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  • Marinela Neri Velez:  The Kagay-anon Opera Cognoscente as Patroness of Classical Music

    Marinela Neri Velez: The Kagay-anon Opera Cognoscente as Patroness of Classical Music

    Marinela Neri Velez is a professional, expert, cognoscente, and aficionado of classical opera. Better known as Girlie to her circle of friends, she has two passions in her life: opera and travel. As a volunteer with the Los Angeles Music Center Opera, she was co-chair of final dress rehearsals. She witnessed the final recitals of opera divas Maria Callasand Renata Tebaldi, and the farewell opera performance of Beverly Sills in Die Fledermaus with Joan Sutherland. Girlie travels constantly for opera: to Washington D.C. for theWorld Premier of Giancarlo Menotti’s GOYA with Plácido Domingo; Tulsa, Oklahoma for the US Premier of Rossini’s ARMIDA, and Kiev, Ukraine for the opera version of TARAS BULBA. While working for the Music Department of Paramount Pictures Corp., she had the opportunity to watch the recording sessions of Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Sarah Vaughn; scoring sessions of John Williams, Maurice Jarre and Jerry Goldsmith. On the classical side, she attended concerts conducted byLeonard Bernstein, Carlos Kleiber, Zubin Mehta and Riccardo Muti. Girlie is a regular fixture at Arena de Verona, Torre del Lago Puccini, and Rossini Opera Festival in Italy; Staatsoper unter den Linden in Berlin, Germany,and the Salzburg Festival in Austria. In December, she attends opera performances at Teatro Real in Madrid,and Les Arts Reina Sofia GeneralitatValenciana (Valencia Opera), both in Spain; and the New Year’s Eve Operetta Die Fledermaus and New Year’s Day Concert at Vienna State Opera in Vienna, Austria. Girlie was recently invited to attend a performance of Actéon by Marc-Antoine Charpentier and Pygmalion by Jean-Philippe Rameau at the Royal Opera in Versailles, France. She is the only Filipino member of the International Council and a donor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, a member of the Amici di Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Italy and a benefactor of Opera Atelier in Toronto, Canada. After she retired, Girlie started travelling non-stop and has visited 150 countries. The journey continues to this very day. She plans to visit many more in the future. “She has always been an opera lover just like her parents who introduced her to the world of opera at a young age. It has always been a lifelong passion for her.  She followed this through after her graduation from college and when she left the country to work in the US,” said long time bosom friend Vinny N. Veloso. “In fact, she was present during her favorite tenor, Plácido Domingo's debut shot at the Met 50 years ago,” she added. “She was also back at the Met earlier this year to watch Plácido’s50th Golden Jubilee as a Met performer.” With such a hectic opera schedule, one would surmise she has time for little else outside opera. But what many don’t know is Girlie is an avid patron of classical music for her home city of Cagayan de Oro. On December 4, 2013, the MarinelaNeri Velez String Program was launched at the Lourdes College auditorium, when an announcement was made during Girlie’s December Rhapsody Concert. That night, the famed Manila Symphony Orchestra gave a performance that left the audience begging for more. Girlie donated through the Paterno Velez Foundation (named after her late father) string instruments that included violins, cellos, violas and double basses for the Marinela Neri Velez String Orchestra. The orchestra is a social enterprise and auditioned musically gifted indigent intermediate and high school students from the city’s public schools then trained them to play classical music in a string orchestra.   Initially based at Lourdes College, the orchestra later moved to the alma mater of her late father, the Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School to which she also donated a piano for the school’s use and training of musically gifted students.   Subsequently, the orchestra was renamed the Cagayan de Oro Symphony Orchestrain 2018 and is now based at Liceo de Cagayan Universitythrough an arrangement with another music patroness in Liceo, Chair Emerita Rafaelita Pelaez. The orchestra members are trained with the Liceo Music Conservatory of Music, Dance and Theatre under the watchful eye of renowned composer and conductor Horst Hans Backer.   In her latest endeavor, Ms. Velez sponsored A Recital featuring “The Filipino Baritone” Cipriáno Mercádo de Guzmán, Jr. with NAMCYA 2018 finalist Soprano Carmina Lourdes D. Atienza as guest artist with Consuelo M. Escudero at the piano.   Held at the Lambago Hall of N Hotel last July 7th for an exclusive audience of a hundred of Cagayan de Oro’s classical music aficionados, the event was touted as the commencement of a regular season of classical music performances in Cagayan de Oro featuring Cagayan de Oro’s best musicians and visiting maestros as well.   De Guzman is a multi-awarded Filipino Classical singer having won 7 International Vocal Competitions in New York, London, Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, and Bangkok. He is a two-time 1st Prize Winner of the 2016 and 2017 American Protégé International Vocal Competition at Carnegie Hall (Weill) in New York City, USA, the first Filipino to win twice in that competition. He has twice been awarded the Ani Ng Dangal (2018 and 2019) Philippine National Arts Recognition) by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (Office of the President of the Philippines) which recognizes Filipino artists for their wins in overseas competitions. Zip finished two Masters Degree in Music: Master Oficicialen Interpretación de Ópera at Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu in Barcelona, Spain under the tutelage of renowned Baritone Joan Martin-Royo; and Opera Interpretation under renowned Mezzo Soprano Maestra Teresa Berganza. He also finished Master of Music in Vocal Performance with the highest distinction(St. Cecilia Award equivalent to Summa cum Laude)atElisabeth University of Music Japanunder Baritone HiroharuOrikawawith full scholarship grant through the Loyola Memorial Foundation and Japan Association of Catholic Universities. For this recital, we were treated to an awesome demonstration of Zip’s vocal range and linguistics which has made him a multi-awarded vocalist here and abroad, from Bizet’s Toreador, En Garde! (from Carmen); Jurame (a Mexican love song composed y Maria Grever), O Sole Mio (by Eduardo di Capua), Santa Lucia (by Teodoro Cottrau), Agustin Lara’s immortal Granada, Stars(by Claude Michel Schonberg from Les Miserables), I Have Dreamed (from Rogers and Hammerstein’sThe King and I)  and Balikbayan (by Ernani C. Cuenco). Guest artist Carmina Lourdes D. Atienza, all 17 years of her, is a senior high student at Corpus Christi school and also plays violin with the Cagayan de Oro Symphony Orchestra. She started voice lessons in 2012 with Maestro Benjamin Santos and MaestroMarvin Gayramonfrom 2016 to 2017. She next studied classical singing with Maestro Michael Paseno of the Liceo de Cagayan Music Conservatory and recently garnered 3rd prize at the 2018 NAMCYA(National Music Competition for Young Artists). Although she will be a BS Computer Science freshman at the Ateneo de Manila this August, Carmina plans to cross-enroll at University of the Philippines-Dilimanto continue her classical music training. She is the second child of Martin Ch. Atienza and Sheilah del Fierro-Atienza. We were regaled by Carmina with her rendition of Art is Calling for Me (from Victor August Herbert’s 1911 hit operetta The Enchantress); and were in for a treat with her duets with Zip: All I Ask of  You (from Phantom of the Opera) by Andrew Lloyd Weber;  and Lippen Schweigen (from The Merry Widow) by Franz Lehar. For their encore, the pair rendered a trio of Filipino favorites including the immortal Bisayan love song Usahay (recently correctly credited to its original composer the late Gregorio Responso Labja); Ikaw Ang Mahal Ko, a romantic ballad by VST & Co. (penned by songwriter Joey de Leon with music by Tito Sotto andSpanky Rigor) and Mike Velarde’s Dahil Sa Iyo written in 1938 for the movie, Bituing Marikit and sung by the King of the Philippine Movies Rogelio de la Rosa.  So after this Recital, what’s next for Cagayan de Oro Opera Cognoscente? Travels to countries she hasn’t been to yet, and of course, another set of operas to enjoy. August is opera tour time in Europe. The Cagayan de Oro Symphony Orchestra will be recruiting more members from the Cagayan de Oro community for the additional instruments Girlie plans to augment it with. Allizwell!

