PRUBabies receives back-to-back international awards

Thursday, April 18, 2024

PRUBabies


Pru Life UK's free insurance coverage for newborns lauded for making protection accessible to more Filipino families

PRUBabies, Pru Life UK's free insurance coverage against select infectious diseases for newborns, bagged Silver and Bronze Stevie® Awards for Community Relations/Public Service Communications and Innovative Achievement in Diversity & Inclusion, respectively.

As a testament to the company's commitment to driving financial inclusion in the country, Pru Life UK offered 175,000 free vouchers of PRUMedCare – Select Infectious Diseases coverage for newborns from 7 days to 11 months old, helping parents protect their newborns against the cost of getting sick from any of the covered four infectious diseases – Dengue, Typhoid, Measles and Malaria. 

“Daghang salamat Pru Life UK. Dahil sa inyo, nabigyan ng libreng proteksyon ang aking baby,” shares Jeresa Caranoo, mother from Bantayan Island, Cebu who received free insurance for her child. 

Through PRUBabies, parents can receive cash assistance for the diagnosis and death of newborns due to any of the four covered diseases. The Department of Health has warned the public to watch out for the four covered diseases, particularly during summer. 

The leading life insurer distributed free vouchers across the country through Pru Life UK’s 42,000-strong agency force and the support of local government units, non-government organizations (NGOs) and hospitals – NGO Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST) for Bantayan Island, Cebu and ParaƱaque City; The CSR arm of FirstGen Corp. for its host communities in Batangas City; St. Scholastica’s Formation House in Tagaytay City; Philippine Medical Association-Calamba for Dr. Jose P. Rizal District Hospital in Calamba, Laguna; Rotary Club of Mandaluyong-Biyaya for the Grace to Be Born Shelter in Pasig City; Microfinance NGO Tulay sa Pag-unlad Inc. (TSPI) in Makati; Office of Palawan Board Member Anton Alvarez and the Mayor’s Office of Taytay for Taytay, Palawan, Rotary Club of Mandaluyong and Mandaluyong City government for the Mandaluyong City Medical Center, Manila City government for Tondo, Manila, and Barangay Council of Tandang Sora for Barangay Tandang Sora in Quezon City.

A combined financial literacy and climate & health session was also conducted for the families in Palawan, the only province in the Philippines with known malaria cases. 

“PRUBabies is one of the many ways we make life insurance more accessible to more Filipino families, including babies who deserve to be protected from birth. We are grateful to our like-minded partners for their support in reaching out to unserved and underserved communities in far-flung areas. With PRUBabies, we live up to our mission to be the most trusted partners for every life and protectors for every future of Filipino families,” shares Allan Tumbaga, Pru Life UK's Chief Customer and Marketing Officer.

The free coverage vouchers have been distributed in 2023. Filipinos who want to be continuously financially protected with PRUMedCare – Select Infectious Diseases can get it via Pulse app. They can also check the coverage details at www.prulifeuk.com.ph


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TAG Resort Coron Selected as Venue for World Bank International Sustainability Workshop

World Bank International Sustainability Workshop

World Bank selects TAG Coron as venue for international sustainability workshop attended by national and local government officials, community leaders and environment experts

Coron, with its stunning natural beauty and commitment to sustainable tourism, was the chosen venue for a significant World Bank conference focusing on sustainable landscape management. The three-day workshop brought together environmental experts, international stakeholders, and delegates — including country representatives from Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, the US, Singapore, and South Korea — to discuss regional best practices in recognizing forest land rights and sustainable landscape management.

Co-organized by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the Global Partnership for Sustainable and Resilient Landscapes (PROGREEN), and the World Bank multi-donor trust fund Enhancing Access to Benefits while Lowering Emissions (EnABLE), the workshop was held at eco-luxury hotel TAG Resort Coron. The event served as a platform for interactions between the World Bank officials, environmental experts, and the Tagbanua community leaders. With an agenda comprising land rights recognitions and exchanges on conservation strategies, the conference culminated with the awarding of Certificates of Ancestral Land Titles to the indigenous communities.

