Office Space Solutions: Serviced Offices in Makati and Manila, Philippines

Serviced offices offer a much needed convenience to foreign and local companies setting up business in the Philippines. These offices usually come fully-furnished, and are equipped by a separate facility management company. The managing company purchases the individual desks, office space, and operating equipment, then rents them out to client companies. Also referred to as executive suites, managed offices, business centers, or executive centers, serviced offices boast a large number of benefits, including plug and play options, prominent business adresses, and flexible short term contracts. These types of offices often have more flexible rental terms, compared to conventional leased office space, which are subject to more restrictive leases. Additional office space is easily allocated within short notice, making it more convenient for client companies in general, should a particular business change in size. Serviced offices are also more cost-effective, owing to the fact that client companies do not require to set aside capital for start-up costs and solicitor’s fees.

Most serviced offices are equipped with the latest technology, including plug and play options, high speed internet access and state-of-the-art facilities. A large number of workstations are available to employees, and can be used by anyone. Serviced offices have become a viable alternative to conventional leased office space. They are used buy a large number of foreign and local companies in the Philippines, some of which include start-up business ventures, branch offices, expanding companies, and foreign companies in need of local representation. The accessibility of serviced offices also makes it an attractive option to many companies. Most offices are usually open on a 24 hour basis, and provide high-speed internet access to anyone, anytime. However, serviced offices have their own share of limitations. For one thing, a serviced office often gives clients a generic impression of your company. Serviced offices also have higher monthly rental rates than conventionally leased office space. Most serviced offices are usually found in Central Business Districts (CBDs) like Makati, Manila, Ortigas, and Fort Bonifacio.

Serviced offices in Manila usually range from Php 15,000-30,000 per month, depending on the type of facilities available to the renter. Office rates in Makati, on the other hand, range from Php 15,000-40,000. However, some rates are only given on application. This is usually the case for offices located in premier business areas in the city, such as Ayala Avenue, Makati Avenue and Paseo del Roxas.

According to Michael McCullough of Makati-based real-estate brokerage firm KMC MAG Group, “”Serviced offices offer an immediate business location solution without having to spend all the time and money building out an office. You often get a great corporate address and the facilities you need to impress clients.”

Adds Business Consultant Gregory Kittelson of Manila consulting firm Kittelson & Carpo Consulting, “Many of our smaller clients registering a business in the Philippines take advantage of serviced offices while ramping up on the initial hiring of employees. Once the the company matures and hires more employess, they then leave the serviced office option and look for leased office space throughout Metro-Manila.”

Government Initiative Boosts Tourism Industry in the Philippines

A legacy of the Arroyo government, the National Tourism Act (R.A. 9593) has brought Philippine tourism to greater heights, boosting industry growth to 6.64% in the first quarter of 2010. According to statistics from the Department of Tourism, foreign arrivals increased by 7.89%, and domestic tourism by 6.09%. Metro Manila ranked first as the most visited destination in the Philippines, with a 37.10% growth rate and over 437,170 tourists. Cebu placed second with a 3% growth rate and 435,987 tourists, while Camarines Sur was in third place with 348,139 tourists. According to tourism secretary Joseph “Ace” Durano, the government expects at least 5 million visitors in 2010.

Republic Act 9593, or the National Tourism Policy Act of 2009, was ratified by the Senate and House of Representatives on March 4-5, 2009. The law aims to strengthen the tourism industry in the country, and promote the Philippines as a premier tourist destination in Asia. Some of the law’s components include the upgrading of international competitiveness through the institution of an accreditation, standard-setting, and classification system. Under this law, the Philippine Convention and Visitor’s Corporation (PCVC) would be reestablished as the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), which would be responsible for marketing the Philippines as a global tourist destination, and emphasizing its other products and services. The law also provides for the establishment of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), an institution tasked with the designation, regulation, and supervision of tourism enterprise zones (TEZs) in the country. The National Tourism Policy enables the creation of “tourism enterprise zones” in strategic areas in the country, including Cebu, Davao, Laguna, Bohol, etc.

