Re/Discovering Cebu, one story at a time

AirAsia launches daily Cebu-Shanghai flights; Cebu told to be ready for influx of Chinese tourists

Cebu is the “perfect destination” for Chinese tourists because they are into diving and love the water and islands, said AirAsia China, North Asia President Kathleen Tan. AirAsia launched today…

Cebu is the “perfect destination” for Chinese tourists because they are into diving and love the water and islands, said AirAsia China, North Asia President Kathleen Tan.

AirAsia launched today its daily Cebu-Shanghai flights at the new Terminal 2 of Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA).

“Cebu has so much to offer. You have a rich culture and amazing, beautiful islands,” said Tan during the inaugural ceremonies. “The Chinese love to eat. Food is very important to them, and shopping.”

“Cebu,” Tan told those gathered at the event, “your city will never be the same again with China coming in.”

AirAsia Cebu-Shanghai

DAILY FLIGHTS TO SHANGHAI. AirAsia launches its daily flights to Shanghai with an inaugural at the newly-opened Terminal 2 of Mactan Cebu International Airport. Present during the event are (center stage, from left) AirAsia Philippines Chairperson Maan Hontiveros, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Antonio Chiu, Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, AirAsia China and North Asia President Kathleen Tan, Chinese Embassy Deputy Consul Wu Xiaomin, and AirAsia Philippines CEO Dexter Comendador.

 

Long-term growth

AirAsia Philippines CEO Capt. Dexter Comendador said the new terminal provides the airline “great capacity for long-term growth and expansion in Cebu as AirAsia’s hub.”

He said AirAsia now has 3 planes based in Cebu, which is the most outside Manila, ground equipment to support it, and about 200 employees.

“It’s a huge investment for us but we’re very happy that we did the right thing in connecting with China. It’s the largest market.” Comendador said.

 

AirAsia Shanghai-Cebu

MUCH TO OFFER. Cebu has much to offer to tourists based in China, said AirAsia China, North Asia President Kathleen Tan.

 

Market doing very well

He said they initially only wanted to divert passengers from Boracay, with the closure of the island in April, but “we found out that the market is working very well.”

“It’s a good problem for me,” Comendador said, “because when Boracay opens, I will need to find other planes to fly that route because I cannot, I will not, pull out the routes that we have established as alternate to Boracay.”

Tan described the development as “very exciting” because the airline has been able to connect “Cebu to a very important market. China is now ranked as one of the biggest outbound travel market in the world.”

Encouraging response

She described the initial response as very encouraging, with the inaugural flight from Shanghai to Cebu set to arrive past midnight at 99% of load capacity with 179 passengers.

Tan said forward sales also show good booking rates. She said they are aiming to have at least 80% load factor for the routes.

She said the Chinese “now have a big appetite for travel.” It is a “lifestyle commodity” especially for travelers from Shanghai.

She also said that she learned from Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Antonio Chiu that after they opened their routes to China, there have been Chinese business people who expressed interest in investing in Cebu.

AirAsia Cebu-Shanghai

CEBU IS READY. Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale said Cebu is ready for the influx of tourists from China with the new flights by AirAsia.

 

Young, independent travelers

Tan said many of their customers are those born in the 1980s and 1990s and they see more independent and young Chinese travelers. To engage them, she encouraged those in the industry to go digital, mobile, and social.

Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale welcomed the new routes as opportunities for Cebu to get more exposure to the Chinese market.

Magpale said that with the opening of Terminal 2, Cebu can accommodate more international flights.

AirAsia Shanghai-Cebu

EXPANSION. AirAsia Philippines CEO Capt. Dexter Comendador said the new Terminal 2 of MCIA provides the airline “great capacity for long-term growth and expansion in Cebu as AirAsia’s hub.”

 

Cebu is ready

“Cebu is really, really ready for more Chinese tourists,” she said during the event.

“With these added flights, we know that we will hit our 10 million mark for Cebu. We’ve asked the hotels, the resorts and they are really ready. The Provincial Government as well as the City Government are right behind the business community to make Cebu ready,” she added.

Chinese Embassy Deputy Consul Wu Xiaomin said that last year, the number of tourists from China to the Philippines increased 75%, the fastest growing among foreign markets.

