Thursday, May 31, 2007

Learn to fly an Airbus in 1 year

Manila Bulletin

If the vast potential of the newly-opened Clark International Aviation (CIA) at the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga would be realized, commercial pilots can well be the next professionals that Filipinos could be famous for.

Opened early this year, the CIA offers an intensive, integrated 12-month training of first-time pilots. At the end of the program, graduates would be qualified and certified to fly Airbus 320s, the most favored single-aisle aircraft in the world.

CIA chairman and chief executive officer Mark Pearson believes there will come a day, while on a flight from London to Paris, he would recognize the captain as a graduate of CIA - and a Filipino at that.

At the core of CIA program is an $ 11-million, state-of-the-art full flight simulator, the first of its kind in the country.

"We train pilots who have never flown an airplane before. They graduate from college and come here for the intensive, integrated, 12-month program. They come and live here at Clark. In the first five months, they spend their time in the classrooms to learn all the theoretical knowledge plus ground studies. They have to learn about aviation, meteorology, navigation, flight instruments and air law, among others," explained Pearson, himself a former pilot for the British airline Monarch.

From ground instructions, the pilot cadets move on to fly 70 hours in small light planes where they will learn "basic pilot skills.

Pilot-cadets live inside the CIA compound but are accorded comfortable accommodations. CIA has two types of accommodations the air-conditioned and serviced dormitory type (P5,000 a month excluding the food) which can fit 18 cadets in a room and apartments ( a night) for single and double occupancies complete with shower and baths, personal refs, DVD players, wireless internet, and TV. CIA also has a full-service gym, basketball gym and bar. Pilot-cadets may also bring their wives with them during the program.


Now comes the best part.

At the end of the 12 months, the pilot-cadets not only graduate as commercial pilots but fully type-rated to fly the Airbus 320 which immediately made them eligible to enter the airline service.

Perhaps what attracts CIA to prospective pilots is the price of the training fees as against the high salaries a graduate can expect. At the moment, course fee is pegged at $ 80,000. But Pearson was quick to point out that this is a bargain compared to the facilities where similar programs are offered.

"We can actually deliver our training at the fraction of the price that it would cost to deliver, say in Europe for example. When the Europeans start this program it would probably cost double compared to that in the Philippines," said Pearson.

He noted that given the shortage in pilots of A320s, both in Asia and other parts of the world, prospective pilots stand to get a windfall in salaries once they get their certification from CIA.

"All of the pilots are guaranteed a job once they graduate from the program. There is global pilot shortage at the moment which requires 16,000 new pilots each in every year for the next 20 years. And we are here to train pilots in time for the delivery of new planes for these airlines," said Pearson.

CIA chose the Philippines as its area of operations because of its strategic location.

"It is accessible to all points in Asia. It has one of the lowest cost bases in Asia. Combined with that it has an abundance of highly-educated fluent English-speaking (English) personnel," he said.

Pearson added that what makes CIA's program distinct is that it is the first school in the world which has actually commenced with the multicrew license program approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).


CIA has also opened its facilities for the re-training of pilots coming from both local and foreign airline companies. It is a mandatory international requirement for a pilot, including seasoned pilots, captains and first officers, to retrain every six months for him to maintain his proficiency if he is to keep his license.

"This is the only opportunity they have to practice real emergency drills that I hope they will never see in real life like engine failures, engine fires, hydraulic problems. The kind of problems you can't safely simulate on a real plane on the air with real passengers on board," said Rick Norman, head of flight operations.

Cebu Pacific currently has a group of its own pilots re-training at CIA.

As word about CIA spreads around, the Clark-based institution has seen a steady stream of pilot cadets as well as pilots who are on its re-training program.

"We have a new course intake every month of 18 cadets so in a full year we will have about 220 cadets in training in any one time," averred Norman.

He added that CIA is an international school and that majority of the pilot-cadets do happen to be Filipinos. But it does have students from Europe and India and is expecting a huge influx from the Middle East and China.

If the substantial investments in the country were not enough, Pearson said CIA would be bringing in three more simulators and two A-320s. There will also be two other different types of simulators called fixed-based simulators.

"Your Friendly Web Designer & Developer"

Visa Dispute in Dubai

GULF manpower recruiters will urge their governments to stop issuing work visas to Filipinos until a dispute over domestic workers' wages is resolved, it was revealed yesterday. A meeting of the GCC Recruiters Committee unanimously agreed in Bahrain to submit the request for the ban until conditions set by the Philippines government are revised.

The new regulations seek a minimum wage of $400 (BD150) and improved standard of living for any Filipino workers being employed as domestic help in the GCC.

