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Priceless Learning and Precious Experiences from our 18 Days of Training on ICT in Education and Pilgrimage in Israel

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Being able to go to Israel and stay in Ramat Rachel Hotel in the outskirts of Jerusalem for an 18-day International Training Course on ICT in Education was one of the greatest blessings in my life. Israel is the Holy Land for Christians like me while for the Israeli Jews, Israel is their Promised Land, the land promised to them by God Himself from the earliest times of human history.

Participating in an international training in Israel is a rare opportunity that one should not throw away. And so, after learning that I was accepted for an International Training on ICT in Education under the MASHAV International Development Cooperation of the state of Israel last December 21, 2017, I sought every means to be able to attend the said training in a land I’ve never been to but has been my dreamed of place to go to.

Our 18 days of training under the MASHAV Ofri International Educational Training Center from January 16 to February 2, 2017 in Jerusalem gave us, participants from different countries and four continents, priceless learning and precious experiences. The 18 days were both a training course and a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

The days were filled with lectures, workshops, professional visits to schools and educational training centers, and group tasks. We managed, however, to visit some holy places in Jerusalem at the end of the day or during the Shabat or day dedicated for rest and worship of God, which is religiously observed by the Israeli Jews starting on Friday afternoon at 5 pm up to Saturday 7 pm.

The training course on ICT in Education gave us a vast amount of knowledge we need to review, look back to, and process in order to really gain from them and share them to others. Fortunately, the MASHAV Aharon Ofri Educational Training Center gave each of us copies of the lectures from the speakers and the professional visits as well as materials from the workshops and group works we did during the training.

The International Training on ICT in Education first oriented the participants with an overview of the Israeli history and society. We learned about what the Jewish people have gone through and how they have striven to become a progressive state from being a start-up nation. We learned about Israel being a welfare state and that education from primary to high school is free since education for all is in the interest of the state. We, the participants, marveled at this and were even more impressed with the progressive educational system, innovative pedagogies, humanistic and democratic approach to teaching and learning, and the advanced use of ICT tools in the classrooms and schools.

The training course also made us see (for us who were not really using or maximizing the uses of these) the wonderful uses and potentials of educational applications for the classroom such as the Google apps – google docs, google forms, google calendar, google earth, google classroom; the use of gaming like kahoot to enliven classes and the wise use of online education resources such as those listed in www.simlek12.com, and other digital platforms for teaching and learning such as edmodo and moodle.

We learned of the advanced application of computer knowledge and skills in the schools we visited in Israel with the subsidized provision of laptop for every student and the fast internet connection in every school.

We realized the necessity of developing 21st century skills such as being creative, communicative, collaborative, having critical thinking, among both teachers and students, and being ICT literate. We saw and learned of the innovative pedagogies and effective educational system for primary and secondary schools in Israel and how Israel as a start-up nation strives to do things in the most efficient and innovative manner. One evidence of efficiency of the Israeli way of doing things is the ubiquitous use of solar panels in every building or home for energy use.

We learned that Israel, relatively a young nation since its establishment in 1948, strove for advancement in innovations in making things, ICT application in the classrooms, and in different fields such as science and technology and agriculture. We witnessed the advances made in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics in Israel and wished that our own countries would be as progressive and as efficient as the Israelis in every sphere of life and society.

Israel is encouraging its students to make things that can solve problems through 3D printing, robotics, and the offering of courses on medical sciences, science and technology, arts and design, horticulture, mathematics, along with other subjects to develop innovative thinking and doing.

Women are considered equal with men in Israel; they are encouraged to pursue careers in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics which used to be the domain of men.

Aside from the gains in knowledge and skills from the training course, the intercultural communication experiences were very valuable. Getting to know and mingling with people from four different continents were among the precious experiences we had in our 18 days of training in Israel.

