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Business not immune to pandemic, entrepreneurs say

With different SMEs venturing to e-commerce platforms, entrepreneurs are faced with tough market competitions, especially in already saturated industries. 

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Screengrab from Business Unusual: Industry Transition to the New Normal

Different Thomasian business players weighed the effects and possibilities the ongoing pandemic has brought, which resulted in “survival mode” of enterprises, e-commerce opportunities, and other emerging business platforms.

“No business is immune to this pandemic, it’s unfortunate but not everybody is going to make it,” Podmetrics founder and CEO Ron Baetiong said via UST Tiger TV Facebook live discussion titled, “Business Unusual: Industry Transition to the New Normal,” Friday, June 19. 

“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re not over the hump yet because the after effects of the virus are just manifesting now,” he added. 

While small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) are bearing most of the economic brunt, there are still different opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs and long-time businesspersons in the “booming” e-commerce sector.

Lazada Philippines’ Country Head in Marketplace Finance William Mata said that the e-commerce industry witnessed a “boom,” especially now that people’s mobility is limited due to the health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Despite the increased demands in e-commerce, Mata stressed that Lazada Philippines does not “want to take advantage of it,” but instead use the opportunity to “boost and help” small-time businesses that use their platform.

Adapting to better normal

Face-to-face interactions hampered deliverables and work flow. Work from home arrangements and virtual meetings with the use of online tools became the most efficient way to carry out work. 

Procter & Gamble senior manager Yanna Umali said that different companies must aim to adapt and be agile for the “better normal.” 

“I think what really changed is the level of engagement that we normally have with our coworkers. It’s different having it face-to-face,” Umali said. 

Despite closing branches in this pandemic, the banking industry was able to recalibrate and reorient their systems due to banking digitization which helped with their services. 

“We are forced to close all of them, given the pandemic, but we are able to adjust and recalibrate our operations,” Metropolitan Bank senior relationships manager James Soyangco said.

Explore ‘blue ocean’

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With different SMEs venturing to e-commerce platforms, entrepreneurs are faced with tough market competitions, especially in already saturated industries. 

Businesses, according to Baetiong, should explore the “blue ocean” or markets that are not yet competitive and saturated, and are easier to dominate and make profit from. 

“Blue ocean is a strategy that allows you to execute in a market that is not saturated,” Baetiong said.

“It is easy to be the first mover and it’s easy to dominate without having to compete right away with bigger juggernauts,” he added. 

Last June 11, the Bureau of Internal Revenue directed online sellers to register its business activities and settle appropriate taxes amid community quarantine protocols.

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CSC welcomes interim officers

The University of Santo Tomas Central Student Council (UST-CSC) announced on Sunday, Sept. 13, the new set of interim officers in Central Board for the academic year (AY) 2020-2021.

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Photo courtesy of Hector Armando Sarion, Carl Christian Lumberio, and Montgomery Alexander Tan

The University of Santo Tomas Central Student Council (UST-CSC) announced on Sunday, Sept. 13, the new set of interim officers in the Central Board for the academic year (AY) 2020-2021.

CSC acknowledged three new faces in provisionally handling the position of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and Secretary-General.

On May 21, The University’s Commision on Elections postponed both local and central student council elections for the AY 2020-2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their resolution declared all non-graduating incumbent officers as interim officers until elections are rescheduled. 

Hector Armando Sarion from the College of Education Student Council was elected as the Interim Speaker, Carl Christian Lumberio from the College of Commerce and Business Administration Student Council as the Interim Deputy Speaker, and Montgomery Alexander Tan from the Accountancy Student Council as the Secretary-General.

In an interview with TomasinoWeb, Sarion said that one of the challenges he expects during his term as the Interim Speaker is the gap that online classes create for the Thomasian students.

“[I]t’s not just a matter of internet connectivity, but also the inclusivity and accommodation of the diverse learners in our university. It’s the main call that we leave no student left behind,” Sarion said.

Sarion also said that the new CSC will continue the projects concerning the University’s Student Code.

“[W]e would always do our very best on having updates from the officials and progress back from the past academic year wherein we had meetings concerning the students’ code,” Sarion stated.

In addressing the challenges of online classes, Lumberio said that the approach must be “get and about,” in which the officials would engage with the student body and take the time to assess issues and problems.

“The key lies in making a more conscious effort to be present, that there is someone who will be pertinacious in standing firm in upholding and protecting the rights and welfare of the whole Thomasian Community,” Lumberio told TomasinoWeb.

For Tan, prompt assistance to every student is one of his leadership agendas.

