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Pag-IBIG MP2, home loans hit record-high in Jan-Apr 2021

June 4, 2021

Pag-IBIG Fund achieved milestones in the first four months of the year as members availed of its voluntary savings program and housing loan program in record numbers despite the ongoing health crisis, top officials of the agency said on Friday (June 04). From January to April, members’ savings under the voluntary Modified Pag-IBIG 2 (MP2) Savings program reached P8.65 billion. On the other hand, home loans eleased during the period amounted to P27.39 billion, helping 27,041 members realize their dream of homeownership. "We are happy to report that we were able to achieve two ‘highest-ever’ numbers early on in 2021. The strong showing of our MP2 and housing loan programs is a testament to the trust of Filipino workers in Pag-IBIG Fund. Our members can rest assured that we will continue doing our best, so that we can provide them high earnings on their savings while maintaining the low interest on our loans.  These are our contributions to the national government’s efforts towards economic recovery under the lead of President Duterte," said Secretary Eduardo D. del Rosario of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) who also chairs the 11-member Pag-IBIG Fund Board of Trustees. In 2020, members saved P13.3 billion in MP2, growing 11% from the previous year and setting the record for the highest amount saved in one year. Pag-IBIG Fund’s home loans also reached a record-high in December last year when the agency released P12.11 billion, which is the highest amount disbursed in a single month. Pag-IBIG Fund Chief Executive Officer Acmad Rizaldy P. Moti expressed optimism that the agency’s strong performance will continue throughout the year, especially as the restrictions are being eased to help the economy. He noted that the phenomenal performance of its MP2 last year and the increasing amount of home loans released in the last quarter of 2020 continued until the beginning months of 2021. He said that even amid the ongoing health crisis, MP2 Savings collections in January to April grew 81% while home loan releases rose 64% compared to the same period in 2020. "Even with the ongoing pandemic, the amount of home loans released and MP2 Savings collections for the first four months of 2021 are not only record-highs but are higher than what we achieved during the same period in 2019, prior to the pandemic. In the case of our MP2 alone, the amount our members voluntarily saved from January to April this year is already equivalent to two-thirds or 65% of the amount saved in MP2 for the whole year of 2020. We thank our members for their continued trust in Pag-IBIG Fund and in choosing to rely on us for their home financing and savings needs. These give us hope that, barring another black swan event, we are on our way to another best year in fulfilling our mandates to Filipino workers here and abroad," said Moti. (END)

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2GO Boosts ‘Fun and Safe Travels’ - MV 2GO Maligaya maiden voyage to Cagayan de Oro

June 1, 2021

2GO Travel, the Philippines’ largest premier sea travel provider, is setting its sights to go beyond the #StaySafe mantra for travels in the new normal, by making sea travel both “FUN and SAFE” for its passengers through the new MV 2GO Maligaya – currently the fastest, largest, state-of-the-art vessel in the country.   MV 2GO Maligaya successfully sailed her maiden voyage from Manila to Cebu on May 31st. Upon her arrival in the City of Golden Friendship on June 1, 2021, Kagay-anaons were greeted with the ship’s colorful and energizing livery, which gave them a new, youthful, and stimulating visual-spatial experience of shapes and spaces, representing 2GO’s brand identity, core pillars, and values. MV 2GO Maligaya operates on a Manila-Cebu-Cagayan de Oro route, and is expected to do round trips twice a week, leaving Manila every Wednesdays and Sundays. Earlier passengers enjoyed cruise ship-like amenities that is of international standards, such as private hotel room accommodations, grand lobby, spacious lounge areas, and restaurants. They were also treated to upgraded facilities, on top of the raffle prizes and surprise giveaways, for a total onboard sea travel experience with 2GO. 2GO observes proper health and safety protocols to assure safe travels through regular disinfection and sanitation of all vessels and ports of call. Meanwhile, passengers are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks and face shields, and to practice social distancing from check-in, boarding, and disembarkation at all times. The company also ensures that passengers comply with local travel requirements of their destinations. [translated] "Dakoa sa barko, murag mall! Nalipay mi kay bag-o siya og swerte nga nakauna mi og experience sa murag hotel nga barko sa 2GO. Natuyok nako ang barko, mao nga na-enjoy gyud ko ning byahe," said Mae Villar, a passenger of Maligaya’s first journey.   In addition, the roll-on, roll-off passenger (ROPAX) and cargo vessel is equipped with amenities to amplify the travel experience. This includes a café, salon, convenience store, prayer room, shower rooms, bar, clinic, activity area, and entertainment rooms. Accommodation choices include the state room, business premium, tourist premium, business class, tourist class, and the tatami. The rooms and common areas have wider spaces and open-air options for better ventilation. Passengers can also choose to either book a single room for themselves or their family, giving them the flexibility to optimize social distancing throughout their trip. “At 2GO Travel, we give our passengers the peace of mind to journey with us safely and comfortably, while offering them the best sea travel experiences for the best price. Your vacation and relaxation really start the moment you board 2GO Travel ships,” 2GO Vice President and Head of Sea Solutions Dan Fernan said.    Fernan said 2GO Travel is also committed to reliability and consistency as proven by their track record of unabated operations and trips even at the height of the pandemic last year.   To encourage more fun and safe travels, 2GO Travel is offering a ₱99 promo to Cagayan de Oro-Manila and Cagayan de Oro-Cebu, inclusive of a 50-kg baggage allowance. Passengers must book from May 30 to June 3, 2021 to avail of the promo, for sailing on August 1 to December 15, 2021. Other destinations covered are Batangas to Caticlan and Roxas as well as Manila to Bacolod, Butuan, Cebu, Coron, Dumaguete, Iligan, Iloilo, Ozamis, Puerto Princesa, and Zamboanga.   To book your tickets, please visit 2GO Travel’s website, https://travel.2go.com.ph/, call our hotline (02) 8 528 7000, email us at travel@2GO.com.ph, or visit any 2GO outlet and SM Business Centers near you!

