such as a dialysis treatment, laparoscopic surgery, hyperbaric medicine, and positron-emission tomography (PET) scan. It will soon offer residency training programs as well.

Other members of the CebuDoc Group of Hospitals are also scheduled for upgrades and expansion. These initiatives will include a trauma center in South General Hospital and Mother and Child Center in North Gen.

Mactan Doc expansion

SIGNING. Officials led by Dr. Potenciano “Yong” Larrazabal III, chairman and president of the CebuDoc Group of Hospitals, sign building plans and documents to mark the groundbreaking.

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Manang Juling’s Kilawan brings specialty seafood menu to Cebu City

A legacy of Cebuano flavors passed down through three generations of women continues on with the opening of Manang Juling’s Kilawan in Cebu City. Sisters Sarah A. Suizo and Alicia…

A legacy of Cebuano flavors passed down through three generations of women continues on with the opening of Manang Juling’s Kilawan in Cebu City.

Sisters Sarah A. Suizo and Alicia A. Daan said the family business of serving kinilaw and seafood dishes started as a single table in Tangke, Talisay with their grandmother Estel Labajo in the 1960s.

Hers was one of the first eateries to serve fish prepared through the “sutukil” or sinugba, tinola, and kinilaw method.

Manang Juling’s Kilawan

KINILAW or ceviche is a specialty of the eatery then known as Kilawan sa Talisay that started on a single table in Barangay Tangke in the 1960s.

Estel’s daughter Juling Abarquez took over the business that was known then by the generic name Kilawan sa Talisay together with a few other eateries that were serving similar fare.

New Kilawan branch

The small eatery grew and transformed into Manang Juling’s Kilawan in Tangke beginning in 1986, due in part to the family being able to buy the lot it was squatting on and build a more permanent structure.

Manang Juling’s Kilawan nilarang

Nilarang tasik.

Manang Juling’s Kilawan brings the experience closer to Cebuanos with the opening of a branch in Mango Square Mall (right across Century Plaza) in Cebu City.

Suizo said her promise to customers in both Manang Juling’s Kilawan branches is that they will be served the freshest seafood. The restaurant gets its supply of fish, shellfish, crabs, and shrimps directly from fishers immediately after they dock with the day’s catch in Tangke.

Manang Juling’s Kilawan

NEW BRANCH. Sisters Sarah A. Suizo and Alicia A. Daan at the new branch of Manang Juling’s Kilawan in Mango Square Mall in Cebu City.

Manang Juling’s menu

Manang Juling’s serves appetizers like kinilaw na tangigue, sinuglaw, kinilaw na sunlutan, kinilaw na lato, guso, or lukot. Soup orders include tinolang halaan or tangigue, sinigang na lapu-lapu or pasayan, and tinolang bug-atan.

Main courses range from seafood to sinugba as well as meat dishes. Diners can choose from inun-unan (tuna belly or tangigue), nukos adobao, steamed lambay, garlic shrimp, fried nukos, ginisang scallops, steamed bongcawil, and crispy ikog sa tuna.

Manang Juling’s Kilawan Mango Square Mall

Ginisang scallops.

There is also a wide selection of sinugba menu: tuna na panga, tuna belly, kitong, tasik, nukos, pork belly, and manok.

Restaurant hours

The main dining area in Manang Juling’s Kilawan in Mango Square Mall can seat around 50 people. There is additional space in the function room.

Suizo said they had refused partnership offers in the past for the opening of a branch in Cebu City. They were recently persuaded by members of the Yap family, who are also longtime customers of Manang Juling’s. This is why it took them 40 years to put up another branch, added Daan.

Manang Juling’s Kilawan also offers catering and packed meals. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. For reservations and catering inquiries, Manang Juling’s may be reached at +6332 254 2283. Get updates by following them on Facebook @manangjulingskilawan and Instagram @manangjulings.

More photos of Manang Juling’s Kilawan in Mango Square Mall

Manang Juling’s Kilawan

Garlic shrimp.

 

Manang Juling’s Kilawan Mango Square Mall

Crunchy delicious bagnet.

 

Manang Juling’s Kilawan Mango Square Mall

Sinugbang tuna belly.

 

Manang Juling’s Kilawan Mango Square Mall

Tinolang bug-atan

 

Manang Juling’s Kilawan Mango Square Mall

STEAMED BONGKAWIL. Sarah Suizo said her promise to customers in both Manang Juling’s Kilawan branches is that they will be served the freshest seafood. The restaurant gets its supply of fish, shellfish, crabs, and shrimps directly from fishers immediately after they dock with the day’s catch in Tangke.

 

Manang Juling’s Kilawan Mango Square Mall

Kinilaw na lato

 

Manang Juling’s Kilawan Mango Square Mall

Nukos adobao

 

Manang Juling’s Kilawan Mango Square Mall

More kinilaw and mini-turon.

 

Manang Juling’s Kilawan Mango Square Mall

The kinilaw was our favorite.

 

Manang Juling’s Kilawan

Sisters Sarah A. Suizo and Alicia A. Daan with their staff at Manang Juling’s Kilawan in Mango Square Mall. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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Carousell app makes buying, selling as easy as taking pictures

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

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

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

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

Carousell app

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

Strong Carousell growth in Philippines

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

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

Carousell app

CAROUSELL allows you to filter listings by location.

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

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

Quick posting

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

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

Carousell.

