Monthly Archives: August 2010

Global Steel admits having problems

By Ma. Elisa P. Osorio
The Philippine Star
Updated June 07, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – Indian firm Global Steel Philippines Inc (GSPI) yesterday admitted they have been having problems with their operations for years and the lifting of the seven percent tariff on steel has endangered their already precarious operations.

“Our existence is in danger,” Global Steel managing director Lalit K. Sehgal told reporters in an interview. However, he stressed they have not recommended the closing of the Philippine operations to the head office

Sehgal said they have power availability problems after failing to pay their electricity bills some years back. He said their debt is now being restructured because they are questioning the interest rates that were imposed to them.

When asked how they are able to produce hot rolled coils (HRC) and cold rolled coils (CRC) given their power problems, Sehgal said they are not operating regularly.

Sehgal said they are operating at a loss ever since the global financial crisis has reduced the demand for steel. He noted that the domestic demand is currently at 7,000 to 8,000 tons per month only. In order to break even or to not incur losses, Sehgal said they should sell 60,000 to 70,000 tons per month.

The last time they were able to break even was at 2007. “We have already incurred huge losses from 2008 till the present,” Sehgal said.

In spite of the financial and operational problems of the company, Sehgal announced that their capital expenditure for the year is $25 million. Five months into the year, he said they have only spent $4 million to $5 million.

The government will conduct a full audit on Global Steel before the reimposition of the seven percent steel tariff. Trade Undersecretary Zenaida C. Maglaya said that a full audit on the financials and operations of Global Steel must be made before the safeguards against imported steel will be returned.

Maglaya said Global Steel has been complaining, claiming that they are in commercial operations and are even exporting. However, she said the firm must prove this.

She said Global Steel must prove that they can operate and sustain their operations and maybe even have orders for at least six months before we recommend that the tariff be implemented again.

Aside from commercial operations, Maglaya said Global Steel must prove that they are able to pay their outstanding financial liabilities. Maglaya said the government has implemented a zero tariff in order to ensure a reliable supply of steel for sheetmakers.

Inside Bukidnon

BusinessWeek Mindanao
Ped T. Quiamjot
August 16, 2010

THE biggest province in Region 10 and rank eight in the Philippines in terms of land area stretching 1,049, 862 hectares or 10,498.56 square kilometers, Bukidnon is slightly elevated and centrally located. With 669,529.25 hectares classified as timberland, it receives the highest rainfall in a year making agricultural land moist and productive while the lakes and rivers runs abundant with water serving as a watershed for Cagayan de Oro City and aquifer for Davao City. Its mountain ranges and plateaus stretches down to Cotabato. Out of the typhoon belt area, the province has 380,332.75 hectares of alienable and disposable land, 92% is utilized for agricultural production.

Major crops planted in Bukidnon are sugar cane, corn and rice in that order. These three major crops grown contribute to the subsidy of the national economic demand. Sugar production alone capitalized by BUSCO Sugar Milling rank number two in terms of tonnage among the producers in the entire Philippines. Sugar cane waste in a form of molasses can be refined to alcohol and ingredients for bio-ethanol. Another milling, Crystal Sugar shares the requirements of the multinational institutional buyers. While large agri-business pioneered by Del Monte and Dole Philippines ventures into pineapple plantation, banana growing, cassava production and high value crops that goes to the domestic and export market. Robusta coffee under the Monks brand remains a cravings and trade mark among the countries high society and always available in many 5-star hotels in Manila.

Bukidnon has important river systems that can draw investors for hydro electric power to alleviate the high power demand in the region. It has various lakes that dot the landscape ideal for eco-tourism and high end resort and Spa development. Province wide, it has a stable peace and order that draws confidence among big contract growers the likes of San Miguel, Monterey Farms, Swifts Foods, Purefoods, Vitarich and Rebisco into food manufacturing sourcing their live stocks and materials from the green fields and fertile land.

With a growing Agri-industrial economy synergized with key government programs in place that uplifts livelihood, health care, hospital systems and education.

Bukidnon is a good location for a retirement community among foreign expatriates who can easily be attracted to the weather and the clean environment consisting of natural and adventure parks, a world class championship golf course, mountain ranges and fresh body of healing water that transform into lakes harmonized with nature.

Two major high end realty holdings have recently opened for business, W. Brown and Menzi Orchards with their prize development in the towns of Malaybalay and Manolo Fortich have attracted investors bringing lifestyles and luxuries to those who can afford the calm and holistic settings.

Retail business has prospered too with the expansion of the Gaisano group taking advantage of the high capita income of the province.