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Cebu Pacific remains in the frontline of battle vs. COVID-19

May 24, 2021

The Philippines’ leading carrier, Cebu Pacific (PSE: CEB), remains in the frontline of the country’s battle to curb the surge of COVID-19 cases with timely deliveries of vaccines to key cities across the archipelago. CEB flew more than 236,000 doses to five cities in the Philippines, specifically to Tuguegarao and Legazpi on April 30, and to Tacloban, Zamboanga, and Cotabato on May 1, 2021.   This shipment comprised 41,600 doses for Tuguegarao, 67,200 doses for Legazpi, 73,600 for Tacloban, 25,600 for Zamboanga, and 28,800 for Cotabato.   "We are delighted to continue collaborating with our public and private partners for the realization of this national endeavor. We consider it our duty to bring these much-needed vaccines across our wide domestic network while ensuring they are preserved well and delivered safely while in our care," said Alex Reyes, President and CEO of Cebgo.  Upon receipt of the vaccines at the Cebu Pacific Cargo warehouse in Pasay, these were placed in a reefer container equipped with cooling systems for proper storage before cargo loading.   These vaccines were immediately transferred to container vans upon arrival at the destinations, ready for local distribution.  On April 29, CEB flew half a million vaccine doses from Beijing to Manila, in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH).  CEB has delivered the single largest vaccine shipment to the country so far, in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH). A total of 1.5 million doses from Beijing arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) via 5J 671 on May 7, 2021.  “This large shipment of COVID vaccines with Cebu Pacific brings us closer to our goal of protecting every Filipino as fast as possible,” said Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19. “We are grateful to Cebu Pacific for joining forces with the government to support us in ensuring the success of this vaccine roll-out.” “We are thankful for the continued trust of the Philippine government and the DOH, and restate our intention to support our country’s fight against COVID-19 in any way we can. We look forward to picking up more vaccines from across the globe and aid in distributing across our widest domestic network,” noted Alexander Lao, Cebu Pacific Chief Strategy Officer. Upon unloading from CEB’s A330 aircraft, all vaccines were thoroughly inspected by the authorities prior to uplifting to refrigerated trucks via electric forklifts. On May 4, Cebu Pacific transported 6,200 COVID-19 vaccines from Manila to Puerto Princesa. Apart from Palawan, the carrier has delivered more than half a million doses of vaccines to six (6) other cities in the country namely Bacolod, Cotabato, Legazpi, Tacloban, Tuguegarao, and Zamboanga.  Following last week’s shipment of 500,000 Sinovac vaccines from Beijing to Manila, CEB has already transported over 2.5 million COVID-19 doses since March 2021. CEB fully supports the nation’s vaccination program by helping ensure life-saving COVID-19 vaccines are flown safely to the Philippines, and distributed across the rest of the archipelago. CEB operates the widest domestic network in the Philippines covering 32 destinations, on top of its six (6) international destinations. Its 74-strong fleet, one of the youngest in the world, includes two (2) dedicated ATR freighters and one (1) A330 freighter. 