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

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

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

Young market

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

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

Carousell app

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

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

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

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

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Vivant Foundation pioneers solar power curriculum in Bantayan, donates equipment

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

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

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

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

Vivant Foundation donation Bantayan Island

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

Electrical course with solar component

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

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

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

Training for teacher

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

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

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

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

Vivant Foundation Bantayan Island

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

Cheaper in the long run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vicant Foundation Bantayan Island

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

Increasing interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

Self-sustaining program

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

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

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

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Marco Polo Plaza Cebu cooks up Sugbusog feast for Sinulog 2018

Cebu’s Sinulog Festival deserves a feast just as grand and Marco Polo Plaza Cebu obliges with the culinary experience “Sugbusog 2018: Gikan sa Bukid ug Dagat” at Cafe Marco. Up…

Cebu’s Sinulog Festival deserves a feast just as grand and Marco Polo Plaza Cebu obliges with the culinary experience “Sugbusog 2018: Gikan sa Bukid ug Dagat” at Cafe Marco.

Up until January 21, indulge in such local favorites as kinilaw na isda, puso sa saging, lato, and guto; ginamos and sinugba na buwad; manggang hilaw with hipon; monggos, humba and kaldereta na kanding; lechon belly and lechon kawali; inasal na manok and other Cebuano dishes raised to the level of a fine dining experience at Cebu City’s finest.

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Sugbusog 2018

STARTERS. From chicharon or pork cracklings to itlog maalat salad, paliya salad, and manggang hilaw, Sugbusog 2018 at Cafe Marco in Marco Polo Plaza Cebu is a feast of Cebuano favorites.

Have your fill of Cebu street food like qwek-qwek, ginabot, ngohiong, balot and the local sweet staples for dessert. The Cafe Marco dessert station carries such delicacies as masareal, bokayo, leche flan, pichi-pichi, puto cheese, masi, kutsinta, and of course halo-halo.

Satisfy your craving for seafood like saang, pasayan, and sinugba na isda throughout Sugbusog 2018, which runs from January 12-21 at Cafe Marco.

The Cebuano favorites are served on top of the regular international buffet spread at Cafe Marco. Buffet prices are P1,150 net for lunch, P1,440 net for dinner, and P1,450 net for Sunday brunch.

Marco Polo Sugbusog 2018

Lato and guso.

The Sinulog-inspired decorations and creative food presentation add to the rich festival atmosphere at Cafe Marco and the rest of Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

A replica of the popular Cebu attraction Magellan’s Cross with a Sto. Niño inside now decorates the hotel lobby. Sto. Niño patrons Helen Ynclino-Bucag, Val San Diego, Ben Chua, Ed Tan, and Josie Pereyra have loaned out their Sto. Niño image collections for exhibit at Marco Polo Cebu.

For inquiries and reservations, contact Marco Polo Plaza Cebu at +63 32 2531111 local 8249 or [email protected].

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Sugbusog 2018

SUGBUSOG 2018. The culinary festival at Cafe Marco in Marco Polo Plaza Cebu runs until January 21.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Sugbusog 2018

Buwad nukos.

 

Sugbusog 2018 Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

More buwad.

 

Sugbusog 2018

Kinilaw

 

Sugbusog 2018

Chicharon

 

Sugbusog 2018

Kinilaw na paliya

 

Sugbusog 2018 kaldereta kanding

Kaldereta na kanding.

 

Sugbusog 2018

Lechon belly

 

Marco Polo 2018 Sugbusog

Saang and other sea shells.

 

Marco Polo Sugbusog 2018

Inasal na manok and piniritong tiil sa baboy.

 

Sugbusog 2018

Dinuldog na kalabasa

 

Sugbusog 2018

Pasayan or shrimps.

 

Sinanduloy.

 

Sugbusog 2018

Lechon kawali.

 

Marco Polo Sugbusog

Tinunuon nga monggos with alugbati.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Sugbusog 2018

STREET FOOD MAINSTAYS qwek-qwek, bola-bola, ngohiong, and ginabot.

 

Sugbusog 2018

Ginamos

 

Sugbusog 2018

Buwad nukos or dried squid.

 

Sugbusog 2018

Linung-ag nga saging, ginamos

 

Sugbusog 2018

Argao torta

 

Sugbusog 2018

Mandaue bibingka

 

Sugbusog 2018

Pichi pichi and kutchinta.

 

Sugbusog 2018

Bocayo and ampao from Carcar.

 

Sugbusog 2018

Biko and maja blanca.

 

Sugbusog 2018

More local desserts.

 

Sugbusog 2018

Masi and bocayo.

 

Sugbusog 2018

Dessert station.

 

Sugbusog 2018

LOBBY. A replica of the Magellan’s Cross greets guests at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu lobby.

 

Sugbusog 2018

STO. NIÑO. One of the images on exhibit at the lobby.

 

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With GCash Scan To Pay, transactions are quick, cashless

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

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

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

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

GCash Scan To Pay

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

Convenient payments

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

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

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

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

GCash Scan To Pay merchants

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

In Davao, GDay is held in Ayala Abreeza Davao.

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

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

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

GCash Scan To Pay

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

Cashless transactions

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

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

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

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

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

GCash Scan To Pay

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

Enthusiastic response

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

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

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

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

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PayMaya revolutionizes digital payments with Paymaya in Messenger

As a long-time PayMaya user and one who has experienced its many benefits especially in travel, I’m amazed at how this digital payment solution has gone one step further with…

As a long-time PayMaya user and one who has experienced its many benefits especially in travel, I’m amazed at how this digital payment solution has gone one step further with #PayMayaInMessenger.

Although I’ve known about this update for some time, I only found time today (a few minutes ago, actually) to link my existing PayMaya and Messenger accounts.

Linking PayMaya, Messenger accounts

I clicked on this link – m.me/PayMayaOfficial – that was provided by the official PayMaya Facebook account and followed the instructions. Pardon the cliche, but it really was a walk in the park.