    July 19, 2019

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  • The Malasag Indigenous Driftwood Sculptors of Cugman

    The Malasag Indigenous Driftwood Sculptors of Cugman

    Sometimes serendipity can lead you to paths you never dreamed you would be passing through, but the future often holds surprises which more often than not, exceed your expectations. Thus, when Smart Telecommunications began the process to secure the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) from the Higaonon community in Sitio Malasag, Barangay Cugman in Cagayan de Oro to renew the lease on their cell site located within the tribe’s ancestral domain, it triggered what has turned out be a most rewarding experience for both parties involved in the transaction. By virtue of Republic Act 8371 (Indigenous People's Rights Act of 1997  or IPRA) which recognizes and promotes the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines, Smart was required to secure the consent of the IP community which hosted their 1,000 sq. m. cell site area since it falls within the tribe’s ancestral domain. Following the initial consultation last February, 2019 with the Malasag Higaonon Tribal Council represented by Datu Ireneo Jabiniar (tribal chieftain), Smart signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the renewal of the cell site lease for another 25 years. “As part of the terms and conditions, our council requested Smart to conduct a training in wood carving for our members, as a livelihood project,” said Datu Masikal “Jude” Jabiniar, who site as the appointed 9th kagawad representing IPs in the Cugman Barangay Council. Barangay Cugman has two rivers which provide them with a constant supply of driftwood as raw materials. More driftwood could also be sourced from the barangay’s seashore. After conducting appropriate rituals at the cell site area requesting permission from resident spirits to approve the agreement, 15 Higaonons started training with expert wood carvers Arnel Rebate, Wilfredo Durano and Marichu Calzado from the Banglos Community Artists of General Nakar, Quezon, last May 28-30 for basic skills and assignment of projects; then again on June 27 for finishing and polishing of the completed works. Smart also donated to the community tools such as grinders and sanders.  The Banglos wood sculptors were themselves recipients of Smart’s livelihood assistance, being trained by famed sculptor Rey Paz Contreras who taught them the art of sculpting forest wood as an alternative source of income after their homes were devastated by flash floods following heavy rains caused by Tropical StormWinnie in 2004, killing over a thousand people in  General Nakar, Infanta and Real.  The Banglos sculptors’ works have been featured at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Furniture Festival at Megatrade Hall, Go Negosyo fair at Market! Market! in Taguig City and in various Smart functions. The Higaonon artists were taught the basics of driftwood sculpture, how to use the tools of the trade, and how to bring out art from driftwood, based on its natural shape and textures. Aside from being a source of livelihood, the sculptures also aim to showcase Higaonon culture. "A lot of the pieces here have come from wood that no longer had any use - maybe only to be burned for charcoal. The artists have been taught to see the beauty in them and bring this out. We Filipinos, we the katutubo, can also ask ourselves: "Are we charcoal, or are we works of art?"", said Darwin Flores, Head, Community Partnerships Department, Smart - Public Affairs.  One of those who underwent the training was Datu Masikal’s cousin Jeffrey  C. Alia, an industrial electrician by trade, who lives along the seashore of Cugman with his fisherman father. While he has no formal training in the arts, he learned drawing basics from his father Pedro B. Alia whose latent artistic skills enabled him to earn additional income through drawings and printed signs on the side. “I won artistic competitions as grade school student and did automotive drafting in high school but shifted to GRCO due to lack of financial means to finish my automotive,” Alia recalls. Eventually he became a licensed industrial electrician for commercial/industrial buildings, and joined the training during a lull between his projects. “The training revived my interest in the arts, and I was inspired to carve  many wood sculptures,” Alia said. Among the wood sculptures he finished was a  fisherman in his baroto (dugout canoe) inspired by the Recto Bank incident where a Filipino fishing vessel was rammed by a Chinese one. “This shows the fisherman was free to carry on his trade without fear,” Alia explained. Turning to another  of his works, he said the  bird’s nest signifies that birds are still abundant within their ancestral domain. “Every one of my works has a story.” From July 1-6, 2019, the Malasag Indigenous Driftwood Sculptors held the Malasag Sculpture Exhibit at the Sky Park at 5th floor of the SM Cagayan de Oro Downtown Premier in partnership with SM. A  constant partner of Smart for past projects like Earth Hour, SM  provided the exhibit venue, lights and fixtures for the group’s first exhibit. Next, the group plans to display some small sculptures at Ginama, the pasalubong center of LGU Cagayan de Oro at Gaston Park. “Smart plans to continue supporting the tribe by providing capacity building trainings such as social media marketing, mobile photography and ideography,” saidJudee Dizon Chaves, Smart Communications Public Affairs Manager for North-West Mindanao.   Meantime, interested buyers who wish to commission or order some of their works can visit and contact them through their Facebook Page Malasag Indigenous Driftwood Sculptors of Cugman (URL: https://www.facebook.com/Malasag-Indigenous-Driftwood-Sculptors-of-Cugman-472330183554427/) Photos by Mike Baños & Smart Communications Public Affairs for North-West Mindanao.

