Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Yakapin: huggable stuffed toys for the children victims of Tropical Storm Sendong

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My friend, Cathy Babao, is once again at the helm of a drive to collect huggable, stuffed toys for the suffering children victimized by Tropical Storm Sendong. Cathy did this before when she launched "Bearhugs for Baguio" and sent stuffed toys to Northern Luzon for the children victims of Typhoon Pepeng.

If your children, nieces or children of friends have stuffed toys to spare, please donate them to Yakapin. Cathy explains it all in this post:

Put yourself in her shoes. 
You fall asleep snug in the arms on your mother, the rain pounds on the room but you are not afraid because beside you is your mother and you know you will be safe. All of a sudden, the waters enter your home and you are swept and carried away from all that is familiar and everyone whom you love.  
You wake up dazed not knowing what has happened to your family members. You walk around aimlessly, only to find that your home and all that you love is gone… 
Toys are effective tools in helping children heal from the trauma of loss. Stuffed toys are effective comfort givers in times of stress and trauma. To children, stuffed animals are more than toys, they become the vehicles by which they are able to tell their stories and release their pain. Stuffed toys or teddy bears are able to provide some degree of comfort in a scary world. 
Please send clean, friendly looking toys in good condition (no pigs please, owing to cultural and religious sensitivities) in any size, but ideally, big enough for a child to hug. 
Thanks to Dennis Garcia for the image used on this page and to friends who have generously donated their homes and establishments as drop off points throughout the city. Let’s all pull together and send as many hugs as we can to the children of Northern Mindanao. A new and soft teddy bear costs about as much as a Starbucks frapuccino or a ticket to the cinema -- a small price that will go a long way in bringing back hope and a smile into a child’s life. 
May you all be blessed to be a blessing to others.  
Alabang: 12 Brentwood Street, Hillsborough, West Service Road, Alabang Look for Magding or JC
Greenhills: 33 Madison Street, North Greenhills, San Juan. Look for Ann or Shirley Asuncion Berenguer, Inc. 3/f Homestudio Building, 63 Connecticut Street (same building as Homestudio, Torch resto and Bose) Northeast Greenhills . Please leave with guard and indicate “Bears for YBHM”
Makati: The Citadel Inn, 5007 P. Burgos Street, Makati City c/o Andre Urbina
Marikina: 1 Ferdinand Marcos Street, Industrial Valley Subdivision, Marikina Leave with guard please indicate “Bears for YBHM”
Paranaque: Johnson and Johnson, Edison Road, Paranaque City (Edison is street by Zuellig) Leave with guard, indicate “Bears for YBHM”
14 C. Diamond Street. Greenheights Village Sucat Paranaque. Look for Yaya Marlene
Quezon City: A-2 Dona Sotera, Pilarville Subd.,Quezon City c/o Dennis Mariano
41 Milkyway Drive, Blue Ridge B, Quezon City Look for Lily
C1C3 Narra Heights Condominium #28, Mariposa Street, Quezon City (near Camp Crame)
Eastwood area: Unit 5c Eastwood Lafayette Tower 3, Eastwood Avenue Libis Q.C (In front of Watsons, near Mcdonalds) Leave with guard indicate “Bears for YBHM”
She still needs people to volunteer their homes as drop-off points in the following areas: Mandaluyong, Manila,  Pasig. To volunteer or join this project, kindly click "Like" on Yakapin's Facebook page HERE.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cirtek Holdings debuts on the Philippine Stock Exchange

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(Disclaimer: My posts about any publicly listed corporation should not be construed as a buy/sell recommendation. Any person interested in stock investments must do his/her own due diligence review before deciding to buy or sell.)

I was invited recently to the debut of Cirtek Holdings Philippines Corp. (Cirtek) on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

(L-R) PSE President/CEO Hans B. Sicat; Cirtek VP/Director Nicanor Lizares; Cirtek Chairman/President Jerry Liu; Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines Honorable Jejomar Binay; PSE Chairman Jose T. Pardo; and CVCLaw Senior Partner and Former National Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, Jr (photo taken from Cirtek Holdings website)

Cirtek's listing (which carries the stock symbol "CHIPS" on the exchange) came on the heels of a very successful initial public offering (IPO) which saw the stock oversubscribed over 4 times.

Because I did not know much about Cirtek (goes to show how long I've been away from the corporate world), I tried to google a little bit about the company.

Cirtek Holdings is the holding company of two wholly-owned subsidiaries namely Cirtek Electronics Corporation (CEC) and Cirtek Electronics International Corporation (CEIC). Both subsidiaries are involved in the assembly and testing of electronic devices. Cirtek was organized as a Philippine corporation on Feb. 10, 2011. Its recent IPO generated PhP 295.14-M which consisted of 42.16 million common stock representing 26% of its total issued and outstanding stock. The success of the IPO offering, considering that the offer period only lasted from Nov. 8-14, 2011 showed the public's positive acceptance of the stock.

Here's a short interview I conducted with Cirtek's Chief Financial Officer, Anthony Albert Buyawe, who I discovered was an ex-SGV person like me.

Cirtek does not produce ordinary chips. They make specialized chips that are used in laptops/tablets, defense industry (their lips remained sealed as to exactly what defense technology), auto industry, and medical industry, among others.

How well did it do? Well, on opening day last Nov. 18, the stock closed at P7.95, up from its P7 per share IPO price.

When asked if Cirtek benefited from the floods in Thailand, Cirtek was circumspect, stating that they were saddened by what happened in Thailand but acknowledged that they were indeed negotiating new contracts from flood-hit Thailand. Four of these contracts have been concluded and another 6 could be finalized by end of 2011 or early 2012.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Purefoods Lunch featuring Fiesta Ham Classic + New Variants

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I can't imagine Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) or Media Noche (New Year's Eve) without ham. It's really a staple of our family dinner.

