Friday, September 12, 2014

...the PH global banks

8 Philippine banks make it to global rankings list

By Doris C. Dumlao
12 September 2014

The SM group’s banking arm BDO Unibank Inc. has kept its bragging rights as the Philippines’ top bank in the Top 1,000 Global Banks Ranking 2014 report of British publication The Banker.

BDO, which placed 268th in the latest ranking, led the roster of eight Philippine banks that landed on the global list.

The seven other Philippine banks that made it to the list were Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. (314th), Bank of the Philippine Islands (382nd), Philippine National Bank (506th), Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (590th), Security Bank Corp. (680th), China Banking Corp. (681st) and Union Bank of the Philippines (751st).

The banks were ranked by The Banker on the basis of strength of their tier1 or core capital, assets, performance and earnings.

Globally, most of the banks in the top 10 were either from China or the United States, with the exception of one British (HSBC) and one Japanese bank (Mitsubishi UFJ). The top five banks globally were ICBC (1st), China Construction Bank (2nd), JP Morgan Chase (3rd), Bank of America (4th), HSBC (5th), Citigroup (6th), Bank of China (7th), Wells Fargo & Co. (8th), Agricultural Bank of China (9th) and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. (10th).

The Banker’s Top 1000 World Banks ranking has been setting the industry benchmark since 1970, providing comprehensive intelligence about the health and wealth of the banking sector. The report enables investors and clients worldwide to assess the strength and weakness of the banks, identify banking partners for the future and track the big movers and new arrivals in the sector.


...the Philippines in the eye of a German

Discover PH now, German tells Pinoys

There’s nothing wrong about wanting to see all of the world, but a foreigner has this advice for Filipinos setting their eyes abroad: Discover the Philippines first.

“The foreign always appears more exotic and intriguing than your own home country,” said Philipp Dukatz, a German who spent three months going around the Philippines.

“But the Philippines has so much to offer that it would be a shame to not explore it before venturing out into the world,” he told Yahoo Philippines through email.

In June, Dukatz made waves in the online Filipino community after he shared his adventures in a blog post titled, “Roundup Philippines: A country that has it all.”

The blog offered Filipinos a fresh look into local destinations that may have grown too familiar to them, this time through the eyes of an outsider.

From his account, it could be said that Dukatz has seen—and loved—it all: the white sand beaches of Boracay, the clear waters of Palawan, and the steep slopes of Sagada.

No need to look too far

“It is all there, all there for the taking and for you it is not even far away,” Dukatz told Filipinos, adding that “now is the best time to discover the Philippines.”

“Imagine that foreign tourists like myself pay a lot of money for an overseas flight to come and see the beauty of your country,” the German national added.

While traveling the Philippines, Dukatz was joined was by two backpackers from Belgium. “You can have it for cheap and you don’t even need to take a long holiday,” he said.

Asked where Filipinos should start, Dukatz advised against looking too far. “I would suggest looking at places that are around one’s hometown and take it from there.”

He said there are destinations for every personality in the country. The beach bums may try Boracay while the adventurous may trek the Cordilleras or Mountain Province.

For foreigners staying only briefly, Palawan is a must-see, Dukatz told Yahoo Philippines, saying the island province “offers a good mix of almost everything.”

“Nice beaches, off-the-beaten-track places as well as more developed ones, diving, hiking and much more. I think it combines a lot of the great things the Philippines offers tourists,” he said.

The real attraction

But Dukatz thinks the country’s main attraction is not any of its headlined spots. “[T]he thing that really sets the Philippines apart is its people,” he said.

“The Filipinos’ unique kind of hospitality is really one of a kind. I found them to go out of their way to help and make you feel welcome,” he said.

He particularly cited his stay in Gubat, a small seaside town in the province of Sorsogon, where he said he made a lot of new friends among locals and tourists.

“We were invited for food and drinks, we had long nights at the beach sharing laughter and stories and in the end we all became friends,” he told Yahoo Philippines.