    July 19, 2019

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  • MYBL launched in CDO

    MYBL launched in CDO

    The first-ever MVPSF Youth Basketball League (MYBL) was launched last July 13 in Cagayan de Oro City at the Corpus Christi Gymnasium.   Thirty one teams from different schools of Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Iligan, and Misamis Oriental are competing in the MYBL's three categories : 12-under, 15-under, and 18-under category . City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno expressed his joy and gratitude to the private groups and government organizations which brought this initiative to the city to show support to the youth in the field of sports.   The league was made possible through the collaborative efforts of Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation (MVPSF), Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), Local Government of Cagayan de Oro City, Cebu Landmasters, Inc., Smart Communications, Inc., Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Balibago Waterworks System, Inc., CDO Basketball Federation, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS-X). In his message, Atty. Jang Moreno, MVPSF Community, Sports and Youth Development Head, said that Cagayan de Oro was chosen as the venue for the MYBL because of its ideal and strategic location as well as the proliferation of talents and potentials of the aspiring young players in Northern Mindanao. Sidelights to the opening ceremony and launching,   Famous personalities from the Philippine Basketball Association like James Yap, Beau Belga, JV Mocon and PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial mingled the participants in a meet and greet. Also on hand to toss the inaugural jump ball of the fledgling league were SBP Operations Head Butch Antonio and SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios. MVPSF Youth Basketball league is just one of the numerous programs lined-up by the private sector especially MVP Sports Foundation and the local government to further improve and develop the performance of the region in the field of sports. (CIO)  

    July 18, 2019

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  • Power customers get refunds in electric bills this month

    Power customers get refunds in electric bills this month

    Good news in your electricity bills this July. The Energy Regulatory Commission  (E R C) has ordered twelve private distribution utilities (DUs) to refund “regulatory reset cost” to their customers in their electricity bills this July, 2019, including any remaining amount from the previous regulatory period plus interest. Per the ERC, the Regulatory Reset Costs are expenses incurred in engaging regulatory experts or consultants when setting and updating the DU’s electricity rates. Under the Performance-Based Regulation (PBR) methodology, privately-owned DUs are allowed to charge the Regulatory Reset Cost in their revenue requirement. However, ERC noted that "the 17th Congress appropriated funds for purposes of regulatory reset," leaving the collected Regulatory Reset Cost for the 3rd regulatory period untouched. "The Commission is of the view that the cost of regulation should be at the expense of the government and should not be a burden to the electricity consumers... [T]he Commission deems it prudent to refund the amounts collected by DUs for this purpose," ERC chair Agnes Devanadera said in a statement last week. Among those  ordered to refund their customers are the four private DUs in Mindanao: Cagayan Electric Power and Light Co. (CEPALCO); Cotabato Light and Power Co. (CLPC); Davao Light and Power Co. (DLPC); and Iligan Light and Power, Inc. (ILPI). “This is a one-time refund to be effected in the July 2019 billing,” said Rolando J. Linaac, ILPI Finance Officer. “For ILPI, the amount to be refunded to our customers is P 558,830.00 equivalent to P .0274 per kilowatt hour(/KwH).” “This represents the unutilized fund for regulatory reset cost in relation to the Performance Based Rate (PBR) Making, which the ERC subsequently resolved shall be borne by the government. The reset cost was part of the rates granted to Private DUs years back, hence, this refund,” he noted. ILPI President Ralph B. Casiño acknowledged receipt of the ERC order and said ILPI would comply. “We got our order a few days ago and ILPI will comply,” Casino said. “The cost was tucked into the rates but for some reason, the reset schedule was delayed, thus the refund.” The ERC ordered eight more DUs in Luzon and the Visayas to refund a total of  P20.8 million to their customers July billings, ranging from P0.0058 to P0.0694./KwH. These include Cabanatuan Electric Corporation (CELCOR); Clark Electric Distribution Corporation (CEDC); Dagupan Electric Power Corp. (DECORP); La Union Electric Company (LUECO); San Fernando Electric Light & Power Co. (SFELAPCO); Tarlac Electric, Inc. (TEI) in Luzon and the  Bohol Light Company, Inc. (BLCI); and Visayan Electric Company (VECO) in the Visayas. Among the Mindanao DUs, CEPALCO was mandated to refund the highest amount at P5,098,534 or P0.0556/kWh; followed by Cotabato Light and Power Co. with P949,743 or P0.0694/kWh; Iligan Light and Power Co. — P558,830 or P0.0274/kWh; and Davao Light and Power Co., P262,640 pr P0.0013/kWh The ERC said the total regulatory reset cost refund to ratepayers was approximately P284,727,996 – including the amount previously ordered refunded to Meralco subscribers. The ERC reiterated that the DUs must reflect the one-time refund in their customers’ billings for July – and should be specified as a separate item in their electric bills.  “We enjoin the privately-owned DUs to submit a report to the Commission on their compliance with our refund directive on or before 15 August 2019,” Devanadera said. The ERC has advised power consumers of private DUs to check their electricity bills next month and find out if the regulatory reset cost refund has been effected, including any relevant interest earned thereon. The consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc. has welcomed the ERC directive. “Laban Konsyumer Inc. notes that these reduction in electricity rates are good for all types of consumers,” Laban Konsyumer president Victorio Dimagiba said in a statement. “While in small amounts, the reduction when added up should bring electricity rates lower for all of us,” he added. (with online reports)

    July 15, 2019

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Converge to bring fixed broadband to the Visayas, Mindanao by 2021

