TDIBeing an environmentalist, I hate to admit it, but I love my vehicle.

For starters, I applaud its exceptional fuel economy—an average of 37.5 miles per gallon city (45 mpg highway) in the three years I’ve owned it. This is a significant boost above the U.S. average of 23.6 mpg for their car fleet. I love the style—sleek, compact and modern without looking flashy. I’ve even come to love the little rumble of the diesel engine that signals its latent power.

Unfortunately, my dream car is built on a big, fat lie. That’s because I’m the owner of a 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI, one of the nearly half a million VWs that had a software installed to cheat emissions testing and “pass” clean air regulations. VW sold me, and hundreds of thousands of other Americans, a vehicle whose green “clean diesel” promises were nothing short of deceiving.

When I was first searching for a new vehicle, the Prius was quickly out of the equation upon the first test drive. For me, best-in-class fuel economy was non-negotiable, but I needed more. So that made the line of (supposedly) clean diesels the next best option. Due to their higher compression ratios and more intense internal combustion, diesel engines are, on average, about 30 percent more efficient than gasoline engines at burning petroleum. But there’s a hitch. Because a diesel engine burns petroleum at a hotter temperature, it turns more nitrogen into nitrogen oxides (or NOx). Such NOx are a main ingredient in ground-level smog, the kind of air pollution that is bad for plants and people and, with persistent exposure, contributes to lung disease and other respiratory ailments that can cause an early death.

Diesel engines’ contribution to smog meant that, for decades, American regulators frowned on diesel technology, even as European governments embraced the engines, mostly because of their superior fuel economy. Then, in the mid-2000s, the major automakers—led by German firms VW and Audi—said they had developed new “clean diesel” technology that would meet the stricter U.S. air quality standards while also delivering high fuel economy and road power. I fell for the idea of this being an actual reality and happily bought it.

As we now know, it was all a scam. Engineers in Germany had programmed the software in their diesel engines to recognize when the vehicles were undergoing a smog check. The NOx-controlling technology only switched on when the engine knew that it was experiencing a set of demands unique to testing conditions. Most of the time—under normal road conditions—the cars emit up to 40 times the allowed amount of NOx.

Being a committed environmentalist, I bought the VW Passat precisely because I believed that it was an exemplary “green car”— and I was defrauded. And now I’m ticked off. Although I dislike the litigious culture here in the United States, I have decided that I will join one of the VW class action lawsuits being prepared against Volkswagen.

I loved you until I found out you were a cheat.

philippinesA popular web-based freelancing website, Elance-oDesk, provides top insight and statistics into the freelance market across the world. In one company report from 2014, the Philippines make up 1/8th of freelancers across 180 countries. That equates to around 1 million Filipinos.

The top performing city in 2013 was Metro Manila, the financial capital of the Philippines. In that city alone, freelancers profited US$29.9 million for the year. To put this into perspective, that is 1.3 billion Php.

Filipinos who are finding freelance work on Elance-oDesk are not just from Metro Manila, but also from the provinces. A total of US$76 million was collected by Filipinos as per the country’s whole. Cebu is consistently ranked the top performing province in the country.

In recent years, there has been a rise in online outsourcing. Employers can now hire highly-skilled workers from anywhere in the world, increasing efficiency while saving on costs. Many top global companies use Elance-oDesk including Microsoft, Walt Disney, NBC, Panasonic, Johnson & Johnson and Pinterst, just to name a few. Filipinos prove to be successful competitors in the global marketplace.

In another report, Filipinos are cited to often focus on admin jobs due to the familiarity of doing call center work, though there still remains a good number of IT talent.

Companies are beginning to opt for the Philippines over India and one startup recognized this growth back in 2012 and launched an online learning platform, Kalibrr, for Filipinos who want to work in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry.

It’s no secret that the job market is flying high in the Philippines, not to mention, high-end jobs such as being a Filipino personal injury attorney in the legal field or even a surgeon in the medical field. Many Filipinos decide to move to the US to further their education and then stay for their careers. Some return back home to start a practice or firm. The Philippines seem to collect financial success in most industries, not just freelancing.

Sterile injectable manufacturer Hospira recently received a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) over concerns at its plant in Italy. The concerns are many and some are quite serious. Given that Pfizer has made a $15 billion bid to take the company over, the letter couldn’t have come a worse time for Hospira.


The Warning Letter


The letter contains a stern warning about the manufacturing facility in Liscate, Italy. To begin with, the FDA has determined that Hospira did not properly investigate more than 100 complaints about discoloration of a single product. While the company did investigate the complaints, its investigation was very cursory and shortsighted. The manufacturer never came to the conclusion that the discoloration was actually caused by faulty manufacturing practices.


Additionally, the letter cites manufacturing issues that could allow microbial contamination on one aseptic filling line. Perhaps most damaging of all, the FDA found evidence that Hospira employees deleted or overwrote test results, a possible indication that employees were aware of the issues and were attempting to cover them up.


While the letter concerning the Italian plant is recent, Hospira has multiple plants in the U.S. and around the world that have failed FDA inspections. The FDA has posted warning letters concerning Hospira plants in Europe, Asia, and Australia. The company is building a new plant in India, but the FDA has already refused to allow manufacturing to begin amid a bevy of concerns with the equipment and the plant itself. The Indian plant, located in Visakhapatnam, is intended to greatly reduce operating costs for Hospira, so it is a key component of Hospira’s future.


