Category Archives: Business

Excellent Guides Free For Limited Time!

If you look to your right you will see we offer a series of StreetWise Guides: Divorce and Annulment, Safe travel, Customs & Immigration and the General Retirement guide. These are soon to be sold on as Kindle eBook downloads for $1.99 each. They are worth a lot more and yet we will continue to offer them here, absolutely free! Why? Not because we love you or are sweet guys but simply because it helps our traffic numbers and as we will soon be monetizing this site with some advertising opportunities,w e need to have the traffic numbers to attract good advertisers and charge a decent fee. Sound fair?

Darwin to Cebu? We’ll see

Once more they are claiming flights from Darwin to Cebu. This is not the first time these flights have been mooted. I hope they go ahead and are hugely successful. Meanwhile, I can fly to Singapore on Scoot for $138, then on the Cebu for P3000, say $75. So for $430 return I can get from Sydney to Cebu and back via Singapore. Add a few bucks for luggage and better seating and you still are spending just $500 or so. The catch with the new deal will be the cheap flight into and out of Darwin for those who don’t live in in the NT.

New route to boost tourism, Direct Darwin-Cebu flights begin December
By Ehda M. Daggoc (The Freeman) Updated September 21, 2012 12:00 AMComments (0)

CEBU, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT-7) announced the entry of Australian Northern Territory company Wild Orchid Airlines that will offer a regular direct peak demand charter flights between Darwin, Australia and Cebu on December 15.
In a statement, DOT-7 regional director Rowena Montecillo revealed that this move will boost the tourism sector, specifically in Cebu saying “Darwin’s proximity to Asia allows great opportunities for people from the Northern Territory looking for a new, affordable, safe and exciting holiday destinations for singles, couples, families and groups.
Wild Orchid Airlines has chartered a fully serviced and crewed Qantas Boeing 737 that has been booked to fly from Darwin during peak travel periods which include Christmas and the midyearschool holidays, Easter and the mid semester beak.
The direct flights will depart Darwin at 1:00PM every Saturday afternoon, during these dates, arriving back from Cebu at around 9:30PM that night. With only 3 1/2 hours flying time, Cebu will now be available for Darwin people.
Utilizing a Qantas Boeing 737 and crew, Wild Orchid offers a full service Economy and Business Class cabin with a worldwide recognized level of service. One can soon travel directly between Darwin and Cebu in a short 3.5 hour hop.
In the past, to get to the central Philippines hub airport, passengers need to take connections in Manila and/or Singapore – making this an arduous two-day journey with the cost and inconvenience of overnight stopovers.
With the entry of Wild Orchid Airlines, getting to Cebu from Darwin is as simple as a short 3.5 hour flight. It’s quicker than getting to any Australian capital city or any other international destination excluding Bali or Dili.
Record from the DOT revealed that Australian national arrivals to the Philippines only grew by 2.2 percent as of April this year, compared to the same period in 2011.
In the first three months of this year Australian arrivals to the Philippines totalled to 16,615 a 2.2 percent improvement from 16,263 in 2011.
Ealier, Australian government executives underscored the potential of the Philippines to attract the huge family tourists from Australia. This is one of the markets that Philippines should target in the Australia traveling market.
Cebu, for instance, has greater edge in attracting this particular market because of its good location, diverse attractions, and position as a convenient gateway to other destinations in southern Philippines like Boracay and Bohol.
Family Tourism in Australia is a significantly growing market because Australian families travel more frequently now. The Philippines, if it were to offer good packages, could be a new and fresh destination for this huge Australian tourism market. (FREEMAN)

The Reasons Tourists Stay Away

When it comes to taking a shower, it can be the last thing many people ever do. More accidents occur in the home and within the home, in the bathroom, than anywhere else. All jokes aside, this is a deplorable situation that is all too prevalent in the Philippines today So called hotels and guest houses claiming they offer hot water and instead, present the guest with a dilemma. Do I risk electrocution, or do I take a cold shower? Not a major issue most places but in Baguio, where this shot was taken, it can be a tad chilly.

