Building capabilities of insurance professionals

Business partners, employees, and friends of AXA Philippines, one of the leading insurance companies in the country, recently gathered for the much-awaited inauguration of their newest state-of-the-art training facility, the AXA Academy.

Housed at the 11th floor of the Bank of Makati Building on Ayala Avenue extension in Makati City (a stone’s throw away from their main offices), the AXA Academy serves as the main training facility for AXA agents, driven by its aim to elevate the skills and capabilities of local insurance professionals to an unmatched level of excellence.

Leading the inauguration rites, together with AXA chairman Solomon Cua, was Insurance Commissioner Atty. Dennis Funa, the event’s guest of honor. Funa noted that the AXA Academy will help improve education of insurance professionals who are engaged in a noble vocation to spread financial literacy, in order to help Filipinos achieve their financial goals.

Following the solemn and inspiring dedication ceremony, AXA Philippines CEO Rahul Hora in his remarks extolled the values that make AXA stand out in the competitive insurance industry. “Our strength is our people, as insurance is a people business,” Hora said. “Whether distributors or employees, the most important thing is the foundation on which their capabilities are built.”

Hora further said that the AXA Academy is “a symbol of our commitment, a symbol of what our people mean to us as an organization—how we’re extremely passionate in building the competencies of our employees.”

Exuding a very modern and professional ambiance, the AXA Academy’s design and lay-out is purposely meant to be flexible and technology driven, providing a comfortable, aesthetically pleasing environment for learning or socials. At almost 1000 square meters, the AXA Academy—with its six (6) training rooms of varying sizes plus two (2) meeting rooms—can handle up to eight ongoing running sessions with a maximum capacity of over 300 participants in total. Other facilities include a reception and focus area, a trainer area, a pantry, and a hallway lounge.

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Citi sees continued growth opportunities in Asia

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Citi remains bullish about the growth prospects in Asia, as global investors turn to the region in the face of volatility in Europe and North America and general uncertainty in the markets.

Citi shared key investment trends and macroeconomic views during the Citi Investor Conference 2018 at the Citi Plaza building in Taguig.

“Global fund managers are looking carefully at Asia, and China is a big part of that,” said Julia Raiskin, head of Investor Sales, Asia Pacific, at Citi. “Interest in the region is partly due to the inclusion of 200 large cap Chinese stocks in the MSCI, as well as the opening of the China Bond Connect.”

According to Raiskin, global fund managers are investing in equities and fixed income as top choices, with local currency bonds becoming increasingly attractive. “Investors are looking into more liquid markets – Hong Kong, Australia and, gradually, ASEAN,” she said. “Intra-Asia flows are also increasing with key corridors flowing from China, Japan and Korea to ASEAN.”

Citi notes that intra-Asia trade corridors have the potential to pick up slack from China and U.S. supply chains that may be threatened.

“This region represents a much bigger opportunity as it is currently under-penetrated,” said Johanna Chua, head of Asia Pacific Economic Analysis at Citi. “Industries are well developed, but the long-term savings industry and asset management is not. So we’re seeing bigger allocations towards Asia from fund managers.”

Philippine equities are underweight in Citi’s global equity allocation due to broad-based, cyclical upswings and the performance of other economies, explained Chua. But recent data has been good, given increased government spending and the peso stabilizing. “There’s a lot of traction growth,” Chua said. “The growth story is there.”

To spur further growth, Citi says the key is more foreign direct investments. “We need more FDI. The Philippines is still conservative with regards to foreign financing,” Chua said.

Infrastructure is seen as a key growth driver, especially the government’s ongoing ‘Build, Build, Build’ program. Additional growth drivers include services exports such as tourism, manufacturing with preferential tax treatments, and agricultural development and energy.

“As the contracts of the IPPs (Independent Power Producers) expire in 2020, power and energy will potentially be huge growth drivers for the Philippine economy,” said Paul A. Favila, head of Markets and Securities Services.

Overall, Citi explained that last year was a good year for everybody and moving forward, 2018 is progressing well. “There are a lot of good things going for the Philippines,” said Chua. “It’s one of the only economies without any fuel subsidies and domestic demand story in the Philippines has traction, especially on the investment side.”

Citi’s GDP growth projection for the Philippine economy is 6.9% in 2018.

Prices of second-hand commercial vehicles soar amid TRAIN

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Prices of second-hand commercial vehicles have risen by as much as Php150,000, a result of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN).

