Wake Up, Philippines!

Asian bank: Region must prepare for aging trend

Posted in Elderly, Senior Citizens by Erineus on February 24, 2009

Updated February 24, 2009 11:01 PM

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – Developing Asian nations are not doing enough to provide for their rapidly aging populations and need to take quick steps to prevent an aging crisis, a study released by the Asian Development Bank today said.

By 2050, Asians aged 65 or older are projected to comprise 17.5 percent of the region’s population – or more than 920 million, while the median age will rise to over 40, the report said.

While richer countries like Japan, China, Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore have older populations, the study said the region’s developing countries are tracking the same demographic path at a much faster rate.

More than half of Asia’s elderly will live outside the most affluent economies, and poorer countries including Laos, the Philippines, Pakistan, Indonesia will suffer more because of low incomes, lack of institutional care for the elderly, and substandard health care.

“Unless we start making difficult policy choices soon, there is very little chance that Asia will age gracefully,” the study said.

The report – which cited declining fertility and mortality rates as a reason for the boom – warned that there will likely be a contraction in the labor supply and consumption, declines in savings and investment rates, and slower economic growth.

The report urged developing countries to increase per capita income, strengthen or establish pension systems, attract more capital for investments and invest in education.

It also encouraged cross-border flows of labor and capital within the region.

Japan is and will remain the region’s oldest country, where nearly two out of every five people will be 65 or older by 2050, the study said.


Medicinal properties of seaweeds cited By Rudy A. Fernandez

Posted in Agriculture, Alternative Medicines, Medicine by Erineus on February 24, 2009

By Rudy A. Fernandez
Updated November 23, 2008 12:00 AM

Seaweeds, aside from their commercial value, have health and wellness properties.

This explains why people who regularly consume these so-called “ocean herbs”, notably the Japanese, have longer life span and are healthier.

Scientific studies have shown that seaweeds have more protein than meat, more calcium than milk, and higher fiber than vegetables, according to the University of the Philippines Diliman-College of Science-Marine Science Institute (UPD-CS-MSI).

Dr. Marco Nemesio Montaño of the UPD-CS-MSI said that the many beneficial properties of these dietary algae include being anti-oxidant, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-tumor, and anti-wrinkle.

Moreover, seaweed lowers blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol, and inhibits cell-cell adhesion, he said at the 2008 Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Commercialization Forum organized recently by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR).

Reporting on the strides achieved in seaweed research, Dr. Montaño said that there are some phytochemicals (plant chemicals) unique to seaweed. These include carotenoids (seaweed pigments) such as fucoxanthin, seaweed sterols, fibers, seaweed anti-herbivore chemical defenses, and acidic polyssacharides (carrageenan, fucoidan).

Fucoxanthin is a pharmacologically active caretenoid commonly distributed in brown algae. It acts as an anti-oxidant (“sweeper” of the body’s toxins or “radicals,”, among other things) and inhibits colon cancer cells and cells of neuroblastema (malignant tumor).

“It has been found that fucoxanthin reduces the viability of prostate cancer cells by inducing apoptosis (natural cell death) to a greater extent than the other carotenoids. Moreover, it can induce apoptosis in human leukemia cells,” said Montaño, as reported by BAR’s Christmas de Guzman.

In terms of wellness, a new product line developed by UPD-CS-MSI from seaweed extracts is the Seamoy (with approved patent and trademark).

This is a seaweed-based, low-cost air freshener gel that uses floral scents to give rooms, cabinets, lockers, and cars a clean, fresh smell. The gel can be easily handled and packed in many ways.

The use of seaweeds as a base ingredient for air fresheners has improved the quality of those existing in the market today, said Montaño.

Air freshener gels usually last only for two to three weeks whereas some soft gels, which may contain soft paraffin, can cause clogging in air-conditioning units.

Such gels also are expensive owing to the high production cost of its base ingredient, carrageenan, an algal polysaccharide used to give the air freshener gel a clear appearance. Carrageenan is extracted from certain types of seaweeds.

Summing up, Dr. Montaño encouraged people interested in venturing into seaweed business to initiate R&D activities that would facilitate funding and improve the seaweed industry.

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Best investment option now is agriculture – consultant

Posted in Business, Investment by Erineus on February 24, 2009

Updated February 22, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos who pursue dreams of affluence and economic independence may need to look at a particular sector that has long been ignored but otherwise shows significant opportunities for prosperity.

They may not know it, but investing in the agriculture sector is perhaps the freshest and best investment option an investor can make this year, says Daniel Go, an investment consultant managing proprietary funds that trade securities with preference to stock markets.

According to Go, the agriculture sector best represents the consumer staples industry, a particular asset class that prospers even during hard economic conditions.

“As an investment option, growth possibilities in the industry are boundless with the modernization of farming techniques, improved weather forecasting technologies, including renewed interest of the private sector together with government agencies, not to mention new demands in biofuel products,” says Go.

“Countries like the US, Japan, China, and Taiwan trace their economic prosperity to agriculture. As they are highly-industrialized economies, they are also agricultural powerhouses. During a crisis, they could still feed their people with basic food staples provided by their agriculture industry,” he adds.