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Aboitiz-AIM-NEDA-LGU collaboration to boost PH contact tracing capabilities

May 24, 2021

To help address the issues surrounding the effectiveness of the country’s contact tracing efforts, the public and private sectors together with the academe launched ‘Project Connect,’ an initiative for the seamless execution of this important pillar in the government’s Covid-19 pandemic response (Test, Trace, Isolate).   Through a virtual ceremony held on May 18, 2020, the Aboitiz Group, premier academic institution Asian Institute of Management-Aboitiz School of Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (AIM-ASITE), and the local government of Pasig City signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that would put in motion a data science-driven project conceptualized by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), to significantly improve contact tracing in the country. The AIM-ASITE, with its world-class computing facility, research tools, and data science experts, will help develop data analysis techniques for contact tracing. The Aboitiz Group, a known advocate of innovation, data science and artificial intelligence, supports the initiative through its social development arm Aboitiz Foundation. Aboitiz helped establish ASITE through a $10 million donation to AIM. It offers Master of Data Science (MSDS), the first graduate data science degree program in the country. “In Aboitiz, everything we do should drive change for a better world and we are a firm believer that data science is a strong foundation that we can rely on as our country continuously fights this pandemic,” Aboitiz Foundation President Maribeth Marasigan stressed. The Aboitiz Group through its Foundation has also donated PHP2 million to fund the implementation of ‘Project Connect’, which includes pilot testing, SMS blasts, and the development of the Application Programming Interface or API which is essential to increase contact ratio from one (1) infected person is to two to three persons traced (1:2-3) to an ideal of one (1) infected person is to thirty to thirty-seven people traced (1:30-37). “One life saved by addressing this gap in the pandemic response, is more than enough reason for Aboitiz to be part of this initiative.  This remains true to our promise of advancing business and communities,” she added. The Automatic Contact Tracing Using Short Messaging System (SMS) Project, through the said API, would help seamlessly execute contact tracing as soon as an individual’s Covid-19 test result comes out by automatically linking the contact tracing applications used by various local government units (LGU) to the government’s testing portal. While the Department of Health data showed that the 7-day moving average for Covid-19 testing reached close to 64,000, the challenge is ensuring immediate testing of those who might have direct contact with individuals who tested positive. This is currently one of the weakest links in the entire Covid-19 response and when addressed would greatly help prevent the dreaded virus’ further transmission. “Through quick testing and tracing, we can identify, test, and isolate asymptomatic individuals before they go out and infect others in the community. Doing so will dramatically reduce cases, limit the spread of the virus, sustain the reopening of the economy, and allow people to go back to work as soon as possible. The gradual reopening of the economy is key to economic recovery,” said NEDA Undersecretary Mercy Sombilla. AIM-ASITE Head and Aboitiz Chair in Data Science Christopher Monterola said by connecting DOH’s data to the contact tracing apps used by the LGUs, required isolation time of compromised individuals can be reduced from seven to just four days. “According to simulations done, this acceleration of the contact tracing process can reduce the total number of cases by 50-60% if tracing is implemented with about 75% of the population complying”, Monterola pointed out. “By connecting the DOH data of infected individuals and the contact tracing data of say Pasig Pass, we can identify the individuals most likely compromised if they are in the same establishment within say 30 mins. We can then prioritize on contact tracing the individuals based on the length of contact, nature/place of contact, susceptibility to become seriously ill (age and gender), and most importantly one’s potential to be a super spreader,” Monterola further explained. Pasig City, the project implementation pilot site is already maintaining PasigPass, a contact tracing solution specifically made for the city which runs via quick response (QR) code system and is required to be accomplished in establishments and operating offices within Pasig.   Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto said that while around 2.6 million individuals are already currently on the SafePass app, the city recognizes the need to improve its contact tracing and sees further use of technology and data analytics to better fight Covid-19. “There are so many data points that we can extract [from the app]. You know the potential for data analytics and analysis is really high but obviously, the LGU of Pasig does not have the capability for a lot of these things; it's new to us as well and we’re trying to figure things out as we go along and we need your help,” the mayor said during the project launch. “Every time we identify a close contact, every time someone tests positive and prevents him or her from spreading the disease, that’s a win for us. These are little victories that we see on a daily basis,” he stressed, noting that the initial results’ potential from the pilot test of 1,000 people traced through Project Connect is “through the roof.”   Mayor Sotto thanked all the stakeholders involved in the project including the Aboitiz Foundation. “To the Aboitiz Foundation, thank you for your generosity, for your kind hearts, and your willingness to partner with the LGUs like Pasig City. I know it’s not only Pasig that you are partners with but you have done so much for the community, for our nation and I just want to thank you for that,” he added. Usec. Sombilla said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) agreed to do the pilot test in the consortium cities including Pasig, Antipolo, Mandaluyong, and Valenzuela. The recommendation to the task force is to scale the initiative nationally as soon as possible.   

