BREAKING

Saturday, August 31, 2019

It’s All About the Game—and the Gamers—in Conquerors Manila 2019


Wazzup Pilipinas!

All is set for the biggest League of Legends (LoL) fan event in Southeast Asia to celebrate one of the most played games in the world and its ever-expanding community in the Philippines!

Globe and Garena promise to make Conquerors Manila 2019, which is set to unfold on October 25-27 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, more engaging not only to League gamers but also to the entire esports community as they watch, cheer and participate in several events designed to make their experience unique and unforgettable.

Select celebrities, bloggers and influencers will also take to the limelight as they battle in a friendly competition-for-a-cause in the highly-anticipated “Celebrity Showmatch.”

Fans, on the other hand, are welcome to join the cosplay competition and visit the gaming merch store and various exhibits. As early as now, fans can purchase tickets to Conquerors Manila 2019 at all SM Ticket outlets with a 20% discount given if fans buy tickets for a two day pass, instead of one day, to watch the competitions. The discount will be given until September 22 or until supplies last.

“Esports is one platform Globe is truly excited about. Its huge—and still growing—the global fan base of this enormous entertainment platform can’t be ignored. It is due to this why one of our major thrusts is to develop strategic partnerships with the best game developers and publishers in the world like Garena and Riot to make the game more accessible to everyone in the Philippines. And with faster connectivity provided by Globe, gaming will be more exciting and competitions will be more challenging,” explains Ernest Cu, Globe President and CEO.

“Fan acceptance last year was truly overwhelming so we decided to change the format to celebrate LoL fans themselves and their huge contributions to the growth of the game in the country in particular and the acceptance of esports in general,” Nikko Acosta, Globe SVP for Content Business Group and Product Management, says.

Jamie Lewin, Head of Strategic Partnerships for SEA – Riot Games, reveals how the Philippines has been one of the most high-performing markets in the region for Riot Games.

“Our focus in terms of gaming market development is really the Philippines, and we’re looking at how Filipinos will look at esports, especially now that it is included in the SEA Games Calendar this year. We’re truly excited about our prospects,” he adds.

Aside from the PHP 3.5 million+ in prizes up from grab across competitions and activities during the two-day event, Conquerors Manila 2019 is also aiming to break last year’s attendance records where more than 16,000 fans trooped to watch the competitions live.

“We are honoured to have Globe as our partner in growing the esports audience in the Philippines. The Philippines remains one of the strongest and most competitive countries in the global esports arena. Our partnership with Globe is fully in line with our mission of building stronger gaming communities, and ensures that we continue to discover and develop more esports talents who can compete at the highest level” says Jason Ng, Garena’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships.

Globe’s commitment to esports began through its groundbreaking LTE network that raised mobile and broadband gaming to the next level. This was followed by the company’s strategic partnerships with Riot, developer of League of Legends; Garena, Philippine publisher of League of Legends; and market leader Mineski, which led to the formation of Team Liyab, the company’s official esports team as well as a multi-platform gaming league called the Philippine Pro Gaming League (PPGL) .

For additional details, please visit www.conquerorsmanila2019.com.

For more about Globe Telecom, visit https://www.globe.com.ph.

45% of Filipinos Choose Online Financing Tools Due to Higher Speed



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According to a customer survey conducted by Robocash Group in India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, speed of service is the key advantage of online financing tools stated by 50.4% of users. The difference between the four countries is relatively small. In particular, the share of Filipinos who appreciated this feature is lower the average by five points (45%) only. Still, speed has the highest preference among local customers.

Other advantages of fintech financing were related to its accessibility. The company statistics show that a lot of customers of relevant services are residents of rural areas. In many cases, they are self-employed or employed informally, and few of them have some credit history. In this respect, the possibility to get formal financial assistance looks positive by itself. For instance, a reduced list of supporting documents is the main advantage provided by online financing tools for 22.8% of respondents in the Philippines. Third place belongs to a higher probability to obtain financing with 9.6% of voices. On the total scale of the four countries, this feature was appreciated by 12.5% of all respondents who took part in the survey.



One more group of advantages relates to the convenience of fintech services at use. The round-the-clock operation, together with a variety of ways to obtain cash, complements significantly to the speed factor.

Commenting on the findings, the analysts of the Robocash Group added: "The findings have confirmed that quick elimination of gaps in a family or personal budget is the most common purpose of short-term online advances. That is why top priority is the speed of service. It also correlates with the main reason to apply for financing. For most customers, daily needs and regular monthly payments make the largest and most important part of family expenses. In particular, one-third of respondents (30.6%) spend most of their budget on food, fare payment etc. Then, monthly bills for housing and utility service, mobile phones, TV etc. make the largest spending for almost every fourth customer (24.5%). These are very cases requiring instant payment in the first turn."

Record High Turnout Posted for PNR Clark Phase 2 Bidding



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With the construction of PNR Clark Phase 1 (Tutuban-Malolos leg) already in full swing, the opening of bids for three contract packages under PNR Clark Phase 2 (Malolos-Clark) commenced with a record high turnout at the headquarters of the Department of Budget and Management – Procurement Service (DBM-PS) in Manila yesterday, 27 August 2019.

Package 1 covers civil works for 17 kilometers of PNR Clark Phase 2 including Calumpit and Apalit Stations; Package 2 for 16 kilometers including San Fernando Station; and Package 3 for 12 kilometers encompassing Angeles and Clark Stations.

Already the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) largest and fastest-moving project, the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) Project – which includes PNR Clark Phase 2 – continues to set records with its high turnout from nine (9) international and two (2) local companies, bidding as seven (7) different joint ventures and sole bidders.

Participating companies include Acciona (Spain), Daelim (Korea), Dong Ah Construction (Korea), EEI (Philippines), Hyundai Engineering & Construction (Korea), Italian-Thai Development Public Company Limited (Thailand), Megawide Construction Corporation (Philippines), PT Pembangunan Perumahan [PP] (Indonesia), PT Waskita Karya Tbk (Indonesia), PT Wijaya Karya Tbk [Wika] (Indonesia), and Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Corporation (Japan).

According to Philippine National Railways (PNR) General Manager Junn Magno, the record turnout of bidders demonstrates the international infrastructure industry's support to the Build, Build, Build Program of the Duterte administration, as well as their trust in the transparent, fair, and corruption-free bidding process jointly implemented by the Department of Transportation, PNR, and DBM-PS.

“We are very happy with the turnout of bidders for PNR Clark Phase 2. This vibrant participation from international and local companies is proof that they trust this government and the processes we institute. This is indeed a vote of confidence that we are doing things the right way, and soon, our countrymen will reap the benefits through improved mobility and connectivity,” GM Magno expressed.

