It was a Filipiniana-inspired night as Electrolux celebrated its 15-year presence in the Philippines with its brand ambassadors, dealers, distributors, and friends. Dubbed ‘Pamana’ (heritage), the evening gala’s guests came dressed in modern Filipiniana attire and to witness the launch of its FashionCare Campaign, a new experience in clothing care.
Air Asia Philippines is celebrating its 15th anniversary and in the season of Christmas, they are also launching a #ThankYou campaign – their way of saying thank you for all the years of memorable journeys and great relationships with its loyal passengers.
David Viray, Philippines AirAsia Brand Manager, told us during the launch with bloggers that this Christmas, they wanted to show their thanks to all their customers and promise to do even better in the coming years by exceeding guest expectations, providing first class service, and all without the first class price tag.
A nation’s global standing can be measured in many ways. Some will look at economic data; others will gauge a nation’s infrastructure progress. But there is another way to check just how far advanced a nation’s citizens are, and that is LITERACY.
Hi friends! Just wanted to give you a heads-up on what’s new at my virtual office, vOffice. Be sure to scroll all the way down to find out how easy it is to get an extra month free when you avail of any of their plans.
|It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas — at vOffice One Global Place!|
|I had just concluded a meeting with my yogini friends here at vOffice’s beautiful, modern conference room|
They have holiday promos now and this is definitely a good time to consider signing on for any of their plans because rates have been reduced (for a limited time) and on top of that, if you use my link, you get even more.
But wait….I’m getting ahead of myself!
Here are 2 short video clips taking you on a visual tour of vOffice so you know exactly why I love working there.
Do you know anyone who is a math wizard? Then give them and their school a heads-up to join the recently lauched search for the Top Outstanding Young Mathematicians 2015 (TOYM).
The importance of Math cannot be overemphasized. Beyond just being a subject that many consider challenging, Math is present in our daily lives. Wherever we turn, whatever we do, there is always an element of Math in life. But for the Philippines to be more competitive in this field, we need to provide an environment that nurtures smart minds and makes them strive for excellence in Math.
Sharp Calculators, through Collins International Trading Corporation, had launched a SHARP Minds program 6 years ago in partnership with MTG and MTAP, to uplift the standard of education, particularly in the teaching of Math subjects.
|Mr. Lucero Ong, AVP-Collins International Trading Corp.|
This year, Sharp Calculators goes one step further by partnering with several organizations to launch the search for the TOYM in the National Capital Region (NCR): Department of Education-NCR, Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI), Mathematics Trainers’ Guild Philippines (MTG), Mathematical Society of the Philippines (MSP), and the Philippine Council of Mathematics Educators, Inc. (MathTEd).
What are the mechanics of the nomination?
1. High school students from public and private schools in NCR who have completed at least 2 years of high school can be nominated. They must be Filipino citizens, natural-born or naturalized.
2. The nominee must be among the Top 3 students in Math as certified by the school principal.
3. The award will be based primarily on the nominee’s performace in national and international competitions recognized by the Department of Education or Department of Science and Technology.
4. Presentations or publications of original work in mathematics are desirable.
5. Students who contribute to the promotion of Mathematics and show leadership skills are desirable. Good moral character will be considered.
What criteria will judges use?
The judging criteria is as follows:
What is the screening process?
|The people behind the search pose with emcee Atom Araullo|
For me, this is the start of recognizing young math minds and inspire them to achieve even more. I hope that future search tilts will also include a search for underprivileged, but math smart, kids so they can also be recognized and given a chance at a better life. Imagine, we have poor Pinoys who can be somebody someday if given a unique chance, just like this kid I saw featured on TV Patrol and whose video I found on YouTube. Impressive!
(Read all the way down to find out how easy it is to get an extra month FREE when you avail of vOffice’s plans)
Mobility, accessibility and flexibility now dominate working conditions. Employers and employees alike now have access to digital technology that allow them to work while on the go. With office space also at an all-time high, it does not make sense for micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), single proprietorships, or even bloggers like myself to plunk in a large chunk of money for permanent office space when my work requires me to be mobile.
This has given birth to the concept of co-working spaces, also known as virtual offices. Everything is shared: office space, secretarial services, meeting rooms, conference rooms, internet connection, phone/email/fax services, and even a pantry. You get all the benefits of a real office and you need not even worry about human resources, property management or medical/dental benefits, among others, because these are taken care of by flexible, reasonably priced plans that suit even the smallest budgets.