July 10, 2019

Corporate

By: , CONVERGE ICT Solutions, Inc. said its fixed broadband service may arrive in the Visayas and Mindanao regions by 2021 as it aims to start within the year the buildout of its fiber backbone outside Luzon.      In a media roundtable interview in Pasig City Thursday, the fiber broadband provider said it is currently evaluating bid submissions from submarine cable companies to expand its fiber reach in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.      “Siguro ’yung VisMin is not going to happen in the next 24 months. Kasi it takes about 24 months to build eh (Maybe going to VisMin won’t happen in the next 24 months because it takes about 24 months to build),” Converge Chief Operating Officer Jesus C. Romero said.      “We’ll start that hopefully soon. Then after that, we can operate,” he added.      Mr. Romero said the company is now waiting for the “best and final offer” of about three foreign bidders that will build its interisland fiber network in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.      “The bidders have to give their best and final offer. After those are submitted, we will have to choose which one. After we choose, then we award, then we start to mobilize,” he said, adding the completion of this process “has to be” within the year.      Converge currently has its fiber laid out in most of Luzon, covering almost all of Metro Manila and continuously expanding to Bicol and Benguet.      Earlier reports revealed that the company, owned by Pampanga-based businessman Dennis Anthony H. Uy, has secured a $250.4-million equity funding from United States-based private equity firm Warburg Pincus.      While Mr. Romero did not confirm the deal, he said Converge is always seeking to find funding for its expansion plans. These include the backbone rollout and acquisition of transmission and last mile equipment to make its services available to more areas across the country.      “The company has always said we’re looking for ways to fund expansion,” he said. “When you look at (the company’s) potential spending to fuel growth, you have cash flow, you can avail of debt, or you can try to raise money from equity infusion.”      Mr. Romero said the company is continually focusing on its fixed fiber broadband and doesn’t plan to tap the mobile telecommunications market as it sees a huge potential in the “underserved market” of the broadband segment.      “I think ’yang mobile, pagdating ng third mobile player, market share grab na lang ’yan eh (I think for mobile, when the third player arrives, it will all be market share grabbing)… Maganda rin na doon ka na lang sa (It’s better to be in the business of) something that’s growing, something that’s underserved, rather than trying to kill each other on a mature market,” he said.      Converge said last year it is pricing its expansion at $1.8 billion in the next five years, which will cover extending its broadband network to Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

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Allianz Sees Continuous Growth in Insurance Market in PH, Rest of Asia

July 6, 2019

Corporate

By: , While insurance penetration (premiums as a percentage of GDP) fell by 5.4% in Asia (ex-cluding Japan), the Philippines along with Vietnam, Laos, Sri Lanka, and India registered double-digit growths. This is according to the Allianz Global Insurance Report prepared by Allianz Research. Allianz Research is projecting a 9.4% growth per annum over the next decade in Asia, ex-cluding Japan. Around 60% additional premiums are expected to be generated in the re-gion. In the Philippines, a market growth of 12.3% is foreseen (13.5 in life and 8.3 in p&c).  “Allianz’ strong performance in the Philippines reflects the country’s economic growth and strong macroeconomic fundamentals, and we are looking to leverage on the continuous ex-pansion of economic activity in the country,” said Alexander Grenz, newly appointed presi-dent and chief executive officer of Allianz PNB Life. Premiums in the Philippines grew by 17.7% in 2018, way above the regional average. In fact, 2018 marked the best year since 2013. Life insurance, which accounts for more than 70% of the premium pool (without health), had a growth rate of 20.4%. It grew almost twice as fast as property-casualty (+11.1%).  For 2019, Allianz Research foresees a slowdown to around 10% premium growth, still well above regional or global averages. It noted that the Philippines’ insurance market has still plenty of room to grow: Premiums per capita stood at Php3,000.00 in 2018 (at par with neighboring Indonesia), penetration at 1.9%; it is, for example, already 3.7% in China. In-surance premiums in property-casualty and life are expected to grow by 14% this year and 12.3% over the next decade. Allianz PNB Life is still the fastest-growing life insurance company in the Philippines, ac-cording to the report of the Insurance Commission. Its premium income grew by 69% in 2018 and its annualized premium income for 2018 stood at a historic high. Grenz, who previously served as the chief operating officer of Allianz PNB Life, said that as today’s business environment goes through rapid changes, the company is hands-on to build a more diverse business model. “We all know how fast-paced the insurance industry is; the pressure and expectations are high from all sides ‐ our customers, our investors, our regulators, and among ourselves. Late last year, for instance, we have seen changes in reserve requirements for banks to ad-dress the spike in inflation. This resulted in liquidity shortage in the Bancassurance indus-try. Even though we are still performing better compared to our competitors, we definitely need to catch up in the second half of the year,” Grenz said. Grenz has more than 15 years of experience in global Insurance and Asset Management. He has a multinational track record in the areas of Finance, Insurance and Asset Manage-ment and has held various executive positions for Allianz in different countries. As he heads Allianz PNB Life, Grenz said he plans to focus on simplifying insurance for the customers. “Simplification of insurance will be our priority. We will simplify the language of insurance to make it understandable to more customers and make it easy to access with the superior technology Allianz can provide,” he explained.  Grenz is, likewise, moving to tap Allianz’s global investment fund managers from PIMCO and Allianz Global Investments (AGI) to provide superior technical solutions and investment strategies.  “Our goal is to have a well-defined output that should create value for our customers. It’s the customers’ perception, which counts and defines our success. With PIMCO and AGI, cus-tomers are assured they have access to superior product solutions and technical advise,” he said. Furthermore, Grenz is steering the company toward a digital future. Recently, the company opened its Allianz Digital Studio, which will pioneer the next-generation of innovation and solutions and make the delivery of insurance products and services faster and more effi-cient for both its internal and external customers.  “Our digital and customer-centric initiatives in the pipeline are geared toward enhancing the Allianz customer experience and differentiate us in the market,” he concluded. # About Allianz in Asia Asia is one of the core growth regions for Allianz, characterized by a rich diversity of cul-tures, languages and customs. Allianz has been present in the region since 1910, when it first provided fire and marine insurance in the coastal cities of China. Today, Allianz is ac-tive in 14 markets in the region, offering its core businesses of property and casualty insur-ance, life, protection and health solutions, as well as asset management. With its more than 32,000 staff, Allianz serves the needs of over 18 million customers in the region across mul-tiple distribution channels and digital platforms.   About Allianz The Allianz Group is one of the world's leading insurers and asset managers with more than 92 million retail and corporate customers. Allianz customers benefit from a broad range of personal and corporate insurance services, ranging from property, life and health insurance to assistance services to credit insurance and global business insurance. Allianz is one of the world’s largest investors, managing around 673 billion euros on behalf of its insurance customers. Furthermore our asset managers PIMCO and Allianz Global Investors manage more than 1.4 trillion euros of third-party assets.  Thanks to our systematic integration of ecological and social criteria in our business pro-cesses and investment decisions, we hold the leading position for insurers in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In 2018, over 142,000 employees in more than 80 countries achieved total revenues of 131 billion euros and an operating profit of 11.5 billion euros for the group. These assessments are, as always, subject to the disclaimer provided below.   Cautionary note regarding forward-looking statements The statements contained herein may include prospects, statements of future expectations and other forward-looking statements that are based on management's current views and assumptions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results, per-formance or events may differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements. Such deviations may arise due to, without limitation, (i) changes of the general economic conditions and competitive situation, particularly in the Allianz Group's core business and core markets, (ii) performance of financial markets (particularly market volatility, liquidity and credit events), (iii) frequency and severity of insured loss events, including from nat-ural catastrophes, and the development of loss expenses, (iv) mortality and morbidity levels and trends, (v) persistency levels, (vi) particularly in the banking business, the ex-tent of credit defaults, (vii) interest rate levels, (viii) currency exchange rates including the EUR/USD  exchange rate, (ix) changes in laws and regulations, including tax regula-tions, (x) the impact of acquisitions, including related integration issues, and reorganiza-tion measures, and (xi) general competitive factors, in each case on a local, regional, na-tional and/or global basis. Many of these factors may be more likely to occur, or more pronounced, as a result of terrorist activities and their consequences.   No duty to update The company assumes no obligation to update any information or forward-looking state-ment contained herein, save for any information required to be disclosed by law.   Privacy Note Allianz SE is committed to protecting your personal data. Find out more in our Privacy Statement.  

