Friday, January 19, 2024

Rising Indie OPM band Brando Ball inks deal with Warner Music Philippines

Wazzup Pilipinas!?

Brando Bal, an up-and-coming indie OPM band, officially sealed an exclusive music distribution contract with Warner Music Philippines on Friday, January 12th, 2024. The contract signing took place at the Warner Music Philippines Office in BGC, Taguig City, marking a significant milestone in the band's promising musical journey. Present at the contract signing were key representatives, including Brando Bal's Manager, John Lloyd Elsisura and Warner Music Philippines A&R Director, Kelley Mangahas.

Warner Music Philippines, a regional branch of the global music powerhouse Warner Music Group, has been a prominent label in the Philippines' music landscape since its inception in 1977. The label has played a pivotal role in launching and nurturing numerous Filipino music artists and bands, such as Dilaw, Lola Amour, Felip, Arthur Miguel, and international artists like Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Dua Lipa, and Cardi B.

Brando Bal is one of the fast-rising OPM bands in the indie music scene in the Philippines. Formed in 2020, the band is composed of Mark Brando Baloloy on guitar and vocals, Allen Lestingyo on guitar, Marjun Gonzales on bass, Zedrick Lara on keys, and Merwin Hipona on drums. Their unique blend of soulful Blues, Pop Rock, and Alternative Rock has carved a distinctive niche in the indie music scene.

Popularly known for their hit single "Anghel", which has garnered over 4.1 million streams on Spotify, resonating with listeners through its relatable lyrics and catchy melodies. Moreover, the band released an EP titled "Experimental," featuring tracks like “Pag-Ibig,” which has received more than 1.1 million streams on Spotify, alongside "Bituin sa Langit," "Ulan," and “Mga Demonyo.” This collection highlights their versatility and bold exploration of different musical genres.

Expressing enthusiasm about the partnership, Mark Brando Baloloy, the frontman of Brando Bal, shares, "2024 marks a new era, new music for brando bal. This partnership with Warner Music Philippines will help us tap into our full potential in the music industry and share more music with our BB's and listeners. We're grateful for the continuous love and support they have shown us from the start, and we're excited to take the next step in our journey with them."

Reflecting on the milestone, John Lloyd Elsisura, Manager of Brando Bal, said, "It's a significant milestone for us, and we extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Warner Music Philippines team for this opportunity. We are looking forward to a fruitful partnership and the exciting journey ahead."

The partnership between Brando Bal and Warner Music Philippines promises fresh sounds and exciting musical experiences after a three-year hiatus of the band, setting the stage for an exhilarating new chapter in OPM. Watch out, as it's set to become the next big thing in OPM.

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Sinulog spirit in full swing: travel with MPT DriveHub for a chance to win big

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The most anticipated cultural and religious event in Cebu City is returning with a renewed sense of vigor. With the scheduled activities in full swing in the lead-up to the Grande Parade proper, the Queen City of the South also faces its usual major influx of seasonal tourists.

Yes—along with the colors, pageantry, and rich history of Sinulog comes one seemingly insurmountable hurdle: bumper-to-bumper traffic. But the MPT DriveHub app by MPT Mobility (the innovations arm of Metro Pacific Tollway Corporation or MPTC) is exactly what travelers need to improve and bring back the fun into those inevitable road trips.

The MPT DriveHub app was developed to meet the changing needs of the economy—for Cebu in particular, this is best reflected in the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway. More than an iconic symbol of the locality’s progress, CCLEX is also the most convenient entry and exit point to visit popular destinations such as the Mactan shrine, Olango Island, and Fort San Pedro. This January, it serves as the gateway to Cebu’s most colorful festivities—in particular, motorists traveling on the bridge itself will get a great view of the Fluvial Parade that will sail beneath it on the morning of January 20.

The Cultural Shows by the surrounding universities and the Department of Education (January 16-18) are also not to be missed; the festival also continues its nightly tradition of Sinulog Idol, leading up to its grand finale on January 18, promising the best in local musical talent.

