Mom of 3 wins Great Bodies 2014

A parade of toned flesh. Before the final round, the winning male and female contestants for Personality, Swimwear, Photogenic, Great Skin, and Creative Posing were chosen. MG Gamboa, number 15, was recognized as The Internet's Most Popular for the insane number of votes he got on Facebook. Rizza Singson just scratched another goal off her bucket list. On December 2, the former model and mother of three became Ms Great Body 2014. Her counterpart, Seth Isay, a 21-year-old commercial model and fitness enthusiast, triumphed as Mr Great Body 2014. The pair will be endorsing Slimmers World events next year until their respective titles are won by another couple. After a preliminary judging round at Edsa Shangri-la on November 24, the finals for the 19th  Slimmers World Mr and Ms Great Bodies 2014 took place at the UP Theater in Diliman, where a grandiose four-hour stage production was held to showcase the competitors' sculpted physiques. Muscle-bound male and female contestants prove themselves with a musical aerobic performance, a swimsuit competition, and creative posing to please the exacting panel of judges. A randomized Q&A segment ultimately decides the winners. To keep the program fresh, a very earnest Hunger Games: Mockingjay theme was embraced. The program kicked off with a frenzied interpretative dance between a professional troupe and the contestants—24 men and women of varying ages referred to as Tributes. In it, medieval weapons and assault rifles figured as props to reinforce the idea of competition as performance art. But there was more than just high camp to Great Bodies. There was a lot of heart in it too. They say success is 90% perspiration. Second runners-up Maribel Corpus and Gremond Agpoon are feted before Mr and Ms Great Body were chosen. Hail the Amateurs Great Bodies was first launched in 1993 by Slimmers World as an equal opportunity fitness competition. Almost 20 years later, it's one of the largest events of its kind. According to Slimmers World vice president Helen Manansala-Camacho, Great Bodies is strictly open to all for a reason. “Age is not a factor when you talk of fitness,” she says. “The Japanese believe it's flexibility that matters. Hence, biology is not a factor. Anybody can be fit at any age and any level.” This rings for Maribel Corpus, a 60-year-old patron of Slimmers World SM Megamall who only got into fitness to heal a slipped disc. “It was an accident from carrying 70-pounds of luggage,” says the second runner-up who performed a cabaret routine for her creative posing segment. “My doctor said, 'When you go back to the Philippines, no surgery, just hit the gym,'” recalls the former professor, who regularly does perfect splits on stage. “I did. Now I want to inspire all the senior citizens,” Corpus says. During the critical Q&A segment where the contestants posed in their almost naked and oiled glory, Corpus had the gumption to tell the judges, “I can do anything a 20-year old can!” Photogenic to a fault. From left, Slimmers World vice president Helen Manansala-Camacho, Ms Great Body Rizza Singson, Slimmers World president/CEO Ronald Joseph Moy, and Mr Great Body Seth Isay No sacrifice, no victory For Anna Bantayan, becoming a female bodybuilder used to be out of the question. A self-confessed geek and introvert, Bantayan is a demure online English tutor who used to weigh 195 lbs. Then she took a leap of faith. With the help of her trainer she slimmed down to 105 lbs, learned to pose, and dyed her hair cherry red to match her teeny-weeny bikini. (The guys make do with even smaller bikini trunks.) At the Great Bodies 2014 finals, Bantayan finished as the female first runner-up. Her experience isn't unique. Great Bodies is full of contestants new to the physical art form. More than grueling workouts, getting in shape to compete as a bodybuilder is pure strategy. Thomas Aguirre, who has a torso akin to a Greek marble statue, only started preparing last year. “It's [about] good carbs, protein, drinking water, and counting calories,” says the male winner for Best in Swimwear. “Calculate everything and be efficient,” Aguirre insists. This year's Ms Great Body, Rizza Singson, who gave birth to a baby girl eight months ago, felt that joining a bodybuilding tilt was about not having any regrets. “Win or lose, I did it,” she says. And she did. To prepare herself, the former beauty pageant contestant cut down on sugar and began hydrating every waking hour. By her estimate, Singson spent three months working out five to six days a week. Victorious at last, she's now dedicated to raising her three daughters full-time. “I'll be there for them 200%,” she says about her brood.


