Celebrity Interview: Sean Anthony from the Meralco Bolts

We interviewed Sean Anthony, the famous Filipino Canadian basketball player who currently plays for the (PBA) Philippine Basketball Association’s Meralco Bolts. We asked him for his favourite restaurants and what he wants to see in the restaurant industry in the Philippines.

1. What do you love about living in the Philippines?

I have been living in the Philippines for 5 years now and have enjoyed every moment. I love the upbeat and positive personalities that Filipino’s have. I like their community and family based culture. But most of all I love being a quick flight or drive away from some of the nicest beaches in the world.

2. What are your top 5 favourite restaurants and why?

I live a healthy lifestyle as an athlete so the restaurant I frequent the most would be Wholesome Table Salcedo. They have healthy organic food from sustainable farms and the food tastes great as well. The other 4 in my top 5 would be: Elbert’s Steak Room: Great little spot in Salcedo with the best steak in Manila. Love coming here when I have family and friends visiting from out of town. Wildflour: Perfect place for weekend brunch. Walter Manzke has done a great job in bringing over his LA brunch scene to Manila. Hai Shin Lou: Our family favourite for Chinese food. Love the peking duck, fresh seafood, and, other amazing dishes. Antonio’s Tagaytay: A trip out of Manila but the setting and food is definitely worth it. Many blogs and websites rate it the best restaurant in the Philippines. Hole in the Wall: Not a restaurant but a great food court in Century City Mall. My wife and I love dinner and movie date night and always choose from their great selections before heading down to watch a movie.

Sean Anthony3. You are from Vancouver, was White Spot making an entrance to the Philippines a big deal for you?

White Spot definitely is a throwback to childhood especially when biting into a burger with their famous triple-o sauce. I liked that they are in the Philippines but hope they set up more locations for easier access.

4. What other North American brand do you miss and would like to see in the Philippines?

The food selection in Manila is actually great. We have a vast range of food from all over the world. But chains that I miss from North America would be Chipotle, Nektar juice bar, tender greens, and In and Out burger.

5. What is your favourite Philippine brand restaurant that should expand overseas?

There are Filipino Communities all over the world with our large network of overseas Filipinos. I’m sure they would love a taste of home which is why Jollibee is working on global franchising. Other filipino franchises that may do well overseas are Gerry’s Grill or Mesa.

Carlos Celdran on the Philippine Business Environment

Editors Note: Maita Ocampo, Business Development at PayrollHero contributes to this blog on and off, this week, she had a call with one of the most famous Filipinos, Carlos Celdran.

Carlos CeldranOne-on-One with Manila’s Main Man

John Charles Edward “Carlos” Pamintuan Celdran is a man who wears many hats (at times, even bunny ears!), but in most days, he is an artist and a tour guide. He uses performing arts to educate people about Intramuros and of course…..Manila.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of scoring a phone interview with Manila’s main man. I asked Carlos some questions about his work and his thoughts on the Philippine business environment.

The Changing Manila Skyline

When asked about the changes in the restaurant/retail business in Manila, Carlos says that he’s seen everything and finds it terrible that the city is becoming more mall-driven. Not to mention, the “building boom” that’s currently happening – he pointed out the increasing number of condos and high-rise buildings that’s changing the Manila skyline in so many ways.

Let’s Talk Business

What can the Philippines (or in this case, Manila) do better to attract business investment?

Carlos mentioned 3 items:

  1. Streamlining the tax system
  2. Working on safety and security on roads
  3. Addressing the traffic and flooding issues

What are the challenges for foreigners setting up a business in the Philippines?

– “The biggest obstacle would be the 60-40 rule on ownership wherein foreigners can’t fully own a local company. For me, that’s the biggest hindrance more than anything else.” (more on that topic)

What advice can you give a foreigner setting up a business in the Philippines?

– “It is important to find a good Filipino business partner and it’s always about location, location, location.”

It’s always been a joy speaking with Carlos – whether in one of his tours, over beers, or this time, through the phone. I love the fact that he’s passionate and vocal for his love of country – trying to alleviate the not-so-good and embracing it for what it truly is.

You should definitely attend one of his walking tours and get to know more about the Philippines in a very interesting way. Take note: free Choc-nut and halo-halo for everyone!

Carlos Celdran Tours

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Executive Interview: Mike O’Hagan of Mike’s Manila Tours

As part of a new series on this blog we will be profiling executives that are working to help entrepreneurs and business owners expand into new markets. 