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DICT to issue permits for new cell sites within 3 mos

July 1, 2019

Corporate

By: , THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) targets to issue permits to tower building companies in three months or less to green light the construction of new cell sites.      "Our target is that we will have all the permits by two months or three months. We will really be more efficient in coming up with towers faster,” DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said in a press conference on Thursday.      Rio said a task force was created to establish a one-stop shop that will process the issuance of permits to the tower providers.      The task force is composed of agencies related with the release of the permits such as the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), among others.      The DICT has signed a memorandum of agreement with ISOC Infrastructures Inc. and Malaysia-based edotco Group Sdn Bhd to expedite the process of securing permits for the common towers that will be shared to telcos to further improve the delivery of communication services in the country.      "The MOA binds the DICT to facilitate getting of permits for the common tower to set up," Rio said.      Globe Telecom recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with ISOC and edotco to build 150 cell sites in the Calabarzon Region.      According to the MOU, ISOC and edotco will build and co-own the towers, which will be leased by Globe. These may eventually be leased out to other telcos such as PLDT Inc. and Mislatel.      The DICT expects the initial set of common towers to be constructed within the next five months.      “Maybe, the initial timeline for the first 150 towers, is from today to maybe two to three months for permits, then another two months for construction, maybe five months,”      A total of 2,500 sites were identified by the DICT as the location for the cell towers.      The department aims to build at least 50,000 cell towers within the next seven to 10 years through partnerships among the telcos and the tower providers. (PNA)

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Bayer partners with Department of Agriculture to accelerate hybrid rice production in Mindanao

June 28, 2019

Corporate

By: , In a Memorandum of Agreement signing ceremony held at DA-RFO XII in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, both parties agreed to implement a pilot project to boost the hybrid rice production of farmers in North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Saranggani, and Sultan Kudarat. These provinces will soon ground Arize Hybrid Rice seeds with the guidance of field technicians from both parties. The farmers will undergo Bayer Agri-Academy training on rice production to ensure the successful knowledge transfer of hybrid technology. This will allow farmers to become independent and highly productive in growing hybrid rice. The average yield of inbred rice farmers is approximately four (4) metric tons while hybrid rice seeds can potentially increase yield by six to eight (6 to 8) metric tons. While some farmers in the region are already existing hybrid rice users, adoption rate remains low. “This is the first-of-its-kind among our projects with the Department of Agriculture. By formalizing our partnership, we convey our commitment to join hands with the government to improve the region’s rice productivity,” said Iiinas Ivan Lao, Country Commercial Lead, Bayer Crop Science.      “More than ever, we need to collaborate with the Department of Agriculture to ensure the project’s success. The support of DA-RFO XII and the local government units of the provinces involved will create a significant impact to the farming communities in the region,” shared Recher Ondap, Head of Seeds Bayer Crop Science. He also added that, through this project, not only will farmers increase their yield by 20%, but also they will be better equipped to run their business in the highly competitive rice market.      The planting season will start in May or June and will end by September. At the end of the season, farmers who to have harvested more than five metric tons of hybrid rice will be honored as top yielders in their respective areas. This recognition will help farmers qualify in the Department of Agriculture’s annual Gawad Saka Awards, which recognizes farmers, fisherfolk, as well as distinguished groups and individuals, who have excelled and made significant contributions in the development of agriculture and fishery sector in their regions and in the country.      “I’m grateful for this partnership with Bayer. We recognize the importance of this collaboration to further strengthen our local initiatives to accelerate hybridization in the region and most importantly, equip our rice farmers with the knowledge and skills to boost our rice productivity,” said Milagros Casis, DA-RFO XII Regional Executive Director.