PCCI, Israeli embassy push for agritech resurgence

L - R: Israeli ambassador Effie Ben Matityau, PCCI vice chairman Donald Dee, PCCI director of agriculture Roberto Amores Nothing is writ in stone yet. (An apt metaphor considering Israel's Old Testament heritage.) In the course of two days spent networking, the best possible outcome is for Filipino agribusiness owners to sign deals with Israel's leading agritech companies. Israeli ambassador Effie Ben Matityau revealed as much during the press conference for Israel-Philippines: Exploring Opportunities in Water and Agro Technology. Despite missing the start of a B2B session at the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries (PPCI) head office at McKinley Hill, the ambassador rushed from Camp Aguinaldo—where the anniversary of the institution was being commemorated—and arrived right on time for an intimate press briefing. Matityau and PCCI executives answered questions from a small group of journalists who attended. In the course of the discussion, the ambassador mentioned Israeli know-how's value for Filipino farmers and enterprises. Investors too. “They should look at it as a business with high economic returns,” Matityau said about the agricultural sector at large. Joining the ambassador were PCCI's vice chairman Donald Dee and director of agriculture Roberto Amores. It was Amores who emphasized the importance of new ideas to the agricultural sector in the Philippines. According to Amores, 40% of the country's GDP comes from agriculture, which employs 25 million workers. Also present were the Israelis Doron Hemo from the Ministry of Economy and Gilad Peled of the Export & International Cooperation Institute. Admittedly, trade between Israel and the Philippines is negligible. “At the end of the day Israel is very far over there and the Philippines is very far over here,” is how the Israeli embassy's deputy chief of mission, Adam Levene, described bilateral ties. The Philippines being an archipelago without large rivers and at risk from annual typhoons, Israel's reputation as a technology pioneer in water and “big farming” is an enticing prospect. Especially when it comes to water. Companies like ARI Flow Control Accessories, Netafim, Ooval, and IDE Technologies specialize in processing water for irrigation. They are also seeking opportunities in Philippine farms. Among them, Netafim is recognized as the pioneering firm behind the world famous 'drip' irrigation technique. But, as the ambassador and the PCCI executives admitted, no deals were underway at the moment, only talks. The same Israeli firms trying to land business in Manila would attempt the same in Cebu the following day as guests of the city's chamber of commerce. How much trade this initiative could spark is uncertain. Contracts are not agreed on overnight. “These things take time,” vice chairman Dee told the press.


Dell renews vows with Microsoft, Intel

Dell Philippines' Chris Papa (country manager) and Martin Diez (business development manager), Microsoft Philippines director for consumer channels Jerry Bongco, Intel Philippines business development manager Christopher Syling, and Dell South Asia's See Han Foo (server product solutions manager) and Gabriel Rodrigues (enterprise marketing director) Diez demos the Latitude 7000's detachable LCD which also functions as a standalone tablet After unveiling its newest consumer and enterprise hardware products, Dell and Microsoft together with Intel celebrated their partnership during Dell Philippines' 15th year anniversary bash at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel recently. "They're one of the easiest partners to work with across consumer and commercial segments,” said Jerry Bongco, Microsoft Philippines' director for Consumer Channels. Bongco added, “They're very clear with their plans, so we don't have to second-guess.” "We try to do joint projects, share common goals. In that manner, we add value to both the Microsoft and the Dell platforms,” Bongco explained. "With Windows, you're already differentiated. We're trying to create the awareness and demand so our partners can sell," Bongco said when asked why their company is pushing Dell's new tablets, like the Venue 8 7000 — the world's thinnest at just 6mm. For Dell, the admiration is mutual. "Dell has been selling just Windows, unlike other OEMs that have Unix. I think Microsoft values that and we see a mutual benefit in working together. Loyalty matters," Dell business development manager Martin Allan Diez said. Intel, on the other hand, supported the company's newest line of products by powering the hardware OEM's machines with their whole line of i3 to i7 core processors. So, what more is there to expect of Dell after being in the Philippines for 15 years? According to Diez, new Intel-based hardware are priorities. Dell's latest offerings are formidable. Whether it's the tablet/laptop hybrid series like the 2-in-1 Latitude or gaming platforms. Diez also hinted at an unnamed “new model” as an alternative to the popular Alienware gaming computers. “We are trying to cover all the segments in PC: commercial, consumer, mobile," Diez said. The QC-based manager also shared his personal thoughts on how Dell remained strong despite losing a significant portion of its market in the recent years. "Talking to different customers, the biggest thing they say is reliability. That's the common thing,” Diez said. “Last week I talked to a commercial customer who purchased an Insipiron, and he's happy with it, he finds it reliable.” “Most of our customers, they use five or seven-year-old Dells,” Diez shared. “It's the strongest factor for Dell, it's rare for a customer to switch to a different brand. It's almost always a repeat order.” Sure enough, with its new line of high-performance laptops in the Latitude 3000 and 5000 series and hybrid 2-in-1 Latitude 7000, and the compact heavy-duty Optiplex 9020 and 3020 desktops on top of their new Windows-based tablets, Dell Philippines is dead set on reclaiming its old glory.


