Thursday, December 29, 2022

Society Pass/Thoughtful Media Group Acquires More Media, Indonesia-based Digital Design and Branding Agency

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Thoughtful Media Group Inc ("Thoughtful Media" or "TMG"), the Thailand-based social commerce-focused, premium digital advertising network of Society Pass Incorporated ("SoPa") (Nasdaq: SOPA), Southeast Asia's (SEA) next generation, data-driven, loyalty, fintech and e-commerce ecosystem, today announces the acquisition of More Media, a leading Indonesia-based creative design and branding agency. The More Media acquisition extends TMG's social commerce and influencer advertising business reach beyond Thailand and Vietnam and into the booming Indonesia digital advertising sector.

Founded in 2021 as an international caliber design and branding agency serving up-and-coming Indonesian companies in the beauty, F&B, e-commerce and logistics sectors, More Media has grown its client base through quick deployment of value-added services and understanding of the local market tastes. With its focus on storytelling and providing end-to-end branding services, More Media has onboarded a diverse roster of clients such as Langsre, Emilia, Kei Dining, and Allino. Post acquisition, More Media is re-branded as Thoughtful Media Indonesia with its Co-Founder, Eugenia Agnes Gusti, appointed as VP of Business Development for Thoughtful Media to drive sales and onboard Indonesia clients onto the regional TMG digital advertising platform.

Mr. Dennis Nguyen, Society Pass Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer/TMG Chairman, exclaims, "We are so excited to welcome Eugenia Agnes Gusti, Ursula Michelle and the rest of the More Media into our ever-expanding TMG platform. More Media seamlessly blends into our product and geographical growth strategy for TMG as we enter yet another leading SEA market. By combining More Media's market leading design and branding capabilities in Indonesia with TMG's social commerce and influencer advertising focused MPN, we leverage our storytelling capabilities and amplify SoPa's upcoming loyalty offering. And with this acquisition, TMG now operates in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. Since SoPa acquired TMG back in July 2022, TMG has grown from strength to strength with headcount growing from a dozen professionals to over 30 staff in just a matter of months. As we enter Singapore, Philippines, and Malaysia markets in 2023, TMG is uniquely positioned to be the premier SEA regional digital advertising agency offering a significant value proposition for advertisers, merchants and influencers in SEA's biggest economy."

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, the influencer advertising market grew to US$16.4 billion in 2022 and the value of social commerce sales growing to US$958 billion in 2022. And according to Strategic Market Research, with Asia representing 70% of the market, the global social commerce market size is expected to reach US$7 trillion by 2030, representing a CAGR of 30% from 2021. Well-positioned to benefit from these growth forecasts, Indonesia's digital advertising revenues are expected to soar this decade as increasingly more consumers make direct purchases on social media platforms, as social media sites are adopting innovative buying criteria and features, and as merchants incorporate shoppable posts and buy buttons on their respective pages. In addition, socially conscious consumers are influencing the evolution of the entire online retail industry. This trend comes as a result of the shifting inclination of brands from traditional celebrities to online influencers to endorse their products. Indeed, influencer marketing is quickly becoming an indispensable part of the mainstream branding strategies across organisations of all types.

"More Media is proud to officially merge with TMG. By joining forces with TMG's broad advertising network and SoPa's extensive ecosystem and large user and merchant bases in SEA, we are thrilled about expanding our business to fully become an end-to-end digital marketing company. According to Grand View Research, the global influencer marketing platform market size was valued at USD 10.39 billion in 2021 and is now expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33.4% from 2022 to 2030. With this explosion in influencer advertising and social commerce throughout SEA, Thoughtful Media Indonesia is well positioned to generate significant revenues in 2023 and occupies a central position in Indonesia's large and fast-paced growing advertising market, both online and offline," explains Ms. Eugenia Agnes Gusti, Co Founder, More Media.

About Society Pass Inc.