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GSIS bent on selling Manila North Harbor property

July 1, 2019

Banking & Finance

By: , The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has reiterated its plan to sell its 672,645-square meter property at the Manila North Harbor, which the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) is currently occupying.      “As a government entity that exists to ensure the integrity of the funds of its members, GSIS is determined to sell it through public bidding upon the approval of the Board,” GSIS President and General Manager (PGM) Jesus Clint Aranas said.      According to him, the market value of the property is approximately Php33.632 billion based on the zonal valuation as of 9 May 2019 and as reflected in the GSIS books as of 20 May 2019.      Enrique Razon, president and chairman of ICTSI, reportedly said earlier that GSIS has only a “naked title” with no right to use the property.      “That does not preclude GSIS from disposing of the property,” Aranas asserted.      Meanwhile, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has committed to donate a five-hectare resettlement site under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Housing Authority (NHA), LGU Manila, ICTSI, and Manila North Harbor Port, Inc. However, the ocular inspection report of NHA reveals that the proposed relocation site infringes on another GSIS property occupied by informal settlers and allocated for socialized housing pursuant to E.O. 108, series of 2002 with an area of 1.2 hectares of which belongs to GSIS.      For its part, GSIS emphasized that “no entity can commit, offer, or convey any property which it does not own.”      GSIS was never consulted and neither did it approve or consent to such donation or commitment on the overlapping portion which is registered and owned by GSIS.      GSIS likewise demanded that the MOU be rescinded, modified, or revised to exclude the overlapping portion of GSIS-owned property from the five hectares that is committed by PPA under the MOU.      The PPA (under its present General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago) and through its Legal Department, in a reply to GSIS’s demand to PPA to rescind, modify, or revise the MOU last 4 March 2019, did not directly address GSIS’s demand but instead questioned the validity of the 43-year-old title and asserted that PPA owns the North Harbor Property, despite the property being registered under the name of GSIS.      PGM Aranas cited, however, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, which ruled in 2015 that the validity of the title registered under the name of GSIS may only be questioned in a direct attack filed before a regular court.      Meanwhile, GSIS has invited ICTSI to discuss the use and rental of the disputed property.  But ICTSI referred GSIS’s letter to PPA and deemed that “it may not be useful to sit down with GSIS without the participation of PPA.”      As to the issue of the overlapping GSIS property under the MOU, despite efforts to obtain a certified true copy of the proposed MOU and the 26 February 2019 Minutes of the Congressional Hearing and signing ceremony of the MOU, GSIS has not received such copy to this day.      PPA has also begged off from attending a meeting called by the Inter-Agency Committee for the Disposition of the Parola Estate and instead requested the Committee that a separate meeting be scheduled with PPA, NHA, LGU Manila, and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) only to discuss the MOU, without any mention of GSIS.       The GSIS was also informed by the Inter-Agency Committee that it will now be excluded from subsequent committee meetings since the Inter-Agency Committee no longer has jurisdiction over the disposition of lands owned by GSIS and other Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) citing Section 5 II (d) of R.A. 11201 (Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development Act).       Notwithstanding, PGM Aranas maintains that the state pension fund will take appropriate legal measures to protect the interest of GSIS and its members.

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Inflation seen to settle back to target levels

June 7, 2019

Banking & Finance

By: , THE Philippines’ inflation rate is expected to return to its deceleration mode in the coming months after an uptick to 3.2 percent last May from only three percent last April.  In a report, Michael L. Ricafort, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) Economics & Industry Research Division head, attributed the rise of domestic inflation rate to the impact of a weaker peso on imports in the early part of May, higher global oil prices and the dry season, which affected some agricultural products and the operations of hydropower plants. “However, these were offset/mitigated by increased rice imports with the Rice Tariffication Law and other non-monetary measures to increase food/rice supply to lower prices and better manage inflation since the latter part of 2018,” he said. Ricafort expects the resumption of slowdown of inflation rates in the coming months, with the decline forecast to be faster due to elevated inflation rate last year. He said that a one-percent level inflation rate in the third quarter or early fourth quarter is even possible. Last year, inflation peaked at 6.7 percent in September and October. Ricafort said adequate rice supply due to larger imports and higher harvest during the summer is expected to further ease inflation rate in the coming months since rice accounts for around 10 percent of the inflation index. “Further easing in local monetary policy by way of another cut in policy rates remains possible as early as the next rate-setting meeting in June 20, 2019 (or in subsequent months),” he said. He added that possible reduction in the Federal Reserve’s key rates this year is also a plus on the BSP policy rates. Also, ANZ Research forecasts average inflation in the Philippines this 2019 to be at the mid-point of the government’s two to four percent target band despite the marginal uptick last May. The economic research firm traced the higher inflation rate last month partly to the El Niño but pointed out that “weaker demand pressures and a high base effect will likely keep annual inflation in check.” “As such, we continue to expect headline inflation around the mid-point of the target band,” it said but added that “impact of the El Niño poses a key risk to the inflation outlook." Relatively, ING Bank Manila senior economist Nicholas Mapa said food inflation will be a key factor in the country’ headline inflation for the remainder of the year, but believes the final numbers will still remain within government's target. He added that this development will be closely monitored by the BSP vis-à-vis their decisions on the policy rates. (PNA)

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BSP forecasts May inflation at 2.8%-3.6%

June 5, 2019

Banking & Finance

By: , HIGHER jeepney fare in the Visayas, as well as upticks on selected food items are seen as risks to the May inflation, which the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) projected to stay between 2.8 percent and 3.6 percent. “Positive base effects” may also contribute to the “temporary price pressures” in the fifth month of the year, the central bank said in a statement released Friday. This as the rate of price increases continues to decline after peaking at 6.7 percent in September and October last year. Domestic inflation rate in May 2018 rose to 4.5 percent from 4.3 percent in the previous month. Average inflation last year exceeded the government’s 2 percent to 4 percent target band from 2018 to 2020 after it hit 5.2 percent. Amid the upside risks seen for the month, the BSP said lower prices of rice and domestic oil, along with the cut in power rates, are seen to counter price pressures. “Looking ahead, the BSP will continue to be watchful of evolving price trends to ensure that the monetary policy stance remains consistent with remaining price stability,” it said. The continued deceleration of inflation has led the BSP’s policy-making Monetary Board to slash the central bank’s key policy rates by 25 basis points early last month and analysts project more cuts in the coming months as inflation is seen to continue its downtrend. (PNA)

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OCD-10 urges LGUs to be ready for disasters

