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Oil, ME crisis hit PH eco outlook
By Lito U. GaGni FIlIPINO households have become pessimistic over their prospects for the coming year as the rise in oil prices, and that of basic goods and commodities , coupled by the Middle East crisis darkened their economic outlook reversing in the process their optimistic outlook in the last quarter of 2010. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) bared this following its Consumer Expectation Survey(CES) done from March 14 to 21 in a nationwide scale where it found that majority of the Filipino families indicated their pessimism over the economic prospects for the rest of the year. BSP data showed that 23.2 percent of the respondents were not optimistic over their economic outlook compared with just 8.5 percent in the last quarter of last year. The mood was in fact aggravated by the “tensions in the Middle East and North Africa,” BSP added. The CES survey actually mirrored the same pessimistic sentiments in the United States, United Kingdom, Thailand and Japan where the high fuel prices accounted for much of the negative outlook.

April 4 -10 2011

Vol. IV No 0044

In Australia and New Zealand, the negative expectations arose from the disasters that hit these countries. Households see their expenditures going up on basic goods and services principally because of the surge in oil prices. The increase in the oil price has already worsened even the expectations on three aspects: economic condition of the country,family income and family financial situation. Respondents even anticipate the rise in the ranks of the unemployed as the Middle East crisis results in more than three million extra job

THE purchase of an entry level supercar led to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s entry into the arena of falling satisfaction ratings as the Social Weather Stations reported the findings of its First Quarter 2010 survey. In a statement posted at its website, the SWS said the survey, conducted from March 4 to 7, 2011, found 69 percent satisfied and 18 percent dissatisfied with Aquino’s performance, for a net rating of +51 (percentage of satisfied minus percentage of dissatisfied). Pres. Aquino’s new net satisfaction rating is 13 points down from his net satisfaction rating of +64 in November 2010 (74 percent satisfied, 10 percent dissatisfied). Both scores are within the SWS term for very good which ranges from +50 to +69. The survey had also paid particular attention to purchase of a 2007 Porsche GT3 last year and found that 48 percent agreed and 33 percent disagreed to this statement – “Pres. Aquino’s purchase of an expensive car such as a Porsche, even if through his own money, is not a good example for a President of a country like the Philippines”; the remaining 19 percent were undecided. A majority, which the SWS termed as pluralities, of the respondents in most areas think Aquino’s purchase of an expensive car such as the Porsche – barely a year into his term – was not a good example for a President of a country like the Philippines; Metro Manila and the upper classes ABCs are mixed about this matter. The March 2011 survey found that more than half or 52 percent in the Visayas and 51 percent in Mindanao, and nearly half or 46 percent of Balance luzon said buying the Porsche, even through his personal money, was not a good example. However, opinion is mixed in Metro Manila where 44 percent agreed, 44 percent disagreed, and 13 percent were undecided that buying the Porsche was not a good example. By class, 50 percent in class D and 45 percent in class E disagreed with the purchase of the Porsche. In class ABC, opinion was split between the 48 percent who disagreed and 46 percent who agreed that buying the Porsche was not a good example; the remaining 6 percent were undecided. The net satisfaction rating of Pres. Aquino remained very good in the Visayas and Mindanao, but declined to good levels in Metro Manila and the rest of luzon. The SWS uses this criteria to described net satisfaction
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FinRa warns against Facebook-linked Pre-iPo scams
THE Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in the US has issued a warning about scams that purport to offer investors’ access to pre-IPO shares of well-known social media companies, including Facebook. In a statement, FINRA said the con artists behind these scams seize upon investor demand for shares of the private stock of high-profile companies and are swindleng the public by peddling non-existent shares of these companies. As FINRA’s Investor Alert “Pre-IPO Offerings – These Scammers Are Not Your Friends” explains, pre-IPO speculation involves buying unregistered shares in a private company before the initial public offering (IPO) of securities. While a company can sell its unregistered shares in private transactions, often called “private placements,” these investments can be fraught with risk and are typically open to a select group of investors who meet certain income or asset thresholds. While most pre-IPO offerings are legitimate, some are frauds in which con artists sell shares they do not actually have. Recently,FINRAbecameaware of potentially fraudulent schemes to sell purported shares of Facebook. Additionally, the Securities and Exchange Commission recently settled a civil action against a selfemployed securities trader who allegedly bilked more than 50 US and foreign investors out of more than $9.6 million in a series of preIPO scams involving purported shares of Google, Facebook and other well-known companies. “Investors might think they are getting in on the ground floor of innovative social media companies, but instead find that they may have handed over real money for nonexistent shares. Any investor who receives an unsolicited offer to invest in a pre-IPO company should walk away,” said John Gannon, FINRA Senior Vice President for Investor Education. Pre-IPO Offerings helps investors separate legitimate private placements from pre-IPO scams by:

avoiding any unsolicited preIPO offer – investors should ask themselves, "Why would a total stranger tell me about a really great investment opportunity?";

being alert to persuasion tactics – virtually all pre-IPO scams rely on the same recipe for a con: dangling the prospect of exclusive access to eye-popping returns at a discount if

you act quickly; verifying whether the person touting the stock or investment is
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seekers from among those to be displaced by the crisis playing out in libya, Yemen, Bahrain and other countries. “According to respondents, their views about the their family income and financial situation were dampened by the rising cost of basic commodities, expected high unemployment rate and low income,” the BSP said. One positive aspect of the survey results showed that some respondents believe that it is now the best time to buy “big-ticket” items but even on this, the BSP data showed, the number of those who may buy the said items declined from the previous last-quarter survey. “Consistent with the decline in the buying conditions, outlook for the current quarter, the number of respondents who intended to purchase big-ticket items in the next 12 months dropped ,” the BSP said.


Filipino consumers also believe that the inflation outlook would hit 9.8 percent, indicating the kind of pessimism that they harbor because of the rise in oil prices. Also, they believe that the peso will weaken against the dollar on account of the pessimistic economic outlook. But the BSP believe that the inflation outlook will be managed at just the high end of its target , which is 5.8 percent. The BSP mandate has been to take account of price stability and toward this end, it has just raised the interest rate by 25 basis points to arrest inflation pressure. On the matter of the peso-dollar rate, the Filipino households see the depreciation of the peso vis-a-vis the dollar because of the projected decline in remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as many of them are displaced from the Middle East and North Africa.

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ratings as briefly as possible: +70 and above, “excellent”; +50 to +69, “very good”; +30 to +49, “good”; +10 to +29, “moderate”, +9 to -9, “neutral”; -10 to -29, “poor”; -30 to -49, “bad”; -50 to -69, “very bad”; -70 and below, “execrable.” Compared to the previous quarter, it stayed very good in the Visayas, up by 4 points from +56 (71 percent satisfied, 15 percent dissatisfied) in November 2010 to +60 (75 percent satisfied, 15 percent dissatisfied) in March 2011. It fell by 12 points but remained very good in Mindanao, from +65 (74 percent satisfied, 9 percent dissatisfied) to +53 (69 percent satisfied, 16 percent dissatisfied). It switched from very good to good in Balance luzon which fell by 21 points, from +69 (77 percent satisfied, 8 percent dissatisfied) to +48 (68 percent satisfied, 20 percent dissatisfied), and in Metro Manila which fell by 18 points, from +59 (72 percent satisfied, 13 percent dissatisfied) to +41 (62 percent satisfied, 21 percent dissatisfied).

Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy presides over a session at the House of Representatives as part of the lower chamber's activities in celebration of the Women's Month. Before Rep. Herrera-Dy, Pangasinan Rep. Gina De Venecia, who heads the Association of Lady Legislators, also presided at a session.


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Rural satisfaction with the President fell from 76 percent in November 2010 to 71 percent in March 2011, while dissatisfaction rose from 8 percent to 16 percent, bringing his rural net rating down by 12 points, from a very good +67 to a very good +55. Urban satisfaction fell from 73 percent to 66 percent, while dissatisfaction rose from 12 percent to 20 percent, bringing his urban net satisfaction 14 points down from a very good +61 to a good +47. By socioeconomic class, Aquino’s net satisfaction rating fell by 26 points in class ABC, from an excellent +75 (82 percent satisfied, 7 percent dissatisfied) in the previous quarter to a good +49 (67 percent satisfied, 19 percent dissatisfied) now. It fell by 12 points but stayed very good in class D or the masa,

from +63 (74 percent satisfied, 11 percent dissatisfied) to +51 (69 percent satisfied, 18 percent dissatisfied). It fell by 14 points but stayed very good in class E, from +64 (74 percent satisfied, 9 percent dissatisfied, correctly rounded) to +50 (67 percent satisfied, 17 percent dissatisfied). Compared to the previous quarter, satisfaction with Aquino among men fell from 76 percent to 67 percent, while dissatisfaction rose from 10 percent to 20 percent, bringing his net satisfaction rating down by 18 points from a very good +65 to a good +47. Among women, satisfaction with Aquino went from 73 percent to 70 percent, while dissatisfaction rose from 10 percent to 16 percent, bringing his net rating from a very good +63 to a very good +55.

