Sunday, July 29, 2012

Smart's Freedom Plan: Postpaid Plan Redefined

Who wants complete freedom with a postpaid plan that starts from ZERO, has no monthly fees, has no lock-in period and does not require the presentation of documents before you can be given a subscriber line?

That's what Smart is offering to prepaid subscribers now with its Freedom Plan.

My Smart Freedom Plan sim

For the next few months, I will be testing out this plan.

The facts: I'm a prepaid subscriber on both Globe and Smart (and I used to be one with Sun too). Many friends ask me why I have stayed prepaid all these years although I was a postpaid subscriber when I was still fully employed. I tell them that with prepaid, I can monitor my mobile spending based on how much I load (very important for one with no full-time job and is on a tight budget). I have the freedom to choose what telco and even what plan I will enroll in from day to day (I use my home wifi most times and only need internet when I am mobile). I am free of bill shock risk. When they tell me that postpaid subscribers get a free phone, I just shrug and tell them that the phone I want usually comes with a monthly plan (which is too inflexible for what I need) so I'd rather just buy the phone I really want and use a prepaid sim.

I really enjoy my prepaid freedom and won't just give it up and be tied to a network or postpaid plan unless I enjoy the same or better flexibility I now enjoy as a prepaid mobile user.

So when Smart invited me to try out their Freedom Plan, I agreed to give it a test run. Here's what the Freedom Plan is all about.

Key Features

* No fixed monthly fees (you start from ZERO)
* No lock-in period (you just get the SIM. No phones are bundled with the plan.)
* No documents to submit if you stay within the default credit limit
* No bill shock - Each SIM is ready with a P600 credit limit. You can mix/match the plan's  "postpaid buckets" for the month until you reach P600.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Happyplus Card: Jollibee's customer loyalty program and BPI's cashless payment combined

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Do you sometimes wish that paying at fastfood outlets would be more convenient? It is now!

The popularity of the country's largest restaurant chain, Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC), and the cashless payment innovation of the country's leading commercial bank, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), saw the birth of a unique customer loyalty program - the happyplus card -- that not only rewards customers of its participating food establishments but also makes payments painless through cashless payment. In addition, customers get a chance to win monthly raffle cash prizes.

JFC Chairman and CEO Tony Tan Caktiong and BPI President Aurelio Montinola inked the agreement between the two corporations and introduced the card to the public.

What is the Happyplus Card and how does it work?

It is a customer loyalty program card. In a few words, LOAD UP, BUY, TAP TO PAY. That simple!

This is how it works.

1. Buy the membership kit from the cashier counter in any Jollibee, Greenwich, Chowking, Red Ribbon and soon, Mang Inasal.
2. Top up (load) the card. Minimum load is P100 and can be increased in increments of P100 up to a maximum of P10,000.
3. Use your happyplus card in any of the establishments above. You earn one (1) happyplus point for every P50 purchase. Each happyplus point is equal to P1 which you can accumulate and use down the road to buy even more food.
4. Pay for your purchase just by tapping the card (magnetic strip facing device) on the cashless payment card reader (see photo below).

Cashless payment card reader

This same card reader can display your purse and point balance every time you load, make a purchase or just make an inquiry.

BPI's Montinola making a purchase using the Happyplus Card

Monthly Raffle Prizes

You also earn raffle entries when you load up the card. Each time you load, you earn entries as follows:

P100 = 1 raffle entry
P300 = 5 raffle entries
P500 = 10 raffle entries
P1,000 = 25 raffle entries

The happyplus card is valid for three (3) years from date of application and can be easily renewed at any of the JFC-affiliated establishments. 

To register online for the happyplus card, go to

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Asian Frappuccino Blended Beverages and more at Starbucks

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In my last Starbucks event we were asked to guess what the upcoming Asian Frappuccino blended beverages would be. Many guesses later, it's finally here -- the Starbucks' versions of the now popular milk teas in the country - Hojicha Tea Jelly Frappuccino and the Red Bean Green Tea Frappuccino.

Hojicha Tea Jelly Frappuccino

Hojicha, a kind of Japanese roasted tea, is combined with Starbucks' Tazo Earl Grey tea-infused jelly in the Hojicha Tea Jelly Frappuccino. You get to taste the nutty and toasty hojicha i addition to the earl grey jelly bits.

Red Bean Green Tea Frappuccino

The Red Bean Green Tea Frappuccino is a blend of whole kernels of red azuki beans and matcha. Matcha is one of the best green tea forms in Japan and is finely milled so that you get that matcha flavor together with the sweetness of the azuki beans.

Both frappuccinos go for PhP 155 (tall), PhP 165 (Grande) and PhP 175 (Venti).

And that's not all. Starbucks introduces a line of new food items - their second new batch for 2012.

