Friday, January 25, 2008

Weekend thoughts on Philippine development

I sent an email to someone based in Manhattan who's actively promoting a global Filipino investment fund for national development. Here's an excerpt:

I have always had an interest in national development issues and my school of thought is:

1. I adhere to the social economy principles of Sismondi, Polanyi, H. Daly, Marc Lutz, etc. meaning the economy must be subsumed to the interests of society;

2. This implies a hybrid economy: individuals can be the best that they can be, but they have responsibilities to the community/nation. This translates into Amitai Etzioni's communitarianism and the good society concept;

3. I am a follower of Thads Bentulan aka Streetstrategist's (formerly of Businessworld) Hypwerwage Theory. It proposes that the minimum wage of lowest worker, household helper or the katulong, should be P20,000/mo. with corresponding adjustments for other workers/staff. This is a redistribution of wealth from GOV'T (deductible as payroll taxes) and from the elite. However, businessmen should see long-term growth from significant consumer spending...

4. Here at the U. of Arizona, my professors are aware of initiatives on m-commerce/e-commerce. B2B has partnered up with Landbank and other MFIs on OFW remittances using the extensive agri, teacher, military coop networks. His model I think is the most sustainable....

5. Philippine Postal Corporation is gearing up for a major expansion in technology and branch modernization and wants to get into the remittance game. It has no congressional budget so it swims or drowns on its own....

6. We have put money in peer-to-peer lending networks like (no interest, for humanitarian purposes) and In kiva we have been repaid 100% so far. At Prosper, we lent at market interest rates but way below check-advance or payroll interest rates. However, we have had 30-40% loans either in delay or default. It's a steep learning curve but I believe in the peer-to-peer lending concept....

7. We recently submitted a paper for publication on the Tucson gem, mineral, and fossil showcase which is about to start here. It is the biggest in the world with 5,000 dealers...I've done many environmental impact assessments for mining firms when I was in the Philippines and my paper comments on how the Philippines should be the counterpart in asia of the Tucson gem and mineral showcase...

8. I have high hopes for Gawad Kalinga. As they organize their 7K communities (1,400 to date), they are exploring ways of how to make each community a productive economic unit, maybe following the OTOP concept (one town one product). The challenge is how to tap into and collaborate with farms/cafe/spas? tool production units? BPO manpower sourcing? GK is developing the human resources and the future consumers, so how can socially conscious enterprises assist and work with them?

9. In my visits to the Philippines in the past two summers, I have met up with old friends and new acquaintances who are exploring renewable energy projects. My cousin-in-law, an engineer with an MBA from Manchester, just converted two MBenz using used vegetable oil. He's in talks with the jeepney groups and some car enthusiasts... the Bayawan, Neg. Or. mayor is encouraging jatropha on an experimental scale.... There are opportunities for solar and hydropower projects. I think there will be no one gigantic tech cornering the market, but several small ones regionally dispersed... We should look at a holding company with our fingers in different pies...

11. The Luzon quadrangle is poised for a boom because of the expressway expansion, airport modernization, Northrail etc. Land speculation is up. Subic, I feel, is prime for a nature and science based university, comprehensive hospital, and retirement area (as some have suggested)...

12. Lastly, the Philippine's major problem is logistics. It is too expensive to ship inter-island. We need a firm who will BOT/BTO/ toll-fee/ major bridges between the major islands. Fomer Pres. FVR has called for this. Who will take up the challenge?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Eco-Patent Commons

Bloomberg reports that leading technology companies such as IBM, Nokia, Sony, and Pitney and Bowes are making available for free patent details about a limited number of technologies that may help spur environmental technology use and possibly, innovation.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development website provides the links to the patents of 31 technologies/processes including: (a) IBM's air management technology and Styrofoam replacement product, (b) Nokia's cellphone recycling system into other useful products, and (b) Sony's coagulant for wastewater treatment. IBM contributed 27 patents, which is minuscule compared to the 3,125 patents it filed last year alone.
This patent donation initiative is knows as the Eco-Patent Commons.

Eco-footprints and other measures of sustainability

Being on different listserves helps keep me updated on developments especially on environmental issues. Two recent studies were released on the the ecological footprints of countries or regions. An ecological footprint is the demand and usage of natural resources by wo/man vis-à-vis the capacity of the Earth to regenerate these natural resources and at the same time, manage the wastes or pollution generated.

The environmental anthropology listserve I am on relayed the forthcoming publication of Uthara Srinvasan and colleagues from the University of California, Berkeley on th ecological footprints of rich countries versus poor countries. They used ecological and environmental accounting data from a 40-year period covering 1961-2000 to assess the impacts of of agricultural intensification, deforestation, overfishing, loss and degradation of mangrove, ozone depletion and climate change, among others. See Srinvasan's figure below.

