COVID-19 Coronavirus Antiviral Drug Remdesivir – Availability in the Philippines

Remdesivir, is a broad-spectrum antiviral drug, originally created in 2009 for the treatment of hepatitis C, then later tested for treatment of the Ebola virus.  Although it was ineffective in treating Ebola, as of this writing, it is the only approved drug to treat COVID-19.  Remdesivir has presented promise in studies showing up to a 63% decrease in the risk of death when compared to standard care without the drug. This finding needs further confirmation, as noted by Gilead, the creator, patent holder and maker of the drug.   

Recent reports that the U.S. has bought up the entire current 500,000 dose supply of the drug has caused fear that the drug will not be available to other nations including the Philippines. 

However, the Directory of the Philippines Department of Health (DoH) informed the public that there are other suppliers in Asia that could provide the drug to our country. While we wait for further word of these sources, hope abounds for the therapeutic to become available sooner that later. 

Meanwhile, Gilead recently signed a non-exclusive licensing agreement with pharmaceutical companies in three countries, India, Pakistan, and Egypt to allow companies in these countries to make the drug for mass distribution throughout 127 countries around world, including the Philippines. These designated distribution countries represent those in the low to middle-income category, along with some other high-income countries.  The countries also represent those with populations having substantial difficulties with healthcare access.

These licensing agreements will allow the companies to utilize the intellectual property rights for production of a generic form of the therapeutic drug remdesivir. This will allow these licensed generic drug companies to ramp up production more quickly for distribution to healthcare facilities and those suffering with COVID-19. These licenses will extend royalty-free until an approved vaccine is approved or up to the end of the pandemic as declared by the World Health Organization (WHO).  This advanced licensing agreement extended to the generic drug companies will allow the companies to set their own discounted prices for the drug. 

We hope to keep you informed in this blog of issues effecting the Clark and Subic Bay Freeport Zones, and, when appropriate, the entire Country of the Philippines. Given the fact that COVID-19 and its resultant extreme public health, economic and tourism impact have presented a difficult challenge to us all, we feel we must examine and relay any positive news to help alleviate the suffering and pain brought on by this pandemic. 

DISCLAIMER: The neither the article writer, website owner, nor webmaster for clarksubicmarketing.com DO NOT endorse nor make any representation about the efficacy, appropriateness or suitability of any tests, products, procedures, drugs, treatments, or services as related to this article on this website. THE ARTICLE WRITER, WEBSITE OWNER AND WEBMASTER FOR CLARKSUBICMARKETING.COM ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE NOR LIABLE FOR ANY COURSE OF TREATMENT, ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS OR ANY OTHER SERVICES, INFORMATION, OR PRODUCTS THAT YOU OBTAIN AS A RESULT OF THIS ARTICLE PUBLISHED ON THIS WEB SITE.

Yokohama Tire and South Korea COVID -19 Pandemic Response, What We Can Learn

COVID-19 App on Cell Phone
COVID-19 App on Cell Phone

A Company and a Country COVID-19 Case Study

The Japanese Clark locator Company Yokohama Tire Philippines Inc, (YTPI) was recently commended for being able to maintain continuous operations of its Philippine factory throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  Permission was recently given to continue their operations due to the company’s adherence to strict operational prevention and safety protocols. 

Local leaders from communities surrounding the plant and the greater Clark Freeport have praised this company’s efforts. These local community leaders were from the townships of Angeles City, Pampanga, Mabalacat, Pampanga and Bamban, Tarlac.  Mabalacat City Mayor Crisostomo Garbo gave the ok recently for the company to continue its operations. Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin, Jr. also expressed support for the company, offering to help in any way he can to maintain jobs during this crisis. 

YTPI is currently maintaining 80 percent production capacity. The company was able to utilize advanced safety equipment and safety measures to adequately mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in their work environment.  The policies and actions of YTPI’s executives allowed the company to continue operations, preserving the majority of the 2500 jobs at the plant thus far.  A remarkable accomplishment for any manufacturing company with that number of employees. 

The above case is one example, and proof that we are not rendered hopeless in the grips of a pandemic.  If, we are diligent and careful, utilize technology and are diligent, using learned measures to mitigate infectious spread, we can gain control over an otherwise uncontrollable enemy.  In the process we can continue our economy while minimizing the virus’s nefarious effects on our populous and economy.

We can also view other countries as models, while looking deeply at their methods used to minimize infections and deaths while maintaining their economies. Countries that have been able to bend the curve substantially include, New Zealand, Australia, and Norway. However, most noteworthy, given its proximity to the China where the outbreak occurred, is the example of South Korea.  

As of this writing, this technologically advanced nation of almost 52 million people has managed to keep their total COVID-19 deaths down to approximately 300, with a total of almost 14,000 confirmed cases.  As of this writing, compare this to countries such as the U.S. showing 146,000 deaths with 4.1 Million cases with ongoing deaths of over 1,000 per day.  While the U.S. has a population of approximately 328 million, the per-capita infection rate for the U.S. is 1.25%. Compare this to the South Korean infection rate of .027% which is a small fraction of a percent of the U.S. rate.  If you do the math, this works out to South Korea experiencing an infection rate of around 2% of the United States’ rate.

Even though South Korea experienced one of the world’s worst initial outbreaks early in the pandemic in mid-February 2020.  A single person transmitted the virus to many of the approximately 1,000 other worshipers in attendance that day at a mega-church Daegu, South Korea. The South Korean authorities were however vigilant, jumping on the task of interviewing approximately 230,000 members of the entire church members. They found several thousand exhibiting symptoms of the virus.  By the end of February, to a large extent, the result of this single infection, Korea had the most COVID-19 patients outside of China. 

The above the action of the government jumping on the threat of further infection was quite remarkable.  Essentially, most of the members of the church were contacted and in cases of infection, self-isolated or hospitalized depending on the severity. Cell phone location data was used to investigate additional contacts outside of the church’s congregation.  Many of those with milder cases, were sent to government converted, corporate training facilities, to isolate and obtain more limited medical attention. Within only a few days, government officials ensured that thousands of people in Daegu, the city where the outbreak occurred, were tested for the virus. Mask wearing became the mandated norm, with few if any people seen without a mask.  Within a month, the outbreak in South Korea was essentially contained. Since the early weeks of March 2020, the daily rate of new daily cases fell from 800 to only in a few dozen and even in the single digits up until this writing in late July 2020.     

Korea managed to curtail and contain the virus much better than most of the rest of the world. What did they do right?  In a sentence, strict, accurate, quick-result virus testing, diligent and advanced contact tracing, governmental involvement in the isolation of people at all levels of infection, and the implementation and compliance with rigorous, prevention measures such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing. Credit must also be given to the people of the country, whose diligence in conforming to governmental mandates and guidelines for mask wearing, social distancing and isolation were outstanding.

In conclusion, we must ask ourselves, what we can learn from employers such as Yokohama and counties like South Korea?   What aspects of their processes and procedures can we implement in our work environment and throughout our country? Our health, economy and quite literally our survival may just depend on it.

Philippine Backpacking Adventures

The Philippines offers More to Explore than Clark and Subic

So, you are looking for unspoiled beauty, fun and adventure in the Philippines huh? Well, there is no better place to experience Mother Nature’s wonder than the nation of over 7000 islands.  There are so many wonderful beaches, jungles and forested areas that will keep most backpackers busy for a lifetime.  The choices are so vast for Philippine backpack adventurers that the biggest problem you will have is deciding which areas to visit. 

In this article we are going to focus mainly on the pristine beaches of the Philippines as launching grounds for fantastic backpacking adventures. The numerous and world-famous beaches of the Philippines are cherished summer refuges for hardworking and exhausted city folks.  The summer season for Filipino’s means laying in a hammock, drinking some beer and falling asleep under the balmy summer air while listening to the ocean waves.   

Individuals from around the world have transformed otherwise remote and unknown places 20 years ago such as Boracay and Palawan into well-known tourist havens.  Many Incredible white sand beach areas and turquoise blue lagoons now have mega resort facilities that include bustling hotel complexes, bars and restaurants.

Since we are going to be profiling mostly remote and pristine beaches, it is best to be aware of some preparatory points prior to making your trip. Below we have compiled a list of what we have found to be important considerations to make your trip more enjoyable and safe.