This was revealed by top buy-and-sell website OLX based on second-hand commercial vehicles ad postings on the portal, from January 2017 to April 2018. Speculations on the TRAIN Law fuelled the price increase on the 3rd quarter of 2017 and continue long after it was implemented early this year.

The TRAIN Law has influenced the resale value of one to two-year old cars with an average increase of P90,000. Among these are units with original retail price of P1million and above such as Toyota Innova, Honda CR-V, Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Montero and Ford Everest.

The first tax reform package of the present administration, the TRAIN Law provides for the increase in take-home pay of Filipino workers by reducing income tax rates while increasing and rationalizing tax rates in other goods and services. For automobiles, TRAIN simplifies excise tax but lower-priced cars continue to be taxed at a lower rate while more expensive cars are taxed at a higher rate.

“The data we released is our way of guiding buyers in determining which second-hand vehicles have significantly increased in price,” says OLX Head of Cars Xervin Maulanin. “This will also help them evaluate the difference in buying pre-owned versus brand new cars.”

Meanwhile, no significant effect can be seen on prices of entry level passenger cars like Toyota Vios, Honda City and Hyundai Accent.

Additionally, Maulanin also notes, “Despite talks about the TRAIN Law in the third quarter of 2017, the demand for second-hand cars continued to increase.”

Even with the price hike, OLX’s data indicates a steady market for pre-owned vehicles, from high-value to entry level, as the ad posting for second-hand vehicles continues to be on the upswing.

24/7 Emergency Roadside Assistance for KTM Riders

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KTM customers who will buy street-legal motorcycles on May 1, 2018 to April 30, 2019 from authorized local distributor Adventure Cycle Philippines, Inc. and its growing network of dealers around the country are qualified to avail the nationwide emergency roadside assistance coverage through Ibero Asistencia Philippines, global market pioneer in roadside travel assistance.

Under an agreement signed recently by KTM and Ibero, KTM riders enrolled in the program can contact Ibero’s assistance coordinator through (02) 4594755, a 24/7 call center hotline in 86 areas in Luzon, 17 in Visayas, and 7 in Mindanao if they need motorcycle assistance like engine trouble, towing, removal of damaged unit or delivery of fuel or spare key. In the event that you lose your key, Ibero shall even cover the cost for replacing the key.

The assistance coordinator can also arrange for legal assistance, ambulance service, hospital admission, and accident coordination with relevant government units such as PNP, PNP-HG, MMDA, Skyway Patrol, among others in times of emergencies.

Other services available include lodging and travel expenses coverage of up to two nights at an agreed rate of up to P2,000 per night in case of immobilization, and if the motorcycle’s repair time is longer than 48 hours as established by the repair facility; or the arrangement of an alternate means of transportation to the intended destination; or reimbursement of alternative transportation expenses.

“Our customers deserve nothing less than the best after-sale services because our relationship with them does not end after the purchase,” says Dino Santos, COO, Adventure Cycle Philippines, Inc. “With Ibero Asistencia partnership; they get total peace of mind and utmost customer service available across the country.”

KTM is the first motorcycle manufacturer in the country to provide the most comprehensive emergency roadside assistance on all of its street-legal motorcycles.

For more information, visit KTM Philippines official Facebook page

New exclusive Wing for Maxicare at ManilaMed

Top executives of ManilaMed and Maxicare recently gathered together to inaugurate The Wing, the newest in-patient facility of  Maxicare Healthcare Corporation located at the 8th floor of ManilaMed in Ermita, Manila.

The new Maxicare Wing is designed to give Maxicare cardholders a fast, seamless admission and discharge process, as well as an easy access to ManilaMed’s medical practitioners and facilities.

A Maxicare Liaison Officer is available 24/7 to assist admitted members for any concerns during confinement at The Wing. The rooms are fully air-conditioned and are furnished with amenities such as utility cabinets, a Smart HD Television and fast WiFi connection so they can access movies and TV series.

Leading the inauguration were Maxicare president Sean Argos, medical vice president and medical director Erlinda Tiuseco, vice president for operations Sylvia Stolk, customer experience consultant Rihard Vanags, with ManilaMed president Bombit dela Cruz, medical director Susana Padilla-Campos, vice chairman of the board Danilo Dolor, and board of director Jose Paulo Campos.