Globalization is also a key factor why investing in agriculture is feasible. “The agriculture playing field has changed a lot owing to globalization, where it has now leveled off, making the Philippine agriculture sector better exposed to the demands of a bigger market. Since the country is blessed with fertile land, skilled workers and a great tropical weather, we are at an advantage.”

Prof. Leonor Briones, former head of the Bureau of Treasury, says now is a good time to invest in the agriculture sector, with recession staring the Philippines in the face.

“The first priority of the country should be in food production, marketing and distribution. It has been proven time and again that agriculture is a very resilient sector, even during hard economic times,” she notes.

She says investing in an agricultural stock is very timely at this point when other sectors are quite precarious and very vulnerable to financial shocks.

Go warns, however, that not all agriculture companies make a good investment. When choosing a company to invest in, they should look at the growth potential, source/s of growth, and growth sustainability, he says.

One possible choice, he says, is AgriNurture, Inc. or ANI, leading agro-commercial company.

“The business has a streamlined operation that is not hard to understand, it has a good business (farm-to-plate) model, plus the fact that investing in a company in the agriculture asset class is healthy for the agriculture sector in particular and healthy for the country in general,” explains Go.

Briones agrees, saying: “I believe in the vision of ANI for the country’s agriculture sector, even to the point of helping make an agriculture degree more attractive by offering scholarships in order to convince the Filipino youth to become agriculturists. So it’s not just about attracting investments in order to resuscitate the sector; it’s also about improving many impoverished Filipinos’ lives and contribute to overall national economic development.”

Focusing on the business of importation, trading and fabrication of post-harvest agricultural equipment during its early years, ANI has achieved world-class stature as an agro-industrial company that provides high-quality agricultural products, engaging in the commercial distribution of the freshest home-grown fruits and vegetables to its vast network of clients like popular malls and other key trade points like hotels and other commercial establishments.

Credit to this success goes to ANI’s revolutionary “farm-to-plate” business model that ensures a steady supply of high-quality fresh and processed agricultural food products to the country. The “farm-to-plate” model is supported by full forward and backward integrations through ANI’s farming subsidiary, Best Choice Harvest, one of several under ANI’s present business structure.

Best Choice Harvest undertakes joint-venture farming, contract growing, farm/plantation leasing, and farming research and development with local farmers and landowners, particularly in fruit – and vegetable-rich areas in the Visayas and Mindanao, in order to serve the supply needs of ANI. Thus, it also gave ANI the opportunity to expand further its operations by synergizing vital business activities, from farming, packing, trading, distribution, processing, canning, all the way up to sales.

As a result, this unique concept not only increased farmer productivity but also placed ANI as the perfect catalyst for private-sector involvement in agriculture to make it a valuable instrument for national economic development and at the same time, a viable investment option for many business-minded Filipinos.

To know more about ANI, log on to www.ani.com.ph.

A new method of making burong dalag

Posted in Agriculture, Tips by Erineus on February 24, 2009

Updated February 22, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – There’s a much improved scientific way of processing and packaging burong dalag (fermented mudfish).

The technology was developed by researchers Raquel Pambid, Wilma de Vera, Veronica Austria, Teresita Sunga, and Rosabella Mendez of the Pangasinan State University (PSU, Bayambang campus).

Their research project, titled “Processing and Packaging Improvement of Burong Dalag”, won the top prize in the 2009 Aquatic Technology Competition and Marketplace (ATCOM) sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development (DOST-PCAMRD).

The PSU researchers said the practice of making buro dates to the Spanish times when, during semana santa (Holy Week), the people abstained from eating meat. Instead, they turned to fish and vegetables.

They noted: “To enjoy their fare of fish even during semana santa they preserved fish drenched in salt and mixed with rice and left it to ferment in earthen jars. Thus, buro was born.”

The PSU study aimed to make buro retain its delicious taste and at the same time eliminate its unfavorable odor so that it can be marketable locally and abroad. It also wanted to help buro makers perfect the product not only as raw material but cooked as well.

The researchers focused on salting, a critical point in making buro.

“The new formula used 24 percent rock salt to ferment dalag in 18-20 days. Beyond 20 days, bad smell develops and some molds may start to grow,” they said.

The new technology observes the following procedures: cleaning of the fish (minus head and internal organs), freezing of the cleansed fish, salting and soaking, draining of salted fish, stuffing of salted fish with cooked cooled rice, fermenting, cooking, sterilizing, bottling, and labeling.

The technology has been adopted by PSU, which has established markets in some restaurants, schools, and offices in Pangasinan. – Rudy A. Fernandez


Food, climate, financial crises threaten sustainable development goals: top UN official

Posted in Climate Change, Food Security, Global Financial Crisis, Sustainable Development by Erineus on February 24, 2009

UNITED NATIONS (Xinhua) – A range of challenges from food and financial crises to climate change are threatening global efforts to achieve development that is sustainable, or that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, a top United Nations official said here today.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang, addressing a UN meeting on sustainable development that began here Monday at the UN Headquarters in New York, said: “These multi-dimensional challenges do not have purely economic solutions, nor purely social or environmental ones. They require integrated solutions that combine economic, social and environmental elements.”