  • If you are a backpacker, I’m sure you are used to hauling in the necessary survival items and realize the limitations of remote islands and beaches.  If you are a newbie, then you’ll want to carefully consider the following.  Most of these beaches are remote and are not close to an SM Super Mall or even a sari-sari store.  It is always best to take along all of the basic amenities you will need.  A well planned trip is always a nicer experience.
  • Always remember the camping and backpacking essentials including but not limited to: swimsuits, snorkeling gear, high SPF sunblock lotion, insect repellent, flashlights, portable radio, cellphone, Sterno, canteen, water purification tablets, portable ultraviolet filter system, high-energy snacks.
  • Figure out the available accommodations in the area such as rental huts/bungalows, hostels or other basic shelter from the elements. Do this prior to leaving in order to know if you will need to bring a lightweight tent, hammock and sleeping bags or not.  While these items will add weight and bulk, if your chosen Philippine beach is dozens of kilometers from even the simplest of facilities, you’ll be glad you have the added items.
  • Many first time backpackers don’t prepare adequately for the disposal of their cans and bottles, food wrappers, paper towels and other trash items. Remember, we are all guests on this planet and need to pass it on to the next generation in the same or better condition we found it.  Never litter and always haul your trash items out with you.
  • There may be local indigenous people or others peddlers in some of these remote areas simply trying to make a living.  They may offer food items or handmade items for sale.  While some backpackers may find these people a source of irritation, they can also prove to be lifesavers for ill-prepared backpackers.  They also are great to help you find your way back to civilization if you get lost.  It usually is a good idea to patronize these individuals in order to help them maintain their livelihood and ensure they are there to help the next group of forlorn backpackers.
  • Lighting large and out of control bonfires can be very dangerous on a remote beach where you are away from medical services. While it is not recommended to set a fire directly on the sand, it is generally recommended to contain the bonfire in some sort of tray or within a boundary of stones and rocks.
  • If you will be using land or sea transportation for travel to your backpacking spot, we have found it is very important to do some research prior to leaving. Public transportation in these remote areas is very limited and many times non-existent.  Try to figure out bus, boat, jeepney and tricycle availability and/or schedules and routes prior to your trip. It is always better to actually talk with someone who has made the same trip you are planning to get a better idea of available transportation means.
  • Meteorologists can literally be lifesavers when making a trip to a remote location. As much as possible review weather forecasts from PAGASA for the area you’ll be backpacking in.  The internet is very helpful nowadays in this regard. Never follow-through on a remote backpacking adventure if a typhoon or tropical storm is on the horizon.

A Few Incredible Backpacking Beaches of the Philippines

Below you will find a list of some great, pristine beaches that provide eye-popping scenery, clear waters and fantastic hiking experiences.  Venture forth and explore the wealth of Philippine beaches. 

Camarines Norte’s Calaguas Island

As far as remote beaches go, this is one of our favorites with wonderful fine white sand and crystal clear waters. Electricity on this remote island is limited to generators and there is no cell reception nor internet 4G data.  Load up your phone or MP-3 player and don’t forget the ear buds if you must be connected to media during this trip.  There are plenty of tour services and guides offering day tours, and multi-day excursions.  If you prefer the guided excursion over trekking it yourself, then these companies are ready to take you and your friends exploring for an experience you’ll not soon forget. Besides your hiking activities, you can also island-hop, bird-watch, fish, play active games such as Frisbee or  or just lay in your hammock dreaming away the day. If you are going to be on a self-exploring adventure without a tour company, you’ll need to bring lots of your own food and supplies as the sari-sari stores on this remote island are limited and the supplies are not well stocked.

Getting to Calaguas Island

If leaving from Manila it is an 8-hour bus ride to Daet, Camarines Norte. From there, take an approximate 20 minute jeepney ride to Vinzons.  Where there ask your driver to drop you off at the port area. There you’ll find boat service to Calaguas, approximately a 2 hour trip.  

Palaui Island, Anguib Cove (also known as Cagayan Province’s Boracay of the North)

Palaui Island is at the extreme north end of the island of Luzon along the eastern side. The island is relatively close to the Luzon shore only requiring a 30 minute boat ride. But Palaui is relatively untouched and simply fantastic for its rugged, remote beauty. It is reminiscent of a Hawaiian island with its fantastic white sands and volcanic rocks.  The blue/green waters will enchant you as you prepare to go diving in the coral gardens immersed in the wealth of rich marine reserves just below the surface. Palaui is truly raw, unadulterated beauty. No one said it was going to be easy though. Getting to some of the island’s more remote spots such as Anguib Cove require extra effort as you need to trudge through muddy terrain, thorny grass, and even a mangrove forest.  If you are looking for comfort and amenities you are in the wrong place.  Here you will NOT find fancy resorts and hotels.  In fact there are no lodging facilities as of the writing of this article. The only options on the island are to bring your pup-tent, sleep under the stars or arrange a stay at a local’s home.  But once you are setup you can snorkel to your heart’s content, sunbath, fish, hike and visit Cape Engano on the extreme north end of the island where you’ll find an old Spanish lighthouse. There are several coves to explore, these include Siwangag Cove, Engano Cove and Anguib Cove that many compare to Boracay’s White Beach. Bask on the incredible white sand beach while you recharge as you relax, explore and soak-in of the beauty. If you plan on staying overnight you will need to ask permission from the tourism officer located at San Vicente port area prior to leaving Luzon.


Getting to Palaui Island: 

As Palaui Island is in the extreme north of the country, it is best to take a plane from Manila to Tuguegarao City. This is as close as you can get to Palaui by commercial plane.  The flight will take approximately 1 hour. Then you will need to take a bus or van from Tuguegarao City to Santa Ana. You’ve still got a ways to go so you are looking at approximately 4 hours of bus ride from Tuguegarao City.  Be cautioned that typically the last van going to the Santa Ana, Cagayan area leaves Tuguegarao at around 5pm. So plan accordingly. You will need to take a boat from the Santa Ana area to Palaui Island. As mentioned above, this is only a 30 minutes trip. Once on the island, if you want to go all the way to the extreme north area of Cape Engano, it will take you approximately 3.5 to 4 hours of hiking from the boat drop-off point at Punta Verde which is located at the southeast tip of Palaui Island. Guides are available for a reasonable price to help you find your way to the northern parts.

Pandan Island and the Apo Reef of Mindoro

For the full-fledged dive enthusiast there are few places that compare to Mindoro’s Pandan Island. The nearby Apo Reef has gained worldwide acclaim as a dive spot extraordinaire.  You can swim with giant sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, barracudas and many variations of colorful and unique fish and coral reefs; you’ll think you arrived in heaven. Even if you are not an avid diver, the rock formations along the coast are some of the most interesting you’ll find anywhere. Colorful exotic birds are singing their songs of beauty as you rest from the hustle and bustle of city life. Ditch the car, cellphone and computers and get in touch with nature in a way you may have never experienced.  You can also explore the Jungle Rivers of nearby Mindoro by kayak and take a trip to the coastal village of Sablayan where fishermen and the town-people are always friendly and love to greet visitors. You may be able to leave the tents behind on this adventure as you’ll be able to find bungalow accommodations starting at some very reasonable rates at the Pandan Island Resort. There are numerous beach resorts in the Sablayan area on the large island of Mindoro prior to taking the boat to Pandan Island.  Rental boats and camping gear is available at the municipal tourism office in Sablayan.  They will even arrange for food and beverage for groups while on Pandan Island. Do your Internet homework on this one prior to embarking on a trip and make necessary arrangements.

Getting to Pandan Island

It’s most convenient for most to take an aircraft when traveling to this magical island. Once you land you’ll need to take a tricycle from the San Jose Mindoro Airport to Sablayan.  When you have arrived in Sablayan, you’ll need to coordinate your trip with the municipal tourism office to go to Apo Reef.  If you are going to stay at Pandan Island, once in Sabalayan you will need to take a tricycle to the “Punta in front of Ludi’s place.”  There you’ll find an outrigger boat for the island waiting.  The prices are reasonable and the boat ride is fun and not too lengthy.

Malcapuya Island

The Island of Coron is the general area where you’ll find Malcapuya Island, an out of the way little jewel of the archipelago that is known as the Philippines.  You need to do some island hopping to get to Malcapuya.  Expect an hour and a half trip by boat after landing in the municipality of Busuanga on the Island of Coron. The boats arrive on the north side of the island where you will disembark on your backpacking adventure. The island is not very big; it will only take a few minutes to get to the south side where your eyes will be treated to a fine, white, powdery sand beach of impeccable quality. Expect wonderful shallow waters for a significant distance from shore before you get to the deeper water areas. Crystal clear waters lend themselves to some really awesome snorkeling while at this paradise. Get ready to enjoy the many numerous and colorful fish species swimming all about the shallow waters without fear or trepidation of humans. Some neighboring land-masses to include on your island hopping/backpacking adventure are Bulog Island and Banana Island. The Coron Island area is brimming with little lslands such as Malcapuya.  So get into your rented boat and explore away while at this tropical island paradise. The tourist crowds here are non-existent; this is one island you can pretty much have to yourself most of the time.  There is a tour company called Kawil Tours based on Culion Island that does tours of Malcapuya Island to help you navigate the terrain and feed you great cooked meals if you’d like. There is a simple enclosed thatched hut cottage by the beach with and electric fan and a floor mattress for rent at a reasonable price. These not so luxurious accommodations include an outdoor shower a few meters away from the hut. There is no electricity on the island other than that provided by generator at the hut at night for lighting and such. You are provided with outlets for running electric fans and charging your cell phones. Other than this choice for lodging, you can stay at a house for rent away from the ocean shore. This house is only a single room affair but a little better equipped than the hut with a decent restroom and a decent bed.  A small sari-sari store is on the island but it is limited to very basic drinks, chips and beer.  You need to bring your own food if you are going to eat something filling and nutritious while on your island adventure of Malcapuya.

Getting to Coron and Malcapuya Island

Arrange an aircraft flight from Manila to Busuanga. From Busuanga Airport, get on a van bound for the town of Coron. This be about a 45 drive after landing. Boat rentals and boat operators for island-hopping and trips to Malcapuya Island are available at the town proper of Coron. 

Remote Island of the Sorsogon Region: Calintaan’s Subic Beach

Found towards the far southernmost tip of Luzon Island is the Sorsogon and Matnog region.  Go a little further south and you’ll find the remote islands of Calintaan and Tikli Islands.  The Matnog/Bulusan region of Luzon features many great tourist spots including the majestic Mount Bulusan volcano, Bulusan Lake, Miliga-biga Beach, San Benon hot springs, Masacro mineral springs and more. Calintaan Island has a total land area of 363.6 hectares with beach area in about the 19 hectares range. There is a lagoon with a total area of 20 hectares on the west side. The lagoon will accommodate small yachts and sailboats. On Calintaan Island you’ll find a pretty pink sand beach called Subic Beach. No, not anything like the Zambales Subic Beach, this one is much more remote and without all the tourists and commotion.  Because of its extreme southern Luzon proximity, the area is considered by many to be the springboard to the Visayas and to the rest of the Southern Philippines. The pink color of the sand on this beach is due to the pulverized red coral particles mixed with the white sand.  The pink sands beach of Harbour Island in the Bahamas and Elafonisi Beach in Crete are additional examples of other pink sand beaches elsewhere in the world. The Philippines can be proud that Subic Beach enjoys such a rare display of nature’s uniqueness.  This island offers a great backpacking adventure with lazy nights under the stars laying on a truly unique pinkish beach.  Besides the beach, a can’t-miss experience on Calintaan Island is the Juag Fish Sanctuary.  This is a private fish breeding project with a few surprises. You will get to see a 10-year-old aggressive milkfish and a huge lapu-lapu amongst many others at the sanctuary. Visitors to the fish sanctuary can participate in and enjoy feeding schools of colorful fish and experience exotic marine life of all types.  This hatchery is used for export by the owners for exotic fish buyers worldwide. You can also hang-out at the sanctuary in little native shanties on bamboo stilts in the middle of the lagoon surrounded by the many fish, gorgeous hills and ocean views. Prior to staying on Calintaan or visiting Subic Beach, you are required to register at the Municipal Tourism Office in Matnog and pay a small entrance fee for each person plus an even smaller environmental cleanup fee per group. There is a Municipal Tourism Code to be enforced while traveling in the region and on the island. Be sure you know the rules prior to your adventure. This island actually has electricity and even a mobile signal, so you won’t feel so isolated and out of touch with the civilized world. Small nipa huts are available for overnight stays from the island caretakers.  You’ll be able to get away with a night’s stay including the electricity and toilet usage for under php 1000. 

Getting to Matnog, Sorsogon, Calintaan Island, Subic Beach

You can either take a very long bus trip (13 to 15 hours) or fly a Cebu Pacific plane for under an hour to Legazpi City.  Once in Legazpi City, you have to take another bus to Daraga-Matnog, which will take 4 hours.  Be prepared, there is no air conditioning on this bus service.  The bus drops you off at the Matnog public market. You can usually get a tricycle to take you to from the Daraga-Matnog bus terminal to the Port of Matnog. From Matnog’s port, Calintaan Island is just 30-40 minutes away. You can charter a small outrigger boat that will take you directly to the island. Rates will vary depending on whether you want to go island hopping or if you’re going to be staying overnight or not.

The Electric Vehicle Revolution in the Philippines

Each day in the Philippines our motor vehicles consume tens of millions of liters of gasoline.  An estimated hourly output of 2,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide is pumped into the air we breathe each hour.  Our country is spending the equivalent of over PHP 50,000 each and every hour to compensate for the treatment of pollution-related diseases and work-related productivity losses. Perhaps the worst statistic is that each hour of each day, four Filipinos die from the effects of air pollution.

Electric Trikes to the Rescue

Motorized tricycles produce an astonishing amount of pollution.  Perhaps more than you ever imagined.   Just one tricycle in the Philippines is producing as much pollution equivalent to 50 modern automobiles.

With tricycles being a major transportation medium in the country, the Philippines is attempting to make strides in clean and pollution-free tricycle transportation solutions with the help of a new Japanese start-up company called Terra Motors who is producing a new electric tricycle.  The vehicle making noteworthy strides is a new all-electric three-wheeled tricycle (otherwise known as an e-trike) that is poised to help clean-up the air quality.  The new vehicle is a sleek and modern space-aged design that holds 6 passengers travels a distance of 31 miles (50 km) on a charge and takes two hours to charge the battery pack.  It is relatively affordable for an electric vehicle at only $6300 per unit.  In order to concurrently help the economy, the vehicle will be made in the Philippines and sold here and throughout Southeast Asia.

E-trikes already operating in Several Philippine Cities

These e-trikes are already operating in certain areas of the country including Puerto Princesa, Makati City, Surigao and in Taguig.  Thanks to some forward and progressive thinking by President Aquino and his staff, along with a $300 million loan from the Asian Development Bank, these new clean and carbon- free vehicles will be seen amass throughout Metro Manila and other cities over the next few years.  This progress can be attributed to a lease-to-own program recently announced that will eventually replace 100,000 gas-powered tricycles with clean and efficient, cost-effective electric powered e-trikes by the year 2016.  This is a substantial effort but more than likely simply a beginning step to the Philippines enormous air pollution problem and ongoing imported fuel demands.

Cost Savings of e-Trikes for Drivers and Society as a Whole

The e-trike will save owner/drivers $5 a day in fuel costs.  From a tricycle owner/drivers perspective whose current salary is only $10 a day, this is a substantial improvement in profit.  Currently, the engines in many of the standard tricycles found in the Philippines are two-stroke units that are some of the most polluting power sources allowed on the streets of our country.  Not only are there no emission control systems on these vehicles but they burn excessive amounts of crankcase oil in addition to the hydrocarbons from the burning of the gasoline to power the vehicles. After the majority of these vehicles are replaced, the potential the substantial improvements in the driver’s health over time by reduced exposure to exhaust fumes, and the resultant health savings are also an important factor.  In fact, in the end, health-related expenses will bring health and financial savings to all of us Filipinos.

Modular Battery Design

These vehicles should lend themselves nicely to a modular battery-pack design that could be removed when the vehicle when the battery’s charge is extinguished and then replaced with another fully-charged battery-pack providing an additional 31 miles of travel.  If the owner has two removable battery packs, the out-of-service pack could be charged at a base location while the e-trike driver is out making his rounds.  The e-trike driver could theoretically provide his service almost uninterrupted and continuously by swapping-out battery packs in this manner.

The government could initiate a loan program to allow these drivers to purchase additional battery packs.  The government could also include the extra battery packs in the lease-to-own program.

