SSS to pay higher funeral grants

THE Social Security System (SSS) announced it will be paying higher funeral benefits starting next month following the approval by President Benigno Aquino III of the benefit enhancement program.

Under SSS Circular 2015-009 issued recently, the state-agency will increase funeral benefits from “a fixed amount of P20,000 to a variable amount ranging from a minimum of P20,000 to a maximum of P40,000,” depending on the member’s number of contributions and average monthly salary credit (AMSC).

Agnes San Jose, SSS vice president for benefits administration, said the increase will apply for all funeral benefit claims with date of contingency from Aug. 1, 2015 onwards.

San Jose said that new funeral benefits will be calculated using the fixed amount of P20,000 plus a percentage of a member’s total contributions and AMSC.

“The proposal to increase funeral benefits came about after our study revealed that the costs of burial services have climbed to an average of more than P40,000 or twice the current fixed amount of benefit SSS disburses for funeral claims,” San Jose said.

SSS funeral benefit is a cash grant given to whoever defrayed the cost of funeral expenses of the deceased SSS member.

At present, the amount of benefit is pegged at P20,000 regardless of the member’s number of contributions.

The new computation, which was formulated by the SSS Actuarial Department, will give due credit to members who are paying more number of contributions and with higher monthly salary credits, the official stated.

“To illustrate, a member who has paid one to 19 contributions with an AMSC of P10,000 would receive a benefit ranging from P20,000 to P20,999. While a member with at least 267 contributions and an AMSC of at least P15,000 would be entitled to a maximum benefit of P40,000,” San Jose said.

As a result of the increase, funeral claims is projected to go up by almost 12 percent or P332 million per year. SSS estimates that 50 percent of total funeral claims will be higher than P20,000 per claim.

SSS funeral benefit payouts as of April 2015 totaled P1.01 billion, which is 2.4 percent higher than the P987 million paid during the same period in 2014.

San Jose, however, assured that the increase will not impair the viability of the SSS funds and will not require a contribution rate hike.

“Funeral benefit disbursements account for only three percent of the total annual benefit payouts of the SSS, so its impact will be minimal,” she said, citing the recent actuarial study conducted by the SSS. “As long as the actuarial soundness of the SSS funds are guaranteed, we will not hesitate to implement any feasible increases in benefits, including the addition of new ones.”

Marco Polo Plaza awarded for eco-friendly campaign

Commendation. Organizers of Industry-Enviro Congress honor Marco Polo Plaza Cebu with a natural resource efficiency award for using natural resources as means of generating power and saving energy. (Contributed Foto)

Commendation. Organizers of Industry-Enviro Congress honor Marco Polo Plaza Cebu with a natural resource efficiency award for using natural resources as means of generating power and saving energy. (Contributed Foto)

MARCO Polo Plaza Cebu received one of the 2015 awards for climate-resilient and eco-friendly companies during the Industry-Enviro Congress organized by the Environmental Management Board, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Tourism and the Department of Energy last June 30.

The natural resource efficiency award was given to Marco Polo Plaza because of its effort to use natural resources as means of generating power and saving energy.

For example, the hotel has installed water saving methods to decrease consumption using facilities that is activated through solar power. It also recently converted 85 percent of the ordinary lights to LED lights, thus, reducing carbon footprint.

Part of Marco Polo Plaza’s policy is to conserve and preserve natural resources for the benefit of its community and the people around it.

The hotel is also active in tree-planting activities and feeding programs. It annually supports the Tree of Hope advocacy and has campaigns on saving the Philippine Eagle.

The technical department, under the leadership of Marco Polo Plaza’s technical manager Engr. Marlon Pilante and technical operations administrator Dorothea Moras Adlawan, has consistently been pouring their efforts in producing a sustainable and eco-friendly work environment.

For more information, call (032) 253-1111 or visit www.marcopoloplazacebu.com.

For real time updates, like the Facebook page at facebook.com/marcopolocebu or follow on Twitter at @5StarInCebu.

MCCI sets fashion walk on Aug. 16

JOIN the Winners Fashion Walk on Aug. 16 at the Parkmall in Mandaue City. Assembly is at 5:30 a.m., and gun start is at 6:30 a.m.

There will be 2K and 3K categories for the event, with P200 registration fee for either of the two categories. This will include race number, fashionable headwear, finisher’s kit and refreshments.

The event is for the benefit of the Women in Need Now Entrepreneurs and Role Models (Winners) in Mandaue, as proceeds from the fashion walk will be used to build a training center for them.

The benefit walk is open to women of all ages, who could walk in their most fashionable attire paired with comfortable footwear. There will also be various activities like zumba, free health check-up, among others, on that day.

The fashion walk is organized by the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry in celebration of this year’s Cebu Business Month, in partnership with the Cebu Province and the City of Mandaue and in cooperation with Clothes for Life.

