SB Corp releases P40M in loans to Marawi residents

November 4, 2019

SMALL BUSINESS Corp. (SB Corp), the financing arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), has released almost P40 million in loans to Marawi City’s internally displaced persons and uniformed personnel to help the city rebuild after the five-month siege in 2017.      “In line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise to continue the programs helping our kababayan in Marawi, especially those who have been affected by the siege, DTI will ensure that entrepreneurs will be back on their feet,” DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said.      “Our goal is to bring back the vibrant business of the city, as well as provide jobs and livelihood to Maranaos.”      SB Corp has provided P7.595 million in loans to 457 Marawi entrepreneurs under the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso or P3 program. Each beneficiary availed of loans between P10,000 to P20,000.      Launched in 2017, P3 is a financing program for small businesses intended as an alternative to predatory “5–6” lending schemes.      SB Corp also extended loans to wounded soldiers and the families of those killed in action in the Marawi siege under the Wounded-And-Killed in Action (WIA-KIA), an offshoot program of P3.      As of Oct. 18, P30.92 million has been released to 402 uniformed personnel, with loans ranging between P40,000 to P100,000.      The agency earmarked P50 million in lending for the P3-Marawi program, which includes WIA-KIA.      The loan assistance for Marawi follows Administrative Order No. 03, which mandates the creation of an inter-agency Task Force Bangon Marawi for the recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of Marawi City, including providing livelihood to internally displaced persons in the area.      The DTI leads the business and livelihood subcommittee of Task Force Bangon Marawi, to fast-track the recovery of businesses in the city.

Bataan Gets Free High-Speed Internet from GoWiFi

October 21, 2019

Orani to be the first municipality in Bataan to enjoy high-quality connections powered by GoWiFi   The historic municipality of Orani in Bataan will soon be able to boast an internet connection that’s easier, faster, and free! With free Internet powered by GoWiFi, constituents of Orani can enjoy more of their favorite content and online activities within key areas in the municipality with speeds of up to 100Mbps.       Recently cementing this landmark partnerships were GoWiFi Business Development Manager John Timothy Ang and Jonnelle Tan of Globe Telecom Enterprise Group, together with Orani Mayor Hon. Efren Dominic Pascual Jr. GoWiFi services will be available within the year at the Orani Municipal Hall, Town Plaza and Multi-Purpose Gym.       GoWiFi, the country’s largest WiFi service, continues its expansion plans nationwide, particularly in high-traffic areas like malls, hospitals, and schools to make high-quality internet connection accessible and affordable to more Filipinos. As of the first half of the year, GoWiFi is now accessible in 2,500 sites nationwide, up by 500 sites from the previous year.      GoWiFi services are available in regular (free) GoWiFi and premium (paid) GoWiFi Auto, both available to all users with any WiFi-enabled device regardless of network service provider and even international numbers. Subscription to GoWiFi allows users to enjoy connection speeds as high as 100Mbps depending on location. To connect to Free GoWiFi, just open the Wi-Fi-enabled device’s WiFi settings, connect to the SSID “@FreeGoWiFi” or “@<site>_FreeGoWiFi,” register and wait for the SMS verification code, then select a WiFi offer, confirm and start surfing.      As a bonus, Globe Prepaid & TM customers can enjoy 1GB of free GoWiFi for every registration of GoSAKTO, GoSURF & EasySURF worth P50 and above that they can use in any GoWiFi hotspot! Globe Prepaid GoSAKTO90 users can enjoy 1GB free GoWiFi access on top of 2GB mobile data, 2GB for GoWATCH&PLAY, 1 GCash voucher and unlimited all net texts valid for 7 days for only P90. On the other hand, TM EasySURF50 users automatically get 1GB free GoWiFi access, 1GB mobile data, 2GB for EasyWATCH&PLAY, 300MB for an app of their choice and unlimited allnet text all valid for 3 days.       Learn more by visiting

