Phl on a high
SPYBITS (The Philippine Star) - January 15, 2013 - 12:00am

Filipino businessmen have a lot to look forward to this lucky Year of the Snake 2013. With the way the stock exchange has been performing, it would seem optimism is the order of the year. For the first time in 86 years, trading breached the 6,000-point mark several times last week, with the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) posting 6,091.18 on Jan. 9. The continued strong performance of the local bourse just goes to show that the country is off to a good start, with analysts forecasting GDP growth rates by as much as seven percent.

The continued appreciation of the peso, however, is causing a lot of OFW families to complain about the lowered value of dollar remittances – affecting their spending capacity. The Bangko Sentral has said it will buy more dollars to curb the rising peso, since this also affects the export and business process outsourcing industries. 

In any case, more business activities are foreseen in several sectors touted as strong performers this year, namely business process outsourcing (expected to contribute over 500,000 jobs), tourism, construction, banking and real estate. Economic experts also point to the Aquino government’s increased public spending as one of the reasons for the country’s robust economic performance, with a big part of the P1.5 trillion in 2012 going to public infrastructure.

Dinner blowout compliments of P-Noy

Spy Bits sources disclosed that President Noy Aquino treated Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) directors, a few businessmen and some friends at the Savoy Bistro along Kalayaan Avenue in Makati last night, apparently to celebrate the strong showing of the economy in 2012 – and the continued impressive performance of the local stock exchange since trading opened this year.

Savoy Bistro is said to be one of the President’s favorites, with the French/European cuisine resto also doubling as an art gallery, with paintings, antiques and interesting furniture – all for sale – strategically dotting the interiors. We’re told the place offers royalty-inspired European cuisine, with the appetizers that include foie gras, escargot, and cheese fondue among the more popular  with frequent diners.

China pollution levels ‘off the charts’

The level of pollution in China has hit alarming levels particularly in Beijing, prompting authorities to issue warnings for citizens to stay indoors, with air quality index recorded at 775 – over and above the 300-500 levels already considered as hazardous. Children, the elderly and those suffering from asthma are among the most vulnerable, with chemical particles, soot, dust and other pollutants making up a deadly soup mix of pollutants that could just cause people with weak lungs to drop dead if they stay outdoors. Flights were cancelled, bridges and highways have been closed due to very poor visibility on account of the thick blanket of smog and haze in many parts of Beijing and other cities including Tianjin and Wuhan.

US Embassy pollution monitors said the level of particulates has reached 886 micrograms per cubic meter – undoubtedly one of the highest, if not the highest so far, since the US Embassy in Beijing began monitoring air pollution levels. It can be recalled that last year, the Chinese told the US Embassy to stop publishing its pollution monitoring results – markedly higher than official figures released by Chinese authorities – which the American Embassy promptly turned down saying the results are for the benefit of its citizens.

What is happening in China today could very well happen in the Philippines. The sad part is – the pollution from China gets blown across many parts of the world, including the Philippines, Japan, Korea and even as far as North America. Aside from carbon emissions coming from the millions of vehicles in China, experts point to the coal powered plants as among the biggest causes of pollution, with soot, sulfates, dust, ash, organic compounds and toxic chemicals like mercury traveling thousands of kilometers and settling on the earth due to rainfall. China reportedly accounts for over 25 percent of global mercury emissions.

Last year, Japan and South Korea alleged that acid rain falling in their countries originate from Chinese coal power plants that emit sulfur and nitrogen oxides, with the winds also picking up other metals and carcinogens along the way. Pollutants reaching the US are reportedly increasing at up to 10 percent every year – reportedly lowering life spans by five years.

The Stingray makes a comeback

General Motors is making a strong statement with the return of the iconic Corvette Stingray – the classic American sports car released in the early ’60s – at the recent International Auto Show in Detroit. With an estimated 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is said to be the most powerful ever, with a more aggressive image and sleek design that evokes power inside and out – from the four large exhaust pipes to the car’s interiors that feature carbon fiber trim, aluminum and leather trim pieces – resulting in a “new Corvette Stingray that breaks from tradition while remaining instantly recognizable the world over.”

The car – which can shift from a speed of zero to 60 mph in under four seconds – offers a “competition sport” option and an “all-around comfort” option, with five settings that can suit any driving condition such as Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track.

The Stingray Corvette was a rare car to see in the Philippines during the ‘60s and the ‘70s but was very popular with the wealthy landed rich, known as the “caciques,” from Negros. However, during our Ateneo schooldays, Ramon “RJ” Jacinto was one of the first to drive around in a hard top Thunderbird while his brother Joselito drove around in a Jaguar sports car.



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