Less than a minute after I put in the mobile number associated with my PayMaya account, I received notification that I would already be able to buy load, pay bills, send money, and deposit cash through PayMaya in Messenger.

PayMaya Facebook Messenger

BUY LOAD ON CHAT. With PayMaya, you can buy cellphone load, pay bills, and send money on Facebook Messenger.

PayMaya in Messenger transactions

I had a field day trying out the many options. I bought load and sent money to my husband just for the fun of trying the transactions out.

Stoked to find out I can actually now pay my PLDT bill and Pru Life UK premiums through PayMaya in Messenger. The Visayan Electric Company, NSO, Skycable, Manulife, Cignal were in the long list of billers, too.

PayMaya Messenger

SEND MONEY. You can send and receive money via PayMaya in Facebook Messenger.

PayMaya Refer and Earn Promo

What’s even more exciting? There is an ongoing PayMaya Refer and Earn Promo where you get to earn P50 when someone uses your referral link to open or link a PayMaya account on Messenger. Your friend gets P50, too.

Here’s how you refer and earn:

  • Go to your PayMaya account in Messenger by clicking on this link: http://pymy.co/get50
  • Click on the promo notification or go to “Promos” in the menu and select “Refer Friends, Get P50” and share the promo message with your Messenger contacts (open to both Smart and Globe subscribers)
  • Get a maximum of 25 successful referrals, and earn a maximum of P1,250 worth of incentives

When you click on the link to PayMaya in Messenger, you actually have two options: link your PayMaya and Messenger accounts or open a PayMaya account in Messenger if you still don’t have one.

#PayMayaInMessenger Contest

Wait! There’s more. If share this post and tag 5 of your friends to create or link a PayMaya account on Messenger as a comment, you get a chance to be one of five people to win P1,000 each in PayMaya credits. So what are you waiting for? #PayMayaMoNow.

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Ford Philippines trains Cebu drivers on safe, smart driving

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

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

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

Ford Philippines driving skills for life

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

Philippine situation

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

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

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

Ford Philippines Driving Skills For Life

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

Dangers of distracted driving

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

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

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

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

Ford Philippines

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

2017 program targets

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

The program is also expanding to more areas outside Manila.

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

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Japanese brand Miniso opens 1st store in Cebu

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

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

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

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

Miniso Cebu

ELECTRONICS like these headphones are a popular category in Miniso.

Miniso branches in Philippines

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

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

Miniso Cebu

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

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

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

Miniso Cebu

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

Wide range of products

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

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

Miniso Cebu

MINISO pens.

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

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

More photos of Miniso’s opening in Cebu

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Our stash of Miniso notebooks.

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Cebu company builds platform for emergency response, management

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

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

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

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

Response coordination

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

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

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

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

Guardian Cloyd Bere Dedicatoria

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

Emergency response, management

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

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

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

Report incidents

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

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

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

Strict vetting of volunteers

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

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

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

Deployment for LGUs

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

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

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

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

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

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Waterfront hotels in Cebu highlight modern Cebuano flavors in food fest

Ordinary bread, the common danggit, and dried green mango become the creme de la creme of appetizers under the expert hands of celebrity chef Tristan Encarnacion in a food feast…

Ordinary bread, the common danggit, and dried green mango become the creme de la creme of appetizers under the expert hands of celebrity chef Tristan Encarnacion in a food feast featuring the Flavors of Cebu at the Waterfront hotels in Cebu and Mactan.

The Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino and Waterfront Airport Hotel and Casino Mactan have extended the culinary celebration of “Modern Filipino Taste” at the two UNO branches up to November, adding more Cebuano choices in the wide selection of Pinoy dishes available at the buffet.

Watrfront Flavors of Cebu

APPETIZER. Chef Tristan Encarnacion prepares an appetizer of danggit atop crispy bread and topped with diced green mangoes and tomato sorbet.

Chef Tristan revealed during the media launch of Flavors of Cebu that the bread, the base of his starter concoction, can be easily sliced and rolled thin if it is chilled first.

His newest appetizer creation involves putting ground danggit atop the crispy bread and topping it with diced green mangoes and tomato sorbet.

Waterfront Flavors of Cebu

Chef Tristan presents the new appetizer he whipped up from danggit and bread.

Cebuano food flavors

Guests during the launch also saw Chef Tristan in action as he hatched up the favorite dessert of Waterfront Cebu City General Manager Anders Hallden.

Vanilla ice cream got wok-fried and rum-glazed. A topping of cashew nuts and caramel syrup finished off the delectable treat.

Waterfront Flavors of Cebu

WOK-fried and rum-glazed vanilla ice cream with a topping of cashew nuts and caramel syrup.

Mr. Hallden said they’ve added to the UNO buffet food creations of Chef Tristan that highlight Cebuano flavors given a new delicious spin.

Pinoy culinary treats

On top of these dishes, both UNO branches in the Waterfront hotels in Cebu City and Mactan continue to serve the menu of traditional Filipino treats injected with mouth-watering twists by culinary world power couple Chef Roland and Chef Jackie Laudico.

Waterfront Cebu Flavors of Cebu

Paella.

Diners get to enjoy such culinary treats as the pinahungawang isda sa mangga, lechon baka sa kalabasa at mangga, ampalaya na may itlog, des pancit toh, paella one and two, bacon bagnet, and kinilaw.

Buffet rate is P898 per person and the Waterfront hotel in Cebu City has an ongoing promo where 15 guests in a group pay only for the price of 10.

More photos of the event

Waterfront Cebu Flavors of Cebu

Different kinds of dried fish and squid.

 

Waterfront Cebu Flavors of Cebu

Pinahungawang isda sa mangga and lechon baka.

 

Waterfront Cebu Flavors of Cebu

Bacon bagnet

 

Sisig.