Inside Bukidnon, even the departed have a place in progress and serenity as Pryce Corporation launched two state of the art memorial parks in Mambatangan and Malaybalay Gardens.

It rises as final resting place among the esteemed that rides the saddle of hard work and prosperity and have reached their time.

Inside Bukidnon, it is a highland paradise among the living where business is guaranteed a return of investments from the conduits of the financial institutions extending agricultural loans to the farmers and the growers.

Kadayawan: Mindanao’s festival of all festivals

Manila Bulletin
August 21, 2010

It all started in the 1970s when then Mayor Elias B. Lopez initiated tribal festivals featuring the lumad (native) and the Muslim tribes of Davao City where they showcase their dances and rituals of thanksgiving.  Lopez himself was from a Bagobo tribe.

In 1986, the government initiated a program called “Unlad Proyekto Davao,” whose main objective was to unite the Dabawenyos after the turbulent Martial Law era.  The festivity was called Apo Duwaling, in honor of the three royalties for which Davao is famous for.

The word apo was taken from Mount Apo, the king of all mountains in the Philippines as it is the country’s tallest peak at 10,311 feet above sea level. Du came from durian, the king of tropical fruits which has been described as having a smell “like hell” but has a taste that can be compared to that of “heaven.”

The term waling was from waling-waling, the queen of orchids whose ethic term means “graceful movement of a butterfly in flight.”  They were once found only in the forests of Davao and Cotabato province.  It was discovered in Davao around 1880 by Carl Roebellin, a German plant enthusiast for the Orchid House of Sanders.

At that time, Apo Duwaling was meant to showcase Davao City as a peaceful destination for other people from all over the country to visit and to do business in. This was post-EDSA Revolution.

Two years later, then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte renamed the festival as “Kadayawan sa Dabaw.” Kadayawan is derived from the friendly greeting Madayaw, a term taken from a Dabawenyo word dayaw which means “good,” “valuable,” “superior” or “something that brings good fortune.”

Mayor Duterte envisioned the festivity as a way to celebrate the bountiful harvest of Davao’s flowers, fruits, and other produce as well as the wealth of the city’s cultures. Today, the festival continues to honor the city’s richness and diverse artistic, cultural, and historical heritage in a grand celebration of thanksgiving for all of the city’s blessings.

In the early stage, ethnic tribes lived together harmoniously, in peace and friendship like the Bagobos, Mandayas, Manobos, Mansakas, T’boli, and others. They were the ones who gave the province a name; Davao came from the word daba-daba, which means fire.

According to history, Davao’s ethnic tribes residing at the foot of Mount Apo would converge during a bountiful harvest. This ritual serves as their thanksgiving to the gods particularly to the Manama (the Supreme Being).

Various farming implements, fruits, flowers, vegetables, rice, and corn grains were displayed on mats as villagers give their respect and thanks for the year’s abundance. Singing, dancing, and offerings to their divine protectors were the highlights of this ritual.

Although times have changed, this practice of thanksgiving (pahinungod in local dialect) is still very much practiced by modern day Dabawenyos. This tradition flourished and evolved into an annual festival of thanksgiving.  And that’s how Kadayawan sa Dabaw came into existence.

Today, Kadayawan has transformed into a festival of festivals, with a number of spin-off festivals in the region. The festival honors Davao’s artistic, cultural, and historical heritage, its past personified by the ancestral lumads, its people as they celebrate on the streets, and its floral industry as its representatives parade in full regalia in thanksgiving for the blessings granted on the city.

Actually, the celebration interfaces three aspects: Tribal, industrial, arts and entertainment.  It is a week-long celebration which is highlighted by floral floats, street-dancing competitions, and exhibits that showcase the island’s tourism products and services.

The two big parades of the festival are often held during weekends.  The street dancing, called Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan, is done on Saturday while the floral float parade falls on Sunday.

The street dancing has two main components. The first is the street parade, where performers groove it up while parading along selected points of the city (at the streets of CM Recto, San Pedro, Pelayo, Bonifacio, Ponciano, and Roxas Avenue). The second is the showdown, where the very same people perform on the same venue, which has traditionally been San Pedro Street. The parade normally takes place in the morning, the showdown from the afternoon to evening.

One pundit puts it: “The Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan is wildly popular because of the distinctively Mindanaoan beat and costumes. Several tourists come to Davao to watch hundreds of people dancing with vigor in the streets, clad in their native attire and carrying extravagant props that would give Hollywood studios a serious run for their money.”

This year’s competition has only one category and is open to any group, organization, institutions, or communities. Participating Mindanao-based contingents must showcase the festival of their locality, while participating Davao City-based contingents must interpret the Kadayawan festival or Mindanao folklores, myths, or legends.

