Philippines, the ‘world leader in love’

The number of Pinoys who claim to be “loveless” reportedly rose, but data from a global poll show that the Philippines is the country with the “most widespread feelings of love.”

The Philippines topped what U.S.-based pollster Gallup called the “most comprehensive global index of love ever constructed.”

The global survey, conducted in 136 countries in 2006-2007, asked respondents: “Did you experience the following feelings during a lot of the day yesterday? How about love?”

“The world leader in love is the Philippines, where fully 93 percent of the population reported feeling love,” Gallup said in its blog.

“Rwanda isn’t far behind at 92 percent, and Puerto Rico is the only other population surveyed where at least nine in 10 respondents reported feeling love,” it added.

Rounding out the list of 10 countries with the most widespread feelings of live are Hungary, 89 percent; Cyprus, 88 percent; Trinidad & Tobago, 88 percent; Paraguay, 87 percent; Lebanon, 86 percent; and Costa Rica and Cambodia, tied at 85 percent.
The Philippines’ new title as world leader in love comes after a local survey showed that nearly four out of five Pinoys said they have no love life.

The Social Weather Stations survey results also showed that nearly four out of five Pinoys believe that “love cannot be planned and pursued, it just comes to a person.”

But Gallup noted that “love” felt by respondents are not necessarily the romantic kind but “may also be the love of a child, a parent, family, or good friends.”

“On a typical day, around 70 percent of the world’s population report that they experienced love the day before,” Gallup said.
While more than nine out of 10 Pinoys say they experience love, in some countries, the figure drops to less than three out of 10.

Armenia is at the bottom of the list of countries in terms of feelings of love at only 29 percent, followed by Mongolia and Uzbekistan, both at 32 percent.

Also in the bottom 10 are Kyrgyztan, 34 percent; Morocco, Belarus and Georgia, 43 percent; Kazakhstan, 45 percent; Moldoca, 46 percent; and Azerbaijan and Tajikistan, 47 percent.

But Gallup said “it is important to note that differences between countries may be due to how cultures define “love” and not in actual day-to-day experiences.

For example, in some countries, the idea of “love” is restricted to a romantic partner, while in others it extends to one’s family members and friends.

Local tourists flocking to new destinations and extreme sports

The famous Tuguegarao Cave Church

When tourists think of Bohol, chocolate hills and gentle tarsiers are usually the first things that come to mind, not a heart-stopping drop into a deep gorge. There’s more to the island-province than bug-eyed primates and brown mounds. Just a couple of hours away, the Danao Adventure Park offers the exhilarating Suislide and Plunge. The local version of the zipline, the Suislide consists of a pulley suspended on a cable, which is mounted on an incline, according to the Eco/Extreme/Educational Adventure Tour Danao website. Meanwhile, the Plunge is a canyon-swing adventure mounted over a gorge that is 200 meters high and 300 meters wide. While not for the fainthearted, such extreme activities offer an alternative vacation for tourists who want more than laid-back sightseeing. Which is exactly what the annual Travel and Tour Expo will do, putting the spotlight on emerging Philippine destinations, from Tuguegarao in Luzon to the Camotes Islands in the Visayas. The Expo will be held February 15-17 in the SMS Convention Center in Pasay. “There are a good bulk of local players coming in exhibiting during the fair,” said Philippine Travel Agencies Association President John Paul Cabalza, noting that they increased the number of booths to 554 from last year’s Expo of 477., The PTAA identified nine emerging tourist destinations that they will aggressively promote: Baler, Bataan, Camotes Islands, Davao, Leyte, Mindoro, Samal Islands, Siargao Island and Tuguegarao. “We’re actually looking at more domestic players gaining ground and at the same time assisting the Department of Tourism. This is a good example of the public private partnership,” Cabalza said at a press conference on February 5., Cabalza said the emerging destinations include the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, where there are already 17 resorts and hotels operating. Meanwhile, in Baler, more than 15 resorts are currently operating, Cabalza said, noting that the popular surfing destination also has numerous waterfalls. “We went there, and it was a fun trek. Even if you swim in their waterfalls area, it’s not that deep,” said Cabalza, noting that the waterfalls are well-managed. Cabalza also recommended Baler’s history trail, which includes Baler Church, the site of the Siege of Baler in 1898. The trail also includes Ermita hill, where only a few Filipinos survived the Tsunami of 1735, which wiped out the entire town., Aileen Clemente, chairperson of the 20th Travel Tour Expo, said the fair is an opportunity for emerging destinations to become more comfortable before promoting themselves outside the Philippines. “Since there are new destinations that we are promoting, this is like their first dry run of their destination, their product, their hotels… When they get that confidence level, there’s no stopping them from gaining all the inbound market as well,” she said.

