January 29, 2008


Google may still be battling for the 700 MHz C block spectrum that is currently at $3.42 Billion. This fits nicely with the latest Wired News article I just read

Entering the telecommunications industry in this manner can only assist them in their plan to dominate the online and mobile advertising industries. Interestingly, google is also experimenting barcodes that will be printed next to newspaper/magazine advertisements-- scannable by your mobile phone. This would direct you online to more information, coupons, etc.


January 27, 2008


Carting around rocks, debris and construction materials is no longer the easy, afternoon work out it used to be. Writing this mid-morning, over a nice hot latte, my lower back is tight and surprisingly sore-- and this is after a good 8 hours of sleep (I regularly get 4)! I am no tri-athlete here but in my youth I could easily climb 10 hours up, spend an overnight, take another 10 hours down and still wake up the next day for a morning at the gym. But, enough of me, my aging body, and the irritating realization of it, the reason for my construction worker weekend was an activity held at the Western Bicutan High School, which involved the International School of Manila's "ICare" and the Renovate to Educate Foundation (rED).

To Briefly expound on a few of the problems that faced the Western Bicutan Highschool: 

1) 1000 kids come in for classes in the morning and 1000 in the afternoon (total of 2000 per school year). They have 4 bathrooms in the entire school, 100 kids per class, not enough chairs and desks for the classrooms, and barely enough funding for electricity or a maintenance staff, which means that the kids are forced to maintain their own school. So if you happen to be one of the kids assigned to cleaning the school for the day, you better hope it wasn't on the day they were teaching the theory of relativity or how to use nouns in a sentence or you can kiss your future as a scientist or teacher goodbye.

2) The school currently has one basketball court, they used to have another basketball court and a field, but both were overrun one morning when a local barrio decided to set up camp on school grounds. The local government has been informed of this problem and for the last three years have been "working out" a solution. Lets not hold our breath on this one. I consider it much like the battles of the middle ages. A foreign group overruns your land and you either boot them out or are taken by them. Except in this scenario it is a barrio of transients (or by their political alias: "the voting public") V.S. school children. Perhaps a siege is a better term, as the kids, teachers and principals are retreating to the safety of their buildings as more and more shanty huts grow around them. This is their property mind you.

3) The school, lacking funding and in need of a new building, petitioned the PTA to assist them in raising funds for a new building, which they proceed to do successfully until the PTA disappeared with the money. A group of angry parents then decide to take matters into their own hands, forming a new PTA they valiantly raise funds a second time only to decide once all funds were raised, to run away with the money (how noble of them). There is currently a PTA ban imposed by the principal of the school.

The Renovate to Educate Foundation (rED) looks to alleviate the impact of such problems, by developing a community of schools within the Taguig area that work as a support network for each other. Using re-building activities, rED is working to develop a community of schools that share a mutual concern over the education of our youth. The Western Bicutan High School activity that I attended was a direct initiative of the International School of Manila and rED. Understanding the problems that were facing the Western Bicutan High School, students, teachers, and supporters came for a four day event that included wall building, landscaping, murals/campus art, chair and desk rebuilding, bano rehabilitation and an overall general clean up. While I found that the activities were both well organized and practical for the school, it was the atmosphere that surrounded the activities and their participants, which impressed me. Regardless of nationality, cultural background, and social economic class, these volunteers interacted and participated with a glowing warmth and passion. There was a genuine camaraderie between strangers that resonated from the volunteers, through to the students, finally trickling to the local sari sari stores lining the school walls. It was the pulse of a community that understood the limitations of our government and was actively finding ways to make their own difference. 

I have to say that often I find well-funded private schools (ISM, Singapore International School, Etc.) plagued by an "island" mentality. Hidden behind their well-guarded and high walls, students and teachers interact in an oasis community that often does not reflect the reality immediately outside their grounds. True, they often have outreach activities that take them as far out as La Union or Mindanao, but what about your neighbors next door? The rED activity showed me that there has been a seed planted by these Taguig based private schools, one that will hopefully grow into an active, inter-school involvement with the local community. Whether it is through foundations like Renovate to Educate or similar activities with different initiatives, I strongly feel that social change should be enacted at your doorstep. Taguig is slowly becoming host to the Philippines city of the future, if we are going to develop a community between the private and public schools of the area; there is no better place to start.

Congratulations to all the volunteers that participated in this event. From a slightly older (though not at all old) Jolly Jetsetter, I look forward to supporting similar projects in the coming months!

