Over 2,000 stores of the Jollibee Group join Earth Hour 2022

Jollibee Group brands participate annually in the Earth Hour initiative that aims to raise awareness on the need for collective action to protect the environment.

Over 2,000 stores nationwide from the different brands of the Jollibee Group participated in this year’s Earth Hour, the world’s largest movement that promotes carbon footprint reduction to stop climate change.

Participating stores of Jollibee, Mang Inasal, Red Ribbon, and Greenwich turned off the lights in their stores and signages for an hour. Billboards and other out-of-home ads of Jollibee Group brands were also switched off for an hour during this period.

“Participating annually in the Earth Hour is part of our efforts in the Jollibee Group to demonstrate the commitment to helping protect the planet as an organization. Efforts like Earth Hour are important in raising more awareness among our people, our customers, and the public on the realities of climate change and the need for individual and collective action to protect the environment,” said Pepot Miñana, Chief Sustainability and Public Affairs Officer of the Jollibee Group.

First started by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2007, Earth Hour has grown into one of the world’s largest grassroots movements for the environment today. Held every year, on the last Saturday of March, the movement engages around 190 countries and territories, all acting in ensuring a sustainable future for the planet and its people.

About Jollibee Group

Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC, also known as Jollibee Group) is one of the fastest-growing restaurant companies in the world. It operates in 34 countries, with over 5,900 stores globally with branches in the Philippines, United States, Canada, the People’s Republic of China, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Panama, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, and India.

Jollibee Group has eight wholly owned brands (Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, Red Ribbon, Mang Inasal, Yonghe King, Hong Zhuang Yuan, Smashburger); six franchised brands (Burger King, Panda Express, PHO24, and Yoshinoya in the Philippines; Dunkin’ and Tim Ho Wan in certain territories in China); 80% ownership of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf; and 60% ownership in the SuperFoods Group that owns Highlands Coffee and PHO24.

Jollibee Group, through its subsidiary Jollibee Worldwide Pte. Ltd. (JWPL) owns 90% participating interest in Titan Dining LP, a private equity fund that owns the Tim Ho Wan brand. It also has a joint venture with the THW Group to open and operate THW restaurants in Mainland China. Jollibee Group also has a business venture with award-winning Chef Rick Bayless for Tortazo, a Mexican fast-casual restaurant business in the United States. It has also acquired 51% ownership of Milksha, a popular Taiwanese bubble tea brand.

Jollibee Group was named the Philippines’ most admired company by the Asian Wall Street Journal for ten years. It was also honored as one of Asia’s Fab 50 Companies and among the World’s Best Employers and World’s Top Female-Friendly Companies by Forbes. In 2020, Gallup awarded the Jollibee Group with the Exceptional Workplace Award, making it the first Philippine-based company to receive the distinction.

Jollibee Group has grown brands that bring delightful dining experiences to its customers worldwide, thus spreading the joy of eating to everyone.

To learn more about Jollibee Group, visit www.jollibeegroup.com

Puerto Princesa: Paradise Regained

The Royal Treatment at Puerto Princesa

With safety protocols firmly enforced, Puerto Princesa is poised to again welcome tourists with open arms. In recent years, the highly urbanized city and tourist haven has been paralyzed by the Covid-19 pandemic, then pummeled by Typhoon Odette. But it is now on the road to recovery—as spectacularly as its scenic, romantic and gastronomic attractions.

“The tourism industry is the lifeblood of Puerto Princesa, along with agriculture. Almost 15,000 people directly or indirectly benefit from tourism. In varying degrees, most of the recent construction and development projects are related to tourism: hotel-building, parks, cruise-ship ports, street lights, roads and many more. Unfortunately, some of these have been on hold since the onset of the pandemic,” discloses Demetrio “Toto” Alvior Jr., the city tourism officer.

The Royal Connection

Puerto Princesa, the capital of postcard-perfect Palawan, sprawls across 253,982 hectares of captivating coastlines stretched over 106 kilometers. Due to its strategic geographical location, it has sufficient depth to allow ships of all sizes to anchor, earning a reputation as a “Princess of Ports,” or in Spanish, “Puerto Princesa.”

There’s no contention that Puerto Princesa is one of the country’s greatest pleasures. A holiday destination universally beloved by travelers, beach-combers and trekkers; a bustling business center with a rural allure; a provincial vibe with modern amenities; and a clean and green city recognized for its lush forests, fresh air and frontier character.

Rising Above Covid-19

The city of Puerto Princesa has been struggling to get to its feet since the outbreak of Covid-19 in early 2020. The lack of tourists, which is the main industry, has forced hundreds of tourism-related businesses to close, leaving thousands of tourism workers unemployed.