Promoting domestic tourism In 2011, the revenue from foreign tourists reached about 100 billion pesos, while the revenue from domestic tourists was at 800 billion pesos, according to Department of Tourism Asec. Benito Bengzon Jr. In 2012, the number of domestic tourists exceeded 30 million. “We’re seeing a lot of Filipinos going around the country. More than ever, there is a greater sense of appreciation, greater pride in what the country has to offer and we feel that’s one of the factors that will push domestic travel,” said Bengzon. He added that the increase in airlines operating within the country contributed to this growth, as it gave consumers more options. Similarly, there are a variety of options when it comes to accommodations and facilities for travelers. “If people want the luxury, five star type, we have it. If they opt for the more Spartan budget type of accommodations, we also have it. But definitely, domestic tourism will continue to grow,” Bengzon said., PTAA Media Committee Chair Nit Ragaza noted that many foreign tour operators will be participating in the Travel Tour Expo, and this is also an opportunity to promote domestic tourism. “While their purpose is to sell their country, unavoidably they will be moving around and they will see also the beautiful spots that we have, and they can also relay this to their countrymen. Hopefully this will translate to more visitors in the Philippines,” Ragaza said., Bengzon also encouraged Filipinos to travel abroad, as this allows them to promote the country. “The more Filipinos go abroad, the wider the network that we have. Marketing the Philippines is not just the sole responsibility of the DOT. It’s everybody’s business, and we’re happy when Filipinos go abroad and start spreading the word around that it’s more fun in the Philippines,” he said. While tourists can easily book their trips online, the fair gives them an opportunity to find out about other destinations, as well as take advantage of promos and discounts. According to Clemente, the expo has something for everyone, from luxury deals to budget trips. This year’s fair is also bigger than last year’s event, which drew some 60,000 visitors. “The fact that we’re getting huge numbers is a very strong indication that there is deeper appreciation of tourism and travel among Filipinos,” Bengzon said., To reach this year’s target of 100,000 visitors, PTAA expanded the fair to include more exhibitors and prizes, as well as celebrities and special guests, including Hello Kitty, who will be brought in by the Japanese Embassy. The expo will also be streamed live online to be able to reach more people. “We’ll be scheduling the activities there as well so you can see what are the gimmicks and what are the shows that will be playing onstage and in each booth,” she said. Ragaza also said visitors to the expo will not have to spend hours in line in order to purchase airline tickets. “They don’t have to really fall in line at Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines or ZestAir. They can go straight to the 42 participating tour operators and they can actually make the purchase there,” he said., The Travel Tour Expo 2013 will be held on February 15 to 17, 2013 at the SMX Convention Center Halls 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, and Function Room 5 in Pasay City. For more information, follow the Travel Tour Expo on Twitter ( and Facebook ( or call Fairs & More at (02)8451324 or (02)7596680.

Copyright: GMA News

Models posed nude for Mali

Holding letters that spell out ‘Naked Truth: Mali the Elephant Is Suffering,’ a group of models and actresses pose for a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) photo shoot in Makati on Tuesday. Models Bianca Valerio, Amanda Griffin Jacob, Geneva Cruz, Daiana Menezes, Sheena Vera Cruz, Mia Ayesa, Julia Sniegowski, Ornusa Cadness, Isabella Gonzalez, and Sanya Smith are campaigning for the transfer of Mali the elephant from the Manila Zoo to a sanctuary in Thailand. Photo by Danny Pata

Wearing nothing more than placards and a grim-visaged determination, several female models and local celebrities posed nude for a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals advertisement that called for the transfer of the Manila Zoo’s lone resident elephant, Mali, to a sanctuary in Thailand.

