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Philippines Today



(Photo from Instagram | @bernardokath)


There’s a scary series being shown every night on prime time television and yet despite of the vampire’s pangs and the maddening wolves, it is ironically and surprisingly getting raves and top ratings.


This show on ABS-CBN is “La Luna Sangre” which sees the return to television on a lead role of actor Richard Gutierrez, once a matinee idol, and in a supporting role singer Randy Santiago.


Richard’s new role is poles away from his previous shows and movies as he stars in “La Luna Sangre” as the “Supremo,” the leader of the vampires.


Initially, the show also featured top actors John Lloyd Cruz and Angel Locsin as Mateo and Lia.


What made the show really tiqued to nationwide and global viewers?


Some big factors are the story, superb cinematography and the fantastic work of award-winning director Cathy Garcia Molina.


La Luna Sangre is actually a horror-fantasy drama television series which is the third installment of the top rating show “Lobo” and the sequel to “Imortal.”


But many viewers credit the initial success of the show to the outstanding performance of actress Kathryn Bernardo.


The Box Office Queen is the top star of the show as Malia, playing a breathtaking action role as “the chosen one,” a big departure from the love stories she was previously known and became popular.


Kathryn appears with her perennial leading man Daniel Padilla, who plays Tristan, and together is showcasing their fiercer and bolder side in the fantasy-action serye, according to columnist Isah Red.


Kathryn reportedly shot daring scenes without a double as the show made its debut on prime time on June 26.


Reviews of the show indicated that Kathryn was most lauded during her performance on the June 28 episode with her enviable stunts and notable acting skills. The latter episode showed her character Malia being beaten up real hard in order to unleash her powers as the “Bagong Itinakda.”


Professor and columnist Isah Red wrote that netizens even raved about how she approached the said scene with some even calling her “The Best Actress of her generation” for “establishing herself with her astounding acting prowess.”


Kathryn, one of the country’s bankable actresses, revealed her versatility in the succeeding episodes even further as she nailed the combination of the action, drama and comedy scenes, it was reported.


Angel Locsin, who portrayed the role of Lia in the last I- installment, even praised Kathryn for being “on fire” as Malia.


Touted as “The Newest Primetime Action Queen,” Kathryn mentally and physically prepared for Malia by undergoing combat trainings like pekiti tirsia kali and wushu for the action scenes, according to producers of the show. 


“Kathryn had drop her soft side since pekiti is a style of fighting that combines the use of arnis and daggers with close-combat maneuvers. She also had to learn to move with certain firmness while training in wushu as it helped in the choreography for big action movements,” the report added.


It was reported that the show was able to sustain its lead against its competition with steady 30s in ratings. Its second day garnered a 35 percent rating, it had 33.6 percent on Wednesday, and 33.9 percent on Thursday. The action-packed pilot week ended with the show’s record high of 35.2 percent on Friday.


The show’s June 26 episode, which happened to be the first day of Kathryn and Daniel’s appearance complete with action scenes garnered a total of 34.5 ratings, according to the report.


 Since that episode, Kathryn and Daniel proved their bankability in primetime as the ratings stayed steadily in the 30s. For Tuesday the show had 34 percent ratings. By Wednesday the show had 32.8 percent, but it soared again on the following day to 35.1 percent and ended on a good note with 32.8 percent on Friday. The new week started with 34.8 percent ratings based on Kantar National TV Ratings. 


Since its debut, “La Luna Sangre” has been a nightly topic in social media as it dominated the Twitter trending topics. The show not only raked in viewership on TV but even on the ABS-CBN content platform iWant TV. Two weeks in and La Luna Sangre has topped the Most Popular Shows chart in iWant TV with a roughly 2.5 million views, the columnist wrote.


The supporting case of the show includes Ina Raymundo, Isabelle Daza, Victor Neri, Randy Santiago, Gelli de Belen, Sam Pinto, Dino Imperial, Polo Ravales, Noel Trinidad, former Senator Freddie Webb and Maymay Entrata.


Special guests are Albert Martinez, Romnick Sarmienta, Tanya Garcia, Wowie de Guzman, Geoff Eigenman, Khalil Ramos, Arci Munoz, Maricar Reyes, Teresa Loyzaga and Danita Paner.


Central bank chief allays fears on peso performance

Published in Business

MANILA — Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said there is nothing to worry in the current performance of the peso despite its nearly 11-year low close to a greenback Thursday.


The peso finished Thursday at 50.67, slightly weaker than its 50.60 finish a day ago and already near its 50.73 close on Sept.1, 2006.


Espenilla said “the latest peso movements broadly reflect prevailing market conditions and underlying economic fundamentals” and is “in line with BSP exchange rate policy.”


“BSP is, nevertheless, actively managing excessive volatility. This is business as usual,” he said.


The central bank chief traced the peso’s weakness to the normalization of US interest rates.


”There is also growing policy convergence with Europe and even Japan,” he added.


The Fed has increased its key rates by a total of 100 basis points since December 2015, after keeping rates between zero to 0.25 percent starting December 2008.


Its Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) hiked key rates by 25 basis points each in December 2015, December 2016, and March and June 2017 on continued improvement of the world’s largest economy.


Fed Chair Janet Yellen, after the Committee’s meeting last June 13-14 also announced the possibility of scaling back the central bank’s balance sheet.


Based on the minutes of the Committee’s meeting last June, which was released Wednesday, FOMC members are united in the proposal to reduce the Fed’s securities holdings and this, a trader said, further backed the US dollar against other currencies in Asia, among others.


The trader added that any cut in the Fed’s balance sheets is equivalent to a rate hike.

