SBMA 25TH Anniversary

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Former workers of this former UN naval base on Friday recalled the “spirit of volunteerism” that helped turn the Subic Bay Freeport into a bustling economic zone.

One of them, Mercedes Washington, said during the 25th anniversary of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) that efforts of volunteers should not be forgotten as they had been part of the freeport’s history.

“The call of founding SBMA chair [now senator] Richard Gordon during that time was for Olongapo residents to unite and protect the military facilities left behind by the Americans. We heeded that call and the spirit of volunteerism began,” she said.

Then 24 years old, Washington joined 8,000 other volunteers, who safeguarded the $8-billion military facility left by the US Navy after the Philippine Senate rejected an extension of the military bases agreement in 1992.

Washington, now 49, said: “I was assigned to join a group of other volunteers to watch over a portion of lot that is now called Bicentennial Park. Despite the uncertainty of that time, we were able to protect the facilities from looters.”

She shared her experience before a crowd composed mostly of SBMA officials and employees. “I’m happy to see the fruit of the spirit of volunteerism. I’m hoping that it will never fade,” she said.

The anniversary celebration was also highlighted by the hoisting of the largest Philippine flag, with a height of 120 feet, which will permanently fly over Subic Bay.

Organizers said 94 feet of that span represents the 94 years of American occupation of Subic; the next 18 feet for the heads of states who attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference here in 1996; and the remaining eight feet for the 8,000 volunteers who helped preserve the facilities when the Americans withdrew in 1992.

Republic Act No. 8491, also known as the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines, designates the Subic freeport as one of the places where the flag should be “permanently hoisted 24 hours a day and every day of the week,” said SBMA Chair and Administrator Wilma Eisma.

Eisma led the ceremonial unveiling of a National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) plaque which stipulates that the flag must always fly in Subic.

The plaque was installed at the base of the flagpole fronting the SBMA office on Waterfront Road here.—ALLAN MACATUNO
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Press Release
November 27, 2017

As the Subic Bay Freeport Zone commemorated its 25th founding anniversary on Friday, Senator Richard J. Gordon commended the volunteers for the successful creation of the Freeport from the ashes of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption and the impending economic disaster brought about by the departure of the American military from Subic Bay.

Gordon said the people were the key that made Subic what it IS today – the framework for bases conversion in the country and one of the best examples of bases conversion ventures in the world, as international media described it shortly after its creation.

“Kung meron tayong Subic ngayon, it’s because of the people who volunteered. We were successful because of the many people who sacrificed themselves. At that time a lot of people were prejudiced against it. They didn’t think that people would come here without pay and put their future on the line and put their sacrifice as their capital so that we could have or make the future,” the Father of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said.

“So today, I congratulate you all. Pag nakikita ko ang volunteers, tumataba ang puso ko. Twenty-five years ago, we succeeded in turning a vision into reality. We did not let our fears stop us. We did not fear the future, instead we made the future our friend. And thus, we succeeded in showing the world that, together, we can move forward on our own and get the job done. We received no salary then, but we got an excessive amount of appreciation and, more importantly, respect from the Filipino people for what we were doing in Subic,” he added

Gordon recalled that aside from being afraid, their first battle was a battle of integrity, a battle against themselves to ensure that the base and its facilities and the equipment and furniture inside would be preserved and protected.

“That was the biggest struggle of all – to be able to win against ourselves and the temptation of bringing stuff out. And nobody took anything out. There was a lot of temptation but we prevailed over all of that and somehow the Almighty always protected us from hunger and made sure that we conquered our fear. I recall the exquisite joy and absolute pride as we celebrated our first year of victory over seemingly insurmountable odds, as we reveled over our collective achievements in writing the first few pages of Subic’s history as an emerging free port and special economic zone,” he said.

The founding chairman and administrator of SBMA also advised the agency’s current officials to keep on dreaming big for Subic and to remember that duty, dignity and determination, unity, cooperation, and love for country are the values that created the Freeport.

“And so, as the Subic community moves forward today, as you face more years and more challenges, do not forget the lessons of the past as you set your sights to tomorrow. Aim high. Look for a new abyss and dare to stand by its edge. Stare new fears in the face. Do these things, for that is how we built Subic then. And that is the only way you can build a better Subic today and in the coming years,” Gordon said. “Again, my gratitude goes to all the people who answered our call 25 years ago, and to those who followed in our path to make Subic work. We have set out to make a difference. And looking back now, we know that we have succeeded,” he added.

