All posts by Xavier Sampang

About Xavier Sampang

Xavier Sampang lives, eats, and breathes in Pampanga. He now writes for KlippTV

President Roa Rodrigo Duterte

S. Korean Investments Pouring In

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in attended the 2019 Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK) Commemorative Summit and deliver good news on the business front for both countries.

Duterte and Moon both vowed to elevate the level of their countries’ relations to strategic partnership by 2020, allowing the two nations to engage in greater cooperation to achieve common prosperity.

The two governments agreed on mutual social security for their citizens benefitting tens of thousands overseas Filipinos and S. Koreans; cooperation between the Philippines’ Department of Tourism and the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; advancements on the Philippines-Korea free trade agreement; and other developments on the cooperation in the fields of education and fisheries. President Duterte also gave thanks to President Moon for the ROK’s $100,000 donation for the earthquake victims in Mindanao.

“Clearly, at no other time in our shared history have the bonds between our people this strong,” President Duterte said in thanking the South Korean leader during their bilateral meeting here.

In 2018, South Korea was the Philippines’ fourth largest trading partner, with total trade amounting to over $13 billion. It was also a valued source of foreign direct investments, ranking 13th in the same year.

The Philippines and South Korea celebrate this year 70 years of bilateral relations.

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field sea games

SEA Games Preps Run Smooth in New Clark City

The official start of 30th Southeast Asian Games are only a few days away and more & more athletes are pouring in at the New Clark City Athletes’ Village. Athletes and coaches who are on-site are getting top level culinary treats from Chef Bruce Lim, Chef Sau del Rosario, and an organization of chefs & restaurateurs called Culinarya Pampanga.

pizza making in sea games

Lim who is the 2019 SEA Games executive chef is proud of the quality, quantity, and variety of the food being served to the SEA Games participants. “Food is important for the athletes, that’s their fuel. They burn out because they’re giving their 110 percent so we need to give our 110 percent [too], to make sure that we feed them correctly,” Lim added.

According to Lim, a kitchen and a hotel was built from the ground up to provide nutrition and dietary requirements of the athletes, who will be unable to leave the complex.

food prepared for sea games

Food will be available to the athletes 24 hours a day and is 100 percent halal to make considerations for Muslim participants. “We’re fully halal here. We’re taking into consideration [the food requirements of] our Muslim brothers and sisters. So we wanted to make sure that they feel at home; comfortable in our country because siyempre (of course), Pinoy hospitality is the best,” Lim said.

The Filipino social media sphere was quick to praise the amenities given to the participants at New Clark City, a welcome treat after previous unsavory reports in other SEA Games venues. Foreign delegates from neighboring Southeast Asian countries were also pleased with the welcome at the Clark International Airport.

The New Clark City Athletes’ Village is expected to house 1,800 athletes and coaches during the course of the games.

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Japanese Investors Optimistic on PH Market

Japanese Investors Optimistic on PH Market

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (MUFG) Managing Director and Country Head for the Philippines Yuichi Yamagishi bared some thoughts about Japanese investments in a press conference recently. Yamagishi revealed that Japanese companies are focusing on retail, real estate, fast food, and infrastructure for investments.

Statements from President Rodrigo Duterte in speeches made during his visit to Japan earlier this year confirm this. “Japan has been a major source of foreign direct investments and a key trading partner of the Philippines…” the President said. In the 2nd quarter of 2019 alone, Japan was the second top foreign investor in the Philippines with Php4b or $7.8m in total approved foreign investments.

The Philippines enjoyed an influx of Japanese restaurants in the past few years and they’re not just Japanese traditional fare either. The biggest Japanese-owned burger chain Mos Burger is slated to open its doors in 2020.

Meanwhile, Mitsukoshi Mall expected to open in 2021. Mitsukoshi Mall is a giant in retail as well as Japan’s oldest grocery. The Philippine branch will be the first in Southeast Asia, following branches in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Europe, and North America.

Despite their optimism, Japanese business leaders expect the Philippines Peso to depreciate in the coming years due to importation of construction materials for the government’s Build Build Build initiative.

Deeper concerns about taxes arise however. Security Bank Corp. Alliance Segment Head Takahiro Onishi says “They are not entirely sure about the policy stance of the Philippine government. Do they actually want foreign companies to come in to invest or are they prioritizing local companies to prosper instead of inviting more investments?”. This is in reference to the CITIRA Bill or House Bill 4157 which would gradually lower corporate taxes by 10% but remove some tax incentives corporations currently enjoy.