“Tourism brings economic benefits both to the host country and the tourists’ home country,” he said. “I believe that improved relations between the Philippines and China is a key factor in the improved tourism market.”

 

AirAsia Cebu-Shanghai flights

The cake to mark the new flights.

 

Facebook Livestream of event

 

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3-day Grand Travel Bazaar offers top deals on airfare, travel packages

Tick off that elusive dream destination in your bucket list as the Grand Travel Bazaar opens today at The Gallery in Ayala Center Cebu with the best deals on plane…

Tick off that elusive dream destination in your bucket list as the Grand Travel Bazaar opens today at The Gallery in Ayala Center Cebu with the best deals on plane fares and tour packages.

Book flights with such premier airlines as Cathay Pacific, SilkAir, EVA Air, Korean Air, Turkish Airlines, and Philippine Airlines at super discounted rates.

The Grand Travel Bazaar, which brings together Cebu’s top travel agencies and their premier airline partners, is an exclusive sale for BPI Cardholders and allow them to enjoy real zero percent interest rate for 3 months installment payments.

Cebu Grand Travel Bazaar

ZERO PERCENT INTEREST. The Grand Travel Bazaar, which brings together Cebu’s top travel agencies and their premier airline partners, is an exclusive sale for BPI Cardholders and allow them to enjoy real zero percent interest rate for 3 months installment payments.

 

Longer installments are also available with a little add-on interest rate, said BPI Cards Visayas Regional Marketing Head Fe Emlyn Boltron-Aleonar. She said flights booked during the event already include travel insurance.

Cathay Pacific bestsellers

For the 3-day event up to Sunday, July 8, 2018, Cathay Pacific offers travel deals out of Cebu on economy class to Hong Kong for as low as USD185, to Narita, Osaka, Nagoya, Seoul, and Busan for as low as USD335, and to Taipei for as low as USD225.

Cathay Pacific District Sales and Marketing Manager Hazel Tagimacruz urged Cebuanos to take advantage of the really good deals offered up to Sunday.

North America destinations out of Cebu via Hong Kong start from USD695 while Australia flights start from USD460. Cathay Pacific fares to several European cities from Cebu are priced around USD700.

Cebu Grand Travel Bazaar

OPENING. Organizers cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the 3-day Grand Travel Bazaar in Ayala Center Cebu.

 

Extensive SilkAir network

Jake Jeow, SilkAir Country Manager, said they are offering discounted fare rates for economy, premium economy, and business class flights to more than 100 destinations in their network.

SilkAir flights to Singapore go for as low as USD168 for travel in 2018 and USD184 in 2019.

Promo fares to SilkAir’s Southeast Asian destinations like Phuket, Vientiane, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur is at USD237 for travel in 2018 and USD243 in 2019 for return trips.

Return flights to London, Frankfurt, Zurich, Barcelona, Paris, Dusseldorf, Munich, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Milan, Moscow, and Rome are at USD737 all-in for travel within 2018.

Grand Travel Bazaar Cebu

TRAVEL ESSENTIAL. Customers get discount coupons for Delsey products courtesy of the Primer Group.

 

More Europe destinations

Turkish Airlines joins the Grand Travel Bazaar with flights out of Manila to Europe and Asia.

Patricia Villagracia, airline sales executive, said they fly to more destinations in Europe and their extensive network even includes Belarus, Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, and other key European cities. Return fares on economy class range from USD600 to USD800. From Manila, flights to the Turkish Airlines hub in Istanbul is only about 12 hours with layover of 2-3 hours before proceeding to the final destinations.

 

Facebook Livestream of opening

 

International, local flights

EVA Air offers the lowest return flights to Taipei at USD200. Other airline destinations on sale include the US cities of Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Houston, and Chicago.

Direct return flights from Cebu to Narita, Osaka, Nagoya, and Incheon via Philippine Airlines go for as low as USD209. PAL’s Cebu-Bangkok round-trip fare is at USD149.

PAL is also offering discounted rates to 14 local destinations from Cebu, with one way-fares starting from P699.

Korean Air also joins the bazaar for the second year with flights to the West and East coasts going for as low as USD697 and USD789.

