For Shakey’s Philippines, 2021 will be a bounce-back year

It has been almost fifty years since Shakey’s first opened here in the Philippines and went on to become one of the most defining restaurants that families visit for very delicious meals, especially when it comes to pizza. Shakey’s has over 200 stores (both franchised and owned by the company) nationwide according to details posted in the Shakey’s Philippines website. Its strong presence in the Philippines was confirmed in 2015 when Euromonitor published a report showing that Shakey’s is the market leader in the categories of chained pizza full-service restaurants and in chained full-service restaurants. The results for both categories were 26.7% and 57.7% market shares.

Along the way, Shakey’s Philippines has a sibling business called Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken which has a growing number of outlets. Inside BF Homes subdivision in Parañaque City, the Shakey’s branch along Aguirre Avenue has a Peri-Peri outlet right beside it.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected businesses and societies in 2020. It was so severe, the Philippine economy shrank by a record 9.5%. As of this writing, a whole lot of people around the nation remain unemployed and more people fell under poverty.

The year 2021, however, will be different as far as Shakey’s Philippines is concerned. The company just announced that they will open fifteen new Shakey’s branches as well as fifteen new Peri-Peri outlets this year. These are parts of their plan to restart a store network expansion strategy that was put on hold last year due to the pandemic. Below is an excerpt from Shakey’s press release published on Philippine News Agency (PNA).

“For Shakey’s, we are looking to further strengthen the brand’s visibility and awareness, especially in underpenetrated second and third-tier cities outside of Metro Manila. For Peri, there are still a number of unserved markets which don’t have access to the brand’s great-tasting products,” Shakey’s president and chief executive officer Vicente Gregorio said.

Last 2020, the company ended with 245 Shakey’s restaurants, three of which were located abroad, and 34 Peri outlets all located in the Philippines.

It also launched a number of new offerings in select outlets including the ability for guests to ‘Park & Dine’, ‘Park & Order’, eat outdoors, and order R&B milk tea -one of the leading milk tea brands in Singapore.

“With evolving consumer habits brought about by the pandemic, our network expansion strategy has likewise adapted to ensure we maximize both our in-store and out-of-store presence. Our new openings this year will cater not only to our guests’ dine-in preference, but also their increasing need for more convenient and flexible out-of-store options,” Gregorio said.

He said Shakey’s will be unveiling a number of so-called ghost kitchens or kitchen extensions “to further strengthen our presence in delivery” at a time when off-premise channels are gaining prominence.

In the last few months, the company has been piloting a ‘31 Minute Delivery, If It’s Late, It’s Free’ guarantee in select areas in Metro Manila.

Gregorio added the company’s planned expansion this year “will come hand in hand with other exciting new business innovations that will maximize our existing asset base.”

“2021 will definitely be an exciting ‘bounce-back’ year,” he said.

As you can see in the above details, Shakey’s Philippines continues to push forward with their business and strategies even during this COVID-19 crisis. This is indeed encouraging not only for the business-minded people but also to Shakey’s many loyal customers as well as other food enthusiasts who love pizza, pasta and other meals served by the company.

In my experience, Shakey’s always serve very delicious fried chicken, mojos and spaghetti.

As Shakey’s president and CEO Gregorio stated, their company is taking steps on keeping up with the changing consumer habits and, more notably, they are making their business accessible to the consumers. In short, Shakey’s Philippines won’t allow itself to be a victim of change but rather be a part of it and keep on feeding the customers. That being said, 2021 is for them a bounce-back year.

Now that you have read this, I’d like to ask when was the last time you eat inside a Shakey’s? Have you ordered food from them lately? What is the first type of food that comes to your mind when you hear their brand?

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Alabang Viaduct in Muntinlupa City gets tremendous facelift via “Green, Green, Green” project

The former shunned area under Alabang Viaduct is no longer an eyesore to motorists traversing the South Luzon Expressway and local residents following its conversion as a blooming open space featuring native flora and fauna design.

Yesterday Muntinlupa City Mayor Jaime Fresnedi led the inauguration ceremony of Phase 1 of the Development of Alabang Viaduct, an initiative of the National Government through its “Green, Green, Green” program.

Mayor Jaime Fresnedi (middle) and other important figures of Muntinlupa City walked together in the newly converted area of the Alabang Viaduct. (source – Muntinlupa PIO)

Fresnedi thanked the Department of Budget Management for selecting Muntinlupa as one of the recipients of the “green fund” amounting to P17.29 million. The mayor said the beautification of the area is a welcome development to the city’s green space and park improvement efforts.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) launched the “Green, Green, Green” program which aims to make the country’s 145 cities more livable and sustainable through the development of public open spaces.

