Saturday, August 15, 2009

Netizens irked by Fernando's 'Flash Game'

By Karen Lapitan
Inquirer Southern Luzon
First Posted 17:15:00 08/15/2009

Filed Under: Politics, Internet, Games

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna Philippines—Who wants to be Bayani Fernando's virtual protégé?

Despite the chance to win a laptop, online users are irked by Bayani Fernando's flash game called "Be the MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) Chairman" recently seen advertised at Facebook, a popular social networking site.

The prize is an Asus Eee PC laptop for the entry that gets the highest score by September 30 for the game which considers its players as MMDA Chairman Fernando's 'virtual protégé.'

Before the game starts, the player needs to answer questions such as "What electoral position will Bayani Fernando run for in 2010?" The player can only proceed if the question is answered right.

The game, which can be accessed through Fernando's website, with the link has a set of mechanics similar to those of the once popular dance music game 'Dance Revolution.'

With right timing as a crucial factor, the game works by simply hitting the correct arrow key or space bar at the right time when the characters such as vendors are approaching a particular MMDA tool such as a street sign.

A player needs to finish each level within the allotted time. The number of levels, however, is not stated in the mechanics provided.

"Gwapo points" are earned whenever the player hits the right keys.

It also features a 'urine meter' which would be filled up whenever the player hits the wrong keys in playing the game. This also serves as a signal for a 'game over.'

A photo of Fernando would pop up with a message explaining the essence of MMDA's activities like sidewalk clearing.

By September 30, the highest scorer of the game will win an Asus Eee PC Laptop as stated in the website.

Online users, however, seem not pleased with the prize at stake and the game itself.

"It shows how desperate he is," said Dianne Garcia, a Facebook user who saw the game online.

Rem de Leon, another Facebook user, commented "Nobody's going to impeach Bayani Fernando for this. It just ain't worth it. So BF manages to cast himself in the role of hero again. But we Pinoy netizens have a new complaint against him: he's guilty of politicizing Facebook...Shame on you, BF."

Blogger Tonyo Cruz said, "It looks ugly, as ugly as BF's beliefs about Filipinos. Target siguro nina BF yung middle classes online but I doubt if they will love this game. It looks cheap."

Liane Silla, a Filipina now based in Dubai, thought Fernando's concept "is simply pathetic."

Meanwhile, there are online users who tried playing the game but ended up disappointed by the technical glitches. "The game doesn't seem to work for me. The (allotted time) stays at zero and after the first five (character vendors) come down, nothing follows," one user shares.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Goatherds thrive on milk of their stock

By Karen Lapitan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:06:00 08/14/2009

Filed Under: Economy and Business and Finance, Food

ALAMINOS, Laguna— Banking on the novelty of growing goats in the country, Rene Almeda, 54, and sons Art, 27, and Toti, 25, are making a bundle selling goat’s milk to major retailers in Metro Manila.

Rene and his two sons opened Alaminos Goat Farm (AFG) in 2004 initially to breed goats for commercial use.

Later on, the Almedas ventured into the production of goat milk, which they labeled Milk Star Fresh Goat’s Milk.

Farm handling

Rene used to operate a cattle feedlot farm. He and his sons thought of starting a goat farm, driven by the relative high demand for goats and its byproducts.

With P300,000 capital, the Almedas put up their goat farm, starting out with only 50 goats. Now, AFG has 950 milking and breeding goats.

“There was a wrong notion about this business. Some are discouraged by the foul smell often associated with goats. But it mainly depends on how one maintains them,” says Art, who serves as the operations manager of the farm.

He said even the government was skeptical of this kind of business.

But the Almedas proved them all wrong.

Milk production

Art’s younger brother Toti is the brand manager of Milk Star Fresh Goat’s Milk.

It was in 2007 when the Almedas thought of producing milk. They then added 100 more goats to their stock.

At present, Milk Star Goat’s Milk is a supplier to more than 20 supermarkets, mostly in Metro Manila. They also have distributors in Laguna.

Art said that it was not easy at first to introduce goat’s milk to the public.

“We are consistently informing the public about the benefits of goat’s milk. It’s very good for digestion,” says Art.

When milk production started, most of the buyers were from the Chinese community who were already aware of the product’s benefits.


“But the public has learned to appreciate goat’s milk, [which] only takes 20 minutes to digest,” Art claims.

Goat’s milk is perfect for those who are lactose intolerant.

Lacto-vegetarians even recommend goat’s milk because they say it is closer to human milk than cow’s milk.

Now, AFG produces 190 liters of goat’s milk each day.

Still, Art admits that the misconception about goat’s milk remains, so they continue informing people about the benefits of drinking goat’s milk.

AFG imposes strict sanitary measures in producing the goat’s milk before reaching the market. It has its own processing area for milk a few meters from the farm.

The farm is also the first commercial dairy goat farm to receive a license to operate issued by the Bureau of Food and Drugs.

‘Wrap’ artists take gift-giving to new levels

By Karen Lapitan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:50:00 08/13/2009

Filed Under: Entrepreneurship

CALAMBA CITY—Using a borrowed table from her sister and a few gift wrappers, an entrepreneur here started a trade based on Filipinos’ love of giving and receiving gifts.

Chiqui Barretto, 46, began running her gift-wrapping business, Wrap it Up!, in November 2000, heeding the demand of many buyers in a small mall in Calamba City.

It was Christmas, and Barreto’s business was supposed to last just that season. In fact, she secured a contract for only three months.

“I was only trying, there were no plans of expanding [the business] during that time,” said Barretto, who admitted that she had no inclination toward the art of gift wrapping but she felt consumers needed this kind of service.

Wrap it Up! started rendering service mostly to buyers at a nearby appliance center within the mall.

But the demand that came was more than she was expected.

Wrap it Up! now has 11 branches, nine of which are franchised. All of them are located in malls in Laguna and Metro Manila.

Barretto said she started with a capital of P5,000. She couldn’t imagine the business would grow that much when she started out.

Barretto takes pride in training her “wrap artists,” as she calls her employees.

“We allow [wrap artists] to experiment, but training is needed in this field. Gift wrapping is an art,” said Barretto.

She still feels overwhelmed whenever she draws a favorable reaction from a client, she added.

“You need to be observant. Non-verbal cues of clients really matter,” Barreto said.

“You may be frugal in buying the gifts you would give your loved ones, but the presentation is very important,” Barretto said.

The receiver of the gift may feel more special if care is taken in the presentation of a gift, she added.

Even the “wrap artists” of franchised branches need to undergo training so the quality of service will be maintained.

Barretto said she is hands-on in running her business so she occasionally pays visits to each branch, not just to keep an eye on employees, but also to personally see clients patronizing the service.

Wrap it Up! frequently comes out with new designs and materials, offering customers a wider range of options—a far cry from the time it started out when the only option were P10 wrappers bought from Divisoria.

Given the novelty of the business, Wrap it Up! almost has no competitors, and this fact serves as a challenge for Barretto.

People would always come back to Wrap it Up! and look for something new.

“We need to think of more creative ideas each year, as well as introduce new raw materials,” said Barretto.

She added that, although an economic crisis had put a damper on people’s spending habits, the culture of giving still would not stop.

“Giving something is giving off yourself,” she said.

Barretto considers each gift to be important, both to the giver and receiver. And she takes pains in making sure that Wrap it Up! renders the kind of service clients will want to have.