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American favorites on the buffet menu in Marco Polo Plaza

To mark American Independence Day, iconic Cebu hotel Marco Polo Plaza has prepared a sumptuous spread of classic American dishes on top of its regular international buffet spread for lunch…

To mark American Independence Day, iconic Cebu hotel Marco Polo Plaza has prepared a sumptuous spread of classic American dishes on top of its regular international buffet spread for lunch and dinner in Cafe Marco.

The latest of the hotel’s Culinary Journey, which highlights specific cuisines to time with a global celebration, will run from July 4 to 7.

At the Fried Bar, diners can get buffalo wings and potato mix fries. Those who want burgers can have their choice of beef, chicken, and lamb patties at the Burger Station. The café also has a Barbecue Corner and Mac and Cheese Bar.

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu burger

BURGER. You have the choice of beef, chicken, and lamb patties.

Food choices

At the Carving Station, diners can have their fill of USDA grade roast beef, herb roast chicken, and a lot more options.

Cafe Marco also set up a DIY station for quesadillas, burritos, tacos, enchaladas, and nachos. A must-try is its chili con carne.

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu apple pie

APPLE PIE.

 

Leave room for desserts and get a slice of All American favorites apple and pecan pie. You should also try the delicious star spangled ice cream cake.

On July 7, a Saturday, you can bring your friends and family to the hotel and avail yourselves of the Star Spangled Celebration Lunch Buffet, which includes free use of the swimming pool.

World Chocolate Day

Also on July 7, Cafe Marco will mark World Chocolate Day with an array of chocolate goodies.

“The dessert buffet will be overflowing with these bitter-sweet confections that will surely satisfy your sweet tooth,” the hotel said in a press release.

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu chili con carne

CHILI CON CARNE.

 

Cafe Marco will serve chocolate-infused dishes such as baked chocolate pasta, coffee and chili crusted barbeque back ribs with tablea sauce, dark chocolate corn tacos, chocolate salami, and many more.

Cafe Marco buffet rates are P1,230 nett per person for lunch and P1,520 nett per person for dinner.

For bookings and inquiries, you can email [email protected] or call Cebu: (+6332) 253 1111 or Manila at (+632) 887 1263.

 

More photos of Star Spangled Celebration at Cafe Marco

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

MARCO POLO LOBBY.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu July 4 culinary journey

BEEF FAJITAS.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu dessert station

DESSERT STATION.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu buffet

BERRY SHORTCAKE.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu buffet

BURGERS.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu buffet

CHICKEN FAJITAS.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu buffet

SMOKED BARBECUE PORK.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu buffet

CHIMICHANGA.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu baked fish

SALT-BAKED FISH.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu buffet

PINTO BEANS SALAD.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu buffet

SPICY SHRIMP.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu buffet

TORTILLA SALAD.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu buffet

TORTILLA ROLLUP.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu buffet

TEX-MEX chicken chopped salad.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu buffet

ICE CREAM CAKE.

 

Marco Polo Plaza buffet

FISH AND CHIPS.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu burger station

BURGER STATION. At the burger station, you have the choice of beef, chicken, and lamb patties.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Cafe Marco

ROULADE.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu buffet

UNTIL JULY 7. The Star Spangled Celebration in Cafe Marco will run until July 7.

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Chicken, donuts, pizza, tempura, tacos all you can every Wednesday in June

Diners are in for a treat this June. Every Wednesday during the month, 8 brands that are part of the Max’s Group, Inc. will be offering All-You-Can sets for P349…

Diners are in for a treat this June. Every Wednesday during the month, 8 brands that are part of the Max’s Group, Inc. will be offering All-You-Can sets for P349 per brand for 2 hours starting at 2 p.m. until closing time.

This is the first cross-branded promotion by the country’s biggest casual dining group, said Max’s Group Marketing Services Head Charlene Marie Sapina.

The Max’s Group All-You-Can Wednesdays promo will be available in more than 600 stores nationwide on June 6, 13, 20, and 27 from 2 pm until closing time. For 24-hour stores of Yellow Cab, its All-You-Can Pizza deal starts at 12 midnight. For other Yellow Cab outlets, the promo is available for the duration of its opening hours.

All-You-Can Wednesdays Max's Group

ALL-YOU-CAN WEDNESDAYS. Every Wednesday this June, get a dining treat in 6 Max’s Group brands with their all-you-can offerings.

