Animating the economy

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas -

Due to the recent flooding of the news with items regarding the H1N1 pandemic, Charter change (or “term extension”, depending on which politician you believe) and the multitude of woes that have been caused by a voyeuristic doctor, that which is most important to the 91 million Filipinos around the world is pushed to the wayside — our economy.

Looking at the figures, our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell 2.3 percent from the last quarter of 2008, and the economy grew only 0.4 percent, instead of the forecasted 1.8-2.8 percent. As dismal as it may seem on paper, many analysts welcomed this news with a sigh of relief. Believe it or not, these numbers could have been far worse. Indeed, at a time when the undertow of global recession has drawn several countries to the deep end, the Philippines has remained surprisingly buoyant, thanks to several macroeconomic factors.

Undeniably, one of these factors is our globally-competitive labor force. It’s a well-worn cliché, but the most valuable asset that any organization has is its people. Human resources are the driving force behind technical and creative innovation, cost-efficiency, and productive output. This reality is equally applicable to small and medium enterprises as it is to the entire macroeconomy.

At present, it is our local Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry which is considered the shining star among our country’s labor-providers. In terms of market share, we are the third top performing nation in the Asia Pacific Region, with only India and China ahead of us. Last year, the BPO sector earned $6 billion in export revenues, which was a staggering 26 percent increase from the year before. Remarkably, industry analysts predict that this feat may even be surpassed by the end of this year, reaching up to 30 percent.

But what do these outwardly impressive figures mean for Juan dela Cruz? Quite simply, it means lots and lots of vital jobs. As of last estimate, the BPO industry presently employs about 400,000 workers, with an additional 100,000 likely to be added by year’s end. In this light, the outsourcing industry not only represents a vital brace for our country during these trying times, but a means of survival for countless families. As such, it becomes almost a patriotic duty — or at the very least, a benign compulsion — to do what we can to uphold a positive impression of the Philippines and its workforce.

For over four years, this has been the mission of a lady named Marla Rausch, and she remains as passionate as ever. Don’t let the last name fool you: Marla is as Pinoy as bibingka, having acquired her foreign-sound president of Animation Vertigo, Inc. (AVI), an outsource management company based in the United States that provides high-quality and reliable services for companies with animation and motion capture needs. Motion capture (also called “motion tracking”) is the process of recording actual movement and translating that movement onto a digital model. This technology has widespread applications in film, television, and video games.

Shortly after the company began operations, AVI’s client list soon turned into a veritable “who’s-who” of global conglomerates and international production studios. When the time came to outsource their backroom operations, it came as no surprise that several business consultants pointed them to India. With full confidence in the capabilities, talents, and diligence of her countrymen, however, Marla chose to bring motion capture technology to the Philippines. Thanks to the continuous training, support, and proprietary methods that AVI (in the United States) passes on to its local subsidiary, our country has become the darling of the motion-capture world.   

At a time when so many people search for entertainment to remind them of better days, Animation Vertigo has been steadily providing careers in this era’s most cutting-edge profession. In its Philippine office, over 40 people work continuous shifts to meet the demands of its high profile clients. It is this sort of faith and trust in the Philippines that we all need to espouse — especially when it concerns our economy.

From the stands, the openness and willingness of a person such as Marla to increase confidence in our market despite difficult times, shows that all hope is not lost. The vision for us to be a first world nation by 2020 may be a way off, but perhaps through increased conviction in our success, the horizon will become a little bit closer.

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The Influenza A (H1N1) virus is not as deadly as one thinks, i.e. it does not kill populations with one fell swoop, in fact very few of the hundreds of infected patients worldwide have died. The Tuesday media forum Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel resource persons enlightened us on the nature of the ailment that has recently been declared by the World Health Organization as having reached Level 6. Undersecretary Mario Villaverde of the Department of Health explained Level 6 as the virus having spread through regions around the globe. Fortunately, of the 200 cases in the Philippines infected by travelers mainly from the United States, all have been mild, and none virulent as to cause dread among health specialists.

The first proven virus carries in the country were the “Taiwan cohort,” i.e., of a mother and child from Taiwan who attended a wedding in Zambales, and left in a few days, 50 persons suspected of being positive for the virus, but they have later been declared free, or “closed” cases.

Dr. Nina Verba of the infectious disease department of Philippine General Hospital gave the profile of patients in the Philippines and abroad as being between 15 and 25 years of age. Dr. Michael Tee, deputy director of PGH, said PGH, which has recently been declared ISO, or center of excellence, is prepared to check positive cases, it in fact checks 4,500 cases every day.

No anti-A (H1N1) vaccine is yet available in the country. But precautionary measures to stop the spread of the virus, which is spread by droplets (emitted from coughing and sneezing) and are not airborne, calls for covering one’s mouth when sneezing or coughing, avoiding bodily contact with infected persons, taking anti-fever medication, plenty of fluids, sleep, and rest for at least 10 days (this is called home quarantine).

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My e-mail:[email protected]

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