He even pictures himself falling in love with a Filipina. “Love doesn’t know nationalities I think. So of course I could imagine it,” he said when prodded.

But the German national was quick to add that he “could also imagine falling in love with a South American, a German or an American or a girl from anywhere else.”

Now is the time

If he had all the time and money in the world, Dukatz said he would like to ride a motorbike across the Philippines, stopping wherever he would feel like it.

“I think there is so much to explore in the Philippines and that riding a motorbike would be a great and fun way,” he said. “I hope I can soon come back for more.”

Dukatz even has a solution for Filipinos who want to experience the foreign. “Chat up some foreign tourists while you are traveling. We always like to get in touch with locals,” he said.

“Basically you don’t have to look far to find true beauty and a real adventure. It is all out there, maybe just around the corner,” Dukatz said. “Take the chance and go see those places now.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

...the WEF most improved country overall

WEF Declares Philippines Most Improved Country in Global Competitiveness


September 10, 2014
The Filipino workforce has long been considered to be internationally competitive, exemplified in its impressive performance in the business process outsourcing and overseas labor markets. However, it is only recently that Philippine competitiveness has been recognized on a global scale.

Last week, the World Economic Forum’s new Global Competitiveness Report, which looked at the competitiveness of 144 economies based on 2013 data and a survey of business perceptions up to May 2014, declared the Philippines the “most improved country overall,” rising seven notches to 52nd place.

The World Economic Forum recently declared the Philippines as the most improved country" in terms of global competitiveness. Photo/Karl Grobl
The World Economic Forum recently declared the Philippines as the most improved country in terms of global competitiveness. Photo/Karl Grobl

This is welcome news to the Philippines, particularly since it has been rocked by numerous natural calamities, most devastating of which was Typhoon Yolanda last November that left nearly 8,000 dead, affected 16 million people, and resulted in the virtual destruction of the major productive assets (e.g., agriculture and food manufacturing) amounting to about $10 billion in economic damages according to the International Disaster Database. The country’s rise in its competitiveness standing is all the more surprising on several counts.

First, the Philippines has risen 33 places since 2010 when it ranked 85th, marking the biggest improvement among all countries during that period. The other top 10 gainers include: Latvia (+28 to 42nd), Nepal (+28 to 102nd), Tajikistan (+25 to 91st), Georgia (+24 to 69th), Kazakhstan (+22 to 50th), Lesotho (+21 to 107th), Azerbaijan (+19 to 38th), Zambia (+19 to 96th), and Rwanda (+19 to 62nd).

Such gains show that significant progress is not only possible among the lower ranked countries, but that there is room in the top one-third (48th or better, the official target of the National Competitiveness Council) for countries other than what the report calls advanced economies.

The Philippines’ current ranking is now close to this official ranking, in running with Panama (48th), Italy (49th), Kazakhstan (50th), and Costa Rica (51st), and ahead of more industrialized countries such as Russia (53rd), South Africa (54th), Brazil (57th), Mexico (61st), India (71st), and the Ukraine (76th).

Second, this development helps to change the public image of the Philippines as the “sick man of Asia” and the “odd man out” in a dynamic ASEAN region. The improvement is the highest in the ASEAN region since 2010 and has narrowed the gap with the top five ASEAN countries. Vietnam, which ranked 59th in 2010, has since slipped to 75th in 2012 and recovered slightly to 68th in 2014.

The next closest ASEAN country Indonesia, which ranks 34th, has only shown a 10-point increase since 2010, compared to a 33-point increase for the Philippines.


Third, the competitiveness data shows that this positive development is not a one-time fluke but an improving trend in the Philippines since 2010 that is generally consistent across the board with the 12 pillars of competitiveness. The improvements have been occurring every year with only slight slippages in 2014 in terms of market size (-2 to 35th) and financial market development (-1 to 49th).