Additionally, adding quick charging stations throughout an urban area to improve operating distances may also be a way to help extend e-trikes ranges.  Given the fact the Philippines has a tremendous abundance of sun exposure throughout the year, the charging stations should be provisioned with extensive arrays of solar panels for free energy to charge our new transportation network. This would take the burden off of our power infrastructure and avoid us building new power plants for the transition to electric transportation.

Thanks to new manufacturing processes and the Chinese flooding the market with product, Solar panels have become much more affordable over the last few years; in some cases one-half the price of only a couple of years ago.

The e-Jeepney Movement

Additional environmental and sustainable energy progress is being realized in the e-jeepney movement currently ongoing in the country’s financial district of Makati City.  Twenty one e-jeepneys are currently hitting the streets of this Makati with charging stations strategically placed throughout the district. E-jeepney owners are currently franchised to cover a certain route in the city.

At PHP 700,000, these e-jeepneys are approximately twice the price of the e-trikes but still comparatively reasonable considering the electric technology and prices of most electric cars currently on the market. Besides the obvious benefits in fuel savings air pollution reduction and owner profits, these e-jeepneys are locally produced helping promote and grow our countries economy.  The first ones were produced in 2008 and now are growing in popularity and availability.  Additional measures are needed similar to the e-trike program so as to provide an impetus to massive implementation of the e-jeepneys nationwide.

Senate Passes Alternative Fuel Vehicle Act

The e-movement momentum is alive and well in the halls of our legislature.  The Philippines Senate just passed the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Act in the first quarter of 2013.  This bill is expected to lower the cost of electric vehicles and hybrids by offering tax exemption schemes.  Since the price of electric vehicles (EV’s) is a substantial factor in limiting their widespread use, the Senate wants to do whatever they can to help reduce the price of EVs.

The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Act will extend fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for the importation and manufacture of electric, hybrid and other alternative fuel vehicles sources.  Some of the alternative fuels that will qualify for the tax breaks include solar, wind, hydrogen fuel cell, compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Manufacturers of these vehicles in the country will be exempted from paying duties and value-added tax for purchase and importation of assembly components, raw materials, spare parts, and equipment used in the manufacture of alternative fuel vehicles (AFV) for nine years.  Additionally, a nine year exemption of excise tax will be granted to importers of fully completed AFV. The owners of AFVs will not have to pay the usual Road User’s Tax when registering their alternative fuel vehicles. AFVs used as Public-Utility-Vehicles (such as e-jeepneys and e-trikes) will be given priority in the registration process and issuance of plate numbers, along with prioritizing their applications in franchise process.

In Conclusion – Hope for a Clean and Bright Future

Once again, we would like to encourage and give kudos to the administration and the Asian Development Bank for taking this course of action to do something extremely far-sighted to address the issues of pollution, health issues, energy independence and climate change.   We would also like to thank the businessmen in Makati for pushing the e-jeepney movement and the efforts of the Philippine Senate in passing incentive bills to make alternative fuel vehicles less expensive.

Our country has some momentum now; the technology is becoming increasingly affordable, let’s keeps our thinking caps on and moves forward into the 21st century with vim and vigor and a mindset of progressive change.  Our future generations are entirely dependent on us making the right decisions at this juncture in history!  Since we are blessed with abundant solar resources, ever-increasing efforts should be made by the government, NGO’s, and the many businessmen this country has made millionaires out of, that will entirely transform the Philippines into an all electric and solar transportation country.  Filipinos are innovative, smart and resourceful people.   Research and development work should be focused on ongoing and continuous efforts for a clean and modern society.  With the political will and adequate funding, we can become the alternate/green energy transportation example for the rest of the world.

Clark International Airport becoming an Affordable Choice in a Hot Economy

New highs are being experienced at the Clark International Airport, otherwise known as DMIA, and we are not talking aeronautical elevations here.  We are referring to the volume of airline passenger traffic at the countries now fastest growing airport.   Clark is experiencing a phenomenal growth period due to the abundance of budget airlines and the desire for affordable travel by an increasing populous with spendable income.

The airport experienced an impressive 71 percent growth in passenger volume last year.  Clark tallied a record 1.3 million passengers in 2012.  This was 533,000 passengers greater than the 767,000 recorded in 2011. Last Nov. 21, the Airport hosted its five-millionth passenger since beginning commercial flight operations in 2003.

Besides the standard carriers, there are now a total of eight budget-type airlines offering great deals for resource-limited travelers through the gateway.  As it turns out, 77 percent of all travelers or 1.013 million people used these budget carries for their travel needs last year. Clark airport’s achievement of impressive growth has encouraged the arrival of passengers to the airport from as far away as Northern Luzon, Metro Manila and Southern Luzon to experience Clark’s great rates to exciting domestic and international destinations.

With 2013 expected to be another year of GDP growth figures in the 7.5 to 8 percent rate, other nations would be enviable to be in the Philippines position.   These rates of GDP growth are helping the country progress and eventually inch-out of third world status.  Add to this the record-low interest rates, low inflation and a strong stock market, and we see the Philippines as the bright shining star of Southeast Asia.  The increase in Clark air travel is but one indicator of the Philippine’s turnaround on the world economic scene.

All of these factors are combining to help create a larger middleclass and offering families the chance to move out of abstract poverty.  Individuals previously unable to afford airline travel to foreign destinations have skyrocketed.   Additionally, the affordable pricing of these Clark Airport carriers is additionally causing a compound effect, adding to the phenomenal growth of the facility and the ability for more individuals to afford airline travel.

Big things are on the horizon for Clark International Airport.  The existing passenger terminal is scheduled for a P360 million expansion to help accommodate the continual growth expected throughout this year.  Add to this a proposal by CIAC to build a P12 billion terminal that would allow for at least 10 to 12 million passengers a year.  The proposal submitted to the Department of Transportation and Communications is looking to build an international terminal similar to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia.

Additional support is expected for Clark Airport in the coming months and years.  Already an executive order was signed by President Aquino encouraging local carriers to use Clark as an alternative airport to Metro Manila’s NAIA facility in order to help traffic and congestion at the metro airport.

In order to assist in the easy use of Clark by Manila travelers, a new dedicated first-class bus service is being launched on January 15, 2013 in order to ferry passengers back and forth to Clark.  Three separate bus companies are going to be participating in the service. The service will depart Trinoma Mall in Quezon City, offer a designated lounge area as passengers wait for the bus, and only cost P200 for a direct, non-stop trip to Clark.

While Metro Manila will most likely always remain the main core capital city and gateway for the Philippines, Clark is quickly becoming the de-facto, less-congested, easier and more affordable alternative travel gateway that will only continue to set new heights of quality and offer individuals more options for their travel experience.

Mega Green City to Rise in Clark Philippines

If the BCDA plans follow through, the Philippines is about to embark on some encouraging progress.  Substantial foresight is being realized in an attempt to do something really big, green and clean for the Philippines called Clark Green City.  The project is being planned by the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and is to be located directly north of the Clark Freeport in an untouched, forested area of Central Luzon. This highly-laudable plan was recently unveiled by the BCDA to the Philippines Inter-Agency Infrastructure Committee (Infracom) on October 30, 2012.

50 Years to Completion?  We Can Do Better!

This project is an ambitious and amorous undertaking by the BCDA that we at Clark Subic Marketing believe should be supported, encouraged and driven much more aggressively than the 50-year timeframe to build-out being initially proposed.  With a little innovative thinking and passion, we can do better.

A New Manila without the Environmental Issues

The project is essentially slatted to eventually become another Metro Manila, but this time erecting a mega-city from the ground up as a modern, green paradise.  This city should be clean and sustainable in all aspects, helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and eliminating all of the factors that contribute to pollution and the resultant respiratory, cancer and other ill health issues large city residents currently experience.  Plans are for an entirely environmentally-friendly development utilizing the latest and greenest technology and energy generation available throughout the entirety of this new green megacity.

Modeled after Korea’s Songdo Region

The Clark Green City project is being modeled after Korea’s Songdo region.  Located in Incheon, Korea, near the airport, Songdo is considered a smart-city that utilizes sustainable high-rise buildings, its own water recycling facility, a water catchment system, efficient power and energy usage schemes, and an automated garbage collection system that avoids the use of large, pollution-producing trucks to produce a region that is one of the greenest and sustainable on earth.