After acquisition spree, Dell rolls out Software Group

Matthew Johnston, Dell Software Group managing director for South Asia The Dell Software Group (DSG) is ready for business. "We've been in Asia as DSG for a little more than two years, and in the Philippines we've been here for a while as Quest and SonicWall before the Dell acquisition," said Matthew Johnston, DSG managing director for South Asia. According to Johnston, DSG ranks among the top 15 largest software companies in the world, with 6,000 people globally. A third of its staff are software engineers. "We're large enough to support multinationals, but small enough to be agile and nimble in product development," the Singapore-based director added. In line with the company's slow transition from being a hardware provider to a solutions provider, Dell completed its acquisitions of both Quest Software and network security firm SonicWall Inc in mid-2012. This allowed Dell to grow new businesses despite its financial troubles and the crash of the desktop PC market. During a press conference at EDSA Shangri-La Johnston unveiled Dell's latest server equipment, the DR6000 deduplication appliance, and the latest version of the company's NetVault Backup. "We simplify IT Management. We deliver systems management solutions that makes CRMs and other platforms more secure, efficient, and effective," the Australian executive said. The DR6000 can give and provide data backup storage from nine terabytes, or 9TB, post-RAID (135TB logical) up to 36TB post-RAID (540TB logical). The NetVault Backup 10 offers a new optimized web-based GUI for IT admins to configure, manage, and monitor the backup system via its backend database. The two products can either be used together or separately. "We're unique in the marketplace because we can do these on all levels of the IT infrastructure. We can do it on data storage, we can do it on mobility, we can provide database, and we can provide protection," Johnston said. Johnston is confident in DSG's suite of access and data management solutions aside from Dell's legacy hardware products. This gives DSG the opportunity to penetrate not just large companies but SMEs as well.

China Business–Philippines


Up, Up, and Ah, Yes, He Did!

What Black Swan was to Ballet, Birdman is to Broadway. I bet that occurs to you within the first 15 minutes of watching this movie.

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Five reasons Ridley Scott still matters

Here we go again.

By next month another “Bible epic” hits cinemas everywhere.

Exodus: Gods and Kings is the latest monumental epic from director Ridley Scott and stars an ensemble cast, including Christian Bale, Ben Kingsley, and Sigourney Weaver.

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Closet badass Tom Hardy stars in gritty thriller

This is the kind of gritty thriller they used to make in the 1990s, but is sorely lacking today.

The Drop stars Tom Hardy (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises), unshaven and with a thick Brooklyn drawl reminiscent of Rocky Balboa—although Rocky was an Italian American from Chicago and Bob Saginowski (Hardy's character) is a Polish American from New York. Their accents are equally muddy, although quite different.

This is no Rocky movie, however.

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How I Saved Money on My Last Trip to China

MANILA—Full disclosure: EastWest Bank is an advertiser.

But I wanted to write this story a month before they decided to advertise in China Business. See, I finally found a way to get rid of my forex headaches when traveling overseas.

Headache number one is having to stash multiple currencies at whatever current buying rate there is at the time of your travel. And then, you have to sell any leftover currencies at a loss when you come back home.

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Youth games pits China against world

For two weeks in August, teenagers from more than 100 different countries took part in the second summer Youth Olympic Games.

Best described as a teen-friendly counterpart to the regular supersized Olympics and its excesses, the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games is low key by comparison.

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No Facebook? No Problem.

I'm now sitting on the steps of a bus in Minqin county, Gansu province, very far into northwest China. Except for the chatter of five gentlemen a dozen yards away and the singing of birds overhead, it is a quiet afternoon.

Such moments of solitude are rare for a journalist covering China under an official itinerary—which makes this brief isolation more precious.

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