Founded in 2018 as a next generation, data-driven, loyalty, fintech and e-commerce ecosystem in the fast-growing markets of Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, which account for more than 80% of the SEA population, and with offices located in Angeles, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Manila, and Singapore, Society Pass Incorporated (Nasdaq: SOPA) is an acquisition-focused holding company operating 6 interconnected verticals (loyalty, digital media, travel, telecoms, lifestyle, and F&B), which seamlessly connects millions of registered consumers and hundreds of thousands of registered merchants/brands across multiple product and service categories throughout SEA.

Society Pass completed an initial public offering and began trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker SOPA in November 2021. SOPA shares were added to the Russell 2000 index in December 2021.

SoPa acquires fast growing e-commerce companies and expands its user base across a robust product and service ecosystem. SoPa integrates these complementary businesses through its signature Society Pass fintech platform and circulation of its universal loyalty points or Society Points, which has entered beta testing and is expected to launch broadly at the beginning of 2023. Society Pass loyalty program members earn and redeem Society Points and receive personalised promotions based on SoPa's data capabilities and understanding of consumer shopping behaviour. SoPa has amassed more than 3.3 million registered consumers and over 205,000 registered merchants and brands. It has invested 2+ years building proprietary IT architecture to effectively scale and support its consumers, merchants, and acquisitions.

Society Pass leverages technology to tailor a more personalised experience for customers in the purchase journey and to transform the entire retail value chain in SEA. SoPa operates Thoughtful Media Group, a Thailand-based, a social commerce-focused, premium digital advertising network; NusaTrip, a leading Indonesia-based Online Travel Agency; Gorilla Networks, a Singapore-based, web3-enabled mobile blockchain network operator;, Vietnam's leading lifestyle e-commerce platform;, a popular grocery delivery company in Philippines;, a premier online restaurant delivery service based in Vietnam; and, a leading local restaurant delivery service in Philippines.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

SSS records P236.3-B benefit disbursements from Jan-Nov 2022, up 13.2%

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The Social Security System (SSS) disbursed a total of P236.3 billion in benefits from January to November 2022, a growth of 13.2% from the P208.8 billion benefit disbursements it recorded for the same period last year.

SSS President and CEO Michael G. Regino said the rise in disbursements this year is driven by the increases in number of benefit claims, number of members and pensioners, and amount of benefit releases for retirement, disability, and death.

“For the first 11 months of 2022, we have received 4.58 million benefit claims. This is 7.3% higher than the 4.27 million benefit claims we received for the same period last year,” Regino said. “Our pensioners, which stood at three million in 2021, grew to 3.18 million by November 2022, while our retirement, disability, and death benefit monthly disbursements, which averaged at P16.6 billion in 2021, increased to P19.53 billion for January to November this year.”

From 2016 to 2021, the amount of SSS benefit disbursements and the number of claims also grew by an average of 11.4% and 7.9%, respectively, despite the 1% decrease in both in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The upward trend in SSS benefit payments in recent years is also attributed to the grant of additional monthly benefit, implementation of a new benefit program, and higher salary base for benefit computation.

In 2017, the SSS granted a P1,000 additional monthly benefit for pensioners pursuant to a Memorandum from the Executive Secretary dated 22 February 2017, by authority of the President of the Philippines.

In 2019, Republic Act (RA) No. 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018 was implemented, which, among other provisions, expanded the SSS’ mandatory membership coverage, introduced the Unemployment Benefit Program and Workers’ Investment Savings Program (WISP), and increased the minimum and maximum monthly salary credit (MSC).

In the same year, RA No. 11210 or the 105-day Expanded Maternity Leave Law was implemented, increasing the number of compensable days of maternity leave, from 60 days for normal delivery and 78 days for caesarian section delivery, to 105 days for live childbirth, regardless of the type of delivery, plus an additional 15 days if the female worker qualifies as a solo parent. The law also extended the maternity leave to every instance of pregnancy, miscarriage, or emergency termination of pregnancy (ETP), regardless of frequency, from the previous limit of only for the first four deliveries or miscarriages.

“With all these changes, we were able to disburse P1.20 trillion benefits through 23.87 million claims in less than six years, specifically from January 2017 to November 2022,” Regino said.

From 2011 to 2016, SSS’ benefit disbursements reached P606.47 billion for 16.79 million claims.

“As we continue to see higher benefit payments through these developments, it is equally important for us to also implement the scheduled reforms provided under the Social Security Act of 2018 that aim to strengthen the SSS fund for us to continue serving our current and future members and their beneficiaries,” he concluded.

Starting January 2023, the SSS will increase its contribution rate by 1%, making it 14% from the previous 13%. The employer's share of the contribution will rise to 9.5%, while the employee's share will remain at 4.5%. Self-employed, voluntary, and land-based Overseas Filipino Worker members, on the other hand, will shoulder the 1% increase. The minimum and maximum MSCs will also increase from P3,000 to P4,000 and P25,000 to P30,000, respectively.

Monday, December 26, 2022

#PHDigicon2022: “When I think about BOUNDLESS, I think that’s Magic Johnson!”

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After two years of holding the country’s most prestigious and one of the most sought-after thought leadership events in the Asia-Pacific Region virtually, PLDT Enterprise held the Philippine Digital Convention (PH Digicon) last October 27-28, 2022, face-to-face at the Marriott Grand Ballroom with a simultaneous broadcast online.

Highlighting the 2-day convention was the live interview with the legendary basketball icon Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson who strongly relates to the PH Digicon 2022 theme of BOUNDLESS. Hosted by PLDT Group Corporate Communications Head, Cathy Yap-Yang, Johnson fondly shares, “When I think about Boundless, I think that’s Magic Johnson!”

Raising awareness

In 1991, Johnson officially retired from his basketball career following the announcement of his diagnosis with HIV. In the same year, he founded the Magic Johnson Foundation, one of the most recognizable philanthropic organizations around the world today, which serves as a single-disease organization that works to raise funds for community-based organizations dealing with HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs.

Looking back, Johnson recalls the stigma and discrimination that used to rule the disease and how people talked in “hushed voices”. Now, people can openly talk about and discuss HIV/AIDS–all in the name of raising awareness of the disease.

Johnson’s ‘retirement’ didn’t hold him back to do what he loves most when he came back to play in the 1992 All-Star Game and won the All-Star MVP Award. He was also a part of the ‘Dream Team’ that won the Olympic gold medal in Barcelona during the 1992 Olympics.

“When I look at our team and our achievements, we changed the world when it comes to the NBA and when it came to basketball,” he says. “What we were able to accomplish in Barcelona, the way that the world accepted us, we’ve never seen anything like it. We won the gold medal, but we changed the game of basketball around the world forever. And I am happy to be part of that.”

Raising the next generation of entrepreneurs

Johnson is also the founder and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, a global empire with a wide range of business endeavors that range from sports ownership, food service, to media and entertainment. He may have come a long way from bringing coffee shops and cinemas into Urban America, but he remains committed to his mission of creating jobs and opportunities for minorities and women-owned firms. When asked about retirement, the NBA Hall of Famer laughingly replied, “I am not built to slow down. I am a worker; I love to work, [and I bring] passion to my job every day.”

To prepare the next generation of dreamers and entrepreneurs, the NBA Hall of Famer, businessman, and philanthropist advised them about having a positive attitude despite setbacks, the importance of believing in one’s self, and having mentors–a role that he continues to play for many businesses, athletes, and his fans.

“My life is boundless. When I think of my journey, that’s the word I would use. I did everything that was not supposed to be done. When I think about boundless, I think that’s Magic Johnson! I was the first to go through a lot of doors, a man of color. Trust me, you can do it. Everybody out there, you can do it, you can have it, you can go do it, it’s all up to you.”

30 years later, after countless successful ventures, he shared, “Today, Magic’s court is the business world.”

Maintenance Medications 101: What They Are and How Do You Take Them Safely

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There are many types of medicines, based on a variety of factors. For example, if you base it on preparations, there are liquids, tablets, capsules, drops, and injections, among many others.

There are also over-the-counter or OTC medicines and prescription medicines. The former could be bought anytime, anywhere—you can even buy medicine online if you prefer this method of purchase. They are used to treat a variety of symptoms and minor illnesses. The latter, on the other hand, requires a valid prescription from a medical practitioner. You can also buy prescription medicines online; however, do note that not all online drugstores may have the facility to accept and verify digitally submitted prescriptions.

There are also medications issued based on whether the disease is acute or chronic. An acute disease or illness lasts for only a short while and can be treated with either OTC or prescription. Meanwhile, a chronic disease is a lifetime one with symptoms that are usually exclusively treated with prescription medications.

What Are Maintenance Medications?

The general term for medicines prescribed for chronic diseases is “maintenance.” This is because they are used to maintain the person’s health, while dealing with the symptoms of the illness. All maintenance medications are taken regularly, usually multiple times a day. However, there are also certain maintenance medications that may be reduced in frequency and dosage over time.

Most maintenance medications come in the form of tablets or capsules, although there are also a variety of preparations depending on the disease. For example, those living with asthma are usually given a corticosteroid inhaler.

Do note that there are both branded and generic maintenance medications. If you want to save a bit of money, you can opt for the latter. That said, some maintenance medications aren’t available as generics; if there are any issues with availability, make sure to ask your doctor about your options before buying any alternatives.

What Are Some of the Most Common Chronic Diseases or Health Conditions?

There are, sadly, plenty of chronic diseases. Even worse, there are times when two or more of these diseases can occur in one person.

Some of the most common chronic diseases that require treatment include:

● Alzheimer’s disease

● Acid reflux, ulcer, GERD, and similar gastric conditions

● Arthritis

● Asthma

● Allergies

● Depression

● Diabetes

● Fibromyalgia

● Gout

● Hypertension

● High cholesterol

● Immune disorders

● Parkinson’s disease

● Seizure disorders

How Do You Take Maintenance Medications Safely and Ensure Their Effectiveness?

As previously mentioned, maintenance medications are taken regularly. To make sure that they work as intended, you must follow the schedule prescribed by your doctor. You must also follow the correct dosage and administration method. If the instructions say the tablet must not be broken and must be allowed to dissolve on the tongue, do so. In case things are unclear, don’t be afraid to ask for clarifications from your doctor or the pharmacist.

Another important thing about maintenance medications is that you shouldn’t stop taking them abruptly or change the dose. Some drugs don’t have a discontinuation schedule, but most require tapering. So, before making any changes, talk to your doctor immediately so they can make adjustments to your prescription.

Here are other reminders to ensure the safety and effectiveness of your maintenance medications:

Take Your Medicine at the Same Time Each Day

If your doctor doesn’t give you any strict instructions as to when to take your medication, it’s best to take it at the same time each day so you don’t forget about it. Tie it with a habit, say after you wash your face in the morning or before you go to bed. This way, you’ll establish a routine that’s easy to follow.

In case you want to schedule your medication during mealtimes, make sure to check if the medicine should be taken on an empty or full stomach.

Use a Pill Container

It can be difficult to keep track of multiple maintenance medications. To help you stay organized, try using a pill container with compartments. Then, label each compartment with the day and time that you have to take the medicines.

Note that it’s not advisable to use pill containers for a large batch of medications, as this can compromise quality and stability. To avoid such a scenario, transfer only a few pills at a time to the container. In addition, make sure that your hands are clean and dry when making the transfer; wear sterile latex gloves if you must.

Use Visual Reminders

If you’re the type to need a reminder to take medications, try using visual cues like sticky notes. Place these in conspicuous places, such as the refrigerator door. Use bright colors and big letters so your reminders really grab your attention.

Keep Your Medications in Your Carry-On Luggage

For those who have to travel by plane, make sure to bring your medications with you in your carry-on luggage. This is important for a few reasons. First, you need access to your medications so you can take them on schedule. Second, a commercial plane’s cargo hold isn’t the most ideal environment to store medicines. Third, there’s always a risk that your luggage will be lost.

Aside from your medications, you should also bring a copy of your prescription with you. It’s also helpful to have a doctor’s note explaining what your medicines are and why you need them.

Medicines are effective ways to treat symptoms and ensure your good health even if you have a long-term condition. However, you need to use them properly in order to achieve their desired effects. Keep in mind the tips above and, when in doubt, consult your doctor.

Five Pinoys receive Lee Kuan Yew Senior Fellowship in Public Service

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Five Filipinos were recently inducted into Singapore’s highest and most prestigious program, the Lee Kuan Yew Senior Fellows in Public Service (LKYSF). The highly selective program only chooses a limited handful of Senior Fellows each year. Of the 56 leaders from across the world chosen for the Class of 2022, only five hailed from the Philippines – a testament both to the rigorous selection process as well as to the high caliber of the Senior Fellows themselves.

The LKYSF was developed and taught by world-renowned academicians and practitioners, exploring key issues of the decade and significant trends as well as critical insights into upcoming opportunities and challenges. It is tailored to senior-level leaders in public, private, and non-profit sectors, the rigorous curriculum works to develop the leadership and governance competencies of its Senior Fellows.

The Philippines was proudly represented by Environmental and Climate Change Research Institute President and Chairman Glenn Banaguas; Department of Information and Communications Technology Cybersecurity Bureau Director Maria Victoria Castro; Department of Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven; Securities and Exchange Commissioner Kelvin Lester Lee; and Department of Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Ocean Affairs Maria Angela Ponce.

Collectively, the Philippine fellows represent many years of public service expertise across a variety of disciplines and vital sectors.

Banaguas is a distinguished scientist and science diplomat, and one of the leading experts in environment, climate change, and disaster risk in Asia. He is also the Chairman of the ASEAN Science Diplomats and the US-ASEAN Fellows for Science and Technology, and the Climate Diplomat of the EU-Asia Expert Panel for Climate Diplomacy and Environmental Security. He is currently an Executive Fellow of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy in Switzerland and concurrently serves as an adviser and consultant for the United Nations. Banaguas is a United Nations Sasakawa and The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Laureate, as well as an Asia Leaders for Sustainability awardee.

Dir. Castro has been with the government for more than 25 years. She is the Head of the Cybersecurity Bureau of the Department of Information and Communications Technology and former Undersecretary of the Department. Prior to joining the DICT, she was with the National Security Council (NSC), where she handled matters of national significance. She has done public policy research in the area of crisis management and is an expert in the fields of food security, health security, non-proliferation, disaster management and monitoring, and most on-systems integration.

Atty. Joven is the Undersecretary for the International Finance Group of the Department of Finance. A CPA Board topnotcher, his services are highly sought-after in the areas of estate planning, corporate reorganizations, cross-border transactions, and tax advocacy. As a faculty member of the University of the Philippines College of Law, he has taught Wills and Estates, Income Taxation, Business Taxation, Credit Transactions, and Financial Accounting. He is licensed to practice law in the Philippines and the State of New York.

Atty. Lee is the Supervising Commissioner of the Markets and Securities Regulation Department and the Information and Communications Technology Department. He spearheaded the establishment of the International Affairs and Protocol Division and PhiliFintech Innovation Office of the Commission. He is a Philippine Representative to the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum (ACMF) and other international organizations. Prior to joining the Commission, Atty. Lee was an Assistant Secretary in the Office of the Executive Secretary, Office of the President (OP).

Atty. Ponce is presently the Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Ocean Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs. As the Legal Adviser of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations (UN) in New York, she commenced her work as Vice-Chairperson of the UN General Assembly’s Legal Committee in 2018. Ponce is also in charge of the Philippines-Vietnam Joint Permanent Working Group on Maritime and Ocean Concerns, which focuses on marine scientific research and marine environment protection, and capacity-building activities among maritime agencies and institutions in the Philippines and Vietnam.

Following the completion of the Senior Fellow Programme, they have since returned to the country and are currently making plans for their respective organizations for the coming year.

Photo Caption 

1st row (Left to Right): Maria Victoria Castro (DICT), Glenn Banaguas (ECCRI), Maria Angela Ponce (DFA)
2nd row (Left to Right): Kevin Lester Lee (SEC) and Mark Dennis Joven (DOF)
Courtesy of: Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore
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