The institution of R.A. 9593 has established the Philippines as a premier tourism destination in Southeast Asia. This was evidenced by extensive growth in the Philippines’ tourism industry; according to statistics from the Department of Tourism, over twenty cruise ships docked in the Philippines in 2009. Foreign arrivals in these cruise ships increased by 2.24%, from 17,516 passengers in 2008 to 17,908 in 2009. Tourist arrivals in Puerto Princesa likewise increased by 21%, while tourist volume in Boracay rose by 20%, with 190,094 tourists during the first quarter of 2010. The tourist count in Bohol also increased by 4.20%. Through the coordinated efforts of the Arroyo government and the private sector, the Tourism industry in the Philippines has reported an extensive amount of growth in the last five years. American tourists continue to dominate the Philippine tourism demographic, with Canada coming in at second, and China placing third.

According to Gregory Kittelson of Manila business consulting firm, Kittelson & Carpo Consulting, “We’re not only seeing an increase of visitors in the country, more and more foreign investors are also setting up tourism businesses in the Philippines. This bodes well for the long-term growth of Philippine tourism, which is expected to rise by 15% in 2010. Through the coordinated efforts of the Arroyo government and the private sector, the Philippines has emerged as a noteworthy competitor in the global tourism industry, specifically in Asia.”

Office Space Solutions: Seat Rentals and Seat Leasing in Makati and Manila, Philippines

by: Kathleen Yu

Seat rentals are an ideal option for start-up BPO companies and call centers in the Philippines. Not only are they cost-efficient and user-friendly, seat rentals also enable companies to reduce capital expenditures, while focusing on the more important aspects of the enterprise. Seat rentals are purchased on a monthly basis and do not require prior contractual agreements. This makes it a convenient option for companies looking to set-up business operations within a short period of time, minus the legal hassle. As the Philippine BPO industry continues to grow and develop, the demand for seat rentals in business districts like Makati, Ortigas, Fort Bonifacio and Manila is increasing at a rapid rate. There are a large number of alternative seat rental options available to BPO companies and call centers in the Philippines, including plug and play solutions, desk and cubicle offices, and many others.

However, an important thing to consider, even before renting seats, and setting up your BPO, is the location of your business. Location can make or break a business venture. There are a large number of important BPO locations in the Philippines, including Makati and Manila. Both cities have their respective advantages and disadvantages, as well as significant differences in terms of start-up costs, utilities, electrical and rental expenses. Makati City is the biggest financial district in the Philippines and home to a large number of foreign and local enterprises. The city houses the prestigious Makati business club, the Philippine stock exchange, the American Chamber of Commerce, and numerous embassies. Makati is also a thriving IT Park, boasting a large number of PEZA buildings and commercial office space for rent, lease or sale.

According to Michael McCullough, co-founder of real estate brokerage firm KMC MAG Group, “Makati City offers a much safer location for employees working during the evenings, which makes it a better location than Manila for both call centers and seat rental facilities.”

As Makati City is home to some of the largest local companies and foreign multinationals in the Philippines, it is considered an ideal location for setting up a call center or BPO facility. Seat rentals in Makati range from USD 150-300/month per seat. However, prices vary according to the quality of the computer equipment, and the types of facilities available to the renter. Manila is also considered a good location for setting up a BPO or call center enterprise. It is the capital of the Philippines, and the center of government in the country. Manila is also a business district, although not as high profile a location as Makati. The advantage of this is that seat rentals and commercial office space in Manila are usually cheaper than in Makati. The work atmosphere in Manila is also more laid-back and relaxed. Seat rentals in Manila range from USD 150-200/month, with varying prices depending on the available inclusions: computer hardware, VOIP equipment, etc. Start-up costs in Makati and Manila range from Php 5,000-10,000, depending on the size of your business enterprise.

Both locations are well-suited for BPO companies and call centers, and are prime business locations for many foreign and local companies setting up business in the Philippines.

Commerce Flows into Subic, Philippines

By: Eden Lorren Pabalan

Subic Bay, Philippines is bordered on the east by Zambales mountains and the South China Sea on the west. A former US Naval base, Subic is now a freeport zone and a gateway for the transportation of goods. And, while it’s topography is more of a jungle paradise, technology, infrastructure, and industry have changed the landscape and the standard of living in the community. Real estate and BPO companies doing business in the Philippines are rising fast in the area and investors are now looking at Subic as a top BPO destination in the country.