Reasons for this Undertaking

Filipinos have become increasingly urbanized over the last 50 years. In the year1960, approximately 30 percent of Filipinos lived in urban metro areas, while the majority of the populous lived in provincial, rural farming areas.  By the year 2000 almost 51 percent lived in dense urban areas.  The trend continues as globalization brings more jobs to urban areas, the populous will continue to flock to where the jobs are.  Maintaining an attitude of forward-thinking, the BCDA is working to ensure the future of the Philippines is protected by proactively accommodating this mass migration to new, urban megalopolises in an environmentally smart way.

Metro Manila is at build-out capacity; there is simply no more room for our burgeoning population to continue their migration to the few, limited urban hectares left in Manila and the rest of our country.  With roads, emergency services, infrastructure, air quality and other quality-of-life aspects stressed to their limits, there is great need for new, courageous and far-sighted thinking.  Due to this trend and overwhelming population growth, the need for a new, clean and sustainable megacity similar to Manila is crucial and cannot be understated at this point.  But in order to ensure the preservation of our country and planet, entirely new paradigms for accommodating this growth simply must be embraced.

The World Condition

Our planet is dealing with unprecedented challenges such as unbridled population growth, climate change, rising sea levels, oceans in decline, mercury-contaminated seafood, eco-systems in collapse, rain forest destruction, polluted superfund cleanup zones, nuclear contaminated zones, soil mineral depletion and toxic farming practices that result in pesticide and herbicide-laden crops, and antibiotic and hormone laced livestock contributing to outrageous cancer rates—to name a few.  The contamination levels in our environment from industrialized and non-thinking exploitation of our planet and the general lack of consideration for its survival will lead to its eventual destruction.

Paradigm Shift for the Sake of our Children

We all need to change our paradigm of thinking when we undertake any mega-project that has the potential to inflict a deleterious outcome on our precious one-and-only home we call earth.  To not first and foremost consider the effects on this singular free-floating blue-planet as we continue to abuse every aspect of this irreplaceable home is simply too devastating to imagine. Quite simply, the continued existence of our only home the lives of our children and grandchildren are quite literally at stake.

Hopeful Vision Requires Acceleration to for our Survival

While this project offers hope in-that our Filipino leaders are attempting to do what is right by our country and planet, we believe a 50 year build-out for this project is too conservative.  Our country and planet needs groundbreaking examples of green and sustainable developments at a much quicker pace.  By entirely embracing this project with every ounce of our beings, the Philippines can become the example for a world struggling to survive.

Financial Limitations? We are only Limited by our Minds and Passion

While we may be limited in our ability to financially undertake such an ambitious and expensive project, the world will be watching.  The interest in the Philippines is at an all time high with GDP increasing (in the midst of a world downturn) and many other economic and social factors improving.  We believe there are ways to find private funding that will transform this zone much faster than a 50 year plan.

Finding the Right Individuals and Entities

The key here is in marketing and promotion of the idea to the right people entities and countries.  Private investors from countries such as Korea, Japan and China are already heavily invested in the Philippines and in the Clark and Subic Freeport Zones.  We are a winter tropic retreat for many of these countries and private investors are flocking here in record numbers.  We believe the Philippine government should partner with these current foreign investors, along with our business leaders.

Our Mega Business Leaders—Please Step Forward

The country’s mega-business owners such as the father of Philippine retail Mr. Henry Sy and the Philippine Airlines and San Miguel founder Lucio Tan along with the rest of the Fortune along with the rest of the Fortune 40 Philippine list of wealthy individuals. We feel that broad-spectrum participation of Filipino patriots is essential in this effort to drive the Clark Green City project forward at a substantially accelerated pace.

Pride in our fabulous country and the privileges our workforce and country have help bring to these leaders should be good reason to help drive these influential men—who adore their country—to participate in investing this future dream. In doing so, our business leaders can know that their beloved Philippines will eventually stand-out as a principal-player on the new-world stage as the Philippines actually helps set the planet on a new course of deliverance from its current path of destruction.

Property and Foreign Ownership

We believe that land ownership, rather long-term leases—as the current Clark and Subic business structure is setup—is crucial for adequate investment interest and overall success of Clark Green City.  Additionally, foreign ownership of land in the zone is critical in order to give a substantial incentive for participation from foreign business sponsors.   To substantially get the project rolling on an accelerated timetable, income and property tax holidays for up to 10 years for investors who participate should be considered.

Beyond Songdo—Shoot for the Stars

In order to become a truly unique and limitless project, it is our belief the aspects of sustainability and green should go far beyond the Songdo concept.  Clark Green City should be truly self-sufficient with extensive solar power, geothermal and wind power providing essentially all of the cities power needs.  All windows on buildings and high-rises should be required to integrate the new-technology window glass that doubles as solar cells that is currently being developed. Green building techniques surrounding efficiency design factors, insulation standards and general building efficiency requirements, should be some of the highest standards currently required in the entire world.

Green Transportation Systems throughout

Within the Clark Green City region, transportation systems must be emission-conscious.  In our picture of ecologically-successful project, only electric, hydrogen, natural gas and other forms of near or zero emission vehicles would be allowed. Solar powered charging stations for electric cars and trucks could be integrated throughout the city. Clean electric or magnetic levitation super-speed mass transit systems would be a requirement in order to efficiently move workers throughout the region.  Air quality is essential in order to draw foreigners who are searching for an environmentally clean utopia of sorts. Anything less than a near or zero emission transportation network is unacceptable for this project.

Clean and Contaminant-Free Food and Water

Clark Green City needs to integrate a new model of public health by encouraging, training and providing the needed products, procedures and equipment to farmers and ranchers in order to produce and cultivate local and sustainably-growing methods for toxic-free, hormone-free, antibiotic-free organic foods and natural livestock. In addition, the city should make available access to safe, contaminant-free drinking water by protecting the ecological integrity of the region and Green City’s primary water sources.

High-Speed Fiber Data Network

In order to create a city that is representative of the twenty-first century and to gather needed clean industry and corporations, there should be extensive provisions for state-of-the-art data information infrastructure. The communication/internet network system should be of the, latest technology, highest speed, and most extensible, multiply-redundant fiber design available.  This system should be designed to deliver integrated data service all the way into the twenty-second century.

Encouraging Clean Industry to Green City

Cutting-edge, clean and responsible technologies should be encouraged in a high-tech district designed to draw interest from research and development and Silicon Valley type firms. Fully-integrated, environmentally-designed facilities offering free solar power to industries willing to relocate from other countries would help bring the right type of industries to Green City. Cutting-edge technology facilities should be built and ready for turn-key occupation that house laboratories for such areas as computer innovations and platform test-bed for high-tech innovation and inventions.

Protecting the Environment

Above all, Green City should be protected utilizing enforceable laws, charters and regulations that uphold the maintenance of natural habitats.  As building commences and progresses, a mindset of keeping the effects of Clark Green City from negatively impacting the surrounding environment should be considered to the greatest degree possible. Protection of important natural habitat characteristics, such as local water-features, native vegetation and crops, shelter for wildlife and native species should be upheld to the greatest degree possible.

Look to Dubai as an Example

Getting the word out is essential to success.  When Dubai first set-out to become a major tourist destination, nobody had even heard of the city located on the Persian Gulf in the United Arab Emirates. The massive effort and aggressive build-out schedule was thought impossible to accomplish.  The Sheik of the Al Maktoum ruling family had a dream and pursued it with vigor and smart marketing to the rest of the world.  As the aggressive building schedule and engineering marvels took shape, travel shows from around the globe began to feature this unique new little region in the middle of the Arabian Desert.  As a result, Dubai experienced some of the fastest and most dramatic growth ever experienced in the modern age as businesses and wealthy individuals relocated to this fabulous city.  From the years 2000 to 2011, the city literally exploded with skyscrapers and infrastructure. Today, Dubai has emerged as a cosmopolitan metropolis that has grown to become a global city and the business and cultural hub of the Middle East.

Outstanding Promotional Campaigns Required

After the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong in 2002 and 2003 had devastated tourism at this previous tourism hot-spot, the Hong Kong department of tourism produced and launched the “Live it, Love it” ad campaign that showed in numerous countries around the world to once again bring Hong Kong back to a major tourism destination.  Jackie Chan, a well know actor took part these promos in order to assist his country.

The Philippines currently has a very well-known celebrity in Manny Pacquiao. Manny’s love for his country is significant.  As a multi-title world champion and Philippine congressman, he is highly-influential around the world.  At this point in time, his name is perhaps the best known in all of boxing.  A promotional campaign featuring our beloved boxer and congressman would be essential to pushing this project to its due course.

