Sunday, September 18, 2016

"THE BEST WAY TO PREDICT THE FUTURE IS TO DESIGN IT."

by Roger Pe

Moving to a new condominium building? Wait a minute. It could be beautiful outside but could give you hidden costs inside. The builders could pass on to you added burdens because it is unsustainable on many counts.

Simply put, a building that takes too much energy to cool or heat is like a car that guzzles up too much petrol. The analogy is simple. You accept a bad building design, you end up seeing your savings go down the drain because of the builder’s operational costs - and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“Designing and building a structure should be within and beyond the green building norms,” says long time Philippine resident Italian architect Romolo Nati, a sensitive artist who professes to have a liking for the Filipino nipa hut. 

Nati has lived in the Philippines for quite some time. Having seen many climate upheavals in recent years, his work thus reflects solutions about environmental issues. They are creatively woven into his modern Italian designs and inspirations derive from things Filipino are always present, giving his clients a fusion with added value: Living with nature and learning to harmonize with the environment. 

A devout advocate of sustainability, Nati says a building design must always have a common denominator. While it must basically provide functionality to people, it must have a lower impact on the environment. 

“At the rate we are abusing the planet, it is simply not sustainable. We are bound to run out of natural resources needed to survive. That is why we need to focus on building green buildings,” he says.

And that’s what he exactly did. 

When he met Jose Leviste III, a young Filipino environmental lawyer in 2009, both of them immediately developed a liking to pursue real estate development, with focus on green architecture and sustainability. The encounter resulted in the establishment of ItalPinas Development Corporation (IDC), a real estate development company serious in designing and developing eco-friendly and mixed-use buildings in the Philippines.

World-renowned Italian design

Nati brings with him a big chunk of Italy, a country recognized as a global fashion, architecture, automotive, and interior design trendsetter. Famous designer Pier Giacomo Castiglioni once said: "Quite simply, we are the best" and Nati always wants to come close to that standard.

After graduating summa cum laude with an Architecture degree in Italy, Nati travelled around the world. By stroke of fate, he ended up in the Philippines. Italy’s loss, Philippines’ gain, so to speak.

He taught Green Architecture at the La Sapienza Faculty of Architecture and Master in Urban Landscape and Layers at the University of Tallin, Estonia Faculty of Architecture.

After graduation, he worked for numerous offices of architecture and engineering focusing on “eco friendly design” in Italy and in the United States. He collaborated as faculty member of the “Department of Design and Sustainable Architecture” at the University of Rome, ”La Sapienza”. 


During his collaboration with the University, he was a leader for a program called “Computer Aided Design for a Sustainable Architecture”. The aim of this special program was to research the potential of sustainable architecture using innovative software to simulate and forecast behaviors of green buildings.

Among his international awards are the following: Special Energy Design (Design Against the Elements, 2011); First Prize (International Competition. Parnu Riverside Commercial Center, Parnu, Estonia (2006); and Second Prize (International Competition: Una Sede Rinnovata per un Glorioso Circolo Nautico. Naples, Italy. Renovation of historic Canottieri Club of Naples (2003);

On its beautifully designed website, Nati points out the company’s mantra: “Ours is performance based. Our projects are developed with the use of parametric architecture. Our design process involves integrating important factors like weather conditions, financial considerationss and functional needs. Our primary goal: find the best possible combination in order to arrive at the final design that will ultimately give out the best solution.”

He explains that rather than elbow with existing developers in already well-developed areas, ItalPinas zeroes in on upcoming cities in naturally beautiful locations and safe areas. 

The ItalPinas, which Nati leads, together with Leviste, seeks to expand in selected cities in the next few years. Cities with significant demographic and economic growth potentials are on the radar. Similarly, the company is aiming to invest in undeveloped natural areas to provide well-integrated eco-tourist developments. 

Here’s more of Nati on sustainable real estate development:

BM: What is an eco-sustainable building?

RN: It’s a building low on environmental impact and has significant social value. It benefits everyone including the entire community. It minimizes use of water, raw materials, energy, and even the land where it sits on. More than ever, it reduces emissions, waste, polluting the environment and protects people’s health.

BM: Why should anyone invest on an eco-sustainable building? 

RN: Because it is good for the community and the environment, aside from being solidly value-packed. 
Sustainable buildings do not deplete natural resources. Developers of sustainable structures consciously use less raw materials and more environmentally responsible renewable products.

BM: What made you focus on this aspect of real estate business?

RN: I like the idea of producing products that create value to people and effect positively on our ecosystem. 

BM: Can aesthetic design and eco-sustainability go together?

RN: Absolutely yes. San Miguel in Ortigas, Ateneo in Rockwell and my favorite, the Bahai Cubao are good examples. 

BM: What is a great building design to you?

RN: A building that addresses the values I mentioned above and it is beautiful inside out. A great building is when it is good for the environment and costs less to operate. Primavera Residences is the perfect example of a sustainable architecture.