Mike O'HaganWe spoke with David Elefant a while back about doing business in the Philippines, today is Mike O’Hagan who conducts tours of Philippine BPOs to Australians who are interested in setting up their operations in the Philippines.

1. Can you tell me more about your business (tours)?
Every 2-3 weeks, I bring 6 Western business owners to the Philippines where I teach and show them “how to offshore”, all the alternatives with the do’s and don’ts. They range from pre-start-ups, micro, small, medium, large and even listed companies.

There are seven different offshoring solutions – I teach all seven. We cover back office process, specialised services and manufacturing.

I also give them a massive dose of entrepreneurship.

The business is called MikesManilaTours and was started 3 years ago. I started after I made many mistakes when establishing a couple of offshored teams here and after observing many others making the same mistakes.

Mike's Manila ToursMy role is to educate – as opposed to showing them their prefect solution. That is why unlike other offshoring tours where commissions are involved, my tours are unbiased and are designed to equip business owners with enough information about the good and bad sides of offshoring in order for them to make a wise decision for their business.

2. Why do you like the Philippines so much?
Offshoring is a worldwide trend. The mantra is make it in the east, sell it in the west. I’ve been involved in Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Russia and Ireland. They have their points but none match the Philippines for friendly, helpful well educated people. The Philippines government is backing the industry and making in easy to operate. The country is stable and easy to access.

3. Why is the Philippines a good market for Australian companies to outsource to?
Worldwide, the Philippines stands out due to over 100 years of education in English with Christian core values combined with 3rd world wages and massive numbers of workers. When aligned with the internet/cloud computing and allowed any sized western business to access these educated workers, the Philippines is a unique and very attractive opportunity.

The same time zone as Western Australia means we generally employ between 6am and 3pm when the biggest player, USA, who employ 75% of the 1 million plus workers engaged in offshoring, employ from 10pm until 4am. This means that Australian businesses don’t need to deal with night differential wage adjustments for their off shored workers.

The workplace culture of Australians also suit the Filipino work ethics.

4. What is the biggest benefit to the Philippines?
It’s the new export. Money coming into the economy, directly into the households – whilst only giving their time and education in return. For years, the Philippines has been struggling with the supply of jobs. Australian businesses offshoring to the Philippines help the country elevate the unemployment problem by providing job opportunities for Filipinos.

I also feel there’s something in – how can we alleviate poverty? Employ them!

5. What is the biggest challenge for Australian companies setting up in the Philippines?
Misinformation. A lot of Australian companies set up in the Philippines without fully understanding what they’re getting themselves into. They fail to understand the different ways they can engage services / solutions, fail to comprehend the education levels and skill gaps in Filipino manpower, and they fail to allot time to understand the culture differences.

MikesManilaTours is structured to overcome these issues.

6. What resources do you consume (and suggest people consume) for learning about HR in the Philippines? (newsletters, blogs? magazines?)
I learn from other business owners. I do this in closed confidential type groups where we share all. My favorite is EO – Entrepreneurs Organisation. I’m very careful with blogs. I place more trust in the personal trustee Filipino staff than most of what’s written online.

7. What area of the Philippines do you suggest people setup their BPO in and why? (Fort, Makati, Pasig, etc)
Manila is typical of capital cities (worldwide) in a way that it attracts the smarter graduates who come for the better opportunities with higher wages. They then discover transport and higher costs dilute the dream. Today, large Aussie businesses are also poaching staff in NCR.

If you need people with high level skills – then Manila is the best choice for you. If your needs are common skills then the provinces are far better. Lower wages, more loyalty with the staff.

8. How many tours do you do a year?
I have 6 other businesses in 4 countries so I run the tours when I’m available. Numbers may be a better way to measure this – to date we have brought over 320 people up. Many have multiple business interests – no idea how many. We estimate we have created about 5000 jobs.

9. How many of your attendees actually end up setting up in the Philippines?
My numbers are a little warped by “Accountants”. Of the 320 about 100 were accountants who notoriously are not very entrepreneurial. About 25% of the accountants do something in the Philippines. Of the remaining 220 people, about 83% take action after the tour. Usually they move some of their processes, then discover they can create more value by developing and adding new processes to their business – some engage specialised services – a few create entirely new businesses from the opportunities that they have realised when they went on tour.

