Property News

Automotive sales are on the rise

By | Property News

The automotive market in the Philippines made a decent comeback in 2021. Total sales of around 280,000 vehicles translates to a 16 percent growth over 2020. This is a very welcome and encouraging development for the industry.

Of course, it can be argued that the growth is on the back of a low base in 2020. I would readily reply, though, that any growth is better than none or, worse, a further slide. In fact, auto sales last year reached almost 70 percent of pre-COVID levels in 2019, up 10 points from the year before. Is it enough? Surely not. However, automakers know that recovery for the sector is going to be a journey and not a quick bounce back.

What drove growth? Primarily, it was the return of consumption in line with the reopening of the economy. Actually, in 2021, we were effectively under strict lockdown for almost four months, in March and April then August and September. Despite this, the government persisted in its efforts to jumpstart economic activity.

The difference between government’s initiatives in 2020 and 2021 was that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases restored a greater degree of mobility to the system. Public transportation capacity was increased and people were given a wider berth in their movements – even during raised quarantine levels. This was an essential complement to reopening the doors of businesses and commercial establishments. As well, manufacturing was allowed to continue, basically unimpeded. And, even construction was allowed to carry on. These moves rebooted the economic engines more significantly than before.

The other critical difference between last year and the year before was the vaccination roll-out. Up to the first 10 days of 2022, the Philippines has reported around 49 percent of its population as fully vaccinated. This is in line with the worldwide average of 50 percent and is slightly ahead of India and Indonesia. In ASEAN, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand – among the major economies – have achieved higher vaccination rates. Indeed, vaccination provided the government more confidence in their revitalization efforts and in allowing a greater measure of mobility.

As economic activity started to increase, the other positive development for the industry was the gradual return of banks to consumer durable loans. It was not a spike but there was a noticeable rise. Mainly, banks catered to their respective depositors which is understandable since these loans would be relatively secured by their own deposits. With the drop in business loans and many companies paying down their borrowings, banks were flush with cash. The policy of the Bangko Sentral was also to keep liquidity high. Therefore, banks were taking a guarded approach to making their cash work for them. Even back in 2020, it was the consensus that there could be no recovery of auto sales without a bounce in consumer lending by the banks. 2021 was a clear step in that direction.

Finally, one other factor that resulted in the rise in vehicle sales were the efforts of automakers themselves. New models were launched that stimulated consumer interest in autos. Each brand also offered attractive promotions meant to influence buyers to buy now than put their decision off for later. In 2021, the focus was on increasing volume while preserving margins. Accordingly, most of the promos focused on value enhancement than price. On the contrary, the priority in 2020 was in paring down high inventories and generating cash to pay-off operating costs. 

The most significant downsides to 2021, though, were the lockdowns, for one. The other was the supply chain disruption brought about by the closure or reduction in production of component parts. Most significant, though, was the shortage in the supply of microchips that affected all carmakers across the globe. As such, supply of vehicles was reduced and local auto companies could not fully meet the rise in vehicle demand. It might even be argued that sales could have been higher had there been no problems with supply.

So what lies ahead for 2022? It seems the industry is banking on a further increase in economic activity to spur vehicle sales. Remittances from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) remain resilient and is expected to further grow as the global economy starts to revive itself. Election spending – according to some economists – will tack on 1 percent to GDP. Infrastructure spending by government is seen to be sustained while capital expenditures by the business sector is also projected to expand to meet the rise in demand.

The new year is off to a rough start but there are high hopes that the surge in COVID cases due to Omicron will subside within January and return to stable low levels by February. If so, the pluses would far outweigh the minuses for the auto market. I am convinced that it will be a better year.

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By | Property News

Define American’s guide to creating genuine immigration TV and movie flicks

We got hold of Telling Authentic Immigrant Stories: A Reference Guide For The Entertainment Industry from Define American, a non-profit organization committed to humanizing immigrants through media.

Why do genuine immigrant stories count? Define American’s research found that TV shows with nuanced immigrant characters and immigration storylines could shift attitudes and inspire people to real-life action.

