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!

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, Hailed as One of the World’s Best Destinations in 2013

MANILA, Philippines — Looks like all of our hidden beaches will no longer be oblivious to foreigners as Condé Nast Traveller, an American travel magazine, ranked Philippines as second among the top 10 destinations to watch out for in 2013.

On its magazine online site, author Laura Fowler believes that it is the undiscovered beaches and the incredible underwater life that makes the Philippines particularly popular among serious divers. She also mentioned some of the country’s finest destination sites such as Bicol, Siargao, Palawan and Amanpulo.

Among the ”Top 10 hot destinations that will be big news for travelers in 2013″, Brazil ranked 1st. The Netherlands’ city of Amsterdam was ranked 3rd; 4th is Africa; Galapagos Islands, 5th; Kashmir, 6th; Mayan Riviera, 7th; New Zealand, 8th; Panama, 9th; while Oman placed the 10th spot.

As the author put it,  ”Sorry, Maldives… We love you, but we’ve got a new flame.”

With the country’s unexplored beaches and vast underwater wildlife, looks like Philippines already has the edge among its tropical neighbors.

Binibining Pilipinas Beauties Crowned

Janine Mari Tugonon, 22 years of age, a cum laude graduate with a pharmacy degree from the University of Santo Tomas, outdone 29 other candidates and was crowned Miss Philippines-Universe 2012 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last April 15, 2012 (Sunday).

She got the most desired title after finishing first runner-up in the same beauty pageant last year.

Nicole Schmitz, 23 years of age, from Cebu City secured the title of Binibining Pilipinas-International 2012, she also won the Nestlé Fitnesse Best in Swimsuit award and Best in National Costume. Schmitz is set to graduate with a double major in Law and Psychology in Australia at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Katrina Dimaranan, 18 years old, was announced as Binibining Pilipinas Tourism 2012. She recently graduated from High School and also gotten the Miss Talent award.

Completing the winners’ circle were a 19-year-old, Annalie Forbes (1st runner-up) and 20-year-old Elaine Kay Moll (2nd runner-up).

The Big Dome was filled with a lot of enthusiasts and supporters of the 30 candidates who prepared hard for the big night over the past four months.

The pageant was hosted by Xian Lim, Iza Calzado, Venus Raj and Georgina Wilson which was started by a cheerful number as the girls whirled to heavy beating in a “more fun in the Philippines” mode.

The program then was followed by the swimsuit competition and the long gown parade interposed by the sounds of DJ Callum David and performances of Arnel Pineda, the Journey frontman who did a U2 song, and bamboo with a flashy version of the Anakbayan song “Probinsyana.”

The winners of other special awards were Chloe Zanardi (Bb. Friendship), MJ Lastimosa (Bb. Philippine Airlines and Ms. Avon), Roxanne Tadique (Manila Bulletin’s Readers Choice), Giselle Muñoz (People’s Binibini), Karen Gallman (Bb. Photogenic), and Angelee de los Reyes (Best in Long Gown).

Last year’s conquerors Shamcey Supsup, Dianne Necio and Isabella Manjon walked the Binibini stage as queens for the last time in a demonstrative sendoff.

The judges’ panel was composed of an elite mix of businessmen from empowered women, government personalities, diplomats, and leading multinationals.

They comprised of US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr., Spanish Ambassador Jorge Domecq, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Rizal Gov. Junjun Ynares, former congresswoman Risa Hontiveros, STAR columnist Babe Romualdez, actor and sportsman Richard Gomez, Azkals striker Phil Younghusband, banker Olivier Gougeon, Avon Philippines’ Ashley Ferguson, Nestlé Philippines CEO John Miller and Miss International 2005 Precious Lara Quigaman.

The event was also attended by Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. Chairwoman Stella Marquez Araneta, Araneta Group Chairman Jorge Araneta and the BPCI executive board was composed of Conchitina Bernardo, Pitoy Moreno, Eddie Ocampo and Betsy Westendorp.

Numerous historical Bb. Pilipinas beauty queens and showbiz personalities also graced the event, including Boy Abunda and Mateo Guidicelli. Binibining Pilipinas 2012 was presented by the Araneta Center, ABS-CBN, Nestlé Fitnesse in cooperation with Nestlé Fruit Selection Yogurt, Avon, JAG jeans as the official jeans, Manhattan Garden City, the Department of Tourism, Philippine Airlines as the official airlines, and Resorts World Manila as the official residence.

Other partners are the Manila Bulletin, Pizza Hut, Charter Ping An Insurance Corp., David’s Salon, Gold’s Gym, Entrepreneurs School of Asia, Dale Carnegie Training, Picture City, TicketNet, and the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Raymond Saldaña is the official photographer of the affair. Joylong Philippines is the official transport partner of Binibining Pilipinas 2012.

PAL Adds, Cancels Flights For Holy Week

Philippine Airlines (PAL) is regulating its operations on Holy Week by adding 6 extra flights to 3 destinations and developing 20 international and 2 domestic flights by using larger aircraft.

An additional flight will be attached to and from the following destinations: Taipei and Puerto Princesa City on the 8th of April while on the 9th will be at Hong Kong.

The flights that will use larger aircraft to lodge more passengers are those to and from Shanghai (Pudong airport) on April 4; Xiamen, Taipei, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing on April 5; Puerto Princesa City on April 7; Hong Kong, Xiamen and Beijing on April 8; and Xiamen on April 9.

PAL domestic operations will be scaled down with the cancellation of 38 flights to 7 destinations on Good Friday, Black Saturday and Easter Sunday to permit PAL employees to at least witness Holy Week practices.

On Good Friday, particular flights to and from will be cancelled such as cities of Cotabato, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Zamboanga and Tacloban. While on Black Saturday, certain flights to and from Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao will be also withdrawn.

On Easter Sunday, one flight each to Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga will similarly be canceled.

Visit the PAL website for a complete list of canceled, upgraded and additional flights ( or call PAL Reservations at 8558888.

Passengers are recommended to arrive earlier than usual at the airport, also that they double check travel documents (passport, tickets, etc.) and minimize bringing bulky carry-on baggage to avoid aggravations.

Apple founder dies at 56

Banner of the Homepage of

Screenshot of the homepage banner of

The Apple co-founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs has passed away.

Jobs was known for his invention and discovery of sleek gadgets that transformed the technological landscape of the world. Among the products he invented were the personal computers, the line of iPod, IPhone and iPad.

The company’s website quickly changed its website with a photo of Job’s picture labeled “Steve Jobs 1955-2011″. Upon clicking the site redirects to a company statement that states “We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today. Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve”

Steve Jobs suffered from cancer that started in 2004 and underwent a liver transplant in 2009. He made several medical leaves in the company until it lead to his official resignation last August.

Jobs started the Apple company with a high school friend, Steve Wozniak in a Silicon Valley garage in 1976. After 10 years he was forced to leave the company then asked to return in 1997. Since then, he transformed the company to what it is today.

Through Job’s vision and innovation, he transformed how human’s use computers – from a simple hobby to a “must-have” of the modern times.  With his products, Jobs also changed the music, computer, and cellphone industries.

Job’s last appearances were last March 2011 for the release of the iPad 2, last June 2011 for the iCloud program then the announcement of his resignation last August 2011 stating “always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come” and naming Tim Cook as the new CEO of Apple.

Anti-Angry Birds Bill bill a hoax

Following the controversial Anti Planking Act, Filipino Netizens again aired their sentiments over Twitter about an alleged bill that aims to ban products of the online game “Angry Birds”.

Dubbed as the “Anti-Angry Birds Bill”, the news went viral after a news was posted on a satrical website called “So, What’s News?”.  The article states that the bill will be sponsored by Quezon City Representative Winston Castelo who is also known as the representative who wanted to file the Anti-Planking Act of 2011.

According to the article, Castelo got the idea for the bill when he went Christmas shopping. Complaining over the popularity of Angry Birds in various line of products. “Everywhere I looked, ‘Angry Birds’ this, ‘Angry Birds’ that! Where is the product diversity? Shouldn’t the DTI be monitoring this?” the representative supposedly said.

“This is why this bill is even more important than my own Anti-Planking Bill. I hope that my colleagues here at Batasan will support this bill,” Castelo said, according to the website.

In a Facebook message to GMA News Online, Castelo said he finds the satirical Angry Birds Bill funny and amusing and claims the news is hoax.

“So What’s News?” is a website that aims “to inject humor into everyday news to provide respite to readers who have grown weary with mainstream news organizations’ partisan, biased, and depressing way of presenting the news.”

On the other end, informed Twitter users urged other Twitter users to check their facts and sources first before reacting and reposting false and unverified information online.

Facebook changes angered online community

It was Wednesday when the world’s largest social network, Facebook underwent changes.  Then a few hours after that, raging online users started complaining and posted sentiments in their status bars and Twitter. Some of which were a fan page named “Petition against the new Facebook homepage” and a “#NewFacebook” hashtag over twitter. But Facebook users are known for complaining fiercely about changes to the service but then adapting and sticking with the online community later on.