“The public-health crisis forced them to find alternative sources of income, which was made more difficult because of the restrictions of movement due to several lockdowns,” Mr. Alvior reveals. “One factor of low tourist arrivals is the fluctuating number of Covid cases, which in turn affects the determination of quarantine requirements and national government intervention policies.”

Today, Puerto Princesa is experiencing record lows in terms of economic losses, losing around P5 billion a year for the past two years from potential tourist receipts.

“The City Tourism Department has been strengthening its social media campaigns to encourage local tourists to visit local attractions, in a bid to boost much-needed revenues to the ailing tourism sector,” a cautiously optimistic Mr. Alvior says. “We have one important wish in the City Tourism Department, and that is to prioritize the aids for the Typhoon Odette-affected tourism industry here.”

The goal is to regain the city’s glory as an eco-tourism capital. “Our 2022 goals are full restoration of all the tourist attractions affected by Typhoon Odette such as the completion of the construction of the cruise-ship port and other man-made tourist attractions. There will be wide, extensive and aggressive promotions of Puerto Princesa to the local and international market.”

The Last Frontier

Puerto Princesa has a plethora of tourist spots. But many tourists who visit the city put the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, one of the New7Wonders of Nature, on top of their list. As the jump-off point for exploring the world-famous Tubbataha Reef, the city also hosts a fair share of adventurers.

“Since the Covid-19 outbreak, we have never ceased to hope that the future will be better. This year 2022 is no different. And while what we want is a full recovery, we cannot afford to be careless when taking big steps. As we begin to truly understand the gravity of the situation, we also come to realize that our moves must be consistent with the bigger picture such as the national situation,” Mr. Alvior says.

Since February 10, the city has been happily welcoming more visitors once again, hoping that the arrival numbers will soon be back to pre-pandemic levels. In this initiative, the tourism department shares the privilege on with the private sector.

“While the government is the administrator of the State, the private sector is the bloodline. The government and the private sector are two inseparable factors for Puerto Princesa to prosper, and more importantly, to recover,” Mr. Alvior says. “The key to recovery is to enable and support the private sector to keep or resume their business operations. When it comes to the city’s biggest partners, apart from government agencies, it is the collective impact of small-business operations.”

Puerto Princesa may be “The Last Frontier,” but the City Tourism Department is confident that it will always be the first choice of every traveler.

Huawei: Digital Innovation Never Stop for a Greener Intelligent World

Huawei plans to boost investment in innovation to build new products, to enhance and accelerate new technologies. The company held its 19th annual Global Analyst Summit in Shenzhen from April 26 to 27.

Ken Hu, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman, speaking at HAS 2022

For more than 30 years, Huawei have been innovating nonstop to create value for our customers and society. Innovation has become a core part of Huawei’s DNA. Despite considerable operational challenges over the past few years, we have continued to steadily increase our investment in R&D. For nearly a decade, our strategy has been to re-invest at least 10% of our annual revenue back into R&D. Last year, we invested 22%. Huawei’s Rotating Chairman Ken Hu said during the event.

Hu went on to discuss the specific initiatives that Huawei is working on to realize its vision for the future. “We are currently focusing on three areas: strengthening our approach to innovation, equipping all industries with the tools and knowledge they need to go digital, and helping build a low-carbon world.”

According to him, Huawei sees two major trends: all industries are going digital, and the world is setting its sights on low-carbon development. “Needless to say, no organizations these days are asking themselves whether or not they ought to go digital. They’re more concerned about how to go digital and how to do it well.” Said Hu.

In Huawei’ view, the ICT and finance industries were first-movers, so their transformation goes deep – all the way down to their core production systems. Industries like electric power, fuel, and manufacturing are using digital technology to solve production challenges, whereas the digital journey of industries like real-estate, construction, and agriculture has only just begun. Because these industries are at different stages of the transformation process, they naturally have different concerns.

For the past 10 years, we’ve been going through our own digital transformation. We’ve gained a lot of valuable experience along the way, Hu said.

Moving forward, Huawei is taking active steps to boost its business resilience and ensure steady development. “We have to keep the ball rolling through nonstop innovation, creating value for customers and society,” said Ken Hu. “We look forward to working more closely with our customers and partners to build a greener intelligent world.”

Huawei: Attracting world-class talent with world-class challenges

Huawei kicked off its 19th annual Global Analyst Summit in Shenzhen. Huawei’s Rotating Chairman Ken Hu said that the company will continue to boost investment in innovation to build new products and enhance and accelerate new technologies.