Foreign Marketing Campaigns

In order to attract an adequate amount of interest and investment to make this happen at a much-faster pace than the projected 50 year build-out, foreign promotional marketing campaigns should blanket wealthy and first-world countries around the globe. Plans for the city should be exposed and started as soon as possible in order to garner the attention of the world. The power of aggressive and innovative global marketing is not to be overlooked.

Ads heralding the project should be taken-out in journals around the world that specifically target well-funded, sustainably-minded and progressive individuals and entrepreneur. National Geographic, the Smithsonian and the Audubon Society magazines are great starting points.

It’s crucial to attract individuals with both money and an interest in groundbreaking, game-changing technology to make the world a better place.  Such individuals as Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Atlantic Airways (currently offering a 25 million dollar reward to anyone able to come up with a system to mitigate worldwide greenhouse gases) and Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors (a progressive electric car manufacturer) are very wealthy and interested in saving the world from the effects of industrialization.  Al Gore is perhaps the most well-known environmentalist on the planet.  His movie An Inconvenient Truth chronicled the devastation of global climate change.  Ensuring individuals like Mr. Gore were informed as to the plans for Clark Green City would be helpful in that he is extremely well connected and influential in this arena and may very-well be willing to become a spokesman for it to an attentively-listening group.

A New Governmental Charter for Clark Green City

To truly make this work, business as usual in the Philippines would no longer be an option for Clark Green City.  Ideally, the zone would have to be an autonomous region with its own set of environmental and sustainability laws.  The civil service and governmental aspects of this zone will need to adhere to a new set of standards, laws, regulation and integrity.

The Filipino Heart will bring Success

If this project is to be undertaken and fast-tracked, it must become an absolute desire and passion of the Filipino heart, a full-fledged effort leveraging every imaginable resource and asset.  Let’s find our balance, leverage every asset, pursue our dream and develop Clark Green City to become a shining example for the rest of the world to follow.

The Philippines Growth and Prosperity – Seize the Moment

Tusday, August 7, 2012 – While the rest of the world, for the most part, is in the depths of economic disaster, the country of the Philippines is experiencing an economic nirvana. From the United States comes a statement of confidence that is encouraging for our country.

Economist Tyler Cowen from George Mason University recently made the following statement. “When you look for countries that could be the world’s next rising star, you look for increasing growth, a stable fiscal deficit, strong English skills and a belief in education,” “The Philippines has all of those things. It has the best chance,” he added. Mr. Cowen stressed, though, that this was not an “absolute prediction,” with much depending on how the government makes the most of its opportunities.

Additional optimism is called for in that Mr. Cowen feels that there is limited exposure to the debt of Europe and the problems regarding the slowdown that China is currently experiencing. He believes that the country of the Philippine is positioned very well in this climate along with other countries such as Indonesia, Nigeria and Ghana as the rest of the world continues to slowdown economically.

There are still many problems to overcome in the Philippines according to many economists and experts. Corruption and the inability to complete key infrastructure projects in a timely fashion is still a huge issue that must be dealt with in the Philippines. Examples of such projects include the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, the Northrail transportation project connecting Manila to Clark, and the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. project. The stalled and corruption-laded deals prevent the country from moving to a more structured and first-world framework of doing business and keep hinder our ability to progress quickly.

Other experts are making mention of the need for an intercity Manila freeway system such as that found in Los Angeles or other major metropolises. The completion of other crucial infrastructure projects such as the connector road linking the North Luzon Expressway and the South Luzon Expressway is minimally required. This roadway alone should greatly reduce the congestion within Manila while creating additional growth in the outlying provinces.

Economists and university professors both in and outside of the country believe that there are many other key issues such as an adequate infrastructure throughout the nation that enables mass transportation for urban workers, air pollution health issues, adequate power reserves and fully redundant high speed data networks for industry, along with the growth of world-class medical facilities. It is crucial for the Philippine government to capitalize on this moment in history with the vim and vigor of a nation on the move towards the first world.

While still other experts believe the Philippines needs to update and change some of its draconian and outdated laws that have proved so counterproductive to growth and progress for the country. Such laws as the one instituted in the 1987 Constitution limiting foreign ownership of property and businesses places a damper on the influx of foreign capital and the resultant potential growth.

Additionally, outdated, taxation, labor, trade and zoning laws are hampering the full potential of the Philippines. Experts believe these laws need to be updated and changed if the country is to indeed gather the business investments that lead to employment, growth and prosperity.

These same experts believe that the Philippines are continuously losing a valuable pool of highly-skilled workers to foreign jobs abroad. These numerous losses of our advanced workforce essentially rob the country of a tremendous pool of talent and hinder the country’s potential for growth.

Economists also see the need for updating, automating and computerizing important governmental systems that are slow, laborious and inefficient. The usually simple procedure of obtaining a business license in other countries is done mainly online. The Philippines requires the business owner show-up at the Department of Trade and Industry in person to obtain the necessary permits. Besides being arduous and unnecessary, this type of procedure seems to reinforce potential corruption as a result of the required face to face negotiations with government officials.

The experts go on to say that such basic things as paying airline terminal fees separately at the airport rather than having them integrated into the price of an airline ticket is a simple change that can reduce overhead and burden to the international traveler along with obtain alignment with the rest of Asia and the world.

As the opportunities for the Philippines continue to expand, our country is poised for fantastic greatness if we can broaden our minds and embrace the new perspective of the interconnected world as we move deeper into the 21st century. The chance for a new truly prosperous Philippines exists if we get smart. Let’s seize the moment and move into an era of intelligent prosperity.

 

Retirement and Medical Tourism in Clark, Philippines

Tusday, August 7, 2012 – While the rest of the world, for the most part, is in the depths of economic disaster, the country of the Philippines is experiencing an economic nirvana. From the United States comes a statement of confidence that is encouraging for our country.

As the world economic crisis looms, we are starting to feel the effects hit our country.Texas Instruments is cutting 400 jobs in the Philippines, and offshore workers are being sent back by the planeload. As I talk with the various Korean hotel and resort operators in Clark and Subic, I am told that they are starting to feel the effects in both their business dealings back home and in their operations in the Philippines.

The positive growth and investment in Clark and Subic is being challenged and we need to be proactive and prepared for a quickly changing world.The depth of this economic crisis is being compared to nothing previously witnessed since the great worldwide depression of the 1930s.If we don’t put our thinking caps on and position ourselves for this downturn, we could be severely set-back and derailed from our lofty goals.

Looking for direction and growth in new areas we should look to Expats, retirees on a fixed income and foreigners looking for a more reasonable place to spend the golden years of their lives.These are groups the Philippine government and the private sector should take the initiative to actively campaign the benefits of relocating to this country.

When individuals think about Subic, thoughts of several adventure parks and the lure of beachfront resorts come to mind. When we think about Clark, our thoughts of golf courses and casinos dominate.
Clark could use a much more firm identity and a means to entice large groups of permanent and semi-permanent residents to its cooler climate and clean air and the beauty of its surroundings.Clark is the perfect location for foreigners, and specifically those looking to retire or relocate to a more affordable environment, but one major consideration are missing.

If we wish to turn Clark into a retirement haven for foreigners, we must realize that a top priority for retirement-age individuals coming from developed countries is the need for top-rate medical care and modern, well-equipped medical facilities.

If our government and the private sector were to focus on creating a truly sophisticated and technologically advanced, world-class medical facility in the Clark Freeport, I believe we would see record numbers of retirees from countries such as Japan, Korea, Singapore, Australia, Europe and America arrive on our shores.
As you drive through the Clark Freeport you will see a handful of new subdivisions and high-end housing communities springing-up in lush, tree-lined areas.With Texas Instrument’s new, one billions dollar plant being built, these subdivisions were anticipated to fill-up quickly with management personnel and foreigner’s families.With the world quickly falling into a downturn, we are starting to see work on these communities gradually slow-down.

Clark already offers the benefits of added-security, improved air-quality, wide-open roads, great utilities and infrastructure, world-class golf courses, resorts, hotels, a variety of restaurants and a divided super highway to all the fun and excitement in Subic.

Not only is Clark the perfect spot for a retirement and expat haven, but it would make the ideal location for a medical tourism-oriented facility in the Philippines. With medical tourism on the rise worldwide, the time is now!Almost 50 million Americans have no health insurance and the hundreds of millions that do, continue to see their health insurance cost rise exponentially with many optional procedure not covered by their insurance. More and more Americans are reaching-out to other countries for an affordable alternative to healthcare in their own country.Individuals from the United States and some European countries, seeing their medical costs skyrocket, are looking to combine medical procedures with an opportunity to do a little travel and see some new spots, but for most medical tourists, the main incentive is the price differential.