BM: Who influenced much of your architectural advocacy in the Philippines?

RN: The beautiful natural environment (that should be preserved), the character of Filipino people (very friendly) and the not-balanced wealth situation (we need to create value that is affordable).

BM: What advice can you give to future developers in the Philippines when it comes to constructing sustainable buildings?

RN: Sustainable buildings produce higher value for companies, their clients and the country. They have significant long-term effects, allowing businesses to play their part in protecting the environment on a daily basis.

Creating them benefit both local communities and society as a whole. The return on investment with a sustainable building also increases. Because it is energy efficient, the value of your property also helps improve the bottom line.

BM: Can you tell if a building is sustainable or not?

RN: Yes. Physically, it is a building with a “green” roof, which can have significant economic benefits. Lowering roof temperature reduces the amount of cooling machinery needed, even lowering costs for neighboring buildings. 

It can reduce environmental impact by lowering pollution from the building’s power usage. The chain reaction ultimately leads to the community’s heat effect. Reduced storm water runoff is another environmental benefit. 

BM: Is building a sustainable edifice expensive? Why and why not?

RN: It is not when you know how to design and focus on sustainability early on. It is not when you encourage sustainable design ideas to flourish, like retrofitting existing buildings rather than building a new one.
BM: Do you think Filipinos appreciate good architectural design?

RN: Yes, they do.

BM: Generally, what do you think of building designs in the country’s busiest cities? 

RN: As in every city, some are beautiful some are not. The most important places for me are those between buildings, and have big spaces for the public. 

BM: What is your dream design if you have all the money to build it?

RN: Sustainable houses for the poor. 

BM: What made IDC focus on developing emerging cities in the Philippines and how do you see it 10 years from now?

RN: Megacities are getting un-livable, congested, unhealthy, expensive, polluted, and stressful. It is better to go to a new growing city where quality of life is much better. I see it as a leader in accessible, sustainable real estate developments in ASEAN.

BM: What inspires you? 

RN: Nature and my favorite quote from Fuller: “The best way to predict the future is to design it.” 

On-going projects

Primavera Residences. The “Twin Towers” located in the Pueblo de Oro Business Park, Cagayan de Oro. It offers convenience, style and all amenities of modern living, adjacent to SM City, schools, churches, a golf course, situated inside Pueblo de Oro Business Park, an export-zone registered with Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA). 

IDC established itself as the “first-mover” in introducing condominium style living in Cagayan de Oro for the middle-income segment. It won the Best Mixed-Use Development in the Philippines Award given by the International Property Awards in Kuala Lumpur in 2014. It was also highly commended as one of the Best Condo Developments in the Philippines at the 2011 Southeast Asia Property Awards held in Singapore in 2011.


Primavera City. Located at the heart of uptown Cagayan de Oro, near the multi-awarded Primavera Residences. A mixed-use living environment condominium, inspired by nature’s secrets, the project will be in three phases: Mixed-use condominium, a BPO and a host a branded hotel and luxury apartments. 

Miramonti. Surrounded by green peaks and highlands south of Manila in Sto. Tomas (part of the Philippines’ new beltway of economic growth, along the expressway connecting the capital region with Batangas Port. Miramonti will soon become a landmark south of Manila, an essential point of reference for the expanding residential and commercial communities of southern Luzon. 


Sunday, September 11, 2016

"I STARTED A NEW LIFE AT 25."


by Roger Pe
September 12, 2016 issue
Business Mirror

Turning 25 was a meaningful year for Adrian Williams, a second generation Filipino in London who co-founded Philippine Generations, a not-for-profit voluntary organization that promotes Philippine culture in United Kingdom. His group has grown big and now provides educational, inspirational, as well as empowering services to members of the Filipino community. The aim: strengthen Filipino cultural identity in that part of the world.

“Turning 25 was a very important time in my life. I had quit my job in the city a year prior, selling ‘financial freedom’, Williams says as he remembers his struggling years. 

“That what my first job after graduating from college, a move I did not regret. I was getting married to the love of my life in the Philippines. Partly, because it was cheaper to do that, than in the UK, and mainly, so Mae’s (his bride’s name) father could walk her down the aisle,” he reminisces.

Williams’ family heritage was from Pangasinan, Mae’s father and mother came from Batangas and Leyte, respectively. So when he came to the country to prepare for the wedding, he did a lot of travelling just to know them all.

He and his wife flew back to London after their honeymoon and lived in a studio apartment. His wife would soon get pregnant with their first child. The weight of an impending fatherhood was beginning to overwhelm him. 

“I immediately felt the need to give my family a better life, nurture them, earn more and make everyone proud of me as a husband and father,” he says.

Williams cut his teeth in media sales. At the beginning of his career in digital advertising, he told his boss that he needed a pay increase. But the latter politely reminded him that he had already given him a pay raise and couldn’t justify another one too soon. Undeterred, he began listening to many recruitment consultants who buzzed him of many opportunities to leave his job.


