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Archive for November 17th, 2008

This short animated film may mean a lot of things to a lot of people. To me it illustrates how even human logic falls before emotion, dreams and longing.

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I normally don’t pay much heed to corporate rumor-talk, however several bits of not-so-encouraging information have come my way, which with a very big CAVEAT, I am sharing here in case anyone can confirm their veracity:

First is that the local Philippine entities of banking giants Citibank and Standard Chartered will be or are in the process of rationalizing their branch networks. Citibank is said to be closing down at least six of its Savings Bank branches within the next three months, at the same time, a slightly conflicting report said the Citibank will instead be opening branches in the high-end areas of Rockwell Center and Fort Bonifactio. Rival foreign bank Standard Chartered is said to also be closing its Philippine branches in Quezon City and Caloocan City.

On another note, property giant Ayala Land is said to be offering a generous settlement of as much as thirty-six (36) months pay to those who will avail of early-retirement as a measure to rationalize staffing costs. As much as 20% of the company’s existing staff are said to have signed up for the offer.

The above bits are not confirmed, however what makes me a little worried about these developments, whether real or imagined, is its implications on the Philippine economy. The status of large banks such as Citibank and property developers like Ayala are an indicator of economic health. Only recently, the Philippine government downsized its GDP growth forecast in light of the recession already affecting the US, Europe, and just this morning: Japan. Throughout the financial crisis, the Philippines has seemingly escaped unscathed, but developments in the US have not spared the Philippine Stock Market, and even the financial woes of AIG has forced the sale of its otherwise healthy local Philippine affiliate: Philam Life.

These rumors are an indication that there may be no escaping the global recession that began with the blow-up of US mortgages. Peter Schiff commented on Bloomberg earlier about how Asia will definitely be affected by the US slowdown, but unlike the US and Europe, Asia’s manufacturing and production capacity remains intact–and is strong enough to weather the storm. Whether this assessment is correct, remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, I just hope there’s more fiction than fact behind the grapevine.

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Hot off CNN today:

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) — Armed gunmen hijacked a Japanese freighter and its 23-member crew off the coast of Somalia, South Korean officials said Sunday.

Somalia, which has had no functioning government since 1991, is the world’s top piracy hotspot.

Also a Russian patrol ship was able to thwart a hijack attempt on a Saudi Arabian vessel, a spokesman said Sunday.

Full story here.

Before this recent attack joins the statistics, it’s important to note some flashbacks to the strategic signficance of Somalia. (more…)

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A heartening, if not offbeat piece of news:

After mistaking the Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief for a promdi passenger and charging him P700 for a ride to Quezon City, a taxi driver at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) found himself in detention, without a license and his cab impounded.

Why? Full story is here.

The prevalence of crooked cabbies in Manila streets is probably 90% it’s already taken for granted by the citizenry. This latest scenario, courtesy of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is probably a drop in the bucket, but can be a good thing.

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An interesting turn of events, considering that while Enrile is considered a pro-admin (Arroyo) Senator, it was Ping Lacson and Gringo who nominated him (who are both affiliated with the opposition).

Now that the US elections are over, time for local politics to start brewing again.

Full story is here.

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