licensed; determining if you’re being conned by a convicted criminal by using the Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate locator; using search engines to learn as much as you can about a solicitation and those behind it; and getting an unbiased second opinion from a licensed investment professional or an attorney. FINRA is asking investors who believe they have been defrauded – or treated unfairly by a securities professional or firm – to file a complaint. It’s no secret that when a promising company emerges or an industry sector becomes “hot,” investors typically flock to get a piece of the action. But what happens when the company is privately held and investors can’t readily buy shares because the company has not conducted an initial public offering of its stock? Investor demand for shares of the private stock of high-profile social media companies—such as Facebook, Groupon, Twitter and Zynga—has been surging in recent months. These companies have millions of subscribers and have dramatically changed the way people interact. But social media has also become the latest hook on which con artists can hang a scam. In this case, fraudsters dangle the promise of wealth from the sale of “pre-IPO” shares. In general, offerings of securities must either be registered with the SEC or meet an exemption under the federal securities laws—otherwise the offering is not legal. "Pre-IPO" speculation involves buying unregistered shares in a private company before the initial public offering of securities—and it can range from risky deals to outright frauds. On the legitimate end of the spectrum, a company can sell its unregistered shares in private transactions – often called private placements – and such sales to investors are an essential source of capital for American business, particularly small firms. But these Investments can be fraught with risk—including the fact that you can’t be certain the company being touted will actually complete an IPO. This means you cannot be sure whether you will ever be able to sell the shares you purchased. Separately, the fair market value of your shares may be based solely on speculation. And privately purchased shares typically come with restrictions, such as lock-up periods that prevent you from selling your shares for up to a year even if the company goes public in the interim. On the other end of the spectrum, the unregistered shares offered to you could be part of a fraud. The company might not exist—or, if it does, the promoter might be offering shares he doesn’t have or that he acquired in a questionable transaction. The fraud could also involve misrepresentations about the company and its prospects, including the likelihood, timing and pricing of any potential IPO. The bottom line is that many pre-IPO scams involve unlicensed individuals selling unregistered securities—that’s why it’s critical to check out both the promoter and the investment. And pre-IPO offerings that target the general public—especially those that are publicized through "spam" emails—often violate the federal securities laws. Fraudsters would have investors believe that virtually anyone can get in on pre-IPO deals of small, little-known start-ups as well as those of large, popular companies. One sure-fire way to avoid being taken in by an unsolicited offer is to ignore it—regardless of how you heard about it. Someone claiming to have shares of Facebook or some other social networking company may very well be a paid promoter or, more likely, a con artist trying to take your hard-earned money.

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First Gen 2010 attributable net income up 319 percent at $70.2 million
FIRST Gen Corporation (First Gen) reported sharply higher attributable net income to parent of US$70.2 million for 2010, up by 319% from US$16.7 million posted last year. First Gen’s consolidated revenues likewise jumped by US$222.1 million, or 22% to US$1.2 billion in 2010 from last year’s US$1.0 billion. “The substantial increase in earnings was driven by the strong operating performance of the First Gas group, First Gen Hydro Power Corporation (FG Hydro) and Energy Development Corporation (EDC). These developments were complemented by the positive effects of the Company’s deleveraging program,” First Gen President Giles Puno said. The reliable dispatch of first Gas’ 1,000MW Santa Rita and 500MW San lorenzo natural gasfired power plants were the main contributors to the increase in revenues from the sale of electricity by US$222.1 million or 22% to US$1.2 billion in 2010 from US$1.0 billion in 2009. The higher revenues were offset by corresponding increases in the passthrough fuel charges to its electricity offtaker and higher operations and maintenance (O&M) fees paid to Siemens Power Operations, Inc. For 2010, the First Gas plants delivered stable earnings of US$130.1 million. There was a notable increase in equity in net earnings from associates; namely, EDC and FG Hydro, in 2010. EDC, the country’s largest operator of geothermal-fired power plants, provided higher earnings to First Gen of US$52.5 million in 2010, up by US$21.5 million, as compared to US$31.0 million in the previous year. This improvement resulted from the full year effect of the 192.5MW Palinpinon and 112MW Tongonan geothermal power plants, EDC’s receipt of VAT Tax Credit Certificates, and its lowered deferred taxes. The improvement in earnings was, however, partially offset by the impairment booked for EDC’s 49MW Northern Negros geothermal power plant and lower revenues from EDC’s Unified leyte geothermal power plant complex. Adding to the positive variance was FG Hydro’s income contribution, which increased by US$8.4 million from US$1.5 million in 2009 to US$9.9 million in 2010. This increase was due to better prices in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market and higher dispatch of the hydro plants. The increase in EDC and FG Hydro’s earnings contribution was coupled with the lower interest



Globe Business supports the 5th int’l iCt awards
field. Winners of this award are recognized for their significant investments in human resources, exemplary practices and commitment to corporate social responsibility, among others. “We have remained strong in the BPO industry and they have our support as we collaborate to further enhance the position of the Philippines in the international markets,” said Jesus C. Romero, Enterprise Segments Head of Globe Business. “We are pleased to be part of the 5th International ICT Awards – Philippines 2011 as we recognize and honor the achievements of BPOs that continue to provide its employees with the best possible working environment where they can develop both professionally and personally.” “At Globe Business, we understand that an enterprise’s most important asset is its people. The customer service sector is an industry that heavily relies on the skill and capabilities of its human resources, hence, we are honored to be given this opportunity to recognize the commitment of BPOs to their employees,” added Romero.

expenses at Red Vulcan Holdings Corporation (Red Vulcan), the company that directly owns 40% of EDC. In 2010, Red Vulcan reduced its debt by 40% or Php 5.5 billion, from P13.8 billion to Php 8.3 billion. The increase in earnings contribution from affiliates was supplemented by the Company’s lower interest expenses. First Gen’s total debt decreased by US$115.1 million or 10%, from US$1.2 billion in 2009 to US$1.1 billion in 2010. Other than its scheduled debt amortizations, First Gen also bought back and retired US$74.0 million in face value of its convertible bond in 2010 and paid off its Php5.0 billion bond. The paydown of debt at First Gen resulted in lower interest expenses in 2010 US$104.0 million, in comparison to 2009’s total interest expense of US$112.1 million. Part of the proceeds from First Gen’s P15.0 billion rights offer last January 2010 was used for the loan prepayments. First Gen’s consolidated net income in 2010 increased by US$26.0 million or 27% to US$121.0 million, compared to the net income of US$95.0 million in the previous year. The Company’s net income attributable to the Parent company of US$70.2 million is net of minority interests.

BOTH Digitel, a subsidiary of JG Summit Holdings, Inc., and the Philippine long Distance Telephone Company have ended up acquiring ownership interests in each other’s telecommunications subsidiaries which have been locked in a fierce price competition for several years. The share swap will mean JG Summit acquires shares in PlDT in exchange for its stake in Digitel (Digital Telecommunications Philippines, Inc.). They expect to secure the share swap by June 30. The P69.2 billion investment of PlDT into Digitel for a controlling interest in the company includes : 3,277,135,882 common shares in Digitel, representing a 51.55 percent equity stake; zerocoupon convertible bonds issued by Digitel and its subsidiaries to the JGS Group which are assumed to be convertible into approximately 18.6 billion shares of Digitel by June 30. The deal also includes assumption by PlDT of the intercompany advances of P34.1 billion made by the JGS Group to Digitel and its subsidiaries. PlDT will be required as well to undertake a mandatory tender offer for all the remaining common shares of Digitel held by minority shareholders. The tender offer price for Digitel shares will be P1.60 per share, which will be paid in the form of either PlDT shares issued at P2,500 per share or cash, at the option of the Digitel shareholder. Should all the minority shareholders accept the offer, PlDT will issue a total of 29.65 million new shares, representing 13.7 percent of the enlarged share capital of PlDT. Assuming full acceptance by the minorities of Digitel, the total transaction consideration would be P74.1 billion. JG Summit is expected to own approximately 12.8 percent of PlDT’s enlarged share capital with the completion of the deal and expects a representative to join the Board of Directors of PlDT. In its disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, JG Summit said the transaction will mean substantial benefits for consumers because the combined expertise of the PlDT Group and Digitel will create a more capable telecommunications company which will be better-positioned to provide higher quality and even more affordable services to fixed line, wireless, and broadband subscribers addressing a wide range of consumer demand – from voice to SMS to data and Internet and video services. The same disclosure said the mobile operations of Digitel will remain separate and intact, to maintain and capitalize on Sun Cellular’s specific segments of the market. Aside from the share swap, an associate company of First Pacific will enter into a put and call option agreement with JGS that will allow such associate company to acquire 5.81 million PlDT shares from JGS at a price of P2,500 per share. JG Summit expects to own approximately 10.1 percent of the total share capital of PlDT after the option is exercised. “In making this decision, JG Summit went through a rigorous review of its strategic options and concluded that PlDT is the best partner for all our stakeholders - Digitel subscribers should reap benefits from PlDT’s sizeable infrastructure and leading-edge platforms. The transaction should also bring significant value to JG Summit’s shareholders without relinquishing our participation in the Philippine telecommunications industry,” said James Go, JGS Chairman and CEO. “For PlDT, this transaction fortifies its position as the leading telecommunications company in the Philippines,” PlDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan was quoted in the disclosure as saying.

