The Marcos Family Gets Star Treatment in a New Philippines Film

A big-budget production depicts the family as victims of a political vendetta, a popular narrative during the recent presidential election in the Philippines.

#demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #elections, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #marcos-ferdinand-jr, #martial-law, #movies, #philippines, #politics-and-government

In the Philippines, Blinken Vows to Strengthen Military Ties

Against a backdrop of rising regional tensions with China, the U.S. secretary of state reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to defending Manila.

#blinken-antony-j, #china, #defense-and-military-forces, #far-east-south-and-southeast-asia-and-pacific-areas, #marcos-ferdinand-jr, #philippines, #territorial-disputes, #united-states-international-relations

Fidel Ramos, Philippine President Who Broke With Marcos, Dies at 94

Considered a ruthless Marcos henchman, he was later hailed as a national hero for breaking with the dictator, and went on to preside over an economic boom.

#aquino-corazon-c, #deaths-obituaries, #marcos-ferdinand-e, #philippines, #politics-and-government, #ramos-fidel-v

7.0 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Northern Philippines

The 7.0 magnitude quake on Luzon island damaged buildings and caused dozens of landslides, officials said. At least 44 people were hurt.

#earthquakes, #luzon-philippines, #philippines

The Philippines Braces for President Bongbong

Truth and accountability will not be hallmarks of Marcos 2.0.

#ferdinand-marcos-jr, #philippines, #politics-and-government

Philippines Struggles to Save Monument of Heroes Museum

Organizers at the Monument of Heroes in the Philippines are racing to preserve documents related to the Marcos regime before the dictator’s son takes office.

#demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #marcos-ferdinand-e, #marcos-ferdinand-jr, #monuments-and-memorials-structures, #museums, #new-peoples-army, #philippines, #political-prisoners, #politics-and-government, #torture

In the Philippines, a Doctor Unearths a Drug War’s True Toll

Raquel Fortun, one of only two forensic pathologists in the Philippines, is using her skills to show how other doctors falsely claimed some victims of the country’s drug war had died natural deaths.

#bones, #content-type-personal-profile, #drug-abuse-and-traffic, #duterte-rodrigo, #forensic-science, #fortun-raquel, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #philippines, #politics-and-government, #skeletons

A Cafe in Philippines is Devoted to Duterte’s Drug War Victims

Served along with the lattes are personal stories from the staff, who are relatives of those who died in some of the thousands of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

#drug-abuse-and-traffic, #duterte-rodrigo, #duterte-sara, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #marcos-ferdinand-jr, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #philippines, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings

Rural Philippines, Long Neglected, Newly Appealing in Covid Times

The economic disparity of the nation’s rural and urban areas is a problem of long standing. Will the lessons of the pandemic finally lead to change?

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #philippines, #rural-areas, #urban-areas

The ‘E-Pimps’ of OnlyFans

Clever marketers have figured out how easy it is to simulate online intimacy at scale, ventriloquizing alluring models with cheap, offshore labor.

#english-language, #international-trade-and-world-market, #labor-and-jobs, #miami-fla, #models-professional, #onlyfans, #philippines, #pornography

The Power of Lies in an Age of Political Fiction

To the fabulist go the spoils?

#herbster-charles-w, #internal-sub-only-nl, #marcos-ferdinand-e, #marcos-ferdinand-jr, #marcos-imelda-r, #philippines, #pillen-jim, #putin-vladimir-v, #trump-donald-j

In the Philippines, a Flourishing Ecosystem for Political Lies

Supporters of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. are using live video to spread misinformation on social media. Voters have become inured to the situation, researchers fear.

#duterte-sara, #facebook-inc, #marcos-ferdinand-jr, #philippines, #politics-and-government, #robredo-leni, #rumors-and-misinformation, #social-media, #tiktok-bytedance, #youtube-com

The Man Who Could Ruin the Philippines Forever

We Filipinos were once proud of our democracy. The coming elections could see its end.

#corruption-institutional, #duterte-rodrigo, #elections, #ethics-and-official-misconduct, #freedom-of-the-press, #marcos-ferdinand-jr, #philippines

Ahead of Philippines Election, Young People Rally Around Leni Robredo

As the election in the Philippines nears, tens of thousands of young people who fear another Marcos presidency are rallying around Leni Robredo, the country’s vice president.

