Ecommerce 102: Developing Online Entrepreneurs

The Philippine economy is on the upswing. Local and foreign economic analysts have been saying that the country will continue to post positive growth rates this year.  Hopefully, next year too, it being an election year.

philippine economic newsThis is very good news as this would mean more investors will have the confidence to put their money in our country. But should we just  rely on foreign investors to help our economy? We shouldn’t have to rely heavily either on the remittances of  our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to continuously prop up the local economy.  Now that the Philippines is on the spotlight, it’s time for us to level up and set-up our own global business operations. Today’s advance technologies have made it possible for anyone to be a player in the global marketplace. No need for us to go abroad to earn dollars! We can do that right here, even in our own home. The internet has given us more ways to be entrepreneurs. Our country needs more entrepreneurs who, in turn, will create more jobs for their countrymen.


It is this internet landscape that proponents of Ecommerce 102 Live with Unionbank wants Filipinos to be familiar with. Ecommerce 102 is a series of seminars that aims to create and develop online entrepreneurs. Every month, different E-c0mmerce experts share their knowledge and experience on being online entrepreneurs. Different online businesses are presented, and along with these, the various strategies in starting and growing an online business. Participants will get ideas on what online businesses to build, as well as the tools, equipment, and skills needed for an online business to thrive. Participants are taught to explore the many capabilities of the internet. Then combine these with the unique selling points in the Philippines to create a product or service that’s distinct, and also able to compete in the global marketplace.


Jojy Azurin (L), membership sites expert, and Eireen Diokno-Bernardo (R), eBay power seller

On September 29, I attended an Ecommerce 102 offshoot seminar, Crossborder with Paypal. It is a “business conference amongst merchandisers who wants to expand their businesses with the international market through e-commerce platforms.”

The speakers that day were Eireen Diokno Bernardo in the morning and Jojy Azurin in the afternoon. Eireen talked about integrating Paypal as a payments solution to your online business. Eireen is an eBay power seller who champions Philippine-made arts and crafts and sells these to the world. Jojy shared his different online businesses, and gave us insights of his membership-site business model.

The speakers / trainers are generous with their time and knowledge, as some of them offer additional consulting sessions through Facebook or Skype.

I am glad to see the younger generation actively participating in the seminars. I met one of them, Trish Baylon, a student and aspiring online entrepreneur. She learned about Ecommerce 102 from Edison Victorino, who is part of the Ecommerce 102 team, and is her mentor in ELearning Advantage. She wants to learn about and earn through ecommerce and blogging.  She likes the light, happy atmosphere in the workshops, and appreciates  the hands-on sessions where the experts assist you in finishing the assigned tasks. Being a “suki” or frequent attendee of these workshops, Trish says that the trainers are very approachable both offline and online.

ecommerce 102

Eireen Diokno-Bernardo (center) with seminar participants. That’s me on the far right, with (R-L) Trish Baylon, Meliza Chase and her husband.

Catch the last two sessions of Ecommerce 102 on November 17 and December 8. Speakers, payment details and other updates are on the Ecommerce 1o2 Facebook page. Sessions are held at Studio SnR at the Millenium Place, Meralco Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

The Ecommerce 102 team also conducts free webinars (online seminars) from time to time and one’s coming up on October 10. It’s a teaser on what to expect in another Ecommerce 102 offshoot workshop, VA for eBay, where participants get to learn the tricks in online buying and selling through eBay.


Eireen Diokno Bernardo introducing the Ecommerce 102 support team. (L-R) Tony, Carlos, Edison and Hyatt.

These seminars are just in time for the Christmas season where almost everyone will be on a buying spree. So check out those links and get your slots now. We still have time to make money this Christmas!


Share the Joy of Reading

donate a book

There was always something to read at home. As far back as I can remember, my parents subscribed to Manila Bulletin (named Bulletin Today before) and Reader’s Digest. When I was a kid, various relatives and househelp who lived with our family at different periods would bring home Tagalog komiks, songhits (small magazine with song lyrics), entertainment magazines, sports magazines, Mills and Boon romance novels and some other entertainment fare.

In school, I would often go to the library during breaks or after class to borrow books. Titles in the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Sweet Dreams series were early favorites. In my teens, I would usually go to National Bookstore after exam week as a treat to myself, as a way to de-stress.  Through the years I have accumulated a stash of books that I still read and re-read. My reading genre list is varied, although I favor old classics, humor, self-help, spiritual, travel books and family drama novels. I would also buy reference books and children’s books from time to time.