PLDT, JG Summit in P69 billion share swap

GlOBE Business, the enterprise and corporate client servicing unit of Globe Telecom, took part in the 5th International ICT Awards as it continues to contribute in advancing the country’s BPO sector. Globe Business has been an ardent supporter of the ICT Awards since 2008 and remains a strong partner of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and the Business Processing Association of the Philippines in this annual event. The International ICT Awards honors individuals and organizations for their outstanding performance in promoting the country as one of the top BPO destinations around the globe. It aims to continuously improve ICT in the Philippines by encouraging innovation and excellence among BPOs. The awarding was held lat March 31 at Dusit Thani Manila. For four years now, Globe Business has been presenting the “BPO Employer of the Year” award, an honor given to organizations in the local customer service industry who contribute to the Philippines’ global recognition and competitiveness in the

As it further sustains strong partnerships with BPOs, Globe offers end-to-end solutions that can serve as effective tools for companies to further attract and retain their assets. Globe Business’ Employee Prepaid Plus service, for instance, enables customers to deploy communications allowance as part of their company benefits that employees can value and enjoy. Globe Business is also focused on providing the sector with reliable and diverse domestic and international backbone networks. It assures BPOs and enterprises that it delivers telecom solutions that are certified with international standards. “For us, it’s all about supporting the industry and our role as telecom service providers is to invest in our infrastructure to provide the best customer experience. But we don’t stop there. We also bring world-class services that are certified by international standards. Certifications are part of our support system that ensures customers what they get are at par with global standards. The effect has been tremendous and it has allowed us to continue to invest in the industry,” Romero said.

Jollibee acquires majority stake in US business
JOllIBEE Worldwide Pte. ltd. (“JWPl”) acquired from Aspen Partners, llC 2,400 shares in Chow Fun Holdings, llC (“Chow Fun”) for $3,240,000, bringing up its equity share in Chow Fun to 80.55 percent. JFC (through JWPl) had previously acquired in July 2008 a 12 percent equity share in Chow Fun for $950,000. Chow Fun is the developer and owner of Jinja Bar and Bistro in New Mexico, USA. It presently has three restaurants in New Mexico, two in Albuquerque and one in Santa Fe. Jinja Bar and Bistro serves Asian cuisine adapted to Western preferences to mainstream American consumers. As previously disclosed, JFC’s objective in this venture is to enhance its capability in developing Asian food restaurant concepts for the mainstream consumers in the United States as part ofits long-term strategy. JFC operates the largest food service network in the Philippines. As of December 31, 2010, it was operating a total of 1,921 stores in the country: Jollibee brand with 717, Cowking with 400, Greenwich with 223, Red Ribbon with 221, Mnaong Pepe Karinderia with 12, Caffe TiAmo with 3 and Mang Inasal with 345. It was also operating 395 stores abroad: Yonghe King in the People’s Republic of China with 200 stores, Jollibee 67 (mainly in the United States with 26, Vietnam with 22 and Brunei with 11), Red Ribbon 38. all in the US, Chowking 38 (mostly in the US with 19 and Dubai with 15) and Hongzhuangyuan 52 for a total of 2,316 worldwide.


Mideast water shortage may fuel unrest, oil hikes


THE publication of the latest Water Security Risk Index from Maplecroft has shown that many oil producing countries are rated 'extreme risk' when it comes to the stability of their water supplies. said the Water Security Risk Index is an annual report produced by Maplecroft that measures the future stability of water supplies across 162 countries. This year six OPEC countries; Kuwait, Egypt, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and libya were rated 'extreme risk', while Iran and Qatar were rated 'high risk'. The danger is that disruption to water supplies could, in turn, lead to higher oil prices, as high volumes of water are needed in the oil production process. Huge quantities of 'lift water' are often used to force oil from wells with insufficient geological pressure to bring the oil to the surface. If sufficient water is unavailable, then this could result in interruptions in production, oil shortages and inevitable hikes in the cost of a barrel of oil. The UAE in particular faces growing challenges with water usage. Mohammed

IF there's one part of the world that could be considered the canary in the coal-mine of climate change, it's the frozen ice sheets of the Arctic. That's where temperatures are rising fastest, and where the effects, in a visibly shrinking ice-cap, are most dramatic. And the apparent flooring of Arctic sea-ice levels this decade, has just been reinforced by news from the NSIDC - this March's ice area is tied for the lowest March maximum on

arctic winter ice ties lowest level ever

Al Bowardi, Secretary-General of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Managing Director of the Environment Agency said: ''Irrigation accounts for 76 per cent of water use in the country. With growing population demands and large economic development plans, our water scarcity problem may grow more acute.'' A recent survey in the country showed that a quarter of UAE couples fear there will not be enough water for their children's needs in the future. There's the added problem of civil unrest. Many of these Middle Eastern counties are already experiencing increased public demonstrations due to increasing food prices and it's thought that the possibility of water shortage could further fuel this unrest. In addition, disputes over transboundary water supplies could be a source of wider political trouble. The River Jordan, for example, has been the cause of several conflicts between Israel and Jordan. As water becomes scarcer in the Middle East, it is inevitable that countries will take steps to secure water supplies that may be seen by their neighbors as an act of provocation.

THE verdancy of the Amazon's lush tropical forests visibly drained away, during last year's severe drought, according to satellite-image analysis from a study funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) . And the view from space showed that the rain forests failed to bounce back again in the autumn, suggesting longer-term effects from this record-breaking drought, reported. The news of the browning of the Amazon basin was released yesterday, as a snapshot from a study of a decade's worth of data from 2 of NASA's orbiting satellites - known as MODIS (the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) and TRMM (the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. The team studying the data - drawn from expert fields across the globe - was attempting to assess the impact of climate change one of the planet's largest terrestrial stores of carbon. They wanted to measure the drought sensitivity of the region, as climate models predict an increasingly dry time in the Amazon. The TRMM satellite helped them to map out areas where rainfall is low, and the MODIS looked for two different levels of greenness - one to indicate the leaf area, and another to measure the how well trees were functioning under water stress. The drought of 2010 had levels of the Amazon's rivers falling below levels see on any historical records. And it was all the more worrying for following a supposed 'once in a century' drought in 2005. Many rivers dried up completely, and the Brazilian government had to put together an aid package, and supply airlifts, for afflicted communities. The severity of the drought was clearly picked up by the study. Close to a million square km of vegetation showed reduced levels of greenness - four times the 2005 dryout area. One of the lead authors of the study, Arindam Samanta, said '' The MODIS vegetation greenness data suggest a more widespread, severe and long-lasting impact to Amazonian vegetation than what can be inferred based solely on rainfall data.'' The close association of two severe droughts, in the last decade, has many worried that global warming has hit the regional climate system. Both droughts were linked to unusually warm Atlantic sea temperatures, off of the east coast of Brazil. That is worrying on two levels. large amounts of carbon are currently locked in the vast biomass of the tropical rain forests, and so kept out of the atmosphere. Climate models suggest that decreased rains will turn the rain forest to savanna, devastating an incredibly diverse ecosystem - and also unleashing a torrent of CO2. The last thing we need is for Mother Nature to start increasing her CO2 emissions, as we struggle to cut ours.

Amazon drought can be seen from space

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record, last set in 2006. The tracking of sea-ice changes over time is a tricky business, because of the natural see-sawing, with the seasons. In winter the ice area tops 15 million square kilometers, whereas in winter it plunges to less than 5 million square kilometers. So scientists monitoring the levels compare the yearly peaks and troughs, to get an idea of the longer term trend in sea-ice levels. The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) is one a several groups monitoring sea-ice levels, using microwave sensors on polar satellites. March is the time when the sea-ice flips from its winter growth to a summer slide-down; and this maximum is looked out for, keenly, each year. The NSIDC has just 'called' the maximum for the 2010-11 winter, based on the last 5 days showing falling sea-ice levels; the provisional numbers come out at 14.64 million square kilometers. This is a whopping 1.3 million square kilometers below the average March maximum seen from 1979-2000, and ties the lowest previous maximum, seen in 2006. This only confirms the strong downward trend in the Arctic ice-sheet, when looked at over a number of years. Tracking the differences from the average, for each year, shows an accelerating rate of ice-loss growth, especially in summer. Some scientists project an ice-free Arctic within our lifetimes - and possibly even within a decade or so. Not only does the shrinking polar ice-cap demonstrate the very real effect of global warming, right here and right now - the consequences may be colossal, if this continued ice-loss takes us towards open water at the North Pole. There could be massive unforeseen changes in everything from oceanic current flows, to regional climate, and it may even cause the release of climateshaking levels of methane. Some consequences may already be showing themselves in the snow-chaos of the last 3 winters. Climate scientists have noticed that these exceptionally cold and snowy winters, for North America and Europe, appear related to the weakening of the 'polar vortex'. Those spinning winds usually keep Arctic air locked up around the poles. Sea ice melting could be undermining that cold air 'fence'. So it seems that the canary is tweeting louder and louder. The question is - is anyone listening?