PNR Clark Phase 2, which forms part of the NSCR, is a 53-kilometer rail line from Malolos, Bulacan to Clark, Pampanga. This will feature the country’s first airport express railway service. Once completed, it will allow commuters to reach the Clark International Airport from Buendia in Makati in just 55 minutes, compared to two hours by private vehicle via expressway. PNR Clark Phase 2 is also seen to accommodate 340,000 passengers in its opening year in 2022.

More contract packages are scheduled for bid submission and publication in the next months for the massive NSCR, which spans 147 kilometers and 37 stations. The PhP777.55-billion rail network project is co-financed by the ADB and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Bid submissions for Package 4 (8 kilometers with Clark International Airport Station) and Package 5 (Clark Depot) are slated on October 14. Start of bidding for 304 Commuter Train Cars, 56 Airport Express Train Cars, and Electromechanical Systems is scheduled in September through the fourth quarter of 2019. Meanwhile, bid submission for PNR Calamba Package 1 (1 kilometer with Blumentritt Station) is on November 5.

Grab Philippines and ONE Championship Honor Manny Pacquiao With Framed Belt



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Grab Philippines celebrated National Heroes Day last Monday, 26 August by inviting Grab drivers and their families for a day of fun in an event that celebrated Grab’s Everyday Heroes on the road.

In attendance were members of Grab Philippines community, ONE Championship senior executive Victor Cui, and team Lakay athletes Eduard Folayang, Geje Eustaquio, ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua Pacio, and Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao. Also in attendance as a special guest was Filipino sports icon and national hero, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao.

The event at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila drew a huge crowd with entertainment and raffles. There were even performances by music and dance acts Shanti Dope, Rocksteddy, and the SexBomb girls.

Fans and Grab drivers who all came out to see Pacquiao, as well as members of the famed Team Lakay of Baguio City, were treated to a world-class evening program.










Pacquiao is a winner of multiple boxing world titles across eight different weight divisions. He is the only man in the history of the sport to achieve such a feat. But he, for the most part, has stayed within the sport of boxing for the majority of his career.

Aside from occasionally dabbling in professional pool, Philippine basketball, acting, and even singing, “Pacman” has remained a boxer. He has, however, dipped his influence in the sport of mixed martial arts -- at least, on the business end.

Pacquiao, who has worked closely with Asia-based martial arts organization ONE Championship in the past, was presented with a token of appreciation, by ONE and ride-hailing company Grab Philippines.

A beautifully-framed ONE Championship world title belt was presented to Senator Pacquiao as a commemorative token for being a national hero.

“Manny [Pacquiao] is such an inspiration to us all. On behalf of Team Lakay, I’d like to thank ONE Championship and Grab Philippines for allowing us to be a part of this event,” said Sangiao.

“Witnessing his career and how he has overcome countless obstacles and constantly defied the odds, Manny motivates us to be the best we can be. He’s a hero for us all. I’m sure everyone at the event was happy to see him there.”

Pacquiao also took the time to make a sizable donation to the Jinkee and Manny Heart Foundation, which gives free heart care for children in the Philippines. The Philippine senator donated 1,000 PHP for every grab driver in attendance, which ended up totaling 1-million PHP overall.

“Not only is he a sports icon, but Manny is also a terrific human being, and an amazing public servant who truly cares for the Filipino people,” said Folayang.

“With what he’s given back to the people, even taking money out of his own pocket to help the poor and underprivileged, it’s more than admirable. It’s inspiring, and it’s motivating. Everyone is in good spirits right now. It was such an honor to even be in the same room as Manny. He’s an absolute legend in every sense,” Folayang added.

ONE Championship and Grab have executed strong partnership activations since the beginning of the year, working on various initiatives in the country, as well as in Southeast Asia. The two companies look to continue that strategic partnership for the remainder of 2019 and beyond.

Join AVON’s Pink Light Night Run and Walk for Breast Cancer



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Help bring women out of the dark

The fun event encourages women to consider the pink light as a reminder of making the breast self-exam a habit for early detection of the disease

Breast cancer remains one of the top causes of death among Filipinas. In fact, according to the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, 1 in 13 Filipinas will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

With the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society also reporting data (February 2017) that shows the Philippines having the highest prevalence of breast cancer among 197 countries, the need to educate women on the importance of early detection as the best way to beat the disease is as urgent as ever.

Avon Philippines believes that no woman should be left in the dark about breast cancer any longer. As the leading corporate supporter of the cause, the company is teaming up with Color Manila for the Pink Light Night Run and Walk for Breast Cancer 2019 to raise awareness on the disease, and the breast self-exam as the surest means to detect it early.

The Pink Light Night Run and Walk for Breast Cancer, happening on October 19, Saturday, at the Filinvest City Event Grounds, marks the return of Avon’s signature Run and Walk, the annual initiative that many cause supporters have participated in through the years.

This is also the first time ever that it will be a night run and walk event with participants going through a fun course while getting caked in bright pink powder along the way. 

“Avon continues to shed a bigger, brighter light on breast cancer every year,” said Razvan Diratian, General Manager, Avon Philippines. “It’s part of our DNA as the company that advocates and supports vital issues affecting women, and one of our top causes is breast cancer awareness.”

Diratian pointed out that after conducting a global survey in 2017, Avon found that there was a knowledge gap among women about the symptoms of breast cancer and how to lower the risk of developing the disease. “This was how the Avon Breast Cancer Promise was born, making sure that every woman is aware about the disease and how to fight it. We’re using the pink light to remind women to make the breast self-exam a habit for the early detection of the disease,” he concluded. 

Jay Em, Color Manila President, shared, “We’re very proud to be partnering with Avon to underline an important issue everyone should be concerned about. Color Manila is eager to inject the fun and vibrancy it’s known for into the Pink Light Night Run and Walk, and get more people to actively support a worthwhile cause in an enjoyable and exciting way.”

Everybody who joins the Pink Light Night Run and Walk event will be donating and providing assistance to the Philippine Cancer Society, Avon’s long-time partner in its fight against breast cancer.

One of the fruits of this partnership has been the creation of the Avon-Philippine General Hospital Breast Care Center, which provides health care and assistance to approximately 150 women a day—offering free breast health guidance, consultation, and check-ups.
 
“We’ve always cherished our relationship with Avon,” said Dr. Rachael Rosario, Executive Director, Philippine Cancer Society. “They have been a constant and committed partner in our advocacy, and instrumental in establishing the Breast Care Center in PGH which has helped save many women’s lives and continues to serve even more.”

After lighting up several landmarks such as Manila City Hall, SM MOA Globe, Quezon City Memorial, and Avon EDSA Branch in pink last year, Avon is inviting everyone to become the pink light themselves to help remind Filipinos to know the risks, see the signs, and take action when it comes to breast cancer. 