Bonifacio Global City (BGC) and Makati are two business districts where co-working spaces are flourishing but I won’t be surprised to see these in all business districts eventually. It is a logical step and a must in townships where commercial spaces are expensive but where people need to converge.
Recently I discovered vOffice, a fairly new virtual office in the Philippines with its first 2 co-working spaces located at prestigious buildings in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), and another vOffice co-working space that just opened in the Makati Avenue area near J. P. Rizal St.
While new in the Philippines, vOffice isn’t new in the virtual office concept. They’ve been around since 2003 and have virtual office spaces in other countries like Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, UK and Vietnam.
There is nothing like visuals so let me give you a quick grand tour of vOffice at One Global Place along 25th Street and 5th Avenue, BGC.
|Professional reception and secretarial services are provided behind this modern desk|
vOffice has 24/7 secretarial services to serve clients who may need to work round-the-clock or who may be expecting calls from overseas at all hours of the day or night. When I signed up for a Platinum plan, I got my own personal local telephone and fax numbers. I even got to customize how they would answer when someone calls me on my personal number. Right after someone calls my number, they also notify me via SMS or email (I specify which) about the call. Calls can also be forwarded to my own mobile number for free.
|Cubby holes for our mail|
|They accept parcels for us as well!|
I can also receive faxes through vOffice. Concerned about the privacy of fax content? No worries because my incoming fax is processed by their secure fax server and instantly sent to my email. No one in vOffice has access to, or gets copies of, my faxes.
|This lobby is so inviting, comfy and great even for meetings and mobile work|
A plan holder is free to use the lobby to meet clients if the meeting rooms or conference rooms are fully booked. This happened to me once. I was in the area and needed a work space but because I did not reserve in advance, the rooms were all booked. No problem. I sat on one of these high-backed upholstered chairs and still got to work. The chair’s design was well thought out because each one had its own electrical outlet. No low batt problems!
|This modern work chair even has an upholstered back for more working comfort!|
|And guess what….the chair even has phone jacks and an electrical outlet for charging on the fly!|
|These chairs are perfect for curling up in! haha….|
|Awesome state-of-the-art conference room where teleconferencing & important meetings can take place|
For seminars and large meetings, this conference is perfect. Those high-backed executive chairs are just like those I used to sit on in executive meetings when I was still in the corporate world. This room comes with a large glass board for writing on, with a sliding panel that reveals a Smart TV for presentations and Skype videoconferencing. The use of a projector is also free for conferences.
|Co-working office spaces like these provide privacy as well as complete communications access|
|Office space for longer-term tenants|
|This is me, working inside one of the meeting rooms. And so nice to be served coffee by a secretary, hehe…|
I found out that some companies are here for the long haul. Some of the office spaces like the picture below are reserved long-term. It really makes perfect sense for small companies that want to use most of their capital and people for operations rather than bother with admin work and incur expensive rental overhead for exclusive office space. vOffice even offers business concierge services such as company formation, tax advisory, accounting & auditing, patent & trademark and more.
|Microwave oven, coffee maker, stand ref, hot and cold water are among the pantry’s amenities|
|View of Bonifacio Global City from the pantry window|
Another cost-saver that I truly appreciate is the free-flowing coffee and water as well as free use of pantry space. I still enjoy going to a coffee shop once in a while but when I want to do real work, the noise levels in a coffee shop are not exactly conducive to concentration. In vOffice, I can even work in the pantry undisturbed, with unlimited FREE coffee to boot.
Reserving conference rooms or meeting rooms is easy because all those with plans get access to a web portal where you can easily check available dates. Indicate the date/time you want and it is reserved for you. That easy.
And one thing more. My use of vOffice work space is not limited to the Philippines. If I am abroad and happen to be in a country where vOffice is located, I can also use my plan’s hours to work there.
Want to guess how much this prestigious office address, with all its office amenities and secretarial services cost?
You can choose to get a Silver, Gold or Platinum plan. Rates can go for as low as PhP 1,200 a month to a reasonable PhP 3,320 a month. They also have longer term packages for 3, 6, 12, 24 and 36 months which bring down the monthly cost even more. Tell me, where can you find such ridiculously low prices if you were to get your own brick-and-mortar space?