The newly constructed open space in Alabang Viaduct showcases an iconic sculpture resembling a water lily which is commonly seen near the shore of Laguna de Bay and local tributaries that empty to the lake.

A clear walkway and other interesting structures at the Alabang Viaduct. (source – Muntinlupa PIO)

Muntinlupa City Architect Don Causapin, designer of the architectural and interior design of the urban space, said the park’s centerpiece symbolizes Muntinlupa residents’ strength, resourcefulness, and perseverance as water lilies are characterized as resilient plants and able to thrive and bloom no matter the extreme conditions.

Causapin hopes that the open space will uplift the spirit of the residents who will visit the area as they find beauty in the elements found within their hometown. The opening of the open space in Alabang Viaduct is part of city’s celebration of its 26th Cityhood Anniversary on March 1.

Muntinlupa City is among local government units in the country championing sustainability and building of open spaces as part of climate change mitigation.

In 2020, Muntinlupa represented the country as of the finalists in the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) One Planet City Challenge (OPCC). The WWF-OPCC is a global competition that recognizes cities with effective climate change action plans. One to three cities per participating country are chosen as finalists.

WWF lauded the city’s action plan to combat the urban heat island effect. The organization highlights the city’s holistic approach towards sustainability including gardening initiatives, first aid trainings to equip city employees in assisting the public during particularly hot periods, climate responsive agriculture training for urban farmers, aquaponics, vertical farming, mulching and mushroom culture.

Muntinlupa also served as one of the country’s representatives in the WWF’s We Love Cities campaign, a social campaign which aims to bridge better communication between city officials and citizens they represent on climate and sustainability issues.

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The above information was provided by the City Government of Muntinlupa for the purpose of public information and transparency. Some parts were edited for this website.

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Step-by-step MGCQ for the Philippines?

By now, it has been made clear that the Philippines won’t shift to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) because President Rodrigo Duterte wants vaccination for COVID-19 to happen first. To put it short, health and personal safety are being prioritized although this means more waiting on the part of many people who are still unemployed and struggling without the needed income.

Yesterday, a new report published by Philippine News Agency (PNA) states that Duterte is taking a “step-by-step” approaching to the planned shift to MGCQ for the nation according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

Here is an excerpt from the report…

“For him (Duterte), it’s a step-by-step approach. Itong step muna before we go to the next step (We have to take this step first before we go to the next step), Nograles said in an online press briefing.

Nograles said it was “difficult” for Duterte to turn down the proposed shift to MGCQ.

However, Duterte wants to make sure that people’s health and safety would not be compromised, Nograles said.

“Again, the President and the government recognize the urgency of reopening the economy so we can resume the pre-pandemic upward trajectory and sustained growth of the economy. This, however, should be done side-by-side with measures that will ensure that we do not compromise efforts to contain Covid-19,” he said.

As seen above, the national leadership is aware of the need for economic recovery so that people suffering can be assisted by means economic opportunities. They are balancing economics with health as they are trying to find solutions and decide when to execute solutions. Shifting the whole nation to MGCQ can be done but with caution so that the risk of new infections won’t be too great.

Here is another excerpt…

The government was supposed to start its free vaccination program this month. However, there was a delay in the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines due to indemnification requirements.

Nograles said the IATF-EID would stick to the “month-to-month” assessment even if the government starts its mass immunization drive.

“If we go by the procedure, every end of the month, that is when we discuss ano ‘yung magiging recommendations namin kay Pangulo (what our recommendations to the President would be) for that succeeding month. So siguro (perhaps), in terms of timeline, perhaps that might be the same procedure that we follow,” he said.

The delayed arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines is indeed painful. Of course, people need to realize that while they can be helpful, the vaccines may not be the greatest solution to take during this pandemic. Even if a person gets vaccinated, caution must still be practiced when moving around in public.

More on the issue of shifting the entire nation to MGCQ status, I hope that the Metro Manila mayors as well as their advisers and experts would start researching how local governments and community leaders in other cities and provinces are doing under the declared MGCQ statuses in their respective areas. With Duterte’s refusal to move the nation into MGCQ, Metro Manila leaders have time to do such research.

Going back to Duterte and his cabinet, a new executive order (EO) is being prepared to institutionalize the 2021-2022 National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) with the goal of bringing back jobs in the labor market. Here’s an excerpt from the Philippine News Agency report…

In a virtual presser, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the NERS was discussed and approved during the 52nd Cabinet meeting presided over by President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacañan Palace on Monday night.

“Another initiative that was discussed yesterday (Monday) was the 2021-2022 National Employment Recovery Strategy or NERS…An executive order (EO) is now being readied to institutionalize the NERS task force in order to oversee all of these efforts,” he said.