As a half British and half Filipino, Williams is youthful-looking, his Filipino genes, according to him, had made it so. As a person who doesn’t look his biological age, Williams finds it quite tiring because his British colleagues would always wonder why and ask him the same question over and over.

“In the UK, it is difficult to assert authority or be taken seriously when you look young,” he mentions sounding perplexed. “It could also be unnerving because British people always tend to underestimate Asians, especially Filipinos,” he laments. 

One lady once asked him if his ‘baon’ (packed lunch) had been prepared by his mother, and afterwards, gave him a tilt of her head as she said “Aww”. The lady would be surprised to hear that it his wife who did and would get a little envious as the scent of microwaved Jasmine Rice and Adobo would waft in the air. 

When his wife gave birth, words could not fully convey how much he felt. The feeling of fatherhood and that single most life-changing experience so engulfed him. He describes it as “brain-rewiring”.

“Your priorities change and your instincts kick in. As a man, the appreciation for your woman is at its peak. At that moment you can only watch in awe as she holds your newly born child. As a human being, you are also now almost completely useless. The baby needs its mother and all you need to do is keep the baby from crying while mama rests,” he joyfully recounts early fatherhood days. 

Fatherhood, family man

William moved to a new company and got his wish – a pay increase. His confidence grew and considered it already an accomplishment. At that stage, he had graduated, gotten married, became a father, secured a good job with good pay and moved his little family from a studio to a two-bedroom, two- floor apartment overlooking London. “I could feel progression,” he proudly says.

Six months into his new job and while in the kitchen (it was his turn to make tea for the team, an important British tradition, to offer and make tea for each other), one lady from another team commented, “Gosh, you’ve been here a while haven’t you?” He replied back: “Six months”. To which, she asked again: “So how long is your work experience here then?” In the UK, work experience is usually something a teenage student would obtain after high school. “Filipino genes struck again,” he laughs.


Williams felt he has achieved something but then, fear crept in. “Am I doing enough? What environment am I raising my child into?” he asked himself. But for him, it was important that his child understood why she was brown, what it means to be Filipino and not lose touch with her culture.

Williams says, for OFWs who have children abroad, their children go through a dilution of the Filipino experience. “It is to be expected and that the next generation would dilute further. This is something that other people I knew in London also felt,” he says.
He has spent the past six years of his life in high-growth tech start-up companies. Much of his journey and accomplishments over the past ten years, he owed it to the fear, hunger, and experiences he had when he was 25.


He was raised in Westminster borough of London when his mother came to the UK in 1973. “I lived in Central London all my life, growing up in the Edgware Road area and currently lives in Marylebone, closest to the Tube Station on Baker St. I went to state Catholic schools in London until the age of 18. I went to London Metropolitan University to study Business Studies, majoring in Marketing. I worked all through university as my mom sent money home to pay for my cousin's nursing education in the Philippines,” he recounts his childhood and growing up years. 


His current profession is twofold: Co-Founder and Director of Philippine Generations and also as digital advertising Sales Consultant dealing with startup companies in London.

Williams has been involved in the Filipino community in the UK since he was a kid. He did this by tagging along with his mother who was then very active in London's "Rondalla" group, the Filipino Friendship Club, Center For Filipino Migrant Workers and the Knights of Rizal and Maclariz. He then became a permanent fixture as Chairman of the Kabataang Pangarap ni Rizal, and finally, as a Knight of Rizal. 

He remembers a turning point in his life when he was asked to attend a connecting-to-the Filipino-youth forum, organized by the Centre For Filipino Overseas Workers at the Philippine embassy in London. During that time, only four people attended (that already included him and his wife). 

It was at this meeting that he and his wife realized what was missing in the Filipino community in the UK. Everybody thought the youth were children or students - the first generation of Filipino migrants who came to the UK to work out of choice and hadn't fully appreciated that their children were now adults.

Some were parents themselves, and many were successful in their chosen fields. “It was this Second Generation that we were part of. These are the children of migrant workers, either born or brought abroad, not by choice,” Williams poignantly explains.


“We decided we should do something to give our generation a voice,” Williams says. He, his wife, and a friend, who was also a parent, set up a forum in London to actually hear from his generation. There were nearly 30 people who attended and they asked them, “Are you proud to be Filipino?” The resounding response was “Yes, I am!” 

Williams then followed up with “Why?” And with that they were met with an awkward silence, a lot of “Hmm” and “Umm” responses. 

“We knew we needed to remind the second generation what it means to be Filipino, what our culture and heritage is really about, to make them feel truly proud of their identity, and ultimately, make them well-rounded people,” he explains. 

Love for country

When they were invited to attend a reception to celebrate Philippine Independence Day at the Philippine embassy in 2007, the staff introduced Williams to various dignitaries as “Our Youth”. He promptly stepped in and corrected them. He explained to many embassy delegates from other countries present that they were not the “youth”, but were professionals, parents and accomplished children of migrant workers. 