Some online users even stated that Facebook’s changes was a move to level the competition with Google+ and Twitter.

Among Facebook’s changes are the following:
a. New “News Feed” that streams updates from friends now gives priority to important posts
b. Larger Images for photos shared in the website
c. A “Ticker” chat column was added for real-time conversations. It also allows people to engage in text chats focused on freshly uploaded images or other posts.

In the past weeks, Facebook’s strategy was to  focus on its members’ sharing control with what information and to whom it will be shared. The first act of Facebook on this new focus was a Twitter-style feed with the  addition of “Subscribe” buttons that let people hear from people who aren’t friends at the network, and share insights with strangers. Facebook also gave control to its members the option to select what kinds of updates from friends make it into their personal news feeds.

Other speculation about the upcoming Facebook changes are the launch of a platform for online music services such as Rdio and Spotify and also stories from professional news outfits.

Lea Salonga as one of the Judges in Miss Universe

One of the Filipinos Pride, a Tony and Oliver Award-winning theater actress, the Disney legend and the Broadway star Ms. Lea Salonga has been chosen by the Miss Universe Organization President Paula Shugart and NBC Universal head Donald J. Trump to be one of the seven telecast judges of the 2011 Miss Universe pageant. This will be held in at the Credicard Hall, Sao Paulo, Brazil this September 12, 2011 as the preliminary judges selected the top 15 semi-finalist for the pageant’s night.

Lea Salonga is the fifth Filipino to become a judge in the 60-year history of the world’s most prestigious beauty pageant. The most recent Filipino judge for the Miss Universe beauty pageant was Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation Chairman Don Emilio T. Yap when the contest was held in Manila in 1994. India’s Sushmita Sen won the beauty pageant. The first Filipino judge for the contest was the late Gen. Carlos P. Romulo when the Miss Universe contest was held for the first time in Manila in 1974. The late Amparo Munoz of Spain won the contest, only to give up her crown later. Fashion designer Josie Natori became the second Filipino judge in 1989; and later singer-actress Kuh Ledesma in 1991.

Miss Universe 2011, the 60th anniversary of the Miss Universe pageant. Ximena Navarrete of Mexico will crown her successor. Contestants from 89 countries and territories are participating in this year´s pageant, surpassing the previous record of 86 contestants in 2006.

Joining our very own Lea Salonga in judging the 89 delegates of Miss Universe 2011, are the following: Adrienne Maloof, from Bravo’s hit series “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”. Amelia Vega, Miss Universe 2003. Connie Chung, U.S. broadcast legend. Helios Castroneves, three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. Isabeli Fontana, Brazilian supermodel and Vivica Fox, actress & television producer.

Andy Cohen of Bravo’s “Watch What Happens: Live” and Natalie Morales of NBC’s “Today” will be hosting the event. Live performances will come from Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Bebel Gilberto and Brazilian native pop singer Claudia Leitte.

Miss Philippines Shamcey Supsup and the 88 other contestants were judged based on personal interview, evening gown, and swimsuit. The personal interviews were conducted for two days, ahead of the preliminary competitions on swimsuit and evening gown. A total of 16 semifinalists are expected to be announced in the finals. Telecast judges will then choose the Top 8 and Top 4 contestants.

The live coverage of the 2011 Miss Universe beauty pageant will be shown on ABS-CBN on September 13 in the morning.

Steve Jobs resigns from Apple

Steve Jobs resigned yesterday as chief executive of Apple that ended his 14-year supremacy at the technology giant he co-founded in a garage.

Analysts do not anticipate Jobs’ resignation however it has been foreseen. On the other hand,company has enchanted product-launch roadmap, including possibly a new iPhone in September and a third iteration of the iPad tablet in 2012.

Jobs’ often-gaunt appearance has sparked questions about his health and his ability to continue at Apple.

“I will say to investors: don’t panic and remain calm, it’s the right thing to do. Steve will be chairman and Cook is CEO,” said BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis.

Apple shares slid to $357.40 in extended trading after a brief halt. They had gained 0.7 percent to close at $376.18 on the Nasdaq.

Analysts again expressed confidence in the Apple bench, headed by longtime company No. 2 and supply-chain maven Cook.

“Investors are very comfortable with Tim Cook even though Jobs has been a driver of innovation and clearly an Apple success. Tim has shown Apple can still outperform extremely well when he’s been acting as CEO,” said Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross.

“I don’t know if it’s a health issue. I don’t know if it is a shock. Most likely it was going to happen at some point. Why today versus another day? I don’t know.”

Letter from Steve Jobs:

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.