#elections, #marcos-ferdinand-jr, #philippines, #politics-and-government, #robredo-leni, #volunteers-and-community-service, #voting-and-voters

Brownface in Hong Kong TV Show Draws Outrage and Shrugs

The TV show “Barrack O’Karma 1968” fueled debate about whether the practice is ever acceptable. Some viewers were outraged. Others simply shrugged.

#actors-and-actresses, #discrimination, #hong-kong, #philippines, #race-and-ethnicity, #television

After Tropical Storm Megi Hits Philippines, Dozens Dead or Missing

The first such storm of the year caused widespread flooding and landslides in the central part of the country.

#deaths-fatalities, #floods, #hurricanes-and-tropical-storms, #landslides-and-mudslides, #leyte-philippines, #philippines

Ahead of Philippines Election, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Rises

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has spent his political career trying to rehabilitate the family name. As the front-runner in the upcoming election, he may finally succeed.

#duterte-rodrigo, #duterte-sara, #elections, #manila-philippines, #marcos-ferdinand-e, #marcos-ferdinand-jr, #philippines, #politics-and-government

Marcos Jr. Can Stay in Philippine Presidential Race, Officials Say

With Ferdinand Marcos Jr. leading in the polls, victims of his father’s regime have not given up their fight to keep his name off the ballot.

#duterte-rodrigo, #duterte-sara, #manila-philippines, #marcos-ferdinand-e, #marcos-ferdinand-jr, #marcos-imelda-r, #philippines, #politics-and-government

A Record Virus Surge in the Philippines, but Doctors Are Hopeful

Health officials say recent infections have been milder than those seen in previous waves, though they are still urging caution.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-delta-variant, #coronavirus-omicron-variant, #lungs, #philippines

F. Sionil Jose, 97, Novelist Who Saw Heroism in Ordinary Filipinos, Dies

Mr. Jose’s writing, rich in themes drawn from his rural upbringing, amounted to a continuing morality play about poverty and class divisions in the Philippines.

#books-and-literature, #deaths-obituaries, #jose-f-sionil, #philippines, #writing-and-writers

Super Typhoon Rai Leaves Miles of Wreckage in Philippines

Philippine officials warned that residents were going hungry. Many were still in evacuation centers. On a highway, survivors scrawled an appeal for aid.

#deaths-fatalities, #evacuations-and-evacuees, #philippines, #rescues, #typhoons

Super Typhoon Rai’s Death Toll in Philippines Is Climbing

Nearly 100 people are now believed to have been killed by the storm, and rescuers are still trying to reach some devastated areas.

#cebu-philippines, #mindanao-philippines, #philippines, #typhoons, #weather

Super Typhoon Rai Hits the Philippines

The Office of Civil Defense said that nearly 100,000 people in several regions had been evacuated. There was no immediate word on casualties.

#mindanao-philippines, #philippines, #typhoon-rai, #typhoons, #weather

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte Won’t Run for Senate

The populist president also promised a peaceful transition of power when his term ends next year.

#duterte-rodrigo, #elections, #international-criminal-court, #philippines, #politics-and-government

A Nobel Peace Prize Is Not Enough to Save Independent Media

It will take more than speeches — or indeed Nobel prizes — to save independent journalism.

#freedom-of-the-press, #manila-philippines, #muratov-dmitri-a, #news-and-news-media, #newspapers, #nobel-prizes, #norwegian-nobel-committee, #novaya-gazeta, #oslo-norway, #philippines, #rappler, #russia

Court in Philippines Allows Maria Ressa to Travel to Norway for Nobel

The decision came after days of growing international pressure on the government to allow the journalist to attend the ceremony in Norway.

#decisions-and-verdicts, #nobel-prizes, #norway, #philippines, #rappler, #ressa-maria

Rodrigo Duterte to Run for Senate in the Philippines

Rodrigo Duterte entered the race days after his daughter announced her bid for vice president. He had previously said he would leave politics at the end of his term.

#duterte-rodrigo, #duterte-sara, #elections, #philippines, #politics-and-government

Women’s Role in Conservation Lags, Despite Success

When women lead in conservation, indicators of success often go up — yet they are routinely excluded. Could a group of local leaders in the Philippines provide a model?