In the environmental accounting of the ecological footprints of the world's low-, middle- and high-income nations the report supports scientific assertions and live-in experiences of people and communities suffering from environmental degradation that richer countries are developing at the expense of poorer countries. The report's estimates of the environmental impacts are conservative. See:

Rich Nations' Environmental Footprints Tread Heavily On Poor Countries also alerted me to the beta version of the 2008 Environmental Performance Index of 149 countries jointly developed by Yale University and Columbia University. Incomplete data excluded 89 other countries. While the Srinvasan studies used six indicators, the 2008 EPI ranked the countries based on two objectives ("enviornmental health and vitality"), 25 indicators covering six established policy categories: Environmental Health, Air Pollution, Water Resources, Biodiversity and Habitat, Productive Natural Resources, and Climate Change and three subpolicy categories.

The findings are be announced at a press conference (23 January 2008) at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It comes as no surprise that Switzerland ranked first with an EPI score of 95.5 out of a possible 100. Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Costa Rica round up the top five. Five African countries occupy the bottom ranking five. These are Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Angola, and Niger.

The United States ranked 39th with 22 E.U. countries and 11 in the Americas ahead of it ahead of it. It rated high in environmental health but poorly in environmental vitality as a developed country.

The Philippines ranked 61, which indicates that much needed improvements especially in the policy categories of "environmental burden of disease" and "biodiversity and habitat."

Implications of the rankings include: (a) wealth an indicator of good EPI score, (b) collective investment in environmental initiatives is needed, (c) best practices should be promoted.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

SIL on-line database on the Agta

The faith-based academic research non-profit organization SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics) International recently made available on-line, in cooperation with lead researchers Dr. Thomas N. Headland and his colleague-wife Janet Headland, the extensive raw database on the 3,800 Agta indigenous peoples of the Philippines. The Agta are a hunter-gatherer indigenous cultural community (ICC) in the Philippines, which the Headlands have studied and worked with since 1962. Due to several requests and the permission of their Agta study partners/subjects, they published online in November 2007 the Agta Demographic Database: Chronicle of a Hunter-Gatherer Community in Transition. The publication includes data on 3,800 individuals, including 600 surviving Agta.

The release of the database opens up avenues for more analysis of the socio-demographic data. Hopefully, society can understand more the Agta and look at how research and action-research may assist them in their quest for social justice, autonomy, cultural survival, and prosperity.

On the other hand, what are the implications on privacy and human subjects rights with this publication (despite the Agta giving permission)?

Here's the verbatim blurb from the website with the links:


Agta Demographic Database: chronicle of a hunter-gatherer community in transition

Authors Headland, Janet D.
Headland, Thomas N.

For the past half-century Thomas and Janet Headland have studied demographic change among the Agta, a hunter-gatherer population in the Philippines. Since the 1998 publication of Population Dynamics of a Philippine Rain Forest People, numerous scholars have asked for the raw data on which the Headlands based their study. Now those data are published with the full permission of the Agta people. This database consists of the records of 3,800 Agta individuals, 600 of whom are alive today. Of these, 284 are members of the San Ildefonso Agta, a subpopulation living on a peninsula separate from the larger Casiguran Agta on the mainland. Included in these records are the names, facial photographs, family histories, genealogies, and ancestors (dating back to the late nineteenth century) of today's Agta. The data are complete with every birth, marriage, divorce, death, and in- and out-migration since 1950 for the 284-member San Ildefonso Agta subpopulation.

The Agta population has vital statistics that are extreme compared to industrialized humankind. These will be of interest to anthropologists, students of human history, and demographers. Today's Agta have an infant mortality rate of 230/1000 (vs. 7/1000 in the USA), a high total fertility rate of 7.0, and a life expectancy of just 23 years (vs. 78 years in the USA). Readers may use these data to check these and other demographic parameters, as well as for testing their own hypotheses of so-called primitive populations. The Agta Demographic Database provides a keyhole glimpse into how our human ancestors may have lived and died in prehistory.

Published 2007
Language Agta, Casiguran Dumagat [dgc]
Ethnologue entry for Agta, Casiguran Dumagat
Country Philippines
Subjects Anthropology
Keywords Agta; hunter-gatherers; demographic anthropology; Negritos; demography of prehistoric populations; Casiguran; San Ildefonso

Monday, January 21, 2008

Free WiFi access in Manila, Philippines?

