Philippine tobacco industry bounces back

The tobacco industry in the Ilocos region has staged an impressive recovery, two years after it was
adjudged a sunset industry.

National Tobacco Administration (NTA) Edgardo Zaragoza said: “The recovery was fuelled by
increased exports to a total of $20 million this year from an average of $6 million every harvest
season in previous years.”

More and more farmers went back to tobacco farming and bigger areas were cultivated, said
Zaragoza.

Exporters of tobacco led by Universal Leaf are now putting up healthy competition to local cigarette
manufacturers like Philip Morris and Fortune Tobacco.

They have been entering into contract growing arrangements and extending technical as well as
financial assistance to growers.

Considered for over half a century as the prime cash crop in Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Abra, part of
Pangasinan and some towns in the Cagayan Valley, tobacco growing suffered major setbacks in
recent years.

Two varieties were cultivated, Virginia tobacco originally coming from the state of Virginia in the US
that requires flue-curing to dry, and burley tobacco a variety that is sun-dried and gives classy
flavor to local cigarettes and cigars.

The decline in recent years was the result of a growing worldwide movement against cigarette
smoking coupled with a shift by many Ilocano farmers to the cultivation of hybrid yellow corn when
the latter was seen to be more profitable.

A tobacco farmer from Tagudin, Prudencio Garlejo, said he shifted back to planting Virginia tobacco
when he found out that profits from the golden leaf is twice as high as that from yellow corn.

Cebu Pacific Air breaks 1 million passengers in April

Cebu Pacific flew more than 1 million passengers for the month of April, a first for any local airline.

The airline flew 1,086,650 passengers on both domestic and international routes in April
2011.

The airline operates to 33 domestic and 16 international destinations, on 52 domestic and
24 international routes.

It also broke its own record for the number of passengers carried in one day. Last April 29, 2011, CEB carried 37,835 in one day, overtaking previous records in the first quarter of 2011.

“This is the first time CEB has flown over a million guests in one month. It is a testament to how much CEB has empowered everyone to travel by air with its trademark low fares and high-valueservices. We thank our passengers for their continued patronage of the country’s low-fare pioneer,” said CEB VP for Marketing and Distribution Candice Iyog.

“CEB attributes this landmark number to having the lowest fares in the market, newest aircraft fleet
in the country, and most extensive route network. We will continue offering innovative products and pricing structures for the benefit of our passengers,” she added.

CEB is the Philippines’ largest turbo-prop operator, operating the most inter-island flights to
the top tourist destinations in the country. The airline opened Siargao, Pagadian and Cauayan
(Isabela) to air travel, and helped lower fares to Coron (Busuanga) and Boracay (Caticlan).

It also offers the most seats and flight frequencies to Cebu and Davao, two of the largest
business-traffic routes in the country, stimulating same-day business travels and weekend
vacations.

By the end of 2011, CEB will be operating a fleet of 37 aircraft – with an average age of less than 3.5 years – one of the most modern aircraft fleets in the world.

Between 2012 and 2014, Cebu Pacific will take delivery of an additional 16 brand-new Airbus A320 aircraft.

Furniture makers to boost marketing strategy

The Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP) is strenthening its marketing strategy to
reverse the expected slight decline in sales this year caused by the Japan disaster and the Middle East
crisis.
Emmanuel Padiernos, CFIP vice president for market development is optimistic that the merging of
Manila Now and Cebu Next international shows starting this October could improve export sales.
“Manila Now and Cebu Next have been held in two separate venues for maybe almost 15 years.
We have two small shows that confuse buyers and very inconvenient since they have to travel to see
both shows and yet are both small,” said Padiernos.

Manila would serve as the venue of what they call “Super Shows” which will be held in March and October every
year.

The Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) is supporting the big show and will be co-located with Manila F.A.M.E.  International show. This will be jointly promoted by Cebu, Manila and CITEM to attract more buyers to come. he said.

Padiernos said they expect lesser exports to Middle East countries as the awakening in the Arab world will definitely happen, noting “more projects are on hold in Dubai, Oman, and Bahrain.”

And while the Japan disaster could result in increased demand for furniture as residents refurnish their houses, the Philippines is not expected to gain from this higher demand, he said.

“Traditionally, the furniture products imported by Japan are not from the Philippines. Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam would benefit from this, he noted.

Apart from the merging of two furniture shows, Padiernos bared that industry players are also discussing plans to have strong presence in several international shows abroad in line with the goal of encouraging more buyers to visit the Super Show.

Padiernos said they are also gearing efforts towards improving product design. The Product Development and Design Center of the Philippines (PDDCP) is coming up with new plans and programs to boost industrial design and to make local products marketable and competitive.

PCCI wants gradual introduction of renewable energy

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) is strongly pushing for the
adoption of a gradual and calibrated approach in the introduction of renewable
energy (RE) to the country’s power mix.

PCCI has expressed support to an earlier decision of the Department of Energy
(DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) in setting the
installation capacity for renewable energy (RE)

facilities at 790 MW.

In an earlier position submitted to the DOE, PCCI had expressed serious
concerns on the impact of

the introduction of renewable energy on the country’s
already high power rates.

PCCI noted that the country’s power mix already includes 3,291 MW from
hydroelectric power plants,

1,953 MW from geothermal power plants and 64 MW
from other renewable energy sources, which
comprise 34.01 percent RE power mix
nationwide.
The
challenge is to determine how much more of RE plants the country needs or
should install to
meet the goal of power security or self sufficiency and
competitiveness, said PCCI.

PCCI president Francis Chua said: “The technology for solar, wind and
ocean power and even

biomass are still in early development stages; the energy
produced from these will be a multiple of
the current average grid rate of
P4.50 kilowatt per hour.”
“What
we need now are base load plants and with some sense of urgency,” Chua
stressed.

The installation target sets the percentage generation from eligible RE sources
that shall be

injected into the country’s power mix.

PCCI says the 790 MW total should be sufficient enough to determine the
viability of the proposed

FiT ALL rates and to allow RE investors to recoup
their investments while maturing their technologies
and expanding their
operations.
PCCI energy chairman Jose Alejandro explained that progressively defining the
optimal and legal
requirement of installed generating capacity from RE
technologies, particularly as they are still in the
development stages, also
ensures that end-users are protected from undue costs once the FiT ALL kicks
in.

The PCCI is endorsing the locational approach which provides for the
identification of specific

strategic locations where RE sources can best be
used and developed.
The
minimum aggregate capacity per location is then determined and the required
technology
development and reporting requirements.

“This approach allows for better monitoring of the contribution and
progress of each RE source, which

in turn forms the basis for the rates that
warrant their contribution and benefit to the system,” said Chua.

The PCCI stressed that the locational approach be done in close coordination
with the National

Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), the operator of the
country’s transmission system.