Interested participants may register starting today, July 31, up to Aug. 15 at the RUNNR (Ayala Center Cebu on Saturdays and Sundays only), Parkmall entrance (near Family Appliance), and MCCI Office at second floor, room 205, FCB Financial Center Building, Alang-Alang, Mandaue.

Special prizes await the most fashionable walkers-best in gown will receive P5,000; P4,000 for best in cocktail dress; and P3,000 for best in casual dress.

For more information, contact MCCI secretariat at 343-3491 or 236-8245.

FamilyMart opens in Cebu today!

FamilyMart, one of the world’s largest convenience store retailers, will simultaneously open five stores in Cebu to mark its much-awaited arrival in the Visayas region.

FamilyMart launches today its first stores outside Luzon through its territorial franchisee, Family Table Inc. Opening this week are FamilyMart stores located in Arc One Capitol Square in Escario, Streetscape Banilad, and eBloc Towers 1, 2 and 3 in Cebu I.T. Park.

“We are happy to be part of the family and very excited to give residents of Cebu the most well-thought-of convenience store experience with quality offerings coupled with cozy interiors and a dedicated and passionate service team,” shared Allen Arvin A. Tan, president and managing director of Family Table Inc.

Established in 1973, FamilyMart is the first Japanese-owned convenience store chain to go global and currently operates over 16,000 stores including the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and the US.

Having pioneered the “convenience industry,” FamilyMart is committed to offering quality service and merchandise in accordance with its focus on a fresh and fun experience for its customers.

“The launch of our Cebu stores means we get to serve more Filipinos looking for a different experience when going to a convenience store. Aside from unique offerings, we want to offer an experiential process that elevates it to something more”, said Eduardo Paredes Jr., Philippine Family Mart general manager.

FamilyMart has established its niche for high quality products, customer service and overall experience.

A popular favorite is the signature Twirl All-You-Can soft serve ice cream in green tea and black sesame.

Fresh Japanese selections include sushi, onigiri and ramen while the Fresh N’ Lite line promotes a healthy lifestyle without sacrificing flavor with a variety of brown rice meals, pasta and vegetables.

Other palate pleasers include a FamilyMart Collection label that consists of imported snacks including a green tea collection and newly launched bread items.

Enjoy a concert plus lots of exciting treats at FamilyMart’s grand launch today, 4 p.m. at the eBloc Activity Area in Cebu I.T. Park (across The Walk).

Discover FamilyMart’s ready-to-eat meals and snacks at the food booths, enjoy exclusive promos, witness a Dance Showdown by local dance groups and jam to live performances by Yolanda Moon and Up Dharma Down.

For access to the event, head to any FamilyMart store today to get complimentary tickets with a minimum purchase of P200, and a SNAP loyalty card when you purchase a Twirl-All-You-Can. Earn SNAP points to get free treats from FamilyMart.

New and improved Chucks launched

CONVERSE Inc. debuts the new Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II, a contemporary adaptation of the exemplary Chuck Taylor All Star silhouette, for the first time overflowing with innovative Nike Lunarlon technology to support the always-on creative lifestyle.

Details include the unique white foxing, rubber toe-cap and statement All Star patch, while dialing up consumer-led features and benefits to deliver a comfortable and versatile premium sneaker for Chuck Taylor lovers everywhere.

“The Chuck Taylor All Star is one of the most legendary and iconic sneakers of all time,” said Jim Calhoun, Converse president and chief executive officer.

“The launch of Chuck II is a ground-breaking moment for Converse as we continue to move the brand forward through creativity and innovation, ushering in not just a new sneaker, but a completely new way of thinking.”

Since its debut in 1917, the Chuck Taylor All Star has become one of the world’s most celebrated sneakers, with fans, artists and musicians adopting the brand as a badge of creativity and self-expression.

In creating the Chuck II, Converse obsessed over creative spirits around the world joining them on tour, in concert halls and art studios, on sidewalks and at all-night parties.

“The Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II is a sneaker that started with one simple notion: obsession,” said Richard Copcutt, vice president and general manager of Converse All Star.

The new Fall 2015 Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II sneaker debuted last Tuesday for a suggested retail price of P 3,990 for ox and hi-top. It is availabe at Converse retail stores, selected retailers and online at Converse.com.ph, in the following colors: Black, White, Red and Blue.

Kathniel walks Style Origin catwalk

MEN’S wear and high-end fashion took centerstage last July 11 and 12 for the fifth year of Style Origin, the brainchild of Ayala Center Cebu.

Ayala partnered with one of Cebu’s top events company, Bigseed Public Relations and Events, and fashion director Ariel Lozada.

Saturday’s show featured the Menswear Fashion while High Street Fashion took the ramp the next day. Forty local brands and 30 community models, including those imported from Brazil, walked the runway.

“A show is always a suggestion,” said fashion director Ariel Lozada.

It took the organizers three months to come up with the general theme of this year’s Style Origin, which ended up with the “wooden box” concept, which perfectly correlates to Ayala’s concept of being an organic, open-spaced, outdoor mall.