 

Different kinds of sauces.

 

Waterfront Cebu Flavors of Cebu.

More appetizers.

 

Waterfront Cebu Favors of Cebu.

Ensaladang talong.

 

Waterfront Cebu Flavors of Cebu.

Different types of cheese and nuts.

 

Waterfront Cebu Flavors of Cebu

Local desserts.

 

Waterfront Cebu Flavors of Cebu

More desserts.

 

Waterfront Cebu Flavors of Cebu

Mousse

 

Waterfront Cebu Flavors of Cebu

Appetizer with mangga and cheese.

 

Waterfront Cebu Flavors of Cebu

Waterfront Cebu City General Manager Anders Hallden and chef Tristan Encarnacion

 

Waterfront Cebu Flavors of Cebu

Chef Tristant and Waterfront Cebu City staff with bloggers and writers who attended the event.

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Casa de Cacao offers tablea tales, chocolate indulgence

A short lesson on the cacao plant that turns into a decadent feast, Raquel Choa’s The Chocolate Journey at the home she calls Casa de Cacao is an experience that…

A short lesson on the cacao plant that turns into a decadent feast, Raquel Choa’s The Chocolate Journey at the home she calls Casa de Cacao is an experience that is not to be missed.

Imagine an afternoon of sikwate (chocolate drink) in any flavor you can think of: sweet, dark, spicy, flavored with hibiscus, jasmine, or mint.

Mix and match your warm cup with variety of chocolate-based goodies: cookies, crispies, brownies, cakes.

Settle down as the woman behind Ralfe Gourmet and The Chocolate Chamber (TCC) tells you the bittersweet story behind her love affair with chocolate and the need to recreate Maria Cacao’s palace in her Cebu residence.

Raquel Choa Casa de Cacao

SIKWATE. Raquel Choa prepares sikwate, a traditional chocolate drink, using a batirol inside Casa de Cacao, her recreation of the legendary Maria Cacao’s palace in the mountain.

Chocolate journey

This particular culinary indulgence, Ralfe Gourmet marketing manager Edu Pantino said, starts fittingly enough with the American evergreen tree that bears the beans from which chocolate is made.

“The Chocolate Journey of a thousand miles begins with one cacao step,” he cited, in reference to the intricate chocolate-making process and Choa’s journey as the woman behind the artisanal cacao-based food and products that are marketed under the Ralfe Gourmet brand.

Our welcome drink was sikwate with hibiscus.

He shared how the cacao plant grows large fruit pods from tiny flowers, what conditions allow it to flourish, and the process the beans go through – fermentation to roasting – before these are finely pounded and formed into the bitter chocolate rounds we call tablea.

Choa, aided by her kids and long-time staff, shows how they make tablea the old-fashioned way at Casa de Cacao. She then uses the newly-formed chocolate rounds to make Cebu’s famous sikwate using the wooden beater called batirol.

Cacao beans on different stages of fermentation in preparation for roasting.

Sikwate flavors

My favorite was the spicy sikwate which she made by grinding pieces of chili on a small platter, adding atsuete as flavor enhancer, and straining the mix into a jug of chocolate concoction simmering over a hot stove.

We tried a variety of flavors: sikwate with hibiscus, with mint, with jasmine.

Roasting of the beans.

The hot sikwate pairs perfectly with Choa’s cake creations baked without milk, eggs, and water: the torta de cerveza uses cerveza negra while torta de Francisco (hatched in anticipation of the visit of Pope Francis) is made with olive oil and wine.

When I thought I couldn’t take another bite, out came the choco ryza (chocolate crispies), cookies, and brownies courtesy of Choa’s kids and they were just too scrumptious to pass up.

Raquel Choa

Raquel Choa tells the story of Maria Cacao.

Casa de Cacao

Choa grew up with her grandmother’s stories about Maria Cacao, with her golden ship and resplendent palace in the balete tree. Although no human can ever see or visit this place, it didn’t ever stop Choa from wishing.

Casa de Cacao, venue of The Chocolate Journey, is Choa’s creative recreation of Maria Cacao’s palace in the mountain.

“Mi casa, su casa (My home is your home),” she would tell guests who go on The Chocolate Journey with her, adding it is the realm where chocolate is the artist’s medium.

Interested in joining The Chocolate Journey? Call +63917 827 2318 or email [email protected] for inquiries or reservations.

Casa de Cacao

Raquel Choa forms a cacao de bola while her son molds tablea during a press tour at Casa de Cacao.

Chocolate events

Some details:

The Chocolate Journey
Cacao Bean Evolution
Trails and Tales of Maria Cacao
Tablea 101

The rate is P1,500 per person for groups of 11-15, P1,800 for groups of 6-10, P2,100 per person for groups of 4-5, P3,000 per person for groups of 2-3, and P4,800 for one person going on The Chocolate Journey.

Casa de Cacao

Casa de Cacao, venue of The Chocolate Journey, is Raquel Choa’s creative recreation of Maria Cacao’s palace in the mountain.

Chocolate Stop
Hot choco at The Tsokolate Bar
Chocolate tasting
Rate is P550 per person.

Sikwate Ceremony
Tablea-making
Savoring Tablea
Rate is P1,000 good for five persons.

Raquel Choa Casa de Cacao

Raquel Choa’s cake creations baked without milk, eggs, and water: the torta de cerveza uses cerveza negra while torta de Francisco (hatched in anticipation of the visit of Pope Francis) is made with olive oil and wine.

 

Casa de Cacao

Spicy sikwate. Raquel Choa made this by grinding pieces of chili on a small platter, adding atsuete as flavor enhancer, and straining the mix into a jug of chocolate concoction simmering over a hot stove.

