Doing Business in the Philippines - Call Centers Come to Life at Night

Outsourcing is the fastest growing industry in the Philippines, ranks second to India worldwide on the strength of its excellent reputation for voice based communications and expertise in back office processes like accounting, bookkeeping and web development. It helps that the country has embraced the social network revolution in a big way, first with Friendster (largest demographic) and now Facebook where 1 in 4 online Filipinos maintain an account. A growing cadre of Virtual Assistants, SEO experts and Customer Service agents crowd the streets of Philippine business centers of Makati, Ortigas, the Fort and Cebu. Companies looking to harness this valuable resource must consider how the country's labor pool function when confronted by changing political and socioeconomic realities. A quick visit to gave me a good sample of available knowledge workers in Metro Manila alone.
The corner of Legazpi St. and Rada St. was your typical big city street scene - bustling traffic, swarming lunch traffic, daily urban noise. Who would have imagined this scene at midnight? Starbucks compete with 7-11s in every corner. While McDo and KFC serve it hot at 2am. Welcome to Makati City's new night life. This is the new business environment.
We see the dynamics of this industry 4 months later, when the same call centers around Makati are buzzing with animated chatter about the latest political scandals rocking the Philippines. New witnesses give more weight to recent allegations of extreme corruption in high places, senate hearings fill the airwaves and make daily news headlines. Its impossible to ignore but what do our new heroes have to say about it all?
" Its sad about the state of our nation, but I have a quota to fill otherwise I'll never be a permanent employee...", says Jules Young, longtime Assistforce Virtual Assistant, underscoring the importance of business as usual over politics.
"Sana binigay na lang nila ang perang kikitain sa tao, e di may pambili na sila nang calling card na benta naming sa trabaho!" (I'd much prefer getting the money back from all the corruption, then the people can use the money to buy phone calling cards - more business for us!) - Joanna Enerlan, Assistforce web designer.
When asked about the rallies scheduled in Makati that afternoon and if they are joining, most begged off, citing the need to sleep and prepare for the night shift.
This month's topic of interest: GMA announces her bid for Congress in 2010. Predictably, there are no protests, strikes, nothing. People are in the business of making a living working at night servicing businesses in New York and Los Angeles - can't spend too much time in politics when there's only so much hours in a day to sleep.

Asian Models All The Rage In Luxury World

China’s Liu Wen may not yet have the sizzling star power of Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, but she is leading a bevy of Asian beauties down the world’s top catwalks – and onto global billboards.

The scramble by Western brands to feature Asian faces in ad campaigns and eye-catching runway shows from New York to Paris – where fashion week began on Tuesday – parallels Asia’s rising clout in the world of luxury goods.

Experts say while foreign labels are hoping to connect with new customers across the region – especially in China – by offering them models with a more familiar look, the Asian craze also reflects the globalisation of the sector.

“Savvier companies are using Asian models to penetrate the China market and try to create an emotional bond with consumers, and to give an aspiration that Chinese can look up to,” Shaun Rein, the Shanghai-based managing director of China Market Research Group, told AFP.

The 23-year-old Liu last year became the first Asian face of beauty brand Estee Lauder, and her runway calendar has been booked solid since her debut in 2008.

In late 2010, she strutted her stuff for US lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret for the second year running – the only Chinese woman to have done so.

Her compatriot Shu Pei, 21, is one of the faces of Maybelline cosmetics – a role also filled by Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” fame – and also stars in print ads for the Gap brand.

And teenager Danica Magpantay of the Philippines was in January selected as Supermodel of the World by the prestigious Ford modeling agency – and promptly marched straight onto the catwalks in New York last month.

But Asian women are not the only ones making waves in the fashion world.

In January, Taiwanese-Canadian actor Godfrey Gao was named the first Asian face of Louis Vuitton, striking a pose in the French house’s ads with a sleek checkered messenger bag – the new staple of the upwardly mobile Chinese man.

“When you look at some of these brands like Louis Vuitton, they are generating a significant portion of their global revenue in China, so it makes sense to have Asian models,” Rein says.