January 24, 2008


Tesla is positive it can start building the electric roadster on March 17, despite recurring transmission problems. The sports car can currently do a 0-60mph run in 5.7 seconds, which is about 0.4 seconds slower than my cherry red, campus commuting Camaro Z28. Very disappointing considering an original stated time of 4.0 seconds and the fact that this car costs $98,000.00 While I do understand that this all electric sports car is the wave of the future, I find the price, its performance, and its coyote ugly looks a poor reason to waste your hard earned $.

Sadly, with the new environmental laws in place, GM’s promise to retire its big V8’s, and rising gasoline costs. Our future could very well sit on the success of this Tesla Roadster. Bob Lutz recently expressed his opinion that the best short-term solution will be found in bio-fuels, with electric vehicles being the long-term solution. I personally feel that hybrid technology will leapfrog bio-fuels (at least in terms of impact on the public) in most major automotive markets and lead into purely electric vehicles.

With ethanol supply still relatively small, and new harvests still years away. Diesel, a good alternative—but one with limited future possibilities (as there is only so much you can do with diesel). I strongly feel that Hybrid technology and its rapid emergence into the market will in fact prove to be the best short-term fight we have against our increasing environmental woes. Hydrogen and electric powered vehicles are the wave of the future. The technology to manufacture and sell these at a “market acceptable” price will not happen anytime soon, but it’s good to know that lawmakers are taking the right steps to support such initiatives. So long as companies like Toyota and GM keep trying to one up each other in the quest for a greener image, the public will continue to benefit as will the future of motoring.

January 23, 2008


IMI Mobile has just launched “Ad-Ring” a fully integrated mobile advertising platform (they claim). It covers SMS, MMS Voice, WAP portal, Caller ring back tone, and Video streaming. It is an interesting offering that addresses (Vishwanath Alluri, IMImobile CEO):

“The increasingly complex needs that demand a highly flexible and intelligent platform.”

“That will allow our customers to initiate and manage consumer campaigns quickly and easily, taking full advantage of the highly targeted nature of mobile advertising.”

Ad-Ring is one of the many “Ads” that we see popping up these days (Ad-Tag, Ad-Phone being the other two). Much like Ad-Ring, Ad-Phone is developing an integrated mobile advertising platform. The services offered however, span across different advertising mediums (Online, Print Media, Mobile) rather than diversity within a medium. Regardless of the approach, these new services are targeting consumers that while easily accessible, are also easily distracted, fickle, and adept multitaskers. Advertisers looking to reach this growing demographic will need varying approaches to spreading their messages.

While I do feel that these creative individuals can do a little better when naming their companies. Formula = [Ad + Common Mobile Word = New Company Name]. Next up: Ad-Cell? Ad-SMS? The approach taken is the right one. Watch these "Ads," they are leading the way.


Google and Publicis announced a non-exclusive collaboration between both companies, that would entail placing executives from each company within the ranks of the other.

Maurice Levy (CEO Publicis) said "the goal is to create a "triple-win" -- not just a win-win -- situation. "Our clients win, the platform Google wins and the ad industry/Publicis wins. We're bringing Google our knowledge of advertising communications, consumers and client needs. They're bringing us knowledge of technology and the world of the web."

This is certainly one of the first proactive steps I have seen larger companies make in their quest to gain a piece of the mobile advertising pie. Note that neither of the parties are tied with one another, this collaboration is a way of merging skills and developing programs/systems that address the needs of both parties, namely: The Web/Mobile Industry and Advertising. Finally, instead of companies trying to secretly develop the next best thing, we have an open sharing of information and individuals.

I look forward to seeing more from this collaboration.

January 22, 2008


Most Sunday mornings are spent nursing mean hangovers. Some Sundays mornings are spent sipping cappuccinos while enjoying a good book. Once in a long while however, comes that perfect Sunday morning, the kind of morning that you hope will set the tone for all Sundays to come. My weekend drive to breakfast in Tagaytay and back—was MY kind of Sunday morning!

Of course, it was not quite as uneventful as it sounds. Picture seventeen exotic and classic cars and thirty Harley Davidson’s snaking their way up the mountain path (Several environmentalists must have just died after reading that). Cars and motorbikes of this caliber cease to become modes of transportation as they represent the passion and vision of their designers/owners. Whether it be a 2007 Porsche GT3 or a meticulously restored ’65 Harley, there is a deep energy released that resonates life (La Dolce Vita). It is exactly the opposite of that mind dulling, soul-sucking feeling you get when looking at yet ANOTHER Toyota Fortuner or Camry.