Join the Avon Pink Light Night Run and Walk for Breast Cancer by running in either the 3K, 5K, or 10K distances.

Participants can also choose from different race kit packages that all come with a special Pink Light head lamp to guide runners through the night.

Warrior - P950 (singlet, race bib, finisher’s medal, sponsor freebies)
Fighter - P1500 (singlet, race bib, finisher’s medal, sponsor freebies, drawstring bag)
Hero - P2000 (t-shirt, race bib, finisher’s medal, sponsor freebies, drawstring bag)

Register for the run at www.colormanila.com, www.smtickets.com, and www.travelbook.ph.

DOTr: Improved Cebu BRT Right on Track for Partial Operability in 2021



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The Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (Cebu BRT) is now on its final design and implementation stages, and is right on track for phase 1 implementation on December 2021.

The improved design plan provides for a wholly dedicated BRT corridor to ensure reliability of service, better connectivity, and enhanced ease of movement, in contrast to the previous design that only featured a combination of dedicated BRT corridors with mixed-traffic sections.

The Cebu BRT, which forms part of the Cebu Integrated and Intermodal Transport System (CIITS), aims to promote enhanced mobility and connectivity for Cebuanos traversing through various modes of public transportation such as road-based land transport, railway, and other transport infrastructure projects in the pipeline.

To assess the technical feasibility and soundness of the design plan of the Cebu BRT, the DOTr engaged the service of a Technical Support Consultant (TSC), Egis International, a move supported by the World Bank (WB) and the Agence Française Développement (AFD).

The TSC crafted the Metro Cebu Integrated Intermodal Transport Plan (MCIITP), which identified corridors where mass transit systems should be developed. In serving its purpose to guide the alignment of future mass transit developments, the MCIITP aims to provide a seamless and integrated mass public transport system not just in Cebu City but also in adjacent cities.


No route reductions, only partial operability timelines

With the aid of the TSC, the the DOTr has meticulously refined the Cebu BRT design plan to ensure that the project, along with others under the CIITS, will comprehensively improve the traffic situation in Metro Cebu, help spur regional growth even in adjacent cities and towns, and bring comfort and convenience to the commuters of the sprawling metropolis in Central Philippines.

According to DOTr Undersecretary for Road Transport Mark De Leon, the design plan for the Cebu BRT is an improved version of the initial project design approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in 2014, and that the improvements made are still within the said approved conceptual plan, and with foremost consideration for the improved mobility and connectivity of the people of Cebu.

“No changes were made on the alignment of the Cebu BRT. It was, in no way, shortened. In fact, to this day, the plan calls for a route of 23 kilometers. Simply put, design considerations are not confined to present demands, but factors in future infrastructure development, expansions and extensions,” Usec. De Leon said.

“What was perceived as route reduction was the division of the project into three phases under the new design plan. The rationale for this segmentation is in line with the policy of partial operability instituted by Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, which aims to carry out infrastructure projects in phases to allow for faster implementation and, therefore, immediately bring a considerable degree of operable service and benefit to the public without them having to wait for the full completion of the project which, in the case of the Cebu BRT, extends beyond the Duterte administration,” De Leon added.

By December 2021, the Cebu BRT Phase 1 will have been established along dedicated busways from Cebu South Bus Terminal to Capitol via Osmeña Boulevard. Phases 2 and 3 will extend the dedicated BRT lanes to Bulacao and SRP in the south, and Talamban in the north.

The three-year allowance before the implementation of Phases 2 and 3 while Phase 1 is under construction is to obtain enough time to acquire the necessary Right of Way.

Phase 1 of the Cebu BRT will become operational before the end of 2021, while phases 2 and 3 of the entire alignment, as indicated both in the original and in the new project designs, is targeted to be fully operational by 2025.

Phl Hosts Regional Meeting on Marine Environment Protection



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The Philippines, through the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), hosted the Second High-Level Regional Meeting on Marine Environment Protection of the Southeast Asian Seas (MEPSEAS) on 27 to 29 August 2019, bringing together heads of maritime agencies from participating International Maritime Organization (IMO) Member States.

Gracing the opening ceremony, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for Maritime Lino H. Dabi expressed the Philippines’ collective gratitude for the honor of being the host country of said meeting.

“As one of the beneficiary countries of this project, hosting this event not only allows us to demonstrate our full commitment in and support for this project, but also provides us the opportunity to reciprocate the initiative and efforts of the IMO and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD),” Asec. Dabi said.

As the chair of said meeting, MARINA OIC – Administrator Vice Admiral Narciso A Vingson Jr reiterated the country’s commitment to participate and comply with its obligations to the MEPSEAS Project.

“Through the Philippine maritime administration, we shall remain steadfast in our efforts in ensuring the full and effective implementation of our priority maritime environment conventions,” VADM Vingson said.

The IMO Project Coordination Unit and international consultants led the session by providing updates regarding the MEPSEAS Project website, initial steps undertaken to capacitate countries in implementing the provisions and requirement of the Conventions, results of the Train the Trainers (TTT) held in Singapore on 28 to 30 May 2019, and initial delivery of the training modules covering the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention, Anti-Fouling System (AFS) Convention, and MARPOL Annex V.

The MEPSEAS Project is a four-year project (2018-2021) of the IMO, in cooperation with the NORAD, providing assistance to Southeast Asian countries in ratifying and implementing IMO Instruments for the protection of the marine environment. It aims to reduce the risks and impacts of environmental issues related to maritime transport in the ASEAN region. It supports the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 which is to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”.

DOTr, Maritime Sector Hold Maritime Safety Summit for Domestic Shipping



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To identify and resolve maritime safety and marine environment protection issues and challenges, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and its attached maritime sector agencies including the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) held the Maritime Safety Summit for Domestic Shipping today, 30 August 2019.

With the theme "Creating a Culture of Safer People, Safer Ships and Cleaner Environment," the summit served as an avenue to discuss the safety of Philippine domestic shipping industry and to ensure the participation of stakeholders in identifying strategies and measures to address maritime safety challenges, and agree to support its eventual implementation.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said that the government cannot fully uphold maritime safety without the cooperation of private partners and stakeholders.






“I hope magkaroon 'ho ng matamis at magandang bunga itong summit na ito para sa kapakanan ng bayan, para sa kapakanan ng mga mananakay, at sa kapakanan ng mga gumagamit ng karagatan. Let safety not be a matter of convention, symposium, or fora. Safety should be a day-to-day matter of concern, a matter of attitude, and a matter of culture and advocacy.” Tugade said.