So my friend asked Reception to provide the hot water he had paid extra for and below you can see the very Pinoy solution. A bucket, tabos (ladle) and a thermos of tepid water! This hotel was not the one where he asked for a 7.30am breakfast followed by an 8.30 am shuttle to the local tourist attraction. That hotel had the times round the wrong way so at 7:25am, expecting whatever passed for breakfast, he was advised he was keeping the shuttle waiting and could he please get a move on? My friend made the common enough mistake of asking the clerk, the same one he had booked the breakfast and shuttle with the night before, why didn’t it seem odd to him to have your breakfast served an hour after you have just departed on the shuttle for a three hour drive? His reply? “You will hab to eat berry pas, sor!’ Totally missed the whole point.

The sad thing is, my friend has come across this incompetence and stupidity at just about every single place he has visited or stayed in the last two weeks. This is what passes for acceptable service in the Philippines. No wonder the tourists are staying away in droves! He has toured Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Mexico and Peru and tells me nowhere is as much of a joke as the Philippines. Fortunately he has a sense of humour and laughs a lot of it off, like being charged  P40 for a blanket in Baguio. He distracted the staff with some fun and banter and silly games until they let him have the blanket free of charge. It was like negotiating with small children, apparently.

When is the Philippines going to get it? They have thousands doing hospitality degrees that prepare them for nothing because the all pervading national culture of pakikisama rules. Forget trying hard or using common sense or thinking, just do it as it has always been done by everyone so that you can’t be blamed if it goes wrong, which it will because not every time is the same. This attitude is everywhere in the country and is probably the biggest chain holding the place back. That and the food, the transport, the corrupt officials, the traffic, the filth and garbage… I could go on. The only redeeming feature is that, ignorance and stupidity aside, the Filipino and Filipina are just really nice people and that has kept them from being swamped while in their own country… and helping them rise and shine the moment they get free and live abroad.

Call Centers Can’t Cut It In Cebu

Reprinted below in accordance with the usual standards of copyright infringement prevalent in the Philippines (actually beyond those standards as I have given full accreditation to the source and writer!) is an interesting article. So many of us have called for assistance and been put through to a call center (Business Process Outsource company) in Manila or Cebu and become frustrated at how the operator seems to be reading from a script. Ask them something not covered by the script and they tend to simply ignore you and go back to the start of their script. Perhaps hoping somehow your problem will change and fit their script all of a sudden. If, until now you thought you were imagining this, take heart. It is a problem that has been noted and hopefully will be addressed. Personally I don’t care if call centers are not in my home state, what I want is a resolution, yet too many times this isn’t happening for reasons included here. I have a friend who hates having to call PayPal simply because they use a Philippines based BPO and the script is so tight you can barely get past ‘hello’. Of course it is not the fault of the operators who are only trying to do their best, make a living and hang on to their jobs.

It does identify a problem with the quality of the education people pay a lot of money to get and it seems it is letting them down. Well, it is if you want to hire good quality employees and not be prepared to settle for half trained, half educated applicants that seems to be what’s happening in Cebu at the moment.

Lack of workers slows BPO growth

By Mia A. Aznar

Thursday, July 28, 2011

THE business process outsourcing sector may be one of the fastest growing in the country, players admit there are just not enough qualified personnel that would allow them to expand even faster.

Butch Sison of Convergys said they remain “hopeful and passionate” about the industry’s growth in Cebu but admitted that some two-thirds of clients wanting to acquire services from their Cebu branches had to be turned down because of the lack of talent.

Win US $500 cash in Sun.Star’s music video contest

Sison said that this could have meant 1,500 jobs. He said the sad part is, these required skills from level one agents.