Having been born with a love for reading, I would love to share with everyone the joy that reading gives me. With fiction books that I usually read, being transported to other worlds may be uplifting, relaxing, magical, escapist or all of the above. Reference books gives us knowledge about people, places, events and the world we live in. For non-fiction works, reading them gives me a sense of being connected, of being part of a larger world.

I have always shared my books. I lend my books to whoever would want to read them. I’ve donated a lot of books to SM Foundation’s book drives in SM malls. So I try to give my support whenever I learn about a book drive.

Recently, I learned of a book drive organized by some travel bloggers. The book drive will benefit the students of Rizal Elementary School in Gubat, Sorsogon. Here are some ways to help:

1. Donate books:

Drop-off places:

    • A Runner’s Circle in Aloha Hotel, Roxas Blvd., Malate, Manila
    • R.O.X. in Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City

Pick-up: Book pick-ups may be arranged with blogger Marky Ramone Go. Contact him via his Facebook pageTwitter account, or through his blog.

2. Cash donations may also be made. Contact Marky Ramone Go (see above links) for details.

3. Spread the word about the book drive.

The bloggers plan to go to Sorsogon sometime in September this year to personally distribute the collected books to the schoolchildren.

By participating in the book drive, we help in our own small way to transform the lives of the children of Rizal Elementary School by giving them the gift of reading and learning.

Read about the book drive here:

Please share your questions and comments in the comment box below.

On the Road to Financial Independence with Pesos and Sense

make your money grow seminar

Half the year has already passed. What have you accomplished so far? Look back to the resolutions you made on New Year’s Day. Did the list include putting your finances in order? What have you done in this aspect?

If, like many working Pinoys, your answer is that you haven’t done anything yet to improve your finances, don’t feel down. There’s still a little less than six months to go to make good on that resolution. And a good place to start would be with Pesos and Sense with Mr. Aya Laraya.

Pesos and Sense is a learning community that aims to educate Filipinos in the area of personal finance and investments. Starting out as a TV show on GMA News TV, Pesos and Sense now spreads its advocacy though seminars, social media networks and other media. The community’s resident Investment Advocate is Aya Laraya, who has over two decades of experience in the finance industry.

I was fortunate to have been invited to attend the first in a series of Pesos and Sense seminars. “Make Your Money Grow” was held last Saturday, June 30 at the PSE East Tower in Pasig City. The session’s first part focused on the psychology of investing: why people invest, who makes investment decisions and what affects investment decisions. The second part was a brief rundown on different investment vehicles in the Philippines.

In the seminar, Laraya stressed the importance of knowing your investment goals and having the right information before investing. It is not enough that you have the money to invest. This is shown in his investment design diagram below:

aya's investment design

Laraya presents personal finance concepts in a way that’s easy to understand. He makes use of stories and analogies that ordinary people can relate to.

pesos and sense aya laraya

This seminar will have another run on July 21 at the same venue. The second part of the series, Time Value of Money (poster below) will be held the following week, on July 28. I hope that the seminar series will attract a lot of attendees so that more Filipinos will start saving and investing. Be sure to attend these seminars if you’re serious about being on the road to financial independence.

time value of money seminar

pesos an sense aya laraya
The blogger with Mr. Aya Laraya after the Make Your Money Grow seminar on June 30.
 Please share your questions / comments on the comment box.

Learn From the Pros at the 1st Laguna Blogging Summit

UPDATE (as of 08August): Due to present weather conditions, 1LaBS has been postponed. Other details to follow.

1labs laguna blogging summit

As a new blogger, I have a lot to learn. I just know that I like to write. From there, I’m not sure yet where to proceed. I’m happy that there’s 1LaBS – the 1st Laguna Blogging Summit where I know there would be much to learn from the country’s prominent blogging professionals.

1LaBS aims to gather the blogging and social media community not only from southern Luzon but from all over the Philippines for two days of fun learning and networking. The event is packed with many speakers who will share their thoughts and experiences on different aspects of social media. I’m glad to know that some of the featured speakers are people I follow on Twitter and/or subscribe to in Facebook. They are Noemi Lardizabal Dado, Carlos Celdran, Elizabeth Angsioco, Noel De Guia, Randell Tiongson, Azrael Coladilla and Janette Toral. Other speakers include Alvin Dakis, Juned Sonido, Jinkee Umali, Enzo Luna, Fitz Gerald Villafuerte, Wenchie Flores Saban, Jaypee David, James Betia, Acee Vitangcol, King Del Rosario, Dean Jorge Bocobo, Chuckie Dreyfus, James Jimenez, Jonel Uy and Sonnie Santos. Keynote speaker will be Mr. Tony Ahn. Event organizer Grace Bondad Nicolas will do the opening remarks.