My mode of transportation for the day was a 1970’s muscle car, which when driven hard, can be extremely fun while also white knuckled terrifying. The brakes are not even and she leans perilously in sharp curves, but when she opens up on the long stretches and you sit back and enjoy the feel of a car that was designed for boy racers of your fathers’ generation, you can’t help by grin stupidly—ear to ear!

Harley (My hedgehog) and I had a delicious breakfast at Moon Garden (Coffee two thumbs down). The weather was perfect, company pleasant (Thirty plus grown boys acting like kids), and best of all we were back by 11:30 AM. If I can get myself in bed early enough on Saturday evenings, I think I’ll make a habit out of this.

January 16, 2008


Boeing has been under a lot of fire recently for pushing back delivery dates of the Dreamliner to its first batch of clients. This is a rather unfortunate (though expected) turn of events from a company that has both a long reputation of delivering on schedule and greatly benefited from the bad press thrown at the Airbus A380’s delays. I have always been a strong Boeing supporter, probably because I admire their daring. Looking back at their history, they have been faced with near bankruptcies (so analysts have said), design challenges, etc. which they have always managed to come out of, better and stronger than before. Their move in developing the Dreamliner, a fuel efficient and short haul carrier, when the market seemed to be leaning towards large, passenger heavy airplanes, was as dramatic a shift as their move in the seventies to introduce the 747. This company is willing to take big risks. It’s in their culture, something that I do not see as readily in Airbus.

The Airbus A380 has taken flight and is currently in the process of delivery. However, they are operating in a market that has shifted. Fuel prices are up, EU (where most of the A380 parts are made) labor and manufacturing costs have skyrocketed and the Airline companies who would be in the market for an A380 are facing heavy competition from their low cost rivals. Boeing on the other hand has developed a jet with 20% more fuel savings a 10% improvement in operating economics, a design that works with the majority of airports in the world (The A380 needs a longer and reinforced runway, as well as different loading bridges) and is basically made of “plastic.” Best of all, the Dreamliner parts are outsourced to cheaper manufacturing markets. With the A350 still years away, Boeing’s Dreamliner can expect to corner the market for a good amount of time… so long as they can deliver.

You can tell I’m looking forward to trying out the Dreamliner. Its first delivery will be to All Nippon Airways, but I am sure it will be a popular choice for all the low cost carriers in Asia that I enjoy flying. It does not have the panache of those personal, First Class flying cabins being touted by Singapore Airlines and Emirates on their A380’s. However, for a frequent flyer like myself, if this Dreamliner can make my short haul flights a little more comfortable, a little more reasonable, then it’s a winner in my eyes!

January 14, 2008


Disruptive Technologies is an old phrase mostly used with the Mobile Industry. Recently it has been springing up again to describe challenges facing Web 2.0 and Mobile 1.0. It is a bit early to tell what the “disruptive technologies” will be for the advancing Mobile Advertising Industry, but if I were to name one that would most interest me, it would be the emergence of “people powered software (lifted from Owen Van Natta).” We see how these new applications are affecting the Social Networking Sites, from interactive games to applications that collate and share your favorite music. Software designers are finding more and more ways of entertaining themselves. What is interesting is that this software makes up the backbone of the “web within the web.” This new interactive universe is implanted in our computers and phones, touching our personal lives, desires, and dreams. The public craves an interactive and personal experience.

Presently there is limited software for the mobile world but it is certainly growing in leaps and bounds. I can see an age where the web and phone are fully integrated: Between seamlessly calling on Skype via WIFI to a mobile device or computer, you will be living your Halflife counterpart while on the train or receiving links to promotions you are interested in on your phone and PC. Business networking and introductions will be done through sites like Facebook and Myspace and you will find common friends and hobbies through referrals and software link ups. Similarly, for those of us looking to reach into the advertising potential of this short-term future, emerging advertising software holds the key.

We are starting to see the emergence of creative advertising outlets that aim at tapping this highly personalized and sensitive demographic. What started as corporate RBT advertisements has transformed into innovative concepts like what is hatching through 3G or failed attempts like Beacon. Regardless, the advertising groups that will survive Mobile 1.0 are those that can develop a platform, which represents and develops a myriad of these smaller services.