“At Huawei, when we talk about innovation, the first thing we think is people. We hope to attract world-class talent with world-class challenges, and work together to push the limits of science and technology,” said Hu, referring to the Top Minds recruitment program that the company launched on its website.

Huawei’s Rotating Chairman Ken Hu

“We don’t care where you’re from, where you graduated, or what you studied,” he continued. “As long as you have a dream for the future and believe you can make it happen, we want you to come and join us. We provide world-class challenges, a powerful platform, and all the resources you need to explore the unknown.”

Moving forward, Huawei is taking active steps to boost its business resilience and ensure steady development. “We have to keep the ball rolling through nonstop innovation, creating value for customers and society,” said Ken Hu. “We look forward to working more closely with our customers and partners to build a greener intelligent world.”

Dr. Zhou Hong, President of Huawei’s Institute of Strategic Research, said that “everything we imagine today is very likely to be too conservative – too little – for tomorrow. We have to meet the future with bold hypotheses and a bold vision, and throw caution to the wind as we push to break through bottlenecks in theory and technology. This is the only way forward.” He outlined ten challenges that Huawei hopes to address moving forward.

Two scientific questions:

  • How do machines perceive the world, and can we build models that teach machines how to understand the world?
  • How can we better understand the physiological mechanisms of the human body, including how the eight systems of the body work, as well as human intent and intelligence?

Eight tech challenges:

  • New sensing and control capabilities, e.g., brain-computer interfaces, muscle-computer interfaces, 3D displays, virtual touch, virtual smell, and virtual taste
  • Real-time, unobtrusive blood pressure, blood sugar, and heart monitoring, and strong AI-assisted discoveries in chemical pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceuticals, and vaccines
  • Application-centric, efficient, automated, and intelligent software for greater value and better experience
  • Reaching and circumventing Shannon’s limit to enable efficient, high-performance connectivity both regionally and globally
  • Adaptive and efficient computing models, non-Von Neumann architectures, unconventional components, and explainable and debuggable AI
  • Inventing new molecules, catalysts, and components with intelligent computing
  • Developing new processes that surpass CMOS, cost less, and are more efficient
  • Safe, efficient energy conversion and storage, as well as on-demand services

Huawei said, most Asia Pacific countries have very clear and forward-looking digital strategies. As the Asia Pacific region goes digital, a skilled ICT workforce will be critical. The region has a unique advantage in this area because it has a younger population than the US or Europe. Accelerating the development of ICT talent in the region will require concerted efforts from governments, businesses, and people from all walks of life.

In the Philippines, Huawei also had several programs for cultivating the local ICT talents, such as ICT Academy, Seeds for the Future, covered the Philippines for years, benefited over 9000 ICT students, according to Daniel Guo, the Vice President of Huawei Philippines.

Cebuana Lhuillier empowers clients the full online experience with the launch of ultimate micro financial app, Cebuana Xpress

Cebuana Lhuillier, the leading micro financial services provider in the Philippines, launched Cebuana Xpress (CebX), a digital app set to revolutionize the local micro financial services industry in the country. CebX aims to provide the full Cebuana Lhuillier experience to its clients in one single platform, making pawning and money transfer transactions easier and more convenient.

The app allows clients to do pawning transactions online, wherever they may be. This includes services like New Pawn, Pawn Renewal, and Pawn Redemption. Ka-Cebuanas may also check real-time and accurate appraisals and use the app’s nationwide delivery service for pawn redemption transactions.

The app’s full money transfer service capabilities allow clients to send and receive money, pay bills, load eWallets and Globe and Smart sim cards, as well as do cash-in and cash-out transactions.

“We continue to revolutionize the micro financial services industry with Cebuana Xpress, our ultimate micro financial app, offering our clients with the utmost and convenient pawning experience. This digital platform was especially developed to respond to the changing needs of our clients who call for a streamlined, more convenient, and more accessible way to access our pawning services,” Cebuana Lhuillier President & CEO Jean Henri Lhuillier said.

“CebX remains part of our financial inclusion mission. We do this by providing Ka-Cebuanas with digital channels and solutions that only responds to their changing needs and lifestyles, but also puts focus on the importance of accessibility and convenience as essential tools in empowering a nation of financially-included Filipinos,” Mr. Lhuillier added.

To get the most of the app’s features, CebX users may be verified using their existing pawn ticket number and 24k card number. First-time users can be verified by registering via eKYC (electronic Know Your Customer). Verified app users will be eligible to a free one-month insurance coverage and earn 24k loyalty points when pawning using the app.

