Re/Discovering Cebu, one story at a time

Smart brings P888 pocket WiFi tour to Cebu

Smart’s nationwide tour to promote its Smart Bro 888 BRO-Kada made its Cebu stop this weekend with a press conference, mall visits, and a bar tour. The company said its…

Smart’s nationwide tour to promote its Smart Bro 888 BRO-Kada made its Cebu stop this weekend with a press conference, mall visits, and a bar tour.

The company said its P888 offering for the 4G pocket WiFI is timely, because students are set to go back to school in a few days. For that amount, customers get a pocket WiFi that can connect up to 10 devices and a free 350 MB data allocation for 3 months. The package will only be offered until June 30, officials said.

“Now more affordable than ever, the Smart Bro 4G Pocket WiFi makes it easy for students to access a vast wealth of online information and share this with the whole barkada,” said Gary Dujali, Smart marketing head for consumer broadband and PLDT Home VP and marketing director in a press statement.

Smart Bro MJ Lastimosa

SMART BRO 888. Beauty queen MJ Lastimosa is one of the celebrity endorsers of the Smart Bro 888 BRO-kada nationwide tour. (Photo: Max Limpag)

 

Smart Bro data package

The pocket WiFi is best used with the Surfmax 85 offer, which gives users all-day Internet surfing for 2 days for P85, Dujali said. As a special offering for Cebu during the tour, Dujali said Surfmax 85 will be sold on a “buy one-take one” basis, meaning that those who top up using this package will get 4 days of Internet connectivity.

Smart Bro Prepaid senior manager Abigail Ng Sy said that people, especially the young, share a lot of things online, from status updates, pictures to videos.

“People are always online and everything they do, they share online,” Sy said during the press conference on Saturday. She said the Smart Bro package they are offering is fit for this generational culture of always being online.

The company brought 2 of its celebrity endorsers to Cebu for the BRO-kada tour: beauty queen MJ Lastimosa and award-winning singer Michael Pangilinan.

Smart Bro 888 Pocket Wi-Fi

POCKET WI-FI PACKAGE. For P888, customers can buy this Smart Bro pocket Wi-Fi that can connect up to 10 devices. Part of the package is a free 350 MB data allocation for 3 months. (Photo: Max Limpag)

 

Where to buy Smart Bro 888 in Cebu

“And with our continuous network improvements here, Cebuanos can also rely on the Smart Bro Pocket WiFi for their daily dose of online fun – from watching videos, streaming music and sharing photos and files on the fly,” said Dujali.

Customers who buy the package in Cebu from Smart pop up booths this weekend will get a free Smart Bro t-shirt and a chance to win P10,000 worth of gift certificates. The pop up booths are located in Sambag 1 and Barangay Luz barangay halls, Colonnade Mall, E-Mall, Robinsons Galleria and the bars that are part of the BRO-kada tour.

The team will also be giving out beer stubs to those who will buy the Smart Bro 4G pocket WiFi during the bar tour in Alchology, Distillery and LIV.

Smart Bro-kada Cebu tour

SMART BRO-KADA. Present during the press conference to announce the Smart Bro 888 BRO-Kada are (from left) Gary Dujali, Smart marketing head for consumer broadband and PLDT Home VP and marketing director; Pam Santiago, AVP Smart Broadband; beauty queen MJ Lastimosa; Abigail Ng Sy, Smart Bro prepaid senior manager; and singer Michael Pangilinan. (Photo: Max Limpag)

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Smart’s mobile digital lab for preschoolers wins award in Singapore

Smart TechnoCart – a mobile digital laboratory donated to public schools to develop literacy among kindergarten students – won the Social Contribution Award at the prestigious Asia Communication Awards (ACA)…

Smart TechnoCart – a mobile digital laboratory donated to public schools to develop literacy among kindergarten students – won the Social Contribution Award at the prestigious Asia Communication Awards (ACA) ceremony held recently in Singapore.

Organized annually by London-based industry publication Total Telecom, the ACA recognizes outstanding performance by Asian carriers, multimedia content providers, vendors, and other communication service providers.

The TechnoCart, developed by Philippine mobile leader and PLDT unit Smart Communications, is a 2ft x 2ft cart containing 20 student tablets and a laptop, projector, and mobile WiFi for the teacher. The tablets are preloaded with the Batibot mobile application, the first educational app for kids in Filipino which is aligned with the kindergarten curriculum of the Department of Education.

Smart TechnoCart

Smart public affairs senior manager Stephanie Orlino receives the Social Contribution Award for Smart TechnoCart.

Digital learning

In just a year, 29 public schools from as far as Pangasinan in the North and Tawi-Tawi in the South have received a Smart TechnoCart. Fifteen of these were donated by Smart, while the rest were sponsored by individuals and organizations who wanted to help spread the benefits of digital learning to more public schools.

Because the TechnoCart can be easily wheeled from one classroom to the next, each unit can reach up to 20 kindergarten classes or 250 students per day.

“The Smart TechnoCart introduces public school kindergarten classes to the benefits offered by tablets and relevant digital content. It is one of Smart’s many initiatives to use technology for the development of various sectors of society,” said Smart public affairs senior manager Stephanie Orlino.

Positive feedback

“Since we launched the program last year, we have received a lot of positive feedback from teachers. They say their students’ skills have significantly improved, and that they have become more eager to learn,” she added.

Preschool teacher Violeta Bellen of Bacacay East Central School in Albay, one of the recipients of the Smart TechnoCart, shared: “Absenteeism has declined. One time, classes were suspended because of heavy rains. But a lot of the students still went to school. They asked me, ‘Teacher, aren’t we using the tablets today?’ I had to tell them to go home.”

“During our first grading lecture, my children were not really interested in reading letters and they didn’t even participate in our daily activities. Only a few of them could identify the letters or the numbers. But when the TechnoCart arrived they improved a lot. They really enjoy tracing letters using the Batibot app, and I am surprised they can now easily identify the letters,” said kindergarten teacher Hja. Shaiha A. Irahani of Datu Halun Laboratory School in Tawi-Tawi.

Smart Technocart

The Batibot app, downloadble for free on Google Play, has fun features that teach kids the alphabet and basic skills like grouping similar objects. It also features stories that highlight values.

Awards

Aside from winning in the ACA, the year-old Smart TechnoCart program has also received a Gold Anvil from the Public Relations Society of the Philippines, and a Quill Award of Excellence from the International Association of Business Communicators-Philippine chapter.

Those interested in sponsoring Smart TechnoCarts may get more information at www.smart.com.ph/learnsmart.

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Company harnesses big data to let businesses mount targeted, hyper-local marketing campaigns

Using big data in a marketing campaign makes it more effective and offers sharper insights, Cebu businesses were told Thursday. Talas Data Intelligence, Inc., the big data company of the…

Using big data in a marketing campaign makes it more effective and offers sharper insights, Cebu businesses were told Thursday.

Talas Data Intelligence, Inc., the big data company of the PLDT Group, provided a preview of its Market Builder service during Thursday’s Cebu launch of PLDT #MyNumber in Radisson Blu Cebu in Cebu City. MarketBuilder is a self-service tool that allows companies to reach out to customers and provide promotions targeted by profiles on behavior and location.

Margaret Yunque, AVP – Big Data Product Head of Talas, said Market Builder allows companies to reach out to nearby mobile users and “turn them into customers through perks and deals.”

