Monthly Archives: November 2011

Philippine outsourcing boom offers alternative for overseas labor

From Fifth Quadrant 30 November 2011

The Philippinescustomer service outsourcing boom is slowing the exodus of workers heading overseas by providing well-paid jobs for graduates at home.

Nine million, or some 10% of all Filipinos live overseas, performing low-skilled jobs such as maids and sailors, but also working as nurses, engineers and IT specialists. They were responsible for sending more than US$18 billion back to the Philippines last year, equivalent to 10% of the country’s GDP.

The outsourcing workforce grew about 10% this year to 600,000, and is expected to expand to 900,000 employees by 2016, according to the Business Processing Association of the Philippines. While most jobs are in the contact centre industry, the industry is also increasingly attracting work for higher-paying skills such as data warehousing, accounting and medical transcription, as well as creative work ranging from webpage design to animation and video games.


Human suffering can be understood in the eyes of faith, Pope says

From Catholic News on November 28, 2011

In an address to 500 participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Health Care, Pope Benedict XVI said that Christians must “defend and promote life, whatever its state and condition, recognizing the dignity and value of each individual human being.”

The Pope spoke at some length about the meaning of human suffering, which “seems to obscure the face of God.” He argued that “the eyes of faith can see into the depths of this mystery.”

When Jesus took on human flesh, and endured human pain, He raised the understanding of suffering to a new level, the Pope said. “Suffering seems to belong to man’s transcendence,” he said.

The Pontifical Council had devoted its assembly to discussion of the teaching and witness of Blessed John Paul II, and Pope Benedict observed that the late Pope served as a personal example of the Christian approach. “The slow Calvary of the final years of life of Blessed John Paul II bore witness to this vision of pain and suffering illuminated by the death and resurrection of Christ,” he said. In his final illness, he added, Pope John Paul II was able “to address an even more eloquent message to the world, even when his physical strength was failing.”

Have we passed peak travel?

Posted in by  on Nov 29th, 2011

Most economists understand is that growth in mobility and travel has for centuries signalled growing prosperity. Indeed, measures of transport miles are often used as indicators of economic activity.  The graph below is fromMillard-Ball and Schipper’s 2010 article on trends in per capita vehicle miles, showing the strength of this relationship since 1970 in a selection of developed countries.

But what the authors also observed was a turning point in the relationship around 2003.  Was it peak travel, or a sign that such an event is around the corner?

On theoretical grounds, some analysts expected a peak in transport demand.  Millard-Ball and Schipper notethis argument.

Unless travel speeds increase, the fixed number of hours in a day and the consistent average of 1.1 hours per day that people devote to travel (Schafer and Victor, 2000) preclude ever-rising travel activity. But even if travel speeds do increase, declining marginal utility to new destinations implies that there exists some saturation point for travel demand. While in the past, higher speeds from infrastructure improvements have been used to access more distant destinations rather than reduce aggregate travel times, this relationship may no longer hold (Metz, 2010).

From their research, this theoretical peak, or saturation point, appears to have occurred.

“Since 2003, motorized travel demand has leveled out or even declined in most of the countries studied, and travel in private vehicles has declined,” the authors wrote in their study. “Car ownership has continued to rise, but these cars are being driven less.”

“My basic thesis is, ‘There ain’t room on the road.’”

But I wouldn’t be so fast in declaring that travel has peaked.  For starters, it hasn’t.  It is simply that the growth in travel is occurring at a lower proportion of GDP growth.  One could blame the measurement of GDP itself for the kink in the trend (I would definitely would point the finger at this as one contributing factor).

Most importantly, the impact of changing modes of transport provides a key explanation. Below we can see that total passenger kilometres per capita, across road vehicles, bus, rail and domestic air travel, all continue to rise.  These countries are also prime candidates for the ‘travel saturation’ thesis, particularly with respect to road transport.  One can only imagine that in the developing world the trends in travel growth are even more acute.

Australia’s standout growth in air travel can bee seen below, with growth in domestic passenger kilometres typically exceeding GDP growth, with the trend predicted to continue.

A final factor that needs consideration is the rise of international air travel, which is excluded from the study.

If there is any one factor that symbolises development and progress it is our propensity to travel – for business or leisure. I can’t see this centuries long trend reversing in a hurry, but one needs to understand the subtly shifting global travel trends in order to better interpret economic data.