Nograles said the NERS is meant to help create a policy environment that encourages the generation of more employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.

It is also expected to improve the employability and productivity of workers as it provides support to existing and emerging businesses.

“The strategic framework of the NERS is based on the following pillars — stimulating the economy and employment; supporting enterprises, jobs, and income; protecting workers in the workplace, and trusting social dialogue to encourage innovative solutions,” he said.

Watch out for more national developments here.

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For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

What could happen with regards to rumored event related to Xbox-Bethesda deal

Things have been quiet for the past months following the megaton announcement that Microsoft is acquiring Bethesda (through parent company ZeniMax Media) for a staggering $7.5 billion. Since then, Team Xbox has gotten stronger as the deal means pushing their number of 1st party game studios to almost 25.

In recent times, Microsoft created a brand new subsidiary called Vault (a nod to the Fallout franchise) which will serve as a new and temporary home for ZeniMax. The acquisition of ZeniMax and all of Bethesda is up for review by the regulators of the European Union (EU).

In relation to this, Jeff Grub of GamesBeat said in a podcast that an event will be held in which Microsoft will share details about their plans for the future regarding Bethesda. It was stated that such an event might happen in the middle of March 2021. By that time, the EU’s decision on the Xbox-Bethesda deal should be known.

Here’s an excerpt from GamingBolt’s report…

Grubb says it might not be a dedicated Direct-style event, but fans should expect to hear about plenty of new information either way.

“Once the deal closes, they will talk about it in a big way,” Grubb said. “I don’t know if it will be a full Direct-style event, but they will make note of it, and they will talk about it extensively, and they will explain what it means to everybody… kind of talk about the immediate future for both companies becoming one in the future.”

Personally, I can imagine an Xbox-Bethesda event that will done in video format and shown online to many fans and gamers around the world. However, I imagine it to be totally different from the Xbox Games Showcase of July 2020. I don’t expect it to be a lengthy video but still it will be long enough and serve as a makeshift celebration of Microsoft acquiring a major game publisher in Bethesda which itself is a rare event in the business world of video games and computer gaming.

The way I see it, the Xbox-Bethesda event could happen with the following possibilities:

  1. Xbox head Phil Spencer will welcome viewers and confirm that the acquisition of Bethesda has finally been done and the planned projects will push through and ensure lots of fun stuff for Xbox fans, fans of Bethesda’s many game franchises and people who love to play games via Xbox consoles, Windows 10 PCs and laptops, and mobile devices.
  2. Microsoft and Bethesda’s extensive business relationship will be mentioned, if not highlighted.
  3. Starfield will be announced yet again but will be presented by Todd Howard and a video showing the first-ever gameplay footage. Howard or the video itself could announce Starfield as an Xbox-exclusive game with late 2021 release window.
  4. Bethesda games released on previous generations consoles (Xbox 360 and Xbox One most likely) will be confirmed enhanced with FPS Boost when played on Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X.
  5. More Bethesda games of the past and the future will be made available via Xbox Game Pass (XGP).
  6. Ghostwire: Tokyo Deathloop, the temporary exclusives on Sony’s PlayStation 5 (PS5) console, will come to Xbox Series consoles and Windows 10 PC with exclusive enhancements and features some time in late 2022 or early 2023. Xbox Game Pass listing will be confirmed.
  7. Other Xbox game studios such as Obsidian Entertainment, Playground Games, Ninja Theory, The Coalition and others could make an appearance and some of their upcoming games for Xbox Series consoles and PC may be previewed. If this happens, it will symbolize the unity of the teams under Xbox Game Studios.
  8. Most, if not all, new games of Bethesda will be announced as exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem which includes Xbox Series consoles (note: Xbox One could still be supported), Windows 10 PC, mobile devices and Xbox Game Pass subscribers. Meanwhile, old Bethesda games that were released on multiple platforms will still be made available.

I believe that it is inevitable that the new Bethesda games, including those that were in development before Microsoft even started negotiating with ZeniMax, will be made Xbox-exclusive for it is very clear that Team Xbox wants to make Xbox Game Pass attract many more millions of subscribers from around the world much like how the streaming services Netflix and Disney+ attracted so many millions of subscribers globally. XGP alone added a lot to Microsoft’s revenue as its base of subscribers reached 18 million. Making Bethesda’s new games exclusive will add tremendous value to XGP and Xbox LIVE as a whole. That being said, think about the exclusive content that helped Netflix and Disney+ attract so many millions of subscribers.

Making Bethesda Xbox-exclusive also means making the Xbox brand (and its game studios) even stronger than those on PlayStation and Nintendo. Microsoft knows that millions of gamers love playing single-player role-playing games (RPGs) and having Bethesda’s blockbuster RPG franchises like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls ensures big game sales through Xbox consoles and Windows 10 computers. Don’t forget that Team Xbox also has Obsidian Entertainment (which made the popular Fallout New Vegas for Bethesda) to provide such RPGs. Speaking of exclusives, whatever Japanese RPGs Sony could snatch as PS5 exclusives from Square Enix (Final Fantasy XVI for one), Team Xbox can literally fight back with exclusive Bethesda RPGs which are more than enough to make Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S more attractive consoles for anyone who loves role-playing the console way. I should state that Bethesda RPGs have a huge collective following among PC gamers.

As I noticed on social media over the past few months, a lot of PlayStation fanboys, haters of Xbox and some Nintendo fanboys are still feeling uneasy over the possibility of Bethesda games becoming Xbox-exclusive. They are afraid of getting locked out…meaning that none of the new Bethesda games will be released on their PS4, PS5 and Switch consoles.

More on exclusivity, Xbox chief Phil Spencer made things clear in an interview with Kotaku and below is an excerpt for you all…

“Is it possible to recoup a $7.5 billion investment if you don’t sell Elder Scrolls VI on the PlayStation?” I asked.

“Yes,” Spencer quickly replied.

Then he paused.

“I don’t want to be flip about that,” he added. “This deal was not done to take games away from another player base like that. Nowhere in the documentation that we put together was: ‘How do we keep other players from playing these games?’ We want more people to be able to play games, not fewer people to be able to go play games. But I’ll also say in the model—I’m just answering directly the question that you had—when I think about where people are going to be playing and the number of devices that we had, and we have xCloud and PC and Game Pass and our console base, I don’t have to go ship those games on any other platform other than the platforms that we support in order to kind of make the deal work for us. Whatever that means.”

No matter how the haters and opposing fanboys see it – including the Nintendo and PlayStation fanboys working as journalists – what Microsoft owns, Nintendo and Sony cannot touch nor steal. If they really want the new Bethesda games, they will need an Xbox Series console or a capable Windows 10 computer to buy those games and/or sign up for Xbox Game Pass (if they want to save money on new games).

As for those who insist that all new Bethesda games should be released on multiple platforms, they should slow down and look at PS5’s camp. Why is Final Fantasy XVI a PS5-exclusive? Is Square Enix better off releasing their new games only on Sony’s platform while you oppose Bethesda releasing games as Xbox-exclusive? Also, why would a Microsoft-owned Bethesda be obligated or be forced to release games on competing game consoles from Sony and Nintendo after all the $7.5 billion spent on the acquisition?

As for Minecraft remaining a multi-platform franchise, the case of Microsoft’s acquisition of its developer (Mojang) simply cannot be applied to the Xbox-Bethesda deal. Bethesda is a major publisher with almost ten game studios and a wide bunch of games from established game franchises.

The existing market of Xbox console owners combined with Windows 10 users is large enough to sell Bethesda games to. To say that Xbox-exclusivity of new games such as Starfield and sequels or spin-offs to Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Doom, Dishonored and other franchises won’t benefit paying consumers is nonsense.  

From this point on, we can only wait and see what happens next. Will the EU approve the acquisition of ZeniMax/Bethesda? Will the rumored Xbox-Bethesda event actually push through weeks from now? Tell me what you think.

In closing these, here are some relevant videos for your enjoyment and learning…

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March 1, 2021 a special holiday in Muntinlupa City

The City Government of Muntinlupa announced yesterday that March 1, 2021 (Monday) is a special non-working holiday in the city in accordance to Republic Act Number 9191 (RA 9191).

Formally approved on February 2003 by then Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, RA 9191 is titled “An Act Declaring the First Day of March of Every Year as a Special Nonworking Holiday in the City of Muntinlupa to be Known as The Muntinlupa City Charter Day.”

Apart from the said Republic Act, March 1 itself is a very notable date in the history of Muntinlupa. It was on March 1, 1995 when Muntinlupa formally became a highly urbanized city of the Philippines as a result of the approval of Republic Act Number 7926 (title: An Act Converting the Municipality of Muntinlupa into a Highly Urbanized City to be Known as the City of Muntinlupa). RA 7926 was signed into law by then President Fidel V. Ramos.

In addition, below are some selected sections of RA 7926 for everyone’s reference.

Section 3 (The City of Muntinlupa) states: The Municipality of Muntinlupa shall be converted into a highly urbanized city to be known as the City of Muntinlupa, hereinafter referred to as the City, which shall comprise the present territory of the Municipality of Muntinlupa in Metropolitan Manila Area, over which it has jurisdiction, bounded by the municipalities of Taguig, Parañaque, Las Piñas, all of Metro Manila and the Municipality of San Pedro, Laguna.

Section 8 (The Officials of the City of Muntinlupa) states: (a) There shall be in the City of Muntinlupa a city mayor, a vice-mayor, sangguniang panlungsod members, a secretary to the sangguniang panlungsod, a city treasurer and an assistant city treasurer, a city assessor and an assistant city assessor, a city accountant, a city budget officer, a city planning and development coordinator, a city engineer and building official, a city health officer, a city civil registrar, a city administrator, a city legal officer, a city veterinarian, a city social welfare and development officer, a city general services officer, a city information officer, and a city prosecutor.

(b)    In addition thereto, the city mayor may point a city architect, a city population officer, a city environment and natural resources officer, a city cooperatives officer, a city international relations officer, a city fire marshall, a city international relations officer, a city fire marshall, a city jail warden, a city register of deeds, and a city land transportation officer.

(c)    The City of Muntinlupa may:

(1)    Maintain existing offices not mentioned in subsections (a) and (b) hereof;

(2)    Create such other offices as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of the City; or

(3)    Consolidate the functions of any office with those of another in the interest of efficiency and economy.

(d)    Unless otherwise provided herein, all appointive city officials of the City shall be appointed by the city mayor with the concurrence of the majority of all the sangguniang panlungsod members, subject to the civil service law, rules and regulations.  The sangguniang panlungsod shall act on the appointment within fifteen (15) days from the date of its admission, otherwise the same shall be deemed confirmed.

Section 62 (Legislative Districts) states: The creation for separate districts for Muntinlupa and Las Piñas and the first election for the two (2) legislative districts shall be made effective in 1998.

With the creation of the City of Muntinlupa, the congressional district for purposes of the 1995 elections shall remain the same.

Enjoy the holiday in Muntinlupa next week.

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For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Majority of Metro Manila Mayors support shift to MGCQ status by March 1, 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte will have a big decision to make that will affect millions of residents and businesses in Metro Manila as a majority of the mayors voted to shift the metropolis from general community quarantine (GCQ) to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status by March 1, 2021, as based on a news release on Philippine News Agency (PNA) that got published just last night.

Here’s an excerpt from the PNA report:

The Metro Manila Council (MMC), composed of Metro Manila mayors and national government officials, has voted to support the proposed shift to the less restrictive modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) in Metro Manila.

“Ang karamihan po ng alkalde ng kalakhang maynila ay bumoto na MGCQ na po ang magiging posisyon nila pagdating sa Metro Manila (Most of the mayors in Metro Manila voted for having MGCQ as their position in Metro Manila),” Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. said in a press conference on Thursday.

This, he said, will be sent to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and to President Rodrigo R. Duterte who will make the final decision on whether to implement eased quarantine restrictions by March 1.

He declined to provide the actual number of votes the proposal received but said that all Metro Manila mayors will support the decision.

Indeed, Abalos did not reveal the number of Yes and No votes but the Manila Bulletin reported that the score among Metro Manila mayors was 9-8 in favor of MGCQ.

To put things in perspective, Metro Manila still has yet to adjust to MGCQ status. Metro Manila is the hot spot of multiple cities where a lot of residents as well as business entities of varied sizes are located at. Right now, the nation needs a major boost to its economy even as there is still the need to be vigilant to avoid new COVID-19 infections. Lots of people in the metropolis remain unemployed and badly need income, and having Metro Manila shift to MGCQ status will help revive other businesses and pave the way for more people to get back to work.

It would be nice to see the Metro Manila Council research more and observe closely how other cities and provinces are doing while maintaining MGCQ statuses for months already.

On a grander scale, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) supports the recommendation to have the entire nation placed under MGCQ status by March. The said recommendation was made by Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua in recent times. Below is an excerpt from the PNA report:

“It is about time we move to MGCQ after a year of lockdown,” Lopez told reporters in a Viber message Tuesday. “Lockdown was supposed to buy us time to prepare our health system and improve contact tracing and ‘Trace-Test-Treat’.”

Since June 2020, the National Capital Region (NCR) has not graduated from GCQ status, a stricter community quarantine measure than MGCQ.

It even went back to much stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from Aug. 4 to 18 last year as health care facilities in Metro Manila were overwhelmed due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases during that period.

“As the Philippines recovers, Metro Manila has a very weak recovery, worse in employment and hunger recovery, and that means more urban poor. The damages to malnutrition and other health and social issues will be irreversible,” Lopez said.