To celebrate the launch of the app, Cebuana Lhuillier is waiving all service fees for pawn renewal and domestic money remittance transactions made via CebX app. Sending money from one CebX account to another will also be free of charge.

“Cebuana Xpress is part of Cebuana Lhuillier’s transition as a fintech power player. By making use of the technology available and by introducing apps like CebX, we ensure that we keep up with the times and provide innovative financial solutions to everyone, anytime and anywhere they need it,” Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer, and Head of Product Management Group, Ergie Ong concluded.

With more and more Filipinos relying on digital platforms for their everyday needs, CebX serves as Cebuana Lhuillier’s response in raising the bar in the microfinancial services industry. Truly, anytime and anywhere, Cebuana Lhuillier is there.   

CebX is available for download on Google Play and App Store. For more information, visit www.cebuanaexpress.com.

DUTY FREE PHILIPPINES CELEBRATES 35th ANNIVERSARY WITH GRAND SALE

Tourism attached agency Duty Free Philippines Corporation (DFPC) is set to celebrate its 35th Anniversary with a Grand Sale beginning April 17, 2022 until the end of May 2022 for Fiestamall, Luxe, and Cebu- Mactan Airport Village stores.

Almost all product categories will be giving massive discounts of as much as 50%. Customers will also get to enjoy several irresistible deals from participating brands. A fitting activity to kick off the campaign is the Easter celebration this Sunday, April 17, wherein pasalubong shoppers with their kids can join in the traditional Easter hunt with exciting gifts and freebies.

Under the more relaxed Alert Level 1 guidelines, the Philippines’ tourism, consumer, and retail sectors are gradually recovering from the major slump caused by the COVID 19 pandemic. “For three (3) decades and a half, the DFPC has been catering to the duty-free shopping needs of our dear balikbayans, OFWs and foreign tourists ..and we would like everyone to know that we shall continue to do so…”, DFPC COO Vicente Angala said. 

DFPC assures its customers an enjoyable, fun, and safe shopping experience. The usual health and safety protocols shall remain enforced to ensure the staff and shoppers’ well-being.

For regular updates and more information, visit DFP’s official portal at http://www.dfp.com.ph or its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter handle (@dutyfreephils).

The Great Outdoors Big Easter at the Blue Bay Walk Garden

Join eggs-citing activities for kids and parents at Blue Bay Walk this Easter Sunday. Register at https://swiy.co/eastersundaycelebration

On a hunt for something eggs-traordinary to do this Easter?

Have your family hop with excitement and treat them to The Great Outdoors Big Easter Bash slated on Sunday April 17 at the Blue Bay Walk Garden in Pasay City.

Organized by quant shopping retail strip Blue Bay Walk, the event is packed with eggs-citing activities for kids and parents, which will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be an Easter Bunny Photo Wall, Easter Egg Arts & Crafts, Easter Egg Hunt, Pet Show, and Easter Story Time.

The event is open to the public and free of charge.

Interested? Register at the official Facebook page of Blue Bay Walk at www.facebook.com/BlueBayWalkOfficial.

Huawei 2021 Annual Report: Solid operations, investing in the future

Huawei released its 2021 Annual Report on March 28th, revealing that the company had maintained solid operations throughout the past year. As per the report, Huawei achieved CNY636.8 billion in revenue in 2021, and CNY113.7 billion in net profits, an increase of 75.9% year-on-year. The company’s R&D expenditure reached CNY142.7 billion in 2021, representing 22.4% of its total revenue, and bringing its total R&D expenditure over the past 10 years to over CNY845 billion. Moving forward, the company also plans to continuously increase investment in R&D.

Huawei said, the performance was overall in line with forecast, its carrier business remained stable, enterprise business experienced steady growth, and consumer business quickly expanded into new domains. In addition, the company embarked on a fast track of ecosystem development.”

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s CFO

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s CFO, spoke at the event, “Despite a revenue decline in 2021, our ability to make a profit and generate cash flows is increasing, and we are more capable of dealing with uncertainty.” Thanks to the enhanced profitability of its major businesses, the company’s cash flow from operating activities dramatically increased in 2021, amounting to CNY59.7 billion. Its liability ratio also dropped to 57.8%, and its overall financial structure has become more resilient and flexible.

Well-Being Programs for Employees are a key asset for companies during pandemic – Avon PH

Being in a global health crisis for more than two years has unraveled the advantages and disadvantages of the traditional work setup.

In a bid to curb the negative effects of the “new normal”, Avon Philippines updated employee health benefits to include a pilot program for mental health—and the company is now reaping the benefits.