Tips, suggestions, comments and requests to + follow me on Twitter@rumplestatskin


Australia seen to expand aid program to Philippines


From the Philippine Daily Inquirer Friday 25 November 2011

Australia’s development cooperation program in the Philippines is set to grow with continued focus oneducation, disaster risk reduction, peace and human security, and support for public-private partnerships.

“We’re seeing growth in the aid program with the Philippines,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Rod Smith said in a roundtable discussion at the Inquirer.

“We’re coming to the end of our current year and we’re finalizing a new development strategy.”

Smith said consultations would likely take place before the end of 2011 or early 2012 with the National Economic and Development Authority and other partner-agencies.

Australia’s 2011-2012 official development assistance to the Philippines is about P5.5 billion.

Education will continue to be the flagship of Australia’s development cooperation program with the Philippines, Smith said. Australia, through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), is the Philippines’ lead bilateral grant donor in basic education, contributing over P1.2 billion yearly, he said.

Australia’s education programs in the Philippines include scholarships, curriculum and teaching materials development for socially disadvantaged groups (including Muslims and indigenous peoples), school management, teacher training, and classroom building.

Other areas of cooperation are financial and technical support for the PPP Center (which helps government agencies and local governments develop public-private partnership projects), disaster risk reduction and management, health, rural and community development, infrastructure such as farm-to-market roads, and support to the Mindanao peace and development process.

Ross Bray, Australia’s senior trade and investment commissioner for the Philippines and Micronesia, said he was seeing  “exponential growth” in the education sector, which would have “a follow-on effect” on tourism and trade.

“With more exchanges in education, there will be more understanding of each other’s countries, and there should be more Australian students and Australian tourists—who have been going to Thailand and Vietnam for a while—coming to the Philippines to sample its products. This will provide opportunities for more trade,” Bray said.

Since 2001, Australian assistance to the Philippines has reached about P32 billion, according to information from the Australian Embassy. Significant contributions to Philippine development efforts over this period were in the areas of basic education, training and human resource development, health, rural and community development, governance, assistance to vulnerable groups, infrastructure, and support to the Mindanao peace and development process.

With the significant growth in the aid program in the last five years, Australia is now one of the Philippines’ three largest bilateral grant donors after Japan and the United States, Smith said.

Australia’s official development assistance is administered primarily by AusAID and also by other agencies such as the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, Geosciences Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Australian Defense Force, and the Australian Federal Police, according to information from the Australian government.

Many activities are jointly funded by both governments, ensuring a strong commitment to their success from both sides. In selected areas, Australia also combines its efforts with other donors such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and United Nations development agencies to maximize the impact of the projects.Australian aid is also delivered directly to Filipino communities through local non-government organizations. Riza T. Olchondra

Top 10 Reasons Why There Couldn’t Be a Filipino-American US President – By David Letterman

I had been a fan of David Letterman and his humour. This Top 10 joke made before Barack Obama was elected President of the United States showed how well Philippine culture is known in the land of the free and the brave.


10. The White House is not big enough for in-laws and extended relatives.

9. There are not enough parking spaces at the White House for 2 Honda Civics,
2 Toyota Land Cruisers, 3 Toyota Corollas, a Mercedes Benz, a BMW , and
an MPV (My Pinoy Van).

8. Dignitaries generally are intimidated by eating with their fingers at State dinners.

7. There are too many dining rooms in the White House – where will they put
the picture of the Last Supper?

6. The White House walls are not big enough to hold a pair of giant wooden
spoon and fork.

5. Secret Service staff won’t respond to “psst… psst” or “hoy.hoyhoy!”

4. Secret Service staff will not be comfortable driving the presidential car with a Holy Rosary hanging on the rear view mirror, or the statue of the Santo Nino on the dashboard.

3. No budget allocation to purchase a Karaoke music-machine for every room in the White House.

2. State dinners do not allow “Take Home”.


1. Air Force One does not allow overweight Balikbayan boxes!

PH GNP of 4% for 2011 but for whom?

The latest World Bank report on the Philippines (please see enclosed link below) measured a GNP growth of 4% for the first half of the year while self rated poverty and hunger indices showed some improvement in the entire country save Mindanao. Still underemployment and unemployment continue to be high at 19.1% and 7.1% respectively. Net foreign investments of $838 million for the first six months is still one of the lowest in the region. But the country still had a growing financial reserves due to a combination of factors including continue foreign remittances.

The country is said to be well-positioned to absorb any new financial shock in the financial markets given the conservative practices in the finance sector and no systemic vulnerabilities in the overall corporate sector. Growth in terms of GNP is expected to be 4.2 in 2011 and 4.8 in 2012.