#biodiversity, #conservation-of-resources, #discrimination, #philippines, #sexual-harassment, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #women-and-girls

Sara Duterte and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. May Join Forces in Philippines

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who hopes to succeed Rodrigo Duterte as president, said Sara Duterte would effectively be his running mate.

#duterte-rodrigo, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #international-criminal-court, #international-relations, #marcos-ferdinand-jr, #philippines, #politics-and-government, #sara-duterte, #united-states-international-relations

Please Don’t Feed the Whale Sharks? Fishing Town Says It Must, to Prosper.

The chance to swim with the world’s biggest fish led to a tourism boom in a Philippines town, but conservation groups decry the hand-feeding that keeps the gentle giants around.

#animal-behavior, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #philippines, #travel-and-vacations, #world-wildlife-fund

Can a Nobel Peace Prize Protect Maria Ressa From Rodrigo Duterte?

The journalist, whose reporting has taken on the president of the Philippines and the C.E.O. of Facebook, discusses the “atom bomb” that social media set off in our information ecosystem.

#computers-and-the-internet, #cyberharassment, #duterte-rodrigo, #facebook-inc, #freedom-of-the-press, #nobel-prizes, #philippines, #politics-and-government, #ressa-maria, #social-media

Philippines’ Nobel Prize Newsroom Is Overjoyed but Under Siege

Rappler, the news site co-founded by the new Nobel laureate Maria Ressa, dares to criticize the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte. He may yet see it shut down.

#cyberharassment, #duterte-rodrigo, #freedom-of-the-press, #news-and-news-media, #nobel-prizes, #philippines, #rappler, #ressa-maria

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Enters Philippine Presidential Race

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. joins the former boxing champion Manny Pacquiao in seeking to succeed Rodrigo Duterte in next year’s election.

#duterte-rodrigo, #elections, #marcos-ferdinand-jr, #philippines, #politics-and-government

Duterte Says He Will Retire Rather Than Seek the Vice Presidency

The Philippine president, whose term ends next year, had been expected to seek the No. 2 office, but said he would not do so “in obedience to the will of the people.”

#appointments-and-executive-changes, #duterte-rodrigo, #philippines, #politics-and-government

Boxer Manny Pacquiao Retires

Pacquiao, who won titles in a record eight weight classes over a 26-year career, now turns his attention to his bid for the presidency of the Philippines.

#boxing, #duterte-rodrigo, #pacquiao-manny, #philippines

Boxer Manny Pacquiao Joins Filipino Presidential Race

The country’s best-known athlete already holds a seat in the Senate and has faced tough opposition from President Rodrigo Duterte.

#boxing, #duterte-rodrigo, #manila-philippines, #pacquiao-manny, #philippines, #politics-and-government, #polls-and-public-opinion

Facebook revamps its business tool lineup following threats to its ad targeting business

Facebook today is announcing the launch of new products and features for business owners, following the threat to its ad targeting business driven by Apple’s new privacy features, which now allow mobile users to opt out of being tracked across their iOS apps. The social networking giant has repeatedly argued that Apple’s changes would impact small businesses that relied on Facebook ads to reach their customers. But it was not successful in getting any of Apple’s changes halted. Instead, the market is shifting to a new era focused more on user privacy, where personalization and targeting are more of an opt-in experience. That’s required Facebook to address its business advertiser base in new ways.

As the ability to track consumers declines — very few consumers are opting into tracking, studies find — Facebook is rolling out new features that will allow businesses to better position themselves in front of relevant audiences. This includes updates that will let them reach customers, advertise to customers, chat with customers across Facebook apps, generate leads, acquire customers and more.

The company earlier this year began testing a way for customers to explore businesses from underneath News Feed posts by tapping on topics they were interested in — like beauty, fitness, and clothing, and explore content from other related businesses. The feature allows people to come across new businesses that may also like, and would allow Facebook to create its own data set of users who like certain types of content. Over time, it could possibly even turn the feature into an ad unit, where businesses could pay for higher placement.

But for the time being, Facebook will expand this feature to more users across the U.S., and launch it in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, and the U.K.

