Biz Buzz: NorthRail’s iPads | Inquirer Business

Biz Buzz: NorthRail’s iPads

/ 12:58 AM January 25, 2012

If there was ever a list of government corporations that burn the biggest amount of money without anything to show for, North Luzon Railways Corp. (NorthRail) would be on top.

We mean no offense but look at the facts: It’s no secret that work on its project, the construction of a train line from Manila to Pampanga, has been suspended due to findings of anomalous provisions in the contract with the Chinese government.


The suspension of work was of little consequence, really. They’ve been building the train line for close to a decade, but no more than a few kilometers have been put up.

With work on the main project suspended, NorthRail’s management early this month tried to bid out a P2.2-million deal—a relatively small amount—for the rehabilitation of the company’s corporate offices in Bulacan.


The deadline for the submission of bids was supposed to be this week, but unfortunately, NorthRail was issued a restraining order by a local court that effectively stopped the process. The order stemmed from a case filed by a bidder that participated the first time the rehabilitation contract was put on the auction block (that bidding failed, of course).

NorthRail management provided few details on the case, except for a notice on its website that said the opening of bids would be postponed until January 27.

With the rehab on their building also now on hold, what are NorthRail executives to do? Late last year, documents showed that the state-run company procured several “tablet computers” with specs similar (read: identical) to the Apple iPad 2.

The seven units—two 64-GB and five 16-GB models—were bought for P265,000. The price included black cases for each of the devices. Our hope, of course, is that these are being used to get more work done.—Paolo G. Montecillo

Taipan tangoes with tourism

Next month, billionaire real estate developer Andrew L. Tan will join the list of Filipino business luminaries like the late Ramon del Rosario Sr. and Central Bank Governor Jose B. Fernandez Jr. with Centers of Excellence at the Asian Institute of Management named after them.

Tan’s Megaworld Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of Megaworld Corp.—recently declared by two property research firms as the country’s leading residential condominium and office developer—is donating a total of P100 million to launch the AIM Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Studies on Tourism.


The new center “is envisioned to contribute to the development of Philippine tourism.”

Tan is considered the “best patron for tourism” as he is at the helm of Resorts World Manila, the country’s first integrated tourism estate, and the upcoming Resorts World Bayshore City in Entertainment City Manila.—Tina Arceo-Dumlao

The talented Manny O.

The awards just keep on coming for Cebu-based businessman Manny Osmeña.

Last November, his Manny O. Wines brought home eight more awards from the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition. The Sumiller won in the Food Pairing Category, with Peking duck and braised abalone, while The Discipulus Syrah also won when paired with Peking duck and kung pao chicken.

The Discipulus Syrah is now being served on board Cathay Pacific Airways as well as in the Philippine Airlines business class international flights together with the Discipulus blanc.

In addition, all wines are now available for redemption from AsiaMiles, one of the world’s largest redemption programs, to more than a million AsiaMiles members in Hong Kong and about 200,000 members in the Philippines.

Manny O. Wines has garnered 49 awards from seven countries in professionally blind-tasted competitions and are now sold in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Geneva, Zurich, Lucerne, Basel, Bern, Leichtenstein, Shanghai, Beijing and Greater China, and of course Manila and Cebu.—Tina Arceo-Dumlao

‘Toledo steel’

After consulting for this particular conglomerate for some months, this former high-ranking government official looks like he’s ready to jump into the pool with both feet.

We’re talking about none other than lawyer Mike Toledo who, according to our sources, is set to join Philex Mining Corp. as head of its corporate affairs division.

Unknown to many, the former Palace spokesperson and press secretary has been working as a consultant for the PLDT group of tycoon Manny Pangilinan in recent months (during which he also underwent the requisite “pakiramdaman” period).

Well, it looks like the verdict from both parties was that a more formal working relationship is a good fit, resulting in Toledo’s selection as the man to run the critical communication unit of the country’s biggest mining firm.

Toledo, of course, has a wealth of experience that makes him well suited to be the public face of a corporation in a highly charged industry, having served on the boards of various corporations, private and public, as well as in the executive and legislative branches of government, as well as being an Accra lawyer earlier in his career.

But he has his work in Philex cut out for him, with the mining industry facing strong head wind in the form of pro-environment critics (both the authentic and the fake ones, just hoping to cash in on the trend).

To be successful and effective amid the noise and disinformation against the industry, he will have to rely on nerves of “Toledo steel.”—Daxim L. Lucas

From Ferrari to Tetra Pak

What’s in Modena, Italy? Well, balsamic vinegar makers and the home of world-renowned Ferrari. And then there’s Tetra Pak.

Underlining just how much specialized engineering goes into Tetra Pak products, said Anders Wester, managing director for Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, said the Swedish company has a research and development, test and assembly facility in Modena with engineers who used to be with Ferrari.

“We actually recruit in Modena, so we have Ferrari engineers developing our machines,” Wester said.

Considering that Tetra Pak heats milk to about 137 degrees Celsius and then takes just three seconds to cool it down well enough to pack into a sterile carton, it probably does need engineers who are used to the fast lane.—Riza T. Olchondra

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TAGS: Andrew L. Tan, awards and prizes, company, government corporations, Manny O. Wines, Mike Toledo, NorthRail, People, rail transport, Tetra Pak, Tourism, wines
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