At a recent event with the Purefoods Fiesta Ham people at Via Mare Cafe and Oyster Bar, I was introduced to the familiar, classic fiesta ham as well as its new variants. One trivia: I didn't know Purefoods has been around since 1956??? No wonder we all practically grew up with its products!

This year you will find more than just the traditional 1kg Fiesta Ham in supermarkets. The new variants of the Fiesta ham are the 1.5kg thinly-sliced version of the Fiesta Ham for bigger gatherings; the 200g Fiesta Ham slices that are more affordable and conveniently packed; and the 3.5kg Smoked Bone-in Fiesta Ham.

Celebrity Moms showed us table settings that they themselves did to introduce the different Fiesta Ham variants.

Barbie Almalbis-Honasan

Classic Fiesta Ham

Singer-songwriter Barbie Almalbis-Honasan (popularly known as Barbie) and a Mom of two prepared a European table setting, complete with wine and cheese, to go with the Classic Fiesta Ham. Teapots on top of the vases were used to hold flowers, a nice touch, I thought. Barbie told us their family celebrates 3 Christmas dinners - one with the grandparents, another with titos/titas, then finally dinner at their own home.

Suzi Entrata-Abrera

Smoked Bone-in Ham (3.5kg)

TV host Suzi Entrata-Abrera designed a table setting to hold one of the new variants - the Smoked Bone-in Ham. She chose red because that was also the color theme for their own Christmas decor at home done by a friend. She lets her kids help in the decorating because oftentimes they come up with fresh ideas. For their fiesta ham, her family loves putting lots of sugar on top of the ham, frying it, and just putting it in pandesal.

Danica Sotto-Pingris

Classic Fiesta Ham

Danica Sotto-Pingris chose the Filipiniana theme for her table setting. She celebrates Christmas first with her dad, Vic Sotto, then with her mom, Dina Bonnevie. This year she plans to hang tree ornaments that reminds them of the year that passed. As a Mom of two and a culinary expert, she plans to make a Christmas Day breakfast - Fiesta ham on Eggs Benedict.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Globe Spike: the launch of its future-proof, LTE and IPv6-ready network

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In a grand launch headed by none other than Globe's President, Ernest Cu, media and the tech community were introduced to Globe Telecom's most aggressive telecommunication network modernization and expansion project.

Globe President Ernest Cu

Cu told us that when their network infrastructure was put up, it was primarily meant for SMS and calls. But these past years, they had seen a significant drop in SMS and calls. In fact last Christmas, they found that more people were communicating through Facebook and greeting each other there than calling or texting.

Globe will be investing US$ 90 M over the next 5 years (US$70 M of that to be spent in 2012/13) in order to put up a structure that will be able to handle the exponential data traffic that smartphones are now handling. Roughly 90% of its BSS and BI platforms covering billing, campaign management, front-end systems and enterprise data warehouse will be replaced by the new network infrastructure. Cu says that Globe subscribers should expect faster response to customer requests, convergent billing, better credit control, quicker time-to-market for new products, and better analytic models to support campaigns.

This does sound like good news but as a subscriber to both of the major mobile carriers as well as one who has tried various internet service providers, I take all expansion announcements with a grain of salt. In the end, the test of the pudding is in the eating. Will currently dissatisfied subscribers who complain of dropped calls, slow internet connection, billing woes and the like really get the service they deserve and pay for?

I really hope this time we do. The next 5 years will be a test of whether Globe's planned expansion will become a promise come true.

San Miguel Great Food Club brings an early Christmas to Mercato Centrale

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My friend Kitty invited me to her media event recently at Mercato Centrale. Actually, I went for two purposes. One, I have not seen Kitty in over 3 decades. Second, I wanted to check out what the San Miguel Great Food Club was all about. I was not a member (it shows that I'm no culinary person) but I do love good food. And the theme for this event was "The Flavors of Christmas". How can you resist such a title????

The event revolved around making the celebration of the Yuletide season as easy as possible, stress-free and yet festive enough.

It all began with Danny Dela Cuesta, a food expert and event stylist, who briefed the audience on different ways of decorating the Christmas table, even using recycled Christmas decor. He gave tips on different topics: the menu, the buffet table, the dining table and food presentation. Danny works as the VP for Food Business Marketing of Contagious Consultancy Group and was schooled in culinary education at Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine et de Patisserie in London, England under the tutelage of Chef Jean Claude Boucheret.

I could not stay long enough to see the actual demos but I was able to interview the 3 chefs who were part of the program.

Chef Dennis Edillon

Chef Edillon is the Corporate Executive Chef of Urban Chef. He said he was speaking about how to prepare just the right portions for Christmas meals so as to minimize or totally eliminate food wastage or over-preparation. Now this really caught my fancy because I do see that in many Christmas parties, there is either too much or too little food for guests. Here are some tips I picked up from Chef Edillon:

  • When buying meat to prepare a dish, consider that you will be trimming off fat and bones. What remains must be adequate for the dish you want to prepare.
  • People eat 250-300 grams (max of 400-450 grams for bigger appetites) of food per his estimate so this is his general benchmark for estimating portions
  • There are different ways to apportion for appetizers, main dishes and dessert. If you have 3 kinds of viands, portions will be smaller. If you only serve a single main dish, portions should be larger. For cocktails, it depends on time of day or depends if cocktail party takes place of dinner, in which case you serve more for people to feel full. If you serve cocktails before dinner, you can serve smaller portions.
  • When it's a potluck get-together, ask how many people are bringing food and what they plan to bring so that you don't end up with too much food or similar food.
  • Stick to your favorites for Noche Buena because you can never go wrong. Kids will always remember the occasion by the food that was served.