The slow transition of Skype from the PC world to the Mobile world is a good example of why it may take a bit of time. Technological issues aside, we have larger industry players that are as of yet unsure of how to master such emerging technologies and thus apprehensive of change. To expedite this transition, advertising companies need to provide brands with several outlets to reach the consumer—outlets that are interactive and complimentary, attacking on different levels yet broadcasting the same brand image/message. To win and survive Mobile 1.0, one needs to diversify.


I am a bit late in writing about the “One Lakh Car,” mildly amusing to me as I have been tracking the progress of this car for quite some time now—it’s been a lazy beginning of the New Year…

One Lakh = 100,000 rupees = $2500 = PHP 100,750 = CHEAP. It is powered by an anemic 623 cc engine, which is redeemed by an untested but promising 50 miles to the gallon. At PHP 339,000 with an 800 cc engine, the Chery QQ is hardly a worthy competitor. As far as I know, TATA has no present plans to bring this to the Philippines, probably a good thing as I have yet to see a single QQ along the streets of Makati.

A cheap car to the masses is probably not the best solution for the Philippines. While I envision a future where all Filipinos have some mode of personal transportation and an even shorter-term future where Filipinos have a fairly reliable and environmentally friendly public transportation infrastructure, it is just too easy to get a vehicle in this country. Worse, there are minimal regulations that protect us from vehicles that pollute or are in a state of disrepair. If we want to make a sizeable impact on the environment and more importantly, the health and safety of our public, the government needs to find a suitable alternative to the polluting jeeps and buses, while regulating vehicles on our roads. Subsiding more efficient engines/promoting the use of ethanol (looks grim for the electric jeepney), regulating vehicles beyond a certain age, limiting vehicle registration through taxation, there are quite a few different ways of attack. Unfortunately it requires a bit of political will. I like to hope for the best.

January 09, 2008


I enjoyed a nice glass of Chateux Margaux 1983, while taking in a gorgeous view of Singapore from the rooftop China Club. It had deep red highlights, with a spiced flavor. It was not too heavy considering its age, and was every bit as good as its reputation. It is said that the flavor comes from the thin stony topsoil over a mix of lime and sand with alcerous soil. Current debate has yet to be concluded on whether the Margaux 1982 or 1983 is the Margaux wine of the century. A real shame considering I have a 1981 Margaux sitting in my bar! Be warned, prices range between $2000 (if you are lucky) to $3500 per bottle, so savor it wisely.


Merril Lynch just released its projections for the top internet themes for 2008. I found their “emergence of social networking revenue models” the most relevant section. Basically they are repeating what we have all come to realize, social networking sites (Friendster, Facebook, etc.) will play a significant role in the online advertising industry, and will be a strong influence on mobile advertising. An increase of 8% in Social Networking (1% of the time spent online, est. 2003) has spurned large companies like Microsoft to take a more proactive stake in this emerging industry. While I do think that the valuation placed on the Facebook acquisition was beyond ridiculous, it does clearly mark this sector as a future sandbox.

Presently there are some interesting partnerships between Social Networking sites and mobile phones that seem to be working well enough. For the rest of us, there is still a long way to go.

January 08, 2008


To answer a comment made by one of my readers, I’d like to expound a bit more on an interesting business that affects all companies looking to advertise over print media. I was in Singapore on a business trip when I came across AdTag applied in one of the local newspapers. Sleek, simple and well integrated, the “AdTag” brings about a different dynamic to tracking and analyzing your companies advertising expenditure and efficiency. I’ll leave it up to the website to give a company introduction: (http://www.adtaggers.com/about-us.html). What I find fascinating is the manner in which this “AdTag” tracks print media.

Imagine your company has $100,000 to spend on a print advertisement. Traditionally you would choose a magazine or newspaper publication that research companies or your own experience has proven to bring the most readers in your target market. Your options are mostly limited to the type (readers, distribution, demographic, etc.), length of time, and location (on the publication). Even with these options, there is no real way of tracking the effect that this $100,000 has brought back to your company. Do you spend it all on one advertisement in a large publication, or over several smaller publications? How do you keep your marketing moneys efficient?

Enter AdTag, a small in unobtrusive image on your advertisement that generates and organizes data gathered from the readers. By promising readers who text the specific “AdTag” number the chance to win an incentive, this company ensures a steady flow of participants who in turn, make up the sample group which represents the public. Each of the combinations of numbers that you text in, correspond to a specific publication/advertisement- basically the barcode of the system.

