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Posts Tagged ‘Japan

Globe Gives Away Free SIM Cards to All Foreign Tourists and OFWs

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Globe Telecom, in partnership with Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines, announced today to give away free SIM cards to all foreign tourists and Overseas Contract Workers (OFW) visiting or coming back to the country, respectively. Starting tomorrow, July 30, 2015, Globe will start issuing the free SIM cards to incoming foreign tourists and OFWs through its booths inside the airports of NAIA, Cebu, Davao, Kalibo, Iloilo, and Clark. Tourists can present their non-Philippine passports or foreign resident cards, while OFWs can show their Seaman’s book or OFW E-card. This free SIM cards promo will end on December 31, 2015.

So, how many free SIM cards is that going to be? Roughly about 2.23 million!

The Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) is the marketing arm of the Philippine’s Department of Tourism (DOT). The board was tasked to promote the Philippines as the top tourist destination in Asia through its “Visit the Philippines Year 2015” tourism campaign, with a goal of garnering 5.5 million foreign tourists arriving in the Philippines. With this goal, it has partnered with Globe Telecom, the first telecommunications company it has done so, through the International Business Group of the telecom giant to offer various services to the millions of tourists visiting the Philippines, and for the OFWs returning home. The two entities conducted the formal contract signing at the Aracama in the Fort Strip of Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City this morning in front of a backdrop that said:

Staying Connected – More Fun in the Philippines.

Buffet lunch at Aracama was served with the main course being three kinds of lechon: Original lechon, Spanish lechon and Truffle lechon. Of course, I tried all three and concluded the Spanish style was the best tasting one. Kudos to Chef Fernando Aracama for this kind of gastronomic treat!

After lunch, Tracy Abad opened the event by describing who the two entities were and a description of the partnership that was about to happen. However, I was still curious if what they were going to announce was a smartphone app, a website or something else. Tracy Abad is currently the morning show host for Mellow 94.7, a Philippine FM radio station. She was the TV show host with the now-discontinued QTV of GMA Network.

Opening remarks were delivered by the representing officers of both entities. First on the stage was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of TPB Domingo Ramon Enerio III who gave a synapse of inbound tourism in the country.

Summarizing what he said, there were a total of 2.23 million tourists who arrived in the Philippines between January and May this year, an 8.15% leap compared to last year of the same period. The average stay of a tourist in the country is 10 nights and the average tourist spends more than $100 a day. That’s a whooping 93.9 billion Pesos in tourism earnings for the first five months of 2015.

I did some Google-ing (is there such a word?) and found out that between 1991 and 2015, the highest recorded foreign arrivals in the country was December last year at 487,654 tourists while the lowest recorded foreign arrivals was February of 1991 at 63,628. Also during the event, Enerio enumerated the top 10 countries for incoming foreign tourists come from, mainly:

  1. Korea
  2. USA
  3. Japan
  4. China
  5. Australia
  6. Singapore
  7. Canada
  8. Taiwan
  9. UK
  10. Malaysia

But another Google-ing led me to tourism.gov.ph and the top spending markets based on visitor earnings were not the same. The top three countries in the government website was the same but the 4th highest was listed as Australia, not China which was in 5th place. Then, it was more different for the 6th to 9th place, namely: (6) Canada, (7) UK, (8) Singapore, and (9) Spain. Taiwan was missing from the website’s top 10 list. Okay, maybe I’m reading the stats on the website differently.

After Enerio, the Senior Vice President for International Business of Globe Telecom Rizza Maniego-Eala entered the stage and spoke of the need to help the promotions board hit their 5.5 million tourist target, and Globe’s role to do so. This is when she announced their intent to give away free SIM cards to every incoming foreign tourist and OFW – the first campaign in a series of more campaigns to come.

Called the Globe Traveler SIM, it is a local prepaid SIM card that offers the same services as every prepaid customer of Globe enjoys – local rates for calls, text messaging, and mobile internet services, giving foreign tourists and OFWs a more cost-efficient way to communicate and connect rather than using an international number which charges expensive roaming rates for calling, text messaging and internet browsing while in the Philippines. For example, they can use the Globe Traveler SIM and call the U.S. for as low as $0.40 per minute. That’s low compared to high roaming charges – for example, AT&T would bill an American $2.50 per minute to call from the Philippines to anywhere in the world, including home country USA.

Eala adds, “We are happy to be the first telco partner of the Tourism Promotions Board in their thrust to make the Philippines the ultimate destination hub for tourists worldwide. Offering free SIMs is our way of helping travelers further enjoy their stay by enabling easy, affordable and hassle-free communications.”