According to the government, the latest credit rating upgrade to investment grade by the South Korea-based National Information & Credit Evaluation (NICE) group is the 18th positive rating action since President Aquino became president in 2010.


Fourth, the major improvements in the state of Philippine competitiveness are related to pillars that many Filipinos still perceive as being problematic, including innovation (+59), institutions (+58), and the macroeconomic environment (+42). The participation of Filipino workers in fields of innovation is well known and reinforced with the rise in capacity for innovation (+50 to 30th) since 2010. But what is not well known is how government-purchasing decisions are fostering innovation (+76 to 53rd), company spending on R&D (+43 to 42nd), quality of scientific research institutions (+33 to 75th), and the availability of scientists and engineers (+25 to 71st). However the Philippines has lagged further behind in terms of patent applications (-17 to 88th).

On the macroeconomic front, the country registered higher rankings based on economic data on public debt levels (+44 to 58th), government budget balances (+38 to 25th), national savings (+23 to 51st), and inflation (+16 to 57th). The latest employment figures indicate that the macroeconomic performance has reached the grassroots level. Excluding the region devastated by Typhoon Yolanda, over 1.654 million new jobs were created year-on-year in April 2014 – the first time that the government’s target of 1 million new jobs per year has been attained since April 2012.

Historical experience shows that Filipinos have shown the world glimpses of their true national character when faced with bad news in back-against-the-wall situations. The question remains on how Filipinos – whose penchant for self-effacing humor in the face of economic turmoil is well known – will react to success stories on national competitiveness that are so few and far between in their history. That outcome may pose the biggest surprise of them all, or not.

Leandro Tomas David D. Tan is Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for the USAID Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) project, being undertaken by The Asia Foundation in partnership with Nathan Associates Inc., the REID Foundation, the Foundation for Economic Freedom, and Asia Pacific Projects, Inc. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and not those of USAID, The Asia Foundation, or other COMPETE implementing partners. An employee of Nathan Associates, he can be reached at


Saturday, September 6, 2014

...the Pilipinas Gilas admirers

‘We were all cheering for Philippines’: FIBA sec gen Patrick Baumann expects Gilas back on world stage in 2019

News5 screencap
News5 screencap

After its impressive showing in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Seville, Spain, the Philippine national men’s basketball team earned itself more than its fair share of foreign admirers.

Count FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann among that number.

Baumann told News5 that he was impressed by Gilas Pilipinas’ showing in the championships after the team gave more experienced teams a good scare before finishing up its campaign with a 1-4 win-loss record in Group B.

“I think the Philippines proved they belong on the world level, the world’s elite,” Baumann said.
“I think with patience and with a lot of hard work back in the country to grow further talents and bring this team together more in the future, by next World Cup in 2019, Philippines will be back there and they will start to beat everybody that they meet on the court.”

Gilas surprised many foreign observers in near-upsets of Croatia, Argentina and Puerto Rico although Baumann believed that they showed their inexperience playing on this level as they failed to get over the hump in those games.

Their performance was a pleasant surprise to Baumann, who was able to watch the squad in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, which was held in Manila.

“Certainly if you compare the team as it played last year in the Asian championship and to compare with this team, there’s been a huge jump in quality and savoir faire in how to go a game,” he said.

“What we have mostly appreciated is it came on the court. They were unimpressed. They fought for their right to beat Croatia, beat Argentina.”

He added that there was “no doubt” that the Philippines would make a return to the world level given the skill and talent that they displayed in the tournament.

“There are young players there. There are players that shoot like hell. It’s just incredible to see them. There’s (naturalized NBA player Andray) Blatche, who’s playing an incredible World Championship, even injured. You have to give him a lot of credit for the heart he’s given to the team,” he said.

“We were all impressed.”

Baumann also said that the the FIBA officials enjoy having the Philippines in tournaments because of the passion and enthusiasm that their team and supporters bring to the table.

“We were all cheering for Philippines somehow because there’s a lot of spectators in the tribune that follow the team and always give incredible ambience to the World Cup,” he said.

“We think that the basketball federation in the Philippines, the whole basketball family deserves a lot of credit for the achievements of this team here in Sevilla.”

Thursday, June 19, 2014

...the world's sexiest

Filipinas among world's 'sexiest' in dating poll


MANILA -- With the country's recent dominance in beauty pageants, it is no wonder that Filipinas have been voted as one of world's most "sexiest" dating partners.

The survey, conducted by travel dating website MissTravel, listed Filipinas among the top five preferred nationalities to travel with ahead of the Spaniards and the Australians.

Topping the list are the Brazilians, followed by women from Russia, Colombia and the United Kingdom, while the Bulgarians, South Africans and the Canadians took the last three spots.

Male Filipinos, however, did not make the list ranking the opposite sex. Men from Australia are considered the sexiest travel partners, while the Italians and the British came in second and third, respectively.

Here is the full rankings published on Huffington Post:

The sexiest nationalities (women):

1. Brazilian
2. Russian
3. Colombian
4. British
5. Filipina
6. Spanish
7. Australian
8. Bulgarian
9. South African
10. Canadian

The sexiest nationalities (men):
1. Australian
2. Italian
3. British
4. Scottish
5. Spanish
6. American
7. Irish
8. Brazilian
9. Canadian
10. Dutch


Sunday, June 15, 2014

...the inspiration

Inspired by fun in the Philippines


In my two years in this country, I have visited many places that affirm the claim that “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.” Apparently, I am not alone. Many of my fellow Koreans have been visiting the Philippines in the past, and they continue to do so in ever increasing numbers. I am happy to say that Koreans comprise about 25% of the foreigners who visited the country last year, making them the number one tourists.

Koreans are everywhere — from beach resorts to mountain trails, from diving spots to golf courses. Others have taken residence here, either in the suburbs or in the metropolis.

And where there are Koreans, there would be Korean restaurants and grocery stores. They cater as well as to the Filipinos who have developed a taste for Korean cuisine. It is part of the Korean wave or hallyu, that the Philippines has been riding for quite some time, and includes Korean-novelas on TV and K-Pop.

More than anything else, I believe that Korean tourists are flocking to the Philippines for its beauty and the hospitality of its people.

I myself have visited some popular areas, like Boracay and its pristine beaches, Bohol with its Chocolate Hills and tarsier sanctuary, and the mountain peaks of Cebu. This June, I will visit Palawan and finally get to see one of the World’s New 7 Wonders of Nature, the Underground River in Puerto Princesa.

My experiences have been fantastic. While the infrastructure may not be perfect, I expect more foreigners to arrive after the European Union removed the Philippines from its aviation blacklist last year.

On the other hand, there were more than 400,000 Filipinos who visited Korea last year. This was a 20.9% growth from the previous year. This number is significant, and indicates that Korea is becoming one of the favorite vacation spots of Filipino tourists as well.
Seoul has a special appeal to many visitors, and so does Jeju Island, which, incidentally, is also one of New 7 Wonders of Nature. People enticed by our own slogan, “Korea, Be Inspired,” probably visit Korea to shop for clothes, cosmetics, and electronic gadgets, as well as to have a taste of authentic Korean food, and enjoy the historical attractions. I heard that some also go to Korea for its salons and cosmetic surgery clinics. Seoul, like Metro Manila, is a “hip” and “stylish” place, especially for women, young and old.

The number of visitors may vary, but it is really a two-way exchange. While many Filipinos are in Korea on vacation, on scholarship, or as skilled and reliable workers, Koreans come to the Philippines to see the sights, to study, or to set up a business.

The affinity between our peoples is understandable. Geographically, the Philippines is our nearest neighbor in Southeast Asia. The weather is perfect for us who come from the temperate zone. And aside from the famous Filipino hospitality, we have shared values, especially with regard to the family.

Koreans in the Philippines may sometimes give the impression of detachment. Filipinos who visit Korea, however, actually have more positive encounters. In general, Koreans are relatively shy and reserved, especially when meeting people for the first time. Once people get to know us, they realize that we cherish meaningful friendships just like everyone else, and that Koreans are also a fun-loving and friendly people. The growth of Philippine tourism may just be one of the means to improve the image of Koreans in this country. After all, it’s more fun to make friends in the Philippines.


...the OFWs contribution in GCC

Why GCC would not be the same without Filipinos

By Dr Jasim Ali,
Special to Gulf News
First Published:  May 24, 2014
Gulf News
"Much to their credit, OFWS have made the first impression with respect to working habits and ethics.

They are admired for possessing traits of productivity, discipline, customer service, attention to detail, and ease of communicating in English, and presentable.

It is not unfair to claim that Filipinos have emerged as a factor in local economic activities in all GCC countries. And it can be asserted that quality of life in the GCC cannot be the same without the OFWs on the back of their significant presence in diverse sectors."   - Dr. Jasim Ali, Member of Parliament, Bahrain
The Gulf countries are home to the largest number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and it’s an arrangement which benefits both sides. For instance, for the Philippines, the workers send home billions of dollars.
GCC airlines benefit from the traffic to the Philippines, with Emirates dominating the Manila route.
Fact is, a sizable number of Filipinos live and work abroad for economic reasons, with their number estimated at around 10.5 million and comprising around 11 per cent of the country’s total population. The stats include some 5 million permanently living abroad and about 1.5 million irregulars.
However, this piece focuses on OFWs, officially estimated at more than 2.2 million by end 2012, including some 0.45 million working on the high seas. Yet, thousands of Filipinos were exposed for overstaying their work permits following the implementation of the Nitaqat scheme in Saudi Arabia in July. The controversial project is meant to make Saudi nationals, rather than immigrant workers, employees of choice in the private sector.
Notably, five of the six Gulf countries are on the list of top 10 destinations for OFWs, an evidence of openness of the economies of the grouping.
Saudi Arabia continues to maintain its position as the top destination for OFWs, which has been the case since 2004, followed by the UAE. In 2012, Saudi Arabia and the UAE accounted for 20 and 16 per cent of OFWs, respectively. Qatar emerges in fourth popular place after Singapore in third position. Qatar alone boasts some 200,000 Filipinos.
Service workers
The increasing significance of Gulf countries for Filipinos partly reflects the changing composition of OFWs, with more emphasis placed on household services workers. Unlike the GCC, Western countries are known for applying relatively strict conditions on employment of live-in housemaids.
To a degree, the changing make up of OFWs is in response to difficulties surrounding employment in the Philippines. The challenges include an unemployment rate of 7 per cent, and under-employment of nearly 20 per cent. More than 40 per cent of the employed work in the informal sector.
The Philippines enticed some $24 billion (Dh88 billion) in remittances in 2012, the third highest worldwide after India and China, according to the World Bank. The amount represents around 10 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). This sum is inclusive of money sent via financial institutions, cash carried by returning and visiting Filipinos and others in-kind.
The figure could be higher for the lifestyle of Filipinos, who are known to spend in the local economies. The habit of spending a considerable amount of their salaries in local markets adds to the attraction of having Filipinos in the GCC workforce.
Much to their credit, OFWS have made the first impression with respect to working habits and ethics.

They are admired for possessing traits of productivity, discipline, customer service, attention to detail, and ease of communicating in English, and presentable.
It is not unfair to claim that Filipinos have emerged as a factor in local economic activities in all GCC countries. And it can be asserted that quality of life in the GCC cannot be the same without the OFWs on the back of their significant presence in diverse sectors.
The writer is a Member of Parliament in Bahrain.