The Philippines 1

The Philippines in Focus – Aired September 2008

The Philippines, one of the great treasures of Southeast Asia. As the second largest archipelago in the world, the more than 7,000 islands of the Philippines is a curious mix of Asian, Spanish and American cultural influences. The Philippines truly is special. Asia’s sleeping tiger is about to wake up, and set the pace for the Asia of tomorrow. Welcome to the Philippines!

With a reputation for being chaotic and corrupt, the Philippines has something of an image problem. But changing political climates, economic woes and frequent natural disasters aside, those who make the journey are pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the people and the openness of the business climate.

Agriculture and fishing are still some of the country’s traditional sectors. In recent years, however, tourism has become a stronger contributor to the economy. Joseph Durano is the Secretary of Tourism.

The Philippines is still a country that is trying to make sense of itself, but things have been going pretty well. The administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, while not perfect, has made considerable progress in moving the country forward.

Manila. A massive, chaotic capital that is home to almost 12 million people. At first sight, Manila is intimidating. But dig beneath the surface, and you will find that the soul of the Filipino pulses in every Manileño’s heart.

But amidst all of the glitz, life in the capital Manila confronts Filipinos with a whole new set of challenges. Poverty remains the central development issue in the Philippines and the country has not been able to sustain the economic growth required to reduce poverty to acceptable levels.
The right to free, proper healthcare has been a strong focus of the Department of Health, and its secretary, Francisco Duque.

The Philippines offers more than the usual when it comes to culture. Here is Asia Business Channel’s list of some examples of the country’s precious heritage.

The walled city of Intramuros makes it to number three on our list. At its height, Intramuros instilled fear in Spain’s enemies as a mighty European city.

At number 2 is the Unesco World Heritage City of Vigan. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines.

And what tops our list? The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras. The Ifugao have helped to create a landscape of breathtaking beauty that expresses the harmony between humankind and the environment.

Consolidation in the banking sector has generated economies of scale and greater efficiency in the Philippines. Still, the sector is not at par with its Asian neighbors.

Raul de Mesa is the CEO of Bank of Commerce.

The Philippine Stock exchange index set an all-time high in 2007, driven by robust economic growth, reforms and rising investor confidence.

Some companies, such as the first and largest insurance company Insular Life, has made a successful conversion from a stock company to a mutual company. It is well-loved by Filipinos for its commitment to personal financial security.

“Magandang araw po” in Filipino means, “good morning”. They say the sun never sets in Manila, where thousands of people work 24 hours a day in call centers. The Philippines has rapidly emerged as India’s main rival in business-process outsourcing, or BPO.

The major enterprises, businesses and real estate in the Philippines are run by conglomerates and family groups who are known for their entrepreneurial flair. One of the most diverse and most successful of these families are the Lopezes. Few companies in the Philippines have shaped the country’s corporate landscape more than the Lopez Group.

On top of this, the Lopez Group has been actively involved in corporate social responsibility and environmental protection projects. This year, the company celebrates its 80th year of service to the Filipino people.

In almost every respect the Philippines satisfies the clichéd expectations of Southeast Asia. But if you get off the beaten track, the Philippines also offers that elusive feeling of discovery, the feeling that you are entering into arcane and unknown worlds where few Asians have gone before. This is the province of Palawan.

Investing in what it sees as the bright future of tourism in the country is Leisure and Resorts World Corporation, a realty developer focused on the leisure and gaming business. In the northernmost tip of the country is the province of Cagayan, where gaming infrastructures are being built by LRWC in free zones. Thanks to this, the Philippines is now receiving a lot of leisure and gaming tourists from all across Asia, and is just one example of investment success stories in the tourism sector.

Here is Asia Business Channel’s list of the quintessential Filipino experiences.

At number 3 is basketball. This is one of the biggest passions in the country.

At number 2 is a jeepney ride. The jeepney is the ultimate Filipino icon. For the uninitiated, it can be a very exciting experience.

And what tops our list? The favorite national pastime – lazing on the beach. Don’t like this island? Don’t worry…there’s 7,106 more to choose from!

The Philippines truly is special. Asia’s sleeping tiger is about to wake up, and set the pace for the Asia of tomorrow. Welcome to the Philippines! Mabuhay!