As an example, the cost of surgery in India, Thailand or South Africa can be one-tenth that of comparable procedures in the United States or Western Europe, and sometimes even less.A heart-valve replacement normally costing $200,000 or more in the U.S. goes for only $10,000 in India – and this includes the airfare and a mini vacation to boot. Dental work prices are also very attractive in other countries. A dental bridge normally costing over $5000 in the United States goes for only $500 in India. A complete facelift that routinely costs $20,000 in the U.S. will only cost about $1,250 in South Africa.With these kinds of savings, you can see why individuals are willing to travel great distances, and while they are at it, they get to see some new part of the world.

Countries such as Thailand, South Africa and India see the opportunity and are doing and heavily promoting combination tour/medical procedure packages and then advertising these opportunities to the U.S. and European countries.

There is no reason why the Philippines can’t do the same and we can start the trend right here in Clark. The Philippines has been producing high quality nurses and doctors for many years. Unfortunately, many tend to leave our country to work abroad where the money is much more attractive. If we encourage, both our government and the private sector to invest in a large, state-of-the-art medical facility right here in Clark, staffed it with the best doctors our country has to offer, and pay them wages comparable to western societies, we would retain a good portion of our medical graduates, be able capitalize on the new medical tourism industry and provide a world-class medical facility to foster growth of the retirement sector.If Clark were able to secure this course of action, I believe we could transform this downturn into a turnaround and possibly foster a new opportunity for the Philippines.

Solar Island

If the Philippines play its cards right and the country takes the steps necessary to avail itself of a timely-opportunity, a prosperous, new possibility exists for the Philippines becoming the location for the next California-based Silicon Valley of the coming solar age – a catchy name begs acceptance – let’s call it Solar Island for now?

The Philippines, leveraging some creative-foresight and focused-campaigning can attempt to prove to the solar cell manufacturing industry the idea that our country is the “right place” to locate their new solar production facilities. We just may be able to literally become the de-facto location for manufacturing much-needed solar panels for an ever-changing world. But we have to act fast and provide the incentives and infrastructure in order to capture the market.

THE WORLD IS ABOUT TO CHANGE

The handwriting is on the wall — the scope of world-events occurring in the last few years has made it very clear – the world needs new, clean energy sources.Given global climate change and its negative consequences – skyrocketing oil prices bankrupting airlines and plummeting automotive sales – countries sending hundreds of billions of dollars to Middle East entities of ill-repute – foreign oil dependence leading to a developed country’s instability quotient – the world is ready for a change.

It’s clear the countries of the world will be turning to alternative, safe, clean, renewable power from new sources in order to fulfill their energy demands over the next several decades. The number-one most likely source of this power should be the sun. In 2006, the worldwide market for solar cells was already at $9.5 billion and growing by approximately 20 percent per year. Numerous companies are racing towards the finish-line to development ever-increasing efficiency factors and streamlined processes for the manufacture of these cells for the huge market about to explode.

PROGRESSIVE GERMANY

Germany became creative way back in the year 2000 when their government adopted a subsidy law called the Energy Act requiring the large power companies to purchase all solar power at premium rates from any solar startup project.This spurred a huge growth in Germany’s solar footprint. While they are embracing solar technology to help mitigate global climate change, a very desirable outcome occurred.Solar cell manufacturing companies and other components prospered tremendously under the new energy act and have put an additional 40,000 Germans to work.

CURRENT PHILIPPINES SOLAR COMPANIES

The Philippines already has important solar cell manufacturing company assets; we host two major world players in the solar cell manufacturing business – SunPower and Solaria.A short bio and Philippine footprint of these companies follows.

SunPower, a publically-traded, high-value maker of silicon crystal PV solar cells, produces cells with a 22% light-to-electricity conversion ratio – these are the most efficient cells made anywhere in the world.SunPower operates two manufacturing plants in the Philippines showing an impressive $220 million in solar panel exports for 2006.This cutting-edge company is currently building a new 250 megawatt all-solar power plant in San Luis Obispo, California alongside an even larger 550 megawatt solar plant to be built and operated by another major player in the solar industry known as OptiSolar.These projects represent an important milestone in U.S. power generation in that PG&E, a major California electric and gas utility, will be purchasing the power and supplying it to the actual power grid in California. These two power projects will provide enough energy to serve approximately 239,000 residential homes each year.

Solaria, a privately-held solar cell company, also operating a manufacturing facility in the Philippines, has pioneered a new crystal silicon PV solar cell production method that is more cost-effective than most others. Last year, Solaria brokered a new deal with the second-largest solar cell manufacturing company in the world, Q-Cells. This cell supply agreement guarantees Solaria access to a huge 1.35 gig watts of production capacity over the next ten years.In 2007, when the deal was forged, this contract represented one of the industry’s largest solar cell deals ever. This cell supply arrangement will enable Solaria to produce well over 2.7 gig watts of photo voltaic modules using its proprietary cell-multiplication technology over the next 10 years – a large percentage of these cells will originate from the Philippines.

NEW SOLAR TECHNOLOGY

The last several years have given rise to several new technologies for the solar cell manufacturing processes utilizing various types of semiconductor material.We will investigate one of the major processes becoming increasingly popular below.

The CIGS process stands for Copper Indium Gallium Selenide and is characteristically a thin-film process for disbursing semiconductor material composed of those same elements named above.The CIGS process (a more cost-effective process companies like OptiSolar use) is less efficient than the standard silicon crystal junction technology, producing less electrical power for a given amount of light energy.Silicon crystal junction technology has been the mainstream solar cell production process for many years.The reason the CIGS process is less expensive for making product is the deposition of the semiconductor material is much easier, thereby allowing for much faster, higher-volume and significantly less expensive manufacturing processes.The leader in this solar cell process is Global Solar who is actually producing solar cells on a flexible base material that is substantially lighter than the crystal silicon method, and can be bent to conform to curved surfaces.

Venture capitalists have poured more than $344 million into five other CIGS-type companies in the last few years.These companies are Nanosolar, Miasolé, Solopower, Solyndra, and Heliovolt.This new technology currently looks like the most probable future process.

COMPANIES WITHIN OUR REACH

There are a host of large and small-scale solar cell manufacturing companies throughout the world pushing to position their company to the forefront of the new age of green energy production.Industry sources say there are over 200 solar cell manufacturers in the world with new startups climbing on board the solar wagon almost every week.

Below is a partial list of some of the more prominent solar cell manufacturing companies in the race to meet the expectations of a world in need of energy independence and green power.

Let’s encourage our president and politicians to pursue these companies with completely eliminated tax and tariffs and other incentives to encourage them to build solar manufacturing in the new Solar Island of the Philippines.

Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. (CIGS)
AVA Solar (CdTe)
Avancis (CIGS)
CaliSolar (UMG Si) [1]
Calyxo (CdTe)
Covalent Solar (CPV) [2]
DayStar Technologies (CIGS)
Dyesol (DSSC) [3]
Ersol Solar Energy AG (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si)
First Solar (CdTe)
Fuji Electric Systems Co., Ltd. (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si)
G24 Innovations (DSSC) [4]
Global Solar Energy (CIGS)
Heliatek (OP)
HelioVolt (CIGS)
Honda Soltec Co., Ltd. (CIGS)
Innovalight (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si)
JA Solar Holdings
Johanna Solar Technology (CIGS)
Kaneka (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si)
Konarka (OP)
Matsushita Battery Industrial Co., Ltd. (CdTe)
Miasole (CIGS)
Mitsubishi Heavy industries (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si)
Nanosolar (CIGS)
Odersun (CIGS)
Oerlikon Solar
Plextronics (OP)
PrimeStar Solar (CdTe)
Q-Cells (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si)
ShadePlex (Thin film cells bonded to architectural fabrics) [5]
Sharp (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si), is trying to wean itself from silicon by focusing on thin-film solar cells. [6]
Showa Shell Sekiyu (CIGS), plans to work with semiconductor equipment maker Ulvac Inc on research to raise efficiency of the panels [6].
Solarmer (OP)
Solibro (CIGS)
Solyndra (CIGS)
Sulfurcell (CIGS)
Sunpower
United Solar Ovonics (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si)
Würth Solar (CIGS)
Main article: Solar cell

FILIPINOS ARE ALREADY CONTRIBUTING

Filipino engineers working for SunPower and Solaria have contributed greatly in making many improvements to solar cell manufacturing processes.Some of these include streamlined testing and analysis of complete panels and individual solar cells, new soldering methods for solar cell interconnection, automation methods, new manufacturing material analysis, new quality control methods and logistical improvements involving material handling.