Then he asked them all: “When your overseas workers who send money to your country return home, will their children, who live overseas, who often earn more than what their parents earned, be connected enough to their roots to fill the financial gap of their parents? Will they care enough? How are you engaging with your second generation overseas?” 

They were shocked and all agreed it is an issue they will all face, not just the Philippines. As would be expected, it caused a bit of a stir. Philippine Generations was born.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A LOCAL MASS TRANSIT INNOVATION CAN FREE GENERATIONS OF FILIPINOS FROM FOREIGN DEBT


In the light of some comments made by people about the innovations made by Francis Yuseco on the the BRT (Bus Rapid TransIt) Yuseco himself explains the circumstances how Intel Track came into existence. Here he is:

There is no question or argument that Curitiba, Brazil Rede Integrade de Transporte (RIT) started in 1974 and proper credit should all go to it. At the same time, however, when the question arises that if I copied the Intelligent Trackways (Intel Track) system from the RIT and merely improved on it, I have to  truthfully answer also that I did not.
For one can improve only on something if he knew of the existence of that something.

The principal reason why I conceptualized the Intel Track was to liberate the Philippines from the onerous provisions of foreign loans structurally designed to make the country perpetually dependent on foreign loans and technologies.
After I conceptualized it, I completed a case method study which would allow the Philippines to develop its own mass transit system without having to resort to foreign borrowings and imported technologies.

Then DOTC Secretary Rainerio Reyes however, advised me to have my figures validated by the University of the Philippines Transport Training Center (UPTTC which is now The Center for National Transport Studies). The task was assigned to then UPTTC Deputy Director Esteban Cases. After several months, Deputy Director Steve Cases validated my study. He baptized my concept as the " bus train." Armed with the UPTTC study, I then went back to the DOTC to resubmit my bus train project. Unfortunately, DOTC Secretary Rainerio Reyes had already resigned. He was replaced by then DOTC Secretary Oscar M. Orbos.

After several months our bus train project was rejected for being " unproven, merely theoretical and with a  limited systems capacity." Thus, contrary to the DOTC's position, our bus train was in fact, already "proven, no longer theoretical and with outstanding systems capacity" - in Curitiba, Brazil. However, no one in the Philippines knew about the RIT in 1989. Thus, I and even Deputy Director Steve Cases had to humbly accept the DOTC's position that year.

However, even as our bus train was rejected, Gerhard Menckhoff , the World Bank expert on transportation sought me out to inquire about our bus train which I later named the Intelligent Trackways system. Mr. Menckhoff then wrote a very positive Internal Memorandum about it and distributed his memorandum to the other World Bank officials  assigned in different parts of the world. The memorandum is dated April 30, 1990. Again, Mr. Menckhoff never mentioned anything about Curitiba's RIT.

In any event, the Intel Track was conceptualized and designed as early as 1989 not only to mass transport people but agricultural, fisheries and other cargoes as well. Thus, it was conceptualized and designed not only for inner city but for outer city use as well. The difference is vast and as the Intel Track is more expansive. It was designed to also liberate our farmers and fisher folks from stranglehold of middle men called vioajeros.

When I am interviewed about this, I have to honestly say I never copied or improved on the RIT for the simple reason I didn't know of its existence. This is not to discredit the RIT or the writers who want to write about the chronological sequence of events that brought about the Intel Track. However, in order to avoid any misunderstanding or misconception that the Intel Track is not a genuine Filipino invention, as it is in fact, far more expansive than the RIT or Rapid Bus Transits (RBT) or Bus Rapid Transits (BRT) as they are more popularly referred to nowadays, I would be more than happy just to call the Intel Track an Innovation rather than an Invention in order to once and for all, dismiss all misunderstandings and misconceptions about it.


Business Mirror
September 1, 2016 issue

As we woefully endure long LRT-MRT queues and mechanical breakdowns, more woes loom in the horizon: Business-debilitating traffic that costs huge amount of money a day. Foreign debt payments that continue to imprison generations of Filipinos for our LRT and MRT dues. Its time to liberate the country from this madness. 

A Filipino rapid bus transit innovation copyrighted and patented 27 years ago, can help propel the Philippine economy to new heights.

Philippines Intel Trackways and Rapid Transit 

Intel Track or PRT (Philippine Track Rapid Transit) is an innovation by Filipino Francis Yuseco, exhaustively studied by the University of the Philippines Transport Training Center, now the National Center for Transport Studies.

It was corroborated by DOTC, DPWH and MMDA - all agreeing it has the same operating efficiency and capacity of railways.

This countrys very own indigenous mass transit system is way ahead of Bogota, Colombias model, which started only in year 2000, or 11 years after Yuseco acquired his Intellectual Property Rights in the Philippines

The all-Filipino PRT technology has the capacity to attain an average traveling speed of 80 kph.