In the Philippines, government support for more equitable access to information and communication technologies (ICT) is woefully inadequate. Unlike in the United States and Europe, it is difficult to access public funds or motivated support from the government. Hence, the private sector in the Philippines has developed the entrepreneurial agility and creativeness to address significant barriers to the ICT market. One example is the recent launch of free WiFi in select areas in Makati City, the country’s premier financial and commercial district.

Tech Bloggers and the Inquirer reported that WiGo ( the start-up company that is bold enough to offer free WiFi, is betting on a business model of targeted advertising. They feel that laptop owners/users will not mind the advertising pop-ups and are the target market for its advertisers. If successful, what will be the impact on fee-for-use WiFi providers such as Airbone Access ( ?

So far the list of places with WiGo hotspots are:

· Bel-Air Village, Brgy. Park, Makati City

· LKG Tower Food Odyssey, Makati

· National Library, Manila

· PBCOM Tower - Food Patio, Makati

· Power Plant Mall, Makati
- Block 9
- P1 - Concourse Level
- R2 - Level 2
- R3 - Level 3

· Shakey's Rada - Jaycem Bldg, Makati

WiGo is also accepting hotspot applications.

Technological innovation in combination with creative business solutions have a way of disrupting current business models. It will be interesting to see how WiGo will perform over time.

Alternative Technology Wishlist 2008

The year 2007 witnessed finally consensus and near panic at climate change complicated by all-time high fuel prices and the specter of a 2008 recession. It looks gloomy, but there is always the flipside of positive change and community action. We believe that the economy should be subservient to society’s needs and aspirations. Our Christmas wishlist, our second, for appropriate technology, hopes to generate creativity and action.

All Things Solar- The US Department of Energy projects renewable energy to grow 23% faster at the present until 2030 than previously estimated. Solar power is expected to grow four-fold. See: The costs for current solar technology are expected to decline from a present $3 to $4 per watt to about $0.80/watt within five years, and $.50/watt within ten years. See In terms of transportation, solar cars are fast approaching reality. In the recent Panasonic World Solar Challenge held last 21-28 2007, solar cars from Netherlands , Austria, Belgium, the US, Canada, and the Philippines ranked in the top 12 that traveled more than 2,500 kms. See: and Many practical applications of solar technology from portable electronic charging kits to solar garden lamps are now available for purchase. See

All Things Vegan- Agriculture not only feeds, it fuels. The speculative rush to biofuels had some predicting of a bubble in alternative fuels. That may be true, but at the moment, there seems to be a demand for fuels. Biofuels made a big splash in 2007 and we expect the trend to continue. See In the U.S., the state of California has gone all out on alternative fuels. See for the resources you can tap. Used vegetable oil is feasible in the Philippines. Chips Guevara, who’s in my extended family, is an engineer with an MBA. He and is dad, Tito Cards, have converted two old diesel Mercedez Benz vehicles to run on both diesel and straight vegetable oil (SVO). They are in talks with jeepney groups and private enthusiasts on a few commercial prototypes. The technology for processing and using SVO in a hostile Philippine climate is a combination of new, imported, and Filipino-ingenuity. See,,, and among the many sites available on the WEB. Wartsila is proclaiming that it can build a biofuel power plant. See LIQUID BIOFUEL POWER PLANTS

The Spanish biodiesel firm Bionor Transformacion S.A. announced its intention to invest US$200 million to develop at least 100,000 hectares (247,105 acres) of jatropha plantations. See and The large footprint is worrisome, but the technology, financial, skills transfer and employment opportunities are tempting. Coconut-biodiesel is also expanding in the Philippines. See for breakthroughs in biofuel technology in the country, including a plan to build a P1.5-billion Green Power Complex (GPC) in Pangasinan using sweet sorghum and sweet potato.

All Things Recycled- The recycled juice bags that the wifey used as an exchange gift in her school’s Christmas party was a big hit. Those we’ve given have always appreciated this statement of turning consumerism on its own head. See these products at,, and Using the bicycle is healthy, limits your carbon footprints, and allows you the freedom to explore your urban area. What people need is a cycling network that promotes this mode of transportation, helps you maintain your bike, recycles bike parts, and promotes safe cycling. Check out BICAS of Tucson ( and the Firefly Brigade’s annual Tour of the Fireflies at

All Gadgets Green- Lastly, for greener gadgets, check out for such green gadgets as cellphones powered by hydrogen (no more hot air?) and movement, greener cellphones, the soon-to-be solar powered $100 laptop, solar powered energy adaptors, laptop bags, portable radios and so on, and the US EPA’s proposed cellphone recycling system, among others.

The key to long-term planning for alternative energy is some knowledge as to the long-term base price of fossil fuels. Hopefully, government can help in this informational gap.

Happy new year.