Criteria for judging are as follows: Main showdown, 70% (choreography and creativity, 25%; performance, 30%; musicality, 25%; and production design, 20%), and street performance, 30% (choreography and creativity, 25%; performance, 30%; musicality, 25%; and production design, 25%).

Prizes for the competition are as follows: Grand champion, P300,000; first runner-up, P200,000; second runner-up, P100,000; third runner-up P75,000; fourth runner-up, P50,000; and fifth runner-up P30,000.  Nine consolation prizes, at P10,000 each, will be given and five presentation awards and special awards for best in performance and best in costumes and parade to receive P50,000 each.

The floral float parade, called Pamulak Kadayawan, is a spectacular finale – patterned after the Pasadena Parade of Roses in the United States – where flowers and fruits are set in colorful floats by business establishments, community assemblies and peoples’ organizations as they promenade on the streets symbolizing all the bounty sustainably enjoyed by the city’s residents.  Want to see giant replicas of animals the size of a truck made up of nothing else but flowers? No problem. Go watch the parade and you will see one.

The competition is open to any person, group, organization, institution, or company. It has three categories, namely small (maximum size of 8 feet x 16 feet), big (over 8 feet x 16 feet) and alternative (use of miniature cars, golf carts, mini tractors, push carts, karo, kalesa, pedicabs or similar vehicles, motorized, mechanical, or animal driven).

The competing floral floats will be using at least 80% fresh flowers, plants, fruits, and vegetables as medium, while non-competing entries are required to use at least 10%. Judging criteria are symbolism (20%), design (40%) and execution (40%). Prizes are as follows: big category (P500,000 for first, P300,000 for second, and P200,000 for third), small category (P300,000 for first, P200,000 for second, and P100,000 for third), and alternative category (P100,000 for first, P75,000 for second, and P50,000.00 for third).

If you have nothing to do this weekend, come to Davao.  Here’s what Dabawenyos will tell you about its festivity: “Kadayawan is an art form in itself, a festival perfectly fit for a local government that tries to position itself as the cultural capital of the Philippines. This is the best time to catch the sights, the sounds, the colors and the scents all mixing together to encapsulate the rich diversity of a place which was long ago described as the garden of the gods.”

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Gov’t to keep Mindanao hydroelectric power plants

By Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 08/18/2010

THE DEPARTMENT of Energy will no longer privatize or offer to investors the 955-megawatt Agus and Pulangi hydropower plants in Mindanao as these are expected to help stabilize supply and electricity prices on the island.

“I’m not eager to sell [the hydro facilities] because I think part of the solution to the Mindanao situation is the appropriate use of those [plants] not just for supply but in the pricing equation,” said Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras.

The two facilities are critical power assets as these currently provide more than half of Mindanao’s electricity supply.

At the sidelines of the mid-year economic briefing Wednesday, Almendras said that he has informed the state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) that “we would like to recommend that we do not sell Agus and Pulangi.”

The energy chief acknowledged that the DOE had to seek a confirmation or a go-ahead from the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) to allow it to keep the facilities.

Under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), the government is mandated to privatize all its power generation assets, including the Agus and Pulangi facilities.

“So hopefully, Congress will [allow] us. I will have to explain to Congress why we don’t want to [privatize the facilities],” Almendras said.

“[The Agus and Pulangi are] not yet for sale. We don’t want to sell it yet, or maybe how long that will be, it will depend on how soon we can achieve true pricing [in Mindanao] and make appropriate adjustments to encourage investments,” Almendras pointed out.

Since it relies heavily on hydropower, Mindanao was the hardest hit by the prolonged drought experienced earlier this year, during which the island suffered power outages lasting up to 12 hours daily.

It was only in July and August this year, with the onset of the rainy season, did the power supply situation in Mindanao began to stabilize.

Last May, former Energy Secretary Jose C. Ibazeta stressed the need to sell all government-owned power-generation assets despite the opposition raised by a number of civil and nongovernment groups.

PSALM was even planning to start preparations for the planned privatization of the hydroelectric facilities by the end of the year. A number of prospective investors had expressed interest in the Agus and Pulangi hydropower plants, including Norway-based Statkraft Norfund Power Invest AS (SN Power).

The Agus hydropower facilities have seven units that can generate a total of 700 MW. Agus 6, the first of the seven units, was constructed in 1953 while the newest of the power plants was Agus 1, which began operating in 1992.

The Pulangi hydropower plant in Bukidnon can generate 255 MW. It began operating commercially in 1985.