Image Credits: Facebook

Facebook is also making it easier for businesses to chat with customers. They’re already able to buy ads that encourage people to message them on Facebook’s various chat platforms — Messenger, Instagram Direct, or WhatsApp. Now, they’ll be able to choose all the messaging platforms where they’re available, and Facebook will default the chat app showcased in the ad based on where the conversation is most likely to happen.

Image Credits: Facebook

The company will tie WhatsApp to Instagram, as well, as part of this effort. Facebook explains that many businesses market themselves or run shops across Instagram, but rely on WhatsApp to communicate with customers and answer questions. So, Facebook will now allow businesses to add a WhatsApp click-to-chat button to their Instagram profiles.

This change, in particular, represents another move that ties Facebook’s separate apps more closely together, at a time when regulators are considering breaking up Facebook over antitrust concerns. Already, Facebook interconnected Facebook’s Messenger and Instagram messaging services, which would make such a disassembly more complicated. And more recently, it’s begun integrating Messenger directly into Facebook’s platform itself.

Image Credits: Facebook

In a related change, soon businesses will be able to create ads that send users directly to WhatsApp from the Instagram app. (Facebook also already offers ads like this.)

Separately from this news, Facebook announced the launch of a new business directory on WhatsApp, allowing consumers to find shops and services on the chat platform, as well.

Another set of changes being introduced involve an update to Facebook Business Suite. Businesses will be able to manage emails through Inbox and sending remarketing emails; use a new File Manager for creating, managing, and posting content; and access a feature that will allow businesses to test different versions of a post to see which one is most effective.

Image Credits: Facebook

Other new products include tests of paid and organic lead generation tools on Instagram; quote requests on Messenger, where customers answer a few questions prior to their conversations; and a way for small businesses to access a bundle of tools to get started with Facebook ads, which includes a Facebook ad coupon along with free access to QuickBooks for 3 months or free access to Canva Pro for 3 months.

Image Credits: Facebook

Facebook will also begin testing something called “Work Accounts,” which will allow business owners to access their business products, like Business Manager, separately from their personal Facebook account. They’ll be able to manage these accounts on behalf of employees and use single-sign-on integrations.

Work Accounts will be tested through the remainder of the year with a small group of businesses, and Facebook says it expects to expand availability in 2022.

Other efforts it has in store include plans to incorporate more content from creators and local businesses and new features that let users control the content they see, but these changes were not detailed at this time.

Most of the products being announced are either rolling out today or will begin to show up soon.

#advertising-tech, #app-store, #australia, #canada, #canva, #computing, #facebook, #instagram, #ireland, #malaysia, #messenger, #new-zealand, #philippines, #private-message, #singapore, #social, #social-media, #software, #south-africa, #technology, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #whatsapp

Philippines Is Defiant as Hague Court Announces Full Drug War Inquiry

The International Criminal Court will investigate the killings of thousands under President Rodrigo Duterte. His lawyer says it has no authority to do so.

#duterte-rodrigo, #hague-netherlands, #international-criminal-court, #philippines, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings

Students in Philippines Enter Second Year of Remote Schooling

The closure is spawning a backlash in a country where many people do not have access to a computer or the internet at home. Most schools in the United States and Britain have resumed in-person instruction.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #education, #education-k-12, #education-secondary, #far-east-south-and-southeast-asia-and-pacific-areas, #philippines, #viruses

Financial comparison “super app” Jeff raises $1.5M seed extension

Financial services, especially those for people who don’t have access to traditional bank accounts or lines of credit, are proliferating in Southeast Asia. Jeff App wants to give consumers a “super app” where they can compare many financial products and apply for them using the startup’s proprietary data-scoring models. For service providers, Jeff serves as a distribution channel, helping them find and retain customers. The startup announced today it has raised a seed extension of $1.5 million, led by J12 Ventures. Other participants included iSeed Ventures and Toy Ventures, and returning investors EstBAN, Startup Wise Guys and other angels.

The funding brings Jeff’s total raised to about $2.5 million. It announced a $1 million seed round back in March. Founder and chief executive officer Tom Niparts told TechCrunch that Jeff had a net profitable second quarter and wasn’t planning on raising again, but investors were interested because of its strong growth since the beginning of the year. The startup claims that since the end of January, its users have tripled to 700,000, who compared a total of four million products over the past six months.