For his part, MARINA OIC - Administrator Vice Admiral Narciso A Vingson Jr emphasized that the concept of a nationally integrated and globally competitive maritime industry is the effective integration of all stakeholder policies, plans, programs, operations, and resources in terms of geographical, spatial, functional, and institutional dimensions.

“As champions of domestic shipping in the country, the whole maritime sector plays a very significant role in ensuring that people, goods and cargoes are transported safely, securely and on time, without sacrificing our marine resources in the process,” Vice Admiral Vingson said.

Vice Admiral Vingson encouraged the whole of maritime sector to talk and act together for the growth and development of our maritime industry – one that is safe, efficient and modern; one that upholds a culture of safer people, safer ships, and cleaner environment.

Maritime agencies’ contributions on maritime safety

The MARINA presented its roadmap for the enhancement of maritime safety, specifically the issues and concerns, followed by proper interventions of its "ship safety process" -- the ship acquisition, ship deployment, and the ship retirement.

Moreover, the PPA shared its “one ticketing system” that will provide convenience and benefits to the users of the port through online services and ease of doing business. Getting rid of fixers and scalpers while instituting port process improvement for maritime safety and security were also introduced.

Finally, the PCG highlighted their contributions in enhancing the maritime safety and security enforcement and protection of marine environment through fluvial parades, responses to grounding accidents, vessel safety enforcement inspections, pre-departure inspections, and calibration activity with MARINA.

Innovation That Aids locked-in Syndrome Patients Nabs Top Prize in 30th BPI-DOST Science Awards


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Jay Patrick Nieles, a BS Electronics Engineering student from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), won the coveted Project of the Year award at the 30th BPI-DOST Science Awards held last August 2, 2019, at the Alphaland City Club in Makati City.

His research on helping locked-in syndrome (LIS) patients communicate through a brain-computer typing interface that uses visual imagination of shapes and sizes was among the thirty promising entries shortlisted for this year’s competition. Nieles also received the Best in Innovation Award for the same study with Christian Badua from the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila for his study on how probiotics can be used to treat colon cancer.

The project, organized by the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Foundation in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), convened outstanding students from all over the country to contribute researches in line with the theme, “Moving the Nation toward Sustainable Development through Science and Innovation.”

“Through these awards, we hope to inspire more Filipino students to pursue scientific researches and innovations that contribute to building a stronger and more sustainable future for all of us,” BPI Foundation Executive Director Maricris San Diego said.

San Diego led the awarding ceremony with DOST-Science Education Institute Deputy Director Albert Mariño.

Students who participated came from eleven universities, namely the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), Ateneo de Davao (AdDU), De La Salle University-Manila, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, St. Louis University-Baguio, UP Diliman, UP Manila, UP Los Baños, University of San Carlos, University of Santo Tomas (UST) and Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan. Each participant received P10,000 and a medal.

The two entries chosen as Best in Innovation received an additional P20,000 and a trophy each, while the Project of Year Award came with an additional P25,000 and a trophy.

Aside from Nieles and Badua, Alex Retona (AdMU), Chester Tantoco (UP Los Baños), Dewey Sia (AdDU), Ryan Suplito, (UP Los Baños), Jeremie Pearl Cruz, (UP Diliman), Jody Adriene Dong-E (St. Louis University-Baguio), Marc Anthony Reyes (Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan) and Marvin Serge (Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan) made it to the Top Ten and were awarded an additional P15,000 and certificate each.

The annual research competition also featured a workshop from Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Professor Matthew Escobido and inspiring talks from Outstanding Science Alumni Awardees Dr. Leopold Ilag from Stockholm University, Dr. Luis Sison from DOST-UP Enterprise Center for Technopreneurship, and Engr. Maria Leah Flor De Castro from Ateneo de Davao University. The Outstanding Science Alumni Awards is a special category introduced this year as part of the 30th anniversary of the Science Awards.

DOST-SEI Director Dr. Josette Biyo congratulated the students and the BPI Foundation for another successful year of the Science Awards.

“The works of our young scientists and engineers are truly worthy of recognition and we’re grateful that BPI is with us in urging and inspiring students to excel in science and technology. Three decades of Science Awards is a feat and a testament to BPI’s commitment to strengthen the role of scientific research in national development. Rest assured, DOST will always be supportive of this endeavor,” Dr. Biyo said.

Photo caption:

DOUBLE VICTORY. Jay Patrick Nieles of the University of Santo Tomas (3rd from left) bagged the Project of the Year award and one of two Best in Innovation awards in the 30th BPI-DoST Science Awards. (From left) Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Foundation Executive Director Maricris San Diego, Best in Innovation awardees Christian Badua of the University of the Philippines Manila and Jay Patrick Nieles, and DoST-Science Education Institute Deputy Director Albert Mariño. 

The Huawei Ban, and What This Means for Global Tech



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There is something that is called the global supply chain. and it has gained no more importance than in the tech sphere, where companies strongly rely on resources brought in from abroad and products distributed worldwide. It is simply the nature of the business - businesses’ web presence is global and most technologies serve the global customer. Therefore, the recent Huawei ban enacted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, which put the Chinese tech giant among the blacklisted trade companies due to security concerns for the country, has far more serious implications than just being a bidirectional trade face-off with political undertones.


The Interdependence of Huawei and U.S. Companies

In the simplest possible terms, the Huawei ban prevents U.S. companies from dealing with Huawei, and vice versa. This means that manufacturers and exporters that have relied on business deals with the Chinese producer of affordable smartphones will just have to find ways to pivot to new suppliers or face the consequences of not being able to serve their customers.

The same goes for Huawei, that was heavily dependent on U.S. manufacturers of semiconductors and software.

Immediately after the U.S. administration announced the ban, major companies such as Microsoft and Google reacted: -Microsoft stopped selling Huawei laptops, Qualcomm and Intel ceased operations, and Google has stopped Huawei from getting Android updates. Due to industrial espionage allegations for Huawei, even Chinese scientists have temporarily lost access to research materials from IEEE, which means that the ban started off surpassing trade war boundaries and stepping into questionable freedom of information policies.

Apple has also restricted membership for Huawei. It seemed no single important tech player was immune from shutting down before the Chinese behemoth, fearing penalties imposed by the U.S administration. However, after the initial standoff, the initial severe restrictions have eased off.

Specific companies have been allowed to do business with Huawei, including Google, that provided access to certain Play Store features to Huawei users.


European Market Handles Huawei Differently

However, trade relations are rarely that simple, and certainly not only bilateral. Major European companies depend on doing business with Huawei. Germany, for instance, has agreements with Huawei to collaborate in its 5G rollout, which is imminent, and Germany has no intention to stop this collaboration, provided the Chinese Company signs and adheres to a security clause. Also, not all UK companies are not on the same page, and many cheer for preserving the national interests, despite the ban order, and continuing the cooperation with Huawei if that brings good for the country.