Learning from the experience of Sangley Point when the American military left the naval station, Gordon developed a master plan for the conversion of the Subic Naval Base into a Freeport years before the American military left the base. He said that with Olongapo, Subic and the other nearby provinces depending on the base for their livelihood, they would have to prepare for the time when the American military pulls out from Subic so that the people will not be left jobless.

When the last U.S. Navy helicopter carrier USS Belleau Wood sailed out of Subic Bay on November 24, 1992, Gordon, who was then mayor of Olongapo City, with 8,000 volunteers took over the facility to preserve and protect US$8 billion worth of property and facilities and started the conversion of the military base into a free port like Hong Kong and Singapore.

In the same year, Congress passed Republic Act 7227, known as the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, which created the SBMA to develop and manage the Freeport which provides tax and duty-free privileges and incentives to business locators in the special economic zone. Gordon became the first SBMA chairman.



April 29, 2014

Over the past couple of decades, scientists, researchers and educators have started changing the way they perceive and evaluate a person’s intelligence. Thanks to Daniel Goleman, Ph.D, a renowned psychologist who has written several books on the topic of emotional intelligence (EQ), the idea of grading a person’s EQ in addition to their IQ has become mainstream. Dr. Goleman has even posed that EQ is more important than IQ, and a debate on the topic has raged ever since.

IQ vs. Emotional Intelligence: What’s the Difference?

IQ stands for intelligence quotient, and it literally represents how academically intelligent a person is. To find a person’s IQ, they are given one of a number of standardized tests. Based on how well they perform, they are given a score, which is compared to other people in their age group. Those who rate well on IQ tests have been found to perform better academically, make more money and are generally healthier than those with low IQ scores.

EQ stands for emotional intelligence, and it relates to a person’s ability to perceive, control, evaluate and express emotions [1]. While those with high EQ scores may not have a great deal of technical or academic knowledge, they have been shown to perform better in the workplace than those with high IQ scores. Why? They are more aware of themselves, better able to regulate their actions, are better at owning responsibility, are motivated, and have empathy for others.

Why Your EQ Is More Important than Your IQ

While most researchers say that an individual’s performance in life is determined by both their IQ and EQ, there is evidence that IQ only accounts for a small percentage of that. Only around 10 to 25-percent of the equation in fact, which leaves EQ responsible for an incredible 75-percent or more of a person’s ability to succeed. For this reason, many companies have started giving applicants EQ tests before hiring them. Other companies have instituted EQ training programs in the workplace.

When I was in retail business, one of the rules I lived by when hiring someone for an entry level position was – “Hire for personality; train for skill”. That basically means that you can train someone in the technical skills they need to perform a job, but you can’t train a person’s personality.

Why the emphasis on EQ? Simply put, a person with a high EQ is better to work with in a team environment. They can relate to others and are more approachable.

Several studies have also shown that those with high EQ scores perform better in the workplace, make better leaders, are more self confident, are trustworthy, and are just more likeable than those with low scores. All of these factors lead to an increase in productivity and sales across the board.

The Five Categories of EQ

There are five categories of EQ, and once you understand them you will begin to realize why having a great deal of emotional intelligence makes a huge difference in how well someone performs in life and at work. Following are the five categories and how they affect one’s personality:

  1. Self Awareness – In order to control your emotions, you must be aware of them. This is where self awareness comes into play. Those who are self aware are able to tune into their emotions, which makes them more confident about what they can do and what they have to offer.
  2. Self Regulation – If you’re not in control of your emotions, you can become combative in the workplace or resistant to change. Those who can control their emotions, however, avoid the temptation to indulge impulses, take responsibility for their own actions, adapt well in the face of change, and are open to new ideas.
  3. Motivation – Those who are unmotivated rarely meet goals. However, motivated individuals are constantly striving to improve, to meet the next milestone. They are also less likely to get discouraged when faced with setbacks or opposition. Motivated individuals make great salespeople and are often the morale boosters of an organization.
  4. Empathy – Empathy is the ability to recognize how people feel and how your actions can affect them. Those with empathy are perfect for the service sector, and they also make great mediators and negotiators. Since they can pick up on how others feel, they are in a better position to motivate them.
  5. Social Skills – Social skills are important regardless of what type of career you have. Successful people communicate effectively. Great communicators are needed for conflict management, team management, leadership roles, and tasks where cooperation is necessary.