A question-and-answer portion followed for people in media and guests to ask for more information about the partnership. Then, a table was set where both Enerio and Eala sat down to formally sign the partnership contracts while everyone witnessed, video-taped and snapped photos of the moment.

For more information on the FREE Globe Traveler SIM, please visit the Globe Traveler SIM website. For jetsetters, backpackers, and thrill-seekers, Visit the Philippines Year 2015 provides a year-round calendar guide for all adventures, whether it be food trips, walking tours, or festivals. For information on activities and events, please log on to www.visitph2015.com.

Sources and references of text: Globe Press Release | tourism.gov.ph | AT&T

Photos and images: Globe Press Release | tourism.gov.ph | @raffypekson #capturebyKata

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Written by Raffy Pekson II

July 29, 2015 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Government & Politics, ICT, Travel & Tourism

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Did You Know That Globe Has a Flat Rate for Unlimited Data Roaming Service for Prepaid Customers

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Globe Telecom has been offering its flat rate for unlimited data roaming service of P599 per day to its prepaid customers, providing over 97% of its total mobile customer base uninterrupted access to the internet in over 50 countries worldwide—over 4 times bigger than the footprint of competition.

With Globe Prepaid Roam Surf, prepaid customers can access the internet abroad for an entire 24-hour cycle, making their data connectivity experience more seamless and worry-free.

Prepaid customers traveling to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Nauru, Netherlands, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAW, Uganda, United Kingdom, and USA can avail of Globe Prepaid Roam Surf.

Roam Surf for Globe Prepaid offers customers the ability to choose from three variants,

  • P599 for 24 hours
  • P1797 for 3 full days
  • P2995 for 5 full days

Customers can dial *143# and access the International and Roaming menu to register to the service without having to memorize registration keywords.

In 2014, Globe launched the flat rate for unlimited data roaming service of P599 per day to its postpaid customers, paving the way for a boost in its data roaming business with its customer base growing by two-fold as a result of strong take-up of the service and the increasing appetite for data connectivity while abroad.

Source of text from globe.com.ph.

Photo from globe.com.ph.

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South Korea Gives Philippines 1,200-ton Coastal Defense Vessel

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South Korea is the latest military benefactor to the Philippine Navy in modernizing the latter’s antiquated fleet especially against China, the bully of Southeast Asia. Korea is donating a 1,200-ton coastal defense vessel or Corvette soon. The United States already donated two coast guard cutters while Japan is in the process of donating 10 new patrol boats.

All these are showing China that the countries friendly to the Philippines will help the latter defend itself against the ongoing aggression China has shown in relation to its intent to take over a disputed area that involves other Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam.

The Philippines already signed a deal with South Korea over the purchase of 12 Korean fighter aircrafts (FA-50s). In addition, there is a plan to buy close air support aircrafts or planes that protect soldiers on the ground.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal Blogs.

Photo from Defense Industry Daily.

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Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks – Best Wagyu In Makati

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When people hear the word “Wagyu,” they often assume it is meat that only comes from Japan. That’s partly true. However, Wagyu beef can also come from almost anywhere else in the world. It is therefore a Japanese term – guess what! It literally means “Japanese cow!” – that refers to several breeds of cattle where the meat is known for its quality and demands a higher price. Some examples of Wagyu beef are Kobe, Mishima, Matsusaka, Ōmi, and Sanda beef. Besides Japan, the United States, Canada and Australia all breed Wagyu cattle, the latter being the largest outside Japan.

Breeding Wagyu cattle involves different techniques such as massaging, adding beer or sake to the cattle’s feed regimen. In Australia, they add red wine. The cattle’s genetic predisposition yields beef that contains a higher percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and the increased marbling also increases the ratio of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats.

Which brings us to a place in Greenbelt 5 where Wagyu beef is prized like the Hope Diamond. The place is Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks, tucked along the row of restaurants fronting the garden area of the five Greenbelt malls. Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks isn’t your typical new kid on the block. It has been around serving the best Certified Angus Beef since 1988. Yep! Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks is an offspring of Melo’s restaurant, the Philippines’ undisputed authority on anything and everything about steaks. The founder of Melo’s is Carmelo “Melo” Santiago who has garnered the title “the guru of steaks” in the country. Besides the numerous Melo’s steak houses that propped up around the metropolis, he ventured into his first Wagyu steak house called “House of Wagyu Stone Grill” which became an instant success.