 

Cacao fruits.

 

Cacao beans

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AI can displace workers but it can also triple BPO revenues: Banatao

Artificial intelligence (AI) can displace a large number of workers in the Business Process Outsourcing industry, Filipino tech pioneer Dado Banatao warned, but it can also allow the country to…

Artificial intelligence (AI) can displace a large number of workers in the Business Process Outsourcing industry, Filipino tech pioneer Dado Banatao warned, but it can also allow the country to triple revenues in the sector.

If the country does it right, Banatao said, AI will help the Philippines bring BPO revenues to up to $120 billion in just two to three years.

“AI will affect almost all aspects of our lives,” Banatao said during a press conference on Thursday to inaugurate the startup incubator he started with the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

He said that his group built a basic AI solution that’s “not even the best that we know we can do” and yet it was good enough “to replace their agents in the US doing frontend BPO (services).”

Displacement inevitable

“It does displace a lot of workers but we did this in the US, meaning we displaced agents in the US. If we can do that then we will do it here. Because we don’t want to get attacked by other countries with that same expertise,” Banatao said. “We would rather have Filipinos do that displacement because it is inevitable.”

There is no AI if there is no IA (information architecture) and that will generate data science jobs for those who will be displaced from work, said Banatao.

AIM-Dadao Banatao Incubator

AIM-DADO BANATAO INCUBATOR. AIM President and Dean Jikyeong Kang with Diosdado “Dado” Banatao during a press conference to mark the inauguration of their incubator.

“It means is that there has to be an organization of data. The meaning of data is very important. Data science will address those things to help AI,” he said.

But to be employable for these new jobs, people need to be retrained, Banatao stressed. “In most cases they will have to take at least the first two years of engineering that covers the plain and simple calculus and statistics and so on and go on to the more higher-level learning data science.”

New kinds of jobs

“What is important for us to remember is that yes there will be plenty of jobs that will disappear but then there will be new kind of jobs that will be created,” said AIM President and Dean Jikyeong Kang.

“What AIM is trying to do is just like 49 years ago when we were established as the pioneering management school in the region and produced the region’s top CEOs,” she said.

“We want to do the same kind of role and have the same kind of impact so we will not be looking at a time when the BPO industry is no longer viable in this country. We have already trained the right kind of people with the right kind of toolboxes and skillsets so they will be able to take that industry to the next level.”

We can beat them

Banatao said that as a way to shore up on capabilities, he hired 20 AI engineers in the Philippines. He said one of the AI companies he funded has the fastest engine in the world.

“It is competing against the biggest companies out there, the Googles and Amazons and so on. We can beat their engines. And we had started the process of bringing that here by training some of the scientists and engineers at DOST,” he added.

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Accenture inaugurates 5th facility in Cebu, highlights new and emerging tech in providing solutions

Accenture inaugurated its 5th facility in Cebu on Wednesday with a hologram of one of its officials briefing the guests and handling the ceremonies in the Filinvest Cyberzone at the…

Accenture inaugurated its 5th facility in Cebu on Wednesday with a hologram of one of its officials briefing the guests and handling the ceremonies in the Filinvest Cyberzone at the IT Park in Lahug, Cebu City.

That part of the program was meant to highlight a key character of the facility: a center for agile development and design thinking to produce innovation using “new IT.”

“This floor is very much in ‘the new IT’,” said Accenture managing director Arvin Yason, who hosted the ceremony as a hologram. With a lot of open spaces and movable furniture to allow quick reconfigurations as well as huddle areas and design-thinking spots, “we instill nimbleness and agility in the way we work.”

Accenture in Cebu

HOLOGRAM. Accenture inaugurates its newest facility in Cebu with a hologram of managing director Arvin Yason leading the ceremonies (3rd from left). With Yason are (from left) managing director JP Palpallatoc, Jun Sa-a of CIB.O, and Accenture country managing director Lito Tayag.

Commitment to Cebu

The opening of the new facility is also “a manifestation of our commitment to Cebu,” said Accenture country managing director Lito Tayag. He also said the company is on track to meeting the 1,000 in additional workers it committed to employ at the start of the year to mark their 10th anniversary. He said they’ve already hired an additional 800 workers for Cebu, bringing its workforce here to 5,800.

“Cebu is an integral component, a strategic part of our practice here in the Philippines,” Tayag said. “More than the numbers – and we’re very happy with the numbers so far – it is really the value, the kind of innovative services that we deliver out of our Cebu operations.”

The new facility will showcase technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, augmented reality, and the internet of things.

Cebu talent

“We are very happy about the kind of talent that we have here but just as importantly, we would continue to develop these talents,” Tayag said in a press conference held after the inauguration and facility tour for journalists and members of the academe.

Tayag, Yason and JP Palpallatoc, managing director and Accenture digital lead in the Philippines, led the tour of the facility.

Among the highlights of the event was a demonstration of a parking system that allows people to know ahead, via a mobile app, available spaces in a business such as a mall. The system, built by a Cebu team as part of a company-wide innovation contest, also allows for people to reserve parking slots and even pay digitally.

Another product presented to guests was a crisis response and management system that allows Accenture to keep track of its employees and know whether they are safe or in need of assistance after an emergency like a natural disaster. Alerts can be sent out on various platforms like email, SMS and mobile notifications.

Accenture also showed guests how a redesign of the Qantas website resulted in higher sales. They also demonstrated an augmented reality app that makes print materials such as a map of an amusement park interactive and multi-media as well as overlay ads and information triggered by location data.

Accenture Cebu

PASSION PROJECTS, DESIGN THINKING. JP Palpallatoc, managing director and Accenture digital lead in the Philippines, introduces the team that built a system for parking that uses apps to inform drivers of available spaces and let them reserve locations and pay for it.