THERE is not enough evidence to show that large earthquakes like what happened in Japan would trigger nearby volcanic eruptions, a US geophysicist said recently. After the devastating earthquake in Japan, people are worried that the earthquake may trigger the volcanic eruptions, but Peter Cervelli, geophysicist at the US Geological Survey Volcano Science Center told Xinhua in an interview that he does not believe people have reason to be concerned. "From time to time in the historic record we have observed a few cases where volcanic eruptions have followed large earthquakes. However, in most of those cases, it was a situation where the fault was large and directly under the volcano in question," said Cervelli. He admitted that geophysicists still do not understand this relationship perfectly, it is a continuing scientific research. "However, of all the possible consequences of this earthquake, the one that I will be most worried about, I would not include among them the chances of increased volcanic activity in the near future," said the geophysicist. In the case of Japan, Cervelli said: "So far we have seen no indication of any obvious triggering of volcanic activity." He said there are some volcanoes in Japan that erupt very frequently, so if one of those happens to erupt at the same time or before and after

American geophysicist claims no link between earthquakes, volcanic eruptions
the earthquake, it is really hard to say that volcano was triggered by the earthquake, because that volcano would erupt anyway. He said there are a few examples in the historical record that suggest a connection between large the extent of the rupture) was directly beneath Kilauea Volcano. Also, at the time of the earthquake, Kilauea was showing signs of pressurization and was likely poised to erupt soon anyway. According to Cervelli, Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and erupted frequently in the decades before and after the 1975 earthquake. Another example of possible triggering occurred after the M-9.5 Chile earthquake on May 22, 1960, Cervelli said. About 38 hours after the mainshock, Puyehue-Cordon Caulle in Central Chile erupted violently after being inactive for more than 25 years. In this instance, as at Kilauea above, it is likely that the fault rupture extended beneath the volcano, said the geophysicist. According to Cervelli, establishing a statistical correlation between large earthquakes and subsequent volcanic eruptions requires a long and accurate record of both seismic and volcanic activity. The global record of such activity is sparse, especially for events that occurred before 1900. While there are hints of connections in some cases, and a few convincing anecdotes, statistical analyses to date have shown only a weak correlation, said Cervelli. And, even if a statistical correlation is shown, working to establish and explain a causal connection is another matter. There is clear evidence that large, distant earthquakes can, and do, trigger swarms of small earthquakes in active hydrothermal systems, such as those in Yellowstone and long Valley calderas. This phenomenon has been observed at many volcanoes following large earthquakes; the M-7.9 Denali Fault earthquake in Alaska is a good example, he said. However, small earthquake swarms such as these are typically only recorded by sensitive seismic instrumentation and certainly do not fall into the category of an eruption. According to Cervelli,

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US earthquake resilience needs strengthening – report

conversely, volcanic activity is known to trigger earthquakes. For example, swarms of small earthquakes, rarely larger than M5, can accompany the upward movement of magma through the Earth's crust. Also, large volumes of magma that rise from deep within the lower crust to shallower depths are thought to perturb the stress field around a volcano, possibly triggering small earthquakes up to 25 km away. (PNA)

naSa scientists developed UV-blocking lenses

earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, but even these, on close inspection, do not show a simple causative relationship. Cervelli said the most unambiguous case of triggering is probably the November 29, 1975 magnitude 7.2 Kalapana, Hawaii earthquake, which was immediately followed by a small, and short-lived eruption at Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. However, he said, in this case, the fault plane of the earthquake (i.e.,

HAWKS and other birds of prey have some of the sharpest eyes in the animal kingdom, with the ability to spot a mouse scurrying through brush from perhaps a half-mile away. These birds owe their legendary visual acuity to several different factors. Hawks and eagles have about five times as many photoreceptors in their eyes as humans do, for examplae. And raptors' eyes also contain oil droplets that filter out harmful radiation, letting through only specific wavelengths of light. Researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration picked up on the latter fact and used it to humans' advantage. Their work ultimately led to the development of sunglasses that protect against eye damage by blocking out the most harmful wavelengths of solar radiation. In the early 1980s, researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California, were studying how the human eye is damaged by radiation – both solar radiation and the artificial light produced by lasers and industrial welding operations. Ultraviolet (UV) light from these sources can harm the human eye in a number of ways. The high-energy wavelengths can cause cataracts, for example, and macular degeneration, which damages the center of the eye and makes it difficult to see fine details. The JPl researchers learned of the raptors' oil droplets, which protect the birds' eyes and enhance vision at the same time. Intrigued, the scientists developed their own light-filtering system, which employed dyes and tiny particles of zinc oxide. (Zinc oxide, which absorbs UV light, is also found in many sunscreen lotions.) Eventually, the researchers created and commercialized a welding curtain, which blocked out much of the UV light that causes corneal inflammation and long-term retinal

damage — so-called "arc-eye" — in many welders, NASA officials said. The scientists then turned their attention to adapting the technology for sunglasses, so those non-welders among us could reap the same protective benefits. In short order, a company called SunTiger was formed to market a line of sunglasses based on the NASA hawk-eye breakthrough. SunTiger eventually became Eagle Eyes Optics, based in Calabasas, California. The company's sunglasses block the vast majority of harmful UVA and UVB radiation, as well as similarly damaging high-energy blue light. Blocking out bad light also provides a bonus service — it enhances visual clarity, NASA officials said. Millions of people now wear Eagle Eyes sunglasses, according to NASA officials. While these folks still can't see as well as hawks, the space-ace technology is helping keep their eyes safe and healthy.

A new National Research Council report presents a 20-year road map for increasing US resilience to earthquakes, including a major earthquake that could strike a highly populated area. The report was mostly written prior to the March 11 earthquake in Japan, but the committee of experts who authored it noted that the Japanese experience is a reminder of the devastation that can occur even in a country acknowledged as a leader in implementing earthquake-resilience measures. In recent decades, destructive earthquakes in the US have only been moderate to strong in size or have occurred in sparsely populated areas; the country has not suffered a truly devastating earthquake in more than a hundred years. Because of this, the committee expressed concern that many people have been lulled into a false sense of security that the nation already is earthquake resilient. The committee highlighted the results of a recent earthquakescenario exercise in los Angeles, which indicated that a magnitude7.8 earthquake would result in staggering losses, and noted the lack of disaster resilience demonstrated by Hurricane Katrina. The report identifies an 18task road map for implementing the strategic plan adopted by the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), which would make the nation earthquake resilient. Established by Congress in 1977, the multiagency program is led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and includes the Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Science Foundation, and US Geological Survey. The report endorses NEHRP's 2008 strategic plan and stresses that the road map tasks are required to develop the nation's capacity to maintain important community functions and recover quickly following damaging earthquakes. The committee also emphasized that a dedicated and strategic effort is needed to diffuse knowledge gained by the NEHRP into communities. Funding for NEHRP totaled $129.7 million in 2009. The committee estimated that the cost for its earthquake-resilience road map would be $306 million annually over the first five years. The first nine of the 18 tasks are: undertake additional research to improve understanding of earthquake phenomena and to increase earthquake-prediction capabilities; deploy the remaining 75 percent of the Advanced National Seismic System, which

provides magnitude and location alerts within a few minutes after an earthquake as well as the basic data for many of the road map tasks; evaluate, test, and deploy earthquake early-warning systems; complete coverage of national and urban seismic hazard maps to identify at-risk areas; develop and implement earthquake forecasting to provide communities with information on how seismic hazards change with time; develop scenarios that integrate earth science, engineering, and social science information so that communities can visualize earthquake and tsunami impacts and mitigate potential effects; integrate science, engineering, and social science information in an advanced GIS-based platform to improve earthquake risk assessment and loss estimation; model expected and improvised emergency response and recovery activities and outcomes to improve pre-disaster mitigation and preparedness; capture, disseminate, and create a repository of the critical information that describes the geological, structural, institutional, and socio-economic impacts and disaster response after earthquakes occur. The remaining nine tasks are: support social sciences research to evaluate mitigation and recovery; establish an observatory network to measure, monitor, and model the disaster vulnerability and resilience of communities; integrate the knowledge gained from many of the tasks to enable accurate simulations of fault rupture, seismic wave propagation through bedrock, and soil-structure interaction to understand the response of buildings and other structures to shaking and compute reliable estimates of financial loss, business interruption, and casualties; develop new techniques for evaluating and retrofitting existing buildings to better withstand earthquakes; enhance performance-based engineering to achieve better building design and enable improved codes and standards for buildings and other structures; review and update standards so that critical "lifeline" infrastructure -- such as electricity, highways, and water supply -- can function following an earthquake ; develop and deploy the next generation of "green" high-performance construction materials and components for use in buildings' seismic framing systems; encourage and coordinate technology transfer between the NEHRP and the private sector; initiate earthquake resiliency pilot projects in local communities to improve awareness, reduce risk, and enhance emergency preparedness and recovery capacity.