A Brown eyes possible buyout of Vires Energy

October 7, 2019

A BROWN Co., Inc. said on Thursday that it had signed a deal to possibly acquire control of a company proposing to develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) floating storage and regasification terminal with a floating power plant in Batangas City.      In a disclosure to the stock exchange, the Cagayan de Oro City-based company said it had signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Argo Group Pte. Ltd. “for the possible acquisition” of approximately 99.995% of the outstanding capital of Vires Energy Corp.      The listed company said the MoA entered into “is a preliminary agreement and the prospective acquisition will be concluded after the completion of the customary due diligence period of a maximum period of 180 days.”      A Brown said Vires, which is owned by Argo Group, is the proponent of an integrated floating LNG storage and regasification terminal and a 506-megawatt (MW) natural gas-fired power plant.      The facility is located in Barangay Simlong, Batangas City. Vires has already secured registration with the Board of Investments.      Based on data from the Department of Energy (DoE), Vires had been cleared as early as 2016 to undergo a study that will assess its power plant project’s impact on the grid, or the country’s network of interconnected power transmission lines and substations.      Sought to confirm a pending application for a floating storage and a regasification terminal, the DoE’s Ma. Laura L. Saguin said in a text message: “As of now, we did not receive any application from Vires.” Ms. Saguin is chief science research specialist at the DoE’s natural gas management division.      Aside from its real estate business, A Brown is also into oil palm nursery and seedlings distribution, palm oil milling, operation of hotels, real estate brokerage, power generation, and investment in gold mining assets.      In 2014, it put up Peakpower Bukidnon, Inc., which has a 15-year build-operate-maintain-and transfer agreement with the Bukidnon II Electric Cooperative, Inc. The two have a power purchase and transfer agreement for a 10.40-MW diesel/bunker-fired power plant in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.      A Brown’s disclosure comes after the DoE on Sept. 20, issued a “notice to proceed” (NTP) to US-based firm, Excelerate Energy L.P. to develop an LNG floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) facility in Batangas province.      The NTP requires Excelerate to comply within six months with construction permitting requirements, including the submission of permits from various government agencies and endorsements from local government units. The company is also required to submit proof of financial closing to the DoE.      In March, the DoE announced the signing of an NTP for First Gen Corp., which in December last year signed a joint development agreement with Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. to develop an LNG facility. The Lopez-led company said last month that its immediate focus is to complete a detailed study on modifications on its existing jetty in Batangas to allow bringing in an FSRU.


September 18, 2019

MANILA- Italpinas Development Corporation Chairman and CEO Architect Romolo V. Nati spoke at the Real Estate Expo Manila 2019, an international event and influential platform escalating business networking with the top executives. The year’s theme, “Strengthening the Foundation through Innovation in the Real Estate Industry”.      REEM 2019 is an international sought-after event where the regional and international investors, developers, investment promotion authorities and real estate professionals converge to discuss growth drivers in the real estate investment and development on emerging markets globally. Arch. Nati, a devout advocate of sustainability, talked about  “Green Buildings in Emerging Cities in the Philippines”, sharing the strategies and architectural technologies which are among the means of the successful accomplishments of Italpinas Development Corporation, a “design-driven developer of sustainable properties focused on emerging cities in the Philippines”.      As an expert in green architecture, he emphasized the advantages of promoting sustainable buildings in secondary and tertiary cities explaining that aside from reducing overall impact to the environment and to human health. “Green buildings are the key for property developers to achieve sustainable urban development in an environmentally friendly manner. Such structures are defined as environmentally responsible and resource-efficient over their full life cycles and proven to be cost effective with reduced energy requirements,” expressed Nati.      Italpinas Development Corporation was officially listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) on December 7 2015, only six years after its establishment. As a multi-awarded green developer, IDC’s breakthrough project, the mixed-use two tower building, Primavera Residences in uptown Cagayan de Oro, has gained international and national accolades. These include the Best-Development Mixed-use Development in the Philippines, awarded by the International Property Awards-Asia Pacific and the First Completed Building in East Asia to be certified by EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiency).        This honor was given by the prestigious IFC World Bank Group, the innovator of EDGE software and certification program which was launched a few years back and currently used mostly by building designers and property developers who want their buildings to withstand various climate stresses for a long period of time and command greater value in the market.      Current IDC’s green projects, Primavera City, in uptown Cagayan de Oro, and the latest high-rise eco-friendly Miramonti Green Residences in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, have been awarded as Best-Development Mixed-use Development in the Philippines, by the International Property Awards-Asia Pacific, a highly acclaimed award in the worldwide property industry. Among the numerous attendees that participate at the event, a large group of Real Estate Management’s students from Emilio Aguinaldo College (Cavite) led by Professor Engineer Erna Ladia who actively interacted with Arch. Nati in the Q and A session, following his presentation.