What the Huawei Ban Means for Users, Android & iOS App Developers?

If the ban tightens further, mobile app development companies, including Android and iOS app developers will now have to adapt to either ruling out Huawei smartphones completely or expanding their skills to the new Harmony OS or Hongmeng, as it was initially named.
Harmony was recently announced as an independent move by the company to survive in an Android-less or iOS-less world.

Of course, it is almost out of the question for all mobile app developers to lose a major share of the market by not making apps for Huawei phone users, especially outside of the U.S. market.

The majority of Android and iOS app developers work in an interconnected market anyway. Most apps and other software products are borderless, and the reliance of staff overseas and a complicated global supply network of tech solutions play a major role in which projects will go forward for them.

Following Apple’s self-reliance example based on a vertically-integrated supply chain management and manufacturing system, Huawei looks it is coming as a fresh addition to a tech world dominated by U.S. companies. In a way, the ban could nudge Huawei to grow even stronger - after all, it is the among the world’s top three smartphone manufacturers in the world, as well as the owner of an advanced 5G technology, making it number one in sophisticated tech.

Despite the fact that few people own Huawei phones in the U.S, it has a huge supporting army of users which amasses to a third of the world’s population. If it is such a 5G leader as the reputation it follows it, Huawei will be a promising well of potential for everyone in the near future, including technology companies, and Android and iPhone app developers, turning over a new leaf in the distribution of power in global tech.

Announcing the Rebirth of Underground Battle MMA



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Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is the fastest growing sport worldwide, and it has grown tremendously over the years.

In the Philippines, a fight organization dubbed “Underground Battle MMA” (UGB MMA Corporation) was created to educate the public on the growing interest in the fight industry as well as establishing a new platform that will serve as an avenue for fighters to compete in amateur and professional-level fight leagues. It was founded by The Goat Locker Boxing Gym Founder and CEO Ferdinand A. Munsayac - a retired US Navy chief. His primary goal is to help the young, poverty-stricken but skilled boxers/Muay Thai/ Jiu Jitsu and MMA fighters develop their craft so they would be able to provide a brighter future anchored on the advocacy – “Beating Up Poverty” which is a commendable goal.

The Founder’s Filipino heritage is shown alongside his fundamental mission not just to grow the UGB MMA brand, but to reinforce his commitment to the Filipino fighters most of whom, like Pacquiao in boxing, comes from the fringes of poverty-stricken family backgrounds.

UGB MMA Corporation also offers events that have further established the company as a substantial mover in the fighting industry. The past events around the Philippines were held in Sta Lucia Mall in Cainta, to Puerto Galera, The World Trade Center, to Resorts World Manila for BLAZE FC2 and Blaze FC3, to small bars, fun fights and even to the cemetery. The last one was held in Cauayan Isabela, and it was successful.

From 2013 to 2018, UGBMMA has had 68 events in over 6 years which started in The Goat Locker Gym. .

Friday, August 30, 2019

Top 4 Cities That You Should Visit At Least Once In Your Lifetime

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Our world is filled with places that are not only beautiful but also quite fascinating. Because of this reason, it can be quite tough for you to find the perfect place that can make the days of your vacations even more beautiful. 

Thus, to help you with this awkward dilemma, we have listed some of the most beautiful places that will not only be able to subdue your wander thirst but will also make your precious vacation days unforgettable.  

1. Paris, France
Considered as one of the most beautiful cities in the world by the travelers, Paris should always be on the top of the list of your vacation spots. Most of the visitors generally get attracted to the capital city of France not only because of the iconic Eiffel Tower but also because of the museums like the Louvre, which are historically very important. You will also be able to engage in various travel activities if you decide to visit Paris.

Because of these reasons, it may take almost a month for you to visit only the famous places in the city of light. So, if you are thinking to visit the city of light, then try to plan your schedule as early as possible.

2. Rome, Italy
If you love to visit the places that have a long history and is filled with lots of stories, then you should visit Rome at least once in your lifetime. Also known as the eternal city, Rome comes with a lot of churches, monuments, and ruins, which will offer you a glimpse of the Roman culture.

Some of the must-visit places of Rome are the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain. Thus, if you choose to visit the eternal city, make sure to add these places on your bucket list.

3. South Island, New Zealand
Even though New Zealand is not a big country like France or Italy, it also has some amazing places which attract a lot of travel lovers. Among these exquisite places, South Island is considered to be one of the best not only because of its glorious mountains but also because of the graceful fjords and glaciers.

You will also be able to explore the world-famous Fiord land National Park or visit the Mount John Observatory to enjoy the magic of a starry night.

So, if you are thinking to visit a place that brims with majestic landscapes, then you should always opt for the South Island.

4. London, England
Extremely popular among the history lovers, the city of London comes with a lot of places that will make your days of vacation even more magical. Some of the must-visit places in London are the historic Tower of London, Windsor Castle, the Buckingham Palace, and the London Zoo.

Life is short. So, make the most out of it by doing the things you love and if traveling is your thing, then do not forget to visit these amazing cities at least once in your lifetime. 

A Quick Guide on Getting Your Car Loan Approved in the Philippines



Wazzup Pilipinas!

Loans are tricky business among Filipinos, as many still think that borrowing money—especially for something as important as a car—is either difficult, burdensome, or downright impossible given their life circumstances. For those with little confidence in loans, the best solution may be to save cash for a one-time, all-in payment of a vehicle. But saving for this purchase may take a lifetime, costing a Filipino family many hours’ worth of convenience, mobility, and safety inside of a car.

With an auto loan, however, you won’t need to wait until the end of time to secure the car of your dreams. Auto loans in the Philippines from the country’s top banking institutions open up a lot of chances for potential car owners. You can apply for a loan on a brand-new car, a reliable secondhand four-wheel drive, or even refinancing for a vehicle that’s already in your garage.

Though there are several steps to getting a car loan approved, the process is not as hard as you think it might be. Here are seven questions to guide you through your auto loan application, tackling everything from your eligibility to your financial plans.

Are you prepared for the responsibility of owning a car? A good car is an investment that will last you for decades, but you will need to shell out for expenses like registration, gasoline, and routine maintenance in that same amount of time. The most important prerequisite of getting an auto loan is that you are a responsible car owner, capable of managing your car’s day-to-day needs.




Will you opt for a brand-new car, a secondhand car, or refinancing for a vehicle you already own? Banks offer different loan rates for new vehicles, used vehicles, and vehicles that are up for refinancing. Some can even refinance cars that are between 5 and 11 years old. With the number of flexible loan packages out there, you’ll need to decide on which arrangement is the most reasonable.