Talas Market Builder

TARGETED MARKETING. Market Builder allows businesses to mount targeted and hyper-local campaigns. (Photo MyCebu.ph)

Telco view insights

Yunque said the “telco view” of PLDT and SMART gives the companies insights into customers’ behavior, including mobile device usage, and demographics. These data sets, she said in her presentation, will make businesses “accurately understand the market.”

In Cebu, for example, the data sets of Talas found that more than a million fit the Worker Bee profile, distinguishable by movement patterns from home to the office and other regular locations as well as usage of devices. Close to half a million are “stay at home” types.

Margaret Yunque Talas

MARKET BUILDER DEMO. Margaret Yunque, AVP – Big Data Product Head of Talas, demonstrates Market Builder to Cebu business leaders. (Photo: MyCebu.ph)

Talas Cebu profiles

There are also more active feature phones rather than smartphones in Cebu. Among smartphones, an overwhelming number are Android devices. (Note: Yunque presented specific figures for the profiles but requested that MyCebu.ph not publish the specific figures because these were meant only for the presentation and not for the general public.)

Market Builder will allow businesses to target these demographic and usage profiles in crafting their offers and marketing campaigns. The marketing campaign is done through SMS and an app. Yunque said millennials “expect to get a perk aftering opting in to a marketing campaign.”

Market Builder Talas

MARKETING PLATFORM. Market Builder allows businesses to target customers by location, demographic and behavior. (Photo: MyCebu.ph)

The service allows businesses to target marketing campaigns to the “right customer, at the right time, in the right place, with the right offer,” she said.

Among the companies trying out the service is Cebu-based real estate firm Primary Homes, Yunque added.

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Updated Gabii Sa Kabilin mobile apps now out

Are you joining tonight’s Gabii Sa Kabilin? Get a mobile guide to the annual cultural event by installing the updated Gabii sa Kabilin Android and iOS apps. Android users can…

Are you joining tonight’s Gabii Sa Kabilin? Get a mobile guide to the annual cultural event by installing the updated Gabii sa Kabilin Android and iOS apps.

Android users can download the app using this link: Gabii Sa Kabilin Android app, while those using iPhones and iPads can install the Gabii Sa Kabilin iOS version.

MOBILE GUIDE. Gabii Sa Kabilin apps are now available for both Android and iOS.

MOBILE GUIDE. Gabii Sa Kabilin apps are now available for both Android and iOS.

The apps contain updated information about the Gabii Sa Kabilin, an annual event spearheaded by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. It lists participating sites and featured sits and provides information on these. It has articles about this year’s theme, which is “forging peoples.”

The apps were built by Cebu-based journalism startup InnoPub Media. InnoPub is the company behind the nationwide Digital Tourism campaign, which is done in partnership with SMART Communications, Inc. and various private and public sector partners.

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PLDT launches #MyNumber service to help companies widen reach

To help enterprises expand their market and increase engagement with customers, leading telecommunications and multimedia company PLDT has come up with the #MyNumber service. The PLDT #MyNumber solution simplifies a…

To help enterprises expand their market and increase engagement with customers, leading telecommunications and multimedia company PLDT has come up with the #MyNumber service.

The PLDT #MyNumber solution simplifies a company’s hotline system to a single number combination of four to eight digits beginning with the hash sign (#), said Marc Frederick Roxas, category head of PLDT SME Data Solutions.

With PLDT #MyNumber, businesses can replace their roster of contact numbers and area codes for all branches nationwide with one national hotline. The hotline is reachable through PLDT landlines as well as Smart, Talk ‘N Text, and Sun Cellular mobile phones.

Roxas added during the launch of the service in Cebu yesterday, March 26, that the vanity number allows customers to easily reach companies and addresses the challenges of marketing materials that must carry different contact numbers for different stores.

PLDT #MyNumber Cebu launch

PLDT #MYNUMBER LAUNCH. PLDT SME Data Solutions category head Marc Frederick Roxas discusses features of the #MyNumber service during the Cebu launch. At right is John Thomas Anthony Nanquil, PLDT SME Nation area sales head. (Photo by Max Limpag)

PLDT #MyNumber launch

PLDT, which is targeting hotels, resorts, and big retail in Cebu for signups to the #MyNumber service, invited 60 companies to last night’s launch at Radisson Blu in Cebu City.

John Thomas Anthony Nanquil, PLDT SME Nation area sales head, said that since Cebu is known as a destination area, the service will help hotels and resorts here get known nationwide.

Roxas said their biggest test case for the service is Jollibee, which picked #87000. By dialing this number, customers, wherever they may be in the country, can get in touch with any of the fast food chain’s branch.

Other brands in Manila that signed up for the PLDT solution picked vanity numbers like #AVIS, #CONDO, #BURGER, #MONEY, #SALES, and #TOBYS. To dial, a customer has only to press according to the placement of the letters in the landline.

PLDT #MyNumber

CEBU LAUNCH. PLDT invited Cebu companies to the launch of #MyNumber. The company said SMEs can tap the service to enhance customer interaction and improve brand recognition. (Photo by Max Limpag)

More customer calls

The #MyNumber service allows companies to receive more calls from clients as PLDT landline calls to the hotline are free of charge, said Roxas. Call costs, covered by the company operating the hotline, include a recurring charge of P10,000 monthly plus P1.00 per minute toll for landline calls and P4.55 per minute for mobile calls. Smart, Talk ‘N Text, and Sun mobile subscribers who call the hotline incur lower per-minute cost for calls compared to the conventional mobile to landline charges.

According to Roxas, a lot of customers still prefer to reach companies through the phone even with the increase in social media usage.

He said that although micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) also use digital means of communication, a landline is still very important in increasing the legitimacy of a business. Aside from giving businesses a competitive edge, the PLDT #MyNumber solution also enables brands to create and maintain their own identities, he added.

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Smart records fastest growth in mobile postpaid

PLDT wireless subsidiary gains 6x more subscribers, 5x more revenue than competition PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications scored twin victories in the hotly-contested postpaid segment in the first quarter, posting…

PLDT wireless subsidiary gains 6x more subscribers, 5x more revenue than competition

PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications scored twin victories in the hotly-contested postpaid segment in the first quarter, posting the fastest growth both in terms of revenue and subscriber base.

Smart’s postpaid revenues rose 16% year-on-year, more than five times faster than competition’s 3% revenue growth. Smart added P614 million to its postpaid revenues, ending the quarter with P4.3 billion.

On top of this, Smart acquired new postpaid subscribers at a much faster rate than competition did, 25% vs 4%. Smart grew its postpaid subscriber base by 322,000 to end the first quarter with 1.6 million subscribers.

Best plans and perks

“Smart’s continued postpaid leadership can be attributed to our compelling device offers, improved customer experience, as well as to the groundbreaking content partnerships that have enabled us to offer a wider array of digital services that are relevant to our customers,” said Smart and PLDT executive vice president and head of consumer business Ariel Fermin.

Smart achieved all-time high iPhone sales in the first quarter of 2016, with sales volume up by 60% year-on-year. This was recorded after Smart launched unbeatable postpaid offers for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Subscribers can get a free iPhone 6s at Plan 2000 with a supersized 10 GB data allowance for all their videos, music, and games. On top of this, they will get All-Month Surf for access to their favorite websites and apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter; plus 150 minutes of all-net calls and 200 all-net texts.