Customers who sign up for the All-You-Can promo will be provided stickers for identification upon entry to the store. They will then have 2 hours to eat as much of the featured product as they could.

Senior Citizens or PWDs may choose to avail themselves either of the promotional discount or the 20% discount

The company said the cross-brand promotions allow them to “leverage their portfolio and store network to delight loyal customers.”

The different All-You-Can promos are:

Max's All-You-Can Chicken

Max’s All-You-Can Fried Chicken with 1 glass of Sago’t Gulaman


All-You-Can Pizza Yellow Cab
Yellow Cab’s All-You-Can Pizza in Hawaiian or #4 Cheese and Mountain Dew with 1 order of regular Salt & Pepper Hustlers


All-You-Can taco Pancake House
Pancake House’s All-You-Can Best Taco in Town and Iced Tea


All-You-Can Donuts
Krispy Kreme’s All-You-Can Original Glazed Doughnut and Signature Coffee


All-You-Can Sisig Dencio
Dencio’s All-You-Can Krispy Sisig (Regular) and Iced Tea


All-You-Can Tempura Teriyaki Boy
Teriyaki Boy’s All-You-Can Ebi Tempura and Iced Tea with 1 cup of Steamed Gohan


All-You-Can Sizzlin Steak
Sizzlin’ Steak’s All-You-Can Beef Belly Strips and Iced Tea with 1 cup of Plain Rice


All-You-Can Jamba Juice
Jamba Juice’s All-You-Can Banana Berry Smoothie with 1 Reusable Metal Straw.


Apart from the individual promos, the Max’s Group is also offering All-You-Can Bundles for barkadas and families. The packages start at P849.

The All-You-Can Bundles are:

  • Get Max’s 3 sets of All-You-Can Fried Chicken with 1 glass of Sago’t Gulaman + a free Plush Toy for P1,249
  • Yellow Cab’s 2 sets of All-You-Can Pizza in Hawaiian or #4 Cheese and Mountain Dew + 1 full order of Chicken Alfredo Pasta for P849
  • Pancake House’s 3 sets of All-You-Can Best Taco in Town and Iced Tea + 1 order of Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (Large) for P1,199
  • Krispy Kreme’s 3+1 All-You-Can Original Glazed Doughnut and Signature Coffee for P999
  • Dencio’s 3 sets of All-You-Can Krispy Sisig (Regular) and Iced Tea + 1 order of Hot & Spicy Tofulutan for P1,099
  • Teriyaki Boy’s 3 sets of All-You-Can Ebi Tempura and Iced Tea with 1 cup of Steamed Gohan for P999
  • Sizzlin’ Steak’s 3 sets of All-You-Can Beef Belly Strips and Iced Tea with 1 cup of Plain Rice + 1 order of Cheese Dip with Nachos for P999
  • Jamba Juice’s 3 sets of All-You-Can Banana Berry Smoothie with 1 Reusable Metal Straw for P999

All customers who avail themselves of an All-You-Cam officer will get Delivery Treat Vouchers. For Max’s, customers get a free Sizzling Tofu with a minimum delivery order of P1,500. For Yellow Cab, get a free Ice Cream for every order of Squad Stuff, Boom Bundles, or Hustle Bundles. Pancake House offers free 2-piece Classic Pancakes with a minimum delivery order of P800.

For Krispy Kreme, get a free box of 3 Original Glazed Doughnuts with a minimum delivery order of P1,000. Dencio’s offers free Lumpiang Shanghai with a minimum delivery order of P1,500. Get Teriyaki Boy’s 8-piece California Roll for free for every order of Kazoku Set Meal and for Sizzlin’ Steak, enjoy a free Cheese Dip with Nachos for every order of Platter of 3.

“Max’s Group’s very first All-You-Can promo is the result of a momentous synergy among MGI’s well-loved brands—all of which have become deeply ingrained in the lives of Filipinos,” Ariel Fermin, Group COO for Max’s Group, Inc. said in a press statement.

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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…

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.

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Millican roll pack: the backpack for travelers, digital nomads

With enough room for a laptop, tablet, phones, portable drives, voice recorder, tripod, selfie stick, pocket WiFi, power cord extension, numerous data cables and several paper notebooks, the Millican roll…

With enough room for a laptop, tablet, phones, portable drives, voice recorder, tripod, selfie stick, pocket WiFi, power cord extension, numerous data cables and several paper notebooks, the Millican roll pack is the backpack for travelers and digital nomads.