PHL is fiscally secure — Dominguez

Published in Business

MANILA — The Philippines is now “fiscally secure” and its government ready to fund its ambitious infrastructure program that will sustain the economy’s growth momentum and dramatically bring down poverty incidence to 14 percent by 2022, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.


From the time President took over in July 2016 to May 2017, revenue collections increased to P2.09 trillion, up 7 percent from higher than the same period in the previous year, in part because of the administrative reforms put in place in the Bureaus of Internal Revenue (BIR) and of Customs (BOC), Dominguez said.


He said the approval by the Congress of the Duterte administration’s first tax reform package — the proposed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN)--will ensure a steady revenue flow for the government’s massive infrastructure buildup and guarantee a “breakout growth rate” of above 7 percent that will be sustained over the medium term.


This robust pace of growth will, in turn, enable the government to pull down the poverty rate from 21.6 percent today to a significantly lower 14 percent by the time President Duterte leaves office in 2022, making the benefits of growth inclusive for all Filipinos, Dominguez said.


“Even at this earlier stage in our reform effort, you can distinctly hear the tiger roar. We are on the path towards a modern, investment-led and trade-driven economy,” said Dominguez at a Malacanang press briefing where he highlighted the first-year accomplishments of the Duterte administration on the fiscal and economic fronts.


Dominguez thanked the House of Representatives for its overwhelming support for TRAIN, which was approved by the chamber with a 246-9 vote last May 31.


The bill’s approval by a vast majority of the House members “shows how seriously they consider the tax reform because it benefits the far majority of Filipinos, and everyone wants to see the economy grow and benefit them in the coming years,” Dominguez said.


“This is an important milestone signaling a strong possibility that this package may be enacted into law shortly after Congress resumes this July,” the finance chief said.


He said the administration and its partners in civil society and the private sector would work hard to ensure that the Senate passes a tax reform package consistent with the proposal endorsed by the Department of Finance (DOF) after the Legislature reopens its session on July 24, especially after the President certified the bill as an urgent and priority measure before the end of the first regular session of the 17th Congress.


“We take heart at the fact the passage of the tax reform measure was welcomed by nearly all stakeholders: businesses, international development partners, credit rating agencies and, most of all, wage earners,” Dominguez said.


He said “The package accomplishes the dual goals of increasing disposable income for our workers and increasing spending for the poor” and is “a win-win package for our people.”


Dominguez cited the GDP’s robust 6.68 percent growth rate for the first nine months of the Duterte administration, which is faster than the expansion rates in all other previous administrations; the growth in investments spurred by low and stable interest rates; the average inflation rate of 2.64 percent in the first 11 month of the Duterte presidency, and the decline in the debt-to-GDP ratio from 43 percent as of the end-June 2016 to 41.9 percent by the end-March 2017 as among the key factors showing that the government is on track to meet its economic targets.


As a comparison, GDP growth for the first nine months was 4.69 percent in the presidency of Corazon Aquino and 2.10 percent under President Ramos. For the same period, it was 0.17 percent under President Joseph Estrada; 3.0 percent, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; and 5.98 percent, Benigno Aquino III.


“We are on our way towards achieving the growth breakout our strategy aspires for,” he said.


“The broader economic strategy is bearing fruit. GDP grew by 6.68 percent during the first 3 quarters, faster than all other administrations. We expect to grow close to the targeted 7 percent through the year,” Dominguez said.


In the first 9 months of the Duterte administration, T-Bill rates averaged 2 percent, the lowest of all previous administrations despite the start of rate normalization undertaken by the US Federal Reserve, while the average inflation rate for the first 11 months stood at 2.64 percent, also the lowest registered in all previous administrations, Dominguez said.


He said the reduced debt load would allow the government “enough flexibility to pump prime our economy” when complemented by a tax reform package that provides funds for the Duterte administration’s planned unprecedented spending on infrastructure, education, health and social protection for the poorest of the poor.


The TRAIN bill approved by the House slashes personal income tax rates for 83 percent of Filipinos to enable them to increase their disposable income, which, in turn, will drive the growth of the domestic market.


TRAIN also provides for complementary measures expected to raise additional revenues for the government estimated at PHP133.8 billion in 2018.


At the same time, reforms in tax administration are now being implemented in the BIR and BOC, such as the expansion of the Large Taxpayers Service to closely monitor large businesses, and the strengthening of anti-smuggling capabilities, Dominguez said.


“We are bringing in all the powers of modern information technology to make electronic governance real and ensure a sustainable fiscal position. We are continuously fighting red tape and improving our economy’s competitiveness,” he added.

PHL foreign reserves reach $81.4 B

Published in Business

MANILA — Foreign currency reserves of the Philippines reached USD81.4 billion as of end-June 2017, a three-month low, but still higher than the revised full-year target of US$80.5 billion.


Data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) show that the foreign reserves of the country at the end of the first half of the year is lower than last May’s US$82.18 billion and year-ago’s US$85.28 billion.


BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr., in a statement, traced the decline of the reserves to the central bank’s foreign exchange operations, payments made by the national government of its maturing foreign debt and decline in the value of central bank’s gold holdings, with the latter due to drop of gold prices in the international market.


He said the country’s current level of foreign reserves was equivalent to cover 8.7 months’ worth of imports of goods and payments of services and primary income, higher than the 8.3 months’ worth of cover of the full-year target.


The latest foreign reserves, on the other hand, got a boost from net foreign currency deposits by the national government and income from the central bank’s investments overseas, he said.


During the same period, net international reserves (NIR) or the difference between the central bank’s foreign reserves and total short-term debt, amounted to USD81.39 billion from the previous month’s US$82.16 billion.

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