“One of my plans for our term is the ‘Students’ Help Desk.’ Based on my observation, a lot of students are having a hard time reaching the different UST offices for their urgent concerns,” Tan said.

According to Tan, he wants the students to feel his leadership despite the pandemic.

“It has always been my motto that ‘actions speak louder than words.’ I will not promise empty words but rather bring about results that will eventually benefit the whole community,” Tan said. “Therefore, I want the studentry to feel my leadership through my actions and results.”

Sarion, Lomberio, and Tan succeeded Lady Freyja Gascon, Lorenzo Gabriel Banayo, and Sean Matthew Sison respectively.

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Student organizations slam Pemberton pardon

Three University student organizations expressed their dissent over President Duterte’s Sept. 7 decision granting U.S Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton absolute pardon. 

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Carmina Beatriz Dizon/TomasinoWeb

Three University student organizations expressed their dissent over President Duterte’s Sept. 7 decision granting U.S Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton absolute pardon. 

“We strongly condemn the absolute pardon granted by the president as it is a clear depiction of the selective justice in the Philippines, which has little to no regard for human rights,” UST Hiraya’s Sept. 9 statement read. 

UST Hirayaさんの投稿 2020年9月9日水曜日

On Oct. 11, 2014 Jennifer Laude was found dead naked on the floor of a comfort room in Celzone Lodge. Her autopsy report indicated that she died due to “asphyxia by drowning.” 

Pemberton served less than six years in prison after being convicted of homicide in December 2015. He was originally sentenced to six to 12 years in prison which was reduced to 10 years in 2016. 

“Pemberton must be jailed in New Bilibid Prison to serve his rightful sentence,” League of Filipino Students (LFS) – UST said on Twitter.

Pemberton’s release was ordered by Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde. She ruled that the American serviceman has served his maximum jail term with good conduct and time allowance credits. 

“No amount of good conduct will be enough to redeem Pemberton’s gruesome murder of Laude six years ago, and this act of cowardice by the administration screams injustice not only to the Laude family, but also to the LGBTQ+ community,” TomasinoWeb’s statement read. 

Both LFS – UST and TomasinoWeb echoed that Pemberton’s release is a “disregard towards basic human rights.”

A call for safe spaces

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According to Hiraya, Pemberton’s absolute pardon is a “repulsive manifestation” of the country’s disregard for human human and transgender rights. 

“[S]etting a murderer free would only reinforce the systemic discrimination and violence pervasive in our country,” Hiraya said. 

Hiraya highlighted the need for a strengthened law that will protect Filipinos from crimes and violence based on gender convictions. 

They also stressed that this is the “high time to champion” safe spaces for all through legislative and judiciary measures.

The government confirmed yesterday, Sept.11, that Pemberton was already undergoing the process of deportation to the United States. Jose Ama Rosario 

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SHS code of conduct bans recording of online classes

“Video or audio recording of the virtual activity using any type of gadgets or taking any screenshots, photos, audio of class activities without permission from participants is prohibited,” the conforme reads. 

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Gwen Dungao/TomasinoWeb

The Senior High School Department of the University released a Code of Conduct banning the sharing of video lectures without permission from the participants during online classes. 

“Video or audio recording of the virtual activity using any type of gadgets or taking any screenshots, photos, audio of class activities without permission from participants is prohibited,” the conforme reads. 

According to the memo, video recording of lectures may be done with the permission of the teacher for the sole purpose of learning, and such recording cannot be shared to students outside the class. 

The memo also forbids the students from publicly posting photos, videos, and audio recording of activities on social media without prior approval from all the participants. 

Last Sept. 2, a video circulating on social media showed a professor lecturing a student about rape and embracing her father as “a gift from God” despite raping and assaulting her. 

In separate incidents, a viral post also revealed a professor asking students why they enrolled when they’re having connectivity issues in the first place, while another one exposed a teacher berating a student due to delayed response

CSC backs complaints

Central Student Council President Robert Gonzales assured the Thomasian community on Sept. 3 that they are taking necessary steps to address and assist the issue of the circulating video online. 

To give an update, we (together with the class officers, local student councils, & societies) are currently taking action and assisting the involved sections in filing formal complaints,” Gonzales said on Twitter. 

He reminded everyone to be “prudent” in sharing materials online and that the best way to proceed in case such things happen is by filing formal complaints.

“I understand the frustrations brought upon by the different scenarios but let us also be prudent when it comes to posting/publicly sharing these videos so as to avoid repercussions on our end. It is still best for us to proceed with the proper avenues of filing complaints,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales urged both students and teachers alike that “extending compassion is a must when it comes to online classes.”

He also reiterated that student councils and department societies are ready to help on issues regarding online classes.

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