Smart-Postpaid

Meanwhile, the iPhone 6s Plus is free at Plan 2499 on a 30-month contract, with a 15GB monthly data allowance, All-Month Surf, 300 minutes of all-net calls, and 300 all-net texts.

Last March, Smart was the first to offer the Samsung Galaxy S7 which comes free at Surf Plus Plan 1999. This monthly plan is inclusive of a 9GB data allowance, 150 minutes of calls and 200 texts to all networks, and free access to an app chosen by the subscriber.

Meanwhile, Smart’s premium postpaid brand Smart Infinity offered its subscribers two units of the Samsung Galaxy S7 plus a Samsung Gear VR under the Infinity LTE Consumable Plan 8000.

A state-of-the-art virtual reality headset, the Samsung Gear VR is set to usher in the next frontier in mobile entertainment, instantly transporting users in 3D and computer-generated animated worlds, as well as 180- or 360-degree live action scenes.

Richest digital content

Also driving postpaid growth was the wide breadth of video and digital content made available by Smart’s partnerships with the world’s content leaders. An example of this was Smart’s partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures, which enabled Smart to take the hit film Batman v Superman to the digital realm.

Smart opened a Batman v Superman online portal where subscribers could watch exciting videos and join interactive online challenges. Smart Postpaid subscribers, as well as Smart Prepaid and Smart Bro subscribers, also had the chance to win a trip for two to Japan or Hong Kong with every top-up of Big Bytes promos.

Smart also partnered with Uber to provide its passengers with free in-car Smart WiFi – a first in Southeast Asia. With this service, more Filipinos have experienced the Smart Life even while struck in traffic or breezing through the metropolis.

Improved customer experience

Fermin said Smart’s postpaid growth indicates enhanced consumer trust in the company, as it boosts efforts to improve customer experience.

“We are happy that Filipinos trust us to fulfill their various mobile needs. We value this trust, and we are continuously improving our network so our customers would truly live digital and enjoy a Smart Life,” he said.

PLDT and Smart have set aside about P43 billion in capital expenditures this year, the bulk of which is budgeted to boost internet services in the country, including the recently announced initial deployment of LTE-Advanced also known as 4.5G. (Press Release)

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Smart empowers Eversley Childs Sanitarium in Cebu with digital services

Wireless leader Smart Communications (Smart) has partnered with Cebu-based Eversley Childs Sanitarium to further improve the delivery of health care to patients in the northern part of the province. Smart…

Wireless leader Smart Communications (Smart) has partnered with Cebu-based Eversley Childs Sanitarium to further improve the delivery of health care to patients in the northern part of the province.

Smart recently signed a memorandum of agreement with Eversley to facilitate the referral of patients from the rural health units that are located in the northern part of Cebu to Eversley and if needed, referral from Eversley to Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, which is the regional hospital in Cebu.

Shine OS+ Eversley Childs Sanitarium

SHINE OS+ TRAINING. Smart Communications trained 24 hospital personnel of Eversley Childs Sanitarium during the SHINE OS+ Users Training Workshop early this month. Smart was represented by Atty. Maria Jane C. Paredes, head of Public Affairs VisMin (seated, rightmost), while Eversley was led by Dr. Lope Ma. Carabaña, medical center chief (seated, second from right).

This will be made possible via the award-winning mobile health platform Secured Health Information Network and Exchange (SHINE) OS+. It is an electronic medical record platform leveraging on open-sourced technologies developed in partnership with Ateneo Java Wireless Competency Center (AJWCC).

SHINE OS+ has opened its API to provide access to other systems to enable data sharing or data exchange for interoperability that can greatly impact the function of the local government and national health agencies in improving its healthcare services, adhering to its goal on Universal Healthcare program. (Press Release)

Eversley Childs Sanitarium Shine OS+

Smart digitizes Eversley’ health care services. Smart Communications signs an agreement with Eversley Childs Sanitarium for the use of SHINE OS+. Atty. Maria Jane C. Paredes, head of Public Affairs VisMin, signed on behalf of Smart (rightmost), while Felixberto E. Eltanal, chief, hospital operation and patient support division, and Dr. Lope Ma. Carabaña, medical center chief, signed on behalf of Eversley.

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First-ever #TwitterElection showcases people power of the Philippines

After three months of watching, hearing, and talking about the political candidates, the Filipino public has cast its vote and has elected a new set of government officials in the…

After three months of watching, hearing, and talking about the political candidates, the Filipino public has cast its vote and has elected a new set of government officials in the national and local levels. But what marked the difference for the election this year is the higher level of inclusiveness Filipinos enjoyed through the country’s first-ever #TwitterElection. Engaging the first-time voters who are heavy social media users, or one-third (17 million) of the country’s 50 million registered voters, is critically important for any candidate to win the election. And the people’s voices have been heard on Twitter with over 35 million elections-related Tweets sent since the start of the year, of which over 4 million Tweets came on Election Day (May 9th) alone.

There was global interest in the Philippines general election and this was reflected in the #TwitterElection conversation, too. When you zoom out on the heatmap below, you can see the elections-related conversations on Twitter over the past 30 days from all over the world – from the US to UK to Europe to the Middle East to Asia Pacific – including Tweets from many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). For example, the three #PiliPinasDebates2016 Presidential TV debates generated Twitter conversations worldwide, nearly 5 million Tweets combined, with the last one on April 24, 2016 shown on the heatmap.

twitterworldmap

Said Rishi Jaitly, Twitter’s Vice President of Media for the Asia Pacific and Middle East: “This has been a special #TwitterElection in the Philippines with its People Power grassroots efforts to get more young Filipinos to participate in the elections, all thanks to COMELEC’s partnership to understand how important social media can be for #Pilipinas2016. Twitter is the first place Filipinos go to find out what’s happening on the campaign trail as well as to see diverse conversations about the political candidates and election issues. The live conversations on Twitter, from the Presidential TV debates to Election Day, provide the pulse of the nation and enable any Filipino’s voice to be heard around the world.”

As Twitter is often a reflection of society, the most mentioned Presidential candidates on Twitter can be a leading indicator of people’s interests. Over the past 7 months (from October 12, 2015 to May 9, 2016), Rodrigo Duterte was the most discussed Presidential candidate on Twitter, accounting for 40% of all mentions, almost equal to the next two leading candidates (Jejomar Binay and Mars Roxas) combined.

twitterleaderboard

The Live Twitter Conversation on Election Day

The roar of the crowd was heard on Twitter with over 4 million Tweets on Election Day alone, or more than 10% of all elections-related conversations in 2016. The Twitter conversation peaked at 5,600 Tweets per minute at 7:30pm on May 9th as people began talking about the early voting results.

The real-time nature of Twitter also provides live insights into the people’s preferences for their Presidential candidates on Election Day:

twitterpreference

In this Twitter data chart, Santiago/Duterte/Binay all had around the same share of voice (roughly 30% of Presidential candidate mentions) on Election Day, but Duterte had broader voter interest as 1.5X more Twitter users Tweeted about him vs Santiago and a whopping 7X more Twitter users Tweeted about him vs Binay. Binay’s supporters were fewer, but more organized and passionate on Twitter, as they Tweeted more often to account for nearly the same amount of Tweets as Duterte’s supporters.

twittervoice

Another Twitter data chart for Election Day conversations showed that Binay started strongly, but he faded throughout most of the day. Meanwhile Duterte had the opposite reaction by starting slowly and peaking at the end of the polling day. Santiago also built up momentum throughout the day and spiked higher than Duterte when her supporters started questioning why the early polling results showed her in last place. Grace Poe spiked at the end of the day when she conceded defeat.

Filipino voices heard on Election Day

In fact, some of the most Retweeted Tweets on Election Day came from young Filipinos expressing their opinions about the early voting results. While they do not have a lot of followers, their Tweets resonated with thousands of Filipinos who shared their point of view.

Voting rules violations were also being reported via Twitter on Election Day. Another most shared Tweet came from the @COMELEC spokesperson’s account:

And of course, Filipinos were proudly showing off their inked fingers on Twitter as a sign of their democratic right to vote for their next set of government leaders:

Continue to follow all the elections-related conversations and candidates’ actions on Twitter using #Pilipinas2016, #PHvote and #HalalanResults as the voting results are tallied in the days ahead. (Press Release)

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Alliance gives workers the ‘best jobs, best lives’ in Live IT campaign

To give its employees not just the best jobs but their “best lives,” Alliance Software launched the Live IT campaign that allows them to tap their individual passions while they…

To give its employees not just the best jobs but their “best lives,” Alliance Software launched the Live IT campaign that allows them to tap their individual passions while they pursue careers in the IT industry.

The Live IT initiative, made up of programs for workers that focus on health and wellness, work fun, corporate social responsibility (CSR), financial management, and extensive employment benefits, is in line with Alliance’s vision to become a globally competitive company, said president and chief executive officer (CEO) Robert Cheng.

A Live IT card was the latest benefit unveiled by the company for its 300 employees during the Live IT campaign launch on April 16, 2016. The privilege card is an exclusive perk for Alliance employees who enjoy freebies and discounts when they patronize partner establishments all over Cebu.

Alliance Robert Cheng

LIVE IT PROGRAM. Alliance president and chief executive officer (CEO) Robert Cheng discusses the company’s Live IT campaign during its launch. (Photo: Alliance)

Fast growing IT industry

Cheng said the IT industry is competitive and fast-growing, at a yearly average of 30 percent over the last 10 years, and Alliance Software wants to make sure that its employees do not just have the best jobs but are also equipped to live their best lives.

Alliance aims to recruit and retain more IT professionals through Live IT. The company has total workforce of 300 right now but aims to increase this to 400 by 2017.

“We are on our expansion phase, and it is a three-year program that started in 2015. We’re on track to doubling our number from 200 in 2015 to 400 in 2017. Our goal is to increase the workforce from 325 to 350 by the end of the year,” said chief operating officer Sherwin Yu.

Alliance Live IT campaign

FILM SCREENING. Alliance employees get an exclusive screening to The Huntsman: Winter’s War as part of the launch of its Live IT campaign. (Photo: Alliance)

Alliance employee benefits

The IT company’s long list of benefits for employees include wellness programs, summer outings, extensive vacation leave, flexible work hours, gadget and car plans, advanced degree tuition support, housing program, medical coverage, school subsidy for dependents, maternity and paternity leave, as well as calamity and emergency assistance.

On top of this, Alliance management collaborates with the human resource department to come up with more perks for employees, from zumba activities to the office hackathon challenge Hack It that offers P50,000 in prizes. The company also initiates step-up challenge events where the winners get branded walking gears as incentive.

“We have a lot of benefits for our workers but close to my heart are the training programs we have in place,” said Cheng. He cited the bridge linking program that seeks to introduce college seniors to a real work environment and the near hire initiative that aims to help average IT students level up their skills.

Alliance Live IT

RAFFLE winners line up to claim their prizes during the launch. (Photo: Alliance)

Biggest market

Alliance Software, which operates in the Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO) sector of the industry, is into the development of software dealing with financial systems. Yu said their biggest market is Japan, followed by Australia, US, and the Philippines.

“Right now, Japan makes up 70 percent of our market. A big surprise for us is the growing number of our clients, banks and conglomerates, in the Philippines. We can see that the economy is really doing well,” Yu said. Alliance is homegrown, having been founded by Cebuanos, and continues to be a fully Filipino-owned company.

By 2017, Alliance Software will be moving into its new delivery center at the Buildcomm Center in the Cebu Business Park. The 14-story building, which is currently being constructed, had its groundbreaking early this year.

Alliance Robert Cheng Sherwin Yu

PRESS CONFERENCE. Alliance president and chief executive officer Robert Cheng (center) and chief operating officer Sherwin Yu (right) discuss the company’s founding and plans with journalists. (Photo: Alliance)

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PLDT, Smart offer 3 simple tips to protect passwords

Following the cyber theft of voters’ records from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) database, PLDT and Smart Communications are encouraging their subscribers to take precautions to protect their online privacy…

Following the cyber theft of voters’ records from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) database, PLDT and Smart Communications are encouraging their subscribers to take precautions to protect their online privacy and security.

According to published reports, the data breach disclosed voters’ personal information such as their names, birthdates, home and email addresses, the full names of their parents and in some cases passport details. These information can be used for identity theft and other fraudulent activities.

(Photo: Pexels.com)

(Photo: Pexels.com)

As a starting point, here are some simple, practical tips to ensure your peace of mind by properly managing your online passwords.

Update your passwords. Make it a habit to change passwords regularly for all your online accounts – email, social (like Facebook and Twitter), online banking accounts among others.

Make your passwords strong. This means creating passwords with a mix of letters and numbers, with a mix of capital and lowercase letters, and with symbols like “&” or “@”. It is best to use passwords with at least six letters, numbers and symbols.

Avoid predictable passwords. Like birthdays (yours, your spouses or children, etc.) Or common number or alphabet patterns like “123456” or “abcdef”. Or, predictable words like “password.”

PLDT and Smart are stepping up measures to strengthen your online security and will periodically share information that can help subscribers protect themselves.

When managing information regarding your PLDT and Smart accounts, please use only our official channels.

For PLDT, these are: the official websites pldt.com, and pldthome.com and its official social media accounts on Facebook are facebook.com/PLDTpublicaffairs, facebook.com/PLDTHome, and facebook.com/SMENation, and on Twitter, @PLDTHome, @PLDT_Cares, and @PLDTMedia.

For Smart, these are: the Smart hotline *888, the official Smart website smart.com.ph, and the official social media accounts facebook.com/smartcommunications, twitter.com/LiveSmart and twitter.com/smartcares. (Press Release)

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Singtel Group’s Go Ignite opens doors to local startups

The most promising local growth startups working on solutions in the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, content delivery, cyber security, or customer experience enhancement space have a new…

The most promising local growth startups working on solutions in the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, content delivery, cyber security, or customer experience enhancement space have a new opportunity to scale their business through Go Ignite, the recently-announced alliance of the Singtel Group with its European counterparts.

The alliance, comprising the innovation arms of Deutsche Telekom (hub:raum), Orange (Orange Fab), Singtel (Singtel Innov8), and Telefónica (Telefónica Open Future), offers to help top startups in the Philippines and abroad find business development opportunities, accelerate the commercialization of their innovations and bring their business outside their home market.

Up to five startups will be selected for the program: the global call for startups to apply is open until 11:59PM CET on April 30, 2016. Applications need to be submitted via the Telefonica Open Future platform. Shortlisted startups will be invited to pitch to the Go Ignite Alliance members.

Path to global market

“We are thrilled to see developments like Go Ignite giving Philippine startups a path to penetrating the global market. Through the collective resources of these four major global carriers, any startup shortlisted to the top five would have a wealth of opportunities and services to help them accelerate their global growth aspirations,” said Minette Navarrete, president of Kickstart Ventures, Inc., a wholly-owned venture capital firm of Globe Telecom which is also a part of the Singtel Group.

go-ignite

Kickstart is a founding member of Singtel Group’s Innov8 Sparks, a network of technology startup support and funding initiatives. Kickstart helps startups by breaking down barriers that prevent founders from accessing capital, mentors, and markets. The VC firm’s network of business connections build virtual bridges to enable close and relevant engagement between the business community and startup founders.

Benefit for startups

To translate their ideas into viable solutions quicker, selected startups will benefit from the alliance members’ insights into different markets, introductions to partners, use of co-working spaces, potential investment, coaching, mentoring, invitations to showcases and events, and access to the alliance members’ operating businesses.

They will also have the opportunity to gain access to Go Ignite alliance members’ business units and their collective customer base, which includes enterprises and consumers, equating to over one billion mobile customers across five continents.

Singtel Innov8 chief executive officer Edgar Hardless said, “The Go Ignite alliance helps startups succeed in multiple markets by providing them with the right resources that are critical for their commercialization. Selected startups can expect access to the alliance’s business units and refine their solutions within a sizeable customer base. Combining our resources together, the Go Ignite program can give startups a better chance to scale across markets worldwide.”

To be eligible for the Go Ignite Global Call, all members of the startup should be above the age of 18. The startups are expected to be in their growth stage with a ready product that can be taken to ecosystems across Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Interested parties may find out more about the Go Ignite global call by visiting http://go-ignite.com. (Press Release)

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Get the Sony PS4 with a PLDT HOME Fibr bundle

Following a historic year marked by successful partnership launches with renowned global brands like iflix and Fox Entertainment Channels for content, and Microsoft and Intel for the TVolution Stick, PLDT…

Following a historic year marked by successful partnership launches with renowned global brands like iflix and Fox Entertainment Channels for content, and Microsoft and Intel for the TVolution Stick, PLDT HOME, the digital services unit of leading telco PLDT, is back in the spotlight, this time to herald the arrival of a new era in ultimate gaming at home.

After bagging the best digital innovation honor at the recently concluded CIO Asia Awards, PLDT HOME’s most powerful brand, Fibr, in partnership with multinational entertainment giant Sony, is set to provide the best home gaming experience with an exciting partnership offer for fun-loving Filipino families and gaming enthusiasts.

Powerful gaming console

Considered by gamers as one of the most powerful gaming consoles in the world, the PS4 provides deeply immersive experiences through rich and high-fidelity graphics. It is powered by a custom chip that contains eight x86-64 cores and a state of the art 1.84 TFLOPS graphics processor with 8 GB of ultra-fast GDDR5 unified system memory. This translates to easier game creation and enhanced richness of content achievable on the platform.

One of the most popular games for PS4 is the Nathan Drake series dubbed Uncharted. Widely known as one of the most revered game series of all time, it is recognized as a genre-defining epic that changed the game for adventure storytelling. After three successful installments, a fourth chapter, entitled Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, is expected to be released this year. It picks up several years after the last adventure of retired fortune hunter Nathan Drake as he is forced back into the world of thieves.

PLDT VP and Home Marketing Director Gary Dujali said, “Last year, we raised the bar for home entertainment with our compelling product and multimedia content portfolio. This year, we’re bringing gaming into the fold and leveling up the experience for our subscribers by empowering them to enjoy ultimate gaming at home.

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PLDT Home Fibr bundle

PLDT HOME Fibr will be bundled with a Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) gaming console for an additional P749 per month within a 36-month period. And for only an additional P100 at P849 per month, subscribers will also get complimentary copy of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End when it launches on May 10th.

“We’re thrilled to be working with a like-minded digital leader like PLDT HOME.” President and Managing Director of Sony Philippines Nobuyoshi Otake added.

PLDT HOME Fibr delivers the first and fastest Internet of up to 1 Gbps, allowing high-speed browsing of multiple websites and the country’s first symmetrical speed service. Fibr is now available in over 1,600 Fibr-powered villages nationwide.

For more information on the country’s most powerful broadband, visit pldthome.com/fibr.

(PlayStation Network is currently not available in the Philippines.)

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PLDT HOME Telpad boosts content offerings with Disney games, e-books, apps

PLDT HOME Telpad, the Filipino family’s all-in-one entertainment device and kids’ favorite gadget at home, levels up its content portfolio with fresh and fun Disney activities for kids in time for summer vacation.

PLDT HOME Telpad, the Filipino family’s all-in-one entertainment device and kids’ favorite gadget at home, levels up its content portfolio with fresh and fun Disney activities for kids in time for summer vacation.

“This summer, PLDT HOME Telpad aims to cultivate a rich and entertaining experience for kids at home,” PLDT VP and HOME Marketing Director Gary Dujali said. “Introducing new Disney content is the perfect way to engage kids and families. A timeless entertainment organization, Disney offers a spectacular range of well-loved classics and modern content—more than enough for kids to learn, to discover, to imagine and to be entertained.”

PLDT-Telpad-Playground

Games, e-books, apps

The favorite home gadget of kids and kids-at-heart is now pre-loaded with 50 free Disney games, e-books and apps. Kids can now put their critical thinking skills to the test with fun puzzle games like Frozen Free Fall and Where’s My Water? 2, and unleash their creative storytelling abilities with the help of mom using story theatre apps like Disney Princess: Story Theater.

A virtual hub for kids and parents alike, the Telpad lets them enjoy exciting and family-friendly apps that revolve around other Disney treasures like Inside Out, Toy Story, Sofia the First, Star Wars and many more.

Digital entertainment portal

“The Telpad serves as a digital entertainment portal which, just like Disney, is designed to be part of a child’s upbringing and create happy moments for families,” Dujali added. “Whether it’s through an adventurous game, an animated e-book or special edutainment activities, the Telpad’s upgraded suite lets kids of all ages experience the magical world of Disney.”

Downloading Disney games on the Telpad comes in a simple three-step process. Users can: 1) go to the Telpad’s knAPPsack which is similar to the Google Play Store of Android devices; 2) click on the Disney icon and 3) select a game and download. Unlike other content stores, the Telpad’s knAPPsack offers these all-inclusive Disney selections for free.

Families can easily upgrade their PLDT HOME DSL plan to a Telpad plan by adding as low as P500 to their monthly subscription. With a Telpad plan, they can enjoy a landline, HOME DSL connection, speed boost and multifunctional tablet. And for an additional P199 per month, they also get a Smart Watch with a SIM slot, camera and Bluetooth which can be connected to the Telpad, truly making it the center of the connected home. (Press Release)

For more great offers for kids, visit pldthome.com, like PLDT HOME’s official Facebook page and follow @pldthome on Twitter and Instagram.

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Smart starts deployment of LTE-Advanced mobile service

PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications (Smart) has begun to roll out the country’s first LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) service, which can provide significantly higher data speeds than existing LTE services using a…

PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications (Smart) has begun to roll out the country’s first LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) service, which can provide significantly higher data speeds than existing LTE services using a capability called “carrier aggregation.”