10. What is the most important thing to keep in mind when deciding to do business in the Philippines?
Trust. You must know who to trust. There are many “advisors” who are biased with their advice due to commissions and directed agencies. Every week, I’m finding Aussies in trouble because they received the wrong advice – they didn’t fully understand all the alternatives.

11. any other thoughts? tips? feedback?
Learn before you do. Nothing beats coming to the Philippines and seeing for yourself how it all works – where the big gains can be made.
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ATM Withdrawal Limits for Philippine Banks

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Many foreigners come to the Philippines and ask the same question – what Philippine ATM bank machine should I use to take out money? The question comes up often as the banks charge a fee for foreign cards being used as well as the foreigner’s local bank will charge a fee. So finding a bank with the highest withdrawal limit is important so that the fees can be minimized as best as possible.

atm withdrawal limits for philippine banks

Here are the results for Philippine bank ATM withdrawal limits: 

Bank Max. Amount
BDO ₱10,000.00
PNB ₱20,000.00
BPI ₱20,000.00*
HSBC ₱50,000.00
UnionBank ₱20,000.00
EastWest Bank Customizable
Maybank ₱20,000.00
ChinaBank ₱30,000.00


BDO Philippine ATM Limit (reference)
PNB Philippine ATM Limit (reference)
BPI Philippine ATM Limit (reference)
HSBC Philippine ATM Limit (reference)
UnionBank Philippine ATM Limit (reference)
EastWest Philippine ATM Limit (reference)
Maybank Philippine ATM Limit (reference)
ChinaBank Philippine ATM Limit (reference)

Update: A commenter gave some feedback on BPI.
philippine atm limits



If this was helpful, you might like this:

How To Get To Fort Bonifacio (From The 4th Worst Airport In The World)

– Why Start a Business in the Philippines?

How To Get To Fort Bonifacio (From The 4th Worst Airport In The World)

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in the Philippines is no longer the world’s worst airport, rising to fourth spot after topping the list for the past four years.

With a slight improvement in its ranking as a result of increased positive votes for its Terminal 3, the same can be said about the country – looking ahead despite ongoing challenges.

We have visitors coming to Manila all year round and continue sending out information about the taxis at the airport so I figured I would post it here for all to use. For our purposes, the fees are based on getting from NAIA to Fort Bonifacio.

Metered Taxis

Metered Taxis are the yellow ones that are found under the “Metered Taxi” sign. There is a desk there that will grab your name and give you a slip of paper with the vehicle’s license plate written on it. This is meant to give you some comfort incase there is an issue or you forget something, but best to make a note of the plate yourself as many times they are not legible (see below). The costs from NAIA to Fort Bonifacio should be about P220+/- (depends on traffic and route)

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Coupon Taxis (aka Fixed Fare) 

The Fixed Fare taxis are just down the road a little bit and marked with a similar sign. They are white, and usually larger than the metered taxis. They are a bit better quality vehicle and will take you to Fort Bonifacio for a flat P440.

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Here is what the paperwork looks like. What license plate is my taxi?


What to watch for at NAIA?

1. There are a lot of random people running around asking you if you need a taxi. Many don’t have “official” ID. I find it best to go straight to the counter where the taxis are.

2. The taxis drivers love to say “no change” – so best to bring pesos with you.

3. Keep an eye on your items.

Welcome to the Philippines!! Make sure to get out to some of the beaches, they are the best in the world. 

Hotels in Fort Bonifacio, BGC, Taguig

We get asked all of the time what hotels should you consider when coming to the Philippines (ie. Manila, not to one of the islands, that is a different blog post). I recently made a list for an EO event that we are hosting in the coming weeks and thought I would share it here as well.

In Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
There are only a handful of hotels in the Fort (or BGC as some call it) but there are a few opening. Here are the ones currently open;

F1 Best Western – www.f1hotelmanila.com
Not a bad hotel, pricing is usually around $110 – $140 a night an includes breakfast. But check with them for their latest deals.

Seda Hotel – www.sedahotels.com
A boutique hotel right off of High Street. It is usually priced similar to the F1 but has a great roof top bar that can be fun to check out.

Ascott – www.the-ascott.com
The Ascott just opened in the Fort a few days ago.

Not open yet and behind schedule, but when it opens it should be awesome. It is at the other end of High Street from the Seda and looks to be the tallest tower in the Fort.

Grand Hyatt
Also not open, but will be an fantastic addition to the Fort when it does.