1LaBS will be held on August 9-10, 2012, 8am-5pm, in Sta. Cruz, Laguna at the Provincial Cultural Center.

This is the first time that a blogging conference will be held in Laguna. The event will proudly showcase the province of Laguna, with its many hot spring resorts, picturesque views of different landscapes and its idyllic countryside charm.

This is a FREE event. Register now! The first 100 registrants will receive a free t-shirt.

More info at 1LaBS website and Facebook page.

Hashtag: #1LaBS

Please share your comments / questions below at the comment box.

Let’s Join the (Food) Revolution!

food revolution day

Celebrity chef Jaime Oliver started a Food Revolution Day in 2010 to address the growing obesity problem in the world, especially in the USA. I’m glad that he thought of having a Food Revolution Day.  There are many things that we take for granted in our rush to cram as many activities in one day.   Good food is one of the casualties of our everyday rush. Our generation today has placed great emphasis on convenience. Now we see fastfood as normal food. This should not be, if we are concerned at all with our good health.

CCA Katipunan, at its USDA Kitchen Theater,  hosted the Food Revolution Day Manila event last Saturday, May 19, gathering food enthusiasts and culinary students, and encouraging everyone to join the food revolution, to stand up for real food.

food rev manila cca

Chef Joan Manalang is the Food Revolution ambassador of the Philippines, chosen by Jaime Oliver to spearhead Food Revolution awareness in the Philippines.

Food Revolution Philippines aims to change the eating landscape of Filipinos through basic food education. Knowing what’s in our food is important for our good health. As pointed out by one of the speakers, pictures of Filipinos from many generations ago reveal a slim, healthy physique of the average Filipino. But western, specifically American influence, introduced junk food into our lives and made Filipinos fat, some obese even. There are now many diet-related diseases, brought on by unhealthy food choices. Food Revolution seeks to bring about an educated, empowered populace that will fight for their right to better food.

The CCA event featured cooking demos by three women, who shared simple recipes that can be easily done at home.

Tinette Miciano of 21 Plates cooked a vegetable and tofu lumpia wrapped in lettuce with panocha sauce.

food revolution manila cca

Tinette Miciano

food revolution day manila cca

Vegetable with Tofu Lumpia

Lifestyle coach and nutritionist Nadine Tengco showed a way to prepare a healthy and easy to prepare “rice extension,” Vegetable Chow Fan.

food revolution manila cca

Vegetable Chow Fan

Ms. Tengco, a nutritionist on the reality show, The Biggest Loser Pinoy Edition, also shared some tips on weight management.

food revolution manila cca

Nadine Tengco

Marie Pascual, of, showed the procedure in making yoghurt.

food revolution manila cca

Marie Pascual

I’m not crazy about yoghurt but when I do try to be healthy at times, I take the flavored ones with fruit bits in them for flavor. I don’t  like the plain yoghurt. But the yoghurt shared by Ms. Pascual was surprisingly not bland, and would be something I would finish eating given a larger serving. (We were given a small cup serving.)

Then, Cravings Group owner Annie Guerrero shared her passion for and advocacy of organic food and zero waste.

food revolution manila

Annie Guerrero of Cravings Group

It was inspiring to hear Ms. Guerrero share how she has put up an organic farm in the city so that people would have better food options.

Food Revolution Day, now held in more than 60 countries, is hopefully not just a one-day learning event. A continuing food program must be put in place, more people should be consciously making a decision everyday to eat healthier food, and more establishments should consciously make a decision everyday to provide healthier food choices.

Food Revolution Day Manila continues tonight, May 25, at Mercato Centrale.

Studying in Australia Made Easier by IDP Philippines

idp philippines

I had the opportunity to visit Sydney and Perth two years ago and I was impressed by Australia’s beauty and vitality. I saw many visitors like me simply charmed by the natural and man-made surroundings.

I can understand why so many young people would want to travel and study in that country. Australia’s  educational system is highly regarded. Many work opportunities await graduates of its institutions. The country is beautiful, its people welcoming.