China is the world’s fastest-growing market for luxury goods and is forecast to be the world’s top buyer of such products as cosmetics, handbags, watches, shoes and clothes by 2015, according to consultancy PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Industry heavyweights such as Chanel, Vuitton and Versace are well-established in China, but others like Chloe – a French label with a reputation for ultra-feminine casual chic – are looking to make a mark.

Chloe chief executive Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye, who was in Shanghai last week for a special runway show celebrating the label’s fifth anniversary in China, said brands would use Asian models, but only when it suits their image.

“Chloe is a brand of the world and the world is now fully mixed – races and cultures. It’s only natural that Asian models are becoming more and more important,” De La Bourdonnaye said during a group interview.

“We’ve had some Asian models. We will continue to have Asian models. But the majority of our models are Caucasian,” he said.

“Whether they are Asian or not is not the number one criteria. It’s more personality and the type.”

Frederic Godart, a France-based professor at international business school INSEAD whose research focuses on fashion, says while the luxury industry is “seeing a Chinese moment”, labels still need to appeal to customers worldwide.

“The use of Asian models by Western brands is a way to look more global,” Godart told AFP. “Everyone in the fashion and luxury industries wants to look global and trendy by using models from elsewhere.”

Liu – who is wrapping up the month-long autumn/winter 2011 ready-to-wear catwalk marathon in Paris after stops in New York, London and Milan – knows that Asian models still have a long way to go before they become mainstream.

“The challenge for me, and for Asian models in general, has been convincing editors, stylists and photographers that we can have mass appeal,” she told US Vogue for a December spread on Asia’s rising stars.

Why Scuba Diving in the Philippines Is Very Popular

With all the news we heard about our marine life destruction, it is still a fascination to know that Philippines has maintained some places untouched making it one of the most preferred scuba diving spots in the world. That is why scuba diving in the Philippines is well known and many tourists are drawn to coming back here most of the time.
What makes Philippines a more appealing spot for scuba diving is its abundance in seas and beaches where you can do this. With a coastline of 36,289 kilometers, you will never run out of choices to enjoy your diving experience. With varieties on the mode of transportations, divers find it easier and quicker to go to their preferred diving spots. From the three main islands in the Philippines, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, you can always find a place to dive. Accessibility has become one of the reasons why divers chose to do it here in the Philippines. From its main international airport, you can go to Batangas or Puerto Galera to go scuba diving within just a few hours. One example is Anilao in Batangas. This place boasts that they have a clear visibility of sea all year round. In Puerto Galera, it has many diving spots that you can choose from and has many places to stay to during your vacation.
If you are going to the Visayan region of the Philippines, the most popular diving spot among tourists is Malapascua. This place is also known for shark sightings.
On the southern part of the country, you have Mindanao where a couple of beaches are perfect for scuba diving like Dakak and Pearl Farm.
In Palawan, you will find the most well known Tubbataha reef, which is declared as a world heritage site and one of the wonders of the world. With the highly guarded place, reservations are made a year ahead or years ahead before you can do your diving here. However, for anyone who has gone here already, divers said that waiting is worth the wait and declaring it as such is just a deserving reward for Tubbataha.
Climate is also one of the reasons why scuba diving has become so popular in the Philippines. There are only two seasons here: wet and dry. Dry seasons starts from March until early part of June. This is the best time to do scuba diving. You will find many scuba divers with you, which will make it more fun and enjoying. You may choose to do it with your friend or you can always have a professional diver with you for your own safety.
Cold months are from November to February. You may still do your scuba diving during these months though there will still be some unexpected rain showers that may become a nuisance during diving. Wet season is a big NO for divers, definitely. Storms, strong rains and winds can be very harmful. It is at your own risk if you choose to continue.
Since it has become one of the leading activities, you will find that each diving spots has ready equipment for you to rent or buy for your own. In cases, you forgot one of your gears or it got broken, you will it handy that these stores exist when you need them most. Places to stay is not a problem since there are cottages or little cabanas, more like an apartment, that you can rent during your stay. Rental prices are fair enough compared to other diving spots outside the country, which makes it more appealing to do your scuba diving in the Philippines.