Holcim to help UN Habitat, TESDA in Marawi rebuild project

September 16, 2019

Leading cement maker Holcim Philippines, Inc. will support a project by the United Nations Human Settlement Program (UN Habitat) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to build new homes for 1,500 families displaced by the conflict in Marawi.       Holcim Vice President for Communications Cara Ramirez shared during the 7th Annual Asia-Pacific Housing Forum organized by Habitat for HumanityPhilippines on July 31 that the company is set to fund masonry training for 300 beneficiaries.      UN Habitat will be responsible for recruiting the beneficiaries from among the residents of identified resettlement sites and coordinating logistics for the project. The TESDA, through its Regional Training Center inIliganCity, will administer the masonry course and certify as skilled workers those who pass.      Ramirez said the partnership with UN Habitat and TESDA is in line with the company’s corporate citizenship campaign, Holcim Helps, which tailors capacity-building support based on the needs of beneficiaries so programs are more sustainable and have a lasting positive impact.      “Holcim Helps focuses our efforts on education, livelihood, and infrastructure programs, which are designed in collaboration with our communities so we can identify the programs that are relevant to them and answers their needs,” she added.       Ramirez shared that Holcim Philippines had extended similar support to communities displaced by a natural calamity such as survivors of Typhoon Pablo in Compostella Valley in 2012 or vulnerable to one as the case of people living near the company’s Davao plant.       The support for masonry trainings were implemented through Holcim’s flagship Galing Mason program, which equips beneficiaries with skills that allow them to contribute to the rebuilding of their homes and provides them options for livelihood.       Ramirez shared these as part of her talk on the company’s efforts to contribute to addressing the deficit of quality shelters in the country.       She noted aside from providing quality cement to ensure the durability and quality of shelters being built, Holcim Philippines has also developed new products for specific applications that contribute to improving quality and reducing cost of construction.      “For example, local developers have grown to embrace masonry cement, which is better for finishing applications and more affordable than general purpose cement. While cement only accounts for roughly 10% of building costs, the savings from using the right cement can still help developers manage costs while also delivering quality shelters for their customers,” she said.      A biennial conference organized by Habitat for Humanity Philippines, the Asia-Pacific Housing Forumgathers both public and private stakeholders engaged in finding solutions for inadequate shelter issues and promoting affordable housing as a driver of economic growth. For this year’s forum, the newly formed Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development wasthe content partner.

AirAsia PHL names new chairman

September 4, 2019

ORGANIZATIONAL changes continue for Philippines AirAsia, Inc. as the budget carrier announced over the weekend the appointment of corporate lawyer Joseph Omar A. Castillo as the new chairman of the board.      “We’re delighted to welcome Atty. Castillo as Chairman of the Board during this period of exciting growth for AirAsia,” AirAsia Group Executive Chairman Datuk Kamarudin said in a statement.      “Atty. Castillo brings a wealth of experience and strategic vision to the airline business, and we are confident that the company will continue to thrive under his leadership,” he added.      Mr. Castillo is replacing Marianne B. Hontiveros who held the post since 2014. Ms. Hontiveros was also chief executive officer and part owner of AirAsia Philippines.      The appointment of Mr. Castillo took effect yesterday. He joined the AirAsia Philippines board of directors earlier this year, and previously worked at private law firm Puyat, Jacinto & Santos (PJS) Law, where he led its transport and business process outsourcing practices and focused on labor relations, contract support, immigration and corporate fraud.      Prior to joining PJS Law, Mr. Castillo was part of Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz (ACCRA) Law Offices and the Baker McKenzie law firm. He was also vice-president for Downstream Operations of the PNOC-Exploration Corp. from 2011 to 2013.      He earned his law degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1997 and his bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the same university in 1993.      AirAsia Philippines also appointed a new chief executive officer, Ricardo “Ricky” P. Isla, replacing Dexter M. Comendador. Mr. Comendador was appointed chief operating officer.      Last June, the carrier likewise announced a change in ownership with the transfer of majority shares to businessman Michael L. Romero’s F&S Holdings, Inc., which now owns 44.4% of AirAsia Philippines.      Ms. Hontiveros and Zest-O Corp. Founder Alfredo M. Yao sold each of their 15.7% shares in the airline to F&S Holdings, leaving the remaining owners Antonio “Tony Boy” Conjuangco with 15.7% shares and Malaysia AirAsia International Ltd. with 39.9%.      AirAsia Philippines posted a profit of P593.07 million in the second quarter, surging 777% from last year due to a growth in passenger volume and ancillary revenues. It is aiming to swing to profit by yearend with a revenue target of P30 billion.      The budget carrier is also planning to launch an initial public offering before the end of the year.


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