He noted that food prices remain high, following on from last year’s crisis, and the global financial and economic slowdown has exacerbated the situation.

“Forecasts suggest that this year could produce the worst economic record since the end of the Second World War,” Sha said, noting that growth rates are falling everywhere, unemployment is rising, poverty is deepening, and hunger and malnutrition are on the increase.

In addition, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the set of globally agreed anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline – is in “jeopardy.”

On top of these challenges, the international community faces the threat of climate change, which if left unaddressed will, as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stated, only increase poverty and hardship, he said.

“Now is the time for the champions of sustainable development to step forward,” he said at the gathering, which is meeting in preparation for the 17th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, which is slated to hold its annual session in May.

All of the present crises put “a new responsibility on the Commission to provide the leadership and guidance that the world needs today,” he added.

The themes on the Commission’s agenda this year are agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification, and Africa.

“Each provides an entry point for addressing the food crisis. Each is central to the pursuit of the MDGs. Each is affected adversely by climate change as well as the global recession,” he said. “And the policy response in each of these agenda areas can contribute to the solutions of these global challenges.”

An estimated 963 million people are suffering from hunger and malnutrition with many more are at risk due to volatile prices and supplies. The food crisis came to the center of global attention last year when prices for food staples increased dramatically, sharply affecting the poor and the vulnerable.


‘Kulkats’ can now join Army

Posted in Military, News Feature, Phillipine Army/PA by Erineus on February 24, 2009

By James Mananghaya Updated February 14, 2009 12:00 AM

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MANILA, Philippines – Make way for the army of “kulkats” (kulang sa sukat) as the minimum height for recruits is now five feet for both males and females.

Previously men must stand 5’4” and women 5’2” before they can join the Army.

Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner, Army spokesman, said skilled and talented applicants have been rejected because they failed to meet the height requirement.

“We realized that not all Filipinos are blessed with height, but are nonetheless blessed with talent, and of course they want to serve their country,” he said.

Brawner said the AFP deputy chief for personnel has approved the new height requirement for Army recruits.

In the past, the Army lowered the height requirement to recruit Cordillerans into the Mountain Battalion that saw action in Mindanao during the campaign against the Moro National Liberation Front, he added.

Members of the Mountain Battalion proved that short people could be soldiers, he said.

Brawner said the Army is set to recruit some 3,000 men for an additional six new battalions for internal security duties.

The funds for the recruitment of new soldiers have already been approved and would come from the AFP budget for 2009, he added.

Army applicants should be natural-born Filipino citizens; at least high school graduates with technical or special skills needed in the AFP; at least 18 years old on the actual start of training and must not reach 23 years old by April 1; unmarried and childless, must be of good moral character and garnered a score of 80 in the AFP Aptitude Test, he added.

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Car plates spell jackpot for bettor

Posted in News Feature, PCSO by Erineus on February 24, 2009

By Perseus Echeminada Updated February 24, 2009 12:00 AM

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MANILA, Philippines – A 50-year-old woman who chose the plate number of a passing car near a lotto outlet to complete her ticket claimed her prize of P173 million at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) at noon yesterday.

The woman is one of only two winners of the Super Lotto 6/49 game with the combination (in any order) 6-34-33-20-26-12, which carried a pot of P347,836,903.20, the biggest PCSO jackpot to date.

Don de Leon, chief of staff of the PCSO chairman’s office, said the woman from Caloocan, an employee in a private company, was accompanied by her husband and 25-year-old son when she claimed the prize yesterday.

He said she had bet on six sets of combination numbers that amounted to P120. She got the numbers from the birthday of a family member, her wedding anniversary, home address and the plate number of a passing car near a lotto outlet in Malibay, Pasay City.

The winner intends to buy a house and lot, share her winnings with the poor and deposit the remaining amount in the bank.

The other winner from Pasig has yet to claim his or her prize.

“The much anticipated 6/49 jackpot was finally taken Sunday night, the biggest PCSO purse to date,” De Leon said.

The lucky tickets were sold by outlets operated by Jocelyn Federico of Guillermo Avenue, Buting, Pasig city and Alicia Ildefonso of Jose Street, Malibay, Pasay city.

The PCSO thanked the thousands of players who supported the game, saying it generated millions of pesos for the agency’s charity fund.

“Although not everybody is fortunate enough to win, they should know that their patronage has contributed to the significant increase in the charity fund, allowing our office to serve more people in need of our medical and health related programs,” De Leon said.

The two winners are the 156th and 157th members of the Super Lotto millionaires club who have won jackpot prizes ranging from P8 million to P347 million.

For the security of winners, the PCSO will keep their identities a secret.

The biggest lotto jackpot of the PCSO online game has rekindled the dreams of thousands of Filipinos who tried their luck last Sunday night.

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