Founded in 2019, the startup is operational in Vietnam and has applied for a license to launch in Indonesia. It also plans to enter the Philippines in the third quarter. Part of the funding will be used to increase Jeff’s team from about 15 people now to more than 40 employees for its offices in Latvia and Southeast Asia.

Before launching Jeff, Niparts was CEO of Spain for Digital Finance International, a fintech company that is part of the Finstar Financial Group. During that time, Niparts saw that in many Southeast Asian countries, people struggled to get loans not because of their credit history or income, but because they simply didn’t have enough personal financial data. Jeff was created to develop alternative data scoring models for financial services.

Niparts said Jeff’s goal is to become a main distribution channel for financial services in Southeast Asia and the top place for consumers to compare products and apply for them.

One of the reasons Jeff enjoyed strong growth during the first half of this year was by honing its user acquisition strategy in Vietnam. At first, it relied on global channels for user acquisition, like Google and Facebook ads, but now its top acquisition channel is through partnering with local affiliates, including bloggers and social media influencers who have grown considerable followings with educational content about finances.

“What we were surprised about is that in Europe, for instance, TikTok would never work for financial services, but in Vietnam we saw that it is a pretty amazing channel,” said Niparts.

While one of Jeff’s main features is loan comparison, the company has started expanding its offerings because most people only borrow money once in a while.

To create incentives to return to Jeff, instead of offloading the app once they secure a loan, Jeff is also offering coupons, like Shopee discounts and planning to launch telecom top-ups with cashback offers and a user referral functionality. It is also working on neobank and mobile wallet comparisons, payment functionalities, installment financing, services for micro-to small-sized merchants and a data science model to increase conversions for providers.

#alternative-credit-scoring, #asia, #financial-aggregator, #financial-services, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #jeff, #jeff-app, #loan-comparisons, #philippines, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #vietnam

President Duterte Plans to Run for the Vice Presidency

The president of the Philippines says he’ll run for the vice presidency next year. Critics see a plot to avoid prosecution for the killings in his drug war.

#duterte-rodrigo, #elections, #philippines, #politics-and-government

Spotify expands its radio DJ-like format, Music + Talk, to global creators

Last fall, Spotify introduced a new format that combined spoken word commentary with music, allowing creators to reproduce the  radio-like experience of listening to a DJ or music journalist who shared their perspective on the tracks they would then play. Today, the company is making the format, which it calls “Music + Talk,” available to global creators through its podcasting software Anchor.

Creators who want to offer this sort of blended audio experience can now do so by using the new “Music” tool in Anchor, which provides access to Spotify’s full catalog of 70 million tracks that they can insert into their spoken-word audio programs. Spotify has said this new type of show will continue to compensate the artist when the track is streamed, the same as it would elsewhere on Spotify’s platform. In addition, users can also interact with the music content within the shows as they would otherwise — by liking the song, viewing more information about the track, saving the song, or sharing it, for example.

The shows themselves, meanwhile, will be available to both free and Premium Spotify listeners. Paying subscribers will hear the full tracks when listening to these shows, but free users will only hear a 30-second preview of the songs, due to licensing rights.

The format is somewhat reminiscent of Pandora’s Stories, which was also a combination of music and podcasting, introduced in 2019. However, in Pandora’s case, the focus had been on allowing artists to add their own commentary to music — like talking about the inspiration for a song — while Spotify is making it possible for anyone to annotate their favorite playlists with audio commentary.

Since launching last year, the product has been tweaked somewhat in response to user feedback, Spotify says. The shows now offer clearer visual distinction between the music and talk segments during an episode, and they include music previews on episode pages.

The ability to create Music + Talk shows was previously available in select markets ahead of this global rollout, including in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

With the expansion, creators in a number of other major markets are now gaining access, including Japan, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia. Alongside the expansion, Spotify’s catalog of Music + Talk original programs will also grow today, as new shows from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, India, Japan, and the Philippines will be added.

Spotify will also begin to more heavily market the feature with the launch of its own Spotify Original called “Music + Talk: Unlocked,” which will offer tips and ideas for creators interested in trying out the format.