Put together, the words and letters printed on the placards the ladies were undressed with read, “Naked truth: Mali the elephant is suffering”.

PETA insists that Mali is in a wretched state in the Manila Zoo given that her enclosure is too small for her, she has some kind of foot disease and she’s suffering from “profound loneliness” having had no other elephant companion in decades.

One of the free-spirited celebrities in the PETA ad, actress/singer Geneva Cruz, explained to GMA 7 news program “Saksi” that Mali is in very unfortunate circumstances relative to elephants in the Thai sanctuary.

“Thirty-six years [old na] yun, dapat may pamilya na. Kasi, siyempre, nasa reproductive system natin mga babae, yung, gustong magaanak,” explained Cruz.

Model Sanya Smith was sweeping with her views, as she flat out said, “I think we should shut down that zoo once and for all.”

However, the Manila Zoo said that PETA and its supporters should respect the zoo’s decision to keep Mali. They further insist that Mali is well taken care of as she is well fed and given vitamins.

Furthermore, the zoo said the trip to Thailand may be dangerous to the pachyderm’s health. “The long distance transportation is very stressful to the animal because she is ‘fairly old’,” said Manila Zoo Zoological Division chief, Dr. Donald Manalastas.

But PETA senior campaigner Ashley Fruno wasn’t convinced as she had some fighting words for the Manila Zoo, “We can guarantee you, as long as Mali is suffering at the Manila Zoo, we will keep fighting for her freedom.”

Filipino consumers 2nd most optimistic in the world

Filipino consumers are the second most optimistic in the world, according to a global survey by Nielsen.

The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index showed India was still the most optimistic consumer market in the world in the fourth quarter of 2012. The Philippines ranked second, followed by Indonesia, Thailand and United Arab Emirates.

The Nielsen survey showed global consumer confidence dropped at the end of 2012, weighed down by US budget talks and euro zone crisis. More than 60 percent of respondents said the next 12 months would not be a good time to spend.

The survey showed consumers in the Asia Pacific were most upbeat but even there 59 percent said the next 12 months would not be a good time to spend.

The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index dipped 1 point in the fourth quarter to 91, after rising 1 point in the third quarter, and was 2 points higher than a year earlier.

A reading below 100 signals consumers are pessimistic about the outlook. Only 10 of the 58 markets surveyed reported a reading above 100.

“With continuing uncertainty concerning the United States debt ceiling and mandated spending cuts, along with as-yet tentative signs of economic stabilization in Europe, we can expect continued caution and moderate growth in the first quarter of 2013,” said Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen.

“The major downside risk continues to be in Europe, where policy missteps within the European Union or within individual countries could damage fragile consumer confidence and take hold globally.”

Confidence in China edged up slightly while Norway was the only developed market to be ranked among the top 10 most optimistic consumer markets globally.

In the United States, confidence dipped slightly between the third and fourth quarters but job prospects improved.

Since the survey was conducted U.S. lawmakers have reached a deal to avoid automatic tax rises and spending cuts, although they face more showdowns over fiscal measures in coming months, and economic data has pointed to a sluggish recovery.

The Nielsen survey was conducted between Nov. 10-27, 2012 and covered more than 29,000 online consumers across 58 markets.

“SUPER Wi-Fi” Philippines

Due to scant broadband frequencies, the government plans to harness unused Television channels – White Space (TVWS) or ”Super Wi-Fi” – nationwide within 3 years to connect rural areas, schools and also for health, disaster migration, e-services and e-business.

Between them, Metro Manila and Cebu have 18 unused channels, with 46 percent of spectrum wasted.