Still, Filipinos can expect more Japanese products in the coming years. Tell us what Japanese products you’d like to see in stores at the comments section!

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rice farm

Going Back to Rural Roots

When people get worn down by the hustle and bustle of city life, where do they go? Modern urban living can feel constricting, cramping too many people in too small a concrete box. If you’ve felt that city-living has been affecting not just your physical, but mental health as well, you are not alone.

Self-care is a vital aspect of healthy living and can take on different forms like traveling. A break or time off from the city has been recognized to help mentally. Travel and vacation days are far from cures, but a day out in nature surrounded by trees or the ocean provides much-needed respite.

These days, though, even the usual destinations – the provinces, mountains, and beaches – have either become crowded themselves. Are you really out of the city if you’re beside thousands of other tourists at the beach? Even entire mountains have been closed off to hikers and rightly so. Too many visitors to a fragile ecosystem are disastrous especially when left unmanaged.

A Domesticated Alternative

rice farm

Agritourism is a prospering industry in the primarily agricultural countries of Southeast Asia. When you can’t go to your favorite nature destination, farm tourism offers a similar experience. More domestic when compared to the outdoors but still in touch with nature. Where ecotourism uses pristine natural places and experiences, agritourism uses the farm lifestyle to attract tourists.

It comes as good news to farmers and farm-owners who are able to improve their income without requiring additional capital or needing massive construction projects. Farmers will be able to keep their agricultural communities as well while cultivating a local tourism industry.

More Than Food to the Table

cyclists

In 2016, more than $10 million was projected to be earned from domestic agritourism over a five day weekend in Thailand. This highlights something wonderful in agritourism – its inclusivity. There are no high priced tickets making agritourism for everyone. Farm tourism carries more value than the profits it makes though. The awareness and education visitors and proprietors take with them are invaluable.

Studies have also shown that farm tourism has led to better awareness of the agricultural sector’s environmental impact and green energy , for both tourists and farmers. People become more inclined to adopt renewable and sustainable sources of water and food. Tourists gain first-hand experiences with what climate change affects, and a connection to those who stand more to lose. Farm tourism also allows tourists to redefine their relationship with their food, where it comes from, and how it differs from their diet.

Young Blood

farmer

A life unburdened by office cubicles might be alluring enough to inspire a new generation of farmers. In 2017, the average age of farmers in the Philippines was 57. The trend follows in the rest of Asia. Farm tourism presents a business opportunity for small landowners, too. It gives them options other than to sell or let their property stagnate and sink in taxes.

Agritourism seems to be a perfect fit for Southeast Asia. It adds more stops to what already is a tourist destination. But the bigger picture presents us with something more. Farms are more than just our supply of food. It is a way of life that has sustained the rest of humanity for generations. Agriculture is one of the cornerstones of human development as a species. It falls to all of us to maintain that connection.

Farm tourism destinations are aplenty and their numbers are increasing. Try taking a trip to one near you. Find out how your favorite food is grown, or hear what our farmers go through firsthand. And most of all, enjoy!

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More SEA Cities join UN Creative Cities

More SEA Cities join UN Creative Cities

Cebu City, Philippines has been recognized as a forefront in the creative field of design. Cebu and four other Southeast Asian Cities joined the Creative Cities Network, established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Other Southeast Asian (SEA) Cities also included in the list were Thailand’s Bangkok (design) and Sukhothai (crafts and folk art), Indonesia’s Ambon (music), Vietnam’s Hanoi (design).

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) aims to use art as a pillar for development encompassing economic levels. “This favours political and social innovation and is particularly important for the young generations” says UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. The new additions to the network bring the total to 246 member-cities.

According to the UCCN, members of the network “acknowledge their commitment to sharing best practices, developing partnerships that promote creativity and the cultural industries, strengthening participation in cultural life and integrating culture in urban development plans.”

Baguio City, Philippines was inducted into the network in 2017 for crafts & folk art. As a member of the UCCN, Baguio established the Baguio City Creative Circuit that physically links creative venues of the city. By doing this, the circuit aims to bring expose artists to a wider range of audiences.

Singapore (design), Indonesia’s Bandung (design) and Pekalongan (crafts & folk art), Thailand’s Phuket (gastronomy) and Chiang Mai (crafts & folk art) have been Creative Cities prior to the latest addition. The UCCN underlines Crafts & Folk Arts, Media Arts, Film, Design, Gastronomy, Literature, and Music as fields central to the network’s mandate. Creative Cities report their plans and the developments they have made to the UCCN to maintain membership.

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Undas Tips featured Image

Undas Tips

All Souls’ and All Saints’ Day spans the first two days of November. Known in Filipino as Undas, it’s a time for visiting the graves of loved ones which usually end up as family reunions. Undas has consistently been one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the Philippines. Others take the opportunity to travel out of town for vacation. Wherever you are headed expect traffic, warm weather, and local stores to close down. Here are some tips and things to remember before leaving your home.

technician checking appliances

Unplug all electronics, appliances, and check toye gas stoves before leaving your house. Shutting off your main power breaker for double measure can also help.

Make sure all doors and windows are locked. Secure any openings that can be used as entryways to your house.

Pack and secure all food and drinks for your trip. Amihan may be coming in, but still expect high temperatures during the daytime. Keep everyone in your party hydrated.

Plan your itinerary. Undas spells traffic in major roads and streets close to cemeteries so plan your routes before you move out. Planning your trip can minimize wasted time sitting on your car.

Man maintaining and checking the car

Make sure your vehicle is road-worthy. Make a BLOWBAGETS checklist to make sure you get to your destination.

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fintech

FinTech in the Philippines Booms in 2019

Take a look at your wallet or purse right now because you might see less of it in the future. That’s what the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas or Central Bank of the Philippines (BSP) hopes, at least. Financial Technology (FinTech) has been on the rise in the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia. Electronic wallet or e-wallet services like Gcash, GrabPay, and Paymaya have made it easy for Filipinos to go cashless on routine transactions.

money, wallet, cellphone

E-What?

This isn’t anything new. E-wallet services like Gcash have been around since 2004, but it didn’t take off. Though the country was already making and breaking records for texting, not everyone had a phone yet and barely anyone had a smartphone. For reference, the first iPhone wouldn’t be released for another 3 years.

circle phyHigh mobile device usage in the Philippines gives E-wallet services a rich market available to them. (Statistics from: https://internetworldstats.com/asia.htm#ph)

Since its conception, The BSP has had a problem with the unbanked – the population who don’t maintain a bank account. In the Philippines, only 22% of adults have a bank account. The other 78% feel that they don’t have enough money for an account, they lack required documents, and most of all, a lot of Filipinos just believe they don’t need a bank account. Being unbanked means their only option for transactions is physical cash which in turn severely limits economic growth. It also comes with a lot of risks, money can get lost or stolen; counting takes time and you run a margin of error; if your savings are in one place they could fall damage to weather or pests.

The good news for the BSP is that, as of writing, the Philippines has a population of 107 million with a total of 124.2 million mobile network subscriptions. Meanwhile, internet usage sits at 76 million with 71.4 million accessing the web through mobile devices. This means almost three-quarters of the population have access to the internet and mobile devices. The country has been sitting on a goldmine of FinTech opportunity.

Enter the NRPS

To help answer the BSP’s problem, they established the National Retail Payment System (NRPS). The NRPS was established in 2013 and by 2020, they want 20% of all payment transactions electronic. Through digital payments, transactions are quicker, safer, and more efficient. For example, users don’t have to wait in line to pay bills. In fact, they can automate bill payments. There is no danger of misplacing or getting money stolen if you don’t carry it in the first place. There’s no danger of getting or giving the wrong amount of change because people can pay the exact amount.

Benefits like this have long been available to credit card holders. But out of the 22% of adults that have bank accounts, only 9% of them have credit cards. For E-wallet services, this is a godsend, this means there isn’t much to worry about competition. They might be right too, as of 2019, there are already more e-wallet users than there are credit card holders. The Philippines isn’t alone in this, either the same situation can be found in Thailand, Indonesia, and the rest of Southeast Asia.

Uphill Climb

Aside from paying bills, e-wallets also make it easier for people to save their money. Banks have been tying up with e-wallet services to make it easier to open accounts using the credentials already in hand. It also makes it easier for people to spend their money. E-wallets introduce users to a wider range of both products & services and customers or what the BSP refers to as Financial Inclusion – a chance for the disenfranchised to be afforded the same things more privileged citizens get. Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can now open themselves to wider markets without having to scramble for payment options.