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Pay it forward to our modern-day heroes with PayMaya

May 24, 2021

Medical frontliners are the modern-day heroes in our ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. As they continue to save lives of our kababayans, we can stand behind them by practicing health safety measures and utilizing technology.    Utilizing digital apps like PayMaya are making it easier for Filipinos to participate in bayanihan movements for the community – this includes making donations to organizations whose beneficiaries are healthcare workers.  Here are some of the ways you can show support to our medical frontliners, with the help of PayMaya:   Practice safety health standards in your day-to-day activities    The easiest and sure way to curb the spread of the virus is by keeping ourselves within the safety of our homes and staying healthy. We must always ensure that we follow safety health standards in our daily activities.    One way to keep ourselves safe is by going cashless. With apps like PayMaya, you can easily pay your utility and government bills, send money to your loved ones, purchase essentials at the PayMaya Mall, and even buy prepaid loads with just your mobile phone--no need to go out to do these transactions.    Make an emergency donation to the Philippine General Hospital through the PGH Medical Foundation    One of the PGH’s pay ward was recently struck with fire that damaged a portion of its facilities and displaced patients. It has called for food, non-food, and cash donations. You can extend your help to the PGH through the PayMaya donation channels of PGH Medical Foundation. You can simply visit pymy.co/pghmedicalfoundation to donate using any credit, debit, or prepaid card or go to the Bills page in the PayMaya app to make a donation (Go to Bills > Tap Donations > Choose PGH Medical Foundation > Enter ‘00000’ in the Account Number field and put the amount you wish to donate).      Donate to initiatives supporting medical frontliners    Many of PayMaya's partner organizations, including the Philippine Red Cross, PGH Medical Foundation, PLDT-Smart Foundation, and Alagang Kapatid Foundation , have initiated programs supporting our healthcare workers. Their initiatives provided care packages, food, supplies, and medical kits to frontliners.   Today, you can easily support the Philippine Red Cross, PGH Medical Foundation, PLDT-Smart Foundation, Alagang Kapatid Foundation, and other similar organizations using your PayMaya account. All you have to do is go to the Bills feature of your PayMaya app, choose Donations, and select the organization you’d like to donate to. Simply key in '00000' as the account number and enter your donation amount, then proceed to complete your donation.       If you are abroad or would prefer to use your card to donate, you can go to PayMaya's donation website, https://donate.paymaya.com/ . In the site, you can choose from PayMaya's 50 Donation Partners with COVID-19 relief and response efforts and donate to their cause using any Visa, Mastercard, and JCB credit, debit, and prepaid cards, or other e-wallets.   Purchase digital products at PayMaya’s in-app shop to provide meals for medical frontliners    From May 18-20, 2021, PayMaya is doing a flash donation for our frontliners. Each time you purchase digital products such as telco load, gaming pins, on-demand content credits, and transportation credits from the in-app PayMaya Shop, the digital payments company will donate Php1 on your behalf to build a pool of fund to distribute packed meals to a total of 10,000 medical frontliners of  26 public hospitals, including PGH,  for five days. This initiative, in partnership with PLDT-Smart Foundation, Alagang Kapatid Foundation, and Cignal, is a way to pay tribute to our modern-day heroes who work tirelessly to save lives of COVID-19 patients. You can visit https://www.paymaya.com/paymaya-it-forward for more details.  Let's show our support to our medical frontliners by doing safer cashless and contactless transactions. Together, let's stand as #OneAgainstCOVID19.    For safe cashless and contactless transactions, simply download the app at the Android Playstore or iOS App Store using this link https://official.paymaya.com/CAK1/425eb133 and register for a PayMaya account. To know more about PayMaya's products and services, visit www.PayMaya.com or follow @PayMayaOfficial on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.     