The newly completed SCTEx (Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway) a P36 billion peso expressway is a leading avenue through Olongapo, Tarlac and bridges the three cities of Tarlac, Subic, and Clark. Access from the Metro Manila area through the superhighway is convenient, safe and predictable.

Investments in office space and residential infrastructure are growing in Subic. Subic Bay Gateway Park is a commercial hub  home to a number of Korean and Taiwanese companies doing business in the Philippines. It offers 300 hectares of prime industrial land.

Ayala Land Inc., the Philippine’s biggest real estate developer has signed a 50-year lease with the government to develop a 7.5 hectare  commercial hub along Rizal Highway, within the Subic Bay Freeport and are in the steps of final completion for Anvaya Cove, a luxury resort area. An estimated P3 billion pesos are on the line for this investment venture. The proposed plan for the vicinity is to establish a shopping mall, hotel, and a Business Process Outsourcing building.

PLDT Corporation is also eyeing Subic as a BPO hotspot in the Philippines. The company has already inked a 17 hectare development project with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, an  ICT hub that will bring the freeport to the frontlines of ICT infrastructure development in the country. Other call center companies are already open for business in the area, such as US-based Sutherland Call Center and Teletech.

According to Outsourcing Consultant Gregory Kittelson of Kittelson and Carpo Consulting, a Makati-based firm, “We are now seeing more interest from foreign investors in Subic.  Every year,  more and more of our clients are setting up operations in Subic and getting involved in outsourcing, shipping, and the importation and exportation of goods and services in the area.”

The growing BPO business in Central Luzon is continually creating job opportunities for Filipinos. Subic will soon be known not only as a beach and diving paradise, but also as a busy and prosperous economic zone in the Philippines.

Global BPO: Philippines vs. Malaysia

By: Kathleen Yu

Malaysia and the Philippines are two of the largest outsourcing destinations in Southeast Asia, both countries competing to achieve higher market shares in the global Business Process Outsourcing “BPO” industry.

Hailed as the “2nd top Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Destination in the Asia Pacific” by global market intelligence provider IDC, the Philippine BPO sector has boasted an annual growth rate of 46% since 2006. Three key Philippine cities were recently awarded slots on the “Top Ten Asian cities of the future” by UK-based periodical Financial Times, putting Quezon City at 7th, Cebu at 8th, and Davao at 10th place.

Convergys Philippines is the largest BPO company in the country, employing over 22,000 professionals in the local outsourcing industry. Philippine BPO revenues were up by 19% in 2009, totaling to $7.2 billion. The Philippines is considered the third largest BPO destination in the world, dominating 15% of global markets.

According to BPO Consultant Gregory Kittelson of Makati-based firm Kittelson and Carpo Consulting, “With low operational costs and a large number of government-issued tax incentives, the Philippines is an ideal investment destination for foreign multinationals and other start-up companies.  Foreign BPOs prefer setting up operations in the Philippines because the Philippine workforce is exceptionally skilled, and boasts a large number of English-speaking professionals. Filipinos are also known for their hospitality and friendly manner, which has earned the country an enviable reputation as one of the prime outsourcing destinations in the world.”

Located south of the Philippines, Malaysia is another prime outsourcing location in the Southeast Asian region. The country is home to a number of international BPO companies, like Scicom (MSC) Bhd, SnT Global Sdn Bhd, and Vsource Asia Bhd.Malaysia offers unique advantages in government support, human capital, infrastructure, and domain expertise, which makes it an ideal destination for start-up BPOs.

Contact centers and BPO companies in Malaysia are growing in number, mainly because of the Malaysian economy’s resiliency in facing the global economic crisis. The inflation rate in Malaysia is 2.4%, lower than most Southeast Asian countries.

Bolstered by a change in political leadership, Philippine BPO is expected to register a 30-40% profit increase for the first quarter of 2010. The Malaysian economy, on the other hand, will continue to feel the effects of the 2009 Global Economic Recession, which has already caused a 2% slump in the country’s GDP for the previous year alone. Although both countries are ideal outsourcing destinations, the stability of the Philippine economy puts it at a sharp advantage over less secure Malaysian markets. Whether similar trends will prevail in the future remains to be seen.

GHRP-6 Stirs Up Strength and Energy for Better Health

By: Eden Lorren Pabalan

GHRP-6 (Growth Hormone Releasing HexaPeptide 6) is a 28-amino acid peptide responsible for inducing the release of Growth Hormone(GH) in the body. Growth Hormone is a protein based poly-peptide hormone responsible for stimulating cell and growth regeneration among humans and other animals. GHRP-6 is a synthetic drug that promotes food intake by stimulating a person’s appetite and energy metabolism.

Taking GHRP-6 initiates muscle growth, decreased body fat, and increased stamina and strength. In recent years, scientific breakthroughs in the field of medicine have led to the use of peptides as energy boosters and performance enhancing drugs. A number of peptides are now being used to treat Growth Hormone deficiency, obesity, cachexia, and eating disorders. GH also causes the liver to secrete IGF-1, a highly anabolic hormone. IGF-1 is a key player in increasing muscle mass and burning body fat. GHRP-6 promotes the growth of collagen and bone tissues in the body.

It has also been proven that GHRP-6 releases GH more efficiently when used with insulin. Scientific experiments with lab mice have shown positive improvements in the body composition, muscle growth, glucose metabolism, memory and cardiac function of GHRP-6 test subjects . Growth Hormone in GHRP-6 is also known to stimulate the immune system, enhancing immune responses in the body.

GHRP-6 users attest to its numerous health and body benefits. Its effect is most evident in the bodies of users who have replaced the usual cycle of anabolic steroids for GHRP-6. Athletes and bodybuilders patronize the product because it enhances their muscle development. GHRP-6 is the the key to obtaining that toned and muscular physique you’ve always dreamed about.

Although GHRP-6 is already on the market, research is still ongoing to further develop the product. The future holds numerous possibilities for the further enhancement of GHRP-6. Numerous testimonials are already popping up all over the web, attesting to the effectiveness of the product. GHRP-6 has even gained a online following of dedicated users, all of them interested in improving their strength and energy for better health, and a better life.

Call Center Industry Prospers in Cebu

By: Kathleen Yu

As the local BPO industry continues to grow, the Philippines is on the fast track to becoming one of the prime outsourcing destinations in the world. Next to Metro Manila, Cebu City is considered as one of the most important BPO destinations in the country. As more and more investors flock to the city, the “Queen of the South” is fast becoming the largest call center hub in the Visayas region.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is one of the fastest growing industries in Cebu City. Because of the low cost of labor, more and more foreign and local companies are now setting up operations in the city. There are already a number of call centers in the area, and more are still on the way. Most Metro Manila based call centers have already set up operations in the city. Some small and medium BPOs are even bypassing Metro Manila and going straight to Cebu. Coupled with an exceptionally skilled workforce and a lower cost of living, it’s no mystery that the Philippine BPO industry is alive and well in Cebu City.

The ability of most Cebuanos to understand and communicate in fluent English is also an important advantage in the city’s outsourcing industry. As English is considered the lingua franca of the call center industry, a rudimentary knowledge of the language is essential in fields like customer service and telemarketing.

According to Gregory Kittelson, Outsourcing Consultant of Makati-based Kittelson and Carpo Consulting, “The growing number of foreign investors is a strong indication that Cebu City is fast becoming an important BPO center in the country. More and more foreign companies are now tapping into the local workforce, injecting large amounts of capital into the economy. I believe that this bodes well for the future of Cebu City’s outsourcing industry.”

The growing BPO industry has also created a number of job opportunities for Cebuanos, providing solid employment for the local workforce . This, in turn, has further boosted the local economy. A recent study by the Department of Trade and Industry puts the GDP growth at 4.5% in 2008. Experts are also expecting a steady increase in employment for the second quarter of 2010.