“The inavailability of talent is critical,” he said, adding that the smaller BPO companies end up “keeping them afloat” by accepting new graduates and training them before they leave and get accepted to Convergys with better capabilities.

While Sison noted that most regions in the world can barely keep pace with the industry’s growth, he fears big companies will want to start looking around for other areas if Cebu doesn’t act quickly.

Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP)’s Jojo Ligan said the industry could grow easily at 50 percent if only there were enough qualified applicants who could fill these positions.

Instead, they only end up hiring 20 to 30 out of 100 applicants because not all of them meet the qualifications.

The good news, Ligan said, is that this problem is not unique to the Philippines.

BPO executives, however, find it an advantage that Cebu is a small area and that most managers know each other, making employees hesitate about jumping from one company to the next.

Accenture’s Ray Marañon assured they are satisfied with their location in Cebu, as they recently opened a second facility.

“We are bullish about our growth for the next five years,” he said.

While Cebu’s entry-level salaries are much higher than other cities beginning to open up to BPOs, Sison said challenges that prevent other cities from scaling up will prevent them from considering them as alternate locations and that they would rather stick it out in locations like Cebu.

Aside from a specific set of skills, Sison hopes the academe will produce graduates who can actually converse well with foreign clients.

He said the problem is not grammar of having flawless accents.

He noted that many cannot seem to converse with clients properly without sounding rehearsed.

What is important, he said, is to be able to connect to other human beings they are speaking to and let their personalities shine through the call.

He said teaching the traditional way of speaking may not be the right way to train students and suggested that the academe challenge traditional ways of teaching that would enable them to communicate effectively.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 29, 2011.


Age Limit Up In Angeles

The token lip service shown the other week in arresting owners, patrons and staff of only Foreigner Owned bars in Angeles city has brought about talk of increasing the age limit for licensed staff working in these bars from 18 to 21 . That would be a very positive move and lessen the chances a 16 year old (or younger) could bribe her local officials into issuing a city ID claiming she was 18. At the very least it would make it easier for owners to insist on more proof for the really young looking applicants. Will this make much difference overall? We doubt it.

In the Filipino owned bars that cater mainly to the local trade it will make no difference whatsoever if the owner chooses to hire 14 year olds. He will rely on his barkarda, his connections and his local clout as always. It is all so obvious to those who understand the psyche of the Filipino, especially when it comes to getting one over on the foreigner. One can’t really blame them, given how they were messed around for so long by the Spanish in the name of the church, then the Americans just took over even after the Filipinos had beaten the Spanish in a fair fight called the Kapitunan Revolution of 1896-98. They have to put up with a culture that idolises anything from overseas as being superior to the Pinoy version, has half the population doing whatever they can to have lighter skin tones (whitening cream is the No1 selling item in drug stores everywhere) and of course people throwing in English phrases amidst their Tagalog just to show they are upscale enough to speak Taglish.

All of which is fair enough. It is their country and if one moves there and operates a business then one must expect the playing field to be less than level. Regardless of how it might be level for them back home should they come to your country and set up shop, this isn’t your country, it is theirs. This is how it is, get used to it. The thing is, you can play the game their way, too. You will never be as good at it or as well connected but you can use the same two faced set of ‘rules’ to your advantage. Always pick your battles carefully and make sure you have more money and connections than the other guy. Don’t hesitate to treat people like dirt and use them to your own advantage and never, ever feel remorse or pity for anyone less fortunate than you. That’s their lot in life and not your fault so ignore them if you can and use them if you can’t. Remember, this is a catholic country so you will be forgiven your sins and the lot of the less fortunate will be much better when they go to heaven so why worry? See, they’ve got it covered.

Either follow those simple rules or don’t compete with locals for the peso. Go back to your own country and run your business there or enjoy living in the Philippines and make your money online, offshore or somewhere other than the Republic of the Philippines. Walay problema, di ba!