Intel Track is a system without the rails and simulates the operating characteristics of railways at a fraction of railways costs and construction time. It does not require subsidies of railways on foreign debts eternally passed on from one generation to another.

The National Center for Transport Studies concluded that if Intel Track will be implemented in Metro Manila and other cities, it could reach a traffic decongestion factor as high as 96.8% per corridor.


Yuseco has also been supporting the full development of Philippine Railways system of the DOST.  It has already reached a healthy level and DOST has spent more than P120.0 Million for its research and development, he says. He stresses that the government should not simply write-off that amount because, as Filipinos, we owe it to our talented engineers and scientists of the DOST our full, unconditional and undivided support.

Yuseco knows what he is talking about. He was an investment banker who personally experienced the devastating effects of supposedly concessional loans provided by bilateral and multilateral Export Credit Facilities (ECFs).

I know for a fact that there is absolutely no way we can ever repay ECF loans used to finance major infrastructure projects (rail-based mass transits, tollways, power plants, etc). These ECF loans perpetually remain unpaid as what is happening with all our three Light Rail Transit loans, he says.

Yuseco believes that President Duterte should protect the hapless Filipino taxpayers from the toxic onslaught of Sovereign Guarantees (SG). 

These SGs were liberally granted by the past administration at the behest of oligarchs who want to corner the country's infrastructure projects. When they generate billions of revenues, they divide the profits by declaring dividends for themselves. When they run into financial trouble, they make the poorest of the poor Filipinos answerable for these 'financial troubles, he says.

According to Yuseco, one recent example is the 7.5 billion-peso payment made to LRT1 Extension project. This was paid by the Aquino administration despite the fact that not a single column of the LRT 1 extension has been built.



Full development of the Philippine rail system can be financed essentially in Philippine pesos, Yuseco says. We need to patronize our domestic financial markets as it is currently awash with liquidity in excess of P8.3 Trillion, he explains.

Our engineers estimate that for the price of one 11-kilometer LRT (estimated to cost P60.7 billion with a construction period of four years), we can connect the entire Metro Manila with eight elevated PRTs within a shorter construction period of two years.

One short-haul LRT line extending for only 11 kilometers requires P9.0 Billion in annual subsidies.  An entire 1,079 rail line would need considerably more than P9.0 Billion in annual subsidies.
No more foreign debts for generations of Filipinos

Yuseco is vehemently against the exorbitant amount of building a rail system with an interest rate of 200% to 300% per annum.

Ordinary Filipinos, specially the youth, should be made aware that these foreign loans are structured in such a way that they can never be paid. 

According to Yuseco, foreign denominated loans, peddled by their local agents and patrons deeply embedded in various government agencies, will always assert that we need not develop our own indigenous rail systems in as much as these imported rail systems are being generously offered to us.

When the Philippines first Belgian LRT deal was closed in 1981 by a basket of Belgian Francs and US dollars, the Philippine peso to US dollar exchange was P7.50: $1.00. Exchange rate for the LRT2 was P24-$1 in 1994. MRT 3 was financially closed at P26-$1 in 1996. The exchange rate now is 46.77 to 1 dollar. Our cost of borrowing for all three is approximately, 200% to 400% per annum, making them intrinsically impossible to pay.

Incredulous as it sounds, according to Yuseco, Filipino taxpayers have been cornered to this very date to pay private shareholders of Edsa MRT US$11 million a month to guarantee their shareholders a Return on Investment of 15% per annum. 

Over and above, Filipino taxpayers have been, and are still paying US$90,000.00 a month for their administrative costs. The $11 million does not even include the P56.0 billion that their shareholders are asking for the government to take over their rights to operate the Edsa MRT, Yuseco says.


The American Bus Association (ABA) President George Wynn sent PhilTrak (the company that owned Intel Tracks) a facsimile letter dated August 30, 1999 that the United States was also going "to reinvent its bus service using the same features of the Philippine innovation.. US Federal Transit Administrator (USFTA) Gordon Linton then tagged the American reinvented bus service with a catchy (but grammatically wrong name) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). 

Curiously, the American Bus Association or for that matter, the United States Federal Transit Authority never once referred to the Curitiba, Brazil Rede Integrade de Transporte.

With the United States taking the lead, there are now 136 cities in 39 major operating with amazing success. They include rich and powerful countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia, China, South Korea, Indonesia, France, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom, among others. Their savings in subsidies amounting to billions of dollars are channeled to their more urgent needs.

Examples of long haul bus-based mass transit systems are in Botswana, and Cape Town South Africa which cover distances of 472 kilometers and 300 kilometers, respectively; Jakarta, Indonesia which covers 108 kilometers and Curitiba, Brazil with a distance of 81 kilometers.