Grey’s Anatomy

If you have seen immigrant stories from the episodes of ABC-Disney’s Grey’s Anatomy, NBC’s Superstore Hulu’s East Los High, most likely Define American was consulted to give a realistic representation of the undocumented immigrants. Common themes in the entertainment industry include financial instability, housing insecurity, fear of targeting by the government and community members, violence, and racism.

East Los High

The group would like to end the “stereotype” narrative where fear-based stories are overrepresented. Undocumented immigrant portrayals on television and in the movies center on fear of deportation or causing fear when they are depicted as lawbreakers or terrorists.

For a neutral terminology, the preferred terms are ‘undocumented,’ or ‘unauthorized’ immigrant. Using ‘illegal’ or ‘alien’ is considered dehumanizing.

For a neutral terminology, the preferred terms are “undocumented,” or “unauthorized” immigrant. Using “illegal” or “alien” is considered dehumanizing.

Define American’s research also discovered that the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) immigrants are the most underrepresented immigrant group on television. But by the year 2055, the Pew Research Center foresees that Asian Americans will be the largest immigrant group in the US. Hence, there is a call to truthfully reflect the diverse Asian diaspora on the screen.

Also, not all Asians are “crazy-rich” because approximately 28 percent of Asian American immigrants are low-income.

The 23-page reference guide suggested six things to consider when creating projects about immigrants.

Hire more immigrants. Gathering the creatives such as writers, cast, and crew members who are reflective of the material and reflective of the world today can bring varied perspectives and authenticity to a project.Engage with immigrant communities. If a culture or community is outside of your own, speak to the authentic members of the community, especially one you plan to portray so the characters, settings, and storylines are accurate.3. Seek an expert opinion. There are a lot of issues about immigration that not all can easily grasp. To counteract misinterpretation, consult experts who represent the community when conceptualizing and writing the storylines of undocumented immigrants. Focus on universal themes and bondedness. Showcase how connected and shared immigrant experiences are. The need to belong, to be free, to make a difference, and to find love are some examples.Be sensitive to risk and privacy. In coming forward with their personal stories and struggles to the news media and entertainment, many people try to hide their immigration status due to risk of deportation.. Empower your immigrant characters to take control over their own narratives. Most immigrants who receive support are more resilient. They have the ability to overcome great adversity or hardships and do not need any rescuing.Nayah Damasen in Grey’s Anatomy Beautiful Dreamer episode

In reshaping public opinion, the producers of Grey’s Anatomy episode, Beautiful Dreamer, organized a writer’s meeting with undocumented Americans, including medical students, to hear first-hand and fact-check the experiences of the immigrants.

Nico Santos in Superstore

Nico Santos who played Mateo on NBC’s Superstore shared his experiences as an actor in his past interview with Define American. “To be able to play as gay and Filipino, and the whole undocumented storyline was amazing coz I’m an immigrant,” he muses. “I wasn’t undocumented but a lot of my family members were at some point undocumented so it’s something that is close to my heart and I know all about.”

Nico Santos (left) in Crazy Rich Asians

Santos was part of Crazy Rich Asians, Hollywood’s first all-Asian cast movie in 25 years.

Documented by Jose Antonio Vargas

“We are making great strides forward—more diverse and equitable hiring in front of and behind the camera, more inclusive stories, more immigrant writers—but we still have much work to do,” says Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of Define American. “We invite you to use this guide as a starting point to help you navigate your characters’ journeys.”


Concerned OFWs ask: How secure are 2022 Philippine polls against hacking?

