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BIZ BUZZ: Airlines as enablers

/ 05:14 AM February 25, 2022

The country’s rapid recovery from the Omicron surge was possible because of the rising number of vaccinated Filipinos.

It’s worth remembering this was enabled by the critical role local carriers Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific and AirAsia Philippines played in transporting life-saving vaccines from overseas and within the archipelago over the past year.

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Cebu Pacific offered a glimpse into this massive undertaking, revealing it had carried over 50 million COVID-19 vaccines across the Philippines from March 2021 to February this year.

To better put that into perspective, the Gokongwei budget airline transported enough doses to fully vaccinate around a quarter of the Philippine population.

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Cebu Pacific said the vaccine airlifts went to 28 provinces.

These were Bacolod, Boracay, Bohol, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Cauayan, Cebu, Cotabato, Davao, Dipolog, Dumaguete, General Santos, Iloilo, Legazpi, Kalibo, Masbate, Naga, Ozamiz, Pagadian, Puerto Princesa, Roxas, San Jose, Siargao, Tacloban, Tuguegarao, Tawi-Tawi, Virac and Zamboanga.

Meanwhile, PAL and AirAsia also mounted their own vaccine delivery flights. This hastened the broader goal to protect the population from the virus while helping the economy achieve its badly needed restart.

To date, over 60 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Efforts should now focus on bringing up the reported low rates of booster jabs as business activity ramps up.

—Miguel R. Camus

No price hike

The devastation caused by Typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai) has caused a spike in demand for construction materials as hard-hit communities in Visayas, Mindanao and Palawan strive to rebuild. By the law of supply and demand, prices go up along with the surge in demand.

Apart from ensuring a stable supply of construction materials, however, Phinma’s Construction Materials Group, which includes roofing materials supplier Union Galvasteel Corp., assured that there won’t be any price increase.

“We are one with the government, the private sector and the Filipino people in assisting the survivors rebuild their homes after the onslaught of Typhoon Odette. In addition to ensuring reliable supply, we have also made all roofing sheets available at pre-Odette prices without sacrificing quality or falling into price gouging. This is our commitment to our countrymen, our contribution to Phinma’s long history in providing access to the essentials of a dignified life to Filipino families especially at times of extreme need,” said Eduardo Sahagun, Phinma executive vice president for construction materials, who is also president and CEO of Union Galvasteel.

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Working with local parishes, Union Galvasteel donated roofing sheets to underprivileged families affected by Odette, benefiting 98 residents from the poorest households of Barangay Tayud, Consolacion, Cebu.

Union Galvasteel also provided roofing support for the joint rehabilitation effort of Phinma Foundation and Mariposa Foundation with Gawad Kalinga (GK) for 137 families residing in Barangay West Poblacion Candoni, Negros Occidental.

The Union Galvasteel team and community volunteers of the GK Negros Occidental chapter distributed 500 corrugated roofing sheets, one truckload (400 pieces) of coco lumber and 20 kilograms of roofing nails to the beneficiary households last Jan. 27, 2022.

Candoni, a fourth class municipality in the southern part of Negros Occidental, was among the hardest hit in the province.

Union Galvasteel is also offering roofing materials at discounted rates for heavily affected Phinma employees, students and identified local community partners. —Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

New AI boss

Security-focused artificial intelligence (AI) startup ADVANCE.AI has chosen the former head of DDLS Aboitiz Philippines to expand its presence in the country.

Michael Calma, ADVANCE.AI’s new Philippine country manager, will lead and grow the company’s commercial business and expand its client base, which includes credit bureau agency CIBI Information Inc. and online e-commerce company Shopee.

Calma, who founded his own startups and earned his computer science degree and MBA from the University of the Philippines, possesses over 20 years of experience in software development, systems integration, managed services, complex deal structuring, social enterprises and IT education.

ADVANCE.AI offers AI solutions for identity verification, enterprise fraud and risk management amid the mass adoption of digital services and finance.

It is part of the Singapore tech unicorn Advance Intelligence Group, backed by the likes of Masayoshi Son’s Softbank and private equity giant Warburg Pincus.

—Miguel R. Camus

The business headlines in under one minute


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TAGS: ADVANCE.AI, AirAsia Philippines, Biz Buzz, Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines (PAL), Price Hike
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