I’ll tell you more about my co-working space experience in future posts. But right now, I am just glad that the concept of an office has expanded to accommodate people like me who need mobility and a professional working/meeting space.
One more thing!!!
Mention my name (Jane Uymatiao) to vOffice when you avail of one of their plans and you get an extra month FREE!!!
One Global Place
Level 10-1, 25th Street & 5th Avenue
Bonifacio Global City
Telephone (63-2) 224-2000
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/voffice.com.ph
I learned about Tzu Chi Foundation as I was reading up one time on good friend Jay Jaboneta‘s advocacy together with Anton Mari Lim — the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation. The name of the foundation was familiar. I had heard it mentioned in different instances in the past but I guess I never really bothered to find out what they were all about.
Then recently I heard about them again when a friend, Maizie SyCip-Qua, sent me some information on Tzu Chi Foundation and what it has been quietly doing in our midst for years.
Tzu Chi: A Brief
Tzu Chi Foundation is an international non-profit humanitarian organization that seeks to spread what it calls Great Love through its work in the fields of charity, medicine, education and culture. Established in 1966 in Taiwan by the Venerable Dharma Master Cheng Yen, Tzu Chi came to Philippine shores in 1994. In 1995, volunteers, in cooperation with doctors and nurses from the Chinese General Hospital, headed by Dr. Josefino Qua, launched its first medical mission in Lion’s Club, Baguio City. From then on, quarterly missions would be conducted in provinces, with each mission having between 5,000-7,000 patients, many of whom would walk for 3 days down mountains just to get to the medical mission site.
Although Tzu Chi began with members from the Filipino-Chinese communities in the country, a number of Filipinos have likewise joined the group.
Tzu Chi in Action
Below are some pictures from different crisis situations in the Philippines where Tzu Chi was present and helped in various ways.
|Clean-up post-Habagat, August 2013|
|Preparing stacks of rice for distribution during the Zamboanga siege, September 2013|
|Treating the wounded after the Bohol earthquake, October 2013|
|Tzu Chi volunteers post-Yolanda, November 2013|
Tzu Chi Foundation continues to help out in disaster areas post-Yolanda. In the short term, Tzu Chi provided cash relief for clean-up, heavy equipment to transport debris to the dumpsite, and cash assistance for shelter. In the medium-term, they are providing temporary classrooms and temporary housing.
At the moment, they are building 80 temporary classrooms using the Quonset structure. Wikipedia describes this kind of structure as a prefabricated one, usually made of corrugated galvanized steel with a semi-circular cross-section. Look at the pictures below showing the Quonset-type classrooms from the outside and from the inside.
Tzu Chi is also coordinating with LGUs on the construction of temporary housing.
Just to give you an estimate of what they have spent so far, here is a cost sheet. And this is not the end, because even as I write this post, they continue to bring relief to hundreds of thousands of displaced residents in Yolanda-damaged areas.
It’s truly a relief to know that the spirit of Buddhism is very much alive not just in a spiritual way but in concrete manifestation. And that it is happening right here in our country. I’m just glad I found out about all the things that Tzu Chi Foundation, through its volunteers, is doing in this country.
Who hasn’t heard of Del Monte?
My family has been using Del Monte products for decades. The brand is a staple in our home. In the 1980s, I also had the chance to be assigned to audit Del Monte (then known as Philippine Packing Corporation or PPC). That assignment meant working not only in their Makati office then but I had to travel as well to Bukidnon where I spent days in their Bugo office and had to stay on the plantation as well.
Even back then, that plantation visit overwhelmed me. Del Monte sits on a plateau so the air and temperature there is akin to Baguio – cool. On the ground, you would pass hectares upon hectares of pineapples, as far as your eyes could see. It was not just pineapples there. Some of the best steaks could be experienced in Del Monte. Their cattle are ‘pampered’ – kept in corrals so very little movement happens and that makes their meat tender and juicy. Fresh milk and butter, pickles, fruits, and so much more all came straight from Del Monte soil.
Since then, Del Monte has changed ownership hands and it is now called Del Monte Pacific Ltd. or DMPL. And last June 10, 2013, DMPL did something which is a FIRST in the Philippines. It listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), 14 years after it listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) in 1999. This first dual listing between the SGX and the PSE helps promote the integration of the PSE with ASEAN bourses. Before this, the PSE only cross-listed with the New York Stock Exchange, the Toronto Stock Exchange, and the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited.