Present at the event as speakers and facilitators were Palawan Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates, Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, Jr., NCIP Chairperson Jennifer Pia Sibug-Las, PROGREEN’s Patricia Kristjanson, Senior Social Development Specialist Satoshi Ishihara, as well as NCIP officials and key World Bank officials.

TAG Resort Coron: The Epitome of Eco-Conscious Business Hospitality

The World Bank East Asia and Pacific Workshop on Recognition and Formalization of Land Rights in Forest Areas selected TAG Resort Coron as its official venue and sole accommodation provider for the international delegates after rigid screenings. The resort, which also champions eco-conscious tourism, boasts the largest ballroom in Coron, accommodating a large contingent of international delegates. Complementing its impressive event space are 112 rooms with all-inclusive amenities, ensuring a luxurious and restful stay for all attendees.

TAG Resort Coron

The Tagbanua people, cultural pillars of Coron, inspired the name for TAG Resort. Visual artist Kublai Millan's Bantayog ng Tagbanua takes centerstage in the resort to honor the tribe

“It is a privilege to be hosting this World Bank workshop which will further enhance cooperation in recognizing IP rights over ancestral lands and push for greater sustainable management of our forests,” said Stephen Rey Tagud, TAG Resorts, Inc. Managing Director. “The preservation of living heritage and the environment is really an integral part of our business DNA, and we welcome more opportunities to host worthwhile events like these in the future which serve as platforms for discourse and plans of action.”

With its successful hosting of the World Bank’s significant workshop, TAG Resort Coron reiterates its capability as a prime destination for business events — especially those that require a blend of luxury and eco-tourism.
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Empowering Communities for Sustainable Land Management

WALHI

While global awareness of forests' significance has grown, Southeast Asia grapples with ongoing forest loss. The region has lost approximately 80 million hectares of forest between 2005 and 2015, with projections indicating further shrinkage or growth. In the Philippines, the Food and Agricultural Organization estimated that the country has the second fastest deforestation rate in Southeast Asia and seventh globally between 2000 and 2005, losing roughly 2.1% of its forest cover annually. The cause for the loss is human activities like converting forests to farms, using trees for fuel, illegal logging, and clearing land for mining all contribute to this rapid decline. 

With increasing numbers of changing and extreme weather patterns due to the climate crisis, forests will continue to be in a dire state, as there will be potential decreases in coffee, palm oil, sugar cane, and corn production across Southeast Asia. In the Philippines, the problem comes with a conundrum, as there is a risk of a hunger crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic. Therefore, the question is how do we increase the protection of our forest without impacting our food security.

We have seen efforts to ensure food security in the form of food estate development. However, these efforts are mostly done without a sustainability framework or are designed to meet a short-term goal. For example, Indonesia has been trying to develop its food estate programs for years to ensure food security; however, these projects have not had successful outcomes. What’s left now are damaged forests and peatlands, the latter being fragile ecosystems that can cause an increase in carbon emissions, forest fires, and transboundary haze.

Apart from impacting the environment, these approaches also do not have the local community's interest at hand. Opening up these lands also means relocating some indigenous communities that have lived on the land for generations. This will cause more issues in the future, including cultural erosion, economic disparity, and health impacts.

In this challenging landscape, WALHI, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, stands as a beacon of hope. Founded in 1980 and part of the Friends of the Earth International network since 1989, WALHI is Indonesia’s largest and oldest environmental advocacy NGO. Committed to promoting resilience and community economics, WALHI’s mission revolves around restoring environmental rights and empowering local communities.

“At WALHI, we have witnessed the success of the Wilayah Kelola Rakyat (WKR) or Community Managed Area approach in promoting sustainable land management among the communities that we work with. We firmly believe this approach can be used as a benchmark for communities across Indonesia and replicated in other Southeast Asian countries,” said Uli Arta Siagian, WALHI National Forest and Big Plantation Campaign Manager.