Initially deployed in Boracay, Aklan, one of the country’s leading tourist destinations, Smart’s LTE-A service there has posted speeds of up to 260 Mbps.

“With the introduction of our LTE-Advanced service, the next stage of development of 4th generation of mobile technology, Smart is again at the technology forefront, setting the bar higher for mobile service experience,” said Joachim Horn, PLDT and Smart chief technology and information advisor.

Smart joins the short list of operators around the world that have tested and rolled out the technology, which is also referred to as 4.5G. This list includes Optus in Australia, Sprint in the US, and Turkcell in Turkey, among others.

Boost internet services

“Combined with our other network improvement initiatives for both our mobile and fixed line networks, the introduction of LTE-A will help boost internet services in the country and enable more Filipinos to enjoy and benefit from the fast-growing range of digital services that PLDT and Smart offer,” he said.

Smart LTE-A

SUPERIOR EXPERIENCE. For Smart subscribers using LTE-A capable devices, this translates into superior experiences when using various data services, particularly bandwidth-heavy services like video- and audio-streaming, and gaming.

“We are also planning ahead, in anticipation of future advances in technology. Our current investments in network facilities are already being done in a way that will enable us to be ready for 5G when it arrives sometime in 2020. For this purpose, we are working closely with NTT DoCoMo, which is one of the global pace-setters in the development of 5G,” Horn added.

Carrier aggregation refers to the ability of LTE-A to combine two or more radio frequency bands in order to deliver bigger bandwidth and faster data speeds to mobile users.

Superior experience

“This is like being able to put together two or more separate highways in order to create a wider highway through which vehicular traffic can flow more freely and at a much faster rate,” Horn said.

“Wireless technologies being a shared resource, the actual customer experience is typically less than the peak speeds being registered during tests. But, carrier aggregation on LTE-A, by combining the capacities of two or more frequency bands, will enable Smart to deliver to subscribers with LTE-A devices consistently higher speeds than is possible using LTE. In Boracay, we have combined three frequencies, which is a first in the country,” he said.

For Smart subscribers using LTE-A capable devices, this translates into superior experiences when using various data services, particularly bandwidth-heavy services like video- and audio-streaming, and gaming.

Currently, the LTE-A capable devices include the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. Other handset manufacturers are expected to introduce their own LTE-A devices soon.

LTE-A tests

Smart ran several tests of LTE-A in 2013 – in Boracay during the Geeks on a Beach startup conference; in Davao City during the Kadayawan festival; and in Makati City. The introduction of LTE-A capable devices since then has opened the door for its roll-out.

Horn explained that LTE-A is the “cutting edge” of a broader effort to improve the cellular and mobile internet services of Smart and Sun subscribers.

In a network integration program started last year, for example, Smart and Sun have been synergizing their networks to improve the coverage and quality of service for the subscribers of both brands using 2G, 3G and LTE capable devices.

Increase in coverage

“For example, where it makes technical and marketing sense, we equip a single cell site – either of Smart or Sun – so that this can serve the subscribers of both brands,” Jorn said.

As a result of this program, depending on the area, the effective coverage for Smart and Sun subscribers increases by anywhere from 50% to 100%. The program is expected to be completed by end-2016 or early 2017. This was part of PLDT’s P43-billion capital expenditure program (capex) in 2015 and will be funded by the 2016 capex budget which has been set at the same level.

In this program, specific attention is being given to enhancing 3G/HSPA/HSPA+ coverage and capacity because about 90% of Smart and Sun subscribers who go online use 3G handsets.

“Improving our 3G data service thus delivers immediate benefits to the largest number of people in our subscriber base. At the same time, we have been expanding the coverage of our LTE network because the number of subscribers using LTE phones is steadily rising,” Horn said.

“And now, we have also begun to deploy LTE-A. The pace of this deployment will be driven by several factors, including the rate at which subscribers start using LTE-A capable devices,” he added. (Press Release)

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PLDT HOME bags best digital innovation award in CIO Asia for data sharing service

PLDT HOME, the home digital services unit of telecoms leader PLDT, has been recognized for its leadership in digital innovation in Asia for its pioneering data sharing initiative, done in…

PLDT HOME, the home digital services unit of telecoms leader PLDT, has been recognized for its leadership in digital innovation in Asia for its pioneering data sharing initiative, done in partnership with Smart Communications (Smart), in the recent CIO Asia Awards.

PLDT HOME won in the Leadership category and is one of only five outstanding companies in the region included in the Roll of Honour list at the 15th Annual CIO Asia Awards.

“The PLDT HOME DSL data sharing offer is just the beginning of more game-changing converged innovations from PLDT and Smart. This recognition from CIO Asia fuels our inspiration to raise the bar and continuously break new ground in digital and mobile technology,” said PLDT VP and Home Marketing Director Gary Dujali.

PLDT-HOME-DSL

Product of collaboration

The converged data sharing service from PLDT HOME and Smart is a product of collaboration between the Business and IT teams of the country’s digital and mobile leaders. It is the Philippines’ first data plan that enables subscribers of Home DSL service to share their data allocation with their family’s Smart-powered mobile phones.

It is offered under the Speedster Fam Plan 1299 which gives PLDT HOME DSL subscribers speeds of up to 10 Mbps and a monthly data allocation of 50 gigabytes. By upgrading their Speedster Plan with a Smart Mobile Plan 399 or Plan 600, subscribers can share up to 6 gigabytes of their monthly allocation to their mobile phone lines which they can use even outside the home.

Relevance

In its citation, CIO Asia Awards said that PLDT HOME and Smart’s data sharing service is “particularly relevant in the Philippines where large, closely-linked family units are common.”

Also in the Honour Roll in this year’s awards are Singapore’s National Library Board for the Innovation category, Philippines’ Manila Water for Transformation, US’ Avnet Inc. for Growth, and Malaysia’s Fraser & Neave Holdings Berhad for Performance.

The CIO Asia Awards is a “prestigious annual listing of the top Asian companies that have deployed information and communications technology to derive the highest strategic value and to yield the greatest returns for their key operations and businesses.” It was organized by CIO Asia, a leading resource for IT and digital developments in the region.

To know more about the PLDT HOME Speedster Fam Plan 1299, log on to pldthome.com. (Press Release)

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7 tips for stunning summer photography by Starmobile

Heading to the beach this summer? Aside from partying in the sand, you must also be looking forward to taking a lot of awesome photos of your vacation using your…

Heading to the beach this summer? Aside from partying in the sand, you must also be looking forward to taking a lot of awesome photos of your vacation using your smartphone.

Two of summer’s most popular smartphones are the Starmobile KNIGHT Spectra and KNIGHT Elite. Both feature cameras powered by Star Cam, a unique technology that enables you to refocus images even after shooting, take cool pictures even in low-light, and capture beautiful scenery from a distance.

In addition, the Starmobile KNIGHT Spectra also features dual rear cameras that work together to help you take breath-taking photos. A 2MP sensor gathers data like light, exposure, and distance, acting as support to the 13MP main sensor that takes brilliant photos quickly and accurately.

Here is quick how-to guide to help you get the best, most interesting, and most Instagram-worthy photos. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll make Matabungkay look like the Maldives soon enough. Impress your friends, amaze your family, and make the world a happier, prettier place.