Amidst all this tradition, however, is the continuing digital shift to convenient cashless payments, which makes MPT DriveHub an all-in-one travel essential for festival-goers. With the app, users will be able to get real-time traffic advisories on the way, as well as instantly load and conveniently check one’s RFID balance—which not only saves time on the road but earns points in MPT Mobility’s ongoing Happy Holideals promo. For each reload of the P200 denomination via the MPT DriveHub App, users earn an additional 1 point (non-cumulative). Every point is equivalent to 1 raffle entry, serving as a golden ticket to the grand raffle draw—the more points collected, the better one’s chances of winning!

Users both in and outside of Cebu City can also earn points by passing at least four times through any of the MPTC expressways: CCLEX, NLEX, NLEX Connector, CALAX, SCTEX, CAVITEX, and CAVITEX C5 LINK. Opportunities to do so abound until March 7, 2024, at which time two lucky MPT DriveHub app users can drive home one of two brand-new Chevrolet Tracker LS, be one of ten lucky recipients of a PHP 100,000, or one of 40 winners of PHP 50,000.

Motorists new to MPT DriveHub will find that now is the perfect time to download the app from the App Store or Google Play Store and link an Easytrip or CCLEX RFID, to receive 2 points instantly.

For more information, visit the MPT DriveHub or MPT Mobility websites.

Benefits of registering crypto projects in Poland

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Poland is a European hub for the legal registration of crypto projects

Projects in the cryptocurrency sphere have now established themselves as a major player in the international economy, posing new challenges to established financial institutions while also providing lucrative answers. Poland is becoming one of the most important European nations for the official registration of cryptocurrency enterprises. It is playing an increasingly important role in the cryptocurrency scene, and this article explains why setting up shop there is a good idea.

Overview of the Cryptocurrency Landscape in Poland

Anticipated to generate €279 million in sales in 2023 and a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.48% from 2023 to 2027, Poland's digital assets sector is booming. The market may be worth roughly twenty times as much as Estonia's digital asset market by 2027, when it might reach €431.5 million. The user base is expected to expand significantly, reaching approximately 7.85 million users by 2027.

It’s not just the projections, it’s the overall crypto-friendly atmosphere that makes Poland attractive. After seeing the promise in cryptocurrencies, the Polish government created laws to control these digital assets. The National Tax Service has recently mandated that all entrepreneurs dealing with virtual assets, such as cryptocurrencies and NFTs, must register. Now, a crypto license in Poland is a must.

Legal and Regulatory Framework in Poland

In Poland, there isn't a specific regulatory framework for cryptocurrency initiatives. Rather, a number of industries dealing with cryptocurrency are subject to broader financial, investment, or AML regulations. 

When it comes to regulating cryptocurrency and other forms of digital currency investment, the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (PFSA) is king.

The PFSA published its stance on various tokens in December 2020, stressing the need to study the regulatory landscape before launching any endeavors. Anything having to do with cryptocurrency, especially if it might be considered an investment instrument, is under the purview of the PFSA.

In spite of the fact that it does not directly provide licenses to cryptocurrency exchanges, the PFSA does exert influence via its broad regulatory authorities. Under Polish anti-money-laundering law, every action involving the exchange of virtual currencies must first be recorded in the virtual currency activity registry.

Crypto assets are closely watched by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (OCCP), which takes action against firms that mislead customers or make fraudulent promises. The PFSA is worried that virtual currencies might be used for illicit purposes, such as evading global economic penalties.

Poland has a relatively lax regulatory environment for crypto-assets when compared to other European nations. In order to control the cryptocurrency industry, Poland uses preexisting banking, investment, and money-laundering laws, in contrast to certain nations that have passed cryptocurrency-specific legislation.