I was able to meet, talk to, eat with, and work with people from other parts of Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe – from African countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and Ghana; from Latin American countries such as Colombia, Peru, and Costa Rica; from Eastern European countries like Urkraine and Georgia; and from other Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. From the other group training on Technology and Vocational Training, I was able to meet a man from Nepal by the name of Pradip; participants from Seychelles; and a lady from Myanmar. The intercultural experiences were so rich, filled with precious learning about the cultures, ways, and contexts of people from these different countries.

The pilgrimage we managed to squeeze in our tight schedule was awe-inspiring. Walking through the Old City was a rare experience: it was an experience of the very rich historical, religious, and multicultural blend of the Middle Eastern cultures of Jewish, Arab, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian worlds.

I and my co-participants prayed inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and some of my co-participants were able to go the Mount of Olives while I worked on a group blog and mingled with Filipinos working in Israel as Catholic religious workers, caregivers, traders, and chefs. Gratefully, we were treated by MASHAV Ofri Center to a pilgrimage in the holy sites around the Sea of Galilee like the Church of the Mount of Beatitudes, the Church of the Primacy of Peter, Capernaum, and the Jordan River where some of us renewed their baptismal vows.

The training course was full-packed with very rich knowledge we hope to disseminate and use for the good of our countries through our final projects. We not only gained from the course but also came to have a deeper tie with Israel and sympathize with the Jewish people who have suffered much from barbaric invasions and the Holocaust yet have risen to advances through innate wit, determination, the spirituality of tikun olan (which means “healing the world”), and innovativeness to move forward, live peaceably with others, and have an efficiently working society.

We physically left Israel but the learning and experiences we gained from the 18-day training course and pilgrimage will forever be treasured in our minds and hearts.

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Hong Kong Airlines to Recruit New Cadet Pilots

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Hong Kong Airlines has kicked off recruitment for a new batch of cadet pilots, following the successful launch of its inaugural Cadet Pilot Programme last year. The much-coveted 2017 Cadet Pilot Programme received over 4,000 applications last year and Hong Kong Airlines is excited to welcome new applicants again. The recruitment phase will take place from now until 15 February 2018. Interested applicants can apply online or email cadet.pilot@hkairlines.com for more information.

Hong Kong Airlines’ commitment to developing home-grown talent will once again see it target young people with Hong Kong Permanent Resident status for its second cadet pilot recruitment. All new cadets will undergo 70 weeks of flight training, which includes ground school training and multi-crew cooperation training using medium jet simulator. Following completion of the programme, successful cadets will receive their official appointment as Second Officers of Hong Kong Airlines.

Having served a record seven million passengers in 2017, which represented an impressive 10% climb year-on-year, Hong Kong Airlines is witnessing passenger growth that exceeds the industry average of 7.5% (source: IATA). In turn, the airline has invested substantially in new products, service and infrastructure to help cater to this growing demand.

Currently in the works is the development of a new training centre, which will provide state-of-the-art training facilities to help nurture a new generation of aviation elites. In addition, Hong Kong Airlines is also looking to expand its fleet to 50 aircraft strong by 2019, and is poised to take delivery of all 21 Airbus A350s by 2020. These improvements will prove pivotal to the airline as it continues to transition into a global carrier with long-haul aspirations that will include non-stop services to San Francisco, New York and London in 2018.

“Hong Kong Airlines is currently undergoing a period of unprecedented growth and we continue to seek new talent every day. Our recruitment for new pilots has seen a double digit jump over the past two years and we are committed in our pursuit to help spur growth within the industry. By solidify Hong Kong’s position as a world-class international aviation hub, we can provide our customers with more travel options and flexibility,” said Mr Tang King Shing, Vice Chairman of Hong Kong Airlines.

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Make Way for the OPPO F5 Red!

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OPPO Philippines sure knows how to kick off the year with surprises and exciting opportunities for selfie-lovers everywhere. Just when everyone thought that selfies could not get any better, comes the OPPO F5 that’s not only best for capturing real moments, but also stylish and trendy. Just last week, OPPO’s very own influencers were seen flaunting a bright red smartphone on their social media accounts, teasing the public about its upcoming smartphone in fierce red color. And the long wait is over because the much-awaited OPPO F5 Red is now available in the Philippines in all OPPO concept stores nationwide.