My beautiful memories of Australia prompted me to attend a press conference for the IDP Philippines exhibition.

IDP Philippines, a leading international student placement firm, held an exhibition at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati on May 19-20 to showcase Australian education institutions.

During the press conference held before the opening of the exhibit, two representatives of IDP Education Philippines, Mr. Andrew King (Country Director) and Mr. Jonathan Omagbon (Student Services Manager), gave an overview of the services offered by the company. Also present was a representative from the Australian embassy, Mr. Anthony Weymouth, the Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner of Austrade, who gave some insights on Philippine-Australian relations.

idp philippines

From left to right: Anthony Weymouth (Sr. Trade and Investment Commissioner of Austrade), Jonathan Omagbon (Student Services Manager of IDP Education) and Andrew King (Country Director of IDP Education)

IDP offers a wide range of services aimed to help a student realize his dream of studying abroad. IDP has counselling services, along with visa processing assistance and documentation assistance, to assist students in choosing a course and get accepted in a university in Australia. IDP also helps out in making sure that a student is properly settled down in Australia through  travel and accommodation assistance.

IDP also administers the IELTS, the International English Language Testing System, which is a global English proficiency exam required for education, work and migration to English-speaking countries.

Presently, with around 600 client institutions, IDP recruits 30% of students into Australia. This year alone, around 700 Filipino students will be studying in Australia, through the help of IDP Philippines. Courses that are currently in demand in Australia are Business, Accounting, IT, Nursing and Engineering.

At present, graduates of Philippine high schools who are placed in Australian universities have to go through a 2-year bridge program to take foundation courses before they formally start university studies. The new K-12 education program to be implemented in Philippine schools is viewed by IDP and Australian officials as a positive development, as this program will hopefully better prepare students for international studies. English proficiency is another concern of education officials. The level of English proficiency of Filipinos is observed to be declining, and steps should be undertaken immediately to remedy this situation.

The exhibit, which was held at the Grand Ballroom of the Dusit Thani Hotel, was well attended. Parents and children talked to representatives of various colleges and universities from all over Australia to find out how they can study there. IDP representatives were also on hand to answer inquiries.

idp philippines

If you missed the Australian education exhibition, you can contact IDP Philippines and let them help you achieve your dream of studying in Australia a reality.  More information can be found in the company website and Facebook page.

The Umami Mystery

It’s always a treat to watch live culinary shows and contests. Who wouldn’t be interested in food? I caught some portions of Ajinomoto’s 3rd Umami Culinary Challenge: Battle for the Umami Bowl held last Friday, January 20 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. The inter-school multi-category competition drew over 30 participating schools and showcased the culinary students’ knowledge, creativity and skills related to umami, considered as the 5th basic taste. The show also featured cooking demonstrations and talks by industry experts.

umami challenge quiz

My curiosity in the event was due to lingering questions about the safety of monosodium glutamate or MSG, a seasoning that gives off the umami or “malinamnam” taste in food. These safety questions were answered in a video presentation viewed inside a booth in the venue. The video basically contains what’s in the Ajinomoto website about the Truth About MSG.

umami mystery video

I stayed for a cooking demonstration done by Chef Michelle, sponsored by Elba. The chef honestly admitted  that some ingredients were lacking so she had to improvise. At one point she had to just recite the recipe then show the finished product. It was a good thing that the random taste testers called by the chef liked the finished product.

umami challenge cooking demo

cooking demo courtesy of Elba

My favorite part of the competition was the Umami Bento and Plate My Dish categories. There was a very long table where the bento meals and plated dishes were displayed for judging. Presentation plays a big part in enjoying a meal. A lot of viewers certainly enjoyed the visual feast, as evidenced by the countless photos taken, and positive comments given on the food on display.

umami challenge

umami challenge

It was heartening to see the enthusiasm shown by contest participants, student viewers and the public. I hope this enthusiasm would translate to a long-term widespread interest in the culinary profession.Overall competition winner was Miriam College, which got the Umami Bowl Award for having the highest average score in the major categories.Nina Daza-Puyat, editor-in-chief of Appetite Magazine, observing the contestants at work

Congratulations to the participating schools and students, Ajinomoto Philippines and sponsors for supporting a fun and educational event.

Other event info and photos can also be seen in the Umami Culinary Challenge Facebook Fan Page.