Do you meet the basic eligibility requirements of your bank? Depending on your partner banking institution, you’ll need to be of a minimum age ( usually from 21 to 25) to have your auto loan approved. They may also demand that you hold Filipino citizenship, that you meet a certain monthly household income, and that you are employed or involved in a profitable business venture for a certain number of years. It is best to check with individual banking institutions on what their eligibility requirements are.




Do you have the paperwork to accompany your auto loan application? Aside from the application form, your bank is likely to ask for the following: (1) government-issued IDs; (2) banking statements; (3) a certificate of employment; (4) your latest Income Tax Return (ITR) Form 2316 from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR); (5) proof of your billing address. Once you find out what these attachments are, you can start collecting the paperwork in advance.




Do you have a good credit history? Your partner bank will need proof that you have the financial capacity to repay the loan on time. To increase your chances of getting the auto loan approved, make sure to settle other matters that pertain to your credit history: pay all your other bills on time, settle outstanding loans, and obtain certificates of payment from previous lenders that you can show to the bank.




How much have you set aside for down payment? For most auto loans in the Philippines, banks demand a down payment of between 20% and 50% of the total amount. If you can save up for a more substantial down payment, the better it will be for you—you’ll borrow less from the bank, and you’ll pay a smaller amount for your monthly amortization.




How long will you give yourself to pay off the loan? As early as now, you should choose a target date for repaying the auto loan in full. Is it better to choose a shorter repayment term and higher monthly amounts, but less interest? Or will you opt for a longer repayment term with smaller monthly amounts, with the interest mounting over time? Decide the length of your repayment term based on what’s best for your monthly budget.

Once you have the answers to these questions, getting an auto loan approved shouldn’t be as scary as you first imagined. Doing so will allow you to spend less time raking in your savings and more time cruising through the city inside your dream car.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Oakwood To Launch Two New Oakwood Suites By 2020



Wazzup Pilipinas!

Oakwood, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mapletree Investments (“Mapletree”), today announced the signing of Oakwood Suites in two key locations - Bangkok, Thailand, and Yokohama, Japan. Oakwood Suites Bangkok is scheduled to open by the end of 2019, while Oakwood Suites Yokohama, a Mapletree-owned property, is set to open in mid-2020.

Oakwood launched its Oakwood Suites product in December 2016 with the opening of Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta in Indonesia. Conceived as a sanctuary for sophisticated travellers, Oakwood Suites offers exclusive residences for jetsetters and senior executives with an emphasis on prime locations within Asia Pacific’s most central commercial districts.

“Oakwood Suites offers residential comfort for well-heeled global citizens who desire unparelled service delivered in an unobtrusive manner. By expanding into Bangkok and Yokohama, we are greatly increasing Oakwood Suites’ footprint and bringing a new type of contemporary luxury to guests and travellers alike in both markets,” said Dean Schreiber, interim chief executive officer of Oakwood and managing director of Oakwood Asia Pacific.



Oakwood Suites Bangkok is strategically located along Sukhumvit Soi 24 within the popular Phrom Phong district. Just a four-minute walk to the BTS Skytrain Station, the property is in close proximity to a diverse range of restaurants and malls, as well as Bangkok’s Central Business District. Offering 232 well-appointed studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments, Oakwood Suites Bangkok will redefine the jetsetting lifestyle of savvy travellers on short trips and extended stays.

After 12 successful properties in Japan, Oakwood Suites Yokohama marks the brand’s expansion into Japan’s second-largest city. With a collection of 175 elegant apartments occupying levels 46 to 51 of The Tower Kitanaka, the largest and tallest residential building in Yokohama, guests will find Oakwood Suites Yokohama’s locale highly favourable.

“Mapletree is pleased to expand our lodging footprint in Japan. Oakwood Suites Yokohama will be our second Mapletree-owned serviced apartment in Japan, following Oakwood Apartments Azabudai, Tokyo. As part of our business strategy, Mapletree will continue to pursue opportunities to develop and acquire assets, and bring the Oakwood brand to global markets,” said Mr Chua Tiow Chye, deputy group chief executive officer of Mapletree.



Oakwood Suites Yokohama will offer the elevated convenience of direct access to the Bashamichi Train Station and a plethora of shops and dining options within its retail and cultural zone. Guests will be able to enjoy a waterfront residential lifestyle, as the tower sits right next to Yokohama Bay in the popular Minato Mirai area and a stone’s throw away from Yamashita Park, famed for its waterfront views of the Port of Yokohama. A half-hour train ride from Tokyo, Oakwood Suites Yokohama is set to be a highly anticipated accommodation option upon opening, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

How to Plan a Cheap Road Trip



Wazzup Pilipinas!

Everyone loves a great road trip, right? They love the feel, the vast planes that lay ahead and the company of kith and kin. However, not everyone wants to spend a fortune on a road trip. That makes sense too, when we consider that people choose road trips to escape from those hefty airline fares. Without proper planning, though, your road trip may cost as much as an international vacation — or worse, more than that.

Thankfully, a cheap road trip is no urban legend. I can do it; you can do it, and everyone can do it. All it needs is a bit of planning and strategy. Unless you want to travel on impulse, you can definitely save a lot of money during the road trip. In this article, we have a brief guide on how to plan a cheap road trip. We aren’t offering any location-specific details, since this will be a universal guide.

#1 Levelling Your Expectations

This is perhaps the most personal step of a cheap road trip planning. You should have an idea of what you’re expecting from the trip. There are a few questions to ask yourself. Are you looking for a luxury trip? Do you want to experience every good thing in the place? How long you want to keep yourself on the road? And, most importantly, can you survive without sleeping?

The answers would help you decide the budget you have to set, the lodging you have to choose and the core nature of your trip. For instance, if you can indeed survive without sleep, you can plan an overnight road trip — which would save you the accommodation cost. As far as basic facilities are required, you can depend on some cheap places.

#2 Choose the Best Possible Route

The first step of planning a cheap road trip is deciding the exact route. When we say the exact route, we do not mean each corner and curve. Instead, you should have a list of destinations that you want to visit. Of course, make sure that you leave some free time — for those spontaneous adventure needs. If you are a stickler when it comes to planning, you can go to the extent of counting the time for restroom, gas stations etc. as well.

While Google Maps is the perfect companion for route planning, you can depend on other services as well. For instance, AAA TripTik is a service to find out potential delays in a route along with fuel stations. Having an idea about regular traffic and the terrain would help you maintain a stable speed during the trip. As we said, be flexible with time, so that you can include more activities.