As you can see, there are several areas where your EQ determines how successful you’ll become in the workplace. You can also see how these five categories can affect your personal life as well. In a world where most knowledge is only a Google search away, emotional intelligence has taken on greater significance, and we’re likely to continue to see employers looking for these skills rather than technical knowledge. Which truly makes emotional intelligence more important than IQ in today’s world.

(c) Kathy M.


November 17, 2017

The Philippine economy as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a faster-than-expected 6.9 percent in the third quarter, making it one of Asia’s fastest growing.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the GDP expansion was a “spectacular growth rate after an election year.” GDP is the total value of goods produced and services rendered in a given period.

The year-on-year growth, which outpaced China’s 6.8 percent but trailed Vietnam’s 7.5 percent in the same period, was driven by strong industrial and services output, the National Statistics Office said on Thursday.

The growth in the July-September quarter surpassed a market consensus forecast of 6.6 percent and was an improvement on 6.7 percent growth in April-June.

It was, however, slightly lower than the 7.1 percent growth in July-September last year, just after the May elections.

As a result of the better-than-expected growth, the peso strengthened to 50.9:$1 on Thursday from 51.04:$1 on Wednesday.

Overall, “we attribute the country’s growth performance to sustained strong growth in exports and improvements in public spending, which then boosted the manufacturing subsector and the services sector,” Pernia said in a media briefing.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque attributed the growth to the “stability” provided by the Duterte administration, which he said helped business in the country grow.

Full-year target

Pernia said the economy was on track to meet the government’s full-year growth target range of 6.5-7.5 percent, supported by higher state spending and improving exports and farm output.

President Duterte inherited a booming economy when he took office in May 2016. So far growth has remained on track, despite the country’s massive poverty, inequality and insurgencies.

On a per-sector basis, services contributed 4.2 percentage points; industry, 2.5 points; and agriculture, a mere 0.2 point.

In the third quarter, services grew 7.1 percent year-on-year, faster than that a year ago and a quarter ago.

Agriculture slows

The agriculture sector’s growth, however, slowed to 2.5 percent from 3 percent a year ago and 6.3 percent from the previous quarter.

Manufacturing output expanded 7.5 percent from a year earlier, while public consumption rose 8.3 percent thanks to increased pay and allowances for public employees, including the military, Pernia said.

“We are now seeing a sustained improvement in government spending in a run-up to our massive infrastructure program—the ‘Build, Build, Build’—which will continually unfold in the months ahead,” Pernia said. “This is expected to ratchet up public spending even further.”

Household consumption is also seen picking up in the last quarter due to the Christmas season, he added.

Rebound in exports

Like its peers in Asia, the Philippines is benefiting from the steady rebound in exports, which were up 12.2 percent in the nine months to September.

But economists have flagged Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs and “erratic policymaking” as potential risks that could weigh on investor sentiment.

“It is notable that foreign direct investment has dropped off this year, while investment growth has continued to weaken,” Capital Economics said in a note.

Growth in capital formation weakened to 6.6 percent in July-September, from 8.5 in the June quarter.

“Notwithstanding the continued political noise and the terrorist activity in Marawi, which President Duterte had decisively addressed, the economy managed to perform well in the third quarter as the government posted a double-digit increase in public investments and pursued initiatives to further improve fiscal health and boost investor sentiment,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said.

Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno pointed out that “in the past, economic growth usually takes a deep nosedive after an election year but this is not the case anymore owing to our sound macroeconomic fundamentals and economic policies.”

Too hot?

After the data’s release, Bangko Sentral Governor Nestor Espenilla sought to ease  concerns of overheating.

“That begins to be a concern if we’re persistently growing above potential,” Espenilla told reporters. “To keep growing strongly without overheating, we expand potential itself—through high quality investments funded in a sustainable manner.”

He said the strong economic growth and “manageable inflation are in line with our expectations and validate current policy settings.”

Some economists, however, expect the central bank to raise the benchmark rate from the current 3.0 percent as early as next month to head off inflation, which has been creeping toward the upper end of the 2-4 percent target for 2017-2019.

The Philippines has posted more than 6 percent growth for nine consecutive quarters, making it among the fastest growing economies in the region.

Still, civil strife in Mindanao has taken a toll as seen in the dismal performance of the Philippine peso this year. Any delays in the government’s ambitious infrastructure program also could pose risks. —REPORTS FROM BEN O. DE VERA, PHILIP C. TUBEZA, AND THE WIRES
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Agence France-Presse / 07:18 AM November 14, 2017

LOS ANGELES, United States — High blood pressure was redefined Monday by the American Heart Association, which said the disease should be treated sooner, when it reaches 130/80, not the previous limit of 140/90.