Filipinos can use the presence of companies like SunPower and Solaria to attract direct suppliers and venders in order to encourage other solar companies to take advantage of the Philippines as an effective and efficient manufacturing location.If we are going to attract additional companies, an efficient supply chain and logistical support system will need to be improved and assurance for continual growth.Perhaps the Clark Freeport with its many incentives is an ideal area for the creation of a Solar Centric Valley.

In our efforts to attract new companies, we should continue to research new technologies, processes, understand company profiles and their needs, and most importantly, remaining one-step ahead of the game.Only then can we cease the moment and become a viable and efficient manufacturing location for these important energy-related companies of today and tomorrow.

As Clark and Subic locators, let’s put our heads together, talk to the most influential people in power we may know, and work to get the wheels rolling. Maybe Solar Island is the destiny for the Clark/Subic corridor? Each of us can do our part to help encourage this idea and set the stage for a new and brighter tomorrow for the Philippines.If the sun is the road to a more shining future, then let’s follow it.

World Oil Crisis – Can Clark Set the Standard for Innovation?

In the time it takes a person to read this sentence, the world will have used about 8,000 barrels, or 336,000 gallons of oil!At 1000 barrels per second, it’s going fast! With China and India developing exponentially faster than ever imagined, we are at a point in history where we have to make some tough choices or risk unimaginable loss.

China for instance, is experiencing an escalation of first-time car buyers that’s unprecedented in modern history – in years past, the majority of the people in this nation of over 1.3 billion would use bicycles as their main mode of transportation.As the Chinese people find themselves in the midst of a period of unparalleled economic growth and prosperity over the last 20 years, the masses are now replacing their bicycles with automobiles.Growing more than eightfold since 2000, China has recently passed Japan to become the world’s second-largest car market, behind the United States.What do staggering car sales, intense industrial production and the related energy consumption and emissions mean to China and the rest of the world?

On Thursday of last week in the good old USA, Al Gore made a speech that was closely watched by a nation in a state of energy-shock and in the grips of the beginning phases of a dramatic recession.In the past months Gore has been hosting a series of solutions summits with scientists, engineers, CEOs, and financiers. Gore’s speech pulled together some of the best ideas gathered from those talks with these top experts from around the world.He detailed what each person can do to help curtail the world’s dangerous addiction to fossil fuels and help solve the climate crisis.He also proposed an aggressive plan that if embraced, would enable the U.S. to both end its reliance on imported fossil fuels and drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions to boot.

Gore’s aggressive plan calls for converting the entire electrical power system of the U.S. to renewable, eco-friendly sources of energy within an accelerated time-frame of only 10 years.Gore emphasized: “We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change.” Gore claims the technology is in place and all that is needed is the political will to take America into a new energy-independent era of solar, wind and geothermal power.Theses clean and renewable energy resources are highly-desirable, and at this point critically necessary.America and the world desperately need new clean energy assets that emit zero greenhouse gas and would help to curtail the exponentially-progressing climate change currently taking place on mother earth.

The world, not America, not the Philippines or any other country, are at a crossroads – if we don’t focus ourselves of this pivotal point in history and make some drastic choices, and soon, we could be faced with some extreme consequences we don’t even want to admit are possible.We are looking at dramatic penalties for delaying our action – consequences such as extreme weather and the rise of the oceans to levels that will encroach on coastal areas, displacing hundreds of millions of people from their homes.

We are already witnessing damaging and frequent extreme-weather conditions around the world.As we take inventory of intense weather tearing-up the world and causing devastation, we are quite honestly frightened for our future.In the Philippines, we are seeing an earlier start to the typhoon season each year as the intensity and numbers of these killer-storms rise.Just recently, Typhoon Fengshen left more than 1300 people dead or missing. As the current typhoon season approaches, around 20 typhoons are predicted by our weather service to hit the Philippines over the next several months.The recent Myanmar cyclone that killed 84537 people and left 53836 more missing has left that Southeast Asian neighbor entirely devastated with their rice fields under water and unusable for many months or possibly years to come.

America imports 70% of their oil every year and the Philippines importing 100% of ours.If we want to eliminate unstable, rouge, Middle Eastern nations dictating our oil prices and leaving wide-open the possibility of our economy coming to a complete, grinding-collapse, then we need to start to brain-storm, innovate, and facilitate creative ideas that will put us on a course of energy independence – and we need to start now!

I would like to suggest a plan that would allow the locators and governmental entities in Clark to lead the way and provide some ground-breaking opportunity for pioneering change in the Philippines.If properly implemented and supported by government and local industry, I feel this program could be a model for the rest of the nation and possibly the rest of the world.This program could ultimately helping encourage and inspire private business and governments to take the reigns in order to create worldwide green energy solutions to help mediate this weather crisis and lessen the dependence on foreign oil sources.

What if we were to start a private-sector program backed and funded by the companies in Clark?This program would be formed to subsidize public transportation for the Clark Zone, eventually encouraging an all-electric employee-commute transportation system?This program would establish a fund providing a source of low to no-interest loans to encourage Jeepney owners to convert existing, or purchase new, clean, all-electric Jeepney vehicles for transporting workers in and out of the Freeport.

I see this as a voluntary program, establishing yearly contributions to the fund, with the amount of each Clark business owner’s contribution directly related to the number of employees in their employ.With large companies such as Texas Instruments and Samsung participating, substantial fund loading could be realized to ensure the success and sustainability of this plan.

As an incentive for the locators to contribute to this program, the government could offer each participating-company a large tax credit, reducing their taxable income.The amount of credit extended could be a percentage of the individual locator’s contribution to the program – this would create a system where the larger the contribution to the program, the larger the tax credit to the company.

We could ask for CDC’s help in establishing a graduated-mandate. This mandate would state that within a given number of years, all vehicles providing public transportation in the Zone must participate in the Clark Electric Transportation Program.

A NGO oversight supervision group with a credible-history of managing green energy resources and funds would coordinate and monitor the distribution and repayments of loans supplied to the Jeepney owners as well as coordinates and collect the fund of the business owners in the Freeport.

Additionally, this oversight group would be responsible for the build-out of solar-powered electrical charging stations within the Freeport, allowing for entirely free charging to Jeepney owners participating in the program.This oversight group could also be responsible for forming strategic partnerships with companies that produce solar cells right here in the Philippines such as Sun Power, producer of some of the worlds most efficient and creative solar cell products.Companies such as this could help offset the cost of the panels for the charging stations.They could also be issued tax incentives and worldwide exposure as a major contributor to an important green energy solution.
For additional information on Sun Power we’ve included their website address and a couple press releases detailing their Philippine operations below:

http://www.sunpowercorp.com
http://investors.sunpowercorp.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=179419
http://investors.sunpowercorp.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=256947

On the horizon is new super-capacitor battery technology that will increase the effective range of electric vehicles before needing a charge by a factor of 10, and decrease the charging time dramatically to as low as 5 minutes for a full charge.A company called Eestor, based in Texas, is currently working on this technology and is expected to release production units sometime this year.With new, ever-evolving, high efficiency solar cells and longer lasting battery technology and a passion for individual involvement, innovation and change, we can do this!For additional information about Eestor technology, read the Wikipedia article below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EEStor

I feel the Clark Freeport Zone is ideally suited for a green energy pilot-program of dramatic and far-sighted scope and proportion.We are an independently-governed and highly-concentrated business zone with a growing base of high-tech companies – several involved in silicon chip manufacturing. The Philippines is home to one of the most efficient and innovative silicon solar-cell manufacturing companies in the world.New battery technology is on the horizon making possible, dramatically extended ranges between charging for electric vehicles. Understanding the opportunity set before us, the world energy demands, the climate change emergency, quickly increased food prices and the need for clean transportation services for our workers, lets labor together to bring a model program, harnessing the free power of the sun to Clark.

I welcome the comments, suggestions and constructive criticism of all Clark locators and anyone with additional ideas here. Please submit your comment using the comment link below.