Green Tea and Berry Cheesecake (PhP 140)
Green Tea and Berry Cheesecake has blueberries sitting on a crispy walnut crust. It's topped with white chocolate ganache curls. My cheesecake girl is sure to go for this first.

Purple Yam Cake with Macapuno and Red Bean (PhP 110)
The Purple Yam Cake with Macapuno and Red Bean sounds like a combination of Filipino desserts. You've got 3 layers of purple yam chiffon cake with macapuno strips and red bean mixed into it. Between the layers are purple yam buttercream icing with sprinkles as an added touch on top.

Beef and Mushroom Pie (PhP 95)
Pie lovers will go for the Beef and Mushroom Pie - beef strips, sliced mushrooms, carrots and fresh mashed potatoes inside a flaky, buttery pastry crust baked to a golden brown.

Bacon and Cheese on Italian Country Bread (PhP 150)
Bacon and Cheese on Italian Country Bread is for the open-faced sandwich lovers. It's a cheesy mix of 6 cheeses: Gruyere, Emmenthal, Provolone, Mozzarella, Feta and Cheddar) mixed in with crispy bacon strips.

Chicken Parmigiana Wrap (PhP 150)
Chewy pita bread filled with chicken breast fillet, sliced eggplant and drizzled with Italian tomato sauce and grated cheese is what Chicken Parmigiana Wrap is all about.

Lastly, there's a new roast blend out. The Three Region Blend combines beans from three coffee-growing regions: Latin America, Africa/Arabia and Asia Pacific. It's herbal, lemon and current notes all in one.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cignal brings the clarity of satellite digital transmission to your TV

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The age of digital TV is upon us and in the Philippines, the second largest and fastest-growing pay-TV provider, Cignal, is in the forefront of digital transmission via satellite, guaranteeing the widest coverage and the clearest TV signals for the best viewing experience available.

Analog vs Digital

Analog TV transmission was always a victim of the elements. Remember the days of snow-like interference on your TV sets? Well, I'm old enough to remember that. Over the decades, that improved with the introduction of cable TV. TV signals became so much clearer. Gone was the snowy look. But because the TV signals still traveled through the cables from the cable provider's transmission center to homes, bad weather always meant intermittent disruptions of signal and not-so-clear reception.

Cignal showed us a diagram of how their transmission works, using the power of satellites. From the content providers, a satellite downloads the TV programs to Cignal's Uplink Center. From there, it is beamed again to a satellite which then transmits the signals to the satellite dishes in subscribers' homes.

What is the advantage of digital transmission?

* Coverage is nationwide, including remote locations - Unlike signals transmitted by cable, which limits the geographical accessibility by subscribers in very remote locations, Cignal's transmission can penetrate non-cabled areas, coastal waters and mountain regions. 

* Signal is not weather-dependent - Static interference and disruptions occur in cabled transmission. Water can seep in, cables can be downed, etc. But satellite transmission continues even in bad weather, ensuring continuing service to subscribers.

Here's a slide that Cignal showed us illustrating more advantages.

So far, Cignal has the following High Definition (HD) channels out of about 64 channels (including Standard Definition or SD channels) currently listed on their flyer.

Cignal offers both postpaid and prepaid plans as follows:


1. Plan 590 - 44 digital channels (40 SD, 4 HD)
2. Plan 990 - 53 digital channels (45 SD, 8 HD)
3. Plan 1290 - 60 digital channels (48 SD, 12 HD)
4. Plan 1590 - 64 digital channels (49 SD, 15 HD)


1. Pack 250 - 14 digital channels
2. Pack 390 - 24 digital channels
3. Pack 590 - 44 digital channels (40 SD, 4 HD)

For special events, they also have Pay-Per-View options.

For more details, visit their site at Or call 244-6251 (Cignal 1).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sun Shorts: A Preview from Sun Life

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Consider this a heads-up!

Beginning July 25, 2012, Sun Life Financial and five Filipino filmmakers will showcase five (5) short films. The series is the Philippines' installment of a regional film project called Experience the Sun, a collaboration of Sun Life Financial and film makers in Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Philippines. The Philippine installment, entitled SUN SHORTS, features the way the chosen five filmmakers interpret how life is brighter under the Sun.

The filmmakers involved in Sun Shorts

I was fortunate to sit beside Sun Life's lady President & CEO, Riza Mantaring. Actually, I saw her featured by Ces Drilon in Pipol. At that time, I was already very impressed by her achievements. At the event, I got to talk for some time with her.

Riza Mantaring, Sun Life President & CEO

I may be tooting the female psyche but having a woman at the helm oftentimes makes a difference in the creativity of an organization. Sun Life, as far as I know, is the first insurance company to break out of the conservative and traditional mold to try a bold and different venture like going into digital media for their campaigns.