The minimum wage was passed in December last year and maids planning to go overseas must first undergo familiarisation training with the culture, beliefs and practices of their prospective employers.

Employers of Filipino maids are also now being required to sign a declaration that they will face a BD5 fine everyday if they fail to pay workers their salaries on time.

"We have approved a decision that we will urge our governments through the GCC chambers of commerce to stop issuing working visas to all Filipino workers," Bahrain Recruiters Society (BRS) chairman Fareed Al Mahmeed told the GDN.

He was speaking following the meeting held at the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in Manama, yesterday.

Representatives from all the GCC countries participated in the meeting.

"As a recruiters committee we will ask the GCC countries to stop Filipinos' visas," said Mr Al Mahmeed.

"We hope our governments will support us. It is affecting our citizens, it is affecting business and it is interfering in these country's policies and rules."

He said that he hoped the decision would give GCC governments an opportunity to speak with their Filipino counterparts and reach a compromise, and claimed the committee's actions would have the backing of Filipinos.

"The rules are affecting the Filipino workers and according to our agent even the workers are refusing the regulations and are going on strike because nobody is taking manpower from the Philippines anymore," said Mr Al Mahmeed.

BRS board secretary Khalifa Al Jowder said that the meeting addressed means of dealing with enforcing $400 minimum wage rule on the sector.

"We have always tried to solve this problem but this has not been solved," he said.

"All GCC representatives agreed to ask our government to suspend visas and work permits for all skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers from the Philippines until we see what the solution will be."

By Mark Summers

( - "No-one is going to accept paying a salary of $400 - we will not bring workers from the Philippines to any GCC countries until we get a solution to this problem."

However, Philippine Ambassador Eduardo Maglaya said any such ban would be open to accusations of discrimination.

"If it is specific that they mention only Filipinos then I think that it is discriminatory," he told GDN.

"Filipinos are the preferred employees in the service industry and we have reasons why we should also take care of our nationals.

"I guess what every normal embassy would do is protect their own nationals in the same manner as the GCC embassies would do for their citizens abroad."

In Bahrain, maids account for 40 per cent of the total Filipino population.

The embassy had estimated that there are about 40,000 Filipinos in Bahrain.

Last year the embassy handled 4,978 cases of Filipinos with employment problems - 95pc of which involved maids.

"Your Friendly Web Designer & Developer"

Filipinos in Malaysia can send SMS money home

( - KUALA LUMPUR: Thousands of Filipino workers can now send money to their families and other dependants in the Philippines within seconds through mobile phone service messaging, and without going through banks. 

Maxis Communications Berhad and the Philippine's telecommunications company Globe Telecom yesterday launched the world's first international mobile-to-mobile money transfer service, between the two countries. 

The service, approved by Bank Negara, allows users to transfer up to PHP6,500 (RM500) per transaction at RM5 per transaction and 15 sen for each SMS, half the transaction fee of banks, said Maxis chief executive officer Sandip Das. 

Up to RM10,000 can be transferred per day at no charge to recipients who receive the money in pesos based on daily exchange rates. 

The service will benefit 20,000 Filipino Maxis subscribers in Malaysia, Das said. 

"The service is part of a larger picture of us being a strong service provider for the immigrant population," he said. 

"We will not replace the banking institutions for international remittance but provide customers an alternative solution to sending money in micro arrangements, at a lower fee and a greater convenience," he said. 

The service will also be made available for Indonesians in Malaysia before the end of the month and other countries later in the year, he said. 

It is estimated that there are 150,000 Indonesian mobile phone users in Malaysia, he said. 

On receipt of an SMS confirmation, a recipient can withdraw the money through any of Globe's GCash 6,000 outlets in the Philippines, as well as rural banks, pawnshops and retail outlets and pay for things and tuition fees in some places without cashing it out, said Globe's head of consumer business Ferdz De la Cruz. 

"Your Friendly Web Designer & Developer"

Filipina jailed in Dubai for killing own baby

( - Dubai: A Filipina mother who battered her newborn girl to death has been sentenced to three years in jail.

The Dubai Court of First Instance found the 32-year-old mother, identified as E.L., responsible for her 45-day-old girl's death. She will be deported after serving the prison term.

The Public Prosecution charged her with premeditatedly murdering her daughter. The Filipina denied the charges and said her daughter died after accidentally falling from her hands into the bathtub.

Her lawyer, Nabih Badr of Nabih Badr Advocates and Legal Consultants, said, "Every mother is ready to sacrifice her life to save her child. God gave every mother a caring and warm heart towards her child. It would have been impossible for my client, who is a mother of five children, to premeditatedly batter her 45-day-old girl to death."

Following the ruling, Badr told Gulf News that he couldn't comment on the ruling, however, "it seems the judge considered our appeal to treat the case as a death caused by negligence".

"If the charge was true, she definitely must have been suffering from postpartum depression, which pushes a patient to suicide or to kill someone.

"Ultimately, a pregnant woman feels happy when she delivers. Celebrating a woman's delivery helps reduce the effect of postpartum depression, as explained to me by one of the doctors," said Badr.

Counterfeiters land in prison

A group of five counterfeiters has been sentenced to one year in jail for possessing about $300,000 (about Dh1 million) in fake bills and trying to sell them for Dh750,000 to a police informant.

The Dubai Court of First Instance also fined the five Dh5,000 each. They will be deported after their sentences.

"Your Friendly Web Designer & Developer"

First Pinays on Mt. Everest


The Philippine Star

When Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino became the first Southeast Asian women to summit Mt. Everest and the first women in the world to traverse Mt. Everest from the North side to the South side, Himalaya didn't seem to care.

The country was rejoicing, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sent a congratulatory message, and the Philippine Coast Guard prepared a heroes welcome for the three summiteers who had just been promoted from seawoman first class to seawoman third class.

Himalaya, though, remains clueless. After all, he's only five months old. His mommy Janet left two months ago to pursue her dream of conquering the world's highest peak, and she did so with a heavy heart.

In an article published on the Kathmandu Post titled "Mom of five-month-old atop Everest," Janet was quoted as saying, "I decided to leave him, as I was too focused on the mountain. I believed there was a greater cause behind my decision."

Noelle, on the other hand, brought her loved one with her to the summit, a picture of her mother. Her mom passed away last year due to a stroke. She was on her way to the airport to pick up Noelle when she had the attack. Noelle had just arrived after successfully climbing Mt. Denali in Alaska, the highest mountain in North America. She was waiting at the airport, when she got the call that her mom was rushed to the hospital. By the time Noelle arrived there, it was already too late.

Carina is one of 14 siblings who grew up in Bukidnon. Her family didn't want her to join the Everest team because of the obvious danger. They also relied on her as the family breadwinner. But Carina was determined to sacrifice to achieve a greater goal.

The Dayondon family apparently had nothing to worry about. According to ABS-CBN correspondent Vince Rodriguez who chronicled the journey on, Carina was even singing on the summit!

According to the blog, two hours before reaching the summit, the team radioed Advance Base Camp to give an update on their location. During the call, Carina sang in the radio an excerpt from the song Kaya ng Pinay, composed by team doctor Ted Esguerra.

On hearing her singing, Everest summiteer Pastor Emata, who was at ABC, radioed back, "Carina, I bet you're singing because you're scared."

Carina's response was, "Excuse me!" But things are different back home. Their families may support their goals and trust they know what they're doing — but they can't completely take away their loved ones' apprehension, the fear that something bad may happen.

Ricky Serdenia, husband of Janet Belarmino-Serdenia, couldn't hold back his tears when he heard the news his wife had reached the summit. You'd think that Ricky, being a member of the Philippine Dragonboat Federation, would be cool under pressure.

He admits though, it's not easy when you're the one left behind.

"Himalaya, your mom has reached the summit," he softly told his baby while crying. "I'm so happy but I also worry about her everyday. I try not to think about it by being with friends, keeping myself busy. Sometimes I fear Himalaya may not see his mom again. But I trust in God and I believe in Janet."

Himalaya was just chuckling and making cute baby sounds while his father wept.

This May, more than 300 people are estimated to have reached the summit of Mt. Everest. Critics have said that the mountain has become so commercialized, anyone with time, money and a bit of guts can reach the top.

So what makes the Pinays' achievement so special? They could have swum across the Pacific, they could have aimed to reach the North Pole — it wasn't about the summit of Everest per se. The mountain is simply an allegory, a very tough one at that, for achieving what people think is impossible. That if we set our minds to it and unite in a common cause, we can climb whatever heights and reach whatever distance we imagine.

Like Leo Oracion, Pastor Emata and Romy Garduce before them, the women have again made the country proud. The message is loud and clear, yes, the Filipina can, Kaya ng Pinay! And they didn't just do it for themselves, but for all the Filipinas around the world struggling to conquer their own mountains.

And even if Himalaya doesn't understand yet why his mom left, one day when he grows up, he'll realize the meaning of his mother's sacrifice. Indeed, Mommy Janet knows best, there is a greater cause.

Not even all the money in the world can match the legacy Himalaya will pass on to his children and his children's children. A legacy of hope, faith and triumph of the human spirit.

"Your Friendly Web Designer & Developer"