By | Property News

OFW Forum
Jun Concepcion
Governor Benjamin Diokno said last month that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas would conduct an investigation into complaints of dozens of Banco de Oro depositors who claimed to have lost varied sums in their savings accounts. BDO, the country’s largest universal bank, has acknowledged the problem and pledged to probe the complaints and take the necessary remedial measures.
In June 2017, Bank of Philippine Islands customers also complained against “mystery withdrawals” which the bank subsequently attributed to a mere technical glitch.
And just last week, the Manila Bulletin reported an alleged breach in Commission on Elections data, downloading loads of information. Comelec officials denied the hacking claim, but curiously, commission officials failed to offer concrete and adequate measures that would ensure the integrity of its servers and the national electoral exercise in May this year. They merely offered denials and general assurances.
However, blanket assurances, plain and simple, won’t convince and assure people, including overseas Filipinos who track closely the incidence of cybercrimes in the country and elsewhere.
If the BSP head himself and two of the country’s largest banks have acknowledged cybersecurity breaches in the country, those problems therefore exist concretely and are not merely figments of the imagination. Beyond simply acknowledging these problems, aggressive and determined actions should be taken against them.
However, the Comelec apparently takes a nonchalant stance that is certainly infuriating.
Understandably, scores of overseas Filipinos, notably Jericho M. in Hong Kong, Robert C. in Nevada, Rene P. in Montreal and Eliseo R. in Saudi Arabia are fuming mad at the seeming nonchalance of election officials.
The grave concerns of overseas Filipinos are not without basis and merits. Election tampering was a major national security issue in the United States and Australia in recent years.
In September 2020, Microsoft cited hackers, with ties to Russia, China and Iran, attempted to snoop on people and groups involved with the presidential elections in the US in 2020.
In September 2019, news agency Reuters reported that Australian intelligence has determined that China was responsible for a cyber attack on its national parliament and three of the country’s largest political parties before a general election in May that year.
Since the global credentials of Microsoft and Reuters are beyond doubt and repute, there is absolutely no reason to diminish or dismiss the gravity of hacking of national elections, especially by a government or governments with vested interests in a country where elections are to be held.
This backdrop should serve as more than ample basis for Comelec and senior Duterte administration officials to take more concrete actions more than sweeping general assurances to ensure genuinely that the forthcoming elections will be free and devoid of hacking issues or problems.
“Let’s face it fair and square, the country’s information technology infrastructures and level of security are not as solid, advanced and secure as those in other countries, like those of Russia, China and even Israel despite its small size,” said Jericho M. in Hong Kong.
“If our government cannot fully secure the integrity and security of the country’s IT infrastructures, why not consider enlisting the assistance of a neutral and tech savvy country with no known vested interests in our country, such as Israel or Estonia, against any cyber attack,” he said.
“A government-to-government arrangement, which is done anyway in Philippine overseas manpower deployments, can be forged to ensure that no particular local political group will benefit from the scheme,” he added.
Rene P. in Canada and Eliseo R. in Saudi Arabia have concurred even as they noted the great irony of the Philippines producing and “exporting” some of the best IT professionals to Singapore, Silicon Valley in the US and in other countries, but being unable to adequately secure its own IT infrastructures and networks.
“During the 2016 presidential elections, for instance, there was an unexpected technical glitch for several hours while votes were being counted.  Comelec officials at that time dismissed that incident as a non-issue. But they failed to come up with a detailed and proper explanation of that incident,” Rene said.
With over three months to go before the May 2022 polls, the Comelec, together with relevant agencies, should scramble and immediately set up a task force to map out strategies and concrete measures to thwart whatever hacking attempts that might be mounted, he said.
“In the end, it all boils down to integrity and trust. If the integrity of our own IT systems and people manning them can’t be fully trusted, why not partner with a tech-savvy neutral government, like that of Israel or Estonia, to help us foil a potential cyber attack,” said Jericho.
Contact this writer at [email protected]