June 24, 2019

Economy

By: GERRY LEE GORIT, MAMBAJAO, Camiguin – To ensure the safety of residents during earthquakes, the local government units must see to it that they are prepared for any disaster that might occur in their area, the Office of Civil Defense-10 (OCD-10) said. Aside from regular earthquake drills that would remind people how to react in case there is a tremor, OCD-10 regional director Rosauro Arnel Gonzales Jr. said the LGUs must also put in place disaster management mechanism, most especially in the training and deployment of responders and procurement of equipment. He said residents might have already been trained on the basic duck-hold-cover move, but to save lives, the local officials must also be equipped to handle disaster response.“The community might tell us that, ‘we are ready,’ but how secure is the government in responding to disasters, especially if there are people affected or there are casualties?” Gonzales told the participants of the regional level of the National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) held at Mambajao town, Camiguin Thursday afternoon, June 20. “In this drill, we’d like to showcase the various responses of the government, from the local chief executives up to the barangay, and the different agencies who provided the necessary responders,” he said. During the drill, different scenarios resulting from an earthquake were being played out by both actual responders such as the provincial and municipal disaster risk reduction and management personnel, Bureau of Fire Protection firefighters and the Department of Health medical staff to community members acting as displaced residents and victims of tsunami, fire, and collapsed buildings. Mambajao mayor and Camiguin governor-elect Jurdin Jesus Romualdo said he sees the need for an exercise like the NSED to constantly raise the people’s awareness since the island-province, which had its share of volcanic eruptions in the past decades, is prone to floods, landslides, earthquakes, and tsunamis.  The eruptions that caused earthquake and other calamities in Camiguin occurred in 1871 to 1875 and in 1948 to 1951. Romualdo also recalled how in 2001 Typhoon Nanang devastated the province causing a massive landslide in Barangay Hubangon, Mahinog town that left 64 villagers dead and 117 more missing. He said the typhoon isolated the island for about two weeks as government agencies and even the Armed Forces and the National Police responders could not land at Camiguin due to bad weather. “We were on our own and the heavy rains, inclement weather made it difficult for help to come,” he added. He said it was local government’s initiative that the people’s cooperation that Camiguin was able to withstand the calamity that struck them. Romualdo described Typhoon Nanang as “the worst crisis that we had in Camiguin in recent history.” He said Camiguin should be ready for any eventuality at all times, and in fact, the local government has published a handbook on disaster management that will guide the Camiguingnons in the event of calamities. Col. Surki Sereñas, police regional spokesperson who was also one of the NSED evaluators, said the simulation was very organized with responders acting quickly to tend to the affected persons. Based on the OCD-10 data, about 3,000 persons participated in the regional NSED held in this province, many of them students, community members, and local government workers.

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Mindanao’s youth IP leaders vow support for EO 70

June 19, 2019

Economy

By: , YOUNG indigenous peoples (IP) leaders from across Mindanao threw their support behind the implementation of the Duterte Administration’s “Whole-Of-Nation” Approach under Executive Order No. 70 creating the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC). The more than 200 participants to the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples’ Youth Assembly committed to helping the national government implement the initiative which primarily aims to address the decades-long communist rebellion in the country. “We, the representatives of this assembly, declare our full and unequivocal support to the national government’s Whole-Of-Nation Approach, which is a centerpiece of the Duterte Administration’s Peace and Development Agenda,” the delegates said in a resolution passed on June 15. “We believe that this approach is the best solution to the communist insurgency that has ravaged our communities, and provide us, the youth, the opportunity to work hand in hand with the government to achieve this goal.” They pledged not to be used and abused by the communist insurgents, and will utilize our voices to speak out and convince members of our communities not to support the organization’s distorted ideology,” the resolution added. President Rodrigo Duterte has formed NTF ELCAC to work out a mechanism to help end the decades-old communist insurgency, and institutionalize a “whole-of-nation approach” in attaining an “inclusive and sustainable peace." The Whole-Of-Nation Approach mandates all concerned agencies of government to work in a holistic and integrated manner to deliver much-needed services to underdeveloped, conflict-affected communities. Through its Sectoral Unification, Capacity Building and Empowerment Cluster with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) as a member, the NTF-ELCAC has started to engage various peace stakeholders to jumpstart the process. The approach will utilize localized peace engagements wherein local government units and other community members situated in conflict-affected areas will take the lead in providing solutions to best resolve the nation’s insurgency problem. In the same resolution, the youth leaders also urged President Duterte to declare the full implementation of RA 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Acts (IPRA) as part of the national government’s policy agenda in his upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA). “Through this declaration, we envision the IPRA’s full implementation to significantly impact on the lives of our indigenous peoples, specifically by allowing us to completely enjoy the four bundle of rights as stated in the IPRA,” the resolution said. According to Dante Tumanding, political officer of the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Youth Organization (MIPYO), they can contribute a lot to the Whole-Of-Nation approach. “We are the frontlines and are the first ones affected whenever there is armed conflict in our communities,” Tumanding said. This is the reason, Tumanding said, why the conduct of the peace assembly, organized by OPAPP in collaboration with MIPYO, is both timely and relevant. “We wanted to equip our youth IP leaders across Mindanao with the skills and knowledge they will need to support the implementation of EO 70,” he said. (OPAPRU PR) 

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DOST gears up for Marawi IDPs’ livelihood programs