“High blood pressure is now defined as readings of 130 mm Hg and higher for the systolic blood pressure measurement, or readings of 80 and higher for the diastolic measurement,” said the guidelines.

Doctors now recognize that complications “can occur at those lower numbers,” said the first update to comprehensive US guidelines on blood pressure detection and treatment since 2003.

The new standard means that nearly half (46 percent) of the US population will be defined as having high blood pressure.

Previously, one in three (32 percent) had the condition, which is the second leading cause of heart disease and stroke, after cigarette smoking.

The normal limit for blood pressure is considered 120/80.

Once a person reaches 130/80, “you’ve already doubled your risk of cardiovascular complications compared to those with a normal level of blood pressure,” said Paul Whelton, lead author of the guidelines published in the American Heart Association journal, Hypertension and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“We want to be straight with people –- if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it.”

He said a diagnosis of the new high blood pressure does not necessarily mean a person needs to take medication, but that “it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure, mainly with non-drug approaches.”

The changes were announced at the American Heart Association’s 2017 Scientific Sessions conference in Anaheim, California. /cbb
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November 13, 2017

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Fresh from its victory in the sports tourism derby last week in Bangkok where it was named “Best Sports Tourism Destination of the Year,” Subic Bay has gained yet another recognition, this time as Asia’s “Fastest Growing Free Trade Zone” in the International Finance Awards 2017.

Aside from this, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), which manages the zone, was also cited for its “Best Social Responsibility Initiative.”

The awards will be handed out by the London-based International Finance Magazine (IFM), a financial-market information group, during the IFM Annual Award Ceremony scheduled on January 26 in Singapore.

Subic Bay’s first award recognized its emergence as a flagship of the Philippine economy and a catalyst of growth in the region, the SBMA said in a statement on Monday.

The second award cited the SBMA for identifying the social needs of the indigenous Ayta community in the Subic Freeport area and taking the initiative to positively impact the social status, earning potential and access to services of the members of the tribe.

The International Finance Awards recognize and honor individuals and organizations in the international finance industry that make a significant difference and add value, as well as herald the highest standards of innovation and performance.

Organizers said the IFM awards make a concerted effort to shine the spotlight on organizations in niche segments and those that exhibit brilliance in the unsung corners of the finance industry.

The other winners from the Philippines are: BPI Asset Management, as “Best Asset Manager,” Omnipay as “Best Payment Solutions Provider” and RCBC Bankard Services Corp. as “Best Credit Card Offerings.”

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the agency considers it an honor and privilege to be listed in the IFM’s roster of excellence.

“These awards, which come on the eve of SBMA’s 25th anniversary, inspire us not only to celebrate our past, but more important, to forge our country’s future for the sake of our children and future generations by continuing to make a difference and adding value to Filipino lives,” she said.

The IFM awards are the latest in a string of international citations received either by the Subic Freeport, the SBMA or its officials mainly for excellence in the field of management.

In the Third Sports Industries Awards and Conference Asia held in Bangkok, Thailand, last week, the Subic Bay Freeport was also recognized as the Best Sports Tourism Destination of the Year, while the SBMA was given a silver award for Best Sponsorship of a Sport, Team or Event.

Eisma was among this year’s winners in the search for the “100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World,” which recognizes Filipinas influencing the face of leadership in the global workplace. She received the award during the 14th Filipina Leadership Global Summit scheduled from October 25 to 29 in Toronto, Canada.

In 2015 the Subic Freeport also emerged as overall winner for Asia in the Global Free Zones of the Year 2015 awards given out by fDi Magazine, a publication of The Financial Times of London.

As of now, the Subic Bay Freeport has more than 126,000 workers employed by a total of 2,897 companies variously engaged in shipbuilding and other marine-related business, tourism, information and communications technology, manufacturing and services.

Eisma said with committed investments surpassing the $1.4-billion mark in the first quarter of this year, the Subic Freeport is expected make more significant strides in the Philippine economy in the coming years.

(c) Henry Empeño

NEW RAILWAY TO LINK MANILA, CLARK PH, China starting P150-billion PNR North 2 project after settling Northrail contract feud

CLARK FREEPORT — The Philippine government and China National Machinery Industry Corp. (Sinomach) are building a new railway system from Manila to Clark International Airport here after the two parties have resolved to end court and arbitration cases over the Northrail project, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said on Tuesday.