1. Have a plan, shoot with purpose

Once you arrive at your destination beach, take the time to scout out the place. Look for interesting backgrounds or subjects. Take note where the sun will rise (east) and where it will set (west) because these things will help you make creative decisions later on. Whether you want to document your barkada’s vacation, take gorgeous introspective landscape shots, or just want to add to your profile pic collection, it is important to have an end goal in sight.

Starmobile photo tips

Pro Tip: Spotted an especially gorgeous landscape that you want to use for your cover photo? Take advantage of Star Cam and use the Opti-Zoom feature that lets you capture faraway subjects with great texture and sharpness.

2. Mind the light

Photography is all about capturing light and the quality of light is often as important as the subject you’re trying to shoot. At the beach, the sun will cast different qualities of light depending on the time of day and the cloud cover.

Pro Tip: When the sun is bright and directly overhead, you’ll likely have harsh shadows on the faces of the folks you’re trying to shoot. In this case, you might want to turn on your cell phone’s flash to provide what’s known as a “fill.” This softens or reduces the shadows on your subject’s face, making for a more flattering shot.

3. Wait for the Golden Hour

While the sun isn’t exactly friendly to photography during high noon, it produces a wonderful golden glow during dawn and dusk, when it’s low on or just under the horizon. This is known as the “Golden Hour,” a term that is spot on because this is when reds, purples and, well, gold, colors come out. A more evocative color palette, longer shadows and the juxtaposition of light and dark make for more interesting photographic possibilities.

Starmobile photo tips

Pro Tip: Planning to extend your barkada photo-shoot well into the evening? Star Cam has got you covered – its Chroma Flash feature lets you take cool photos even in low-light places.

4. Play with angles

Why do beach shots tend to look the same? One reason is because they are mostly shot at eye level. Change up your point of view by going high or crouching low. Finding a high vantage point will let you capture more of a scene, especially in the fore and mid-ground. Going low will let you frame your subject with the sky, make even small ripples look huge, and generally make everyone look taller.

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Pro Tip: The volume controls on Starmobile KNIGHT Spectra and KNIGHT Elite smartphones act as shutter buttons, so you can hold the phone more comfortably when you find angles. Bonus tip – a selfie stick can come in really handy when you realize that it’s not just for shooting selfies.

5. Focus on the eyes

Emotion is often expressed by the whole body, but it is in the eyes that it comes forth more clearly. Even if other parts of the shot are out of focus, as long as the eyes remain sharp, you’ve captured someone’s soul.

Pro Tip: One way of ensuring this (or correcting full body shots that focused on someone’s abs or legs by accident) is by using the Refocus feature on Star Cam. This allows you to adjust your focal point after you’ve taken the shot, making it ideal for bringing your focus back to where it should be.

6. Watch out for clutter

Starmobile photo tipsWhen you’re so focused on your subject, it is easy to overlook any unnecessary elements in the background, say, a garbage can, a photo-bomber, or even something bigger like a power plant. When you shoot, make it a habit to quickly scan for anything that is out of place or defaces the otherwise pristine shot.

Pro Tip: Explore shooting using full 13MP resolution. That way you can crop out any stray offenders without giving up too much image data.

7. Curate your shots

You know how professional photographers manage to impress everyone? It’s because they know well enough to show only their really good photos and keep the bad ones hidden behind lock and key. When presenting your photos to your friends or posting them on social media, make sure to weed out the weak shots and only use the strong ones.

Pro Tip: When checking photos in your smartphone, set your Gallery to Grid mode so you do not make the mistake of posting multiple shots of the same thing. Those Instagram stars you admire only upload a few, perfectly composed shots from their vacations, never an entire memory card’s worth. Neither should you.

So there you have it. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll come home with more than just a tan. You’ll come home with unforgettable memories and photos you’ll be especially proud of.

Planning to get your own Starmobile KNIGHT Spectra or Elite smartphone? Learn more by visiting www.starmobile.com.ph or Starmobile’s official Facebook page at facebook.com/starmobilephones. (Press Release)

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Updated Visita Iglesia app carries mass schedules, other updates for Lent

Still picking which churches to include in your Visita Iglesia route this Lenten season? Get help from a handy mobile app when you plan for this ancient pious Roman Catholic…

Still picking which churches to include in your Visita Iglesia route this Lenten season? Get help from a handy mobile app when you plan for this ancient pious Roman Catholic tradition.

An updated version of the Visita Iglesia mobile app is now available for download on Android phones and tablets from the Google Play Store and iPhone and iPad devices from the Apple App Store.

The mobile app is made possible through collaboration among Cebu-based journalism startup InnoPub Media, mobile leader Smart Communications (Smart) and the Archdiocese of Cebu.

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“Users are able to conveniently plan their itinerary ahead,” said Smart Public Affairs Group Head Ramon Isberto

Mass schedules

Additional information provided in the app includes the mass schedules of the different Cebu churches, the program and speakers for the Siete Palabras, and other updates.

Visita Iglesia already carries historical and current information on centuries-old churches scattered across the whole span of mainland Cebu, from its southern to northern tip.

The churches have GPS-tagged links that users can click on for step-by-step directions using Google maps.

Even if you simply want to visit Cebu’s Spanish period stone churches, the Visita Iglesia will serve as a handy guide to these historical attractions.

Spanish period churches

Learn more about Cebu City’s Basilica del Sto. Nino, Boljoon’s Nuestra Patrocinio de Maria Church, or Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Bantayan as you visit these structures during Lent or any other time through the information provided in the app.

More churches are featured in the app’s latest version.

The Visita Iglesia app is released as part of the nationwide Digital Tourism program of Smart and InnoPub Media. Digital Tourism harnesses mobile technology to deliver tourism, cultural and historical information. The program was given an Anvil Award of Merit in 2014.

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Filipino startups face unique opportunities, challenges: DOST

Creating the Philippine Roadmap for Startups allowed stakeholders to identify the unique advantages and challenges of Filipino founders and how to further hone the ecosystem to support digital innovations, an official of the Department of Science and Technology said.

Creating the Philippine Roadmap for Startups allowed stakeholders to identify the unique advantages and challenges of Filipino founders and how to further hone the ecosystem to support digital innovations, an official of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said.

Describing it as a work in progress, DOST Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) deputy executive director Mon Ibrahim said the roadmap does not seek to replicate Silicon Valley but is a unique innovative ecosystem.

“We are lagging behind in terms of digital innovations. We need to start being a major force in this area,” he said during last Friday’s forum on Investing in Tech and Telecom: The Mega Opportunities organized by the Cebu Business Club.

When the idea for a roadmap came about two years ago, Ibrahim said the government gathered together industry players for inputs and they were able to establish some unique opportunities and threats within the ecosystem.

Aside from competence in English, local startups also get a lot of inspiration in the unique ills that the country has to solve. “Major tech disruptions are aimed at solving problems,” Ibrahim said.

Philippine startups Mon Ibrahim

Challenges, opportunities

On the other hand, they discovered that majority of Filipinos have a poor grasp of what a startup is and can’t understand the concept of a business being created from an idea. One of their long-term solutions was to include entrepreneurship classes in the Senior High years under the K-12 curriculum.

He added that there is also a need to change some laws to make it easier for startups to do business. “The ecosystem is not really there yet. You know what is more difficult than registering a business? Closing a business,” he said, explaining that those who just stop when the venture fails are still actually indebted to the country’s tax agency.