April 4 -10 2011

Producer Price index maintains
THE Producer Price Index (PPI, 2000=100) for the manufacturing industry decelerated at a slower rate of -3.6 percent in January 2011, according to the preliminary results of the monthly Producer Price Survey. This was attributed mainly to two major sectors namely: electrical machinery (-15.6%) and paper and paper products (-14.4%). However, increases in prices were observed in thirteen major sectors led by petroleum products (12.2%) and leather products (10.9%). Refer to Tables 1 and 1-A. On a month-on month basis, PPI posted a 1.3 percent increase in January 2011, which is the same rate of increase during the previous month. The price increases were observed in 14 major sectors led by furniture and fixtures and rubber and plastic products that registered increments of 3.7% and 3.3% respectively. Refer to Tables 1 and 1-B. • Response Rate

The response rate for January 2011 is 80.7 percent, which corresponds to the retrieval of 259 sample establishments reports. Refer to Table 2. • Technical Notes The National Statistics Office generates various price indices, one of this is the Producer Price Index. (PPI). The PPI is generated through the results of the Producers Price Survey (PPS) conducted nationwide. The survey gathers monthly actual producer prices of selected products included in the market basket. PPI utilizes the Paasche-type method of index computation with weights computed from the production concentration ratio of the Census of Philippine Business and Industry (CPBI)/ Annual Survey of Philippine Business and Industry (ASPBI). The weights are updated as soon as new results of the ASPBI/CPBI are available and applied at the beginning of each survey year. Hence, the weights of the major sectors and sub-sectors for the 2009 PPI were computed from the results of the 2006 CPBI for Manufacturing Establishments of total employment of 20 and over, which is the latest census results. Moreover, for industry classification, the 2010 PPI utilizes the amended 1994 Philippine Standard Industry Classification. There are 20 major sectors covered by the 2010 PPS with three consisting of subsectors. Non-responding sample establishments are estimated using cold-deck imputation method. Revisions to the preliminary estimates are done upon receipt of actual reports from late respondents. Sectors are ranked according to their contribution to the overall 2000-based growth rate. Year-on-year growth rates are computed by dividing the current month index by previous year same month index less 1. Month-on-month growth rates are computed by dividing the current month index by previous month index less 1

April 4 -10 2011


s negative trend for January 2011




April 4 -10 2011

ONCE in a while, we get feedbacks from readers, and this particular letter stands out for the veritable angst one sees all over. The story is compelling and for one accustomed to pounding the beat, so to speak, the letter writer pours it out, and it would be better for the reader to see through that anxiety gnawing at this businessman who says he now finds himself a victim of an injustice that may unwittingly run its course if he is not given what is due in the papers. We checked on the allegations against Temps and Staffers Inc. (TSI) and even went to its web site. And from what we have gathered, the company that used to provide support staff to Samsung is tops in the business of the outsourcing industry. We have found out that this all-Filipino company that dabbles in providing temporary staff to local and foreign firms has a client base that bespeaks its worth in the outsourcing industry. We understand that its client base includes a leading universal bank, a fast-rising Filipino food company, a world-renowned shipping company, a Japanese sea/air freight forwarding firm, a top bakeshop, a broadcast company and one of the top three cell-phone firms, among others. This client base goes to show that Temps and Staffers is not a run-of-the-mill company that Samsung wants to portray it to be. Anyway, we are reprinting herewith the letter from the firm’s chairman Arturo Guerrero. Read it and judge for yourself: “I am writing this letter because I wish to correct the misinformation being spread by Samsung Electronics Philippines Corp. about me, my wife Vivian and our small business, Temps and Staffers Inc. We have been much maligned by their stories portraying us as abusive employers and disgruntled former service contractors. “Actually sir, all we want is to be left alone to do our business, to make our living in peace, as we have been doing the last 20 years TSI has been in existence. We thought it better to just keep quiet and fight it out in court. Truth and justice will eventually prevail, we said. But to remain silent when such blatant lies are being said of me and my family and the business we have poured our lives into would be wrong. “In 2005 our manpower agency was hired by Samsung to provide them with promoters. We call them promoters but they are actually the sales people you see in retail appliance stores like Abenson and SM. Their job is to sell Samsung products and we train them to be good at it. There are promotions people for all the appliance brands that you see in these stores. We started off providing Samsung about 200 promoters in 2005 and by 2010 we had 700 of our people working for them. By June 2010, we were informed by Samsung’s local executives that they were not renewing our contract. There was no formal notice of contract termination, we were just told so. They said the head office in Korea wanted Samsung Philippines to hire a local agency that is run by Koreans, following the so-called ‘Thailand model,’ whatever that means. “We were fine with that. These things happen in any business and partnership. There’s engagement and disengagement. But what we couldn’t agree to and, indeed, couldn’t even fathom, was their request for our company to transfer the 700 people we had working for them—which at the time was 60 percent of our work force—to their new agency of choice, SD Human Tech, which is owned by two Koreans and three Filipinos. “Never mind the illegal nature of SD Human Tech (which is the subject of an antidummy case our lawyer filed) but no self-respecting business would accede to Samsung’s outrageous request of handing over our own people, our most valuable assets, to a direct competitor. If you don’t want our people working for you, then okay but why would you get them—all 700 of them—from us when we could assign them to our other clients? Naturally, we refused. “What we didn’t know, though, and what we only found out later was that as early as 2009 they were already calling our people and recruiting them, telling them that if they don’t want to be jobless they have to sign on to another agency of Samsung’s choice and leave our company. Eventually, by spreading such lies, they were able to get our people and transfer them into other manpower agencies. “What Samsung did severely crippled our business, sir. If you were in our shoes what would you do? We filed a case against Samsung (syndicated and large-scale illegal recruitment involving economic sabotage) because we had no choice. We are fighting to keep our business alive. It’s not about getting back at them or getting more money from them, or harassing them. “We don’t want anything from Samsung except the P10 million (P10,310,252.91 to be exact) they still owe our company for past services rendered. We certainly do not want them to reengage our services and in hindsight, had we known what we know now, we wouldn’t have done business with them at all. “There are also these letters from some of our former employees that Samsung is spreading which are meant to portray us as abusive employers for not paying benefits and money owed to workers. Allow me to respond to these as well. Of the 700 of our former employees only 60 have still to be paid termination benefits because they refuse to sign the cessation of contract notices and go through the usual process of securing their clearances, a process every company requires of departing employees. “The rest of our former employees, around 600 of them, were given all that was due to them, including their final pay, 13th month pay, cash bond and the tax refund, which they could get by April. Why do these 60 refuse to secure their clearances so they could be paid is beyond us, although we have been told that some of them have been asked by Samsung to intentionally withhold their clearances so they could be made as ‘examples’ to specifically portray us as abusive employers. This is the first time we’ve ever encountered a problem like this with any of our client-companies in our many years in the industry. “I trust in your sense of fairness and I thank you for hearing me out.”

Samsung ‘victim’ speaks out

View from the East
By JeSUS t. tanChanCo SR.

We should buy local to spur economy
PRESIDENT Aquino’s announcement of a fuel subsidy for public utility vehicles - - for a month—can temporarily ease the plight of the bus, jeep, and taxi drivers. But, perhaps, the government would do well to come up with a long-term solution that is now bedevilling the country with the surge in the price of oil products, the financial hiccup that hit many investment and banking houses that affect the local economy and now, the Japan twin disasters that are threatening to engulf us also. And what better way can the Aquino administration spur the economy than to pitch for the Filipinos to buy local goods . Making the Filipino households patronize local products will redound to a huge multiplier effect. Come to think of it, when Filipino households prefer local to foreign brands, they are actually helping out the local industries to continue producing that in turn lead to the creation of jobs, the rise of small and medium scale industries in the countryside and even help the incrase the coffers of the local goverment units. Why, when this buy local campaign becomes part of the national psyche, then we may eventually end the export of our overseas Filipino workers who toil in foreign lands to earn for their families here. A paradigm shift in the Filipino households will let our industries hum and even lead to a big economic gain for all of us. This is what the administration should think about: not just a temporary solution to the prevailing economic woes but a permanent one. The subsidy angle is just temporary; the buy-local paradigm is a permanent solution to the economic woes that now threaten us. We suggest that the government citizenry create a core group that will internalize this concept of buying local. And while at it, perhaps the government would do well to start the buy-local campaign by having this implemented at all levels of the government. The government should start buying local products since this is the key to making the economy resilient. When households prefer foreign to local goods, we are actually supporting their industries. Everytime we buy a foreign product, we are making their own industries continue to hum and in the process neglecting our very own. We remember when we were in Denmark as part of a government mission. Our hosts in Denmark, coming from their own local chamber there, were profuse with apologies when they told us that they cannot serve their local drink as there was a strike that day. Imagine our surprise when the host from Denmark was very apologetic when he served foreign drinks. Here, sad to say, many households continue to serve foreign drinks. This should not be the case. There is a big economic benefit for all of us when the households buy local goods. That is what the Aquino administration should aspire for. But first, the government should really make it a habit to buy local items for the government machinery. The most difficult thing in every part of a campaign is to ensure that everyone subscribes to the concept of buying local. There is no better way for the Aquino administration to propagate this concept than to allow the citizenry to see the government potentates patronizing local goods. The first step is crucial for the citizenry to get a hold onto the idea. There is a need to change the Filipino’s mindset on the matter of buying local goods. The stakes are high especially now that there is an emerging consensus from other countries like the United States, Germany and Japan to prod their own local industries by similarly patronizing their own products. It is not yet late in the game for us to also buy local. The economy is at stake here and this, more than anything else, should prod President Aquino and his cabinet to give a meaning to the buy local campaign. As we have said earlier, the subsidy is but a temporary solution to the economic woes that now are hurting our industries. But when we buy local, when the government makes a mandate to internalize this buy-local concept, a permanent solution is at hand. We should then buy local for it would mean spurring the economy and shielding it from the economic malaise that hurt that the developed world.