I got a 25-liter Maverick roll pack during a sale by the Primer Group, the exclusive distributor of the brand in the country, and it is one of the best purchases I’ve ever had. I’ve used the Millican bag exclusively for weeks and can say that it is the best backpack that I’ve had in the decades of carrying one.

I’ve gone through all the usual brands – Hawk (my go-to brand for years), The North Face, Jansport, and Case Logic – but nothing comes close to Millican in utility, durability, and style.

For one, I finally have a bag that can fit all the stuff I carry around for work or leisure.

Millican MAvericks rollpack

TRAVEL, WORK FROM ANYWHERE. The Millican 25-liter Maverick roll pack has room enough to carry all the things I need to work from anywhere.

 

Hidden laptop sleeve

The Millican has a hidden laptop sleeve at the back panel that’s perfect for my 13-inch Macbook Air. With its padded protection, I don’t need a separate laptop sleeve like I did with the other bags. The hidden pocket can hold a notebook of up to 15 inches. It is also lined with “100% waterproof recycled polyester,” according to the company.

There’s a separate hidden key pocket that can fit an iPad mini or a smaller Android tablet. It’s also perfect for phones and other gadgets.

The Maverick has a large front external pocket that can hold notebooks, phones, pocket WiFi, business cards, and even the 20,000mAh that powers my devices throughout the day. Behind this is an open pocket that is perfect for maps, brochures, or notebooks for easy access and inserts.

Millican rollpack

LAPTOP SLEEVE. The Maverick backpack has a hidden laptop sleeve at the back lined waterproof recycled polyester.

 

Holder for tripod, walking stick

It has 2 large side pockets that can hold a flask, more notebooks or other knickknacks. One side pocket has a holder for tripods or walking stick.

Inside the bag are several more pockets to fit even more things that you need to carry around. These pockets can fit clipboards, notebooks, and other important documents.

The roll top lid opening makes access to the stuff that you need easy. It also makes the backpack adjust to the amount of stuff you carry around. With the Maverick, I finally feel I have more room than things to stuff into it. With previous backpacks, I’d often have to carry a separate messenger bag to carry things that wouldn’t fit for longer trips or coverages that require use of more equipment.

Millican backpack

TO THE BEACH. Millican bags are “made to last” and provide “a protective barrier to keep the wet weather out,” the company said.

 

Made to last

Millican bags, the company said in its website, “are made to last.” Its outer fabric is made of Bionic Cotton Canvas, a company exclusive that is 38% cotton, 57% recycled polyester, 5% HT polyester and impregnated with a paraffin wax and a C6 DWR or durable water resistant coating.

“This creates a protective barrier to keep the wet weather out. Your bag will continue to repel water droplets as long as the fabric is kept clean and nourished every few years with a protective treatment,” the company said.

All Maverick bags use aluminum buckles “tough enough to withstand an average force of around 122 kgf (kilogram force). The aluminium is anodized, which provides a weather resistant surface without tarnishing, and the anodized trims we use are non-toxic and contain no nickel.”

Kindred spirits

If the backpack feels it was made for traveling it is because it was made by hardcore travelers.

Millican was started by Jorrit and Nicky, who met while traveling in the early 90s on the border of Ecuador and Peru. They traveled together for 2 years before returning to regular life in the UK.

“It wasn’t long before we slipped into regular life. Jobs, family, a house and a routine out in the suburbs. But there was always a flicker of light, an ember that never quite went out,” they said on their website.

Millican Maverick backpack

LARGE POCKETS. Millican’s Maverick backpack has large external pockets, including 2 in both sides large enough to carry a 600ml flask. One side pocket has an attachment to carry around a tripod and walking stick.

 

“Then one story changed our lives for good. The true story of Millican Dalton, a maverick from the 1900s who swapped his existence in London for an extraordinary life of adventure in the mountains of the Lake District.”

The co-founders said Dalton inspired them to take a leap of faith and follow their own path.

“In homage to Millican Dalton, who was known to make his own clothing and rucksacks, we decided to name our company after him. His teachings still influence our decisions today,” they said.

In Cebu, Millican bags are available in GRIND and Bratpack.

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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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