Davao has 62 percent TV White space with 24 unused channels and the country’s rural areas have a total of 24-31 unused channels, or 62-80 percent TV White Space.

”When you turn on your TV to these unused channels, the set displays ”white noise” resembling snow, with a hissing sound,” according to Louis Napoleon C. Casambre Executive Director, Information and Communications Technology Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-ICTO) in a press briefing Friday.

”They carry no useful information and contribute nothing to the government coffers,” he stressed.

White space only served as ”guard bands” intentionally left unused to avoid interference between active channels but recent advances in TV technology removed the need for them.

Combined, all the white spaces in the country represent a bandwidth potential of up to 703 Megabits per second (Mbps) with a 378 percent growth potential from technology improvements, Casambre pointed out.

At present, only 47 percent of cities and municipalities have broadband access. Just 45 percent of high school and 2 percent of elementary schools have internet access. A mere 20 percent of households have Personal Computers and most families cannot afford broadband connection.

Already, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the use of TVWS in 2010 for data communications.

”TVWS is an ideal wireless data delivery medium for the Philippines, with its long distance propagation characteristics and the ability of its signals to travel over water and through several concrete walls or thick foliage,” explained the ICTO official.

Currently available TVWS equipment can deliver up to 6 Mbps of data throughput at a maximum range of 10 kilometers. They can have indoor antennas ideal for the uneven terrain in the countryside

TVWS will not compete with local telcos or cause interference. ”The telcos can participate in the trials,” Casambre clarified. ”We can a give a telco a free TV frequency if they price their connectivity service lower.”

Furthermore, TVWS will cost less than 10 percent of the cost of existing technology and can be installed in schools with TV antennas, removing the need for cell sites or towers.

However, at this point, TVWS is still in a pilot stage in terms of technology and policy regime. ”We plan to maintain constant consultation with various stakeholders. We still have a lot to do, but we are excited about what TV White Spaces can do for the Philippines,” he acknowledged.

Last year, TVWS was deployed in Quezon City’s science community, in the offices of government agencies such as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), DOST, ICTO, ASTI, Philvocs, Pagasa and selected public schools.

This year, the government is deploying the technology in Visayas and Mindanao’s public schools, tele-health and community centers. Specifically, it will be used in selected remote and unserved public schools as well as a fisheries project in Bohol.

Luzon follows next year. By 2015, TVWS should be deployed nationwide according to the DOST-ICTO roadmap.

Still, the government needs to draft the appropriate business model for the technology and resolve a lot of other issues, from spectrum availability, licensing, usage fee, interference to database ownership and enforcement.

Php100,000 gifts for 100-year old Pinoys, soon

Pinoys will have more reasons to live beyond 100, as a new bill seeking to provide cash rewards for centenarians moves closer to approval.

At least 8,000 senior citizens aged 100 up are set to receive P100,000 from the government upon the enactment of the Centenarian Act.

The measure, whose versions have both been approved in the Senate and House of Representatives Monday, is now headed toward ratification, the penultimate step of legislation.

This, after Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman moved to expedite the bicameral conference committee’s approval of a reconciled version of the measure.

“Living to be a centenarian, or three decades past the life expectancy, is therefore an achievement and a distinction worthy of emulation and public recognition,” Lagman, the bill’s pricipal author, said.

Lagman said he agreed to Senate amendments on the bill, which will give 75 percent discount on goods and services that centenarians will avail.

The bicameral conference also tasked a National Committee to validate the true birth year of a centenarian before releasing the centenarian gift of P100,000 to the applicant.

Aside from the cash gift, the bill also seeks to allow local government units to give additional rewards to centenarians in their area.

Once enacted, the Centenarian Act will also extend the same rewards to Filipino centenarians living abroad.

Given the level of development in the country today, Lagman said the average Filipino can expect to live to an average of 71 years.

He said the pursuit of living to be 100 demands immense self-discipline, citing studies which showed that while genetics play a role in longevity, the dominant factor in living long is lifestyle.

Boracay named as Fifth Most Romantic Island in the World


Crowded beaches don’t exactly make for a lover’s paradise, and yet Boracay, with its congested shores, has recently been named the fifth most romantic island in the world by the readers of high-end travel magazine, Travel + Leisure. Lovers continue to pepper Boracay’s shores, Valentine’s season or not.

Featured in the magazine’s February 2013 issue, Boracay was noted for its powder-fine sand, which Travel + Leisure’s Christine Ciarmello said “may just be the softest in the world.” Earlier in the month, the island was also featured in a sweet Department of Tourism ad that showed a man proposing to his girlfriend, though the beach is not quite as empty in real life as it is in the ad. The romance is obviously not lost on the tourists. According to Cara Lim, a Boracay resident and chef at a high-end resort on the island, many couples populate the island during Valentine’s season. “We even prepare set menus for the couples,” she said. Of course, there are those who prefer quieter, less-commercialized shores like Palawan or Bohol over cosmopolitan Boracay, which has long lost its backpacker charm to the various establishments that have mushroomed all over the bone-shaped island. Also, recurring reports of algal bloom along White Beach as well as travelers’ stories of catching E.coli infections from the water deter some tourists from heading to Boracay. Still, lovers continue to pepper Boracay’s shores, Valentine’s season or not. Many of them can be seen walking the length of the island’s White Beach hand in hand, kissing against the sunset, or sharing a candlelit meal at one of the beachfront restaurants. On one occassion, a newlywed couple posed for photographs in the water—in full wedding garb!

Donaire hailed as 2012 BWAA Fighter of the Year

Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire will receive the coveted “Fighter of the Year” award otherwise known as the Sugar Ray Robinson Trophy from the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).

Donaire, the reigning WBO superbantamweight champion, is the second Filipino to receive the prestigious award after Manny Pacquiao who bagged the BWAA Fighter of the Year award thrice in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

Donaire’s rivals for this award include Danny Garcia and Robert Guerrero of the U.S., Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico and another Pinoy, Brian Viloria.

The 30-year-old Donaire (31W-1L, 20 KOs) had four notable wins in 2012 against Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. of Puerto Rico(SD12), Jeffrey Mathebula of South Africa (UD12), Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan (TKO 9) and Jorge Arce of Mexico ( KO 3).

The BWAA Fighter of the Year Awards started in 1938 and was renamed after boxing great Sugar Ray Robinson, who won Fighter of the Year in 1950.

This marks the fourth time in the last seven years that a Filipino boxer has been honored by boxing journalists in the United States.

Way to go Donaire!!!

Filipino consumers more brand loyal than global peers, Nielsen study finds

An estimated 80 percent of Net-savvy Filipino consumers would buy new products from familiar brands rather than switch to a new brand, according to a study recently released by market research firm Nielsen.

The trend reveals a higher level of brand loyalty among locals compared to the global trend which shows 60 percent of consumers around the world with Internet access prefer to buy new products from familiar brands.

“Introducing innovations on established brands that are already trusted by consumers can be a powerful strategy,” Nielsen Philippines managing director Stuart Jamieson says in a statement.

“Millions of dollars are being spent on new product innovation by manufacturers, yet two out of every three new products will not be on the market within three years,” he adds.

The results of the Nielsen Global Survey of New Product Purchase Sentiment were obtained from over 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries. It shows that brand familiarity is one of several key characteristics that resonate strongly with consumers worldwide.

“To deliver successful new products, marketers and retailers should ensure that they uncover unmet consumer needs, communicate with clarity, deliver distinct product innovations, and execute an optimal marketing strategy,” the local Nielsen chief says.

While 77 percent of Filipino respondents welcome new product options, Nielsen’s survey reveals that 74 percent of consumers prefer to wait until a new innovation has proven itself before making a purchase.

Another 70 percent of respondents say that they would consider store-brand options and 64 percent of respondents say they were “enthusiastic” about such brands.

The survey also shows that 74 percent of Filipino respondents like to tell others about new products that they purchased.