Lito U. GaGni Editor CeFeRino M. aCoSta iii News JaMeS U. GaGni Researcher RaMiL t. SaRMiento layout RaUL S. GonZaLeZ, BeRnaRDo PaCheCo, aLFReD SantiaGo JR., GeoRGe t. SiY Contributing Editors
Business Matters is published every Monday by Grandbooks Publishing Inc. with editorial and business address at 50 M.R. Flores St. Ext., Sto. Rosario Kanluran, Pateros, M.M. Telephones: (632) 628-43-48 Fax: (632) 628-38-82 E-mail:

April 4 -10 2011

THE information presented herein was obtained from the fetal death certificates (Municipal Form No. 103A) submitted by the City/Municipal Registrars from all over the country to the Office of the Civil Registrar General for processing and archiving purposes. There was no adjustment done for underregistration in the presentation

PH fetal deaths in 2007


number of fetal deaths decrease The Philippines registered a total of 8,191 fetal deaths in 2007. The figure is 267 less (3.2%) from a total of 8,458

health professionals most of whom were medical doctors. It is interesting to note that in MIMAROPA, the number of fetal deaths attended by hilots and medical practitioners were equal at 103 cases each. 22 fetal deaths occur daily On the average, 22 fetal deaths occurred per day. The months of January and July registered a daily average of 755 and 754 fetal deaths, respectively. It was during the third quarter of the year when the highest number of fetal deaths was recorded (2,133 or 26.0 percent of the total). The last quarter of the year was not far behind with 2,083 or 25.4 percent. The month of November registered the highest daily average fetal deaths with 25 cases, followed by January, May, July and October with 24 fetal deaths recorded daily. Meanwhile, six out of the twelve months of the year recorded daily indices higher than the national value of 100.0. These were January (108.5), May (104.8), July (108.4) September (104.0), October (105.9) and November (109.8).

fetal deaths reported in 2006. Of the total registered fetal deaths, about 1,796 (21.9%) occurred in the National Capital Region (NCR). Second in rank with a difference of only 3.0 percentage points from NCR was CAlABARZON with 1,545 fetal deaths (18.9%). In third place was Central Visayas with 1,052 reported fetal deaths (12.8%). On the other end, the least number of fetal deaths was recorded in Caraga and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with only 80 (1.0%) and 7 (0.1%) cases, respectively. almost three out of four fetal deaths are medically attended A total of 6,036 or 73.7% of the registered fetal deaths were attended by medical practitioners. Of these, 5,422 or 66.2 percent were under the care of physicians. Records show also that, only one of every four fetal deaths (2,095 or 25.6%) were attended by traditional birth attendants or hilots. Nine out of ten fetal deaths in NCR (91.6%) and CAR (90.3%) were attended by Mothers at age group 20-34 years old are most vulnerable to fetal deaths The median age of mothers with fetal death occurrences was 29.0 years. Mothers at ages 20-34 years accounted for 5,491 or 67.0 percent of fetal deaths. The figure signified that two out of three mothers who had fetal deaths in 2007 were from same age group. Out of 8,191 fetal deaths in the country, 2,878 or 35.1 percent were first born, 994 of which belong to expectant mothers aged 20-24 years. On the other hand, mothers aged 45 and over recorded 62 fetal deaths. Almost half (28 cases) of these deaths were on their eighth child and over. almost three out of four fetal deaths are due to the ten leading causes of death Almost three-fourths (6,003 or 73.3%) of fetal deaths in 2007 were brought about by the ten leading causes of death. The remaining 26.7 percent were caused by other illnesses. Consistently on top of the list was disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight not elsewhere classified which accounted for more than half (4,289 or 52.4%) of fetal deaths in 2007. Way behind on second and third places, were intrauterine hypoxia (728 or 8.9%) and other congenital malformations, not elsewhere classified (330 or 4.0%).



April 4 -10 2011

WITH technology at their fingertips, drivers are constantly faced with distractions such as talking or texting, putting their safety and that of others at serious risk. April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is launching the “Talk.Text.Crash.” campaign to raise awareness of the dangers associated with distracted driving and to encourage Texans to put down their cell phones while driving. Distracted driving is becoming increasingly common and dangerous, causing traffic crashes and fatalities. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows the proportion of fatalities reportedly associated with driver distraction increased from 10 percent in 2005 to 16 percent in 2009. In fact, 20 percent of injury crashes nationally in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. This deadly trend is mirrored in Texas, where nearly one in four crashes involves driver distraction, according to TxDOT. In 2009 alone, over 100,000 vehicles were involved in crashes where distraction in vehicle, driver inattention or cell phone use was cited. Sadly, 408 of those crashes were fatal.

Drivers can be distracted by conversing with other passengers, eating, smoking, manipulating dashboard controls, reaching for something in the vehicle, and talking or texting on a cell phone. Among the many distractions

"Drivers simply do not realize the dangers that are posed when they take their eyes and minds off the road and their hands off the wheel and focus on activities other than driving," said Carol T. Rawson, TxDOT's Traffic Operations Division Director. " 'Talk. Text. Crash.' reminds Texans of the consequences associated with distracted driving. Eliminating distractions and putting away their cell phones while driving can and will

their cell phones and wait until they arrive at their destination to use their phone. Although cell phone use is the most easily recognized distraction, all invehicle distractions are unsafe and can cause crashes or fatalities. TxDOT through a partnership with Nationwide will be conducting a four-market tour to spread the word about distracted

Crisis raises already high used-car prices

driving. The tour will include a driving simulator that allows users to experience the effects of distracted driving in a controlled environment. The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining nearly 80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, rail and public transportation across the state.

JAPAN’S catastrophic earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis have had far-reaching effects on the supply chain, stretching beyond major manufacturers and transportation hubs to suppliers' suppliers and local transport congestion. "We no longer have supply chains. We have supply networks, and those networks are vast and clearly global," said Jim Rice, deputy director for Massachusetts Institute for Technology's Center for Transportation and logistics. "You can be a small company in Des Moines, Iowa, that depends on a product that's made from a component that comes from overseas somewhere." Within a week, General Motors announced the temporary idling of a Shreveport, la., plant and curtailed production at two European plants because of parts shortages. Toyota, which makes 43 percent of its vehicles in Japan, told US dealers that its production stoppages would reduce March deliveries by 17,400 vehicles.

Japan disaster impacts on autos supply chain

drivers face on the road, cell phone use is one of the most common and a major cause of distracted driving traffic accidents and fatalities. At any given m o m e n t during the daylight hours, over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone, according to NHTSA. In 2009, 3,308 crashes in Texas were attributed to cell phone use and 41 of those crashes were fatal.

save lives." The “Talk. Text. Crash.” campaign aims to reduce distracted driving, not only for National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, but throughout the year. TxDOT asks drivers to put away

More start-ups and shutdowns
of a key pigment additive used in metallic automotive coating systems. The pigment, called Xirallic, is only made at Onahama, Japan by Germany's Merck KGaA. According to reports, many of the world's automobile manufacturers use Xirallic and some have already been forced to look for alternatives and in some cases have stopped taking orders for vehicles with metallic paint. Indeed, Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group llC, Volkswagen AG, BMW AG, Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors all use Xirallic in metallic paint formulations. According to The Wall Street Journal, the manufacturing plant where Merck

Auto parts, tires, engines, and motors account for more than 40 percent of U.S. containerized imports from Japan, according to PIERS, a sister company of The Journal of Commerce and a division of UBM Global Trade. But this catastrophe halted production at nearly two-thirds of Japan's 72 engine and transmission plants, reported forecasting firm IHS Automotive. Even Japanese plants outside of the damage zone were affected by electric power restrictions, disrupted local transportation and their own suppliers' shortages. These crises have echoed across a wide range of industries, impacting companies from Boeing to Caterpillar to Sony and Nokia. Whether the Japan calamity will create permanent and drastic changes to business practices is yet to be seen, but it's certain that its lessons for resiliency planning are already advancing industry thinking. This week's Cover Story, written by Senior Editor Joseph Bonney, examines the ripple effects for production, as well as the recovery outlook for the world's third-largest economy.

THE crisis in Japan is pushing prices of fuel-efficient used vehicles -- which were high already -- even higher, analysts say, Automotive News reported. Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. are among the Japanese manufacturers that closed factories in Japan after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, halting production of vehicles such as the Toyota Corolla and Prius and the Honda Fit. The threat of a shortage of new vehicles, coupled with rising gasoline prices and a tight supply of used vehicles, sharply increased prices of used small cars and hybrids in mid-March, according to data from NADA Used Car Guide and Black Book. Take the Prius. Prices of the used hybrid have been increasing steadily since the beginning of the year. Ricky Beggs, managing editor of Black Book, says prices of used 2009 and 2010 Prius cars increased $1,900 to $2,400 from midFebruary though mid-March. Half of the increase was recorded the week of March 14-21. Beggs says the Prius typically would have appreciated about $500 to $800 from mid-February to mid-March, given the strong spring market. He says used-Prius prices started to rise in January with gasoline prices, and the threat of a shortage of new Prius cars caused prices to jump in mid-March. The NADA guide shows the average price of a used 2008 Prius rose almost 4 percent to $15,450 the week ending March 22. On that day, it was up 9 percent from a month earlier. The average price of a 2009 Prius the week ending March 22 was $17,090, a five percent increase for the week and up 12 percent for the month. Jonathan Banks, senior director of editorial and data services at NADA Used Car Guide, says new Prius cars already are in short supply. If fuel prices continue to rise and Toyota cannot resume production, Banks says, "there is room for that vehicle to keep going up." In contrast, prices of used large trucks are virtually flat, says Alec Gutierrez, manager of vehicle valuation at Kelley Blue Book. From January 1 through March 18, prices of the used large SUVs were up almost 2 percent, and used full-sized pickups were unchanged. In the first quarter of 2010, used large SUVs jumped 8 percent, Gutierrez says, and used full-sized trucks increased seven percent.

THE first auto assembly plant in the United States that was forced to cease operations because of a parts shortage caused by the March 11 earthquake in Japan was set to restart by the first week of April. General Motors said it plans to restart its Shreveport, louisiana, plant this week, recalling about 925 employees that work a 10-hour shift. GM confirmed that the reason for the shutdown was because of depleted inventory of a Japanesemade part but the company would not identify the part. The company warned that other assembly operations could be impacted by parts shortages in coming weeks. One key issue that arose over the weekend was the unavailability

produces the pigment is located near the coast and was suffered damage from the earthquake and tsunami. Ford Motor Co. announced over the weekend that it will be forced to curtail production at its Genk, Belgium, assembly plant because of a parts shortage. The plant will be idled on April 4, one month ahead of a planned five-day shutdown, because of an impending parts shortage. About 5,500 workers are employed there. Mitsubishi Motors issued a report this morning stating that all of its three assembly plants in Japan are back up and operating, but it will idle one plant because of a part shortage.

Toyota Prius

Honda Fit

THE House of Representatives has passed on third and final reading a bill that seeks to mandate hospitals and other healthcare providers to clearly display in their premises a full price list of their services and products. The compulsory posting of an exact price list under the proposed "Healthcare Services Price Disclosure Act" would cover hospitals, ambulatorysurgicalcenters,diagnostic and laboratory clinics, medical offices and related facilities, including those providing dental services. The displayed price schedule would be binding on the healthcare

House okays bill for hospitals to display price list
provider upon the patient’s admission, and any price increase would take effect only after proper posting. House Deputy Majority leader and Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo, author of the proposed measure, on Monday said the bill "gives more meaning to the State's avowed policy in The Consumer Act to protect the interests and general welfare of buyers, and to establish the fair standards of conduct for business and industry." An absolutely transparent and readily available price index would safeguard consumers against misleading and unfair sales acts and practices, he said. "This will also facilitate sound choice by end users of hospitalization and other healthcare services," he added. Romulo pointed out that patients invariably get billed for the flimsiest expense while being treated in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. In some cases, he said, "without their prior knowledge, patients even get charged for the extra cotton balls or toilet paper they use in the hospital." The Pasig City solon said that a complete price list, to include all incidental charges for room and amenities, meals, medicines, and use of medical equipment and technology, would enable patients to compare costs and freely decide where best to obtain the services or supplies that they need. "For instance, once the patient becomes aware that he could get charged for hospital toilet paper that is five times more expensive, then he might just opt to bring his own supply," he said. Romulo's bill requires the posting of the price catalogue in

April 4 -10 2011

Health & Wellness


THE percentage of teens and young adults refraining from sex has increased, researchers found recently. In the agency's most recent survey on the subject, 27 percent of males and 29 percent of females ages 15 to 24 reported never having any sexual contact with another person, Anjani Chandra, PhD, of the National Center for Health Statistics, and colleagues reported in a data brief. That's up from 22 percent of both sexes in 2002. The researchers also found that more than half of people ages 15 to 24 reported having oral sex prior to ever having vaginal intercourse. The lifetime median number of sexual partners has remained nearly unchanged, the researchers said, with women hovering at around three and men surpassing them with about five. The data come from a 2006 to 2008 inperson survey of 13,495 men and women ages 15 to 44. The researchers also found that women appear to be far more open to same-sex encounters than men. More than twice as many females as males reported some type of sexual encounter with a member of the same sex at some point in their lifetime (12.5 percent versus 5.2 percent). "There's a popular sense that women have more fluidity in their sexual attraction than men do, and this provides empirical data that might support that idea," Jack Drescher, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in Manhattan who was not involved in the study, told MedPage Today. It's not clear why that's the case, Drescher said, although it could be that males are more guarded about their sexual identity -- "that whole notion of macho posturing, the way men fling the word 'girl' at each other as an insult."

More young people wait before having sex


Physical activity decreases effect of salt on blood pressure
sodium, adjusted for age and gender, were: 5.27 mm Hg in the least active group; 5.07 mm Hg in the next-to-lowest activity group; 4.93 mm Hg in the next to highest activity group; and 3.88 mm Hg in the most active group. Compared with the sedentary group, the odds of being salt-sensitive, adjusted for age and gender, fell: 10 percent in the next-to-lowest activity group; 17 percent in the next-to-highest activity group; and 38 percent in the most active group. "In all the analyses we found a doseresponse relationship with the more activity, the better," Rebholz said. The participants were 1,906 Han Chinese adults (average age 38) in the Genetic Epidemiology Network of Salt Sensitivity (GenSalt), a large project to identify genetic and environmental factors contributing to salt sensitivity. Siblings and their parents were invited to become involved in GenSalt if at least one sibling had pre-hypertension (blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 mm Hg) or stage-1 hypertension (between 140/90 and 159/99 mm Hg). No one was on blood pressure medication during the study. The GenSalt project is located in rural China because the homogeneous population makes it more likely that genes influential to blood pressure control will be identified. "The study needs to be repeated, but I suspect that the relationship between physical activity and salt-sensitivity will apply to other populations," Rebholz said in a story published by Science Daily.

The researchers say the patterns look similar to what was found in an earlier 2002 survey -although in the most recent survey, the researchers broke down same-sex sexual activity by general and more specific scenarios. For instance, among the 12.5 percent of women ages 15 to 44 who reported any same-sex experience, 9.3 percent reported it to be oral sex. They noted that this may be the more comparable figure to match with the 5.2 percent of men who report any oral or anal sex with a male partner because it focuses on specific behavior, the researchers noted. Still, women were less likely than men to report that they were only attracted to the opposite sex – 83 percent versus 94 percent, again, similar to earlier data. More women than men reported being bisexual (3.5 percent versus 1.1 percent), and younger women were more likely to identify themselves as such than older women. "I read a lot about the notion that younger people in general are more comfortable with the notion that they can be sexual in ways older people don't feel they can be," Drescher said. "That may indeed be the case for younger women, if that's what the data show." Educational achievement appeared to be associated with the likelihood of same-sex experience among both men and women. But while women with more education were less likely to report same-sex encounters, more highly educated men reported more sex with men.And only women had a correlation between the number of opposite-sex partners they've had and their likelihood of having sexual relations with a same-sex partner. Those with four or more male partners were more likely to report hooking up with a female.

IF you are having problems sleeping, the National Sleep Foundation suggests the following to improve your sleep: Set and stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same times each day. Expose yourself to bright light in the morning and avoid it at night. Exposure to bright morning light energizes us and prepares us for a productive day. Alternatively, dim your lights when it's close to bedtime. Exercise regularly. Exercise in the morning can help you get the light exposure you need to set your biological clock. Avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime if you are having problems sleeping. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Allow enough time to wind down and relax before going to bed. Create a cool, comfortable sleeping environment that is free of distractions. If you're finding that entertainment or work-related communications are creating anxiety, remove these distractions from your bedroom. Treat your bed as your sanctuary from the stresses of the day. If you find yourself still lying awake after 20 minutes or so, get up and do something relaxing in dim light until you are sleepy. Keep a "worry book" next to your bed. If you wake up because of worries, write them down with an action plan, and forget about them until morning. Avoid caffeinated beverages, chocolate and tobacco at night. Avoid large meals and beverages right before bedtime. No nightcaps. Drinking alcohol before bed can rob you of deep sleep and can cause you to wake up too early. Avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, ask your doctor or pharmacist if your medications might be contributing to your sleep problem. No late-afternoon or evening naps, unless you work nights. If you must nap, keep it under 45 minutes and before 3:00 pm.