Redesign retail experience

More than digital, Accenture also highlighted how they were able to reinvent the physical retail experience for customers of Smart Communications using design thinking and various technologies. This resulted in a 249% increase in foot traffic, 80% reduction in waiting time and 169% increase in store sales in the redesigned stores.

During the tour, officials stressed the design thinking approach into providing solutions to their clients. “To deliver delight consistently at the speed that our clients desire for their customers, we need to start with design thinking and user-centricity,” Yason said.

The way the newly-inaugurated facility is configured also plays a key role in how Accenture is “upskilling, reskilling, cross-skilling and multi-skilling our talent,” he said. From being focused on “classrooms” in teaching workers new skills, Accenture has started to “enable nooks and areas where people, while on break, can start learning new IT in smaller bite-sized formats, whether via video or an app or game that we develop.”

Accenture Cebu

CRISIS COMMUNICATION. This system enables Accenture to keep track of its employees, notify them during emergencies, and get feedback on whether they are safe or not.

Empower workers

Other locations will be retrofitted based on the new facility’s design because workers gave positive feedback that the configuration “empowers them to work in the new IT – working agile, doing standup meetings, being able to collaborate,” said Yason.

The facility helps Accenture “future-proof our people,” Tayag said.

“We’ve grown tremendously in Cebu for the last 10 years. That growth is a reflection not just of Accenture’s capabilities but also the capabilities of the local market in terms of talent, the way the academe has been producing talent for us,” Yason said.

Accenture is among the top tech companies based in Cebu. It has been given that recognition by the Cebu IT-BPM Organization for several years. The company’s other locations in Cebu are in Pioneer House, Robinsons Cybergate Cebu, eBloc Tower 2 and eBloc Tower 3 at the IT Park.

Accenture in Cebu

TREMENDOUS GROWTH IN CEBU. Accenture managing director Arvin Yason (left) and country managing director Lito Tayag after holding a press conference with Cebu journalists shortly after a tour of their 5th facility in the province.

Position as innovation center

Yason said the company is looking for engineers with good grasp of AI, robotics, and analytics to staff their locations.

“Our clients sit on top a lot of data but a lot of that is what we call dark data – they don’t know what they have. We are partnering with them to leverage more and more of that dark data to create revenue where there was no opportunity in the past. (We do this) through the power of data visualization and analytics and eventually AI as well,” Yason said.

Tayag said that what the company wants to foster among its workers is a mindset for innovation as they move up in the “value chain of our services.”

“At the end of the day, we believe that we can position our services here in the Philippines from an innovation standpoint rather than purely from a delivery standpoint,” he added.

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Sushisake at Radisson Blu Cebu pairs fine sushi, sashimi with premium sake

When Radisson Blu Cebu flew in Chef Jeff Yalung from the Middle East for a taste test, they asked him to create Japanese food that’s more than the usual fare….

When Radisson Blu Cebu flew in Chef Jeff Yalung from the Middle East for a taste test, they asked him to create Japanese food that’s more than the usual fare.

His creation is now the centerpiece as Radisson Blu Cebu merges traditional Japanese cuisine with modern flavors and came up with new dining concept Sushisake.

Located at the upper lobby of the hotel, the newly-launched restaurant is small and intimate and offers a fine selection of sushi and sashimi prepared in traditional Edomae style as well as an impressive collection of premium sakes.

Sushisake Radisson

DYNAMITE SUSHI. Chef Jeff’s specialty combines tuna, salmon, grouper, and a creamy crab as topping.

Sushisake features the traditional and specialty rolls of Chef Jeff, who has over 10 years culinary experience with international hotel brands in the Middle East, said Radisson Blu Cebu director for sales and marketing Ann Olalo.

Sushisake menu

The menu carries sushi servings that deviate from or improve upon traditional flavors and ingredients.

Sushisake Radisson Blu

TRADITIONAL AND SPECIALTY ROLLS. Sushisake features traditional and specialty rolls paired with a premium sake collection.

One example is Chef Jeff’s dynamite sushi, which combines tuna, salmon, grouper and has creamy crab as topping.

“When you take a bite, something explodes in your mouth. That’s why we call it dynamite,” Yalung said during the restaurant’s recent launch.

Chef Jeff Yalung Radisson Blu Cebu

CHEF JEFF YALUNG has over 10 years culinary experience with international hotel brands in the Middle East.

Chef Jeff also offers the special california, so called since it combines ingredients other than the usual crab sticks and cucumber plus a secret sauce.

A few other specialties include the surf and turf, spicy crab roll, and dragon roll.

Sushi specialties

Olalo said Chef Jeff can do over 50 sushi varieties infused with his own rich sauces and marinades and even welcomes the opportunity to create more. This is what makes Sushisake different from other Japanese restaurants in Cebu.

Sushisake Radisson Blu

INTIMATE VENUE. Located at the upper lobby of the hotel, the newly-launched Sushisake is small and intimate.

She added that they envision Sushisake as innovative and trendsetting, and took great pains with the restaurant layout and furnishings.

The restaurant lights were inspired by chopsticks and the menu incorporated certain design elements: waves of the sea, a fishnet, and rice grain.

Sushisake is open from 6:00-10:00 p.m.daily. Guests are encouraged to make dinner reservations by calling (63 32) 402 9900 or by sending an email to [email protected].

More photos of Sushisake

Radisson Sushisake

SAKE. Sushisake features an impressive collection of premium sakes.

 

Radisson Blu Cebu Sushisake

KANI SALAD of crabstick, cucumber, white cabbage, and orange tobiko with Japanese mayo and ponzu dressing.

 

Radisson Blu Sushisake

Fresh fruits.

 

Radisson Blu Cebu Sushisake

Mochi ice cream.

 

Radisson Blu Cebu Sushisake

Yuzu tart with sake meringue and green tea ice cream.

 

Radisson Blu Cebu Sushisake

Sesame seed panna cotta and coconut ice cream.

 

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Shell launches new V-Power line that “improves efficiency, cleanses engines”

Shell’s V-Power fuel line has been reformulated to increase fuel efficiency and engine cleaning capabilities, officials announced in an event in Cebu yesterday. “Part of our job is to really…

Shell’s V-Power fuel line has been reformulated to increase fuel efficiency and engine cleaning capabilities, officials announced in an event in Cebu yesterday.

“Part of our job is to really understand our consumers – who they are, what they really want. What we know is that they have evolving needs,” said Pilipinas Shell Fuels Brand Manager Maan Abas in a press conference in Cebu City yesterday.

Driving in the Philippines is a challenge because of the traffic, Abas said. To help deal with this, Shell’s new V-Power line contains fuels innovation that increases engine efficiency.

Shell Fuels Scientist Mae Ascan

IMPROVEMENTS. Shell Fuels Scientist Mae Ascan discusses the improvements offered by the new V-Power line of fuels in an event in Cebu City.

Extensive research, development

The new Shell V-Power line uses proprietary Dynaflex technology that took the company more than 5 years to develop, involving tests of over 250 cars and exceeding 3 million kilometers, said Shell Fuels Scientist Mae Ascan.

Shell has 170 fuels scientists in 5 fuels technology centers all over the world. Ascan is based in the center in Malaysia.

Ascan said Shell continually innovates on fuels because “engine technology is evolving and we want to make sure we are keeping pace.”

Shell V-Power Cebu

SHELL V-POWER exhibit in SM Seaside City.

Maximize energy from fuels

“Maximize the amount of energy that you can get from your fuel – this is what we are trying to tackle. Reduce the wastage of energy,” she said.

The new Shell V-Power, Ascan said, addresses 2 key issues that impact engine performance – build-up of deposits and friction.

Ascan said engines are getting smaller and yet more powerful. This trend provides a “harsher condition for your fuel.” Injecting fuel involves very high pressures through a microscopic hole. This, Ascan explained, makes formation of deposits on such parts as nozzle holes and inlet valves that will ultimately impact engine performance.

Shell V-Power Cebu launch

TEAM SHELL. Shell officials during the Cebu launch of the new V-Power led by Shell Fuels Scientist Mae Ascan (5th from left), Pilipinas Shell Fuels Brand Manager Maan Abas (6th from left), Brands and Communication Manager Raine Capadocia (4th from left) and Marketing Implementer Brandon Briones (7th from left).

Cleaning molecules

Ascan said Shell V-Power “contains cleaning molecules that help remove up to 80% of deposits that have already formed.” The active cleaning power has “the twin effect of improving system condition and restoring lost performance,” Shell said in a press statement.

The new V-Power fuels also contain friction-reducing molecules, “helping engine parts that are difficult for lubricating oils to reach, including the vital area in the engine between the piston ring and the cylinder wall,” the company said.

Shell V-Power Cebu

SHELL V-POWER brand activation at the SM Seaside City.

The new Shell V-Power Diesel, on the other hand, “is designed to help restore up to 100% of your engine’s performance by removing deposits from fuel injectors,” the company said.

The new fuels have been available throughout the country, including Cebu, since June 8, Abas said.

The pump prices of the new V-Power fuels are similar to the old line it is replacing. The “fuel got better at the same price,” Ascan said.

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Oakridge holds Fitstrip Bazaar to promote wellness lifestyle

Fitness and healthy living advice from experts and athletes and access to wellness products marked the first Oakridge FitStrip Bazaar held from July 22-23, 2017 at Oakridge Garden Plaza. The…

Fitness and healthy living advice from experts and athletes and access to wellness products marked the first Oakridge FitStrip Bazaar held from July 22-23, 2017 at Oakridge Garden Plaza.

The weekend activity was intended as a family event and to promote a wellness lifestyle, said Oakridge Realty and Development Corp. Director for Sales and Marketing Estee Marie Plunkett.

She added that they’re looking at holding it on a more regular basis.

Oakridge Fitstrip

Organic vegetables and fruits.

On the first day of the Oakridge Fitstrip Bazaar, Mary Deen of Love Yoga World shared her fitness journey in “Getting Everyone on the Mat.” She also led an hour of outdoor yoga for interested guests at the garden plaza.

After Deen, Pio Gerardo Solon of Epic Performance Fitness talked about getting physically and mentally fit for the Ironman triathlon event.

Oakridge Fitstrip Yoga

Mary Deen of Love Yoga World holds a yoga session.

Oakridge Fitstrip Bazaar exhibitors

Held in partnership with Rustan’s Supermarket Cebu, the event also served as an opportunity for small-scale wellness entrepreneurs to display their wares, added Plunkett.

Made available were beauty and wellness products by Human Nature, Mary Kay, and Gale’s Garden, which sold refreshing desk cacti and succulents.

Oakridge Fistrip

Fruit juices.

Macology 101, which made available its Salted Egg Potato Chips by Little Chef; Ultra Green Coffee Cebu, an organic product whose benefits include weight loss, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, and natural detoxification; Leylam Shawarma for shawarma overload; and Thirsty Juices and Shakes for refreshing fruit juices were among the food exhibitors.

A food preparation demo happened on the second day of the Fitstrip Bazaar. Chef Geoffrey Broutin of L’Artisan showed how to make “Quick Healthy Meals on the Go.”

Oakridge Fitstrip

Desk cacti and succulents.

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Cebu startup takes on Uber, Grab; signs up Manila taxi operators

Just as global ride-hailing apps Uber and Grab are facing government regulatory problems, a Cebu-based startup today announced an agreement with taxi operators in Manila to expand its service to…

Just as global ride-hailing apps Uber and Grab are facing government regulatory problems, a Cebu-based startup today announced an agreement with taxi operators in Manila to expand its service to more commuters nationwide.

MICAB, a startup that started in Cebu that is now also incorporated in Singapore, today announced an agreement with the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association (PNTOA) and Association of Taxi Operators in Metro Manila (ATOMM).

The agreement expands the service area of MICAB, which is currently operating in Cebu and Iloilo with a fleet of 800 taxi units, said MICAB CEO Eddie Ybañez.

MICAB monthly bookings

He said MICAB currently serves 20,000 passengers with combined monthly bookings of 200,000.

PNTOA and ATOMM, Ybañez said, have a combined network of 20,000 taxi units. He said they plan to launch in Manila with 3,000 taxi units and scale up to 7,000 units by yearend. The company is also planning to expand to Davao.

In terms of application capability, MICAB is similar to Uber and Grab, Ybañez said. They differ in the business model.

Unlike Uber and Grab, MICAB does not directly deal with drivers. It engages with “premium taxi companies” and provides them an app-based system to dispatch units. MICAB works with Ken Taxi in Cebu and Light of Glory in Iloilo.

MICAB Manila

MANILA EXPANSION. MICAB, a ride-hailing app that started in Cebu, has expanded in Manila and signed up operators at the capital. In photo after the signing of the agreement are (from left) Pablo Sarmiento (left) of the Association of Taxi Operators in Metro Manila, MICAB CEO Eddie Ybañez, Atty. Bong Suntay of the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association, and David Vacher of MICAB. (Contributed photo)

No regulatory issues

Because of that, Ybañez does not see any regulatory issues for MiCab .

“We are not really subject to LTFRB’s TVNS regulations as our business model is to partner with taxi companies only. All our taxi operator partners are 100% compliant with LTFRB’s franchising regulations,” he said in an interviews.

The MICAB app functions similarly with both Uber and Grab.

“Application wise it’s the same, we will be adding in more features that is not currently present with Grab and Uber,” Ybañez said.

MICAB, however, does not impose surge pricing and collects only a low booking fee, he said.

Revenue model

The startup does not take a cut from drivers’ revenues. Its business model, Ybañez said, is “targeted geolocation advertising.”

“Our focus for the coming months is to successfully launch MICAB here in Manila, develop customer base, increase brand awareness through excellent customer service and solidify the taxi partner network,” he said.

MICAB started out as among the startups funded in the 2013 batch of IdeaSpace Foundation, the incubator of the Manny V. Pangilinan group of companies.

The startup, however, is looking beyond ride hailing. It is scheduled to launch later this year its MIHEALTH app, in partnership with “one of the largest HMO in the Philippines.” It will also launch MICARGO, in partnership with Gothong Southern Shipping Lines, in August.

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Ding How: oldtime Cebu favorite Chinese restaurant reopens

The restaurant that introduced dim sum to Cebuanos in 1969 reopens at Robinsons Galleria Cebu and brings back the popular dishes from the old Ding How menu. “When we talk…

The restaurant that introduced dim sum to Cebuanos in 1969 reopens at Robinsons Galleria Cebu and brings back the popular dishes from the old Ding How menu.

“When we talk about our first experience with Chinese food, we think of steamed rice, siomai, and spring rolls. Cebuanos got to know dimsum through Ding How and it is an experience that is unique to Cebu,” said Steven Kokseng, marketing manager of Harbour City Dimsum House, Inc. The company owns and operates the Harbour City, Dimsum Break, Ding Qua Qua and Ding How brands.

Ding How reopens in Cebu

Steamed rice is a Cebuano favorite.

Ding How Dimsum House opened along Colon Street in 1969 but a shift in the Cebuano preference for fastfood in 2000 prompted the company to replace it with Dimsum Break.

Steven said they noticed over the past few years a growing sophistication among Cebuano diners characterized by an openness to try new things and feel this is the right time to bring back the Ding How brand.

Ding How reopens in Cebu

Egg tarts.

Ding How menu

Today’s Ding How is for customers who want to relish dim sum and eat at a more leisurely pace, according to business development manager Christopher Kokseng.

He said the company’s three other brands are more associated with quick dim sum fixes, adding that a good location was one of the things taken into consideration when they brought back their “grandfather brand.”

Ding How reopens in Cebu

Ding How spread.

The company also looked into the old recipe books and did research and development so it can serve Ding How’s “heritage” dishes with a modern spin.

Dim sum orders like the crystal scallop and kuchay dumplings, baked shaopao, pork trotter, custard with salted egg bun are revived from the old menu and exclusively offered at Ding How.

Although they looked at what people enjoyed before and made it available again, Christopher said they also continue to serve the current favorites throughout their restaurant brands.

More photos of Ding How reopening

Ding How reopens in Cebu

Cabbage pouch.

 

Ding How reopens in Cebu

HERITAGE DISHES. Ding How looked into the old recipe books and did research and development so it can serve “heritage” dishes with a modern spin.

 

Ding How reopens in Cebu

Custard with salted egg bun.

 

Ding How reopens in Cebu

Crystal scallop and kuchay dumplings.

 

Ding How reopens in Cebu

Baked shaopao.

 

Ding How Cebu

Pork trotter.

 

Ding How reopens in Cebu

 

Ding How Cebu

Harbour City Dimsum House, Inc. business development manager Christopher Kokseng and marketing manager Steven Kokseng answer questions in a press conference on the reopening of Ding How.

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