#argentina, #artist, #australia, #brazil, #canada, #chile, #colombia, #france, #germany, #india, #indonesia, #ireland, #italy, #japan, #media, #mexico, #microsoft-windows, #netherlands, #new-zealand, #operating-systems, #pandora, #philippines, #podcast, #software, #spain, #spotify, #sweden, #united-kingdom, #united-states

A close look at Singapore’s thriving startup ecosystem

Singapore is home to fewer than six million people, making it one of the smallest ASEAN countries, in terms of population. It is a young country as well — having gained independence in 1963 — and resides in a neighborhood with far larger economies, including China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. When the country first became independent, its mandate was to simply survive rather than thrive.

So how does a country evolve from a position of relative uncertainty, with comparatively few resources, to one that leads the ASEAN region in venture capital investment and has been home to 10 unicorns?

Countries around the world examine Singapore’s ecosystem from a distance, hoping to learn from, and emulate, its story. The World Bank Group recently published a report, The Evolution and State of Singapore’s Start-up Ecosystem, documenting the country’s experience in building its startup ecosystem and the challenges facing it.

This article presents an overview of the report’s key findings and offers a few key recommendations on what other countries can learn from Singapore’s experience, as well as what Singapore itself can do to maintain progress.

A glimpse into Singapore’s current startup ecosystem

As of 2019, Singapore had over $19 billion in PE and VC assets under management, more than twice that of neighboring Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand combined. In that same year, the country was home to an estimated 3,600 tech startups and nearly 200 different intermediary and supporting organizations (accelerators, co-working spaces, coding academies, etc.) – some which have a multinational presence, such as Blk71, whose Singapore headquarters has been referred to as “the world’s most tightly packed entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

While assessing the size and strength of startup ecosystems is an evolving method, Start-up Genome priced Singapore’s ecosystem at over $25 billion, five times the global median.

Arguably, the most eye-catching hallmark of this ecosystem is its population of current and former unicorns. Collectively, Singapore has been home to ten unicorns, three of which have offered an IPO (Nanofilm, Razer and Sea) and two of which have been acquired – one by giant Alibaba (Lazada) and one by Chinese streaming powerhouse YY (Bigo Live). The remaining five are Trax, Acronis, JustCo, PatSnap, and Grab – the ASEAN region’s largest unicorn to date.


The education sector is also prominent in Singapore’s ecosystem. Universities like the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) are deeply embedded into this ecosystem, helping with R&D commercialization linkages, incubation, talent/knowledge transfer, and other areas.

So, how did Singapore’s startup ecosystem come to be?

Numerous factors have contributed to building Singapore’s startup ecosystem, with government intervention and leadership being the dominant driving forces. The government has spent more than USD60 billion over the past several decades to enhance the country’s R&D infrastructure, create VC funds, and launch accelerators and other support organizations.

#alibaba, #asia, #china, #column, #coworking, #ec-column, #ec-southeast-asia-oceania, #funding, #government, #indonesia, #malaysia, #philippines, #razer, #singapore, #startup-ecosystem, #startups, #tc, #thailand, #unicorn, #vc, #venture-capital, #venture-capital-investment, #vietnam, #world-bank

After Years of Chinese Influence, U.S. Tries to Renew Ties in Southeast Asia

Lloyd J. Austin III, the American defense secretary, became the first high-ranking official in the Biden administration to travel to a region that has long received close attention from Beijing.

#austin-lloyd-j-iii, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #china, #philippines, #south-china-sea, #united-states-international-relations

Inked Mummies, Linking Tattoo Artists With Their Ancestors

As scientists find more tattoos on preserved remains from Indigenous cultures, artists living today are drawing from them to revive cultural traditions.

#archaeology-and-anthropology, #arctic-regions, #greenland, #indigenous-people, #mummies-and-mummification, #native-americans, #philippines, #tattoos, #women-and-girls, #your-feed-science

E-commerce logistics startup Locad gets $4.5M seed round led by Sequoia Capital India

E-commerce is booming in Southeast Asia, but in many markets, the fragmented logistics industry is struggling to catch up. This means sellers run into roadblocks when shipping to buyers, especially outside of major metropolitan areas, and managing their supply chains. Locad, a startup that wants to help with what it describes as an “end-to-end solution” for cross-border e-commerce companies, announced today it has raised a $4.5 million seed round.

The funding was led by Sequoia Capital India’s Surge (Locad is currently a part of the program’s fifth cohort), with participation from firms like Antler, Febe Ventures, Foxmont, GFC and Hustle Fund. It also included angel investors Alessandro Duri, Alexander Friedhoff, Christian Weiss, Henry Ko, Huey Lin, Markus Bruderer, Dr. Markus Erken, Max Moldenhauer, Oliver Mickler, Paulo Campos, Stefan Mader, Thibaud Lecuyer, Tim Marbach and Tim Seithe.

Locad was founded in Singapore and Manila by Constantin Robertz, former Zalora director of operations Jannis Dargel and Shrey Jain, previously Grab’s lead product manager of maps. It now also has offices in Australia, Hong Kong and India. The startup’s goal is to close the gap between first-mile and last-mile delivery services, enabling e-commerce companies to offer lower shipping rates and faster deliveries while freeing up more time for other parts of their operations, such as marketing and sales conversions.

Since its founding in October 2020, Locad has been used by more than 30 brands and processed almost 600,000 items. Its clients range from startups to international brands, and include Mango, Vans, Payless Shoes, Toshiba and Landmark, a department store chain in the Philippines.

Locad is among a growing roster of other Southeast Asia-based logistics startups that have recently raised funding, including Kargo, SiCepat, Advotics and Logisly. Locad wants to differentiate by providing a flexible solution that can work with any sales channel and is integrated with a wide range of shipping providers.

Robertz told TechCrunch that Locad is able to keep an asset-light business model by partnering with warehouse operators and facility managers. What the startup brings to the mix is a cloud software platform that serves as a “control tower,” letting users get real-time information about inventory and orders across Locad’s network. The company currently has seven fulfillment centers, with four of its warehouses in the Philippines and the other three in Singapore, New South Wales, Australia and Hong Kong. Part of its funding will be used to expand into more Asia-Pacific markets, focusing on Southeast Asia and Australia.

Locad’s seed round will also used to add integrations to more couriers and sales channels (it can already be used with platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, Amazon, Shopee, Lazada and Zalora), and develop new features for its cloud platform, including more data analytics.


#asia-pacific, #australia, #e-commerce, #ecommerce, #fulfillment, #fundings-exits, #locad, #logistics, #philippines, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

PayMaya owner Voyager Innovation raises $167M from KKR, Tencent and IFC, to launch digital bank in the Philippines

Voyager Innovations, the Manila-based owner of PayMaya, one of the Philippines’ most popular payment and financial services apps, announced today it has raised $167 million in new funding to launch more financial services, including a digital bank.

The raise includes $121 million in new funding, and $46 million from previously committed funds. Voyager announced in April 2020 that it had secured up to $120 million in investment commitments from PLDT, KKR, Tencent, the International Finance Group (IFC) and the IFC Emerging Asia Fund.

The latest capital came from existing shareholders PLDT, one of the country’s largest telecoms, KKR and Tencent, and new investors including IFC Financial Institutions Growth Fund, managed by IFC AMC, a member of the World bank Group (another one of Voyager’s investors).

Voyager’s total raised since 2018 now stands at $452 million.

Along with competitors GCash and Coins, PayMaya is one of the most popular financial “super apps” in the Philippines. Its services include a digital wallet, online remittances, bill payments, bank transfers, prepaid cards and an e-commerce feature called PayMaya Mall that connects consumers to 350 merchants.

In its funding announcement today, Voyager said it has applied for a digital bank license with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Philippines’ central bank. A representative for the Voyager said the neobank will launch about six months after Voyager secures its license.

PayMaya has more than 250,000 digital-finance access touchpoints, like convenience stores, where users can top-up their accounts. Voyager says this is seven times the number of ATM and bank branches in the Philippines, making PayMaya more accessible than traditional banks, especially in remote or rural areas.

According to the BSP, about 71% of Filipinos were unbanked as of 2019. The BSP has set financial inclusion goals it wants to achieve by 2023, including onboarding 70% of Filipino adults to payment or transaction accounts, and converting 50% of total retail payments into digital form.

PayMaya and Smart Padala by PayMaya, its remittance service, claim its total registered users doubled over 18 months to 38 million as of June 2021. This year, Voyager also began expanding PayMaya’s services with working capital loans for micro- to mid-sized businesses through PayMaya Lending Corp, and PayMaya Protect insurance policies for health coverage and devices.

#asia, #digital-bank, #financial-services, #fundings-exits, #ifc, #kkr, #neobank, #paymaya, #philippines, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #tencent, #voyager-innovations

Benigno S. Aquino III, Ex-President of the Philippines, Is Dead at 61

A scion to the country’s most prominent pro-democracy political family, he was celebrated early in his administration for stabilizing the country’s faltering economy.

#aquino-benigno-s-iii, #deaths-obituaries, #philippines, #politics-and-government

GrowSari, a B2B platform for small stores in the Philippines, adds investors like Temasek’s Pavilion Capital and Tencent

Sari-sari stores are neighborhood stores in the Philippines that usually sell daily necessities and sometimes serve as community hubs, too. Today GrowSari, a startup that is digitizing sari-sari stores with features like pricing tools, inventory management and working capital loans, announced it has raised a Series B from several notable investors that brings its total funding to $30 million.

The company’s Series B is at a rolling close, so it has not announced a final amount. The $30 million total it has raised include its seed funding and Series A, which according to a July 2020 profile in Esquire Philippines was $14 million. Participants in its Series B included Temasek Holdings’ private equity unit Pavilion Capital, Tencent, International Finance Corporation (IFC), ICCP SBI Venture Partners and Saison Capital, and returning investors Robinsons Retail Holdings (which is part of the Gokongwei Group), JG Digital Equity Ventures and Wavemaker Partners.

GrowSari was founded in 2016, and says its B2B platform is currently used by more than 50,000 stores in over 100 municipalities on Luzon, the Philippines’ largest and most populated island. Its ultimate goal is to serve one million sari-sari stores.

According to GrowSari, there are more than 1.1 million sari-sari stores in the Philippines, and they account for 60% of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sold in the country, making them a valuable distribution channel for wholesalers. In addition to its supplier marketplace, GrowSari says it is able to give sari-sari store operators better pricing for products from about a thousand FMCG brands, including Unilever, P&G and Nestle, which it claims can help stores double their earnings. Other services in the app include online telecom and utility bill payments, remittance and microfinancing for working capital loans.

GrowSari’s founding tDeam includes Reymund Rollan, Shiv Choudhury, Siddhartha Kongara and Andrzej Ogonowski, who first launched the platform as a backend system for sari-sari stores to manage their logistics and inventory.

A screenshot of product categories in GrowSari's app

A screenshot of product categories in GrowSari’s app

Since most sari-sari stores are run individually, their margins are smaller than large retailers that can negotiate deals with FMCG wholesalers. GrowSari’s supplier marketplace addresses this issue by giving sari-sari stores access the Distributor List Prices seen by large stores and wholesalers. GrowSari’s marketplace does not require a minimum order, and it allows sari-sari stores on the platform to pay with cash on delivery, GrowCoins (or cash credits that can be topped up through GrowSari’s shippers, online transfers, banks or over-the-counter at convenience stores) or E-Lista, GrowSari’s seven-day loan product.

GrowSari’s new capital will be used to expand its userbase to 300,000 new stores in the Philippines, especially in Visayas and Mindanao, increase the size of its supplier marketplace and launch more financial products for sari-sari stores. The startup is part of a new crop of B2B platforms in Asia focused on serving micro to small-enterprises, including BukuWarung and BukuKas in Indonesia and Khatabook in India.

#asia, #b2b, #fmcg, #fundings-exits, #growsari, #msmes, #pavilion-capital, #philippines, #sari-sari, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #tencent

Ex-Mayor on Duterte’s ‘Narco Politician’ List Is Killed in the Philippines

The death came three days after the International Criminal Court’s departing chief prosecutor requested a full investigation into the bloody war on drugs in the Philippines.

#deaths-fatalities, #drug-abuse-and-traffic, #duterte-rodrigo, #international-criminal-court, #mayors, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #philippines, #police