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APC ferries brides to their wedding in Lanao del Norte village

May 24, 2021

MUNAI, Lanao del Norte-  Four young  brides were ferried by an M113A2 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) fitted with Remote Controlled Weapons Stations (RCWS) to their wedding venue Tuesday  May 18  inside a military  camp of  the 43rd Mechanized Armor Company, 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion in the hinterland village of Cadulawan  in Munai town, Lanao del Norte. The wedding ceremony  was officiated by Reverend Father Ramon Torres, Vicar General of the Diocese of Marawi, and  witnessed by military officers, government officials and stakeholders. The new type of APC was first utilized as a bridal car on December 12, 2020, at  4th Mechanized Infantry  Battalion Headquarters  at Nangka, Baloi town, during the stint  of Colonel  Domingo Dulay Jr.,  former Commanding Officer. Major General Efren Baluyot, Division Commander of Armor "Pambato" Division said Wednesday, “These APCS with RCWS were acquired from Israel as part  of the military modernization program.” Baluyot said “the M113A2 APCs fitted with Remote Controlled Weapons Stations (RCWS) were a vital support to the military infantry  operations that liberated Marawi City from the Maute - ISIS terrorist group during the five-month long Marawi Siege on May 23 to October 2017,  and the recent joint military operations against the Bangsamoro Freedom Fighters - Dawlah Islamiya in Maguindanao province." 1st Lieutenant  Julieto Jakosalem, Company Commander said the four couples include Corporal Benitez and Edna Ermac, Private First Class Sonnie Bantas and Chiara Hermosilla, Pfc. Frank Limjuco and  Claire Velle Bariga , and PFC Kim Son Tabada  and Jennifer Ventura. One of the grooms, Corporal Helrod Benitez, 32 years old , a high school graduate from M'lang  North Cotabato currently  assigned at 43rd Mechanized Company in Cadulawan , Munai town this province  was one of the troops who fought  against ISIS -Maute terrorist group in Marawi City with his buddy Private First Class Limjuco and were both promoted one rank higher.   Benitez said he first met his wife Edna Ermac 24,  a resident of sitio Pindugangan, Tipanoy in Iligan City  on November  2019 when he  went to Wet Market in Poblacion Iligan City where she manages a stall.  “I asked her number and we had a constant communication until we established our relationship.  I asked permission from her parents to bring her a shopping to Gaisano Mall where I bought her a life size pink teddy bear and that’s how our  relationship began." “Helrod told me we would be brought by a bridal tank  from the camp to the venue where our wedding would be solemnized,” his wife Edna Ermac -Benitez said. “When I wore my bridal gown I felt t\so happy that at last  our dream would be fulfilled.” "When I boarded the bridal tank protected by a full metal shield, I felt very safe and secure  being married to a military man. At least our family with our three-month old baby boy would have a secure future . I shed tears  when I walked through the red carpet towards the altar,” she added.   "How I wish we would have five children in the future. Helrod passed my test before we became committed  to each other until we decided to get married and I trusted him." Edna Ermac -Benitez  is the youngest of six siblings and is a graduate of Business Administration Major in Business Operations Management. from St. Petters College. “Unom pa ka tuig akong edad nag tabang na ko sa akong ginikanan diin 32 years na mi namaligya isip vendor hangtud ko nag graduate sa college.” Lieutenant Colonel Rommel Pereña, commanding officer of 4th Mech said married life is about compromises. "Yung ma- asawa  should talk and learn how to compromise. Ang mag-asawa may time na may conflict." "What you should do ay hindi dapat ma putol ang komunikasyon at mag usap,  huwag ninyong patagalin and treat each other with respect,” he noted. "Troops have rest and recreation privileges  and they have to  spend such  opportunities with their family. This is a long-distance relationship (LDR),” he added. "When they are at home for a vacation, they have to spend the quality of time with their family.” Not the least, Pereña advised the four couples, “You should agree on how to manage your financial matters, and manage your funds."

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