A key success factors to maintain competitiveness particularly resiliency to external shocks is increased public spending.

I would like the World Bank in future to incorporate some statistic that will measure the quality of life in the country like the Satisfaction with Life ( to be able to put a human face to the numbers as well as try to see how it benefits the more disadvantage parts of the community. Strong GNP growth is good but if the benefits of this do not reach the poorest in society it only means the rich are the only ones enjoying them. On this index the Philippines is 78 out of 178 which places us in the middle. Australia is ranked 26.

We’re (Aussies that is) a happy, optimistic lot says LinkedIn

From IT Wire by Peter Dinham Friday, 18 November 2011


Australian professionals are after promotion in their jobs to fulfil their major career ambition, but they also want to look at greener pastures abroad and they might not stay in their current job and, instead, make a holus bolus change to a new industry and an entirely different career.

 They are, however, generally happy, indeed very happy with their current job, and on a global scale Aussie professionals rank tenth overall with an optimistic outlook in the job they currently have.

At least that’s what the majority of 900 Australian professionals told LinkedIn in a recent survey about their career ambitions and job satisfaction. Of the 900, 64 percent told LinkedIn they are “happy” or “very happy” with their current job.

The study also revealed that most professionals, as well as being clearly ambitious, have a hopeful outlook about their future with their current employer, with half of respondents in Australia believing that there is opportunity for advancement in their current company if they work hard and demonstrate results.

Seven different career ambitions were listed in the study and professionals were asked to select which ones applied to them. The top career ambitions for professionals in Australia were to:

1.    Get promoted

2.    Work abroad

3.    Change industries or careers

LinkedIn claims more than two million members on its professional network in Australia and 135 million worldwide, several thousand of whom were also surveyed about their career ambitions and satisfaction with their current jobs.

Compared to Australia, the 12,000 LinkedIn members around the world whio were also surveyed, had this to say:

•    Professionals in the Netherlands ranked as being the happiest. Eighty percent of professionals in the Netherlands said they were “happy” or “very happy” with their current job

•    Japanese professionals ranked as being the least happy with only 31 percent of professionals in that country stating they were “happy” or “very happy” with their current job

•    New Zealand ranked 4th, with 68 percent of professionals being “happy” or “very happy” with their current job, putting the U.S. in sixth place

•    According to workplace expert and managing director of, Samuel Day, the LinkedIn survey shows that Australian professionals are “resilient, adaptable and a pretty happy bunch.”

“In addition, Australian organisations are working harder to keep their employees happy in order to retain them,” Day said, adding that “as a result, they are looking within their organisations for growth opportunities and career advancement, realising that as long as they demonstrate results and work hard, they can achieve their goals.”

Working hours increase since GFC, as Westpac tips wage growth dip

Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water. Few Australian jobs may have been lost due the GFC but it appears we have been working more just to keep them as this article tells us.


From Smart Company Thursday, 17 November 2011 ByMadeleine Heffernan

You’re not imagining it – working hours have rapidly increased since the global financial crisis.

According to the AMP.NATEM Income and Wealth Report, “more Australians have fallen into a pattern of work that requires an early start or a late finish (or indeed both)”.

The report, which is based on an analysis for the ABS Time Use survey and the Household Income and Labour Dynamics of Australia survey, finds that both part-time hours and full-time hours in paid employment “have shown a rapid increase in the past two years”.

Women are found to work an average 38.6 hours per week, and men 42.3 hours per week – between two and three hours more than they did in 1985.

Still, today’s working hours remain below the peak in the year 2000, when men worked an average of 43.4 hours and women an average of 39.3 hours per week.

And the 2009 average of 23.5 hours – including both part-time and full-time workers – broadly matches the average weekly hours of OECD countries.

The report, entitled Race against time – How Australians spend their time, finds that part-time hours have risen from 1985 to 2011 for both men and women, from 16.4 to 17.8 hours for women and 15.8 to 17 hours for men.

“However, when examining trends in full-time hours over the last 10 years, a pattern of decline is evident,” it says.

“Men working full-time in 2000 averaged just over 43 hours per week and women just over 39 hours. A steady decline has seen men’s full-time hours decrease by two hours each week, to just over 41 hours in 2009.

“Women working full-time have also decreased their average full-time hours to just under 38 hours in the same period. The sharper decreasing trend in full-time hours, from 2007 and bottoming out at 2009 is likely to be an impact of the global financial crisis, with employers often reducing employee hours in times of economic decline.