Trying To Find Staff

If you run a business over here one of your biggest headache creators will be staff. I used to think it very cruel and neo-colonial, the way many Pinoy and Chinoy (Filipino and Chinese-Filipino) employers treated their staff. Like a cross between recalcitrant children and indentured slaves. Now I can appreciate why.

I have learnt if you give them a fair go as you would back home, too many will take unfair advantage of you. Our last IT staffer started out like a nipa hut on fire. As she realised we were decent blokes she took advantage, turning up later and later, missing whole days and eventually not even bothering to apologize. She’s gone now.

Looking for a replacement has been a challenge to my Angeles City based partner. Our office there is in residential premises so we usually meet clients at their offices or somewhere neutral like Starbucks at the Mall. Seems too many Filipinos must feel the job isn’t legit if we have to meet off site. Of course back home we do that if we want to interview in a neutral locale or if there is still someone in the role who will soon be fired.

Eventually my partner used his network of business contacts to hunt down some hopefuls and, with an introduction from someone they trust, we had several actually turn up to be interviewed. One will start monday and hopefully be able to hit the ground running, as they say. It’s all fun and frolic in the Philippines!

After A Job In The Philippines? Are you 5’4”?

The anti-discrimination regulations in force in most western countries often seem like a politically correct joke in many ways. Especially as we know that even if they don’t specify X in the ad, if you don’t have X then you won’t get the job. Yes, they have just discriminated against you but then we all ‘discriminate’ every time we choose one thing over another, when we buy this brand over that and so on.

Personally I think the rules for advertising jobs are a good indicator of where political correctness can get it wrong, but then I read the job ads in Philippines newspapers. Here are a few taken at random:

Admin Assistant Female, 5?4? in height, excellent in oral and written english, keen to details and able to work independently, knowledgeable in microsoft word, excel and powerpoint.

I thought English, the language, deserved an upper case E? Maybe why they need someone ‘excellent in oral and written english’. But why 5’4”?

Japanese Speaking Guest Service Associate for Front Office Female, 27-35 years of age, 5?4? in height, fluent in japanese and english with strong customer service skills, willing to work in shifts, With at least 2 years experience working for a 5-star hotel is an advantage, college graduate.

At least they are consistent and leave out the J along with the E. What if the best candidate is 26 and 5’3”? No point sending in the resume as they will ask for a birth certificate and do a height check. OK, same employer (a five star hotel in Cebu);

Media Communications Manager Female, college graduate at least 5?4? in height, preferably single, related working experience in marketing, advertising, or journalism is an advantage, has established contact and linkages with counterparts in the city, excellent in oral and written english, customer service oriented.

And this one:

Banguet Sales Executive Female, college graduate, at least 5?4? in height, preferably single, preferably with 2 years relevant experience with a reputable hotel, excellent leadership, selling and communication skills.

Four out of eight job vacancies require females 5’4” in height. Why? Low doorways to the Ladies toilets? Only one uniform size? Of the other four job openings, one didn’t specify gender, two allowed the candidate to be either male or female and the last one wanted a female for the role, height unspecified but she had to be between 21 – 30 years old.

Trawl through any job listings for Filipino positions and you will be told how old they have to be, what gender, marital status, age and even that their personality must be ‘pleasing’. In some cases they even stipulate ‘attractive’. That means light skinned by the way.

That is the way it is here and just one more thing you will have to accept if you plan to live here. It is their Rome, they are doing it the ‘Roman’ way and you know what they say about ‘When in Rome…’

That’s Classified!

There is a new classified ad site for all things Philippines. Philippine Finder is the place to go for real estate, cars,  items anything that is up for sale for the expat or retiree. There is also a personals section where you can find friends, activity partners or seach for romance.  You can advertise there free of charge. Right now it is a little light on for ads, but so was the Yellow Pages the day the first telephone was installed! The more people who use it to advertise and respond to ads, the better a service it will become.