Beginning July 25, 2012 and every few weeks after that, one Sun Shorts film (about 5 minutes max) will be featured in

Here's a sneak peek (photos and teaser captions, in quotes, taken from Sun Life's website).


Unitel’s veteran producer-storyteller Jun Reyes (The Last Journey of Ninoy, Crying Ladies) makes a trip down memory lane to tackle a love that transcends the test of time and shines brightly amidst the darkness of war in '1945'."

Life in a Day

"Most sought-after commercial director Jolly Feliciano departs from light-hearted themes to posit a lifetime of possibilities thru the eyes of a sick young boy whose hope burns brightly as the sun in 'Life in a Day'."

Oh My Goth!

"Director-playwright Chris Martinez (Here Comes the Bride, Kimmy Dora, 100) takes on the humorous side of the generational divide as an old woman’s faith and penchant for superstisions clashes with a young man’s cool confidence in a future well planned in 'Oh My Goth!'."

The Debt

"Up and coming filmmaker Nic Reyes follows the travails of a young man whose penchant for “quick fixes” led him into tight-hole situation and finds enlightenment and redemption from a surprising character in the action-packed 'The Debt'."

Sun Dance

"Multifarious artist Jerrold Tarog (Senior Year, Nino, Shake Rattle and Roll, Aswang) lets his “Sun Dance” pump up the beat of friendship that empowers three young women to tackle life’s ebbs and flows with grace and elegance. These shorts show how much friends bring the brightness of sun into our lives."

Sun Shorts Promo

Everyone who watches Sun Shorts films online get a chance to win a trip to San Francisco, USA. All you need to do is like the video and post a comment.

Sun shorts digital films are produced by Sun Life Financial Philippines in collaboration with Unitel Pictures and supported by Star Magic, Cinema One and Sun Life Foundation. More details may be found at

Monday, July 2, 2012

Meet myBRO: the latest in wireless home broadband

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Our family cannot live without WIFI at home. My small write-from-home work as well as my social media requirements find me online from the time I wake up to the time I sleep. Add to that 4 internet-savvy kids who also MUST be online due to school work and of course, gaming. It is so important to us that the moment the internet lags or goes down, the whole house is in an uproar.

But seriously, that's how important it is for me to be connected ALL THE TIME.

So I am quite picky and choosy when it comes to selecting an internet service provider (ISP). Well, to be realistic, there is no perfect ISP. But at the very least, the ISP must have fairly good service coverage, minimum downtime, and acceptable, consistent internet speed based on one's subscribed plan.

I’ve learned of another option for people looking for a fixed wireless connection at home - myBRO.

The power of PLDT and Smart combined can now be seen in their HOME megabrand. The Fixed Broadband variants previously known as Bro Canopy and Wimax have now been merged and will be known as myBRO Wireless Home. It features a reliable internet connection at 512 kbps using the nationwide cellular network of Smart in order to bring wireless internet service right into your home and into your PC or laptop.

The first thing that caught my eye about myBRO was its AFFORDABILITY.

What can one buy for P26 these days? I cannot think of a decent meal or snack that goes for P26 or under. But for P26 a day, you can already get unlimited internet connection with myBRO's Plan 799 (with speeds up to 512 kbps).  Your family can now be connected to the internet 24/7.

This is just right for families on tight budgets with children who are schooling and need internet connection. It's great for yuppies who are just starting out their careers and need to tighten their belts. Even for those with existing internet subscriptions, myBRO's Plan 799 can be a great secondary option as it is so reasonably priced.

Up to July 15, 2012, there is also a Back-to-School promo for myBRO's Plan 999 (with speeds up to 1 Mbps). You get 50% off your initial cashout as well as on your first monthly fee. Huge savings for families watching expenses. Check out the mechanics for availing of this promo HERE.

myBRO utilizes Smart's cellular network service nationwide. I can personally attest to how RELIABLE Smart's service is. On one summer some years back, on a ship in the middle of the seas between the Visayas and Manila, I had a Smart signal!

Here's one more thing you might like. It does not take long to install myBRO in your home. 48 hours after you pay for your subscription, your internet connection is up and running. That is FAST!

I know that many parents who do not have internet at home have to tolerate their kids' going to internet cafes to do schoolwork. Not only is it expensive in the long run but if they have to work late, it can also be a risk to their safety. That's why I like to spread around the word about reasonable internet plans like myBRO. It is now that much easier and affordable for all of your family members to be connected to the web from the safety of your home.

You can get more information about myBRO by dialing *1888 from your Smart phone. To apply for myBRO, just go to any Smart Store or PLDT Business Office nationwide or any accredited Smart or PLDT sales agents. You'll need to bring along with you proof of identification as well as proof of billing address. You can also subscribe by logging on to

*This is a sponsored post.