High capacity bus-based mass transit systems include those in Guangzhou, China which transports 1,000,000 million passengers daily; Jakarta, Indonesia, 1,200,000; Tehran, Iran, 1,600,000; Bogota, Columbia,1,800,000 and Curitiba, Brazil, 2,300,000.

World-class, proudly Philippine-made

Yuseco believes Filipinos should rally behind the full development of the Philippine Railways being undertaken by the DOST. It would be treasonous to import foreign made railways while ignoring Filipino engineers, manufacturers, laborers, suppliers, among others, he says.

Unfortunately, the Filipino psyche has been tamed, abused and taken for granted over centuries of colonization that any idea or product, so long that it is Filipino, must not be good enough and hence, must be rejected, Yuseco laments.

But even if the Filipinos rejected its own, World Bank Transport Expert Gerhard Menckhoff sought Yuseco out to learn more about the Philippines Intel Trackways. On August 31, 1990, he wrote a memorandum urging global governments to seriously consider the Philippine innovation. The same was distributed to different officials of World Bank officers assigned in different parts of the world.

Bankrupt railways in the world

Beyond the seemingly modern infrastructure backdrop of some first world countries, fact is, they pay huge subsidies to pay debts to sustain and operate them.

Except for Hongkongs Metro, which generates income from real estate and advertising revenues, all are miserably bankrupt. The following are the annual subsidies that private citizens around the world are literally forced by their governments to subsidize year in year out for their countries' bankrupt railway operations:

COUNTRY.           SUBSIDIES.                                                                           Germany                    17.0 Billion                                                            France                       13.2 Billion                                 
Italy                          7.2 Billion                                   
Spain                        5.1 Billion                                   
United Kingdom          4.5 Billion                                   
Switzerland                4.3 Billion                                  
China                        US$130.0 Billion
Japan                        US $ 300.0 Billion 

Japans losses in 1980 forced its government to privatize their railways, which today, are still subsidized by their citizens.

Thus, even if the above listed countries are more economically powerful than the Philippines, their citizens are still literally forced to subsidize them without let up.  This is true even their currencies are at par with the currencies of the loans, which finance railways.

FiIipino capability at its best

The trackways plus the railways being developed now by the DOST can run at par with the US Amtrak of 50 mph or 80 kph, decent enough without sinking the Philippines into deeper financial debt, according to Yuseco. 

Yuseco doesnt believe the Philippines lacks funds and brains to develop a top calibre trackways system. Brazen corruption, red tape and politics have put our government to international shame according to him. The Aquino administration underspent on infrastructure. So this is a twin Filipino solution, he stresses.
The Intel Track plans is to cover the entire country with focus in addressing Metro Manilas traffic headache that has spawned productivity losses amounting to roughly P2.4 billion a day.
.
The Intel Track rolling stocks will run on its own exclusive track that is completely controlled, therefore, completely programmable. With a completely programmable environment, one has the absolute freedom to program all its systems operating activities.

Intel Track buses will have a length of 18 meters and width of 2.7 meters. When reconfigured, seating and standing arrangement will be the same as LRTs, with passenger capacity of 200 passengers per bus, simulating the operating characteristics of rail-based systems.

Other features: Fixed headways, dwell times, average speed, top speed, loading and unloading stations. Doors open sideways and floor levels are on level with loading and unloading platforms. At an average speed of 60kph, distance between each bus traveling on headways of 60 seconds is a generous distance of 1,000 meters or one (1) kilometer.
      
The result: They match operating efficiency and systems capacities of any rail-based systems at a fraction of their costs. Moreover, their coaches can be manufactured locally and they can be installed within a very short period of six to eight months. Right of way, a perennial problem, would be minimized since posts supporting the elevated road could be built on sidewalks, which is government property, Yuseco says. 

Intel Track is also proposing to build a road using the 30-meter right of way of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) across 1,079 km of train lines stretching across Luzon. Yuseco said this would help spur development in areas outside Manila.
Diametrically opposite the two LRT 1 and MRT 3 where the taxpayers are forced to subsidize private consortium operations to at least P9.0 billion per line per year, the proposed operations of Intel Track on LRT 2 will net the taxpayers a positive reverse subsidy in the amount of P12.1 billion annually. 

What will all these result to? Informal settlers living in crime, drug infested squalors of our cities will migrate back to their hometowns.

Furthermore, Yuseco says that if we ever wonder why the LRT is Belgian, the LRT 2 is Japanese, while the MRT 3 is Czechoslovakian, and now the coaches for the EDSA MRT will be made in China, we shouldnt wonder any more. The answers he says are in the offshore accounts of various government officials paid with generous commissions by the rail manufacturers and exporters.

He recommends that instead of having to import the exorbitantly and complex Light Rail Transit, which Filipinos can never pay, we should spearhead the creation of a bus consortiums to serve as the country's first indigenous mass transit project. He also wants the government to gradually phase out dysfunctional and unscientific operations of conventional buses and convert them into our own mass transit.