June 7, 2019

Economy

By: LEAntonio/PIA, MARAWI CITY -- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has intensified its efforts in providing livelihood programs for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of this city. Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara, undersecretary for Research and Development said during the project launching of Livelihood Program for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Marawi by DOST’s Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) that the agency would provide them support until they can recover. “Hangga't hindi sila nakakabangon, tutulong kami (Until they can recover, we will help them),” Guevara said. Guevara also emphasized that the agency has been providing a series of training and hands-on programs to the IDPs through its different offices. DOST-ITDI has been providing technologies and training on personal care products, charcoal briquetting, herbal processing and essential oil extraction aimed at improving the quality of life of the IDPs by utilizing indigenous resources for their sustainable livelihood. In partnership with the SMILES Foundation, the DOST also supported the IDPs in Butig with a corn mill facility. The Bayabao Poblacion Farmers Cooperative here has already harvested 2,400 kilos from its 40-hectare corn plantation, earning P26,400 per cycle. Other projects implemented by the SMILES-DOST partnership include “Do-It-Yourself (DIY)” bamboo shelter production for Butig, Lanao del Sur and Innovation Support System and Management Strategies to Vegetable Production to Farmers in Pantar, Lanao del Norte. DOST has also partnered with the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) to revive the handloom weaving industry in Marawi through the Maranao Collectible, a group of internally displaced women and men who create heirloom “langkit” weaving. The DOST will provide training and necessary materials and handlooms. “We are thankful to DOST, because the funding for the loans will provide more opportunities for Maranao weavers,” said Prof. Darwin Manubag of MSU-IIT. The DOST provides the technology while its partner organizations assist in the implementation of the projects to the grassroots. Being a member-agency of the Task Force Bangon Marawi’s  (TFBm) Subcommittee on Business and Livelihood, DOST commits itself to provide sustainable livelihood to the IDPs. (LEAntonio/PIA)

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Bukidnon promotes town’s ethnic thanksgiving fest

June 5, 2019

Economy

By: MEL MADERA, PNA, MALAYBALAY City – The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) of Bukidnon has recognized the celebration of SunggodTeKamanga, an annual festival in the municipality of Quezon, which located south of the province. During its regular session Tuesday, the provincial lawmakers unanimously approved a resolution that seeks to support, preserve, recognize and promote SunggodTeKamanga--a thanksgiving festival of the tribes living in Quezon town. “The two-day SunggodTeKamanga is being held every 3rd Monday and Tuesday of February annually,” said Provincial Board Member Benito Baguio, the resolution's principal author. “SunggodTeKamanga is a traditional ethnic celebration showcasing their simple and primitive way of life focusing mainly on pre- and post-farming activities and survival skills of the dominant ethnic groups such as Manobo-Pulangihon who live near Pulangi river, and Manobo-Matigsalug that inhabit the highland areas,” Baguio explained. Baguio said the festival is celebrated through tribal rituals, songs, dances and the popular ethnic sports of the tribes commonly seen during their merry-making and tribal gatherings. He said that since its existence in 2009, SunggodTeKamanga has been continuously attracting and drawing tourists. Baguio said the festival's recognition was necessary so that it can be incorporated into the list of provincial and regional festivals in Northern Mindanao. Quezon is a 1st class municipality composed of 31 barangays. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 104,116 people. (PNA)

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PPI at 55: Building Better Communities

July 1, 2019

Motoring

By: , This year marks the 55th anniversary of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), also known as the national association of newspapers. This milestone serves as a testament to the enduring two-pronged vision of PPI: 1) To defend press freedom; and 2) to promote ethical standards within the ranks of its member-publications. “We do not only celebrate its longevity but remind ourselves of its relevance and mandate,” said Alfonso Pedroche, outgoing PPI chairman-president and retired former editor-in-chief of Pilipino Star Ngayon.   As in previous years, PPI is holding yet another edition of the  National Press Forum on July 4 and 5 in Manila, not only in celebration of its founding but, more importantly, to bring together the members in a once-a-year opportunity to engage in meaningful discussion on an issue that matters to the public and all of the Philippine media.  The publishers and editors from the member-newspapers will be joined by guests from the academe, government, embassies, and civil society organizations. The theme for this year is “Governance, Media, and Democracy: Building Better Communities”, around which the PPI aims to have a discussion that, among others, will highlight the role of media in both local and national affairs as the fourth estate and watchdog.  “Building Better Communities” is the slogan for PPI’s flagship program which is civic journalism. “We couldn’t stress enough the role of the print media.  PPI in fact has been a witness and participant in the evolving media landscapes which also saw the growth of community press since the inception of the organization fifty-five years ago,” said PPI executive director Ariel Sebellino.  He also attested that newspapers have survived the tests of time. Alex Pal, a publisher of a Dumaguete-based community newspaper and PPI vice-chairman said that it is even more challenging for a small paper to sustain its operations despite difficult times.  “The last time they said print was dying, we’re still here, active in our role as catalysts for change and a platform for civic engagement.”  His weekly newspaper MetroPost is a finalist in this year’s Civic Journalism Community Press Awards. The PPI Board took note of this year’s conference theme as timely and relevant “as we also try to have an insightful look at a new system of government that has been a subject of discourse for the longest time”. Senator Aquilino ‘Nene’ Pimentel, Jr., considered as the father of local government code and a staunch advocate of federalism will share his take on it.  Atty. Christian Monsod will discuss the (proposed) Puno Federalism in relation to preserving democracy and promoting press freedom.  “Social justice and economy are just two of the major shortcomings of the Puno Constitution,” said Monsod in response to the PPI invitation.  Atty. Erwin Caliba will talk about autonomy as a mechanism to address exclusion of minorities.  Atty. Cheryl Daytec-Yañgot, a staunch advocate of IP issues, will react to all three presentations.   This year’s event is being supported again by Nickel Asia Corporation as its principal partner for the conference and awards, and in part by Kusog Bikolandia and Hanns Seidel Foundation as major sponsors, SM Investments Corporation as minor sponsor, Smart Communications, PAGCOR, Ayala Corporation, Land Bank of the Philippines, San Miguel Corporation, PAGLAS Group, McDonald’s, PCSO, and Hotel Jen. PPI’s current program partners, led by Nickel Asia Corporation will take center stage in the Industry Forum as they talk about “engaging communities” in relation to their programs and advocacies in the communities they serve. The Civic Journalism Community Press Awards, now on its 23nd season will highlight the two-day event.  There are six dailies and 7 weeklies vying for five major categories, namely: best in photojournalism, best in environmental reporting, best in business and economic reporting, best editorial page, and best edited paper. The finalists are: Baguio Chronicle, MetroPost, The Mindanao Cross, The Bohol Chronicle, BusinessWeek Mindanao, Herald Express, and Northern Forum for the weekly category; and  Sun.Star Baguio, Cebu Daily News, Sun.Star Davao, Sun.Star Pampanga, Sun.Star Cebu, and Edge Davao for the daily category. The awards program, the only one of its kind by far, is being managed by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) and supported by Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC).

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