“Since 2009, we can see average full-time hours for both men and women increasing steadily, yet still below the year 2000 peak.”

State by state, Sydneysiders are found to spend the longest commuting, while Canberra residents worked the shortest hours despite attractive pay levels.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released this morning show that average weekly earnings lifted by 1.2% to a seasonally adjusted $1352.60 from May to August.

This was above expectations for a 1% rise, and took the annual rise to 5.3% annually adjusted.

A separate wage price index revealed that wages rose by a slightly lower than expected 0.7% in the third quarter, taking the annual rise to 3.6%.

Westpac says the result, driven by a muted 0.5% quarterly rise in public wages, is consistent with a “softer but not collapsing jobs market.”

“We are not seeing the wage pressures that many feared from Mining Boom mark II.”

“Westpac’s forecast for further weakness in the labour market in the months ahead will act as a break on workers’ wage claims going forward,” the bank says, tipping wages growth to moderate to 3.5% for 2011, before dropping to 3% in 2012.”

Australian telecoms revenues pass $40 billion

The Australian telecom market while is not the best in the world offers some better advantages then in the Philippines. And with the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN), expectations the market to grow twice the size in revenue in ten years time based on this article from IT Wire.

By Peter Dinham

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Telecoms services revenues in Australia are set to pass the $40 billion mark this year, with Telstra still the dominant market player with a 60 percent marketshare, but well short of the halcyon days in the early 2000s when it commanded 80 percent of the market.

 In a report released today, the telecommunications market report, BuddeComm says the $40 billlion in revenues it estimates will be generated this year by telcos, reflects the “mildness of the downturn” in Australia compared with other countries.

“However, as has been the case in 2011, growth is likely to remain very subdued in 2012. This is attributable to the continued decline in the fixed-line markets and levelling off of mobile subscriptions, along with reduced pricing from operators attempting to attract increased market share,” BuddeComm says.

The research and analysis company says that in 2011, overall line revenues across all operators fell to around $10.5 billion.

And, while Telstra still dominates the telecoms services market, BuddeComm says that Optus’s share of revenues continues to stagnate between 20 and 22 percent, but its wholesale business had a market shift in 2011 and its growth suggests that, “even with a subdued market, Optus’s overall share could surpass 23% by 2013.”

On the merger of Vodafone and Hutchison, and the subsequent network issues, BuddeComm says those issues have contributed to the merged company’s marketshare dropping slightly, and the increasing network expansion could see Vodafone return to its previous share of total industry revenue.

According to the report, declines in the fixed market limited overall telecommunications market growth in 2010 to just 2.7 percent, and, with the expectation of further fixed market falls, subdued broadband growth, and the likelihood of intense competition in the mobile market (which will limit ARPU growth), he expects overall market growth to be limited to around 1%-1.5% in 2011 and 2012.

On the second-tier market, BuddeComm says it is making gains in broadband and the companies in the market are gearing up for IPTV, which will then be bundled into their other product offerings. Share of revenue for the second-tier telcos has continued to grow since 2009, being just over nine percent of total revenues by mid-2011, and BuddeComm expects revenues to increase slightly by 2013, to around 12%.

According to BuddeComm, the second-tier telcos’ share of revenue has continued to grow since 2009, being just over nine percent of total revenues by mid-2011, and expected to increase slightly by 2013, to around 12 percent.

BuddeComm lists key market highlights in 2011 as:

•    A massive mobile broadband revolution is taking place with more than 5 million people now regularly using mobile to access broadband applications.

•    Rapid growth continues in wireless in 2011 as asymmetrical digital subscriber line (ADSL) growth slows down further. However it should be noted that BuddeComm estimates that approximately 90% of all wireless broadband subscribers have more than one broadband plan.

•    For the 12 months to end-2010 the annual growth in digital subscriber line (DSL) slowed down to approximately 10%, by which time the market would have reached around 9.7 million broadband subscribers. A further 17% growth is projected for 2010/11 to take the total market to 10.4 million subscribers. The majority of the growth by this time will be coming from the mobile wireless broadband market.

•    BuddeComm estimates that in early 2011 there were around 450 provider services, ranging from dial-up through to digital subscriber line, fibre and wireless solutions. Some internet service providers only service small numbers of fewer than 100 users.

•    The business market in Australia was quick to embrace broadband, and by 2009 the vast majority of this sector had made the transition. A major reason businesses moved to broadband was for faster speed, yet, according to some studies in 2011, they still suffer from slow speeds.

•    In the 2011 financial year Telstra’s total mobile revenue passed $7 billion, with Optus around $6 billion. Vodafone revenue was close to $4.5 billion.

•    Total mobile services revenue earned by the major mobile operators in the 2010/11 financial years continues to grow, but at a slower rate than the growth seen in the last years of the previous decade.

•    Mobile services now represent considerably more than 50% of overall industry revenues in Australia.

•    There are around six million more mobile subscribers than people in Australia. Growth is likely to continue in the foreseeable future as smartphone uptake increases, even though subscriber penetration rates are about 125% of the population. Into 2011/12 the rate of growth may drop below 5%.

•    The changing environment of the NBN linked to the digital economy will help the industry double its size to around $80 billion by 2020.

Australian (and Philippine) businesses advised to ‘mobilise’

The opportunities available for Australian businesses to mobilise is equal if not more applicable too for Philippine businesses given more people in the Philippines use mobiles for a variety of personal needs.

From IT Wire By Peter Dinham

Tuesday, 15 November 2011 14:21

Google data released just last week reveals that 25 percent of shopping-related searches come from mobile, but in Australia four in five business don’t have mobile-friendly websites and Google’s urging them to mobilise to take advantage of the growing number of people looking for goods and services using their mobile phones, especially over Christmas.

Ross McDonald, head of retail for Google Australia and New Zealand, says the situation in Australia with the lack of mobile-friendly business websites is like “shutting the door on one out of every four customers who walks into your shop during the most important retail period of the year.”

“Our data shows that this Christmas, more people than ever will be looking for you on mobile phones. But Christmas is a marathon, not a sprint, which means it’s not too late to be early – yet,” McDonald says.

McDonald says the good news is that it’s not too late to mobilise over Christmas, and he has thrown in a few tips about how businesses can go about setting up a mobile-friendly website.

Here’s his tips:

1.    Do a “mobile health check”: is your website optimised for mobile?

A mobile-friendly site is a website designed specifically to be viewed and used on a smartphone.

It’s not hard to find out whether your site passes the test. Google provides a quick and easy tool that shows you how your current site looks on     mobile and provides a personalised report on what’s working, and what could be improved (

Alternately, you can grab the closest smartphone, open your company’s website in the phone’s browser, and start exploring. Can you read the text     without squinting, zooming, or scrolling? Are any of the images slow to load on your mobile connection, or even broken? Do you have to pan around to     view the whole page? If your answer to any of these questions is “yes” then your site isn’t mobile friendly.

Of course, if you don’t have one, you should…

2.    Diagnose what you want your customers to do on mobile.

If you’re worried about the time or effort it takes to make your site mobile-friendly, don’t be. You don’t have to redo your entire website: just     think about how your customer will find and use your site, and focus your efforts on the parts of your site that meets their immediate needs. Do they     need to be able to browse through your goods and buy them online? Or do they just want a phone number and a map?

3.    Build a mobile-optimised website.

Once you’ve decided what you want your customers to be able to do, it’s easier than you probably think to start building your site. For example,     studies show that customers often use their smartphones to research, call, and visit physical businesses. That means that for many retailers, the     best thing to do is create a mobile-friendly landing page with focus on the basics, like location, hours, and contact information.

You can use a free tool like Google’s mobile site builder, which lets you choose from 6 simple ready-for-mobile templates. The templates are     lightweight – which means they load quickly – with “call to actions” (like buttons customers can click to call your business, or expandable maps)     prominently featured. Alternately, you could choose a mobile site builder from

4.    Educate yourself about mobile ads.

If your mobile-friendly website is up and running, you can start thinking about advertising on mobile phones. Mobile ads offer lots of capabilities     that more traditional digital formats don’t. For example: Google’s click-to-call ad format enables users to tap a phone number to call a business     directly from within an ad. Hyperlocal features tell customers how close they are to an advertiser’s physical location, within the ad.

5.    Build your mobile ads strategy – based on what your customers want.

Getting started is easy: if you’re a Google AdWords customer, you’re automatically opted-in to mobile ads on smartphones. If you’re new to mobile     ads, ask yourself when your customer actually uses their mobile, and how you can best reach them.

For example, if you want to drive foot traffic to your store, location is especially relevant. Choose an ad format that includes directions and a map     within the ad to direct prospective customers to your store with directions and a map within the ad. Or, choose a hyperlocal ad that shows distance     information within the ad, alerting customers that they’re close enough to your business to drop by.

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