Let us say that your company runs 1 advertisement in 1 magazine for 1 week (1 + 1 + 1), applying the AdTag service. Upon the termination of the campaign you should have:

1) A good estimate on the total amount of readers that glanced over your campaign.
2) The days and hours of each day had the heaviest traffic.
3) Which locations attracted the most hits.
4) Basic reader demographics (gender/age: through Mobile numbers).

Best of all, your company will have the ability to compare all of the different variables of your information against each other.

Taking this a step further, imagine that the advertisement you placed was not 1 + 1 + 1, but actually 3 different advertisements over 6 different types of publications (2 magazines, 2 newspapers and 2 Billboards) with varying launch dates and duration. From the information that AdTag gathers, you should be able to compare all 6 outlets with each other, analyzing the publics reaction to the ad, location, publication, time of day, who it attracted based off gender/age, and a whole lot more. It might even tell you a bit more about the strength of the marketing companies you use to generate your ads. Presently, advertising groups offer some way (quite weakly) to estimate the effect of most of these points, but there are no companies that I am aware of at the moment that can best AdTag in terms of estimation AND comparison of the different variables. Companies looking to spend money on print media advertisements can now sift through their advertising options with surgical precision. This will be print media’s best friend or worst enemy, it remains to be seen which one.

Interestingly enough, this “AdTag” does not necessarily have to be applied to advertisements. It can potentially track articles (interest in specific authors or subject matter), movie posters (interest in location), etc. With this new shift towards tracking the metrics behind print media advertising, I see an abundance of possibilities with the information gathered. Enough historical data can paint a fairly accurate picture on trends in the economy/public while monitoring the direction of public interest, at least within the realm of print media. How accurate this information will be has yet to be judged, but I do think that we are taking a step in the right direction.


A short 1:15 hour flight from Manila takes you into the Busuanga airport, which is a scenic 50 minutes away from the Barrio of Coron. The island was once home to a large cattle ranch, which has since been sequestered by the government and mismanaged—leaving an already beautiful landscape, even more picturesque. Jungle lined hills and mountains serve as the perfect backdrop for the lonely dirt road that winds through the old grazing fields. Occasionally one will pass a solitary wooden home or herd of cattle; peaceful, pleasant, and visually stunning.

There are several resorts that have come up in the last few years (Banyan Tree will be opening soon). While I did not stay at the Sea Dive resort, I do recommend it for scuba divers as it is positioned at the pick up and drop of point for the bankas. The lobby has free internet and it is the liveliest part of the island for anyone looking for a little bit of a night life. Dives go for around:

Divers will quickly notice the relatively high salt content of the water and low visibility. Fortunately the wrecks are well mapped and exposed, with buoy lines clearly marking entrance points (at least for the two I visited). Most of the locations were sunk in 1944, so while there is substantial growth, not enough time has passed for it to obscure the hull and structure of the vessel. Divers can easily make out the shape and list of the wreck as well as the interior passageways down to the rivets, hooks and chains. In one of the ships there was an overturned bulldozer, which still had a clear outline of its tracks, seats, and side. If you happen to be diving with a group, I suggest you make it a point to go into the passageways first. There is nothing that can ruin your day more than an inexperienced diver silting up the corridor you are entering…unless you grab one of the many scorpion fish that line the wreck, an experience that always trumps silt (Lion fish are also quite plentiful)!

I chose to cut my dive trip a bit short this year, preferring to spend more time on the beach reading than in the water (work has me beat). There are plenty of lagoons to visit, Calauit Island is only 2:30 hours away, and El Nido is a short Sea Air hop from Coron. There are not a lot of locals or tourists, so empty lagoons for swimming and rock climbing are plentiful. Busuanga offers the perfect mix of sports and isolation, although the latter is fast disappearing as seen through the progress on the island. New roads, an airport terminal, and resorts are feverishly being constructed. With this new infrastructure, the island will rival in terms of activities and natural beauty, any of top locations in the Philippines but as with many of the “last escapes” in this country, raw adventure dies with obscurity, so I suggest you visit soon.

Costs for dives are reasonable; it came out to roughly PHP 1600 per dive with equipment (Excellent condition) and boat transfers included. I have included some of the sketches of the wrecks that you can dive while in and around Coron Island: