Friday, June 11, 2021

Wink Hotels Takes the LEED in Sustainable Transformation of Vietnam’s Hospitality Landscape

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Wink Hotels, Vietnam’s revolutionary new hospitality brand, reinforced its commitment to reimagining sustainable tourism and creating positive environmental impact. Its flagship Wink Hotel Saigon Centre @ 75 Nguyen Binh Khiem, which opened on 24 March 2021, holds the country’s highest certification for the globally-recognized Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, Gold v4. A pioneer in the sustainable transformation of guest experiences, the hotel defined new industry benchmarks for contactless guest services, cashless payment and eco-conscious operations in its distinctive style of hospitality, setting the standard for Wink Hotels’ pipeline of 20+ properties in Vietnam.

Sustainability is deeply ingrained in Wink Hotels’ brand ethos. From conception to construction, careful consideration was made to ensure responsible tourism and reduce environmental footprint. Its remarkable success in achieving the LEED Gold v4 certification for Wink Hotel Saigon Centre is evident from the building’s architecture, interior design, healthy indoor ambient quality, efficiency in water, energy and lighting consumption. Last year, Wink Hotel Saigon Centre won the Asia Pacific Property Awards 2020 for “Best New Hotel Construction and Design, Vietnam” in recognition of its sustainable design. As a sign of Wink Hotels’ relentless focus on sustainability, the 243-room Wink Hotel Danang Centre was recently conferred the same accolade in advance of its scheduled opening in Q2 of 2022.

Wink Hotel Saigon Centre’s architecture was designed for efficient thermal transmittance to reduce energy consumption. Built with waste management in mind, the hotel encourages waste segregation into three categories: recyclable, domestic and hazardous waste. For water efficiency, all indoor fixtures are equipped to control water flowrate. Fresh air quality is 30 percent above the minimum required level.

Every guest will have peace of mind knowing that each Wink Experience is a positive step towards reduction of single-use plastics and paper waste. Wink Hotel Saigon Centre has pioneered technology-centric guest services such as contactless guest services through Wink Hotels’ mobile app for self-check-in and check-out, which also serves as the mobile key. Cashless transactions are encouraged through “Keycard Credits” that can be topped up for a full calendar year to facilitate future visits. Other innovative services for instant gratification include Grab & Go services from Vietnamese-inspired food carts, vending machines and laundromats on every floor.

“At Wink Hotels, we do things differently, one positive footprint at a time. Our guests are upwardly mobile entrepreneurs, who appreciate the empowerment of controlling their stay the way they want it at their fingertips. Breaking free from traditional hotels, we want to liberate this new generation of digital natives through innovative yet sustainable guest experiences that are aligned with their personal preferences,” said Michael Piro, chief executive officer of Wink Hotels.

To reduce guests’ environmental footprint, the trendy hotel in the vibrant Dakao Ward of Ho Chi Minh City provides parking facilities to support bicycle, carpooling and electric cars. Not only will this eco-friendly amenity reduce carbon emissions, it promotes discovery of the hotel’s fascinating neighbourhood.

To close the recycling loop, Wink Hotel Saigon Centre has collaborated with PlasticPeople to recycle plastic waste into useful objects and furniture such as amenity trays, bins, desks and even building materials. Other sustainable partnerships include Toong, the brand’s eco-conscious coworking partner, which equips each individual desk and workspace with their own lamps and fans to reduce central power usage.

Wink Hotels is conceived by developer, Indochina Kajima, operated by Indochina Vanguard. Both are joint venture companies between Indochina Capital and Kajima Corporation and Vanguard Hotels respectively.

Please click here for more information about Wink Sustainability.

Medgate Philippines foresees a bigger role for telemedicine in the future of healthcare

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Medgate Philippines believes that by increasing and improving access to high-quality medical care, telemedicine will help shape the future of overall healthcare in the country and globally.

Speaking at a recent press briefing, Medgate Philippines President Stavros Athanasiou said that “The past year and a half has challenged our healthcare systems in unimaginable ways, while also changing the way many Filipino patients get treated,” he shared. “Throughout all that, telehealth services have proven to be a prime complement to traditional healthcare, acting as another avenue for treatment. Medgate is committed to providing those services to even more Filipinos as we continue to navigate the current health crisis.”

Just last year, the telemedicine provider saw a 170% jump in the usage of their services - leading to a total patient base of 1.5 million. In these consultations, Medgate employs a medical co-management approach where doctors with multiple specialisations consult with a single case. This means that an Internist may also treat a Pediatric case to get a better background of and solution for a patient's condition, contributing to high treatment rate for the provider.

This success is just the first step, as the company sees demand for its innovation increasing even more in the near future. Medgate will continue to innovate and grow its telemedicine core business as new technologies emerge. The advent of 5G broadband should make for an immersive high resolution video experience further enhancing the experience of patients. Advances in wearables, especially those with the ability to capture body temperature, blood pressure, and even blood sugar will usher in a new wave of customers. “The demand is there,” adds Athanasiou. “It’s now a matter of making sure that the proper services and infrastructures are in place to sustain the usage and provide telemedicine to more patients.”

Collaborations also seen to keep improving telemedicine access

Medgate Philippines also has ongoing tie-ups with some of the country’s leading HMO and health insurance companies including Intellicare and Generali. Through these partnerships, members can conveniently consult with a doctor on the Medgate platform 24/7, even having the option to have their prescribed medicines delivered.

"Working with Medgate provided a most valuable and differentiating benefit to our partner members. We were able to provide accessible, affordable, and compassionate care even in this most challenging of times." said Mario Silos, Chairman of Asalus Corporation (Intellicare).

These multi-year engagements with their partner HMOs and health insurance companies are in line with Medgate’s goal to provide the care that comforts to as many Filipinos as possible.

“We are very bullish about the growth of our partnership with Medgate,” added Maria Sharon Maranan, Chief Distribution Officer of Generali. “Telemedicine will continue to play a big role in healthcare as different healthcare delivery models continue to evolve to address our customers’ changing needs.” she stated.

“The work we do alongside our partners is important. This is the perfect time for us to work together towards furthering healthcare innovation,” said Medgate Philippines Country Manager, Ronald Estrella. “Medgate continues to further differentiate its telemedicine service from the competition. The company will be expanding its partnerships, growing its base of healthcare professionals, and will ensure multiple touchpoints for easier access for patients – be it over the phone, social media, website, or our upcoming mobile app.”

Avail of the Medgate Unliconsultation Plan for only PHP 999/yr (VAT Ex). Visit their website at

About Medgate Philippines:

Medgate has been in the Telemedicine industry since 1998 and has handled over 11 million consultations globally in that time. Medgate has global presence in India, the Middle East, Philippines, and Switzerland. Medgate Philippines has been operating since 2016 and caters to over 1.5 million Filipinos who are members of Medgate's partners in the banking, health, and insurance industries. We strive to provide innovative and accessible healthcare to Filipinos. For more information, go to or follow us @MedgatePhilippines on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Municipality of Luisiana governance programs get boost with PLDT Enterprise BEYOND FIBER roll out

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In fulfillment of its commitment to support LGUs, PLDT Enterprise has linked up the local Municipality of Luisiana with BEYOND FIBER to further improve their delivery of public programs for its government offices and service of their constituents amid the pandemic.

Dubbed as the “Little Baguio of Laguna”, Luisiana is located adjacent to Majayjay and Pagsanjan. Popular for their cocoa and Pandan-woven products, the town remains to be one of the lowest reported cases of COVID-19 cases in Laguna with 113 cases, 2 deaths, and 106 recoveries to date.

To further support the success of COVID health campaigns and other government policies, PLDT Enterprise is deploying its latest fiber solution BEYOND FIBER to the government unit. As an all-in-one digital solution, the digital tools and Wi-Fi included in BEYOND FIBER will contribute in improving the municipality’s initiatives for disaster response programs, digitizing application and process forms, access to healthcare systems, and other public programs.

“The Municipality of Luisiana has always welcomed PLDT Enterprise with their warmest support. As a gesture of giving back, we’re deploying BEYOND FIBER to power the town with fiber-grade connectivity that will be helpful in furthering government programs, making collaboration, processes, and systems more efficient.” said Jovy Hernandez, ePLDT President, CEO and SVP Head for PLDT and Smart Enterprise Business Groups.

Their impressive management are results of the LGU’s extensive health campaign against COVID-19, with its main thrust focused on proper information dissemination about the virus and promoting proper health protocols such as wearing masks, regular sanitization, and social distancing. Isolation units for suspected cases are also provided while a vaccine is still in development, all thanks to the united efforts of local task forces, Barangay Health Emergency Response Team, and sanitation officers.

Mitch Locsin, PLDT FVP & Enterprise Revenue Group Head, welcomes the strengthened alliance between the LGU and PLDT Enterprise. “We would like to thank Luisiana for their unwavering support and this is surely just one of the many more programs that we will be implementing in order to support our LGUs.”

Mayor Nestor Rondilla of Luisiana responds, “Our partnership with one of the most trusted and powerful solutions providers in the country such as PLDT is definitely a big leap in improving our initiatives, especially when it comes to aiding our citizens in recovering from the impact of COVID-19.”

Future plans of the municipality include expanding its technology by tapping into more PABX and fiber lines for its different government offices within the area.

PLDT has been a solid partner among enterprises and government in their efforts to provide services to the public in light of the challenges of the pandemic and the guidelines set to curb the spread of COVID19. The PLDT Group has also invested over Php 286 billion in the past five years in expanding their network coverage and further building into the most extensive fiber optic network in the country with 429,000 kilometers spanning the archipelago and abroad.

These efforts have helped empower PLDT’s customers and clients in enabling their own digital transformation journeys to manage and adopt to the new normal.

To learn more, visit

#MateshipAndBayanihan amid COVID-19: Working together to support Bangsamoro children’s education

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The COVID-19 pandemic continues to strain nations across the world. Economies, jobs, education and health system remain disrupted. Vulnerable sectors, especially those in developing countries like the Philippines, are entrenched deeper in poverty. Earlier this year, it was reported that the Philippines has suffered its worst economic contraction since World War II with a Gross Domestic Product growth of negative 9.5% by end of 2020. The nation’s total outstanding debt also climbed 3.5% month-on-month to P10.77 trillion.

The dire situation has enabled strengthened alliances, as nations on the mend from the pandemic extend support to struggling nations. One friend that came to the immediate aid of the Philippines is its Southeast Asia and Indo-Pacific neighbor, Australia.

Australia and the Philippines celebrate 75 years of diplomatic ties this year since the establishment of the Australian Consulate General in Manila. Through the decades, Australia has been a long-standing partner of the Philippines to address its development challenges in the areas of basic education, training and human resource development, public financial management, health, rural and community development, governance, assistance to vulnerable groups, infrastructure, and support to the Mindanao peace and development process.

Commitment to Development, Commitment to Mindanao

Based on latest data, the Bangsamoro is home to some of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable communities due to a confluence of man-made and natural disasters. The region continues to lag behind compared to others in the country despite the gains made under the new autonomous government. Poverty incidence among families, for instance, remain at 53.6%. Basic or simple literacy, meanwhile, stands at 86.1%, way below the country’s average of 96.5%.

Australia’s development cooperation program in the Philippines thus puts premium in Mindanao, particularly in the Bangsamoro: supporting basic education reform, peace and stability, and inclusive economic growth.

Some of the past initiatives include the Basic Education Assistance to Mindanao program from 2002-2009; the Philippines Response to Indigenous Peoples’ and Muslim Education program (PRIME) in 2011-2014; and the Basic Education Assistance to Muslim Mindanao program (BEAM-ARMM) in 2012-2017.

Partnering with Save the Children against COVID-19

With support from Australia, Save the Children Philippines has been implementing the project Children’s Access to Quality Alternative Learning Modalities in Safe Spaces in the BARMM as part of the Education Pathways to Peace in Mindanao program.

The project is a direct response to the Bangsamoro Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education’s call for a more consolidated and coordinated effort in responding to the emerging needs of children on quality education. It aims to protect every child’s right to learn amid the COVID-19 pandemic through alternative education and distance learning opportunities.

The COVID-19-adaptive project aims to reach 90 schools across BARMM’s nine school divisions using age-appropriate, gender-sensitive, inclusive, COVID-safe, and culturally-sensitive learning modalities. Direct beneficiaries include at least 14,400 children, 4,000 adults, 450 school personnel, and 100 partner institutions. The estimated indirect beneficiaries, through offline and online information, education, and communications materials, are around 362,000 children and adults.

Operationally, the project is focusing on developing and distributing learning materials for students and teaching packages for teachers and parents, as well as improving the capacity of teachers, parents, and other caregivers on alternative learning delivery during the pandemic. To keep learners and education personnel safe from COVID-19, the project also distributed Hygiene Sustainability Kits in schools.

The project undertakes advocacy campaigns related to children’s rights and protection, mental health and psychosocial support, and psychological first aid. This is in response to ground realities that the COVID-19 pandemic does not only cause health hazard to learners, but also takes a toll on their physical and mental wellbeing.

“We cannot afford to lose children in this pandemic. Aside from ensuring that they remain healthy and free from COVID-19, we must also do our best to guarantee that they remain learning in a place that is safe – physically, mentally, and psychosocially,” Muyot added.

“Our work does not end when the pandemic ends. We will not stop until all children, regardless of race, religion, sex, and status in life, are educated, safe, protected, and have recovered from the blow of this pandemic. We look forward to our continued and fruitful partnership with Australia in transforming this aspiration into a reality.”

Road safety advocates demand safer speed limits on city and municipal roads

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A group of road safety advocates called for local government units to set and enforce safe speed limits on city and municipal roads. Led by law group ImagineLaw, the 35 organizations represent and comprise vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, commuters, children, older people, and persons with disabilities.

“Every hour, a person dies on Philippine roads due to road crashes. It could be any one of us—a person cycling on the way to work, a parent walking home from the market, or a courier delivering our latest online purchase,” said the group in a statement released to the public.

“We are all road users, and we all risk our lives every time we travel for as long as motor vehicles travel at high speeds on roads where people mix with traffic,” the group said.

The group—composed of civil society organizations, student councils, cycling community representative, as well as the government agency mandated to formulate policies concerning disability issues and concerns, the National Council on Disability Affairs—makes their call as the United Nations (UN) celebrates the 6th Global Road Safety Week this May 17 to 23, with the theme Streets for Life: #Love30.

The road safety advocates demanded the Philippine government “to act urgently to keep all road users safe and to #Love30 by limiting motor vehicle speeds to 30kph or less on roads where we walk, live, and play.” Their demand? Streets for life—shareable, walkable, and livable streets.

Their statement is timely for the Philippines where 12,487 people were killed in road crashes in 2018. Half of the people who die on Philippine roads are vulnerable road users, who are at the greatest risk of being struck by speeding motor vehicles.

Speeding makes roads unsafe because it increases both crash risk and crash severity. In other words, the faster a motor vehicle travels, the longer it takes to stop to avoid hitting a pedestrian or a cyclist or even another vehicle, and the more likely that a crash will result in severe injuries or death.

According to the World Health Organization, giving local authorities the power to reduce national speeds and to manage speed within their locality is important because national speed limits do not always correspond to the appropriate speed when the road environment changes.

In the Philippines, it is councilors from LGUs that know the actual road conditions best and are in the best position to classify their roads to set safe speed limits. However, the group lamented that “less than 2% of all LGUs are reported to have enacted speed limit ordinances that set safe speed limits, such as 30kph on city or municipal roads and 20kph on barangay roads and crowded streets.”

The group said that “without these interventions [speed limit ordinances and speed enforcement], the rising number of road deaths, particularly of vulnerable road users… will only continue to rise."

They reiterated their call for urgent government action and state that “[e]very hour of inaction by the government means another life lost on our roads.”

To read the group’s statement, you may visit

PLDT Enterprise eyes rise of SD-WAN, SASE

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PLDT Enterprise is seeing software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) and secure access service edge (SASE) architecture as two of the most in-demand technologies for businesses in the next few years.

In PLDT Enterprise’s recently concluded Tech Talk ON-AIR, Vice President and Head for PLDT Enterprise Fixed-Core Business Solutions Gary Ignacio said that SD-WAN has already reached its inflection point, accelerated by the new market dynamics. “The enterprise market has fully matured and has now embraced SD-WAN as their wide-area networking technology of choice. We’re anticipating its sustained momentum and growth over the next few years,” he said.

SD-WAN enables businesses to interconnect their network of branches and users through a highly-intelligent, software-driven platform, leveraging all available network underlay technologies such as MPLS, fiber broadband, LTE and 5G. This could help industries, such as banks, to simplify network management, optimize data traffic flow, and enable highly resilient, always on connections.

“Close to two-thirds of our local banks are pursuing transformational projects to enhance their digital capabilities and that number just continues to increase,” he added.

Likewise, he also stressed that PLDT Enterprise recognizes the importance of data security, and as such, is pioneering SASE to ensure a fully secure ecosystem where privacy and protection policies are fully enforced. “SASE will continue to get a lot of traction as companies put in place the right technologies to be able to connect and secure, not only their physical locations but their entire user base and end-devices as well. The PLDT Group has established a very strong foundation for this, out of our internal cybersecurity capabilities and best practices, and this will be further enriched by our strategic partnerships from the incumbent and emerging leaders in the field”

Other industries which have been benefitting from these two technologies include the retail sector and the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, among others.

ePLDT President and CEO and SVP and Head for PLDT and Smart Enterprise Business Groups Jovy Hernandez assured the company’s unbreakable commitment to providing digital solutions that will help businesses build a solid foundation amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“Over the last decade, multiple technologies have come to the fore and a lot more are emerging that will revolutionize the way we do things. And it is our aspiration at PLDT Enterprise to become every organization’s technology partner who can create the right mix of innovations and solutions which can deliver real value to their business,” said Hernandez.

“It is much more than just bandwidth. We strive to answer the needs of businesses today for a business-grade internet connection, the need for accessibility for on-premise and cloud applications and to manage multiple locations so that they can become truly resilient in this new age of business.”

PLDT Enterprise has been providing resilient connectivity for the business industry through bandwidth solutions such as BEYOND FIBER, Branch-in-a-Box, and PLDT SD-WAN.

BEYOND FIBER is designed to be three times more reliable for businesses which comes with a minimum speed equivalent to 90 percent of the subscribed bandwidth at 90 service reliability. This service promise currently remains unmatched in the industry.

Branch-in-A-Box, meanwhile, is a platform built for businesses that need to connect, protect, and manage multiple locations through easy to deploy and easy to manage ICT solutions that already come seamlessly stacked.

PLDT Enterprise’s TechTalk ON-AIR aims to discover the best practices of industry leaders in fueling their business growth by tackling the development and the presence of e-industries.

Hernandez said that it is a way of empowering customers and viewers with the information they will need to succeed.

“We have several events lined up for the year and we can expect more meaningful discussions and insights as there are technologies that we should be looking at to put all of these together,” he said.

For more information, visit

PLDT Enterprise supports e-learning for the College of Mary Immaculate of Pandi, Bulacan

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In continuing its efforts to be a strong supporter of the education industry, PLDT Enterprise enables e-Learning for the students of the College of Mary Immaculate (CMI), a non-profit educational institution founded in 2002 at Pandi, Bulacan.

Students from the poorest of the poor, and those who have less in life, have limited resources and opportunities to get honest-to-goodness quality education. Quality education affordable to all is the CMI’s reason for being.

Staying true to its philosophy, the CMI exists as an educational institution that serves the poor and financially challenged students, with the goal of enabling them to achieve their fullest potential and empowering them to transform their lives for the better. The CMI offers tertiary education courses, technical and vocational programs, as well as Senior High School programs.


Because of the pandemic, the livelihood of the families of a majority of the CMIans have been greatly affected, with many of them unable to afford the internet necessary for e-learning.

Cognizant of the situation, the CMI has partnered with PLDT Enterprise to provide SMART Giga Study Plans for each student. Under the SMART Giga Study Plans, students receive mobile data allocation to enable them to access their online classes. SMART Giga Study plans are especially developed prepaid packages that cater exclusively to the academe. This includes daily data allocations for online learning tools essential for the success of distance learning.

The Board of Trustees of the College of Mary Immaculate expressed its gratitude to PLDT Enterprise for this product. “Now, more than ever, at this time of the pandemic, there is a need for us to reach out to the CMIans and help them continue their education, pursue their degree and achieve their dreams… By providing them with mobile data through the SMART Giga Study Plan, they no longer have to worry about buying prepaid internet for their online classes. Using their smartphones or tablets, the mobile data we will provide can enable them to continue learning through the online instructional materials we have prepared” they said.

“PLDT Enterprise is committed to supporting the education sector by providing tools and platforms for e-Learning, most especially during this critical time. These solutions will help ensure that despite the drastic shift in academic institutions, students can continue their education,” said Jovy Hernandez, ePLDT President & CEO and SVP & Head for PLDT and Smart Enterprise Business Groups.

PLDT Enterprise aims to redefine the future of learning through its continuous engagement with universities, colleges, and other learning institutions across the country so that no learner is left behind.

For more information, go to or #

Medical.Associations warn of the dangers of E-Cig and Vapes

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Medical associations on Monday decried as ‘fake news’ claims that e-cigarettes and vapes are a healthier alternative to regular cigarettes.

“E-cigarettes and vapes should not immediately be viewed as healthier alternatives to cigarettes,” said Dr. Michael Caampued of the Philippine Society of Public Health Physicians or PSPHS. “At present, It is dangerous to brand these novel products as helpful to those who want to stop cigarette smoking while there are still no high-quality evidence to back the claim,” Dr. Caampued added.

“We are now seeing a rise in cases of e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), in other countries. In fact, the Philippines already recorded its first case in 2019,” said Dr. Corry Avanceña of the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS). “These novel products emit aerosols containing chemicals that harm the lungs of the users and even the lungs of those around them,” Dr. Avanceña, a pediatric pulmonologist, explained.

“The best way to quit smoking is through a mix of safe and doctor-recommended methods: nicotine replacement therapy, counseling, and family support, among others,” advised Dr. Avanceña. “You shouldn’t replace an addiction with another addiction,” she said.

Vape and E-Cig Bill Endanger Public Health

The medical associations also expressed their concern against bills in Congress that seemingly seek to regulate the sale, promotion and distribution of vapes and e-cigarettes. “In reality, the proposed measure in Congress on vapes and e-cigarettes weakens our policy milestone in tobacco control set by RA 11467,” said Dr. Caampued. Republic Act. No. 11467 is more informally known as the Sin Tax Law.

House Bill No. 9007 or the Non-Combustible Nicotine Delivery Systems Act was recently approved on third and final reading in the House of Representatives last week. A similar measure will be deliberated in the Senate.

“If we are to regulate a product that is this dynamic, we should not weaken regulation, rather encourage continuous review of evidence and afford the FDA stronger regulatory roles,” he urged.

“We should not introduce policies that will weaken existing regulations on the sale, promotion, distribution, and use of vapes and e-cigarettes,” he also said.

“The bill is dangerous to public health and young Filipinos’ health as it will roll back the age restriction set by the FDA for the sale of these novel products from 21 years old to 18 years old and embolden vape and e-cigarette makers to market their products to non-smokers as ‘healthier products’,” added Dr. Avanceña. “We have to remember that the brain continues to mature until our early 20s and that early exposure to nicotine could impair the brain’s development.”

Vapes and E-Cig-Makers Target Youth

Meanwhile, law group ImagineLaw also exposed the practice of vapes and e-cigarette makers to target young people as new consumers.

“Tapping youthful influencers, launching gimmicks and promos, and maximizing online platforms are just some of the tactics that vape and e-cigarette makers engage in in order to target young people as new consumers,” said ImagineLaw Policy Associate Atty. Anna Bueno.

“E-cigarette and vape industries, some of them with ties to tobacco companies, are looking for new products to lure new consumers to nicotine addiction,” she added. “Once the Vape Bill is passed into law, young Filipinos’ health will be compromised in the name of profit,” Bueno concluded. 

PLDT Primes PH as Newest Data Center Hub in Asia

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Emerging data center market poses potential to be next big economic driver

The global pandemic has been a catalyst for digital transformation as there was a steep rise in the usage of consumer applications from social media to video streaming, gaming, e-commerce, online learning, and telehealth, among others. The pandemic has also pushed the enterprise and public sector over the technology tipping point by accelerating their cloud adoption by increasingly migrating workloads to the cloud and massively using collaboration platforms supporting work from home arrangements.

Speaking earlier this year at Asia Pacific Regional Internet Conference on Operational Technologies (APRICOT) 2021, Jeff Mendoza, Asia Pacific Regional Head of PLDT Enterprise said, “The digital transformation dictated by the pandemic among the enterprise and consumer sectors have pushed the hyperscalers in the cloud and content provider space to step on the gas with their data center deployment plans across relevant countries. The goal is to optimize subscriber experience through data server localization while enhancing network resilience in growth markets, including the Philippines.”

Digital Philippines at a Glance

The digital profile of the Philippines has motivated these hyperscalers to build their digital infrastructure within the archipelago. As these big techs strive to reign in the intensified battle of eyeballs or subscribers, the population and the digital economy of a country are critical considerations in crafting their data center expansion road map.

According to We Are Social’s Digital 2020, the Philippines is home to the second-largest eyeballs within the Southeast Asia with a population of 109M. It has one of the youngest median age of 25.8 years old versus the average age within the region of 31.8, pointing to a sizable tech-savvy population which has stronger digital appetite and adoption to technology.

The nation also takes pride in having one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the region at 138%. The Philippines has 74M internet users with netizens spending 10.5 hours online which is the longest across the globe.

The Philippines has been dubbed as the social media capital of the world when it comes to hours spent in social media while it ranks as 6th in the list of countries with the most Facebook users. E-commerce sales grew by USD3.6B in 2020 at a phenomenal growth rate of 43%, with projections spiraling to USD12B in 2025.

From a Cloud Service Revenue perspective, Global Data has reported that the Philippines is anticipating a steep rise in cloud service revenues up to USD2.4B by 2024. This is due to the increase in cloud spending in the Enterprise segment and the government’s Cloud First Policy which encourages and pushes the agencies to hasten their cloud adoption strategies.

The 5G Curve Fueling Data Center Demand

The country has also been cited by the GSMA, a global mobile industry organization for mobile network operators worldwide, as an early adopter of 5G, alongside China, Singapore, and Hongkong.

Smart, the wireless subsidiary of PLDT, has launched its 5G services in key locations in the Philippines. 5G brings about denser and faster streams of data as it is driving the need to bring more efficient compute and storage power closer to the point of connectivity and the end-user. Hence, fueling a stronger demand for edge data centers.

The Philippines as an Emerging Data Center Market

The challenges confronted by major data center hubs serving Southeast Asia, like Singapore and Hong Kong, come at a time when the demand for such facilities in the region is growing. In Hong Kong, geopolitical risks out of the imposition of China’s National Security Law has caused hyperscalers in the West to rethink their strategy of building or expanding their server farms in the country. In Singapore, the government has issued a moratorium to freeze data center construction amid high demand in response to sustainability concerns. Landmass shortage was also cited as another point of consideration.

“Hyperscalers are in need of options to serve the fast growing demand within region. This is the time when the emerging data center markets such as the Philippines, is anticipated to take advantage of this window of opportunity,” Mendoza added.

According to Structure Research, a research firm niched in the data center internet and cloud space, the Philippines is one of the emerging DC markets, having a high growth rate alongside Malaysia and Thailand.

Cushman & Wakefield, a reputed global commercial real estate services firm whose technology advisory group is also deeply connected into the data center ecosystem, has cited the Philippines’ DC Market CAGR of 14.2 % versus the Southeast Asia’s growth average of 12.9% until 2024. It has been noted that SEA is the fastest growing region for co-location data centres in a span of 5 years, underpinned by the rapid pace of digitalization and surge in demand for cloud based services.

UBS sees the Philippines as an underserved market with tremendous opportunity, with strong demand from domestic and international operators. This is attributed to data localization and the demand for lower latency by the consumer and enterprise sectors.

Robust Submarine Cable Infrastructure

At present, there are nine (9) existing submarine cables landing in the Philippines, with seven (7) more international cable systems upcoming. These resilient subsea cables are complemented by six (6) diverse Cable Landing Stations strategically located within the archipelago while more stations are already anticipated to be built in the next three years.

Moreover, the Philippines has over 600,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables spread across the islands to date with PLDT owning 478,000 kilometers of the said fiber network. PLDT also has the lion's share of submarine cable capacities terminating in the Philippines.

Hyperscalers are building new subsea cable systems landing in the Philippines, which highlights the importance of the country in the digital infrastructure roadmap of these tech giants.

Greening the Power Grid

Touted as one of the early renewables leaders in the region, with a sustainable energy mix of 24%, the Philippines strives to push for more green sources of power thru the Department of Energy’s Renewable Power Standards circular.

The government’s sustainability campaign anticipates renewable power to generate 35% of the country’s electricity by 2030. This national program is aligned with the sustainability initiatives of the hyperscalers via their respective commitments to renewable energy utilization across their operations.

PLDT has been implementing sustainability initiatives for its data center facilities that will make the most efficient approach to energy usage. For instance, its data center in Clark, Pampanga built its own solar energy source with an EIFS or Exterior Insulation Finishing System which reduces heat penetration into the building.

New Destination for Hyperscalers

Possessing a burgeoning digital economy, robust domestic and international infrastructure in place, a progressive renewable power mix, and data centers at par with the technologically developed countries, the Philippines is an ideal destination to support the hyperscale data center requirements of the cloud and content providers.

“The Philippines is indeed a strong player in the emerging market space for globally certified data centers while it thrives on value creation within the digital economy. We expect in-country DC rollouts of global technology players to accelerate,” Mendoza concluded.

The country’s major data centers are primarily operated by PLDT through its ICT arm ePLDT Inc. The group currently owns a network of 10 globally certified VITRO data center facilities strategically located across the country, with a total capacity of 72MW and over 9,000 racks, designed to support the transformation and fortify the resiliency of enterprises. Since network is as essential as data center reliability, all VITRO data center facilities are designed to be carrier-neutral, allowing other telcos both foreign and local to provide network connections based on customer preference.

VITRO data center also hosts two of the country’s major internet exchanges and serves as the global gateway of the enterprise across different sectors that require colocation, cloud hosting, disaster recovery, managed servers, security and network services—making it the preferred colocation site for hyperscalers.

For more information on PLDT Enterprise and its services, visit


Bringing opportunities to indigenous communities

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The municipality of Impasugong is a first-class municipality in Bukidnon. Known as the province, tribal capital, the town is home to different indigenous groups, primarily Higaonons, and other tribes like Talaandig and Umayamnon.

While indigenous culture flourish in the town, poverty persists. With farming as their main source of livelihood, most IPs lack access to post-harvest equipment and alternative markets for their produce.

To improve their socio-economic conditions, the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) entered a partnership with local social enterprise, Kauyagan Savers Multipurpose Cooperative, (KSMPC) in 2019 which will increase the income of 250 smallholder farmers in three upland barangays in the municipality.

Impasugong Crops Development Project

The Impasugong Crops Development project involves providing capital and transfer of technology to Kauyagan and the IP farmers for production and consolidation of coffee, corn, and abaca fibers. It also aims to equip the farmers with knowledge on production and farm management, marketing skills, post-harvest handling and financial literacy.

“We partnered with Kauyagan and connected them to PhilFIDA and other line agencies for technology transfer and other support that they may be able to provide,” PEF Senior Area Officer Nikki Along said.

The collaboration has since paid off: the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) also donated three (3) units of stripping machines, one (1) decorticating machine, improved hand-stripping devices, and a livelihood center/ buying station for the Abaca. PhilFIDA meanwhile trained and accredited Kauyagan as Abaca consolidators.

Impact to social enterprise and households

In the first year of its implementation, the income sharing scheme enabled farmers to receive at least Php .20 to Php .50 per kilo of corn and Php 2 to Php 3 per kilo of abaca fiber they harvest, depending on the quality.

According to Imelda Esteban, manager of Kauyagan, the project provided a big leap in the development of the lives of the farmers.

“Noon ang mga farmers, magbebenta sa mga big traders. Sa partnership namin with PEF, nabigyan ng pagkakataon ang mga farmers na maibenta ang kanilang mga tanim sa aming cooperative and we are providing them with more competitive prices,” she said.

Imelda said that farmers were also able to enjoy access to facilities from the government and other organizations for them to enhance their productivity.

The crops development project is now in its second year, with more capacity development and increase in premiums for IP farmers underway for them.

The Peace and Equity Foundation aspires to drive positive change in poor Filipino household communities by investing in social enterprises that will provide them with viable livelihood and better access to basic services. We work with partners who share this vision by developing models and best practices that will steer social enterprises to scale up. Founded in October 2001, our Foundation is the steward of an endowment fund and registered as a non-stock, non-profit organization based in Quezon City, Philippines.

PLDT Enterprise, Cloudstaff cement decade-long partnership with expanded productivity services

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PLDT Enterprise—the B2B arm of the largest integrated telecommunications company in the Philippines PLDT—and Cloudstaff Modern Workforce—one of the Philippine’s leading business outsourcing providers—continue to strengthen their ongoing partnership with the signing of a new three year service extension agreement to further drive innovation and enhance business productivity.


The latest deal fortifies the longstanding partnership between Cloudstaff and PLDT Enterprise as the outsourcing leader extended its decade long association with Google Workspace, renewing licenses for its 3000+ staff spread across the Philippines.


“We would like to express our utmost gratitude to Cloudstaff Modern Workforce for their continued trust in us after all these years. Likewise, we at PLDT Enterprise convey our unbreakable commitment in helping their business grow and become even more successful with our end-to-end digital services,” said Jovy Hernandez, ePLDT President & CEO and SVP & Head for PLDT and Smart Enterprise Business Groups.

Cloudstaff’s long association with the PLDT Group has organically evolved throughout the partnership, originally starting as a telecom provider, before transforming into a fully-fledged solutions partner.

PLDT has previously provided Cloudstaff internet connectivity through PLDT ClarkTel and wireless mobile plans via its wireless arm Smart Communications. Today, PLDT Enterprise, now supplies Cloudstaff with a series of world class digital solutions including Smart Bizload and Messaging Suite, Google Workspace, and Smart 5G Rocket WiFi through its ICT arm ePLDT to further boost Cloudstaff’s operations and productivity.

Cloudstaff CEO, Lloyd Ernst, says the secret to the partnership's ongoing success and longevity stems from the agile and adaptable way in which both organizations approach their operations.

“The Cloudstaff - PLDT relationship is a powerful combination,” Ernst said. “For us to succeed in a competitive and ever changing global market, we need a partner that is both reliable and adaptable, and never have we seen these qualities shine through more than in the way PLDT has provided a way forward throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic.”

“For over ten years now, Cloudstaff has been striving to change the way the world approaches outsourcing through the use of technology driven solutions and Google and PLDT have been there with us every step of the way,” Ernst added.

Likewise, Chito Franco, PLDT ClarkTel President, also expressed the PLDT Group’s enthusiasm for providing Cloudstaff with the leading digital solutions needed for conducting business on the global stage.

"For the last ten years, we at the PLDT Group have continuously strived to understand the growing requirements of Cloudstaff for us to provide the most suitable services that will help them reach more customers with their next-generation outsourcing platform. And today, we fortify that commitment especially as we help digitally transform its business," said Franco.

For Cloudstaff’s Head Network and Security engineer, Arvin Cubacub, the extension of the partnership means accelerating Cloudstaff’s rapid growth. “Continuing to have PLDT onboard providing our Google Workspace requirements over the course of the next three years is a key milestone for us. It gives us the confidence we need to grow and expand our services into new global markets, and provides our customers with one of the world’s most versatile and secure platforms, fully backed by PLDT’s unwavering support," he concluded.

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About PLDT Enterprise

PLDT Enterprise is the preferred digital services partner of the B2B market. As the corporate business unit of the PLDT Group, its vision is to make a positive impact on every single business by simplifying the complex for various industries. With its wide range of fixed line, wireless, and ICT services—which run on the Philippines’ most extensive fiber optic backbone, cellular network, and data center footprint—it continues to deliver solutions that create real value for every customer.

About Cloudstaff

Cloudstaff is a premium outsourcing provider that helps businesses to grow and achieve greater sustainability by providing high quality staff, world class facilities, and removing the burdens of recruitment, HR, and payroll.

With over ten years of operation, Cloudstaff employs over 3000 staff across eight premium office locations in the Philippines, and boasts a 98.1% staff retention rate. Investing heavily in technology and innovation, Cloudstaff is a market leader, providing next generation outsourcing solutions to a global client base.


PLDT Enterprise supports Project Balik Buhay for vaccine rollout in Visayas

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PLDT Enterprise, the B2B arm of the largest integrated telecommunications company in the Philippines PLDT, has teamed up with Project Balik Buhay (PBB) of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) to help fast-track the rollout of COVID vaccination programs in the Visayas, particularly in Cebu.

Together with the Department of Health – Region 7 (DOH7), Regional Development Council – Region 7 (RDC7), Cebu local government units, and other private institutions, PBB is a public-private partnership aimed at saving lives and the livelihood of Cebuanos amid the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.

PLDT Enterprise will provide strong internet connectivity in over 20 vaccination centers in the region to support the program’s data management systems.

DOH-7 Regional Director Dr. Jaime Bernadas expressed his gratitude to all the institutions that have contributed to assist the successful implementation of vaccination programs in the region. “We shall all campaign to have our people get vaccinated so that we can achieve the very critical target of at least 70 percent, if not 100 percent of the population. It is a very difficult task and the health sector itself cannot do this alone,” Bernadas added.

Meanwhile, ePLDT President and CEO and SVP and Head for PLDT and Smart Enterprise Business Groups Jovy Hernandez said that this collaboration is part of PLDT Enterprise’s efforts to help the country rise against this pandemic. “PLDT Enterprise will continue to stand together with other institutions and extend as much assistance as we can to help overcome this crisis through technology,” Hernandez said.

Likewise, PLDT Enterprise AVP and Head of Corporate Relationship Management for Visayas Jimmy Chua added that this PBB partnership is their way of instilling hope to businesses affected in Cebu. “Through supporting the vaccination programs with connectivity, we hope that this would give a boost to industries as we are slowly working our way to recovery,” said Chua.

Since last year, the PLDT Group, through its various business units, has been enabling government initiatives and the private sector in providing relief to Filipinos in the form of affordable and free connectivity, empowerment of communities, and donation drives.

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pH loses P 260B to Smoking Annually

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‘Tobacco CSRs are a distraction to the real cost of smoking’ - law group

Every year, the country loses at least 260 billion pesos due to tobacco-related healthcare cost and productivity losses, according to law group ImagineLaw, citing data from the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA).

“The tobacco industry is an economic liability,” said Atty. Anna Bueno, ImagineLaw policy associate. “Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and donations from tobacco companies are insignificant compared to the real costs of smoking,” she added.

Aside from killing 117,000 Filipinos every year due to cigarettes and second-hand smoke, tobacco-related healthcare costs took away 65.80 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2012, according to the law group, citing the same report.

While the country loses at least 260 billion pesos yearly due to tobacco-related healthcare costs, taxes collected from cigarettes amounted to P148.45 billion in 2020, according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Despite these alarming numbers, the tobacco industry continues to sell and market a product that kills half of its users, according to the law group. “In the time of a pandemic where it has been shown that smokers are at a greater risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes, tobacco companies’ CSR activities are nothing but distractions and a way to relax tobacco control policies,” Atty. Bueno also said.

Tobacco-related illnesses translate to financial losses in the workforce, according to the law group. “These illnesses force an individual to temporarily or permanently stop going to work, contributing to major losses in human productivity,” the lawyer said.

“The Philippines is losing so much to the tobacco industry. We are not only talking about billions of pesos, we are also losing dreams and aspirations. Imagine a father, who has just entered the productive years of his life, falling victim to a lung disease caused by smoking,” she said. “You mourn the life of the father, but the burden of his death also affects a whole family in ways we cannot even begin to imagine.”

”No act of public relations or PR can mask the reality that tobacco is dangerous and deadly,” ImagineLaw emphasized. “The tobacco industry’s donations are nothing compared to the amount of resources it depletes and the number of lives it claims.”

“Instead of falling into the PR trap of cigarette companies, the government should boost its anti-smoking campaigns and strengthen smoking cessation programs,” urged Atty. Bueno. “The government should also continue to reject any move by the tobacco companies and their fronts to relax tobacco control policies,” she added.

The law group declared that tobacco companies should be held liable by the government for making smokers and secondhand smokers more susceptible to severe COVID-19 symptoms. “Tobacco companies put public health at risk, there’s no denying that,” added Atty. Bueno.

“Now, more than ever, the government needs to remain steadfast against moves by the tobacco industry to interfere with our public health policies. These policies should be upheld and their implementation strengthened. What we urgently need is a stronger public health system, not tactical donations that are only meant to take away our resources and lives,” she concluded.

DOTr Inspection of the Pangasinan Port Cluster Development Project

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Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade vows to further promote development in Pangasinan through vital transport infrastructure projects and other transport initiatives as he led the inspection of the Pangasinan Port Cluster Development Project today, 10 June 2021, in Lingayen.
Secretary Tugade proceeded to the province’s capital to inspect the two (2) DOTr social and tourism port projects in Brgy. Capandanan and Brgy. Pangapisan. These much-needed projects that locals have waited for a long time, now provide a convenient docking area for fisherfolks and allow reduced travel time for locals from one destination to another.

“Pakikinabangan ng Pangasinan ang mga proyektong ito dahil sa pag-unlad ng turismo, ng ekonomiya. Dito sa munting proyektong ito ay tinatanim ang punla to realize the President’s mandate of connectivity and convenience,” Sec. Tugade said.

*Pangasinan Port Cluster Development Project*

During the inspection, local leaders and several fisherfolks expressed their gratitude to Sec. Tugade for the completion of the port projects. They emphasized that the rock causeway with stair landing in Barangay Capandanan and the river landing in Barangay Pangapisan have been game changers for serving as ideal docking areas and convenient facilities for loading/unloading of incoming/outgoing local products, particularly agricultural and marine products in the locality.

The projects were completed in 2018 by the DOTr Maritime sector, together with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) under the leadership of General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago.

“Malaki ‘ho ang naibibigay na gaan sa pasanin ng ating mga kababayan ang port projects na ito dahil bukod sa pagpapabilis ng biyahe ng ating mga kababayan, maayos na rin ang docking area para sa unloading at loading ng mga isda at agricultural products ng ating mga mangingisda o ibang lokal na residente,” Secretary Tugade pointed out.

“Apo, Secretary, you earned the respect of our congressmen and congresswomen especially when you present yourself, and the ideals, and the plans, programs and actions of the Department. You earned the admiration and respect of Congress where I used to belong. Our beloved Secretary approved the upgrading of our river landing facility. Here in Lingayen, we are supportive of your Department’s program of actions,” Lingayen Mayor Leopoldo Bataoil said.

To note, around 812 fisherfolks were given decent docking areas and venues for the loading/unloading of agricultural products in their communities. Currently, 2,079 residents of Brgy. Capandanan are also ferried to Brgy. Pangapisan, especially those who are studying and working in Lingayen.

From a 30-minute travel by land, the development of the river landings reduced the travel time from Pangapisan to Capandanan and vice versa to just 3-5 minutes.

“Napakahalaga itong nagawang project. Ang barangay namin ang pinakamahirap sa buong Lingayen. Maraming salamat sa DOTr, lalo na kay Secretary Art Tugade dahil naaksyunan ang aming request. Maraming pangarap ang natupad dito sa tinatawag naming Bantayan. Maganda ang kapakinabangan nito sa amin lalo na sa mga estudyante, fisherfolks. Noon kasi nahirapan kami noong pumutok ang Mt. Pinatubo, nagkaroon ng island kaya nawala 'yung tawiran. Hinihiling din po namin Secretary na sana matugunan ang request namin na second phase ng proyekto,” Brgy. Capandanan Chairman Diosdado Santiago Jr. said.

*Lingayen Airport Expansion*

Aside from the port projects, the DOTr and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) have also completed several airport projects, including in the Lingayen Airport. However, Sec. Tugade sees the need to further expand its runway for commercial operations.

“Kailangan ‘ho, para mailagay natin sa kategorya ng tourism airport ‘yan ay kailangang pahabain ko ang runway at ma-achieve ‘yung minimum na 1,300 kilometers to 1,500 kilometers. At dapat mapalapad ‘yung runway from what it is na 30 meters ngayon. Kailangan ma-achieve natin ‘yung 40 meters. Dagdagan namin five meters sa kaliwa, five meters sa kanan, nang sa ganon ay ma-achieve ‘yung requirement,” Secretary Tugade stated.