“Consumers are enthusiastic about adopting new product innovations but somewhat there’s trepidation about embracing new brands,” Jamieson says. “In order for consumers to adopt new brands, marketers need to launch very strong awareness and trial-building campaigns, supported by a positive product experience. It is vital that marketers generate positive word-of-mouth endorsements because negative experiences can significantly diminish the likelihood of new product success.”

Economic factors also play a role in purchase decisions with 60 percent of Filipino respondents reporting that challenging economic conditions make them less likely to try a new product.

However, when given a choice, 52 percent express willingness to pay a premium price for a new product.

Nielsen’s survey shows 53 percent of Filipino respondents say they are partial toward local options over global brands, compared to 26 percent of Asia-Pacific respondents who say they do not favor local brands.

Nielsen’s review of 21 methods to reach consumers across various media and advertising platforms shows that a mix of word-of-mouth communication, traditional advertising, and Internet activity are the most persuasive ways to drive awareness. However, potential reach and ease of execution varies substantially.

While 83 percent of Filipino respondents say word-of-mouth advice from family and friends and 82 percent advice from a professional or expert are the most persuasive source of new product information, receiving a free sample (75 percent), traditional television advertising (72 percent) and active Internet searching (69 percent) remain influential.

Philippines can be RE leader in Southeast Asia

The Philippines is sitting on vast renewable energy potential of more than 250,000 megawatts of power that can save money, generate jobs and make electricity available and affordable to more Filipinos, Greenpeace said in a report yesterday.

The economy stands to benefit from massive renewable energy investments and does not need to rely on outdated and destructive fossil fuels, according to the report titled “Green Is Gold: How renewable energy can save us money and generate jobs”.

At a press conference in Quezon City, Greenpeace launched the report, in which the group sought to debunk notions that renewable energy technology was expensive and not economically viable.

“It will make the cost of electricity more economical, generate growth for the country while posing fewer risks to the environment and people, and contribute to energy independence,” said Von Hernandez, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Greenpeace said the country’s RE potential was estimated at 261,000 megawatts, which “remains untapped, with investors now moving to other markets in the region, having been locked out by coal projects in the pipeline”.

Anna Abad, the group’s climate and energy campaigner, pushed for what she called an energy revolution by turning its back on coal and capitalising on RE technologies, such as geothermal and solar panel production.
“This report shows clearly how renewable energy is the win-win solution for sustained economic growth in the Philippines,” she said.
Abad said the Department of Energy should not miss out on the opportunity to realise the full potential of the five-year-old Renewable Energy Act of 2008.

Hernandez noted how the RE law had been hailed as a landmark law that was seen to usher in the new era of renewable energy in the country by generating billions of dollars in investment and creating new opportunities.

“However, after five years, implementation has yet to bear the fruits that were envisioned when the law was crafted. We have yet to see major implementation, which has been hobbled by foot-dragging, the inability of government agencies to enact corresponding rules and regulations, and willful sabotage,” he said.

Hernandez blamed what he described as the “conflicting policy direction being pursued by the DOE and by the Aquino administration”.

Compared to previous administrations, he said, it was only now that the government was supporting more than 20 proposals for coal-fired power plants, “which goes against the spirit and intention of the RE law”.

“It is unthinkable that we’re investing in our own suffering,” he said, pointing out the environmental costs of coal and other conventional fuels.

The Greenpeace report said RE technology was typically labour-intensive, “which means they spend more on hiring people, have a higher domestic content than conventional fossil fuel sectors, and often produce higher-end, better-paying, cleaner, healthier jobs”.

For example, it said, a 10-megawatt solar plant employs 1,000 people during the construction phase and another 100 people in permanent full-time jobs.

In terms of revenues, Greenpeace said geothermal energy, a “mature industry in the Philippines”, had saved the government more than $7 billion since 1977.
“Other RE technologies suggest more savings to the economy—or biomass: US$96.9 million per year; for hydro: $65.9 million per year; for solar: $8.5 million per year; and for wind: $29.5 million per year.

The report said the Philippines possessed the natural resources that could propel itself as an RE leader in Southeast Asia.