Highlights of Yusecos resume 

Graduated with a Liberal Arts Commerce degree from DLSU, took up Management Development Program at Asian Institute of Management and finished one (1) year of Law at the University of the Philippines:

Started his career as Systems Analyst of Manila Management Corporation (FMMC). Acquired first exposure of rampant corruption at the LTO when 10 or 15 year old buses already condemned in other countries after mere cosmetic or superficial reconditioning in the country were being allowed to be registered as only one or two years old.

Later joined Bancom Development Bank as money market trader, the Philippine American Investment Corporation as Head Trader and Assistant Treasurer, then Treasurer until he became one of the partners and Executive Director of the Philippine Investments Systems Organization (PISO), one of two conduit lending institutions in the Philippines for multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank International Monetary Fund, International Finance Corporation, Japan international Cooperation Agency and Overseas Development Assistance. 

As an investment banker, he became Director and Vice-President of the Money Market Association of the Philippines, Chairman of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) Capital Market Development Committee. He also has written published articles in international finance both here and abroad.

He is also a member of the Filipino Inventors Society, with three inventions in his name, namely: The Karbrella - a portable car umbrella, the Water Weeder, a garden device for extracting garden weeds and the Philippine Track Passenger, Agri and Cargo Rapid Transit (PRT) System for which he was awarded a Certificate for Inventive Excellence in Solving the Country's Horrendous Transport and Traffic Problems.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

CUBANO COOL



by Roger Pe
Business Mirror
August 24, 2016 issue

When her family returned to the Philippines from years of staying in Los Angeles, Susan Garcia-Dalmacion thought of bringing a little bit of Cuba to Manila. By being a food entrepreneur, she thought it would just be perfect. Afterall, her family loves food and with years of experience of being a chef herself, it’s something she would be happy doing.

The idea that popped up from her head became a reality, and soon, people were lining up infront of a quaint, little deli on Gallardo Street, Legaspi Village in Makati she and her happy family put up. Pepi Cubano, was born.

Pepi Cubano, who? Pepi Cubano is an inspiration from Dalmacion’s favorite Cuban sandwich. Immensely popular in LA, she always brought it home when she was in California. The business is named after her son Toti’s eldest son. “Because it carries her oldest grandson’s name, it goes without saying that the brand will always be protected. We also want the name to be always equated with positive vibes down to employees whom we want to feel they are part of our family who have as much stake in the business,” she says.

Temptingly special, scrumptious and crunchy as always, Pepi Cubano is an explosion of Caribbean ingredients prepared the Cuban way -, down to the last authentic detail. “The fillings are always lovingly laid out inside the bun. Perhaps, that’s what makes it so deliciously irresistible,” Dalmacion proudly intimates of the way she personally supervises preparation of her now famous sandwich.

A few months into the business, reviews by foodies are flattering. Write-ups have been favorable, unsolicited endorsements are aplenty, franchising requests as well as clamor for more branches around metro Manila are becoming persistent. If you google the word, you will see a flood of positive remarks heaped on Manila’s newest food sensation.

Pepi Cubano has upped Manila’s international ranking on the food barometer. People who always look for new and interesting joints in the nooks and crannies of the city could not be wrong.


The simple way to describe a Pepi Cubano sandwich is it is deliciously substantial. The way to enjoy it is when the bun is crunchy and hot while the fillings burst with meaty goodness and all the Caribbean flavors delight your senses. If the brand would be served and sold in Havana, Cubans would probably hardly notice any difference.

“Years of enjoying these sandwiches in L.A., combined with my experience in culinary art enabled me to come up with the recipe for the Cuban sandwiches we now serve,” Dalmacion proudly says.

The look, the shape, the taste, Pepi Cubano is a must-try for people who want fast but truly satisfying meal with a Cuban beat titillating you on the side. Pepi is an elongated bun filled with a generous amount of pork and ham, succulent enough to seduce the gods in heaven, as one customer said. With special cheese, pickles, jalapenos and mustard lavishly smothered on top, and with premium butter pressed hard to make it look flat, the gustatory experience will make you crave for more.


You can choose a lot of fillings – from the buttery, melt-in-your mouth Paddy Bistek to Choripan, a chorizo and relish filled delight to Cubano Lechon, a Pinoy-Cubano fusion that continous to be a hit, and then, there’s a lot more in the menu.

Starting the business at home

When Dalmacion started her own small business from her kitchen, friends immediately fell in love with her baby. They knew what to expect because she is a connoisseur of good food and her standards are high. Many buns and Cuban sandwiches later, the stage was set. She was ready to fly and the ball started rolling, eventually spreading like wildfire among her circle of friends. Friends of friends endorsed it until she had to put Little Cuba in Manila at the very heart of Makati’s business district.

Lovers of Pepi Cubano admit Dalmacion’s sandwiches sold by themselves because they basically taste good. Dalmacion can reveal that she has perfected the recipe and use only the right ingredients. The warm welcome the product received was due to its consistent taste and quality - a priority in her kitchen that Dalmacion does not compromise.

Does she have a secret recipe? Dalmacion says her roast pork, for example, is marinated in a secret sauce. ”Even the way we arrange the fillings inside the bun is done with a whole lot of love. We treat it not as a fastfood but put our selves into our customers tastebuds, so what you get is a mouthwatering, deliciously prepared sandwich,” she says.

If anyone googles “How to make a Cuban sandwich”, it will be hard to capture the taste that Pepi Cubano offers, Dalmacion says. Why? It’s as unique as the name and the result of years of trying to perfect the recipe.

Dalmacion primarily targets office employees, entrepreneurs and condominium-dwellers - people who are always looking for a cozy place serving a quick but tasty meal. She wants to be able to put up with the demand and put more shops to cover key areas around Metro Manila in the next few years. She wants to continue what she has trailblazed and make Pepi Cubano accessible to even those who are too far away from her first branch in Makati.

What’s one thing that makes her smile? She is proud of the fact that from the time she opened her first shop, requests to put up a shop in the north, south, and other parts of Metro-Manila have not stopped.

Through the years, Dalmacion looks forward to seeing Pepi Cubano maintain its quality, to be known as a place with a warm welcoming atmosphere. She hopes to see her pet project become a favorite shop for people who love good food, with a presence not just in the metro but also in key cities all over the country, perhaps even the region.

100% positive response

“Pepi Cubano has been blessed to have gotten an almost perfect feedback from our customers. People who are familiar with Cuban sandwiches and had them in the US (particularly California and Florida) say they taste exactly the way they are served in the US,” Dalmacion says.

In Makati, she has made a steady following from Cuban and Latin American communities. Guests would come up to her and warmly tell her that her Cubano sandwiches reminded them of the taste they are so familiar with back home.

Then she mentions “Chef”, a movie that made many people try her Pepi Cubano. “We made good reviews because of that - on lifestyle websites, food blogs and magazines. They gave us exposure and kind words. Of course, I am also very thankful to people who endorsed us on social media,” she says.


Would she be open to franchising? Dalmacion says she hopes to expand quickly to make Pepi Cubano more accessible to more people around Metro-Manila. “But while we’ve had so many inquiries about franchising (even as far as Cebu), we do not want to rush into this. Maybe grow the business a little bit more and apply all the learnings from early stages of the business. So when we get into franchising, it will be a truly win-win situation for all. Five years from now, definitely more Pepi Cubano branches, I hope.”

Pepi Cubano is very active on social media. It has also made a conscious effort to be visible outside Makati by participating in food bazaars. Marketing tie-ups with Makati Diamond Residences, Uber, Bayani Brew, the fitness app K-Fit, among others are also helping spread awareness for Pepi.

Loyal customers

Dalmacion loves the fact that she has built a following over the last six months, people who enjoy Pepi Cubano practically everyday. It warms her heart knowing that they already have a favorite from her menu every time they visit.

A customer who broke his leg had the same sandwich delivered to his house while recovering. “We’ve had a number of chefs who visited us and it was always gratifying to hear them give positive comments. The common reaction was “like in that movie Chef,” Dalmacion says.

Dalmacion gets a different crowd on weekends. They are mostly families brought to her shop by working moms and dads. “We value them because they have helped much in spreading the word by posting enjoyment moments on social media. “Other than our food, our guests also love taking photos of Pepi Cubano vintage delivery bikes, (which we actually use) and the “kombi” (which we intend to use as a “food truck”) – all of them part of the total Pepi Cubano experience we offer,” she says. Great food, Cuban ambience, music and decor make Pepi’s distinct personality the real deal.

Business philosophy

How is her business doing so far? Dalmacion says: “The one shop we have is doing well and we are expecting an even better performance at the end of the year. We have a number of marketing initiatives all lined-up. But given the number of players in the food business, especially in our area, we constantly think of creative ways to give our customers reason to choose us.”

If she were to make an ad for Pepi Cubano, what would her campaign look like?

“Based on our experience on social media, one gorgeous food shot can really bring in customers, our focus would still be on food, we will put in the sizzle, when the sandwiches are pressed, the crunch when you cut the sandwich, the mouth-watering layers that are revealed. But going beyond the food, we would want to capture the personality of the shop, the vibrant colors associated with Cuba, the Latin music that is always there, the total Pepi Cubano dining experience,” she excitedly tells us.


She would have Jon Favreau, the star and director of “Chef”* to endorse Pepi Cubano. “That would be perfect but an unrealistic choice,” she says.

*Chef is deliciously entertaining, comic as well as touching movie. Favreau contacted Roy Choi, a restaurateur who created the Kogi Korean Barbecue food truck to serve as a consultant on the film. He oversaw all of the menus prepared for the film and created the Cuban sandwiches that formed the central part of the movie.