After the ringing of the PSE bell signaling the listing of DMPL, its executives held a press conference where they fielded questions from traditional media and social media.
Currently, DMPL carries 2 brands: Del Monte (for processed foods) and S&W which was acquired in 2007 (covering Asia, Middle East, Europe and Africa). In 2012, DMPL’s sales reached US$460 million while its net income was US$32 million. In 2012, the branded business brought in 68% of its sales and 89% of its operating profit.
One thing that struck me about the current owners of Del Monte (the majority shareholder is the Campos family behind Unilab) is that unlike most other Chinese families, no Campos family member runs the operations. All their top management executives are professionals. Mr. Joselito D. Campos (Managing Director and CEO) is visible, sets the vision, participates in top-level discussions, but leaves most everything else to his management team. The ones who faced us at the presscon were Mr. Luis Alejandro (COO), Mr. Ignacio Carmelo Sison (CFO), Mr. Antonio Engenio Ungson (Chief Compliance Officer and Chief Legal Counsel) and Mr. Danilo Feliciano (Co-CEO-CLSA Exchange Capital Inc. — responsible for investment banking, corporate finance, financial advisory and new business activities).
|Mr. Joselito Campos and Mr. Luis Alejandro of Del Monte pose with bloggers|
The “Coming Home” theme adapted by Del Monte is indeed a true homecoming because Del Monte has been around for 87 years already. It’s really about time that they join the stock market here and let Filipinos become stockholders of such a long-standing presence in the country. DMPL believes that this listing makes the company accessible to local investors, widens its investor base beyond Singapore, and give the company additional sources of capital.
For interested stock exchange investors, the Del Monte stock code is DMPL.
When people hear the term “business process outsourcing” or BPO, they immediately think of call centers. While it’s true that the Philippine call center has now overtaken that of India, we can be proud of the fact that we have gone beyond these services alone.
Just recently, I attended the launch of the SECOND delivery center of Cognizant, a NASDAQ-listed company with headquarters in New Jersey, USA, and is one of the leading providers of IT, consulting and BPO services. The center, located in the IT-BPO services hub in Ortigas Center, was designed to house as many as 1,000 professionals. These professionals will be providing applications, IT infrastructure and business processing services to global clients in different industries: financial industry, healthcare, manufacturing and logistics, retail, hospitality, telecommunications and consumer goods industries.
|Cognizant executives include Mr. Lakshmi Narayanan (Vice Chairman), second from left,
and Mr. Prabhakar Bisen, Country Head, third from left
Cognizant started operations in December 2009 in McKinley Hill with 40 people. Their expansion into the Ortigas Center signifies a very positive outlook in the BPO industry. Asked why they chose to set up their second delivery center in Ortigas, Mr. Prabhakar Bisen, Country Head of Cognizant Philippines said, “We are pleased with our experience and growth in the Philippines and chose Pasig City to expand our footprint in the country because of its high-quality talent, sound infrastructure, good connectivity and a great business environment.”
During the Q&A portion, I asked Cognizant if all their work force were office-based. My rationale for the question was my firm belief that a good number of well-educated and experienced women (and possibly, men) have opted to leave the workforce to attend to family needs and this is an untapped market for BPOs, given the breadth of these people’s backgrounds. If this group of people can be tapped by BPOs and allowed to work from home, it could be a potential new asset for the sunrise industry.
Mr. Lakshmi Narayanan, Vice Chairman of Cognizant, acknowledged this fact and I was happy to note that he felt this was definitely something to consider in the future. Part of the issues preventing this from happening at the moment are the conditions of telecom infrastructure as well as ensuring that customer service quality is not affected or impaired from a work-from-home arrangement.
Cognizant is still on the lookout for people wanting to join their organization in Ortigas Center. If you’re interested in a future with Cognizant, check them out at their Ortigas location.
Hanston Square Bldg, San Miguel Avenue, Pasig City
Follow Cognizant on Twitter: @Cognizant
I am proud to say I am a Nuffnanger! It’s been a little over a year since I joined Nuffnang PH and I am now on my 2nd year and still going strong…