Business Ideas, Anyone? Some Thoughts

If you were unable to run a successful business back home in Glottal Stop Pennsylvania, what makes you think you can make a go of one here in the Philippines?

So many people think because they can get something started for a lot less than back home they can become a tycoon overnight. Many go for the food industry and try and run a bar or a restaurant. This is probably the hardest industry to be in, even if to those who have never worked in the game it looks fairly straightforward.

Don’t forget you will have to hire Filipino staff. It may sound cruel but there is truth in the humorous observation that if you train the staff well, don’t let them go to lunch or else you’ll have to give them a refresher. Good staff with initiative and the oomph to use it are almost impossible to find. Most of them have gone overseas where they earn a more realistic remuneration for their abilities and efforts. If you do get a good one, holding on to them may be impossible because as soon as they can, they’ll be off to greener pastures too.

In any business anywhere, staff are usually your biggest cost and your biggest headache. Here in the land of lip service, it gets worse. If you are trying to run something in a provincial backwater, you have my sympathy. If it is going to be a Filipino style affair and have nothing more technologically advanced than a banana leaf for a plate, give it a whirl. Otherwise, think twice, then find something else to do.

I learned the hard way my socialistic leanings to giving the working class stiff a fair go don’t work in this country. Instead, if you are nice to the employee they simply feel it will be even easier to steal from you as you won’t get upset and angry and scream at them. These people are not westerners and they have a different set of values and standards to those of us from western countries. Accept it, it’s neither good nor bad, just the way it is. If we start expecting Filipinos to do business as we do it and to have the same ethics and standards we prize, pretty soon the reasons we came here in the first place will disappear.

If this country does beat its culturally ingrained, rampant, endemic and systemic corruption and incompetence, then things will get rather expensive very quickly. Dare I say it may no longer appeal! Think about it, just like you should think about any business venture that costs more than a hundred bucks or so.

Introductions Equals Money

There are hundreds of ‘penpal’ sites, introduction agencies and lonely hearts sites on the web nowadays. Many of these showcase Filipinas, as well as women from Latin America and the former Soviet Union. This article is not about the moral or ethical side of this industry (and it is an industry in more ways than one) but about how you could become involved in it in an ethical and moral way.

The reality is that people are out there looking for each other. We will discuss why in depth another time. Let’s look at the introduction agency. Until the IMBRA law was introduced in the USA a few years ago (International Marriage Brokers Act) many sites charged the man a fee to belong and to get the details of the women members so they could correspond. The view was to meet, marry and live happily ever after. However some men (and some women) abused this and lured unsuspecting partners to their graves in extreme cases and horrible lives of virtual slavery in others. Not all and no doubt a very tiny minority but even one sad story is one too many.

The Philippines government introduced a law to prohibit the running of introduction agencies from the Philippines however providing you did not promise marriage and did not charge the female a fee you were not breaking the law. All the same most people didn’t trust the local judicial system enough to risk it. Those introduction agencies that offered Filipina names and addresses were often run by Filipina wives of Americans, living in the USA. These went from catalogues mailed to the man (hence the term ‘mail-order-bride) and required months of patient snail mail correspondence to the instant gratification of email and online viewing of photos and details (her profile). It also meant that the Filipina could become more pro-active and hunt for a ‘kano’ to call her own.

This technological advance gave unscrupulous people the chance to abuse the system and make money or take other advantages. Men could lure women to their home country and abuse them as sex slaves, Filipinas (and all too often Filipino transsexuals posing as women) could induce men to send them money under false pretenses. The IMBRA law was tagged onto other legislation and passed late at night prior to a holiday and was brought about by the tragic deaths of two women from Russia, not the Philippines. While no one can condone such abuse, the law while well intentioned has been unfairly passed and applied. Large web sites such as yahoo are exempt as while they do have many foreign members, they are not exclusively about introducing foreigners to Americans. Religious sites are exempt due to the power of the religious lobby no doubt and so many sites have suddenly become ‘Christian Dating’ sites.