Other Maxicare Wings are located at the 8th Floor Tower 1 of Makati Medical Center in Makati City, 12th Floor Medical Arts Tower of The Medical City in Ortigas, 8th Floor of Victor R. Potenciano Medical Center in Mandaluyong City, and 7th Floor of Metro Davao Medical & Research Center.

With convenience as one of its major thrust, Maxicare continuously exerts efforts and expands horizons to provide its members more efficient and seamless way to access their benefits.

The new Maxicare Wing is at the 8th Floor of ManilaMed, 850 UN Avenue, Ermita, City of Manila.

Huawei P20 Pro: more than a smartphone. It’s a high-tech DSLR!


Smartphones are getting increasingly smart.

And now they’re not just smart — they’re intelligent.

Combining hardware and AI

Released from April 2018, the P20 series from Huawei — which consists of the P20 and the P20 Pro — is taking the smartphone camera to the next stage by integrating Artificial Intelligence to broaden photography capabilities.


By combining AI with point and shoot efficiency, Huawei is effectively promising to make professional-looking photos within the reach of amateurs (read: noobs) like us.

A bold claim, but we’ll test it out by pitting it against a DSLR with a P20 Huawei camera, using Paris and Frankfurt as our backdrop.

Photos from both devices will not be filtered or edited to improve their colour.

Starting with some architecture and street scenes:



Huawei P20 Pro:




Huawei P20 Pro:




Huawei P20 Pro:




Huawei P20 Pro:


How about food? Let’s see:



Huawei P20 Pro:




Huawei P20 Pro:




Huawei P20 Pro:




Huawei P20 Pro:


Here are photos of the same view, with one of them using the night shot function from the P20 Pro:



Huawei P20 Pro:


The most impressive Android camera thus far

To push the P20 to its maximum capability, we also tested out some other functions, like this macro shot that’s like the Lang Leav of photography:


Random lamp in a restaurant taken against the back light:


While this would mean a dimly lit silhouette in most shots by other cameras, the object in question is now clearly seen and surrounded by soft lighting.

This means you can finally take that act chio back lit selfie. Yay, technology.

Some P20 shots in Frankfurt, taken in low lighting conditions:


And this was seriously impressive, considering that it was taken in such a dark tunnel that our eyes could barely make out what was going on:


While the DSLR affords more creative freedom, the camera and editing skills are something an amateur needs to learn first.

Release date and prices:

The P20 and P20 Pro are available for preorder from now till April 4, from the three telcos, Lazada, and major electronic stores (Best Denki, Challenger, etc.).

Otherwise, they will be on shelves from April 7 (except for the P20 Pro Twilight, which will be available from end April).

Huawei P20 (Pink Gold, Midnight Blue, Black), 128GB ROM + 4GB RAM: S$898

Huawei P20 Pro (Twilight, Midnight Blue, Black), 128GB ROM + 6GB RAM: S$1,148


Celebrating World Sleep Month with an ultimate slumber party

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In celebration of World Sleep Month, society personalities and philanthropists Tessa Prieto-Valdes and Kaye Tinga partnered with Uratex, maker of Premium mattresses, for a fun and exciting slumber party at the Prieto-Valdes residence in North Forbes Park, Makati City.

The slumber party was attended by the hostesses’ closest friends, successful people in search of exceptional comfort in mattresses for superior sleep.

Uratex CEO and president and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awardee for the Philippines Natividad “Naty” Cheng and daughters Pinky Rosagas, Uratex finance director, and Peachy Medina, managing director, graced the event. Also present were Uratex executive vice president Eddie Gallor, corporate sales director Dindo Medina and marketing director Cherry Tan.

Guests included Agile Zamora, Ana de Ocampo, Ann Ong, Audrey Tan-Zubiri, Dette Aquino-Tan, Fe Rodriguez, Ian Galliguez, May Rojas, Michelle Tiangco, Rajo Laurel, Sheryl Songsong, Tessa Alindogan and Tina Cuevas.

Joining the fun were well-known media personalities Pepper Teehankee, Ces Drilon, Mia Borromeo, Yvette Fernandez and Ailene Co.


Guests were able to try for themselves Uratex’s luxurious line of mattresses like Premium Touch, Senso Memory and Orthocare that are made of premium materials using the latest sleep-science technology that makes Uratex Premium Mattresses exceptional. Also on display were pillows that matched the mattresses.


Filled with fun and exciting activities, the slumber party aimed to stress the importance of sleep for a person’s health and well-being.


For more information, visit