Benefits of Registering Crypto Projects in Poland

Poland is well-positioned to become a center for the legal registration of cryptocurrency projects in Europe. It provides several benefits for companies wanting to get into this growing market. Among these advantages are:  Fast Project Implementation Time;  No Obligatory Local Staff Member;  No Share Capital Requirement;  Possibility to Purchase an Off-the-Shelf Solution;  Tax Benefits and Incentives.

Case Studies: Success Stories in Poland

Poland really has the makings of a blockchain innovation hotspot, as seen by the success of many crypto initiatives there. Some notable examples of success are:

1. RedStone Finance. When it comes to DeFi, Smart Contracts, and Web3, RedStone Finance is a hit. It’s a data ecosystem that uses both real-world and bespoke data. As a part of its efforts to harness the Web3 potential, RedStone offers dependable and inexpensive data feeds to other chains by using the Arweave blockchain.

2. Tecra Space. Tecra is an innovative startup operating in the blockchain ecosystem, with projects like Tecra Space, TecraCoin, and TecraDex. Tecra's advanced business model and unique solutions contribute to digital development globally, showcasing the diverse opportunities available for crypto projects in Poland.

3. BlockBank. Bitcoiners may take advantage of BlockBank, a fintech credit union that was the first of its kind. Within the context of Poland's legislative environment, this success story exemplifies the development of conventional financial services into the cryptocurrency market.

Practical Guide to Registration

For entrepreneurs considering registering a crypto project in Poland, a step-by-step guide can help navigate the legal landscape effectively. Key steps include:

1. Register a business name after coming up with a distinct one.

2. Draw up a power of attorney for remote registration.

3. The director's or founder's passport, with an apostille attached, must be photocopied and notarized.

4. Prepare and sign the Deed of Formation in front of a Polish notary.

5. Obtain a leasing agreement to verify the registration of your office premises.

6. Establish a business checking account in Poland.

7. Move the authorized capital, up to the minimum requirement, to the new account.

8. Obtain the statistical (REGON) and tax identification (NIP) numbers.

9. Apply for a VAT number.

10. Submit an application to register the company with the National Court Register (KRS).

11. Form the company's management board.

12. Register with the Register of Virtual Currencies.

Challenges and Considerations

Despite Poland's many advantages, there are a few things to keep in mind before you commit to it:

 Regulatory Uncertainties; 

 Taxation Complexity; 

 Market Competition.

Industry Expert Opinions

Industry forecasts from “Financial Insights Compass 2023: The Impact of Inflation on Financial Markets​” indicate that Poland's cryptocurrency industry will reach US$377.9 million in 2023, growing at a CAGR of 10.22% until 2028. With an anticipated average income per user of $63.1 in 2023, the cryptocurrency sector is ripe with opportunity for entrepreneurs.

The analysts anticipate that Poland's involvement in the European crypto market will continue to develop, with a user penetration rate of 11.40% in 2028, up from 15.90% in 2023. The country's potential for innovation and investment is shown by the income estimates, which show a strong market for crypto initiatives.


Poland's cryptocurrency sector, with an anticipated €279 million sales in 2023 and a 10.22% CAGR, 

positions itself as a thriving hub. Benefits, success stories, and expert projections underline its potential for crypto entrepreneurs.

Building Dreams, Shaping Cities: WORLDBEX 2024 Celebrates Filipino Builders Drawn to Ascendancy

Wazzup Pilipinas!?

The World of Building and Construction Expo (WORLDBEX) returns for its 27th edition, this time soaring to new heights under the theme "Drawn to Ascendancy." From March 14-17, 2024, at TWO MEGA venues the SMX Convention Center Manila, and World Trade Center Metro Manila. WORLDBEX 2024 is set to transform into a global hub for innovation, showcasing cutting-edge technology and celebrating the Filipino builders shaping the future of cities across the globe.