But we go back to Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks. Six months ago, it quietly opened without fanfare and has been giving its loyal cadre of Filipino steak connoisseurs the best Wagyu beef there is. The founder’s daughter, Chef Cristina Santiago-Rivera, brings a brand new dining experience by combining the best of Wagyu beef with exquisite appetizers, salads and other entrees together with its award-winning desserts from Sweet Bella Desserts.

I was wondering what the glass-encased contraption was the al dente area when I realized they were oysters frozen to a cold temperature at upright positions. I already guessed we were having oysters and that made me smile. True enough. We had a good serving of fresh oysters and Rockefeller style.

We were also served two other appetizers. This one is the stuffed Portobello mushrooms with crab and shrimp stuffed with Parmesan cheese. Loving Portobello mushrooms by itself or mixed with pasta or entrees, this was a delight for our meal.

The other appetizer was the Foie Gras with caramelized apple in red wine with berry sauce. Oh, Foie Gras. It’s now a Filipino favorite while the American style of banning to serve it hasn’t reached our shores yet. Hopefully not.

I kept standing up and sitting down while the initial delicacies were being served when I wandered by the bar. Hey! Red wine! And so, we had red wine though I forgot what was served to us that day. Chilean? Australian? In any case, it was a good start for our late lunch.

And then, Cristina mentioned a drink that seems to be a favorite of their loyal customers, a name so familiar because I had actually lived beside the place where that drink was born: Caipirinha! Brazil’s national cocktail that’s made with cachaca (sugar cane hard liquor), sugar and lime. However, Cristina insisted we be served a better one – Caipiroska. Instead of cachaca, it is mixed with Vodka. Ole! Ole! Ole!

The Cesar salad wasn’t bad either. Not something exotic but salads before steaks is always a good start.

And we also had soup – Seafood Chowder.

Now came the steaks. At Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks, everything will be served medium rare unless you specify otherwise. Filipino culture and tradition has always been grilling every kind of meat and almost everything is well done. With high-grade steaks, you don’t do that. The flavour of the meat is best savoured when steak is prepared medium rare. We had three varieties of steaks, two of which were Wagyu steaks, and lamb chops.

But before anything else, I need to interject one more classroom information about Wagyu steaks, and that is they are all graded. In Japanese terms, the meat quality scores are determined in terms of beef marbling, meat color and brightness, firmness and texture of meat, color, luster and quality of fat. Hence, the Quality Grade numbers are as follows:

1 – Poor

2 – Below Average

3-4 – Average

5-7 – Good

8-12 – Excellent

Now, back to what Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks served us.

Certified Angus Beef T-Bone steak priced at P6.50 per gram.

Classic grilled lamb chops served with Truffle mashed potatoes, vegetables and tri-berry sauce priced at P1,100.

Wagyu Striploin – Grade 9, 200 grams priced at P2,700.

Wagyu Tenderloin – Grade 10, 200 grams priced at P3,950.

That’s why I had to explain Wagyu beef quality grades to let you know that this isn’t your ordinary cattle beef raised at your backyard. There are metrics and qualifications, all objectively evaluated and graded before they are passed and stamped with the grade level. And that is why such kinds of steak do not come cheap.

But before anything else, there’s rice. What? A Filipino eating without rice? Impossible! This is probably one of the best kinds of rice I’ve tasted. Wagyu Rice is sticky rice cooked and mixed with pieces of Wagyu steak. It’s not in their menu so make sure you ask for it.

In any case, Cristina made sure we were served Sweet Bella’s award-winning desserts. There is actually a glass-encased (another one) dessert counter where you can choose which to savor after some heavy-hitting Wagyu steak eating. Unfortunately, I did not ask what each dessert was. Being a Sweet Bella fan since it opened at Burgos Circle in Bonifacio Global City, I didn’t have to feel like a newbie to their desserts. But we made sure we had coffee to go with our desserts.

The tandem of Chef Dino Dela Concepcion for the Hot Kitchen and Chef Cristina Rivera for its Pastries from Sweet Bella hits my palate of a very great fine dining experience. Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks is truly the #BestWagyuInMakati if not the entire country. I’ve done Wagyu steaks and Wagyu burgers but the real McCoy has to be a medium rare, high grade level Wagyu steak.

Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks restaurant is open Mondays through Sundays from lunch time till late dinner. All major credit cards are accepted. For reservations or more information, please call +63 (2) 625-5954 or +63 (2) 625-5986, or e-mail them via carmeloshomeofwagyu@yahoo.com. And while you’re at it, visit and “LIKE” their Facebook Page.