#3 Pack as Much As You Can, but Wisely

Wise packing is one of the best ways to make a road trip cheaper. The idea is to carry things that you would need the most — so that you don’t have to buy on the way. On a related note, your favorite highway pit-stops may charge you extra. However, this does not mean stuffing your whole boot-space with some stuff. Doing so will increase the weight of the car and thus reduce the mileage.

Some of the necessary items include a cooler, water bottles, snacks, utensils and handwash. Of course, we hope you will be carrying a smartphone, a charger and a camera. You may also want to carry a power-bank for worst case scenarios. Also make sure that you are carrying the essentials such as an emergency kit, medications and sunscreen.

#4 Transportation Decisions

Transportation is indeed the most expensive thing about a road trip. It’s also true that you can save a lot of money on the whole trip if you choose things wisely. For instance, let’s suppose you rent a camper vehicle instead of your normal car. You can practically cut down the accommodation costs. Of course, there will be an increase in the fuel cost, but at the end of the day, you win.

There are also a few ways to save money you spend on gas. For instance, you can avoid rush traffic hours to keep the mileage intact. While on the highway, you can maintain the same speed, and it works great if your car has cruise control. Last but not least, you can use a credit card that offers cash back when you spend on fuels. You can also prefer using fuel stations away from the highway to save some more money.

#5 Lodging and Facilities

We already told you two methods to cut down the lodging fees during the trip — drive overnight or rent out a camper vehicle. However, if you decide to stay in a motel, there are a few ways to save money as well. The best method is to choose motels that have tie-ups with tourist destinations, adventure programs and some food outlets in the area. These tie-ups would become discounts as far as you’re concerned.

Coupons are the best when you are taking a road trip, you know. You can consider installing apps that would present you with the right discount coupons. Also, as is the case with every other trip, you should book the motels pretty early to save some money. Last but not least, make sure you collect as many coupons as you find on the way.

#6 Food and Drinks

Food is the department that converts every potential cheap road trip to something so expensive. There are a few things you have to do to avoid this. First of all, you have to set a budget for food consumption. That is, decide that you won’t spend more than $60 on food. Second, you have to stay away from impulsive food consumption.
In addition, as we said, you can see if your motel has any tie-ups with any restaurants. This would actually get you quality food even when you spend less. Also, make sure you install all the food apps out there. You never know which one you come across, and it’s good to have promotional deals. And, yes, it’s great to carry some food items from home as well.

#7 Look for Free Stuff

There is no scarcity of free stuff in the world. And when you are on a broke road trip, that’s something that you should look for. First of all, do a check for the shops and other outlets in the destinations. It’s very likely that at least some of them are offering some free stuff. Of course, you may have to download their app and sign up to do that.

We already talked about the benefits of credit cards while buying fuel. As it happens, you can use your cards to get some cash back while purchasing other things as well. To make the best use, though, you may have to adjust the trips in some way or another. For instance, you may have to take a route that has shops where you can avail discounts.

The Bottom Line

We have shared some tips that can actually help you save money. One thing to be noted is that most of the steps have to do something with planning. The simple steps you take before would help you save money in the long run. Now that you have a clear idea, wish you a pretty inexpensive road trip.

2020 DOE Budget Prioritizes Energy Access and Security Programs



Wazzup Pilipinas!

The energy family, led by Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, on Tuesday (27 August) appeared before the House of Representatives to seek support for its proposed 2020 budget of PhP 2.3 billion.

“Our budgetary request will support plans and programs that would help ensure the security of our country’s energy future, increase access to energy services and technologies, further uphold consumer welfare, and facilitate the efficient implementation of new energy policies such as the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, the Murang Kuryente Act, and the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop Act,” Secretary Cusi said in his opening remarks.



He also added that a significant portion of the budget (PhP 500 million) will likewise go towards the continued implementation of the government’s Total Electrification Program (TEP), which would see the energization of the remaining underserved and unserved households nationwide, in close partnership with the National Electrification Administration and the National Power Corporation.

Based on allotment class, PhP 1.14 billion, or almost 50% is for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE); PhP 521 million or 23% is for Capital Outlay (CO); PhP 580 million or 25% for Personal Services; and PhP 52 million or 2% for Retirement and Life Insurance Premiums.

With regard to the TEP, PhP 199 million of PhP 1.14 billion of the MOOE will got to the program, while PhP 300 million of the PhP 521 million allocation for CO is earmarked for the procurement of distributed energy generation systems and microgrids for the TEP.

During this critical mid-point of President Duterte’s administration, the DOE remains persistent in pursuing its eight-point priority program comprised of National and Regional Energy Planning, Conventional Energy Development, National Renewable Energy, Downstream Energy Development, Electric Power Industry Development, Total Electrification, National Energy Efficiency and Conservation, and Alternative Fuels and Energy Technologies.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Western Union Money Transfers Worldwide Now Available for Pick-up at BDO



Wazzup Pilipinas!

Receiving money from almost anywhere in the world has gotten more convenient for Filipinos as global money transfer firm Western Union and BDO Unibank, Inc. (BDO) have expanded their remittance collaboration, which involves the offering of Cash Pick-up of Western Union money transfers at more than 1,100 BDO branches nationwide.

Western Union and BDO initially launched a credit to account service in 2015 allowing remitters to send money straight to BDO accounts from over 70 countries via www.westernunion.com and through Western Union agent locations in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. With the expanded collaboration, customers who do not have a BDO account yet may conveniently claim Western Union remittances at BDO and its rural bank subsidiary – BDO Network Bank, which has over 130 branches in countryside Mindanao and the Visayas, and now, continuously expanding across Luzon.

BDO’s presence inside SM Supermalls allows customers to claim Western Union remittances more conveniently as the branches are open up to 7PM including weekends and selected holidays.This serves as a one-top-shop for customers as they may claim remittances and purchase their basic needs, in just one go.

“Our extended collaboration with Western Union is proof of our continuous commitment to make remittances from almost any part of the globe convenient to receive. Western Union has helped us in bridging not only Filipino workers from different parts of the world but also other global senders and their remittance beneficiaries in the Philippines, who can rely on us through our accessible and convenient Cash Pick-up locations. The Western Union-BDO collaboration delivers a kind of service that is reliable given the two institutions’ credibility and trust they’ve both earned through the years”, said Genie Gloria, SVP and Head of BDO Remittance.

“At Western Union, we connect families near and far away and help them move money across borders and currencies. We are excited to extend our service offering with BDO Unibank by building on our strengths to expand our network even further, providing a high-level customer experience,” said Sohini Rajola, Head of Network, Middle East and Asia-Pacific, Western Union.

