Biz Buzz: Irreverent
This administration takes pride in having attracted into government service a number of foreign-educated whiz kids who were supposedly so inspired by President Aquino’s “Walang Mahirap Kung Walang Corrupt” slogan, that they went back to the land of their birth, even if it meant massive pay cuts, just to serve the Filipino people.
The Harvards, Cornells, Whartons and Stanfords… name it, this government has it.
But there will always be exceptions to the rule, such as the case of this not-so-distinguished, not-so-honorable and not-so-successful newbie in the so-called economic cluster.
After getting retrenched from his job in the good old US of A, this Beleaguered Ivy Leaguer Lad (BILL) was able to wangle one government appointment after another, and recently reached the present pinnacle of his government stint, as a POWER-ful undersecretary to a very senior Cabinet member.
The position has several tag-along ex officio board seats in lucrative government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), including a prominent one in the energy sector.
But what apparently whets the interest of BILL is not the possibility of getting additional pay via sizeable per diems, but rather, the prospect of ensnaring attractive GOCC women, perhaps to fill the void left behind by his wife who recently left him.
BILL must think that he is God’s gift to GOCC women, ergo—that all his advances upon them will be most welcome, anywhere and anytime. But one GOCC lady that BILL targeted did not share BILL’s high appraisal of himself and resisted his unwelcome advances. The series of acts committed are indeed textbook violations of Republic Act No. 7877, otherwise known as the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995.
He inserted himself into a business trip (a power forum down south), and then usurped a Philippine Airlines plane seat assigned to somebody else just so he could sit beside the hapless victim.
And when midnight struck, he summoned the victim into his Waterfront Hotel room on the pretext that the faucet in his bathroom was leaking. When this did not work, he called for a one-on-one meeting supposedly to discuss the next day’s official agenda.
Taking advantage of the privacy of his hotel room, BILL transformed into his truly irreverent man and, thereafter, took advantage of the young, unwilling victim who was able to muster enough courage to prevent a full-blown rape. Gil Cabacungan Jr.
Ayala’s B&B experiment
Apart from building branded hotels and resorts all over the country, property giant Ayala Land Inc. is experimenting with the bed-and-breakfast (B&B) model of catering to backpacker-type or budget-conscious travelers.
For a few months now (and without any fanfare) the group has debuted into the B&B business with the opening of 10-room seaside El Nido Cove Resort in mainland El Nido in Palawan. Based on online booking sites, this B&B offers rooms for P3,400 to P5,700 a night.
What’s a big property developer like Ayala, which now has 192 rooms in four deluxe island-resorts in Palawan (Apulit, Lagen, Miniloc and Pangulasian), doing in the B&B scene, which is typically the domain of smaller entrepreneurs?
El Nido Cove is envisioned to be a model for sustainability practices that can be adopted in all of the Ayala-owned resorts, according to Laurent Lamasuta, president of Ten Knots Development Corp., which develops and manages ALI’s resort projects in Palawan.
Lamasuta said it was in El Nido Cove where the group was trying out producing biodiesel, through the recycling of used cooking oil, for power generation. In the past, he said the group would collect all used cooking oil and ship it to Manila for disposal and donate the proceeds to charity. But with the biodiesel project, the oil will no longer have to leave Palawan (eliminating cargo costs) for conversion into biodiesel.
The group also plans to set up another B&B, possibly a 20-room property, in the upcoming “Lio” development on mainland El Nido, master-planned as an ecologically sustainable community with a mix of hotels and resorts, commercial developments and residential communities that blend with the natural landscape. It will have 1,200 rooms catering to all market segments, from the backpacker-oriented B&Bs and two to three branded hotels, including Seda, which will have 150 rooms.
Other than this second B&B in Lio, the group has no plans to go into B&Bs in a big way, Lamasuta stressed.
In scaling up tourism, ALI’s big bet is on homegrown mid-scale brand Seda. In El Nido, which has an array of high-end resorts as well as a number of cheap accommodations on the mainland but nothing in between, the entry of Seda in Lio—which will also mark its debut in resort operations—is seen filling the mid-market gap. Doris C. Dumlao
Vespa dealer gets BOC’s attention
One of the distributors of the iconic Vespa motorcycles from Italy has caught the attention of the Bureau of Customs for alleged failure to pay the right taxes and duties.
The BOC’s sights are now trained on the distributor, which has been able to sell the Vespa motorcycles far below the price quoted by the other players in the market, after Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima was tipped off by another Vespa distributor.
Sources said that because of this supposed tax-avoiding distributor, other legit Vespa sellers have been unable to compete, forcing them to scale back their operations.
They hope that the BOC will immediately act on their petition for the company to be slapped with the right tariff so that the playing field will become level. Tina Arceo-Dumlao
PAL to the Big Apple
Philippine Airlines is expected to begin its much-awaited Manila-to-New York service in March 2015, according to aviation website Philippine Flight Network.
And according to a recently published airline timetable that it quoted, PAL had, in fact, begun to receive advanced bookings for the flights that would coincide with the northern hemisphere spring season.
The four-times-a-week flight PR126 will use the long-range Airbus A340-300 and leave Manila at 11:50 p.m., make a stopover in Vancouver, and arrive in New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport at 7:00 a.m. the next day.
The PR127 return flight leaves JFK at 11 a.m. and, after a stopover in Vancouver, arrives in Manila at 8:35 p.m. the following day.
PAL’s last foray into NYC was in 1997 via a Manila-Vancouver-Newark route using the now retired MD-11 tri-jet.
Meanwhile, PAL will also increase its flights to Toronto (via Vancouver) to four times a week starting in the spring. The service will use the newer Boeing 777-300ER.
But, of course, a lot will depend on the outcome of ownership talks. Expect the final outcome by Friday. Daxim L. Lucas
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