*Free Ride Program*

Another part of Sec. Tugade's Pangasinan visit was his dialogue with transport groups and stakeholders in Dagupan, Urdaneta, and Rosales, wherein vital road transport initiatives were discussed. These include the expansion of the Free Ride Service Program of the DOTr for healthcare workers and authorized persons outside residence (APORs) in Pangasinan.

The Transportation Chief added that the “Libreng Sakay” initiative will be expanded up to 10 routes to cover inter-towns in Pangasinan.


Louie Sangalang and Jessica Ramella Go Head-to-Head in the Season Finale of ‘The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition’

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After 12 weeks of demanding physical tasks, intense business challenges, and high drama, it all comes down to the season finale.

In the last episode of the inaugural season, ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong is joined by special guest Grab CEO Anthony Tan. The two put both finalists through the wringer and subject them to undoubtedly the toughest job interview of their lives.

From 16 global candidates handpicked from around the world, it's down to two finalists -- Singapore-based Sales Director Jessica Ramella from Venezuela and retired mixed martial artist-turned-entrepreneur Louie Sangalang from the Philippines.

The winner of the competition will take home a US $250,000 job offer to work directly under Chatri as his protégé in business, and be named ONE Championship’s new Chief of Staff.

Who will win season one of “The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition”? You’ll have to wait until the episode airs to find out. Catch the action tonight on AXN at 8:50PM and on Monday, June 14, on One Sports at 9PM. For more information and How to Watch, check out the official site at

About “The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition”

“The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition” invites 16 contestants handpicked from around the world to compete in a high-stakes game of business and physical challenges. The winner will receive a US$250,000 job offer to work directly under Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong for a year as his protege in Singapore.

Athletes appearing on the show include former ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben Askren, ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera, ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee, ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Champion Demetrious Johnson, Indian Wrestling Champion Ritu Phogat, and ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion Xiong Jing Nan, among others.

“The Apprentice” is one of the biggest non-scripted reality television programs in history, judging the business skills of candidates who are competing for a job offer under a high-profile CEO. It has aired in more than 120 countries. The first season of “The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition” consists of 13 episodes.

No Shortcuts to Success: 4Ps Success Story - ALS Student from Oriental Mindoro

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The 17-year-old child from Oriental Mindoro realized that there is no easy path to success. But with perseverance and determination, his little steps will go a long way. Thus even with fear and doubt in his heart, he keeps up with his dream and continues his journey to possibilities. 

The family of Christian Jay Jimenez lives in Brgy. Alma Villa, Gloria, Oriental Mindoro. At the age of 10, Christian and his eight siblings already lost their father. “Sampung taong gulang po ako noong pumanaw ang aking ama. Para mabuhay, sinikap po ng nanay ko maghanap ng pagkakakitaan kaya po siya pumasok sa pangangamuhan”. 

At a very young age, Christian already recognizes the hardships of her mother just to be able to provide for their family. His mother, Lourdes, earns Php 4,000.00 in a month for working as a stay-in house helper. Her mother’s income has to suffice for a month for the food and education of his eight siblings. “Noong lumalaki na po ako, nakikita ko na po yung tunay na ibig sabihin ng sadlak sa buhay. Hindi pala ganun kadali na magkaroon ng kaginhawaan sa katulad naming nagsimula talaga sa hirap”. Thus in his own way, Christian takes small steps to reach what his heart desires --- a better life for his siblings.

Believing in little steps

Being a beneficiary of the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), Christian gets the chance to attend Youth Development Session (YDS). Through the topics from the sessions, Christian realized that education is what he needs to be able to reach his dreams. 

“Dahil po sa YDS, sumubok po ako sa pag-aaral. Nag-Grade 1 po ako. Sinikap ko po na makisabay sa mga kaklase ko kahit na pitong taon po ang agwat ko sa kanila.”

Christian was already 10 years old when he enrolled in the first-grade at a regular school in Gloria, Oriental Mindoro. According to Christian, it was hard to keep up with his dreams because of his age. “Naging tampulan po ako ng pang-aasar ng aking mga kaklase. Dahil po doon, nahirapan po akong makipagsabayan sa kanila. Kaya nagdesisyon nalang po ako na huwag nalang pumasok at mag-aral”. 

The child once lost his interest in finishing his studies. Instead of attending classes, he has dedicated his time looking for jobs to help his mother provide for his siblings. Christian tried different jobs to earn a living. At the age of 14, he became a food vendor and a farmer. He was able to earn a small amount of money and this helped his mother Lourdes. 

But as Christian sees his siblings grow, Christian realizes that what he need is a permanent job so he can regularly give financial support to his other six siblings. “16 po ako noong sinubukan kong maghanap ng maayos na trabaho. Kaso hindi naman po ako natatanggap dahil Grade 1 nga lang ang natapos ko.”

Keeping up with his dreams

“Ang hirap po pala ng walang pinag-aralan. ‘Yung wala kang ibang alam kung hindi ang isulat lang po ang mga letra ng pangalan ko. E, pagbabasa nga po hindi ko kayang gawin kasi nga hanggang Grade 1 lang po ako. ‘Yun po yung naging dahilan ko kaya po nagdesisyon akong bumalik sa pag-aaral”. Thus even with fear and doubts in his heart, Christian went back to school in 2016 through the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program of the Department of Education (DepEd). 

With the support from the Municipal Link who monitors his family, Christian enrolled at the Gloria ALS Center. “Bumalik po ako sa pag-aaral. Gusto ko pong ipagpatuloy ‘yung naudlot kong pangarap. Gusto ko po kasing maging chef.” Christian realized that his dream to lift his family from poverty will never turn into a reality without any action. He believes that dreaming is the first step and there is no shortcut to success. 

For him, one should not just aspire for a better life because you also have to work for it. “Lagi pong sinasabi sa akin na libre lang ang mangarap. Kaso hindi po ata pwede na puro pangarap nalang ako. Kailangan ko rin pong tulungan ang sarili ko para matupad lahat ng mga pinapangarap ko. Gusto ko pong maiahon sa kahirapan ang pamilya namin. Saka gusto ko na pong umuwi si Nanay sa pangangamuhan.”

Indeed still a long road ahead of Christian towards his dream of becoming a chef but he knows that his journey to success has already begun when he took that one courageous step --- go back to school. From being a first-grader, he is now attending the Basic Literacy (Level 2) Program of ALS. Aside from knowing how to write the letters of his name, Christian also started to learn how to read.

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