This year's WORLDBEX takes center stage as a platform to empower and acknowledge the remarkable talent of Filipino construction professionals. The theme "Drawn to Ascendancy" embodies the unwavering spirit and ambition - driving Filipino builders to reach new heights, both in their careers and in shaping the skylines of the nation.

We pay homage to local and international builders who thrive to embrace change and adapt to the modern building and design landscape. They serve as the backbone of our nation's progress that continues to signify the dynamic opportunities across the industry. From Architectural experts and Engineering professionals to Landscape artists and Design connoisseurs, their skills, dedication, and ingenuity are evident in every towering edifice and resilient structure across the country today. WORLDBEX 2024 is our way of celebrating their achievements and providing them with the tools and knowledge to propel them even further.

The four-day event will bring together over --- exhibitors from the Philippines and across the world, showcasing the latest advancements in construction technologies, materials, and design. From eco-friendly building solutions to smart building automation and AI-powered construction tools, WORLDBEX 2024 will be a feast for the eyes and a playground for sustainable innovation.

WORLDBEX 2024 is not just an expo; it's a catalyst for the nation's building and design industry to ascend to new heights. Join us as we celebrate the builders who are not just building dreams, but shaping the cities of tomorrow.

WORLDBEX 2024 is organized by Worldbex Services International.

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“No patent, no right”: UP lawyer highlights scientists’ need to protect inventions

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In the ’90s, Dr. Neila Cortes-Maramba of UP Manila led a team of scientists investigating ten medicinal plants in the Philippines. Two of these plants exhibited promising results—one for cough and the other for urinary tract infections. The team patented Vitex negundo (Lagundi) and Blumea balsamifera (Sambong) in syrup and tablet forms, granting them exclusive rights to these medicines.

Today, Lagundi and Sambong are essential remedies for coughs and UTIs, proving lucrative for the pharmaceutical industry. Had they not applied for a patent, UP Manila and its partners would not have earned more than 50 million pesos in remittances through royalties and licensing fees, nor would they have been able to claim the invention as their own and would leave it vulnerable to idea theft.

If inventions and creations are not patented, “it belongs now to the public domain where anyone can reproduce or manufacture it,” Atty. Josephine R. Santiago of the UP Diliman College of Law said at the 7th session of the iStories webinar, hosted by the University of the Philippines – Diliman College of Science. Atty. Santiago is an award-winning intellectual property (IP) expert who served as the Director General of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL).

Failing to patent inventions exposes them to the public domain, allowing anyone to reproduce or manufacture them. (Photo credit: Eunice Jean Patron)

A patent, as a form of IP, provides the inventor exclusive rights to their creations. “The right of a patentee is only to prevent third persons from manufacturing, offering for sale, using, selling, or importing the invention,” Atty. Santiago explained. “It is not to make the invention, but to prevent others.” She added that, when multiple inventors unknowingly created the same invention, the first to file the patent secures the rights to it.

UP Diliman has successfully patented various inventions, such as CoaTiN, a coating technology that uses titanium nitride to extend the lifespan of metallic tools, developed by Dr. Henry Ramos of the National Institute of Physics (NIP), and an amebiasis detection kit that quickly identifies the disease using saliva, invented by Dr. Windell Rivera, Dr. Angeline Odelia Concepcion, and Dr. Alexander Edward Dy of the Institute of Biology (IB).

Patents not only benefit inventors but also stimulate innovation and improve existing products. Applying for patents requires detailed explanations of how the invention works. This information becomes publicly available upon patent approval, allowing other inventors to draw inspiration from or enhance the patented work.

Atty. Santiago also touched upon the other three types of IP: trademarks, which protect identifying symbols and expressions; copyright which grants rights from the moment of creation; and trade secrets, which safeguards valuable confidential information.

She will also discuss harnessing IP for innovation in another iStories session.

By: Harvey L. Sapigao

iStories is a series of monthly innovation-themed talks, storytelling, and activities featuring local and international scientists. The initiative aims to ignite the creativity and inventiveness of young scientists not just from UPD-CS but also from other institutes inside and outside of UP.