NCR accounted for around 40 percent of the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP).

But Lopez added the reopening of more economic activities should depend on the Covid-19 statistics.

As pointed out by Trade secretary Lopez, Metro Manila is lagging behind in terms of recovery from the pandemic. Apart from joblessness and lack of income, poverty in the National Capital Region is an important problem to solve. The more people fall under poverty, the more local government units (LGUs) need to exert and spend their limited resources to support them.

Right now, the Metro Manila Council’s approval of shifting to MGCQ status will soon be dealt with by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and President Duterte.

In ending this, here are some videos about combatting the China virus.

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For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

A chance for recovery for more Philippine cinemas (and their employees)

Wow. That was quite a ride of information updates that happened the last few days. Last Friday, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) announced that it has allowed a variety of businesses around the Philippines to resume operations so that they can recover from this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Such businesses specified were driving schools, video arcades, theme parks, natural sites, historical landmarks, parks and, most notably of all, cinemas (or movie theaters).

However, the Metro Manila mayors reacted and expressed their opposition against the national government’s decision on allowing cinemas to reopen. Through the media, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos stated that a “majority of Metro Manila mayors agreed not to open as far as cinema is concerned.”

Abalos added that “movie theaters are enclosed and air-conditioned spaces where people stay for more than 30 minutes, conditions that increase the risk of coronavirus transmission.”

To put things in perspective, Metro Manila is composed of many major Philippine cities such as Makati, Quezon City, Manila and Muntinlupa to name a few. Until now, Metro Manila remains under GCQ (General Community Quarantine) status while certain other cities or provinces have been enduring the MGCQ (Modified General Community Quarantine) status. As of this writing, the only cinemas operating here in the Philippines are those located in MGCQ areas.

Here in Metro Manila, movie theaters have been closed since March 2020. Take note of that.

As a result of the Metro Manila mayors’ opposition, it has been announced that the reopening of cinemas has been moved to March 1, 2021, but that is not guaranteed. According to the news release published yesterday at Philippine News Agency, the reopening of cinemas in GCQ areas has been moved to the first of March to allow consultations with local officials, and this is the result of talks with MMDA’s Abalos, MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia and Trade Secretary Lopez.

Malacañang stated in the release: The IATF respects the position of mayors, especially those in Metro Manila. That’s why the resolution stated that the reopening of cinemas will be effective after drafting guidelines with local governments particularly when it comes to seating capacity in cinemas.

As you can see, there is still some work needed to be done before Metro Manila movie theaters (or any theaters in GCQ areas in general) can be allowed to reopen. This is why, in my view, the March 1 target for reopening could be missed.

More on the cinemas, I wonder if the Metro Manila mayors and their advisers did enough research about the economics. I understand they want to avoid the risk of people getting infected with COVID-19 within their respective cities, but there is still the need for economic recovery even if cinemas are to operate at less than 100% capacity and efficiency

From an economic point of view, thanks to information released by Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, the so-called traditional cinema industry of the nation employed 300,000 workers and had generated revenues of P13 billion BEFORE the pandemic started last year. Because of the pandemic, 2020 theater revenues shrunk down to only P1.3 billion.

Whatever happened to them as a result of the pandemic, 300,000 cinema employees is a figure that should not be ignored nor dismissed so quickly by the mayors and their advisers. Economic recovery is a must.

In an ABS-CBN news report, the cinema operators and movie producers have decided to adopt a so-called wait-and-see approach on the reopening of cinemas in GCQ areas.

Here’s an excerpt from the report:

Although they welcome the easing of quarantine restrictions, local producers and theater operators believe that ultimately, the reopening of cinemas will still be dependent on the clearance of local government units.

Roselle Monteverde and Vincent del Rosario, who helm Regal and Viva Entertainment, respectively, told ABS-CBN News that they have the capability to provide cinemas with movie material, some of which have long been canned. Nonetheless, along with other members of the local producers association, the movie magnates are still awaiting the IATF guidelines and, more important, the guidance of mayors.

And here’s another excerpt, this time about two major cinema chain operators.

Megaworld Cinemas and SM Cinemas, which both control a vast chain of theater chains, told ABS-CBN News that they will wait for the final guidelines of the IATF and local government units.

Bomboy Lim of Robinson Cinemas also told ABS-CBN News that the bottomline is securing the approval of local government units. “Priority din namin ang ligtas na panonood ng tao. Kailangan nating sundin ang lahat ng guidelines including the IATF. Right now, they are still making it.”

Robinson Cinemas, which has an estimated 200 theaters nationwide in its malls nationwide, have not reopened since March 2020.