In 2021, the number one relationship selling company in the Philippines introduced the Mindnation program to Avon associates. The program allows staff to book sessions with a professional psychologist, and attend webinars and programs that address mental health concerns.

After almost a year, these programs have gained high well-being scores in their recent internal survey from employees who have taken part in the program. “Avon takes a genuine interest in their employees’ well-being,” according to one of the feedback.

Avon Philippines has seen improvement in their attrition rate compared to the past year, bucking the global trend of turnovers that have been going on since the start of the pandemic.

“In acknowledging how this global crisis is affecting people differently, it only became apparent that we must provide the personalized support needed by employees so that they can continue to perform at their best,” says Jan Pambid, Director for People Culture & Organization of Avon PH & APAC.

Aside from providing mental health support, additional COVID-19 medical coverage has also been put in place, providing financial aid for employees should they get hospitalized during infection.

Overall, the new mental and well-being benefits were the latest in the company’s string of internal program pivots during the pandemic, which includes service awards and virtual regional mentorship opportunities with Asia Pacific leaders and talents.

In recognition of its internal initiatives, Avon Philippines has been certified as a Top Employer for a second straight year by the global authority in recognizing excellence in People Practices—Top Employers Institute—which held its annual Certification Celebration event last January.

The Top Employer Institute has certified over 1,800 organizations in more than 120 countries and regions, which creates a positive impact on the lives of more than 8 million employees globally.

“The positive feedback from our employees only proves that investing in their wellbeing is more than just a corporate responsibility,” adds Razvan Diratian, Avon Philippines’ General Manager. “We hope to continue in providing support for our and associates in the next years to come.”

The Invisible Battle: How to Watch Out and Speak Out against Verbal Abuse

1 out of 4 or 25% of Filipinos, aged 15-49, is revealed to have experienced some form of violence during the ongoing health crisis. This includes verbal abuse, which has become a hidden battle faced by most women on a regular basis.

Verbal abuse can often be confusing not just for the survivors but also for the abusers because it manifests differently—gaslighting, judging, blaming, name-calling, condescension, and verbal threats, among others.

According to the  Gender Watch Against Violence and Exploitation (GWAVE), verbal abuse often contributes to psychological abuse experienced by women and can be penalized as a violation of RA 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004.

“Violence in the homes is not ‘away pamilya’ and is everybody’s concern,” says GWAVE Executive Director, Sheema Bajana-Samson. People should be vigilant and watch out for signs of abuse through what is heard verbally and body language as well.”

GWAVE is one of many non-government organizations and independent agencies that helps rescue survivors by offering legal assistance and rehabilitation.

“We have survivors also accompany their fellow survivors in hearings, and they do home visitations to other survivors as a form of moral support towards each other.” continues Bajana-Samson. “We’re happy to share that we now have a number of survivors who are emotionally and psychologically ready to become advocates themselves.”

In celebration of International Women’s Month, and the advocacy to build a better world for women, Avon sounds the call to #SpeakOut, take a stand and be more self-aware to help others fight verbal and other forms of abuse. Based on a global study of more than eight thousand women in eight countries, including the Philippines, found that one in five women are consistently subjected to verbal abuse by an intimate partner. Nearly two in five respondents aged 25-34 are experiencing potential signs of verbal abuse within their relationship – the highest amongst the age groups.Avon Philippines PR and Communications Head, Marion Limlengco wants to encourage more Filipinos to join dialogues and be more aware of this silent battle that has been affecting more women than actually perceived. “Filipinas are very resilient women, but it turns out, there are some of us who are going through such invisible battles and we don’t even know it. That is why we are tapping a platform where we can freely discuss this issue with no holds barred while still centering on positivity and freedom of expression.”

Avid podcast listeners can also look forward to collaborations with popular popcasts such as

  • Adulting with Joyce Pring, (March 25 via Spotify)
  • Camp Confidence Radio Podcast with Ayn Bernos and Rizza Lana-Sebastian, (March 30 via Spotify and YouTube)
  • The Eve’s Drop Podcast feat. Delamar Arias, Monica Francesca Tobias, and Gelli Victor with special guest, Ms. Universe 2015 and Avon Intimate Apparel ambassador, Pia Wurtzbach (March 30 via Spotify)

Everyone is also invited to catch Avon’s collaboration with the livestreaming app, Kumu, where viewers can enjoy talks, performances, and fun challenges—all to foster awareness on verbal abuse and raise funds in behalf of Avon’s partner organizations that help abuse survivors. Here’s the full lineup:

  • #SpeakOut Dialogues with Women (March 25 via@kumunityheroes)
  • #Speakout Kumunity Challenge (March 28 to April 3)