Taytay passes landmark ordinance to protect children's health

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 Taytay Councilors partner with law group ImagineLaw to advance a policy measure that protects children in the municipality from harmful food advertisements. Ordinance No. 2307-036 or ‘An Ordinance to Protect Children from the Harmful Impacts of Food and Beverage Marketing passed the final reading on January 17.

The local government of Taytay, Rizal yesterday passed an ordinance that restricts child-targeted marketing of ultra-processed food and beverages within the municipality, in a bid to protect children from obesity and other diet-related health risks.

Ordinance No. 2307-036 or An Ordinance to Protect Children from the Harmful Impacts of Food and Beverage Marketing’, introduced by Councilor John Tobit Cruz, prohibits advertisements of food high in fat, salt, or sugar, in child-centered settings such as school zones, playgrounds, parks, and family mall areas.

"This is a win for children’s health,” said Tobit Cruz during the final reading of the ordinance. “We commit to creating an environment where our children can grow up healthy and easily pursue healthy eating habits, starting with this policy,” Cruz added.

Exposure of children to advertisements featuring ultra-processed food is linked to the increased consumption of such foods and associated risks of obesity, according to a study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“We laud Taytay for being the first municipality to advance this landmark health policy. This measure aligns with the broader national and global efforts to combat childhood obesity and promote healthier lifestyles among children,” said Atty. Sophia San Luis, Executive Director of ImagineLaw, the local government’s partner in drafting the ordinance.

One in every seven Filipino school-aged children is obese or overweight, according to a 2021 study of the Department of Science and Technology Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI).

“We hope that this policy serves as a model for other municipalities and cities seeking to protect the health of their children,” she added.

Local task force to end harmful food and beverage marketing to children

To enforce the ordinance, a local task force of Taytay government officials will be formed to focus on monitoring food and beverage advertisements within the municipality, and assisting establishments to comply with the new regulations.

Violators of the ordinance will face a fine of PhP 2,500.00 and will be required to take down advertisements that violate the regulations.

The task force will also lead efforts to assist the community to promote healthier food choices among children and families.

“Taytaye├▒os can anticipate more proactive and sustainable programs that prioritize children’s health through this policy win,” Coun. Cruz added.

Scents of caution: BAN Toxics alert on imitation and counterfeit perfumes and fragrances

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Toxic watchdog group BAN Toxics is issuing a public warning about the rampant sale of imitation and counterfeit perfumes and fragrances in the market, cautioning consumers against potential health risks associated with the chemicals in these products.

In a recent market monitoring effort, the group documented ambulant vendors peddling cheap imitated perfumes and fragrances priced between P50 to P180. These counterfeit perfumes closely mimic the packaging and labels of well-known brands, making them appealing to consumers.

Perfume and beauty products rank second as the most counterfeited goods in the Philippines next to apparel in 2022, according to the total reports and complaints received by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.

Thony Dizon, Toxics Campaigner of BAN Toxics, emphasized the risks associated with purchasing cosmetic products with fragrances lacking proper authorization, stating, “Buying perfume and fragrances that have not undergone proper authorization is not only too risky but may expose consumers to harmful substances lurking in the products.”

According to information sourced from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep® Cosmetic Database, the term “fragrance” on the label of cosmetics products conceals an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients of 3,163 known chemicals. Notably, phthalates, octoxynols, and nonoxynols are highlighted as particularly toxic. Phthalates, commonly used as solvents and stabilizers in perfumes, are identified as potent hormone disruptors linked to birth defects in baby boys. Octoxynols and nonoxynols can break down into persistent hormone disruptors as well.

Potential hazards may arise from ingredients prohibited in cosmetic products or from contamination by heavy metals. The use of substandard and possibly adulterated cosmetic products may lead to adverse reactions such as skin irritation, itchiness, anaphylactic shock, and organ failure.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued health advisories against using unauthorized cosmetic products such as perfumes, cautioning consumers against purchasing and using them. The agency emphasizes that products bypassing the notification process prevent its ability to guarantee their quality and safety, potentially exposing consumers to health risks.