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And when you visit Carmelo’s, tell them you found them out through Miniphilippines.com. Who knows? They might just give you something extra. (*Wink!*)

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Photos by @raffypekson.

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Globe Telecom Upgrades Southeast Asia-Japan Cable System

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Landing site of SJC submarine cable system in Nasugbu, Batangas. From Globe Telecom photo archives.

The Southeast Asia-Japan undersea cable system is operated by an international consortium of leading telecommunications and technology companies which includes Globe Telecom. Recently, it began implementing a network upgrade to further enhance capacity amid steady growth in bandwidth demand in the region.

The upgrade to the cable system brings an increase of 6.5 terabits per second of capacity utilizing the latest 100 gigabits per second transmission equipment. The sharp increase in transmission technology from the usual 10 gigabits per second, followed by 40 gigabits per second technology, underscores the upsurge in internet usage especially mobile internet. Once completed, the upgrade will set a new benchmark in global data and information connectivity.

Globe Telecom’s COO Gil Gneio said, “The upgrade runs parallel with Globe Telecom’s network transformation initiative. As we optimize our modernized network to further build capacity, the SJC upgrade allows better network availability and delivery, providing additional support for expanding business requirements for data.”

TE SubCom, an industry pioneer in undersea communications technology, was commissioned by the SJC consortium to carry out the network upgrade. Full system construction of the SJC cable system was completed in June of last year at a project cost of $400 million.  Globe Telecom’s interconnection with the SJC cable system, which strengthened the country’s connectivity with the region and the rest of the world, was formally launched in inauguration rites led by President Benigno Aquino and Globe Chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala in September last year.

The undersea cable project consists of 6 fiber pairs with an initial design capacity of up to 28 terabits per second, one of the fastest speeds an undersea cabling system can provide, to meet bandwidth-intensive applications such as internet TV, online games and enterprise data exchange.  To illustrate, the cable’s design capacity can support simultaneous streaming of up to 3 million high-definition videos.

The SJC is an 8,900-kilometer cable system, which could further extend to 9,700 kilometers. The cable system links 7 territories that include Brunei, mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the Philippines, including the option to link with Thailand.

Aside from Globe, the SJC consortium is composed of Brunei International Gateway Sendirian Berhad (BIG), China Mobile International Ltd. (CMI), China Telecommunications Corporation (China Telecom), China Telecom Global Limited (CTG), Donghwa Telecom Co. Ltd (DHT) (a subsidiary of Chunghwa Telecom, Co., Ltd.), Google, KDDI Corporation, Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel), PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia International (Telin a subsidiary of PT. Telekomunikasi Indonesia, Tbk), and TOT Public Co., Ltd. (TOT).

Full text above was provided by Yoly C. Crisanto, Head, Corporate Communications of Globe Telecom, Inc., through Cat Triviño, Globe Telecom Digital PR. This is not a paid article.

Photo from globe.com.ph archives.

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Globe Project Wonderful Yields Wonderful Results

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I was privileged to be invited in another of Globe’s event, this time, introducing the collaboration of Globe with the online music giant Spotify. It was hosted by no other than Andi Manzano and Rikki Flores, online stars themselves and mainstay hosts of top FM radio Magic 89.9. I said hello to Andi during her break and talked about, oh well, anything under the stars. She’s still up to her blogging activity besides being a radio deejay, event host and newly wed.

But I’m digressing. Going back to the event, Globe Telecom’s Project Wonderful consists of three things:

  • Nation-building,
  • Culture-building and
  • Brand-building.

All told, its campaign has yielded a 9% growth in the first quarter of 2014 in revenue and income, and that in its thrust to create a wonderful world.

Spotify is a collaboration of Globe with the world’s biggest music platform. Being a music-over-the-web geek myself, I’d rather listen to web radio than have to decide what playlist to create and listen to. Spotify hits the spot for people like me, letting the platform decide the playlist based on my mood. This brings Spotify to the smartphone with Globe’s consumable mobile internet data plan GoSURF available to prepaid, postpaid and Tattoo-prepaid, an on-the-go service with free access to Spotify.

GoUNLI20 gives prepaid customers unlimited calls to Globe and TM customers, 15MB of data, and 20 texts to all networks for P20 a day.

With the popularity of Samsung Galaxy S5 gaining ground in the Philippines (CNet reports 11 million S5 phones sold since its April launch), Globe is offering the S5 for as low as P1,699 a month with its mySUPERPLAN, complete with a five-month subscription to Spotify Premium. There’s also a Galaxy Forever Plan 1599, Plan 1999 and Plan 2499 for those who want to get the latest Samsung Galaxy S every year.