Ready to paint the town RED

Living up to its Selfie Expert handle, the OPPO F5 Red is the latest addition to the F5 line-up which boasts of the A.I. Beauty Recognition Technology, designed to capture the real you that can help selfies look more attractive and natural. Now available in fierce red color, the OPPO F5

Red is the ideal smartphone for users who aspire to create a statement through the smartphones they carry. It highlights OPPO’s advanced beauty technology in a more fashionable and lifestyle approach through its distinct color.

The OPPO F5 Red shares similar features with the OPPO F5 – from camera specs and beauty technology, speedy facial unlock, and performance. It features a 20MP front camera and a 16MP rear camera with a higher resolution (2160×1080) and better photo quality. In addition, it has 4GB of RAM best for multi-tasking and a 32GB storage for apps, videos, and selfies.

“The OPPO F5 is making waves in the smartphone market with its proven A.I. Beauty Recognition Technology and we are happy to announce that we are now offering it in a much-desired red color. This answers the need of our customers who are looking for a stylish, functional, and selfie-centric smartphone, ideal for today’s social media-driven lifestyle,” said Eason De Guzman, OPPO Philippines’ PR Manager.

The OPPO F5 Red is priced at Php 15,990. And for users who are looking for an OPPO F5 with stronger and more seamless performance, the OPPO F5 6GB in red is also available for Php 21,990 in all OPPO concept stores nationwide.

For more information about the whole OPPO F5 series, customers may visit the OPPO website. They can also follow OPPO on Facebook  for the store list and latest updates.

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In The Business of Helping Communities and the Environment

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Citronella farmers in Imbayao, Malaybalay, Bukidnon harvest grass for the essential oils in Human Nature’s products.

Vulnerable people who get integrated into Inclusive Business models are finding opportunities for well-paying jobs, raised incomes, and increased roles in responding to challenges related to the environment. This is how Filipino companies like EcoIngenuity Inc. and Gandang Kalikasan, Inc. (GKI) are making an impact in the lives of communities they work with.

As companies with inclusive business models, EcoIngenuity Inc. and GKI belong to the category of businesses that tap suppliers, distributors, or partners poor communities. Inclusive Business models can also tap the poor as consumers by making relevant products or services accessible to them.

GKI operates the beauty brand Human Nature, which strictly adheres to the environmental and safety principles of the Natural Products Association (NPA), a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit organization that serves as a natural products industry watchdog to protect consumers from unsafe products.

EcoIngenuity is the company behind the brand Jacinto & Lirio, which creates multi-functional and sustainably made leather goods out of water hyacinth. Known as the most damaging aquatic plant, water hyacinth has infested communities by the Pasig River and Laguna De Bay. Water hyacinth contributes to higher flood levels because it clogs waterways. In communities where there is water hyacinth infestation, fish kills are rampant, and the rate of water-borne diseases are high.

For people and planet

The communities that work with both GKI and EcoIngenuity found opportunities to gain useful skills, increase their income levels, and connect with relevant markets.

Human Nature’s suppliers of raw materials such as citronella, coco nectar, and lemongrass hail from more than 23 communities and social enterprises across the Philippines. In the communities located in Bukidnon and Camarines Norte, women make up at least 40 percent of the workers. Most of these farmers have limited education and rely on subsistence farming to make a living. They have no land of their own and because they are found in remote areas, they have limited exposure to their potential markets.

To help these farmers raise their income, Human Nature builds on their capacity of their farmers, provides testing support and seeds, and buys their raw materials at fair, above-market prices. For example, Human Nature purchases citronella oil at 40 to 60 percent above market value.

Women from the Water Hyacinth Livelihood Initiative process dried hyacinth to produce the plant-based leather used in the creation of Jacinto & Lirio’s products.

Part of Human Nature’s capacity building efforts for marginalized communities are skills training, values formation program, and the allocation of profits for scholarships. The recipients of these scholarship programs receive training and education for agri-social entrepreneurship.