The Western Union-BDO alliance complements the Philippines’ ranking as the worlds’ fourth largest receiver of remittance in 2018, according to a World Bank report. For its part, BDO remains the leader in OF remittances and said leadership was solidified by a recent award from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) as the “Commercial Bank that Generated the Largest Overseas Filipino Remittances” for 2018, a citation that the bank has consistently received since 2008.

Norwegian Encore Emerges from Shipyard for the First Time



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Norwegian Cruise Line, the innovator in global cruise travel, today announced that its latest ship, Norwegian Encore, successfully completed a major construction milestone, when it emerged for the first time from the Meyer Werft ship building dock in Papenburg, Germany.

Norwegian Encore will remain in the shipyard port for the final phase of construction, before her conveyance up the Ems River and towards the North Sea at the end of September. At nearly 1,100 feet long, with a gross tonnage of almost 170,000 and a guest capacity of 3,998, the ship will be delivered to the cruise line on Oct. 30, 2019. She will be christened in Miami on Nov. 21, 2019 and will commence seven-day voyages to the Caribbean on Nov. 24, 2019.

“To see the ship emerge from the shipyard is always one of the most exciting construction milestones,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “Our partners at Meyer Werft have been committed to our vision for not only Norwegian Encore, but for this industry leading class of ships, supporting our dedication to delivering our guests the best cruise vacation at sea.”




Taking the brand’s exclusive, stand-out attractions to the next level, Norwegian Encore will feature the world’s longest race track at sea at 1,100 feet with four high-speed curves extending up to 13 feet over the side of the ship; the largest outdoor laser tag arena at nearly 10,000 square feet with the addition of augmented reality elements; and new immersive escape room and interactive theatre experiences in the 10,000-square-foot Galaxy Pavilion.

In addition to featuring many of the highly rated restaurants and lounges that have made the Breakaway Plus class one of the most innovative and successful in the company’s history, Norwegian Encore will debut a new elevated Italian dining experience, Onda by Scarpetta, in collaboration with LDV Hospitality. The Tony Award®-winning musical, “Kinky Boots” will headline the world-class entertainment on board, with returning guest favorites “The Choir of Man,” “Happy Hour Prohibition: The Musical” and the rocking Beatles cover band of The Cavern Club.

Launching this fall, Norwegian Encore will offer seven-day voyages to the Eastern Caribbean from Miami beginning Nov. 24, 2019; Bermuda, and Canada and New England itineraries from New York City beginning Apr. 22, 2020; voyages to the Western Caribbean from Miami beginning Dec. 12, 2020; and in the spring of 2021 will make her West Coast debut and sail to Alaska from Seattle.

For more information about Norwegian Cruise Line ships and their itineraries, or to book a cruise, please contact a travel professional, call +65 31 651 680 or visit www.ncl.com.

For a video of Norwegian Encore’s float out, click here.

BCB Blockchain Powers Payment Infrastructure Of Metro Manila’s Biggest Spa



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Metro Manila’s biggest spa is now starting to accept crypto currency as mode of payment.

Building Cities Beyond Blockchain (BCB Blockchain), the world's first blockchain protocol for the development of smart city solutions, providesits mainnet blockchain technology to support Yatai Spa’s payment infrastructure.

Yatai Spa is a three-floor development of a modern facility with business & commercial center showcasing a relaxation, entertainment and wellness destination located in the transportation hub Newport City, Pasay City. It covers an area of more than 7,000 square meters and operating 24/7. The Yatai Spa possesses a set of variety functions such as entertainment leisure catering business negotiation cultural exchange, party venue, SPA health and private living space

“BCB will enable Yatai Spa to a faster, transparent and more secure payment. This will also allow them to have less infrastructure transaction fees which cost only around 0.06 Chinese Yuan or 0.45 pesos,” Vanessa Koh, BCB Blockchain Chief Technology Officer said.




In addition, using BCB allows the spa to save on outdated servers and the cost of operating multiple software payment solutions.

The cost savings in return, allows Yatai spa to offer 20% discount on all spa services by using BCB.

“As the largest spa in Manila with a huge customer base, this gives BCB an advantage to reach its goal of mass adoption. BCB hopes to have more merchants and businesses onboard as well, ”Koh added.

Aside from providing payment infrastructure, BCB enables creation of smart contracts and Dapps (Decentralised Applications), community voting, and many other auditable services. By providing high liquidity and low transaction costs, BCB holders enjoy transparency and improvement of settlement efficiency of payments and transactions in its supported smart cities and establishments.

Earlier in June, BCB Blockchain signed partnership with Philippine’s leading tech incubators QBO Innovation hub and DLSU Animo for joint projects on incubations, hackathons, and smart city solutions.

Philippines to Host Second High-Level Regional Meeting on MEPSEAS



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Bringing together heads of maritime agencies from participating International Maritime Organization (IMO) Member States, the Philippines, through the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), will host the Second High-Level Regional Meeting on Marine Environment Protection of the Southeast Asian Seas (MEPSEAS) in Manila, Philippines on 27 to 29 August 2019.

The IMO and the MEPSEAS International Consultants will lead the session and will provide updates regarding the MEPSEAS Project website, initial steps undertaken to capacitate countries in implementing the provisions and requirement of the Conventions, results of Train the Trainers (TTT) held in Singapore last 28 to 30 May 2019, and initial delivery of the training modules covering the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention, Anti-Fouling System (AFS) Convention and MARPOL Annex V.

Delegates from the participating beneficiary countries will likewise present the development and adoption of their respective National Action Plans (NAPs), including successes and challenges in completing the NAP activities related to the accession of the chosen IMO Conventions.

Moreover, the strategic partners will present relevant activities and programs, which support the objectives of the MEPSEAS Project, and will also explore possible areas of collaboration and modalities by which to pursue cooperation.

The Second High-Level Regional Meeting will be attended by delegates from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, as well as strategic partners from the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA), Women in Maritime – Asia and Philippines, Tokyo MOU Regional Port State Control Organization, ASEAN Maritime Transport Working Group Chair’s representative, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), and Maritime Technology Cooperation Center (MTCC) Asia.

As host country, the Philippine delegation will be composed of representatives from different departments and agencies that are identified important in giving full and complete effect to the Conventions. They are the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), MARINA, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Cebu Port Authority (CPA), Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Environment Management Bureau (DENR – EMB), DENR – Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR – BMB), Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development, Office of the President – Presidential Legislative Affairs, Filipino Shipowners Association, and International Maritime Association of the Philippines.

The MEPSEAS Project is a 4-year project (2018-2021) of the IMO in cooperation with the Norwegian Agency for the Development (NORAD) providing assistance to East Asian countries in ratifying and implementing IMO Instruments for the protection of the marine environment. It aims to reduce the risks and impacts of environmental issues related to maritime transport in the ASEAN region. It supports the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 – to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”.
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