Movie Review: The Drop


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.


Malaysian newspaper mesmerizes with 5D ad

Samples of the Wonda Coffee ad by NST Malaysia showing the touch, sight and sound campaign. NST mailroom manager Ungku Ibrahim mentioned the scented newspaper samples from the smell campaign were confiscated by the Malaysian airport police for being "sprayed with coffee-smelling chemicals." Ungku Ibrahim, one of the speakers who shared insights at the ANP Conference. With everyone going digital these days, bold strategies are becoming the new norm for print. While there's a prevailing belief that the printed broadsheet is near extinction, there's ample proof supporting the contrary. During the recent 2014 Asean Newspaper Printers Conference held at the Makati Shangri-La, New Straits Times (NST) mailroom manager Ungku Azman bin Ungku Ibrahim shared how teamwork, innovation, creativity, and social media are the perfect tools to create value in advertising. Ibrahim launched his brief talk with a cold, hard truth. "Broadsheet sheet sales are down like, probably 30% in Malaysia," he said, adding it's most likely the same way in other parts of the world. Then, according to Ibrahim, Asahi came and sought NST's assistance with their January 2014 Malaysian launch of their new brand, Wonda Premium Coffee. Asahi wanted marketing that was old school with an emphasis on novelty. After much input and brainstorming, NST and Wonda launched one of the most successful campaigns in recent broadsheet history: the 5D ad. The ad was unique for its approach of using the five human senses. The campaign spanned five days, with each day focusing on a particular sense. It included a pull-up ad for touch, 3D printing for sight, audio ad for hearing, scented newspaper for smell, and a special discounted coupon for taste. "That (5D campaign) was six months in the making. We had to strategize and plan accordingly. It took a lot of support from everyone, from the editorial, to production, to circulation, to marketing. It was a risk, but it paid off," Ibrahim said. He also shared how time-consuming, labor-intensive, and expensive everything was. And pay off it did. Not only did the company help Wonda Coffee secure its place as the second biggest-selling coffee brand in Malaysia, but it boosted the NST's sales too. "We need to innovate,” Ibrahim said. “We need to listen to advertisers and to everyone in the organization. Even the most unlikely or unexpected person can come up with a good idea." Ibrahim also tried to infect the audience with his resolve. "This industry is never going to die,” he announced. “It's still different from mobile news. It's a different feeling to hold newspapers. And, we bring the dependable kind of news.” Remarkably, the 5D campaign eschewed Facebook fan pages and Twitter hashtagging. Other advertisers are now coming over to NST to help boost their business, which in turn boosts NST sales. Another company, Tropicana, launched a similar 5D campaign in September with NST which yielded similar phenomenal results. "Listening [to new ideas] helps, especially now that everything is changing. It will determine the future of print," the Malaysian mailroom manager said.

China Business–Philippines

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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The Car of the Future

The average university student may be thinking about the next finals exam he is about to take. But while Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk was still at university, he was thinking about the future of humanity.

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