The broadband brand Tattoo gets a kick with a Fiber-Fast home broadband connection ranging from 10 Mbps up to 150 Mbps available through Tattoo Platinum. Too bad my current condominium in Bonifacio Global City can only accommodate up to 3 Mbps. So, not all locations can avail of that high-speed connectivity. I wonder when I can get 150 Mbps at home?

Being a small business advocate, I’d rather focus on Globe’s myBusiness solutions built for small and medium enterprises (or SMEs), specifically their CCTV product and Globe Charge, an innovative smartphone-based point-of-sale (POS) device you attach to your mobile phone. And Globe partnered with Google to offer Google Apps for Business. I’m not sure how that’s done since the latter is available to anyone in the world in Google’s website. It’s probably a billing intergration thing but I’m just guessing.

Going international, Globe also offers local numbers in select countries for overseas and migrant Filipinos (or OFWs) so that they can call their in-country number that gets routed to their family in the Philippines. I believe they’ve established that kind of service in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Spain, Japan and South Korea. Adding to this, the Globe International Business Group that is handling this service is actually using my company’s cloud-based call center telephony solution to outsource telemarketing to small Filipino call centers calling the overseas and migrant Filipinos in the countries where the service exists. Yay!

I was surprised to see my good friend Jun Leido at last Wednesday’s event of Globe. It turns out, he is Globe’s consultant and liaison for the nation-building project of the telecom giant as the Presidential Assistance for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR)-appointed development sponsor in Aklan. Jun’s job, now a month old, is to faciliate and fast-track Globe’s projects in Aklan as part of the PARR initiative. Jun and I met years ago in the call center industry when he worked for an American-owned call center at the Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City, Pampanga. From then on, he went on to work for various local government units (LGU) and from time to time only touched base with him through SMS, e-mail or Facebook. I wish him and Globe all the best in their endeavor to help Aklan. Way to go, Jun!

Culture-building is a unique thing that Globe is undertaking. I already believe Globe to be the best in telecom customer service, having had experiences with all the telecom companies in the country, besides being recognized by Telecom Asia as the best Asian telecom carrier which also recognized its Google Free Zone campaign as the most innovative telecom project. Now, they have an initiative called Project DNA (Deliver the Next Act), a mindset concentrated in providing a genuine, more caring, and wonderful customer experience. Hats off to Globe for not having to rest on their laurels and continuing to go above their par.

Speaking of awards, here are a few more: Best Network-based Solution for Servicing Customers Award in the 19th Annual Global Mobile Awards and the New Consumer Product of the Year in the first Asia Pacific Stevie Awards, both for Globe’s GoSakto: Create Your Own promo. It also garnered the Customer Service Leader of the Year, a Gold Stevie for its Twitter support channel @talk2Globe, Bronze Stevie for New Consumer Service of the Year for its international service Globe Seafarer, a bronze award for Innovation in Customer Service–Telecommunications, gold for Best Use of Technology in Customer Service–Telecommunications, three international Gold Quill awards, Anvil Award of Excellence, a Merit Award for its crisis and disaster communications social media campaign, and the Integrated Communication Category in the ASEAN Corporate Sustainability Summit and Awards 2014.

I guess there’s more to life in Globe than just mobile phone signal and service. I recently encountered my most gad-awful customer service experience in a competing mobile carrier that my procrastination of moving from a prepaid Globe service to a postpaid one is now a decision of the type of phone. I just hope I decide more quickly; or would you think Globe should give me a discount for writing this? Hehe.

Photos by @raffypekson.

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American Electronics Company to Invest $300m in Philippines

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Philippine Stock Market Board.

An unnamed American company that produces computer parts and accessories may invest $300 million in the country by transfering its current facilities from Japan to the Philippines, Ma. Elisa P. Osorio of the Philippine Star reported last Monday. It looked into leasing facilities at the Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City or TIPCO Industrial Estates in Mabalacat, both located in the province of Pampanga.

The Chicago-based company already has three sites outside the United States: Japan, China and Singapore. The Philippine site will be producing products for its clients in the ASEAN region and the United States. Philippine Trade Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio refused to name the company but said “it is the second largest in the world in its line of business.”

Read more at The Philippine Star

Photo by thewalkingirony at Flickr.com

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Written by Raffy Pekson II

December 17, 2011 at 10:33 pm