Sunday’s High Street Fashion Show featured ABS-CBN stars Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo, the perfect ending to the two-day event. Joanne Christy Gothong, USC Intern

Lasik Xtra in Cebu

THE Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital’s Center for Sight presents its latest innovation in technology with a new machine called Lasik Xtra.

The Larrazabal Eye Group, helmed by Dr. Yong Larrazabal, in partnership with Swissmed Asia, presented the latest innovation in optic technology last July 18.

“We continue to bring the best technology to Visayas and Mindanao,” Dr. Yong Larrazabal said

Avedro, a medical company that advances corneal cross-linking technology, provides ophthalmologists the experience and assurance to improve their practice and take even better care of their patients.

The Lasik Xtra procedure enhances the cornea’s biochemical integrity, which reduces the amount of refractive regression.

Lasik Xtra is performed within five to seven minutes during Lasik eye surgery to effectively lock in the Lasik correction, providing improved procedure accuracy and longer term stability.

With Center for Sight as the only Lasik provider in Cebu, patients are assured of an improved quality of life after undergoing the procedure. Patricia Catan, STC Mass Comm Intern

Sunberry Homes: The sunny side of life

CONTEMPO Property Holdings Inc. launched its first sprawling development, Sunberry Homes, last Thursday.

This socialized housing project is composed of over 400 units that sits on a 2.5-hectare subdivision in Soong, Mactan. Each townhouse has a lot area of 40 sq.m. and a floor area of 54 sq.m.

With two storeys and two bedrooms each, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill mass housing. It has painted walls and ceilings, tiled floors and kitchen countertops, provisions ready for air-conditioning units, cabinets, modest light fixture, a laundry area and a paved parking space.

The units are linear and minimal.

The developer made sure to create a lot of space while minimizing the cost. The ultimate goal is to make it homeowner and homemaker friendly.

The gated subdivision also comes with a landscaped park, children’s playground, basketball court, multipurpose hall, cistern and overhead water tank, underground drainage system, water and electrical system and a lagoon, to name a few.

Sunberry Homes is a stone’s throw away from resorts and commercial areas. Truly, the sunny side of life is right where Sunberry Homes is.

For queries, visit their office at the 14th floor of Ayala Life-FGU Center, Cebu Business Park. CCP

Juanderers start wandering today

CEBU Pacific Air, the country’s largest airline, will be bringing bloggers from across the region to a fantastic tour of the Philippine islands, with the launch of the #CEBjuanderer Challenge.

Eight bloggers, dubbed as “Juan-derers” from Australia, China, Japan and Korea will go on an all-expense paid adventure across five Philippine destinations: Boracay, Cebu, Davao, Manila, and Palawan between today and Aug. 7.

Each member of the winning team, at the end of the trip, will receive an all-expense paid holiday to any destination in the Philippines for two people, inclusive of flights, two nights hotel accommodation with breakfast, and $300 travel allowance.

“We look forward to welcoming our Juanderers from all over the region, and introducing them to the Philippine’s adventure spots, seafood, beaches and culture,” said vice president for marketing and distribution Candice Iyog.

Fans and followers will be updated with the bloggers’ activities and will stand a chance to win their own free tickets to the Philippines and other attractive prizes by following the hashtags #CEBjuanderer on various social media platforms including their personal blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Weibo accounts.

121 farmers complete training course

Harvest time. The farmer-beneficiaries have their hands full harvesting the vegetable produce from the training program implemented by SM Foundation. (contributed foto)

Harvest time. The farmer-beneficiaries have their hands full harvesting the vegetable produce from the training program implemented by SM Foundation. (contributed foto)

A TOTAL of 121 farmers from different barangays in Talisay City, Cebu finished the Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan farmers’ training program in Barangay Manipis of the same city.

The farmers held a graduation ceremony at the Event Centre of SM City Cebu last June 26.

The day before their graduation rites, the farmers harvested their produce and sold it to the residents of Manipis.

The concept of the program is similar to backyard farming, only it is enhanced by new technology to produce better results. It is a 12-step program that teaches farmers seed culture and propagation, irrigation and fertilizer application.

Last June 26, the 121 farmer-beneficiaries were presented by the Talisay City Government to SM Foundation Inc.

Aside from Cristie Angeles, assistant vice president of SM Foundation and Toto Barcelona, president of Harbest Agribusiness, also present during the presentation were Talisay City Councilor Antonio Bacaltos; Barangay Councilor Mar Louie Ylanan; Jimmy Crusio of Department of Social Welfare and Development 7; Hester Jane Amigo, assistant vice president for Marketing–Visayas of SM Supermalls; Eva Du, assistant vice president of SM Supermarket; Chad Castelo, branch manager of SM Supermarket; Tata Mempin and Michael Ian Manlangit, assistant mall managers of SM City Cebu; and Rj Leduna, public relations manager for Vis-Min of SM Supermalls.

The farmers were also given a chance to tour and observe the operations of SM Supermarket in SM City Cebu.