Over at the City of Manila, the local authorities there announced it will offer free swab tests to movie theater workers within their jurisdiction. Mayor Isko Moreno said that the swab tests are required before the city government allows malls to open their movie houses. Cinema workers specified are janitors, security guards, tellers, ushers, porters, ticket sellers and snack bar attendants to name some. Managers of malls in the city were asked by the mayor to present to the city government their respective preparations for the reopening of their cinemas with public safety in mind.

As I personally observed in shopping malls with cinemas here in South Metro Manila, each of them has established rules and set up special equipment to monitor the health statuses of people entering their respective places. I can imagine local cinemas inside these malls having similar equipment, disinfectant machines, and temperature scanners. It would be helpful if the malls or cinema operators can afford to set up sanitation tunnels (like those in Israel) for moviegoers to pass thru when entering and exiting the movie theater. Watch the video below…

Even though things look unclear, the fact remains is that operators of movie theaters and their employees now have a chance to resume their business and do their part in the recovery economically and socially. How the IATF and the Metro Manila mayors will decide the fate of the cinemas remains to be seen.

If there are any major updates, you will be notified right here at www.CarloCarrasco.com

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For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: Muntinlupa City Government launches Virtual Town Hall Meetings for COVID-19 Vaccine demand generation

In a bid to generate demand for vaccination services and increase vaccination uptake among residents, the City Government of Muntinlupa launched a series of COVID-19 Vaccine Virtual Town Hall Meeting with health professionals from national government agencies.

At least 100 participants from homeowners’ associations (HOAs) and urban poor groups attended the launching of Muntinlupa’s COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall Meetings in partnership with the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and Food and Drug Administration last February 10.

During the virtual meeting, RITM Infection Prevention and Control Committee Chair Charissa Borja-Tabora underscored the safety of vaccines, the process of clinical trials, and the role of vaccines in protecting individuals and communities.

FDA Center for Drugs Regulation and Research Jesusa Joyce Cirunay also discussed the agency’s Emergency Use Authorization and the stringent process and policies for the approval of vaccines.

Muntinlupa Public Information Officer Tez Navarro said the initiative is part of the local government’s campaign to enable, inform, motivate, and empower high priority groups to access the vaccination service.

Navarro hoped that the communication strategy in inviting healthcare professionals to explain information on the vaccine will help improve the immunization uptake in Muntinlupa.

“We will conduct a series of dialogue with individuals and communities to help them understand the value of vaccines so more Muntinlupeños will be convinced to be inoculated,” Navarro said.

As of February 11, the city’s COVID-19 vaccine survey showed that out of the 17,561 respondents from Muntinlupa’s nine barangays, 76% or 13,077 individuals said they are willing to get vaccinated, an increase from 63% in the last survey dated February 5.

While, a total of 4,484 respondents or 24% said they are not willing to take the vaccine. The most common reasons for the refusal to take the vaccine include fear of side effects, doubts with the efficiency rate of the vaccine, and fee of vaccination.

Further, Muntinlupa’s COVID-19 vaccination plan and other best practices on public health earned praise from officials of the Department of Health during the assessment visit of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 and Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) Team in the city last February 5.

Muntinlupa City Health Office has identified 6,758 medical frontliners from barangay health centers, emergency responders, public and private hospitals/clinics. Under the local COVID-19 vaccination plan, there will be 82 vaccination teams to be deployed in 35 vaccination posts and 8,200 target individuals to be vaccinated per day.

Muntinlupa City has 62 active cases, 5,460 confirmed cases with 5,227 recoveries, 171 reported deaths, 81 suspect cases, and 417 probable cases as of February 11, 2021.

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The above information was provided by the City Government of Muntinlupa for the purpose of public information and transparency. Some parts were edited for this website.

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: COVID-19 vaccination program simulated in Las Piñas City

Recently the City Government of Las Piñas headed by Mayor Imelda “Mel” Aguilar and Vice Mayor April Aguilar-Nerry and in cooperation with the Department of Health (DOH) conducted a simulation or dry run of their vaccination program for COVID-19 at the vaccination site located at Las Piñas Elementary School Central, P. Diego Cera, Barangay Elias Aldana.

Present during the simulation were DOH Assistant Regional Director Ma. Paz Corrales and physicians of the City Health Office Dr. Ferdinand Eusebio, Dr. Julie Gonzales and Dr. Ellaine Gumpal.

Las Piñas City Mayor Imelda Aguilar (front row, middle), Vice Mayor April Aguilar-Nery (front row, left) and other officials at the vaccination site on February 8, 2021. (source – Las Piñas City Facebook page)

The simulation is part of the City Government’s preparation and cooperation with the government’s mass vaccination program for the expected arrival of vaccines in the country this February.