Aside from supporting farming communities, 58 percent of Human Nature’s workforce hail from low-skilled, marginalized sectors in Manila and Laguna. These employees receive 68 percent more than the legal minimum wage so that if they belong to a family of four, they can enjoy better standards of living.

Like Human Nature, EcoIngenuity’s Jacinto & Lirio also provides women with opportunities. All of Jacinto & Lirio’s beneficiaries are women from seven different communities in Pasig City, Rizal, Laguna and Pampanga. Most of them are stay-at-home mothers from Rizal who live in water hyacinth-infested rural areas. They cannot work in a normal office setup because they take care of the households while their husbands are away working. By working with Jacinto & Lirio, these women learned to utilize water hyacinth as material for multifunctional and stylish leather goods such as planners, journals and bags.

Jacinto & Lirio helped bring back life to the water hyacinth infested areas and create opportunities for the communities’ mothers who also learned to offer services like embroidery, laser etching, and creating full colored prints. This helped the women increased their households’ income, so they can better provide for their family’s needs. Aside from creating leather goods, they get linked to relevant markets to help ensure sustainability of their income.

Shared prosperity through Inclusive Business

Inclusive Business took center stage in ASEAN 2017, which the Philippines chaired. The Inclusive Business Summit was a highlight of the Philippines’ ASEAN chairmanship. Inclusive business models across the ASEAN also took center stage during the ASEAN Inclusive Business Awards 2017, an integral part of the ASEAN Business Awards initiated by the Department of Trade and Industry-Board of Investments (DTI-BOI) in partnership with the Asian Development Bank, Asian Business Advisory Council, Credit Suisse, and the International Finance Corporation. Both EcoIngenuity and GKI were nominees to the ASEAN Inclusive Business Awards.

Aside from advocating for Inclusive Business in ASEAN, the Philippine government is promoting Inclusive Business in the country. Under the Philippines’ Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) 2017-2019, medium and large firms in the agribusiness and tourism sectors may receive five-year tax holidays if they implement inclusive business models.

To qualify for these incentives, the larger companies should integrate small and medium enterprises in their value chain. The companies should also be implementing their inclusive business models during a three-year year period.

“The impact of Inclusive Business goes beyond social impact to make a difference in issues like environmental concerns,” said Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo said. “As ASEAN governments try to create a more enabling environment for Inclusive Business, we look forward to seeing more companies become inclusive businesses that help promote economic and environmental sustainability.”

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Pag-IBIG Fund – La Union to Sponsor Mass Wedding on Feb. 14

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Image Source: pia.gov.ph

The Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) otherwise known as the Pag-IBIG Fund in La Union will sponsor anew a mass wedding in time for the Valentine’s Day.

Rachael H. Gallano, supervising marketing specialist of Pag-IBIG Fund – La Union, said the mass civil wedding on February 14 dubbed as “I Do, I Do Araw ng Pag-Ibig” will be in partnership with the local government of Luna.

“This is a nationwide project of Pag-IBIG Fund to help couples save time and money for their wedding. In La Union, the wedding of 110 couples will take place at the popular Luna watch tower,” Gallano said.

To be able to tie the knot, Gallano said one or both of the couples must be a Pag-IBIG member. If not, they are required to apply for membership and remit an initial P100 savings.

Pag-IBIG Fund will sponsor the decorations and set up of the venue which will be Moroccan-themed, symbolic rings, headdress and bouquet of the bride, as well as snacks.

The municipality of Luna, on one hand, will shoulder the marriage license fee, stage, lights, and sound system. Mayor Vic Marron will officiate the wedding.

Expenses for the wedding gown or suit and required documents such as birth certificate and certificate of no marriage will be handled by the couples.

“Cash and vacation packages will be raffled off in lieu of the house and lot to benefit more couples,” Gallano informed.

Interested couples may register at Luna Municipal Social Welfare Office or the Pag-IBIG office at Government Center, Sevilla in San Fernando City, La Union.

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