Empowering Community to Make Environment Thrive

At the heart of WALHI’s work lies the Wilayah Kelola Rakyat (WKR), a community-based area management that champions sustainable land management. WKR integrates governance, production, distribution, and consumption processes while respecting local wisdom and values, ensuring no land conflict between the communities and other private parties. By empowering communities to manage their resources, WKR addresses structural poverty and inequality while defending against extractive industries.

WALHI has also helped communities, such as the Dayak Meratus, one of the indigenous communities in Borneo, to continue their swidden farming practice. While the practice is focused on the slash and burn activities, it ensures that the land being cleared is not part of the fragile ecosystem. Additionally, the Dayak Meratus also provides ample time for the land to recover by not planting anything after a period of time. During that time, the Dayak Meratus will search for another area to be cultivated.

Apart from conducting this practice, the Dayak Meratus tribe also practices intercropping, growing various crops in the same field. This allows a variety of staple foods to be consumed but also helps the crops to be more resilient, reduces pest outbreaks, and enhances the resilience of the farming system against environmental fluctuations.

What Dayak Meratus has been doing, is what WALHI wants to replicate across Indonesia. Focusing on each area’s strength and the community practices, ensuring to meet the needs of local communities. At the same time, there should be an increase in sustainable agricultural practices that improve yield without exploiting the forest.

Challenges and Trajectories

What WALHI proposes is not an entirely novel approach, The Forest Development Center of the College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR-FDC) from the University of the Philippines Los Banos has previously floated the idea. Especially in addressing the country's chronic food insecurity and malnutrition problems. This highlights the often-overlooked role of forests in contributing to food security, alongside traditional agriculture.

However there are going to be challenges moving forward. Despite the approaches proposed by WALHI, there are still uphill battles that the organization and local communities must face, especially on government regulations, restoring the ecosystem to support the community, and whether the effort can be scaled up. 

In the Philippines, similar efforts are already being undertaken, namely the Carood Watershed Project, backed by the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The project tackles environmental health and food security as it aims to restore the watershed's natural balance by focusing on reforestation, water reservoir protection, and sustainable land management. This collaborative effort brings together government officials, local communities, and academic institutions to ensure collaborative decision-making. 

Replicating the WKR approach elsewhere requires sensitivity to local contexts and active community participation. Nonetheless, the model offers a blueprint for sustainable land management in the face of escalating environmental challenges, and most importantly, it holds promise for other Southeast Asian countries, to balance food security and environmental protection.

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EastWest Continues to Break New Ground in Digital Banking with AI Chatbot ESTA

Monday, April 15, 2024

AI Chatbot ESTA

EastWest Bank, one of the fastest-growing banks in the country today and a pioneer in Philippine digital banking solutions, is thrilled to announce the latest updates on its groundbreaking artificial intelligence chatbot, ESTA (EastWest System Tech Assistant), available on Facebook Messenger.

For the past few years, this innovative tool has been redefining the digital banking experience for EastWest credit cardholders and employees alike, marking a significant milestone in the bank's commitment to technological advancement and customer service excellence. 

Designed to cater to the modern-day banking needs of its users, ESTA leverages the widespread use of Facebook Messenger to provide a platform where credit cardholders can effortlessly perform a variety of credit card services. From balance transfers and installment conversions to accessing Insta-Cash, ESTA offers a seamless and secure banking experience right at the fingertips of its users. In addition, it consistently generates Php1B in installment bookings monthly. 

Just recently, ChatGPT was incorporated in EastWest’s Customer Service functionality, resulting in a 75% reduction in Customer Service warm body interactions. In the near future, retrieving account information and performing transactions can be done not only by screen or button presses but via textual commands. Imagine having a digital assistant that can carry out commands like – “Compute my average spend on XYZ ecommerce for the last 6 months” or “Send Php10,000 to my husband’s EastWest bank account.”

This AI-powered convenience is a testament to EastWest's dedication to providing quick and easy solutions to meet the busy lifestyles of its customers.