“There is no more Northrail project. There will be [a new] rail project from Tutuban (Divisoria in Manila), the City of Malolos (Bulacan) and Clark (Pampanga),” Tugade told the Inquirer by telephone from Panglao, Bohol province, where he observed the runway test of a new airport there.

The new project is named the Philippine National Railways (PNR) North 2 and initially costs P150 billion.

“The PNR Manila to Clark railway project is expected to serve as a catalyst to decongesting Metro Manila, and at the same time bring growth to the regions north of the capital, particularly Central Luzon, where an estimated 11.22 million Filipinos reside and earn their living,” the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said in a statement.

At the earliest, Tugade said the new project could be started by the end of 2017 or in the first quarter of 2018 with Sinomach as contractor.

The previous Northrail contract covered 80 kilometers along the old PNR tracks between Caloocan and Malolos cities. Northrail was conceptualized during the term of former President Fidel Ramos in the 1990s.

Sinomach filed for arbitration in Hong Kong when the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III terminated the contract over questions about its validity.

“Sinomach agreed to settle to show its trust to President Duterte and his administration. It’s also its way of supporting the government with its projects,” Tugade said.

The settlement, which had the approval of the Commission on Audit, was reached after more than a decade of delay in the project’s implementation and five years of what Tugade described as “costly arbitration.”

“The Duterte administration has finally achieved closure on the Northrail project fiasco,” he said.

According to Tugade, negotiations to settle the dispute started in January and ended in a settlement agreement, stating that “all court and arbitration cases will be settled and dismissed at no cost to the Philippine government.”

The government has yet to make public a copy of the settlement agreement which, Tugade said, spared the country from paying more than P5 billion in potential damage to Sinomach and almost P500 million in legal costs.

The signing of the agreement was witnessed by Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua. Also present during the signing were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

The state-owned North Luzon Railways Corp., which oversaw the scuttled Northrail project, reported spending P161 million in arbitration proceedings as of March.

The DOTr said the Duterte administration would “still go after the government officials involved in the allegedly anomalous and/or overpriced contracts.”

The terms in the agreement include “no more payment by Northrail to Sinomach and vice versa.”

“There will be no more contractual issues that may hamper or compromise the development of the DOTr-PNR Manila to Clark Railway project,” DOTr said. —with a report from Miguel Camus

(c) Tonette Orejas
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November 2, 2017

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT­—For the first time in many years, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) will be requesting for national funding for major infrastructure projects to be undertaken here starting next year.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said she has already asked the national government to provide funding to further develop two crucial accesses to this premier free port: the Alava Pier, which is being eyed to draw cruise ships into Subic, and the Magsaysay Bridge, which links the Subic Freeport to the main business and entertainment avenue in Olongapo City.

She added she had asked finance department officials to consider the release of funds for Subic “as an investment for the national government.”

“We need to prioritize these infrastructure projects, since they will further push the Subic Freeport’s business potential,” Eisma said.

She added the national government would be getting back returns to its investment in time “because the SBMA would be giving back bigger remittances to the national treasury once these projects are completed.”

Eisma said the SBMA has been a self-sufficient government agency for at least a decade, but it would now need national funding to update facilities in Subic.

She added the SBMA would channel its own funds instead to other projects meant to enhance security in the Subic Freeport.

The two priority projects for national funding are estimated to cost more than P2.84 billion, with the repair of Alava and other piers in Subic eating up P2.45 billion.

Eisma said the Alava Pier is badly in need of dredging, and that its pilings have already deteriorated and need to be replaced.

She also said the Subic agency allocated P2.46 billion to repair and further develop Alava and other port facilities, considered the heart and soul of the Subic Freeport.

The SBMA had earlier presented its proposed budget for 2018 before the Senate finance subcommittee and asked for a P3.548-billion infrastructure budget.

Eisma said the Subic agency is planning to build the SBMA Corporate Center that will house all the offices of its departments and units for an estimated cost of P3.2 billion.

Aside from this, the SBMA identified the other projects as new Magsaysay bridge at a cost of P390,780,000; piers and wharves rehabilitation, P2,459,610,000; port dredging, P83,389,950; building of SBMA/Olongapo Museum, P80 million; continuous upgrading of the Subic Bay International Airport Facilities, P45,400,000; and concreting and repair of roads, P489,300,000.

(c) Henry Empeño