Bits and Snippets of the Philippines

Basic Reading of Global Filipinos

Posts Tagged ‘United States

U.S. Interested in Philippine Due to Its Economic Growth

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Philippine President Benigno Aquino III gestures while talking to visiting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker during her visit to the presidential palace in Manila on June 4. –Reuters

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker told the Wall Street Journal that the United States is very much interested in expanding its economic footprint in the Philippines beside militarily.

The lift-off of the Philippine economy has clearly piqued American interest, with the Philippines’ gross domestic product – hitting $250 billion in 2012 – set to top $1 trillion by 2030, the Wall Street Journal wrote.

“We see that there’s a plethora of sectors where U.S. businesses could be more active here in the Philippines,” Ms. Pritzker told The Wall Street Journal, listing infrastructure, telecoms and healthcare as areas in which American businesses could thrive.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal Blogs.

Photo from source.

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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 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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Wells Fargo to Outsource to the Philippines

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Wells Fargo Center sign

Despite all the political pressures in the United States for businesses not to outsource, the second largest American banking company, Wells Fargo and Co., will proceed in moving some its business support activities to the Philippines. For this, the U.S. bank has set up Wells Fargo Philippines Solutions Inc., which is following the footsetps of other banking giants such as JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup.

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is an American multinational diversified financial services company with operations around the world. It is the second largest bank in the United States in terms of deposits, home mortgage servicing, and debit cards. Wells Fargo is headquartered in San Francisco, California, but has major “hubquarters” in other cities throughout the country. In 2011, Wells Fargo had more than 9,000 retail branches and 12,231 automated teller machines in 39 states and the District of Columbia. It has over 270,000 employees and over 70 million customers.

Sources: Interaksyon | Wikipedia

Photo by moneyblognewz at Flickr.com

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More Fil-Ams May Seek Medical Care in Philippines

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A photo of General Santos Doctors Hospital

A new bill is being drafted that will allow United States Medicare beneficiaries to travel to the Philippines for medical reasons, according to Eric Lachica, a lobbyist who is working to get the bill introduced. The new bill would allow Medicare to reimburse certain hospitals in the Philippines directly for Guam residents, thus allowing for the full export of Medicare benefits to the Philippines. Lachica said there are about 400,000 Filipino-Americans in the U.S. mainland, and about 200,000 have seriously expressed interest in retiring in their homeland to take advantage of the low cost of living.

Currently, because of proximity, Guam Medicare residents are allowed to travel to the Philippines to seek medical care for procedures not currently offered on Guam. The patient is then directly reimbursed for the medical visit.

Read more at Marianas Variety

Photo by ManilaBoy45 at Flickr.com

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Written by Raffy Pekson II

February 19, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Migrant Filipino is South Korea Labor Union President

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Michel Catuira, chairman of the Seoul-Gyeonggi-Incheon Migrants' Trade Union (MTU)

In 2009, Michel Catuira, a migrant Filipino worker in South Korea for many years, became a chairman of the Seoul-Gyeonggi-Incheon Migrants’ Trade Union (MTU), and the following year became the first foreign delegate in the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). After becoming chairman, he spent his days working in factories and his nights organizing workers.

The Korean government has not regarded the MTU’s activities with pleasure. Three of its past chairpeople have been the objects of “target crackdowns” by immigration authorities and forcibly deported. Catuira was almost deported until the Seoul Administrative Court took Catuira’s side, saying, “I suspect that Seoul Immigration Office’s handling of the case may have been because of the plaintiff’s labor union activity.”

South Korea is not a signatory to the United Nations’ International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, which stipulates the right of migrant workers and their families to be free from discrimination compared to citizens of the country where they work, and includes the right to form labor unions.

However, Catuira is returning back to the Philippines to care for his grandmother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. His cousin, who looked after the ailing grandmother, is leaving to work in the United States. Catuira is expected to be back in the Philippines at the end of this month.

Source: The Hankyoreh

Photo taken from No Base Stories Korea

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