ESTA Leveling Up

Further extending the ESTA experience, EastWest is proud to announce an upgraded version of ESTA for its employees. This new iteration integrates flawlessly with ChatGPT on Microsoft Teams, allowing staff to access knowledge bases that include the internet at large, internal manuals, store policies, MORB + Select BSP Circulars, the Corporate Credit Policy, and credit card product features more efficiently. This internal tool is designed to accelerate information retrieval, analysis and synthesis based textual and numerical work output, fostering a smarter, empowered and more productive workplace environment. It is similar to having a virtual assistant capable of conducting financial ratio analysis or crafting advertising copy for an ad campaign.

“ESTA represents a first-in-market innovation, offering unparalleled accessibility and convenience in digital banking. It exemplifies EastWest's commitment to leveraging technology to enhance the banking experience for both customers and employees,” said Efren dela Cruz, Jr., Head of Consumer Service Delivery at EastWest.

“Through constant improvements, upgrades and updates, EastWest aims to further ESTA's contribution to the bank's extensive digital capabilities, showcasing the bank's ongoing thrust for innovation and customer service excellence,” dela Cruz added.

Power to the Customers

EastWest reiterated its commitment to customers, highlighted by ESTA’s consumer-friendly features for an even more convenient banking experience, including the following:

  • Account Security: Real-time lock and unlock capabilities for primary and supplementary accounts. Real time notifications for and confirmation of suspicious transactions.
  • Promo Searches: Enhanced search functionality for promos by category or keyword, making it easier to find the best deals.
  • Real time display of transactions
  • Updating of addresses, mobile and email address
  • Other EastWest Credit Card Services: One stop shop for accepting information and documents for applications for credit limit increases, supplementary cards, disputes, balance transfers, annual fee waivers, insta-cash, and convert to installment

"ESTA represents more than just an advancement in digital banking technology; it embodies EastWest's vision for a future where banking is not only accessible but also seamlessly integrated into our customers' daily lives. Our commitment to innovation is driven by our dedication to providing exceptional service and convenience. With ESTA, we're not just keeping pace with the digital age—we're defining it," concluded Efren dela Cruz, Jr.

Experience the future of digital banking today with ESTA. Chat with ESTA on Facebook Messenger at www.ewlend.com/esta or apply for your EastWest credit card via the ESTA chatbot at www.ewlend.com/creditCard.

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Relishing the Summer Season With Shang Properties

The Philippines is an excellent place to revel in the summer season, with countless beaches, islands, and spots in the provinces and the city. In Metro Manila, Shang Properties curates spaces that are tranquil slices of paradise—giving homeowners and residents the ultimate getaway just a few steps away from their doors.

Resort Living at Shang Residences at Wack Wack

Shang Residences at Wack Wack is a private sanctuary in the city. The property is uniquely set amidst lush landscapes, verdant gardens, and sprawling open spaces neighboring one of Manila’s most iconic heritage sites: The Wack Wack Golf and Country Club in Mandaluyong. Units have sweeping views of two 18-hole championship golf courses or the Makati skyline, which are most dazzling during sunset.

Shang Properties’ lush landscapes, verdant gardens, and sprawling open spaces create curated spaces that offer tranquil slices of paradise to its residents. | Shang Residences At Wack Wack

Contemporary tropical luxury resorts inspire the property. The outdoor pools rival those in five-star hotels and are perfect for a refreshing afternoon dip. A kid’s pool is ready for children who want to cool down in the heat. Residents can unwind at the lush poolside pavilion and indulge in a thirst-quenching drink at the cabana.

Shang Properties’ world-class amenities offer a one-of-a-kind summer getaway for its residents | Shang Residences at Wack Wack

Residents can take advantage of the other amenities during the summer. A function room with a breathtaking view of the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club is available for intimate get-togethers in an indoor setup. Kids who want to savor their summer vacation can enjoy the indoor and outdoor play areas.

Shang Properties’ continues its commitment to a balanced lifestyle with its premium fitness centers. | Shang Residences At Wack Wack

Like luxury resorts, Shang Residences at Wack Wack has spaces dedicated to health and well-being. Residents who want to achieve their dream summer body can visit the fitness center or do yoga at the panoramic studio. A refreshing stay in the steam and sauna rooms can cap off an invigorating workout.

Shang Residences at Wack Wack is perfect for those who want year-round resort-style living.

Nature at the Doorstep

Shang Properties has curated an ecosystem of in-house amenities suited for a modern lifestyle at Laya, located in Pasig City. Homeowners can choose between indoor and outdoor spaces, depending on how hot the day is. Nature is at every resident’s doorstep as beautifully landscaped areas dot the property. These spaces are ideal for outdoor activities such as picnicking, reading, or watching the sunset. A dip at the pool is perfect for hot afternoons.

Shang Properties curates an ecosystem of in-house amenities suited for a modern lifestyle. | Laya By Shang Properties

Those who’d rather stay cool can delight in the indoor amenities. A function room is suitable for gatherings, while those who want quiet time can find peace at the library and workspace. Families, meanwhile, can enjoy the children’s playroom, the game room, and the viewing room for movie nights.

Shang Properties understands the quality of life for those who want a modern lifestyle that seamlessly flows from work to play, indoor to outdoor, and season to season. | Laya By Shang Properties

Laya by Shang Properties is the place to call home for those who want a modern lifestyle that seamlessly flows from work to play, indoor to outdoor, and season to season.

Summer Adventures With Shang Properties

Homeowners and residents can have their fill of adventures this summer with Shang Properties.

Update their wardrobe at the Shangri-La Plaza. Shangri-La Plaza is home to a tastefully curated mix of luxury retailers, such as Cartier, Givenchy, Gucci, Rolex, and Yves Saint Laurent, and local favorites like Bench, harlan + holden, Kashieca, and Jewelmer.

Explore gustatory delights at Shangri-La Plaza. The country’s most established upscale shopping and lifestyle destination is also home to international dining options that bring the world to the Philippines. Arya Persian Restaurant and CYMA Greek Taverna offer Mediterranean delights, while Bulgogi Brothers, and Watami bring the best Asian cuisine. There’s Cibo for Italian, Duck & Buvette and La Creperie for French, and Raging Bull Burgers from the best Australian and USA cuts with a focus on high quality grain and grass-fed beef. There’s something for everyone.

Catch the latest movies at the Red Carpet. Red Carpet at the Shang features a state-of-the-art sound system, digital projection equipment, and stadium-type seating. The Premiere Theater further elevates this with wider, reclinable seats in a more intimate setting and an adjoining bar and lounge. Catch April’s blockbuster films, such as The First Omen and Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, in Metro Manila’s premier cineplex.

Glimpse at Shang Properties' exemplary service. See what’s in store for Shang Properties residents with its series of summer-themed open house events at Laya by Shang Properties’ Showroom on April 20 and at Aurelia Residences Showsuite on April 21.


To learn more about Shang Properties, visit the website at shangproperties.com and follow Shang Properties on its official social media pages: @ShangProperties on Instagram and Facebook, @ShangPropertiesOfficial on YouTube, and Shang Properties on LinkedIn.

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Top Philippine PR agency head to join panel of judges in the prestigious Stevie Awards

Friday, April 12, 2024

Ana Pista

The Stevie Awards, one of the world’s premier business awards, has recently named Filipino Ana Pista, founder, and CEO of Ardent Communications, as one of its distinguished panel of judges for the Corporate Communications/PR, Publications, Events, and Video Asia Pacific Awards. 

The Asia-Pacific Stevie® Awards are an international business awards competition that is open to all organizations in the 29 markets of the Asia-Pacific region. The focus of the awards is on recognizing innovation in all its forms. In short order, the Stevie has become one of the world's most coveted prizes. 

Ana Pista started Ardent Communications Inc. or ArdentComm in 1997 as a PR agency specializing in the then-booming technology sector. Over the years, Pista has helped the agency to become one of the Philippines' leading integrated marketing communications agencies. 

ArdentComm offers strategic communications consultancy, government and community relations, digital PR, media and influencer relations, and digital marketing. It counts as clients some of the biggest brands in the world such as Airbnb, Toyota, Disney, Chevron, and Alibaba Cloud. 

Pista was the first-ever Filipino elected as a director of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management, the leading international body for the profession of public relations and communications.

Pista will join other local top PR agency heads, academics from renowned universities, and top executives in the country as members of the panel of judges. Along with these juries are professional and prominent personalities from Singapore, Texas, Australia, and other countries.

The winners of the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards were unveiled last April 10, showcasing diverse and exceptional campaigns, individuals, and innovations to inspire and influence wide-ranging sectors worldwide. The awardees are slated to celebrate their outstanding works at the upcoming banquet on May 24 which will be held in Manila. 

For additional information about the elected juries and other 2024 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards Asia updates, you can visit their website at: https://www.asia.stevieawards.com/.
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Through its new partnerships with consumer finance platforms, Igloo extends access to insurance to the underbanked

Wednesday, April 10, 2024


Regional insurtech furthers financial inclusion with tailored protection for products purchased through digital loan platforms

As part of its commitment to advancing financial inclusion and providing insurance for all, regional insurtech Igloo has partnered with consumer finance platforms in the Philippines to offer gadget protection products to shoppers. Igloo aims to extend access to insurance products and streamline the process of protecting items purchased through digital loans or alternative financing, whether online or in-store, providing consumers with a more accessible and convenient means to secure their purchases effectively.

“While the Philippines has made notable strides in financial inclusion, a considerable portion of the population remains unbanked. This translates to the inability to establish a credit history, which is essential for accessing financial products such as credit cards and loans,” said Roberto Vea, Commercial Lead at Igloo Philippines. “This is why the consumer lending industry has risen by leaps and bounds–it caters to the needs of the unbanked population by providing alternative financial solutions such as digital loans that do not rely on traditional banking infrastructure."

Lower barriers to entry, competitive interest rates, and simplified application processes have facilitated Filipinos' access to crucial loan products, driving the popularity of installment financing and buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) schemes. BNPL, in particular, is forecasted to reach US$2.29 billion by 2024. Many of these loans are facilitated in physical retail outlets, offering consumers the flexibility to make purchases and arrange financing conveniently in-store.

"At Igloo, we firmly believe in being where we can impact consumers most. That’s why we partnered with leading digital lending companies Skyro and Salmon alongside Etiqa to develop a product designed to protect installment purchases and ensure accessibility wherever our customers are,” Vea explained. “Now, they can protect their purchases wherever they buy it–whether through online merchants or offline stores, we’re giving them the peace of mind they deserve.”

In partnership with Etiqa, Igloo has introduced innovative products like Gadget Protection, Loan Protect with Skyro, and Loan Protect with Salmon. Soon, Salmon, Etiqa, and Igloo will also launch Accidental Damage and/or Liquid Damage, along with Extended Warranty products. These offerings provide comprehensive protection for customers' purchases through consumer finance platforms.

These products provide extensive coverage for device repairs, replacements, and loan repayments in the event of unexpected incidents that impact the customer. These protection products are available in top mobile and appliance stores nationwide.

The process is simple: when a customer purchases a device, the insurance product is seamlessly integrated into the client's loan amount. This integration ensures that premium payments are effortless, hassle-free, and budget-friendly. 

Once the policy is active, Gadget Protection will step in if the consumer faces device issues requiring repairs or replacements. The policy covers the costs associated with these services, providing the customer with peace of mind and financial security.

“We are committed to our mission of providing ‘insurance for all’ and that includes safeguarding purchases made by an underserved sector because it offers a layer of financial protection that they may not otherwise have access to. We will continue to work with our partners to develop products that cater to the diverse needs of the people we serve,” Vea ended.

Learn more about Igloo’s products by visiting iglooinsure.com
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