So this dog named “Kabang”—dubbed a hero for supposedly putting itself in the path of an oncoming motorcycle to protect the daughter and niece of its owner—is finally back home in the Philippines after seven months in California for treatment and surgery because the heroic act cost the dog the upper section of its snout, leaving only an exposed tongue and lower mandible.
Saving Kabang’s life called for putting it on a chemotherapy regimen after veterinarians at the University of California, Davis found that it was suffering from cancer as well. Only after the cancer was cured did they perform surgery on its snout.
Naturally, the treatment was expensive and Kabang’s owners had to rely on the kindness of strangers to be able to pay for the treatment. Amazingly, a total of $27,000 was raised from donors from 47 countries, thanks to the publicity that the case generated.
But one of the biggest donors, as it turned out, was a purely local concern. Biz Buzz learned that Philippine Airlines had shouldered the cost of three roundtrip tickets to the United States for Kabang’s veterinarians, as well as freight charges and fees for special handling of the “hero dog.” PAL also threw in two roundtrip tickets between Manila and Zamboanga (where Kabang’s owners are from) and other incidental expenses for the dog’s seven-month US stay.
The total cost for PAL: Close to P1 million, we’re told. Not bad. Truly, every dog has its day. Daxim L. Lucas
Wanted: Investor relations head
A new position at Megawide Construction Corp. could be opening up as a healthy project pipeline plus the company’s diversification into infrastructure have kept its senior managers far busier than usual.
Megawide, which is partly owned by the family of tycoon Henry Sy, may start sending out feelers for its first investor relations officer very soon, a person familiar with the matter said. It appears the role of investor relations is still being handled by CFO Oliver Tan, who has done a fairly good job. Megawide shares are up almost three times from its late 2011 listing price with most of those gains coming in this year.
However, Megawide’s recent foray into public private partnership (PPP) projects is certainly testing the multitasking skills of Tan, the source said. Megawide is now bidding for major PPP deals like the P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu international airport. For that bid, it partnered with India’s GMR Infrastructure Ltd. It already bagged one PPP deal, a school infrastructure project of the Department of Education. It is also part of a consortium bidding for a ticketing system for Metro Manila’s elevated railways and it emerged as the lone bidder for the Philippine Orthopedic Center modernization PPP.
These new and potential projects are being pursued as Megawide grows its client base for its traditional business catering to real estate developers. The company, best known as the contractor of condominiums of Sy’s SM Development Corp., has been bagging new clients like Rockwell Land Corp. and Shang Properties. As such, SMDC now only accounts for about 30 percent of its contracts compared to about 70 percent two years ago. Miguel R. Camus
Jaza in Myanmar
Myanmar’s hosting of the World Economic Forum East Asia Summit 2013 last week could not have come at a better time for conglomerate Ayala Corp., which has been trying to make inroads into Southeast Asia’s new frontier by sending business delegations there since 2011.
While in Myanmar’s capital city of Naypyitaw for the summit, Ayala chair and chief executive Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II (a.k.a. Jaza) indeed met with some prospective local partners and business contacts. “Today, we have various ongoing, active discussions for potential business investments mainly across the sectors the Ayala group currently operates in—real estate development, utilities, financial services and telecommunications,” he told Biz Buzz.
“At Ayala, we continue to look for opportunities to expand regionally, particularly in markets that are similar to ours and in industries where we can bring our unique skill sets and capabilities,” Jaza said, citing Manila Water’s foray into Vietnam and Indonesia.
Reflective of the Ayala group’s strong interest in Myanmar, Jaza was among the panelists on Friday at the WEF session “Taking Myanmar to Work,” which tackled the steps needed for Myanmar, which is coming out of decades of political and economic isolation, to match the demand for skilled workers. Apart from hosting a well-attended luncheon for President Aquino, this Myanmar-focused session must be one of the highlights of Jaza’s trip as he was in the same panel as Nobel laureate, democracy icon and now Parliament member Aung San Suu Kyi (who, by the way, confirmed for the first time in one BBC-televised WEF session that she wants to be President if and when constitutional restrictions against her candidacy are amended).
As with any country or market that Ayala enters, Jaza says it is important that Ayala establishes strategic local partnerships. “We invest time in building these relationships as these are critical to our success. Over the last two years, we have grown and developed very good relationships with local partners, government, and business groups in Myanmar,” he says.
Expect some business deals out of Myanmar to be announced by Ayala soon. Doris C. Dumlao
With in-flight Wi-Fi becoming the norm in aviation, AirAsia Bhd founder and chief executive Tony Fernandes announced at the WEF that the Malaysian carrier would soon offer such connectivity service. Fernandes said in a session on tourism that as a budget carrier, AirAsia could not offer in-flight movies as part of its entertainment suite but it would soon be able to offer in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity. This is being targeted by September, Fernandes later on told Biz Buzz when we bumped into him at last Friday’s luncheon for President Aquino, thereby allowing travelers to upload, download and live-stream content aboard his planes.
Fernandes–also the host of the Asian edition of corporate boardroom-focused reality TV show “The Apprentice”—said he was very upbeat about AirAsia’s business in the Philippines. AirAsia, through its local unit, recently acquired a 49-percent interest in local carrier Zest Airways. “We’ll give Cebu (Air) a run for their money,” he said. (Cebu Air has also announced plans to offer Wi-Fi in long-haul flights this year).
So what does Fernandes think of President Aquino’s pitch at WEF last Friday? The tech-savvy business magnate (who co-chaired the WEF East Asia Summit 2013 is a WEF Young Global Leader alumnus) referred to him as a “great leader who is transforming a country” as he tweeted a picture of P-Noy speaking at Friday’s luncheon before a full ballroom. He tweeted: “President of the Philippines talks of no corruption, of level playing field, of accountability. Music to my ears. Results can be seen.” Doris C. Dumlao
Get business alerts and a preview of Biz Buzz the evening before it comes out. Text ON INQ BUSINESS to 4467 (P2.50/alert).