As the local outsourcing industry continues to grow, Cebu City will continue to establish itself as one of the prime outsourcing destinations in the Philippines.

Global BPO: Philippines vs. Latin America

By: Kathleen Yu

As the global Business Process Outsourcing “BPO” market continues to expand, outsourcing destinations like Latin America and the Philippines are seeing more foreign investors and increasing annual revenue. These areas expect a 30-40% profit upswing from BPO for the first quarter of 2010.

Latin American BPO is poised for growth, with large multinationals like Citigroup, Pfizer, and Ford setting up operations in the area. Other international offshore players in the area include TCS, Convergys and IBM. Latin American countries offer a number of fragmented domestic IT and BPO services, which enable bigger companies to capitalize on local acquisitions. Proximity to the United States and similar time zones may have led to 32% growth in voice transcription services in 2009 for the region.  Whatever the reason, the tides are shifting toward Latin American shores and away from India, the traditional leader in the voice transcription field.

The Philippine BPO sector dominates 15% of the global market, and is the third largest in the world. Call centers comprise 80% of Philippine outsourcing, which relies on the local workforce to supply voice transcription services for foreign multinationals. The Philippine BPO market is expected to overtake India as a global outsourcing provider, with revenues expected to reach $13 billion by 2010. A more mature BPO market , English speaking workforce, government support, fiscal incentives, special tax zones, and strategic location translates to better service providers and more cost efficient service gives the Philippines clear advantages over Latin American BPO.

According to BPO Consultant Gregory Kittelson of Kittelson and Carpo Consulting, “The Philippine BPO industry is one of the fastest growing in the world. Many foreign companies prefer the Philippines because of its low operational costs, educated workforce, and numerous tax incentives. Not only does this bode well for the country’s economy, it also sends a message to the rest of the world, that the Philippines is indeed a force to be reckoned with.”

Both markets are competitive and have unique advantages and disadvantages. By analyzing the nature of both industries, as well as their respective geographical locations and legal environments, it is possible to determine which country is best suited as an outsourcing location for your enterprise. The right information is key.

Boracay Captured my Heart: A Love Story of Aklan

New friends, new families
One week was all I had to take a trip to Aklan better known for it’s Boracay Island. It was a very fulfilling and unforgettable travel experience for me because I reaped laurels in Kalibo due to the National Schools Press Conference, and at the same time, had a leisure trip to the tourist attractions of Aklan, especially, what else? Boracay! The sand and the smell of the sea was overwhelming. But I am most thankful for the tour guides and co-contestants in the NSPC who have become my buddies in my vacation-cum-contest. Everything’s worth it!

1st Day: I don’t love airports
I was so excited when I boarded the PAL plane bound for Kalibo at 3:00 pm. My adrenaline is surged up and I had a lot of misfortunes and adventures before I got the chance to go to Aklan for free. I won a Metro Manila journalism contest where the winners will compete in the national levels which will be held in Kalibo, Aklan for three days. The other days left will be for travel and leisure for us. So DepEd and my school sent me to Aklan together with another participant to bring back to Manila the much needed victory in the field of journalism.

The flight ran smoothly for us. After about 45 minutes the plane landed the borders of Kalibo Airport where the little hassles began. When we arrived, there was a blackout in the airport! It was drizzling and the machines used for scanning the baggages were not working. After a few moments, we saw our bags being drenched in the rain and were just piled up in a corner of the airport and we rushed to take our luggage! It gave me a headache. But that’s where the troubles end. We were welcomed in the airport by my adviser’s friends who served as our tour guides during our one week in Aklan. They drove us to our billeting area in Kalibo Pilot Elementary School. Unbelievably, their public schools are nice. We had dinner in a barbecue house near the school and unpacked our stuff. Everything is neat.

2nd Day and 3rd Day: Love the weather, hate the tension
On Sunday, we went to Aklan Baptist Church to pray for the upcoming contest and meet some people whom my adviser knew. They served us a sumptuous lunch and gave us a warm welcome. Hospitality reigns in their culture.
Monday was the official start of the NSPC. There was a popular ati-atihan dance (dance for a feast in honor of Santo Niño) and we enjoyed the warm welcome of Kalibo people. It  was my first time to see it and I my curiosity became satisfied. I’m beginning to adjust to the weather, which is really cold, and meet my new friends. Cristina, a senior, jogs around the school every morning when she wakes up and invites me to join her. The cool smell of fresh air soothed my lungs. It was a welcome breath after living in Manila for 15 years.
Despite the good events, the tension in my heart has started rising up. Wednesday was the schedule of my contest for Copyreading and Headline Writing. It doesn’t help that I’m having fun the whole time. 

4th Day and 5th Day: I Love Precious Moments, Bakawans, and awards
Wednesday was the day of the contests for my category. It was also the day our school principal arrived to join us for the contest and awarding. I did my best in writing a headline and my comrade already won an award for winning in Radio Broadcasting. What I cannot believe was when I heard my name being called for winning 4th place in the nationals! My Aklan trip was already well-paid. Our school principal was so happy about my win. My co-student also won third place in a different category.
Travel-wise, on Wednesday and Thursday, we strolled arround Aklan. We went to the museum of Precious Moments, dolls which are made by an American national based in Aklan. There were lots of dolls inside the museum which looks like a huge doll house, and I saw all the limited edition Precious Moments dolls. They were so cute. After that tour, I started to love the dolls with the trademark teardrop shaped eyes. We also went to a Bakawan park and marvelled at the aquatic trees. Of course we ate and ate during the tour, and probably gained weight. When night fell, we started packing up to get ready for tomorrow’s travel to Boracay Island!

6th Day and 7th Day: I’m in love
I never thought that Boracay is far from Kalibo. Our “tour guides” who are actually the best guides ever, drove us in a van from Kalibo all the way to Malay, Aklan for about 2 hours. During the travel, we saw lots of coconut trees and a view of the ocean of the province. It was beautiful. I have already fallen in love with Aklan, and I actually didn’t want to end my trip. After the long ride to Malay, we took a 30-minute boat ride to Boracay island.
When we arrived at Boracay, I immediately jumped off the boat and admired the fine white sand. I even put some sand into a mineral water bottle and took it home. We checked-in to a hotel and started swimming in the blue water of the sea. There were not much tourists because it was February, and I liked the serenity of the place. The only problem when you swim in February is that there were moss and seaweed around the shores. But then, I enjoyed every second of being there. I loved their green mango shake and mongolian buffet! Yum! But the best thing in Boracay is its sunset. Lovely is an understatement for describing it.
To wrap it up, Aklan is a province rich in culture, hospitality, and biodiversity. It’s people, attractions, and festivals are the reasons why tourists swarm the province. And I will never forget the moment I fell in love with it.

Foreign Investors Tap Mining Industry in the Philippines

By: Kathleen Yu

The Philippine Mining Industry is a thriving enterprise, thanks in part to the Arroyo government’s aggressive investment policies.
According to data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the government recently issued 20 new exploration permits in the first three months of 2010 alone. An exploration permit enables mining companies to tap the mineral resources of a particular area, and open them up to mining activities.
The government recently opened over 122,000 hectares of undeveloped land for mining exploration. This has stirred interest among foreign investors in the country, resulting in an increase of government revenues. The Arroyo government expects as much as $2 billion in foreign investments for the year 2010.
Foreign companies have already set-up partnerships with a number of mining corporations in the country, such as  Philex Mines and the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation. According to statistics from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), mining companies rake in an average 50,000 tons of ore per year. Under the 1995 Mining Act, foreign companies are entitled to as much as 60% ownership in large-scale exploration and development of the country’s mineral resources.
The Philippines has some of the richest mineral resources in the world, including abundant copper, chromite, nickel, and gold deposits. Government estimates put the country’s mineral ore deposits at over 83 billion tonnes.

According to Leslie Martin, corporate labor lawyer of Kittelson & Carpo Consulting, “The Philippine mining industry is fast becoming one of the largest moneymakers in the country. Foreign investors are coming in on a daily basis, establishing partnerships with local mining companies, and applying for exploration permits to different parts of the country. The outlook of the country’s mining industry has never looked brighter.”