Another area that needs improvement is on intellectual property protection. In the Philippines, a developer can’t copyright software without a hardware component, which is something that needs to change.

Ibrahim also sees the need for more competitors in the telecommunications industry to improve broadband services. To do this, Congress has to be convinced to change a provision in the Constitution that requires 60 percent of utilities to be Filipino-owned.

Mon Ibrahim Philippine startups

UNIQUE ECOSYSTEM. DOST Information and Communications Technology Office deputy executive director Mon Ibrahim says the Philippine Roadmap for Startups does not seek to replicate Silicon Valley but is a unique innovative ecosystem.

 

Philippine Startup bill

According to Ibrahim, what’s exciting is Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino using the roadmap as basis for the Startup Bill he recently filed.

With a startup law in place, founders will have an easier time registering their business and can get tax breaks for up to 10 years.

The roadmap, with its ultimate target of creating 500 startups with total valuation of US$ 2 billion by 2018, identifies a balanced set of strategies in 12 key areas, with the private sector and the government sharing the burden of execution. “We will only be able to achieve our goal if we work together,” he pointed out.

More innovation hubs that not only provide space and investors but mentors for startups are needed as well. He described as a good development the huge innovation hub that PLDT plans to put up in Intramuros with JP Morgan Chase and DOST.

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PLDT, Smart ‘fiber up’ International Eucharistic Congress

The PLDT Group has provided data and voice services, and other communications support to the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) of the Catholic Church which will be held in Cebu City from January 24 to 31.

The PLDT Group has provided data and voice services, and other communications support to the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) of the Catholic Church which will be held in Cebu City from January 24 to 31.

IEC organizers estimate 15,000 delegates to attend the various discussion sessions of the Congress and up to a million people to join the opening and closing masses of the Congress.

Free connectivity

Backed by its extensive fiber optic backbone and fixed line and wireless networks, PLDT has provided free data connectivity and enhanced network coverage in IEC offices and the venues of major Congress events. It has installed fiber links and has provisioned six lines of 1Gbps connections for the IEC event covering strategic locations.

It has installed telephone lines in the IEC offices, and provided mobile phones and prepaid airtime load as well as data connectivity for organizers, committee heads, and the IEC website team.

It has also supplied the bandwidth requirements of the Radio Television Malacanang (RTVM), which will do a live coverage of the entire event.

IEC2016 Fiber

SEAMLESS CONNECTIVITY. Church taps PLDT for seamless connectivity during IEC2016. In photo are, from left, (seated): PLDT consultant Evelyn del Rosario; Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, PLDT and Smart head of Public Affairs Ramon R. Isberto, Bishop Dennis Villarojo, and (standing), PLDT Capability Specialist Henry Jabonero, Smart Public Affairs Officer NN Navarro; IEC website committee head Msgr. Raul Go, Chancellor Archdiocese of Cebu Msgr. Ren Beltran, PLDT Cebu Zone Head Costumer Service Operations Elmer “Bong” Lintag, Archdiocese of Cebu Vicar General Msgr. Danny Sanico, Smart Public Affairs Senior Manager Atty. Maria Jane Paredes, IEC 2016 Transport Committee Head Fr. Wendell Balbuena, and Staff Assistant PLDT Cebu Costumer Service Operations Zone Elmer Vasquez.

 

Milestone event

“The IEC2016 is a milestone event not only for the Church but for the entire country, and we are humbled by the chance to be part of this. Leveraging on our combined fixed line and wireless networks, we are addressing the communication requirements of the organizers as well as the participants at this historical event,” said PLDT Group chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan.

PLDT’s wireless unit Smart Communications, in partnership with Cebu-based tech startup InnoPubMedia, is offering to participants the IEC mobile app that was designed in line with their nationwide Digital Tourism program. Cellular programs like www.fhatscasino.co.za tend to create the demand for a larger way to accomodate a market.

Free guide

The IEC2016 Guide app provides comprehensive information about the Congress that is available for free download to phones and tablets. Users can obtain background information about the IEC, its history, the full schedule of events, as well as messages from Church officials, and other conference-related resources and documents.

Smart has also made available to the IEC organizers Infocast, a web-based SMS broadcast and management platform that makes the dissemination and collection of information via text messaging faster and more systematic. The facility is already being used by the IEC and administered by the IEC communications committee.

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Delegates get guide, virtual help in IEC 2016 app

Delegates of the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC), scheduled on January 24 to 31, get a handy guide to the biggest ecclesiastical gathering in Cebu with the InnoPub-powered IEC 2016 mobile app, made available for free by Smart Communications (Smart), in partnership with the Archdiocese of Cebu.

Delegates of the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC), scheduled on January 24 to 31, get a handy guide to the biggest ecclesiastical gathering in Cebu with the InnoPub-powered IEC 2016 mobile app, made available for free by Smart Communications (Smart), in partnership with the Archdiocese of Cebu.

“We are pleased to introduce to the pilgrims and participants of the 51st IEC this digital communications angel to safely guide and respond to the needs of all who are here during these days of the congress. For this reason, we thank our communications partners PLDT, Smart and InnoPub Media for helping make your stay in Cebu pleasant and safe,” said Msgr. Joseph Tan, Cebu Archdiocesan spokesperson and 51st IEC media liaison officer.

IEC2016 Guide

MOBILE COMPANION. The IEC 2016 Guide not only offers information about the congress, it also provides tips on how to make the most of your stay in Cebu.

 

“Smart is happy to support the Archdiocese of Cebu in helping enhance the experience of the IEC delegates while they are in Cebu. Aside from IEC-related information, the IEC app also includes a directory of important contact numbers, as well as listings of restaurants, hotels, and other destinations in the province that they can visit,” said Smart Public Affairs Group Head Ramon Isberto.

IEC overview, updates and live streaming

IEC 2016 app, which can be downloaded for free via Google Play Store, provides a background on the congress as an international gathering that aims to re-establish awareness on the central role of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church.

The mobile guide has sections devoted to the theological and pastoral reflections scheduled all throughout the conference week in January and event speakers as well as carry day-to-day updates of the different activities.

The app also has a live stream feed of the IEC activities to enable more people around the world to participate in the congress for free.

Virtual concierge

The IEC 2016 app comes with a virtual concierge where delegates, especially those from outside Cebu City or the Philippines, can seek assistance or address questions about schedule, transport, and other issues.

“The virtual concierge is a new feature in our mobile apps and was thoroughly tested during the recent Sinulog 2016 celebration in Cebu. It allowed festival revellers who downloaded our Sinulog 2016 Guide to ask about the traffic situation and other updates. One even wanted to know if the Grand Parade contingents were already in General Maxilom Avenue,” said InnoPub Media co-founder Marlen D. Limpag.

Cebu’s top attractions and destinations

A Cebu Guide section within the IEC 2016 mobile app introduces delegates to the host province of Cebu and its top attractions and destinations. It lists the things to do in the metro and nearby towns, top dining areas, and provides them with a directory of useful contacts, from hospitals and emergency services to tour guides.

“Smart supports the development of IEC app as part of our partnership with InnoPub for our Digital Tourism Program, which aims to make use of mobile technology and Internet to deliver tourism, cultural, and historical information,” said Isberto.

The Digital Tourism Program was given an Anvil Award of Merit in February 2013 and commended by the Cebu City Council, in a resolution passed on mass motion in January 2012, as an ingenious way to deliver tourism information.

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