Basically the law requires the web site to ensure the American supplies full personal particulars to any foreign member (such as financial and criminal records, full address etc) BEFORE they are able to open correspondence. When the couple finally decide to marry the fiance is questioned by Immigration if the law was complied with and if not then they will not be granted a K1 visa. Or a K3 if they married overseas. It is no doubt well intentioned but it is a recipe for disaster and it forces otherwise law abiding people to lie and find ways around the situation or open you up for identity theft or worse.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. For those living overseas who want a Filipina partner, simply come here on vacation and travel around. Read ‘Filipina 101-How To Meet The Filipina of Your Dreams’ for all the information you need to know about how to correspond or meet her in the mall. It also tells you how to detect a scammer and how to avoid her as well as new information on chat cam scams.

But if you live in the Philippines and wish to make a living helping other people find happiness together, this is how I would do it. First of all you must have your Asawa on your side. She is vital as she will be the one to choose and vet the Filipinas. You will find and vet the Kanos. You need only about ten local girls from your Asawa’s home barangay. Relatives and girls she knows personally. Girls she knows do not have current boyfriends and she knows if they have babies or husbands or any of the other surprises that can be launched on the unsuspecting Kano.

Then you set up a web site offering a guided vacation in a barangay locale where the holiday maker can meet real Filipinas and learn about the culture and the community with no pressure or obligation to make any promises at all. For all the details of how to set up a business in the Philippines, check out ‘Making A Living- The Streetwise Philippines Guide To Employment, Business and Investing’. You meet the holiday maker at the airport and guide them to the barangay, arrange their accommodation and site seeing and act as a friend and guide for a set period. During that time you introduce them to the vetted girls in a casual, relaxed family BBQ type situation and let things take a natural course.

You promise only this:

You will meet the client at the airport and guide them to the locale.

You will show them the local sites and hold a BBQ in their honour at which several local Filipinas will be present.

All of the Filipinas will be known to you or your Asawa and in your opinion be genuine and not already married (unless stated).

You will escort the client back to the airport or wherever you both agree to ‘release’ him.

No promises of marriage are made and no online introductions are made so neither sets of laws are infringed, US or Filipino. You charge a modest fee for your time and costs and only from the guest. I would suggest US$100 a day depending on costs and length of visit. You could charge a two day minimum with half in advance (give a receipt) and be clear about your trading and refund terms. Be professional and fair and you will be surprised at how you attract more people of the same nature than bad ones.

Be aware there are some unscrupulous people offering similar services already. They have slick web sites and convincing text but they take the deposit and then fail to produce the service. If you are active on the Yahoo groups for expats and people interested in the Philippines then you will build up a clientele that can vouch for you; word of mouth and reputation is crucial to long term success in this country as anywhere. This idea of mine is for a service that helps Kano and Filipina find each other. You facilitate the possibility only. No promises are made and for $100 the Kano can’t complain if he was shown a slice of real Filipino barangay life not usually experienced by tourists and then sent safely on his way. A date with an American woman will set him back more than that.

Be diligent and find genuine Filipinas. Devise a set of questions to ascertain the bona fides of the Filipina and the Kano and after a while you can sort the wheat from the chaff. Deliver as promised and keep in mind this is a customer focused service. Most Kanos who will pay for this service tend to be genuine in their endeavours to find a Filipina they can trust. The scum tend to know it all already and have their own Modus Operandi. The customer helps you live in the Philippines so take good care of him and ask for referrals.

If one of the girls turns out to be a scammer, deal with it. If the Kano turns out to be less than genuine, again, deal with it. Problems occur in all business ventures, the secret is how you deal with them. Always aim for a Win/Win/Win outcome. Thats the Kano, the Filipina and you all being winners. It can be done and in the long run it is far more lucrative than the rip off or scam could ever be.