During the simulation, the City Government and the CHO prepared an orderly, comprehensive and concrete vaccination plan to ensure the safety of vaccinators and prevent the possible spread of diseases in the city.

The Mayor and Vice Mayor observe during the simulation. (source – Las Piñas City Facebook page)

In ensuring order, a screening site has been set up in each barangay to initially list the potential recipients of the vaccine.  There are five registration sites in District 1 and District 2 for validation and profiling of the initial list.  Based on the final masterlist, QR codes will be issued to those who qualified. Each of the 20 barangays has one vaccination site where Las Piñas City residents will be vaccinated at. This past January, the City Government conducted a community level census for the COVID-19 vaccine.

The order of each area (waiting area, registration area, counseling area, medical screening, vaccination area, encoding area and post vaccination and monitoring area) will be followed at a designated vaccination site with the rules and procedures that must be followed by the locals for their safety before and after they are vaccinated.

Already personnel of City Hall underwent simulations of vaccinations in the area to demonstrate the Local Government’s preparation in tandem with the local Health Office.

When it comes to cold storage for vaccines, a storage facility has been prepared and there are ten additional freezers set for standby to temporarily store vaccines to keep them safe for the program.

The City Government aims to vaccinate three thousand residents per day. Previously, the City Government allocated P200 million for the purchase of additional COVID-19 vaccines. About 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were secured after Mayor Aguilar signed the tripartite contract with British drug maker AstraZeneca in collaboration with the government.

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The above information was provided by the Las Piñas City Government for the purpose of public information and transparency. Some parts were edited for this website.

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

DOH lauds Muntinlupa City’s COVID-19 vaccination program, best practices during CODE Team visit

Muntinlupa City’s COVID-19 vaccination plan and other best practices on public health earned praise from officials of the Department of Health (DOH) during the assessment visit of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 and Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) Team in the city.

DOH Usec. Myrna Cabotaje lauded the city’s “end-to-end planning” for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines from the procurement process up to the ancillary equipment disposal last February 5.

Cabotaje also recognized the strong public-private partnership for the local vaccination plan and underscored the importance of cooperation among stakeholders as the primary advice of NTF against COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

The Health undersecretary also praised the deployment plan of the city’s vaccination teams and said that Muntinlupa’s target to inoculate medical frontliners can be carried out for as short as one day.

Muntinlupa City Mayor Jaime Fresnedi (left) presents Muntinlupa COVID-19 Vaccination Plan to DILG Usec. Jonathan Malaya (center) during the assessment visit of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 and Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) Team in the city. (source – Muntinlupa PIO)

The Muntinlupa City Health Office has identified 6,758 medical frontliners from barangay health centers, emergency responders, public and private hospitals/clinics. Under the local COVID-19 vaccination plan, there will be 82 vaccination teams to be deployed in 35 vaccination posts and 8,200 target individuals to be vaccinated per day.

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya also praised the city’s coordination with the religious sector in ensuring the promotion of COVID-19 vaccination during mass celebrations. He hoped that the best practice in Muntinlupa will be replicated by other local government units in the country. Malaya added that DILG will integrate the campaign on COVID-19 vaccines to explain the importance of the vaccine to the public as part of the agenda for this year Barangay Assemblies.

Muntinlupa Committee on Health and Sanitation Coun. Allan Camilon thanked the CODE Team for its recognition of the city’s COVID-19 response efforts. Camilon highlighted the City Council’s proactive approach in curbing COVID-19 through passing of ordinances and resolutions. Muntinlupa is the first LGU to pass an ordinance for the mandatory wearing of face masks.

Further, the City Government intensifies its information campaign on COVID-19 vaccine demand generation in anticipation of the roll-out this month.

As of February 5, the city’s COVID-19 vaccine survey showed that out of the 4,074 respondents from Muntinlupa’s nine barangays, 63% or 2,567 individuals said they are willing to get vaccinated, an increase from 54% in the last survey dated January 18. While, a total of 788 respondents or 19.34 % said “no,” and 719 or 17.65% did not answer and were classified as “unaccounted.”

Muntinlupa Public Information Office and the City Health Office continuously conduct Virtual Town Hall Meetings, regular coordination with Barangay Information Officers for information dissemination and risk communication, and weekly virtual presser similar to DOH virtual briefing events, among others.  Muntinlupa City has 57 active cases, 5,412 confirmed cases with 5,184 recoveries, 171 reported deaths, 64 suspect cases, and 405 probable cases as of February 8.

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The above information was provided by the City Government of Muntinlupa for the purpose of public information and transparency. Some parts were edited for this website.

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673