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Manulife PH ready for new normal from Day 1, says CEO

Manulife Philippines and CEO Richard Bates said the company's digital transformation journey for the past two years has empowered its customers, employees, and distributors.
Manulife Philippines and CEO Richard Bates said the company’s digital transformation journey for the past two years has empowered its customers, employees, and distributors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed many challenges to businesses. Manulife Philippines, however, has found it easier to adjust to the new business environment. This is thanks to its digital transformation journey for the past two years.

“The changes the COVID-19 pandemic have forced upon us have both put our digital transformation strategy to the test, and validated that we, as an organization, have taken many steps in the right direction,” Manulife Philippines and CEO Richard Bates told Digital Life Asia.

“When Manulife Philippines moved to a new head office location in 2019, we also made investments in our hardware and network infrastructure to enable new ways of working. The introduction of FlexWork to our team provided us with the tools and flexibility that allowed 100 percent of our employees to work from home from the onset of the community quarantine. There was no disruption to our operations. We were up and running, from our homes, from day one,” he said.

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TRIPKO transport card helps Filipinos commute safely

By using TRIPKO, the passenger just needs to tap the cash card on the TICKETKO  automated ticketing system without any contact with the conductor or driver.
By using TRIPKO, the passenger just needs to tap the cash card on the TICKETKO automated ticketing system without any contact with the conductor or driver.

With thousands going back to the workplace in the Philippines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the commuting public has to adapt to the new normal for their protection. The Department of Transportation has released community guidelines to address this, one of which is the mandatory use of cashless payments in public transportation. This has made contactless payment technology such as the TRIPKO transport card more important than ever.

Apart from the normal challenges of using public transportation, commuters must now also practice social distancing. They also worry about interacting with other people and touching shared items such as cash. This is why more Filipinos have embraced digital amid the pandemic. TRIPKO, which works in conjunction with the TICKETKO automated ticketing system, is geographically the most widely-accepted transport card in the country today. Using the TRIPKO transport card minimizes three main contact points. This allows transport companies to better protect the commuting public and their own employees.

“With TICKETKO and the TRIPKO card, there is no need for manual tickets, no need to hold money, and no need for manual logging in each and every trip manifest. The reloadable payment card is not new to the world, but the Philippines has been lagging behind our neighboring countries. Journeytech would like to contribute to nation-building with the TRIPKO card. Contactless payment is here to stay as our technology is able to address the general need for safety, hygiene, and ultimately convenience for the commuting public,” Journeytech Marketing Director Louise Yu told Digital Life Asia.

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Science

Telepsychiatry: Online consultations via Talk to Dr. Lee

Psychiatrist Ruby Jade Lee-Cheng says telepsychiatry allows her and her father Paul V. Lee to help patients cope with the stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Psychiatrist Ruby Jade Lee-Cheng says telepsychiatry allows her and her father Paul V. Lee to help patients cope with the stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to take care of both our physical and mental health. Through telepsychiatry, a father and daughter have been addressing the needs of their patients in the age of social distancing and lockdowns.

As all of us can attest to, dealing with the pandemic and the sweeping changes in the way we work and play has been very stressful.

“This sudden change in the daily routine can cause depression and anxiety. Other than this, the fear of getting the virus can also add to the stress,” psychiatrist Ruby Jade Lee-Cheng told Digital Life Asia.

Lee-Cheng, together with her father and fellow psychiatrist Paul V. Lee, offers online consultations via their Talk to Dr. Lee site. Note that these online consultations are not for emergency cases, which should be handled by going to the nearest hospital emergency room.

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Technology

UNAWA offers digital solutions to help businesses reopen

Philippine regtech startup UNAWA has launched SafePass and SafeForm.

Regtech startup UNAWA has unveiled two digital solutions that will enable businesses to reopen and operate safely. These will not only ensure the safety of their physical locations, but also their digital data.

SafePass is an all-digital, contact-free authorizing, scheduling, and contact tracing platform. This will help companies manage their offices, stores, and other physical locations once they reopen. Meanwhile, SafeForm enables business owners to create digital forms or convert their printed or analog forms to digital platforms.

SafePass allows businesses to operate in the “next normal”. This is the transition phase as the government allows companies to reopen. SafePass will let them easily manage their physical locations to comply with new government requirements for operating safely. It has four components: space planning, reservations, health questionnaire, and incident management.

“We’re doing all of this because in the next normal, we expect the virus to be among us. We expect that there will be an incident in any and all of our facilities. And it’s really important that when that incident happens, we are ready for it. Meaning we know precisely who’s in the facility during the time that the confirmed patient was there. Our reaction time needs to be super fast. Meaning hours. Not days. Not weeks,” said UNAWA Chief Strategy Officer Winston Damarillo at the press briefing.

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Virtual tidying sessions offered by KonMari consultant

KonMari consultant and Yorokobi owner Renelyn Tan-Castillejos offers virtual tidying sessions so she can help clients despite the enhanced community quarantine.
KonMari consultant and Yorokobi owner Renelyn Tan-Castillejos offers virtual tidying sessions so she can help clients despite the enhanced community quarantine.

Now that you’re working from home, are you happy with your home office? Do you have a designated space where you can work undisturbed? Or, like many of us, is every day a struggle to find a good spot amid all the clutter? Then maybe decluttering via a virtual tidying session is what you need to spark joy.

You’re probably familiar with Japanese tidying expert Marie Kondo and her KonMari method. Maybe you’ve read her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing“. Or watched “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix. But did you know we have a certified KonMari consultant in the Philippines, who runs her own decluttering business called Yorokobi (which means “joy” in Japanese)?

“The virtual tidying session is something that’s new. A KonMari home visit is really done face to face. And so before the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) happened, that was my life. I’d go to homes, either condos or house and lots in subdivisions, and I’d help them tidy from weeks to months depending on them,” said KonMari consultant and Yorokobi owner Renelyn Tan-Castillejos.

“So now because we’re not able to do that, I’ve had my clients ask me to do virtual tidying sessions. And because that’s something that worked, I’m also opening that up now for people who really just want to start tidying up.”

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Gretchen Ho: Use digital platforms to inform and inspire

Kapamilya TV host and former volleyball player Gretchen Ho says that instead of spreading negativity, we can use our digital platforms to share the good news.
Kapamilya TV host and former volleyball player Gretchen Ho says that instead of spreading negativity, we can use our digital platforms to share the good news.

Social media should bring us together, not tear us apart. It’s time for us to take action and use our digital platforms as a powerful force for good.

“I’ve seen so much good ever since the quarantine started. The only problem is, good news doesn’t get as magnified as the bad. I’ve made it my mission to use my social media pages for spreading all of these good stories. It’s good that we all have a chance to be heard using our own platforms,” Kapamilya TV host and former volleyball player Gretchen Ho told Digital Life Asia.

As part of this mission, Ho launched her Woman In Action website in April to uplift the spirits of people during this pandemic, and provide them a platform for telling their stories.

“I wanted to do something special for my 30th birthday, and launching my brand ‘Woman In Action’ came to mind. I wanted a place where I could engage with people with my stories, and also allow them to share theirs. It just so happened to have the perfect timing given the coronavirus, and people needing an outlet for their stories. I think it helps a lot to share your story, good or bad, and just allow people to empathize with you. It also helps to read other people’s stories so you know you’re not going through anything alone,” she said.

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Science Technology

Teletherapy for kids encourages family involvement

Speech-language pathologist Krizia Anna Castro, shown here with her son Mac, says teletherapy can be as effective as face-to-face sessions.
Speech-language pathologist Krizia Anna Castro, shown here with her son Mac, says teletherapy can be as effective as face-to-face sessions.

Thanks to technology, speech-language pathologist Krizia Anna Castro is still able to help children with special needs. Castro is offering teletherapy services since face-to-face sessions are not possible due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Teletherapy refers to remote therapy, using technology so that the therapist and client can communicate. Castro said this usually involves video platforms such as Zoom, Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger, or FaceTime. Apart from convenience, teletherapy offers other advantages.

“It stresses the importance of family involvement and contribution. They need to understand that teletherapy is not going to be the same as a face-to-face session but is mostly parent coaching. Activities will be mostly facilitated by the parents, especially with younger children. Unlike with face-to-face sessions wherein they leave their children with us while they stay in the waiting area, this time they are required to be there. Parents are going to be our eyes and hands during the session. They have to learn the techniques, and how to manage their child’s behavior. Now parents have a better understanding of their children’s needs because they are much more involved,” Castro told Digital Life Asia.

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Business survival: Accept new normal for at least a year

Business survival tips from Angkas Chief Transport Advocate George Royeca: adapt to the situation, stay relevant, and weather the storm.
Angkas Chief Transport Advocate George Royeca’s business survival tips? Adapt to the situation, stay relevant, and weather the storm.

One day, the enhanced community quarantine will end. It is wrong, however, to think consumer confidence will return immediately. In fact, business survival means asking yourself if your company can adapt to the present conditions for at least a year.

“A lot of people don’t realize that it’s really not a matter of whether the President lifts the lockdown,” said George Royeca, Chief Transport Advocate of Angkas. “It’s a matter of when we find a cure. The only way to beat this virus is when you find a vaccine or a cure. In the meantime, what do we do to co-exist with COVID?”

According to Royeca, the key to business survival is accepting this reality.

“Even with the ECQ being lifted, it’s not going to be back to normal. Consumer confidence is shot. It’s going to take a while for that to ramp up. Give it a year or two in your business horizon. At least a year, to see how your business will survive. So looking at it from a three-month perspective is very dangerous. It could be damaging to the decisions that you make on how to move your business forward,” he said.

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Telehealth seen to decongest PH healthcare system

MEDIFI CEO and Co-founder Jay Fajardo says telehealth will democratize access to doctors.
MEDIFI CEO and Co-founder Jay Fajardo says telehealth will democratize access to doctors.

With people forced to stay home, many Filipinos are now relying on online consultations with doctors. Because of this, the COVID-19 pandemic might prove to be the tipping point for the Philippines to embrace telehealth.

“For non-urgent medical needs, telehealth offers a real way to decongest the country’s healthcare system and provides huge convenience to the patient. It has also become a welcome economic benefit for our doctors who have found a new venue to continue their practice,” MEDIFI CEO and Co-founder Jay Fajardo told Digital Life Asia.

MEDIFI is one of the tech startups helping Filipinos cope with the enhanced community quarantine. It is a telehealth platform that allows people to consult with a licensed doctor online for non-emergency health concerns. The site has two components. MEDIFI for Patients lets people consult remotely, while MEDIFI for Doctors allows doctors to take their practice online. MEDIFI for Patients is also available as an app that can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.

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Work from home seen as new normal by employees

Even before the pandemic forced employees to work from home, a shift in work arrangements was already taking place, says Lenovo Philippines President and General Manager Michael Ngan.
Even before the pandemic forced employees to work from home, a shift in the workplace was already happening, says Lenovo Philippines President and General Manager Michael Ngan.

Employees expect to have the option to work from home even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. This is according to a study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Lenovo.

Eighty-seven percent said they feel at least somewhat ready to make the shift to working from home (WFH) if required. Moreover, 77 percent expect companies to be more accepting of WFH policies after the pandemic passes.

“Our survey suggests that the employee experience was already changing before the pandemic hit,” Lenovo Philippines President and General Manager Michael Ngan said in a press statement.

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