Healthy Sleep Advice

a conspicuous place within the healthcare provider’s grounds. Violators face fines of up to P25,000 per instance, without prejudice to administrative sanctions such as the suspension of their professional licenses for up to 60 days. If the offender is a firm, it faces a fine of up to P50,000 per instance, plus suspension of its license to operate for up to 60 days. The firm's officers directly responsible for the infraction also face fines and suspension of their licenses. (PNA)

THE more physically active you are, the less your blood pressure rises in response to a highsalt diet, researchers reported at the American Heart Association's Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions. "Patients should be advised to increase their physical activity and eat less sodium," said Casey M. Rebholz, M.P.H., lead author of the study and a medical student at the Tulane School of Medicine and doctoral student at the Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine in New Orleans. "Restricting sodium is particularly important in lowering blood pressure among more sedentary people." Investigators compared study participants' blood pressure on two one-week diets, one low in sodium (3,000 mg/day) and the other high in sodium (18,000 mg/day). The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 1,500 mg/ day of sodium. If a person's average systolic blood pressure (the top number in the reading, measured when the heart is contracting) increased 5 percent or more from the low-sodium to the high-sodium regimen, the researchers labeled them as high salt-sensitive. Based on physical activity questionnaires, researchers divided participants into four groups ranging from very active to quite sedentary. The average increases in systolic blood pressure after switching from low to high


April 4 -10 2011

AIRPORT body scanners pose no significant radiation threat, even to frequent flyers who are exposed to far more radiation during travel at high altitudes, said the authors of a review published by MedPage Today recently. The scanners expose people to less than 1 percent of the radiation associated with cosmic rays at typical flight altitudes. A single exposure to a backscatter x-ray scanner is equivalent to three to nine minutes of radiation encountered in normal daily living. Nonetheless, deployment of whole-body scanners at airports should not proceed in the absence of definitive studies to determine more precisely the risks and benefits, according to an article published online in Archives of Internal Medicine. "In medicine, we try to balance risks and benefits of everything we do, and thus while the risks are indeed exceedingly small, the scanners should not be deployed unless they provide benefit-improved national security and safety -- and consideration of these issues is outside the scope of our expertise," Rebecca Smith-Bindman, MD, and Pratik Mehta, of the University of California San Francisco, wrote in conclusion. "Issues have been raised regarding the efficacy of scanners, and if the scanners are not deemed efficacious, they should not be used." On Dec. 25, 2009, a Detroitbound passenger smuggled plastic explosives aboard an airliner, revealing a limitation of current airport screening devices. Since then the Transportation Security Administration has installed almost 500 wholebody scanners at 78 US airports, and twice that many devices

Airport scanners: Much ado about very little
are expected to be in operation by the end of 2011, the authors wrote in their introduction. Two types of scanners are in use. The millimeter-wave scanner emits low-energy waves estimated as a fraction of the energy emitted by a cell phone. The more commonly used backscatter x-ray scanner emits radiation each year, an amount equivalent to 0.1 microsievert per minute, according to the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. The two most common sources of radiation are medical procedures and environmental background radiation. Backscatter whole-body on a six-hour flight, she will be exposed to approximately 14.3 microsievert of radiation from the flight and 0.03 to 0.1 microsievert from passing through the scanner at the airport," the authors wrote. "Thus, the scan will increase her exposure by less than 1 percent." Given those calculations, concerns that vulnerable individuals should avoid the scanners are unwarranted, they added. Offering other common examples for context, SmithBindman and Mehta noted that a person would have to pass through an airport scanner 50 times to get the same radiation exposure associated with a single dental x-ray, 1,000 times to equal the exposure of a chest x-ray, 4,000 times to equal the exposure of a mammogram, and 200,000 times to equal the exposure of a single combination abdominalpelvic CT scan. Estimating the cancer risk associated with airport scanners is even more difficult than quantifying the exposure, the authors continued. Risk estimates normally rely on extrapolation from published studies of higher-dose exposures. Such extrapolation from the scanners' exceedingly small radiation doses is questionable and perhaps inappropriate. Radiation exposure from the scanners is concentrated in the skin. No accepted mathematical models exist for determining the relationship between

ADUlTS and children with nasal allergies or allergic rhinitis have impaired quality of life because of the symptoms associated with the disease, results of the Allergies in Asia-Pacific (AIAP) survey showed. More than 400 million people worldwide are affected by allergic rhinitis, and in AsiaPacific, the incidence of nasal allergies is estimated to be as high as 48 percent as societies become more urbanized and adopt urban lifestyles. on allergic rhinitis Otherwise known as nasal allergy or sometimes referred to as sinus disease, allergic rhinitis is triggered when an individual inhales allergens such as pollen or dust, causing severe swelling or inflammation of the nasal airways. This leads to such symptoms as itchy and runny nose and mucus production. allergic rhinitis may be seasonal or perennial. AR by the numbers According to the survey, two out of five parents with children who have nasal allergies said that their child go through severe allergy episodes that cannot be tolerated without treatment. They also reported that their children experience runny nose almost everyday. The work productivity of adults who suffer from nasal allergies dropped by 24 percent on average, and more than 45 percent of those surveyed reported that they were unable to

Survey shows heavy burden of nasal allergies
perform their work well because of discomfort. The largest fall in average productivity in the AsiaPacific was registered in Australia, China, and the Philippines. Respondents in these countries said that their productivity dropped by 31 percent when they were experiencing their worst nasal-allergy symptoms. For children and adolescents, academic productivity dropped by 20 percent on average when their nasal allergies were at their worst. More than 40 percent of parents surveyed reported that their child had missed school because of nasal allergies in the past 12 months. Allergic rhinitis undermines the quality of life as nasal allergies affect the psychosocial well-being, according to the study. More than 60 percent of adults reported that their daily life is affected by their allergies. Thirty-nine percent of children and adolescents and 45 percent of adults said that they usually feel depressed, tired, and miserable, while 58 percent and 68 percent, respectively said that their allergies prevented them from sleeping well during the night. aR prevalence in the Philippines In the Philippines, seventyfour percent of the respondents claimed that they experience seasonal or intermittent allergic rhinitis, while the remaining 25 percent experience symptoms all year round. Some of the worst symptoms they feel include repeated sneezing, watery eyes, red or itchy eyes, nasal congestion and itching, throat itching, headache, runny nose, coughing, postnasal drip, and reduced sense of smell. Work and school productivity is also affected by allergic rhinitis episodes. The productivity of those surveyed drops to 60 percent from 92 percent when they are experiencing symptoms at their worst. Moreover, 35 percent of Filipinos surveyed said that nasal allergies affect their lives a lot. Diagnosis and treatment options When it comes to discomfort during nasal-allergy attack, 45 percent of the Filipinos surveyed said that they cannot tolerate allergic rhinitis without treatment. One treatment option available for people suffering from allergic rhinitis is steroid nasal spray. But more than 50 percent of the Filipinos said they have never used a nasal spray before. A total of 33,986 households across nine Asia-Pacific countries – Australia, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam – took part in the AIAP survey. Sponsored by global pharmaceutical company Nycomed, the survey assessed the effects of nasal allergies on the mood, sleep, work productivity, and ability to perform daily tasks of the subjects. The survey can be viewed at www.

low-dose x-rays, which are absorbed entirely by the most superficial layers of the skin, the authors continued. Although the detailed images generated by both types of scanners have raised privacy issues, the potential health risks center on the x-ray scanners, which employ ionizing radiation. But the radiation doses emitted by the scanners are so low that the potential risks are unknown and difficult to quantify, the authors wrote. Individuals in the US are exposed to an estimated 6.2 millisieverts of ionizing

scanners expose individuals to 0.03 to 0.1 microsievert per scan, the equivalent of three to nine minutes of radiation from natural sources. levels of naturally occurring radiation are increased at higher altitudes, such as those used by airliners. Although the levels change with altitude, radiation exposure during a flight averages about 0.04 microsievert per minute of flight time. Thus, backscatter x-ray scanners deliver an amount of radiation equivalent to one to three minutes of flight time. "Put into context of the entire flight, if a woman embarks

skin exposure and the risk of skin cancer. Moreover, the distribution of exposure differs from that of the whole-body exposure assumed by available mathematical models. Noting that 100 million people have a total of 750 million flights per year, SmithBindman and Mehta estimated that radiation exposure from airport scanners would cause six excess cancers. In contrast, 40 million cancers would be expected over the same individuals' lifetimes. Frequent flyers represent one population potentially vulnerable to radiation exposure from airport scanners. Assuming one million of these passengers take 10 six-hour trips per week for a year, airport scanners would cause four cancers. That compared with an estimated 600 excess cancers from radiation exposure during the flights and 400,000 cancers over the passengers' lifetimes. Young children who fly frequently are another potentially vulnerable population. Using a five-year-old girl as an example, the authors estimated that two million girls flying once a week would have one excess breast cancer. In contrast, 250,000 of the girls will develop breast cancer over their lifetimes owing to the 12percent lifetime risk of the disease. "Based on what is known about the scanners, passengers should not fear going through the scans for health reasons, as the risks are truly trivial," the authors wrote in conclusion. "If individuals feel vulnerable and are worried about the radiation emitted by the scans, they might reconsider flying altogether since most of the small, but real, radiation risk they will receive will come from the flight and not from the exceedingly small exposures from the scans.”

Gil M. Vicente, MD Dr. Vicente is the current chief of the rhinology section at St. Luke’s Medical center and Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center Department of Dermatology. He is also the past president of the Philippine Society of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. Ivor A. Emanuel, MD He is a clinical assistant professor in otolaryngology at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Emanuel is also a member of the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the Pan American Otolaryngology Society. At present he is the chair of the corporate relations committee of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy.