Driver-Only Car Ban on Manila’s EDSA

A heads up for commuters that the Manila’s Car Park From Hell – otherwise known as EDSA (Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare) – is currently undergoing a trial banning driver-only vehicles during peak hours.

The Metro Manila Council approved the ban on August 7th and ‘peak hours’ are defined as 7am – 10am & 6pm – 9pm (weekdays). A ‘dry run’ is currently underway with the full implementation expected on 23rd August.

There’s still a lot of uncertainty as to how the ban will be enforced but penalties of PHP1000 will be likely. Grab and other ride share drivers will still be able to enter EDSA to pick up but it must be from “the nearest” entry and, after drop-off, exit EDSA at “the first exit”.




A Quick Word About Safety in Manila

For some reason, I’ve had a lot of questions lately about personal safety in Manila and the Philippines more generally. Mainly from people who are considering visiting for holiday or work but have been ‘warned’ about safety, often by friends or relatives who last visited during the Marcos era.

The security situation in Manila especially is very much exaggerated – frankly, I feel safer walking around Manila at 2 in the morning than in my home town of Melbourne. Except for a number of war-torn provinces in Mindanao where the military have been clashing with Muslim extremists for decades, the Philippines is generally a very safe place to be and, petty crime aside, the risk of physical violence or danger is extremely low. The chances of falling victim to property or violent crime are minimal if you stay alert, are observant of your surroundings and don’t flaunt your valuables.

That said, there are a few specific points to be aware of: Continue reading “A Quick Word About Safety in Manila”

The Philippines’ top court hears arguments for legalisation of same sex marriage

This week, in an historic first, the Philippines Supreme Court is hearing arguments for the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

In a move that’s surprising to some, President Duterte has expressed his in-principle support to same sex unions.

Philippines Innovative Startup Act

Last week (May 16th) the Philippines Senate passed the Innovative Startup Act, a measure which aims to give local business entrepreneurs a better chance of succeeding in the industry by providing tax breaks and other forms of assistance.

Senate Bill No. 1532, authored by Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, seeks to support innovative startups through financial subsidies like tax breaks and grants, easier business registration procedures and technical assistance and training programs.

Innovative startups will enjoy exemption from fees and charges for the use of equipment, facilities and other services from government agencies such as testing and fabrication facilities.

Under the bill, the benefits will include: (1) waived application fees; (2) Refund of fees for the permits and certificates; and (3) Expedited processing of permits and certificates.

The measure also includes a provision for Ten Billion-Peso Innovative Startup Venture Fund that entrepreneurs can apply for. This fund will be administered by the Department of Science and Technology.

Other benefits include research and development grants, exemption from fees and charges, exemption from fees and charges levied by the national government agencies for the use of equipment, facilities, or services availed by the innovative startup, access to applicable benefits and incentives provided by the Intellectual Property of the Philippines; and Subsidy for Visa application, renewal, or extension of foreign owners, employees, and/or investors of an innovative startup and support service provider, and exemption from the alien employment permit.

Contact me for further information or assistance in applying.

Australian Innovation Summit in the Philippines

Australia’s Ambassador to the Philippines, Her Excellency Amanda Gorely welcomes invitees to the Australian Innovation Summit in the Philippines today.

The focus of the summit is FinTech, Digital Commerce, Cybersecurity, Digital Health, and Edutech and it’s great to be here on what is also Philippines-Australia Friendship Day!

Boracay Closed to Tourism for 6 Months

Boracay in central Philippines and one of the most famous and well visited holiday spots in the country will be closed to tourism for at least the next 6 months.

With well over 2 million visitors in 2017 in an area of just 4 square km’s, Boracay has been getting increasingly crowded and infrastructure strained over the past few years. For those who’ve been there recently it’s, frankly, starting to resemble the Aussie Bogans’ playground of Kuta in Bali (The Ugly Australian is such a blight on our beautiful island neighbour that even Australians pause before booking a holiday there.”). To be fair, the issues in Boracay are related more to genuine infrastructure capacity, rather than the Aussie tendency to foul their own nests. But I digress…………

President Duterte issued the order in February (“I’ll give you six months……Clean the goddamn thing!”). Residents will be allowed to come and go, but both local and foreign tourists will be blocked at the mainland ferry port starting April 26. The nearby airports of Caticlan and Kalibo will continue operating as they are located on the mainland, but Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air have both confirmed they will offer refunds and rebooking.