Show cause order vs UE

By | Property News

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Before anything else, I would like to thank the Manila Bulletin family for the opportunity to be a part of this very prestigious newspaper.
Thank you too, to our dear followers as this humble column marks its first year anniversary on Wednesday, January 18. God is good!!!
* * * There is a saying that it is difficult to talk to people who choose to be deaf or who only listen to what they want to hear.
This is what’s happening in the case of the University of the East (UE) in Sampaloc, Manila, which, for the second time, has refused to recognize the authority of the local government of Manila.
This came to the fore after we issued an Executive Order declaring a “health break” wherein for a period of one week, we will be suspending online and physical classes in all levels in both public and private schools in the city.
This is not a mere caprice since apart from being lawful, the order was a result of a meeting we held with experts and concerned units from the local government unit.
Many teachers and students, along with their families, are currently infected with COVID-19. They are currently suffering from increased levels of anxiety and stress which is why we decided to allow them a one-week respite.
It is highly important that they in the meantime, focus their attention on themselves and their families because we believe that in governance, one must also have a heart and genuine concern.
However, UE President Ester Garcia declared that the city mayor has no authority to suspend classes in the tertiary level. Before this, she also defied an order declaring “no classes” in the city due to heavy rains. I respect her opinion but I would rather that she bring it to another city or municipality. I also would like to remind her that the entire nation is still in the middle of a pandemic.
And although she may see herself as an expert on the matter, I would like to point out that according to Commission on Higher Education Memorandum Order 15 Series of 2012, “classes in collegiate levels, including graduate school, may be suspended or canceled at the discretion of the local chief executive of the local government units if special circumstances in the area arise.”
In addition to this, Section 16 of Republic Act 7160 of the Local Government Code states that “local chief executives are given the authority to protect the welfare of the greater majority.” This is being used by mayors in times of calamities like fire or earthquake, for instance.
The clear defiance of such a lawful order declaring a “health break” in the entire city has prompted us to issue to UE a “show cause order” dated Jan. 13, 2022, where we gave UE three days to explain why it should not be issued a “cease and desist order” or stopped from operations for non-compliance with a lawful order coming from the local government of Manila.
UE is operating by virtue of a business permit granted by the local government of Manila and if only for this, Garcia must acknowledge that UE falls under the scope of city rules and regulations.
By securing a permit from the city government, it means that UE acknowledges the authority of the local government unit when it paid fees as lessor, learning institution and all other fees. This goes to show that UE falls within the regulatory power of Manila which is why it pays to the city.
In the said “show cause order,” we also gave UE three days or 72 hours to explain why it should be allowed to continue enjoying the permit it was issued. Failure to respond will be considered as a waiver and will be dealt with accordingly.
I have previously told UE that if it does not recognize the authority of the Manila LGU, they are free to go and look for another city that they might want to recognize.
I am guessing that Garcia may have limited herself to the confines of her home since she no longer “connects” to the real, current situation.
The same thing happened in the past when we declared “no classes’’ due to heavy rains and UE refused to follow.
I am just wondering why others comply and follow directives coming from the city mayor?
What’s so special about UE?
Let me reiterate that all we wanted was to allow the teachers, mothers and students time to breathe and focus on their condition. What’s one week, madam president Garcia? Will a weeklong respite that would redound to the welfare of students and faculty cause the university such huge losses?
By the way, as this column goes to press, I was told that UE had also finally declared a suspension of classes. I just wish it did not have to come to this.
* * * Gaya ng paulit-ulit kong sinasabi, kailangan ko ang tulong ninyong lahat. Walang magmamalasakit sa Maynila kundi tayo ding mga Batang Maynila. Manila, God first!
* * * Maari ninyong malaman ang mga pinakahuling kaganapan sa pamahalaang-lungsod ng Maynila sa pamamagitan ng pagbisita sa aking kaisa-isang lehitimong Facebook account — ‘Isko Moreno Domagoso.’


No one pours new wine into old wineskins

By | Property News

Reflections today Gospel • MARK 2:18-22
Some experts argue that this story is an indication of the break that happened between Judaism and Christianity. Early Christians found themselves at odds with the old Jewish community they belonged to because of the new freedom they lived in the name of Jesus Christ. This is the freedom that breaks away from the strict legalism of Judaism, which is most certain to ruffle the feathers of those belonging to the old way. In speaking of old wineskins being unfit for the new wine, the incompatibility of Judaism and Christianity is stressed.
In speaking of the new wine, the implication points out the freshness of Christianity. This freshness is also expected of believers. If faith is to maintain its potency, it has to have that certain adaptability to new situations. A reclusive and exclusive faith just would not work. Faith, while maintaining orthodoxy, has to adapt to new situations in the manner of its expression.
How adaptive is my faith? Do I adjust to unfamiliar circumstances when living out my faith?
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2022,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: