Friday, January 13, 2023

#AlwaysTravelsafe: Travel worry-free this 2023

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Pacific Cross Travelsafe Plans offer benefits for travelers affected by flight disruptions

Pacific Cross provides travel insurance coverage for clients who were affected by the disruptions and technical issues in air traffic control at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last New Year’s Day. Through its Travelsafe Plan, Pacific Cross helps ease the burden of travel inconveniences by offering protection against flight delay, trip postponement, trip termination, among others.

“This 2023, we expect more Filipinos will be flying out of town or traveling outside the country. While this is exciting, there may be unexpected events that can negatively affect one’s trip. The NAIA incident is an example of where having travel insurance can help travelers manage the stress that comes from meeting the unexpected. We are happy that Pacific Cross is able to offer benefits and protection that can support clients at such a difficult time,” says Victor Tanjuakio, President & CEO of Pacific Cross Philippines.

A total of 361 flights were either delayed, canceled or diverted to other regional airports while around 56,000 passengers were affected on New Year's Day. The equipment that provided uninterrupted power supply in NAIA terminals went offline unexpectedly and failed to connect to Manila Electric Co.'s backup commercial power supply.


As one of the leading medical and travel insurance providers in the Philippines, Pacific Cross understands the burden of unforeseen inconveniences to travelers. As a testament to its commitment to providing reliable and relevant coverage, Pacific Cross offers Travel insurance products especially designed to address travel challenges such as missed connecting flights, trip cancellations or baggage delays.

Aside from these benefits, travelers are also assured of medical coverage (including for COVID-19), as well as emergency assistance benefits such as emergency medical evacuation, repatriation, care for minor children, compassionate visit, and return of mortal remains. Travelers can apply for individual, family, or group coverage, which are also available as peso, dollar, or euro plans. Pacific Cross is also Schengen-accredited.

Earlier this year, a study by Tangere revealed that five out of 10 Filipinos are ready to travel internationally. According to the Department of Tourism and the Philippine Statistics Authority, more than 37 million domestic trips were made in 2021, a 38.16% increase compared to the almost 27 million taken the previous year.

“Pacific Cross aims to ease some of the worries that come with unexpected situations during travel. With Travelsafe, we are able to give clients the peace of mind they need so they can enjoy their trips,” shares Mr. Tanjuakio.

Secure your trip today. Avail of a secure and convenient Travelsafe plan anytime, anywhere via Pacific Cross is #HereForYou.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

NYC & Company announced New York City Tourism reached 56.4 million visitors in 2022

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NYC & Company, the official destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau for the five boroughs of New York City, announced that New York City’s economic recovery continued in 2022 with an anticipated 56.4 million travelers arriving in the City by the end of the year—a 71.4% increase over 2021. The City will see 47.4 million domestic and 8.9 million international travelers visit the five boroughs—with international visitation alone more than tripling over 2021. This activity marks the return of 85% of the City’s record 2019 visitation levels; New York City remains on pace to attract 61.7 million visitors in 2023. The pace of tourism’s rebound helps fuel the City’s economic recovery supporting approximately 410,000 jobs in the full leisure and hospitality sector and more than $40 billion in direct visitor spending or approximately $60 billion in total economic impact for the year.   

“New York City's economy continues to surge back with thriving tourism as domestic and international travelers seek the magic of the Big Apple,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “Continuing to make New York a must-see destination for work or play and supporting our city’s tourism industry is critical to bringing jobs back to pre-pandemic levels.” 

“New York City has always proven itself to be resilient, and we have every reason to remain optimistic about tourism,” said NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon. “With $40 billion in direct spend and a 71.4% increase in visitation, New York City as a destination has clearly demonstrated that its recovery pace is among the strongest in the country and that normal visitation patterns are returning.”   

“The strength of New York City’s economy has historically been bolstered by a strong tourism sector, which now accounts for 9% of the City’s jobs and supports thousands of businesses citywide,” said NYC & Company Board Chair and The Shubert Organization Executive Vice President Charles Flateman. “Ongoing investments in transportation, hotels, arts, attractions and other related sectors in the coming years will ensure the City’s growth by reaffirming New York City as a premier destination for business and leisure travel.”   

Several factors contributed to the City’s tourism rebound: throughout 2022, New York City saw a steady return of visitors across all five boroughs with travel activity beginning to return to pre-pandemic patterns. The demand for hotels remained strong and was supported by a steady increase in midweek business travel. Meetings and conventions activity increased citywide with the Javits Center seeing a 15% increase from August to December 2022 as compared to the same period in 2021. In addition, the resumption of airline service routes, the continuation of infrastructure investments throughout the pandemic, and the addition of new tourism offerings, programs and major events across the five boroughs have been critical to attracting visitors back to the City and encouraging spending activity. Tax revenue generated by visitor spending saved each New York City household approximately $2,000 in 2022.   

Hotel performance grew throughout 2022 and is forecast to reach nearly 32 million room nights sold, just 20% below 2019 record levels. New York City is again among the top 25 US markets and was the highest-performing hotel city in the US in November and December 2022. For the week ending December 10, hotel demand recovered 96% of the 2019 benchmark with over 800,000 room nights sold. Hotel occupancy was over 90% and the Average Daily Rate (ADR) was over $400, which translates to a recovery of 124% of 2019 rates.   

Tourism and hospitality-related jobs in accommodations, restaurants, shops, museums, theaters, transportation and attractions across all five boroughs also saw steady improvement—although still below pre-pandemic levels—with a roughly 13% increase. As of October 2022, there were over 410K people employed in the full leisure and hospitality sector, accounting for 9% of all jobs in the City. The hotel sector, more specifically, also saw an increase in job strength, reaching 37,300 through October 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.   

New York City remains the largest point of entry to the US and a top destination for international travelers. International visitation, which accounts for nearly half of visitor spending, rebounded in 2022 with arrivals tripling over 2021 for a total of nearly 9 million travelers. Western European visitation rebounded significantly in 2022 after travel restrictions were removed at the end of 2021. In addition, travel from South America improved—from Brazil and Colombia in particular. In 2022, New York City’s five largest international markets were the United Kingdom (754,000), Canada (656,000), France (607,000), Brazil (520,000) and Spain (413,000).

Ongoing investment across New York City’s five boroughs will support ongoing tourism growth. These projects include a multibillion-dollar slate of improvements at LaGuardia, Newark-Liberty and John F. Kennedy airports; a new Moynihan Train Hall; and an expanded Javits Center to host business meetings and conventions. More than 11,000 hotel rooms will be added to the City’s inventory in the next three years and new attractions, museums, tours and other offerings continue to launch across the City. New York City will also benefit from major events in the coming years, including the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop beginning in 2023 and the hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2026.  

Japan-affiliated Telco InfiniVAN partners with largest privately owned industrial estate, LIMA, to advance its network infrastructure

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Japan-affiliated telco InfiniVAN, Inc. continued to expand its fiber optic network infrastructure footprint by formally teaming up with LIMA Estate in Malvar, Batangas in a strategic partnership ceremony held last December to provide the country’s biggest privately-owned industrial estate with its network infrastructures.

The Aboitiz-owned, 800-hectare PEZA-registered economic zone, whose locators currently employ more than 65,000, will rely on InfiniVAN to provide backbone connectivity and ensure safe and reliable internet services to the mixed-use development hub. LIMA Estate currently hosts 140 locators, 167 retail stores and restaurants, a 4-star hotel, a transportation hub and over 4,000 households.

LIMA is part of the multi-awarded Aboitiz InfraCapital Economic Estates that also includes the 540- hectare West Cebu Estate in Balamban, Cebu, and the 63-hectare Mactan Economic Zone 2 Estate in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu. Spanning over 1,400 hectares, and home to 200 companies — the multi-awarded Economic Estates are supported by a complete ecosystem of infrastructure facilities and services, operated by Aboitiz affiliates including Aboitiz InfraCapital, Aboitiz Power, and Aboitiz Construction.

The partnership agreement was signed by LIMA Estate’s Vice President for Operations, Clifford Academia and InfiniVAN’s Chief Operating Officer, Engr. Edgardo A. Opulencia.

InfiniVAN executives Shigeki Nakahara and Takeshi Ohba, together with LIMA Estate’s Vice President for Operations Clifford Academia, and Estate Operations Manager, Nido Villaflores, Jr. attended the signing ceremony.

“LIMA Estate is a thriving industrial-anchored mixed-use estate hosting about 140 companies that are into export, warehousing, and logistics. Adding to that, our fast-growing LIMA Central Business District increases the demand for fast and seamless connectivity for our tenants and customers. With InfiniVAN coming into the Estate, we are assured of a quality network redundancy, increasing our capacity to serve high-grade, fast, and reliable internet connection for our stakeholders. Ultimately, as we transform LIMA Estate into a smart and next-generation city, we also aim to create a great LIMA experience for our locators and customers,” said LIMA Estate’s VP for Operations, Clifford Academia during an exclusive interview.

InfiniVAN, Inc. is in full support of LIMA Estate’s objectives. Engr. Opulencia for his part declared that the “partnership with LIMA Estate is more than just a collaboration; it is a bond towards supporting innovations, improving productivity and attaining the maximum potential for all businesses that locate within the Estate.”

Get to know more of these breakthroughs and visit

Let’s Talk About Art

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Instituto Cervantes will be holding the round table discussion “Let’s Talk About Art”. The event will be taking place on Sunday, January 15 at 2:00 PM in the Intramuros branch of Instituto Cervantes (Calle Real, Plaza San Luis, Intramuros). The speakers of the said discussion are Filipina artist Phyllis Zaballero, art collector and connoisseur Jaime Laya, and former Secretary of Tourism Gemma Cruz Araneta. The event’s moderator will be Instituto Cervantes’ director Javier Galván.

Prior to the discussion, there will be a tour of the exhibit “Fondly Remembering Spain”, also organized by Instituto Cervantes, which features Phyllis Zaballero’s paintings from her memories of Spain. The discussion will begin with these paintings and delve into Philippine art and Contemporary art.

Admission is free and open to all. To confirm your attendance, please send an email to For further information, please visit Instituto Cervantes' Facebook page (InstitutoCervantesManila) or Instagram (institutocervantesmanila).

SSS welcomes new president and CEO

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Former Social Security System (SSS) President and CEO Michael G. Regino (right) turned over the leadership of the SSS to newly appointed Acting President and CEO Rolando L. Macasaet (left) in a ceremony held on January 10, 2023, at the SSS Main Office in Quezon City.

In his message, Regino expressed his support to Acting President and CEO Macasaet and the SSS, encouraging them to set a higher standard of excellence for the benefit of Filipino workers.

In response, Macasaet acknowledged Regino’s efforts that steered the SSS to new heights. He vowed to continuously build on the institution’s path of growth, look for new ways to holistically improve the institution, including its workforce, and work doubly hard to provide current and future SSS members and their beneficiaries with meaningful social security protection.

Macasaet is the 20th President and CEO of the SSS. He will now be responsible for the general conduct of the operations and management functions of the SSS, carrying out of its programs, and implementation of the policies of the Social Security Commission (SSC), the highest governing board and policy-making body of the SSS. Also, he will take on the role of Vice-Chairperson of the SSC.

Macasaet takes over helm of SSS from Regino

President and Chief Executive Officer Rolando Ledesma Macasaet formally assumed the post as the 20th head of the Social Security System (SSS) from outgoing PCEO Michael Gonzales Regino during the turnover ceremonies held at the Magsaysay Hall of the SSS main office in East Avenue, Quezon City Tuesday, January 10, morning.

Macasaet, who held the position of President and General Manager of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) during the last four years of the Duterte administration, was appointed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to head the SSS last week.

In his brief speech, Macasaet assured the SSS officials and employees that under his stewardship, the agency will continue with the reforms and innovations started by Regino to provide better social services to workers and pensioners.

“I will continue with the path of growth started by PCEO Regino and explore new ways for the benefit of members, pensioners, and other stakeholders,” Macasaet said. “We will work doubly hard to provide our current members and pensioners what is just and due to them without jeopardizing the financial protection of members and future pensioners,” he added.

The new SSS Chief said he was grateful to President Marcos for giving him the opportunity to serve under his administration by overseeing the state-run pension fund for those in the private sector.

"President Ferdinand R. Marcos has high expectations from us to provide guaranteed safety nets to the Filipino people," Macasaet said. "We have to work doubly hard so we could provide our current members and pensioners on what is just and due to them without putting in jeopardy the financial protection of current members and future pensioners."

At the same time, Macasaet commended Regino for his dedicated hard work and professionalism as PCEO and for instituting various reforms and programs that made SSS a leading social protection institution in the country today.

“PCEO Regino managed to transform the agency into a government show window of reform, efficacy, and dedicated public service,” Macasaet said. “The records will show that under his leadership, the SSS achieved new heights in improved social security services, in better coverages and benefits to pensioners, in providing equitable loans, better investments and improved collections.”

Earlier in his own speech, Regino urged Macasaet, whom he described as his personal friend, to continue with the implementation with the innovations he introduced that will result to better services to at least 3.1 million SSS pensioners in the country.

Macasaet took his Oath of Office before Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin in Malacañang on January 5, 2023. Regino served as SSS PCEO for nine months after being appointed by former President Rodrigo Duterte in March 2022. Before that, he was a member of the Social Security Commission, the highest policy-making body of the SSS.

Both Macasaet and Regino are natives of Zamboanga City and were high school classmates at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University class of 1977. They started their professional careers in Metro Manila and were appointed to key positions during the Duterte administration.

During his term, Regino said the SSS increased its efficiency, built its investment portfolio, and ensured the timely and proper delivery of benefits to SSS members. In his nine-months as PCEO, Regino implemented innovative programs that benefit its members and employers.

Among these programs are the flexible contribution payment schedule for farmers and fishermen, the Contribution Subsidy Provider Program, the Consolidation of Past Due Short-Term Member Loans with Condonation of Penalty, Contribution Penalty Condonation Programs (CPCPs) for business and household employers, and the Workers’ Investment and Savings Program (WISP) Plus. The SSS also disbursed a record of P238 billion in benefits to members, pensioners, and their beneficiaries.

Before joining SSS, Macasaet had an extensive experience in public service as he served in various leadership capacities in several Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) from 1988 to 2005, such as the Philippine National Construction Corporation, Dasmariñas Industrial Steel Corporation, Skyway Corporation, and Tierra Factors Corporation.

Moreover, he has more than two decades of professional experience in financial services, banking, and public-private partnerships, most of it under the Philippine National Bank (PNB), which makes him a perfect fit to manage the pension fund. He also served as a Board Member of various companies such as San Miguel Corporation, Bank of Commerce, Private Infrastructure and Development Corporation, and PCI Bank.

Macasaet worked for the Bank of Montreal, served as Director of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in Beijing and with the PNB as vice president in Los Angeles and ASEAN based in Singapore.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics, Cum Laude, from the University of the Philippines and has earned a Master of Business Administration from the same university. He also finished an Executive Program in Finance at Columbia University and a Diploma in Management at Harvard Business School, both in the United States.

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