Financial Technology in Philippines Booms in 2019

The BSP has no intentions nor dreams of e-wallets replacing physical cash. Regular e-wallet transactions right now are limited to bill payments, online shopping, and other small-ticket items. But in a future with a FinTech enabled population, employers can distribute salaries through e-wallets, travelers can spend money here & overseas without hassle, and OFWs can send remittances to their families easier.

A few problems still need to be addressed, however. While the country ranks the highest in internet usage, it also ranks among the lowest in internet speed. The stability of connections also fall into question. In social media, users are airing out customer service woes. When money is involved, concerns like these beg to be resolved.

There’s a bright future for FinTech in the Philippines. It’s a whole system that could succeed where traditional banking failed.

Share your e-wallet stories with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or email us at info@

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Mitigation and Resilience Office

Clark Establishes Crisis Mitigation and Resilience Office

The Clark Development Corporation (CDC) formally announced the establishment of its Crisis Mitigation and Resilience Office (CMRO) in the Freeport Zone. The CRMO aims to be prepared and ready to respond to any crisis situation to keep safe not only its employees but its investors and locators as well.

CMRO operations started late-August 2019 and was unveiled to locators a month after, and to the public this October. The CMRO, with Executive Director Melanie Briones at the helm, is expected to increase the CDC and Clark’s self-sufficiency through immediate crisis response.

The CMRO aligns itself with the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council’s (NDRRMC) objectives of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Disaster Response, Disaster Preparedness, Disaster Rehabilitation & Recovery, and Crisis Mitigation. It will also serve as an information and communications center for the business community during calamities.

The CRMO was created “in pursuit of a safer, adaptive, and disaster-resilient Clark Community which is geared towards sustainable development”, said CDC officials. Together with the CDC Public Safety Division, the CMRO will lead response efforts in the event of a disaster situation. As of July 2019, the Clark Freeport Zone houses 1,092 locators and a total employee count of 128,268 people.

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Rainwater Collection in Metro Manila

Bill to Mandate Rainwater Collection in Metro Manila Filed

The House Committee on Metro Manila Development recently endorsed House Bill (HB) 4111 authored by Manila Representative Manuel Luiz Lopez (1st District) and Allan Benedict Reyes (3rd District). HB 4111 seeks to mandate “the establishment and maintenance of a rainwater harvesting facility in all new institutional commercial, and residential development projects in Metro Manila”.

The bill is seen as a response to the severe water shortage experienced in Metro Manila and neighboring areas just this year. Lopez expects the bill to not only prevent future water shortages but to prevent flooding and overflow of creeks and rivers as well. HB 4111, if approved, will create a pilot program for mandatory rainwater collection in Metro Manila. Lopez hopes the bill will inspire other cities to establish similar programs

Separate studies published by USDAid, Philippine Journal of Science, and the De La Salle University warn of extreme water shortages as soon as 2025. Groundwater extraction due to high water consumption is one of the main causes of the continuous sinking of urban areas, leaving these places more vulnerable to floods. The industrial and agricultural sectors lead the numbers in water consumption.

Rainwater collection for non-potable uses is one of the most recommended ways of water conservation.

If passed, all realty projects in development in Metro Manila will have 30 years to comply with the parameters of the bill. Violators can be fined from Php500,000 up to Php2,000,000.

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New Clark City to hold Inaugural Triathlon Race

New Clark City to Hold Inaugural Triathlon Race

CLARK FREEPORT ZONE – The New Clark City Athletic Stadium and Aquatics Center will be the center of a two-day triathlon tournament on October 19 and 20, 2019. The inaugural event will also serve as a test for the new facilities before the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

At least 700 participants, including well-known athletes and celebrities, are expected to compete in the race. “Participants will have a chance to be one of the first to use the pools at the Aquatics Center and the track oval at the Athletics Stadium,” says GoClark Sports & Events Director Jumbo Tayag, “This is totally a fresh change from the usual venues in Subic and Clark”

Tayag will lead the opening ceremony together with Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President & CEO Vince Dizon and MTD Clark, Inc. President Engr. Patrick Nicholas David.

Race events for children ages 8-14 and a Fun Run will be held during the first day while the major event consisting of three different categories will be held on the second day.

The first category is the NCC Tri Full which involves a 900m swim, 40km bike, and 8km run; second is the NCC Tri Sprint with 450m swim, 20km bike, and 4km run; and thirdly, the NCC Tri Full Relay which includes a 900m swim, 40km bike, and 8km run.

Sign up for the race at goclark.ph. Registration lasts until October 8, 2019.

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