“As part of our safe cosmetics campaign, we’re committed to monitoring and reporting the unauthorized sale of unregistered and unnotified personal care products in both on-site and online markets. To protect human health and the environment from chemical exposure is our advocacy,” Dizon added.

In a letter sent to the FDA, BAN Toxics urges the agency to conduct Post Marketing Surveillance and testing on imitation and counterfeit perfumes and fragrances. Because of the dangers to the public, the group calls for the issuance of public health advisories and stringent enforcement actions to protect consumers from undisclosed health-damaging chemicals in fragrance products.

Meanwhile, the public is urged to verify whether a product has been notified with the FDA, using the FDA Verification Portal, accessible at



FDA Advisories:

Environmental Working Group:

Third edition of "Kapehan, Kuwentuhan sa Liwasan"

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In commemoration of the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women, the Rizal Park Open Air Auditorium hosted the third edition of "Kapehan, Kuwentuhan sa Liwasan" on December 1, 2023. At this event, Atty. Mark Arvill A. Villareal, Board Secretary and Legal Unit Head of the NPDC, led an enlightening discussion on the "Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995" and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Memorandum Circular no. 11, 2021 Revised Administrative Disciplinary Rules on Sexual Harassment.

The program also acknowledged the talents of the featured young artist, Szechari Klyde H. Pe├▒aranda, in the exhibit titled "Dreams in Canvas: A Play of Youthful Imaginations."

"Kapehan, Kuwentuhan sa Liwasan" is part of the NPDC's endorsed GAD Plans and Budget (GPB) for 2023, specifically addressing the gender issue/GAD mandate related to the "Limited knowledge of NPDC Personnel on the Laws Protecting Women and Upholding the Rights of Male and Female, Children, and their Families."

United for a VAW-free Philippines, the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) actively participates in the 18-day Campaign to End Violence Against Women, led by the Philippine Commission on Women. Embracing the theme "UNITEd for a VAW-free Philippines," the campaign encourages widespread support for advocating the prevention and elimination of VAW in the country. The NPDC has curated various activities for its employees and Rizal Park visitors to raise awareness, and details of these initiatives will be shared on our official social media pages.

Stay tuned for updates on our activities and join us in promoting a VAW-free.

In addition to the enlightening discussions and artistic recognitions, the NPDC has organized a bazaar as part of its activities during the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women. This bazaar stands out as it exclusively features products and services from all-female owners, providing a platform for women entrepreneurs to showcase their talents and contributions.

By highlighting businesses owned by women, the NPDC aims to empower and support female entrepreneurs while contributing to the overall campaign against violence towards women. This inclusive approach underscores the importance of economic empowerment as a key aspect of addressing gender-based violence.

Join us at the bazaar, where you can not only enjoy a variety of products and services but also actively support the cause of a VAW-free Philippines. Stay connected with our official social media pages for more details on this empowering event. #VAWfreePH #VowToEndVAW #SupportWomenEntrepreneurs

The first Stop and Salute Flag-Raising Ceremony of 2023

Wazzup Pilipinas!?

Join us in the first Stop and Salute Flag-Raising Ceremony of the year, on 15 January 2024 (Monday), 8:00 a.m., at the Independence Flagpole and Rizal Monument in Rizal Park Luneta, Manila.

As we welcome this new year of renewed partnerships and collaborations, let us pay homage to our Philippine flag. This flag-raising ceremony is open to the public.

* * * * *

The Stop and Salute Flag-Raising Ceremony is a monthly program of the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) and Salute To A Clean Flag Movement, in cooperation with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and other government agencies and private organizations.

#StopAndSalute #SaluteToACleanFlag #PagpupugaySaWatawat

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