An email statement from Hospira reads: ”Hospira is evaluating what corrective actions may be required to address the specific matters raised in the warning letter. It is important to note that we have already completed several of the corrective actions we committed to the agency in response to the May 2014 inspection observations, and the other actions are underway.” The company has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade equipment and missed out on hundreds of millions more due to lost sales during manufacturing interruptions.


Pfizer Takeover Bid


Pfizer is well aware of the warning letters and Hospira’s history with the FDA. The latest letter and the issues with the India plant are matters of public record, so did not stop Pfizer from offering $15 billion in cash and stock. In fact, Pfizer’s Executive VP of Global Supply Tony Maddaluna visited the plant before signing off on the takeover bid. He reported to investors that the visit convinced him that Hospira was on the right track, so it does not appear that the issues with the FDA will affect the takeover in the least. The acquisition will place Pfizer in a better position within the biosimilars market, giving the company a potential sales income that will offset any upgrades and changes that it must made at any of the Hospira plants.



Sad and depressed woman in black and whiteWhat is a class action lawsuit?

A class action lawsuit is one in which there are a large number of plaintiffs bringing similar claims. These lawsuits are also called representative actions or collective lawsuits. Typically, there are only a handful of named plaintiffs, but those plaintiffs are representative of a larger group. Individuals who sign onto class action suits typically relinquish their rights to independently sue the same entity.

What are damages in class action lawsuits?

There are two types of damages available in class action lawsuits. They are:

Compensatory damages – these are payments that are meant to compensate plaintiffs for their direct damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering and wrongful death.

Punitive damages – meant to punish the defendant for intentional or gross wrongdoing. These are less common, and are used by the courts to “punish” behavior by companies that should be discouraged.

What are the different  types of class action lawsuits?

  1. Consumer Class actions:

Consumer class actions are generally brought when consumers complain about being injured by a company’s systematic and illegal practices. Examples of such consumer complaints include illegal charges on bills, illegal penalties for late-payments, and failure to comply with consumer protection laws. While consumers often write a complaint letter to such companies, complaint letters often go unanswered, in which case you’ll want to contact a class action consumer lawyer regarding your consumer complaint.

  1. Securities Class actions:

Securities class actions are typically brought on behalf of a group of investors who have been injured as a result of a company’s improper conduct, such as misstating earnings, concealing or misrepresenting risks, or otherwise engaging in activity detrimental to the company. They can be brought by activist investors who own shares of the company, or by people who have previously owned securities that fell in value due to some alleged bad behavior by the company management.

  1. Product liability/Personal Injury Class actions:

Product liability and personal injury class action lawsuits are generally brought when either a defective product, or “mass accident”, such as a toxic spill, harms many people. To proceed as a class action, the people hurt must have all been harmed in a similar fashion by the product or accident

  1. Employment Class actions:

Employment class action lawsuits are typically brought on behalf of employees of a large company for claims ranging from systematic workplace discrimination to unpaid overtime pay.

What are the benefits of class action lawsuits?

If you have been wronged by an entity with substantial resources, it can be difficult to fight for your rights. Large companies can afford to hire teams of attorneys and drag a case on for years. Few individuals can withstand the financial cost of such a process. This is not the case with a class action lawsuit, however. Given the large number of plaintiffs and the potential for substantial damage awards, a law firm can work on a class action case on contingency, costing the plaintiffs nothing during the proceedings.

If you have a potential class action lawsuit, there are many experienced attorneys who can help you begin the process. Class action attorneys are skilled at evaluating and handling a wide variety of class action suits. Contact one today to have a free case evaluation.




photo credit: i eated a cookie

photo credit: i eated a cookie

If you’re looking to buy testosterone pills in the Philippines, you can find several brands being sold over the counter in health stores all over Manila. However you should be aware that taking testosterone supplements without a prescription from a medical expert is an invitation for all sorts of health problems down the road. Testosterone supplements are perhaps most common in the bodybuilding community, where they are taken for building muscle strength and mass in a quick time, similar to steroids.

Are testosterone supplements and low testosterone drugs the same?

Testosterone supplements sold over the counter without a prescription are not only of dubious quality but downright dangerous. For one, it is impossible to check whether the product sold is as it says on the label. Another thing that you should keep in mind is that low testosterone drugs are prescribed only to patients who have been screened for hypogonadism. In the U.S. this is the only condition under which a prescription for low T drugs is allowed. Onset of hypogonadism can be from birth or it can appear after injury or infection. Testosterone replacement therapy is prescribed when the patient has been screened for the condition.

There are a number of options for delivery:

  • Injection. Testosterone injections are safe for the majority of patients and injection in the muscle assures immediate delivery of testosterone in the bloodstream. You can give these injections yourself or you have a family member or a nurse or doctor administer them.
  • Patch. Testosterone patches are applied overnight on your shoulder and/or upper arm area. The site of the application is changed every time in order to minimize adverse skin reactions.
  • Gel. A number of testosterone gel preparations exist. Depending on the brand and the doctor’s indications, you will either rub the gel on your shoulders or upper arm, apply it with an applicator under each armpit or pump the gel on your inner thigh. Your skin will absorb the testosterone. Studies have found that gel applications cause less adverse skin reactions than other methods.
  • Gum and cheek. Application through a tablet (Striant) that sticks to the gum line ensures that testosterone is delivered safely and absorbed effectively into your bloodstream.
  • Implantable pellets. A less common way of administration, these are surgically placed under the skin and need to be placed regularly, every 3 or 6 months.

Low testosterone drug side effects

If you’ve been prescribed low testosterone drugs then the doctor should already have briefed you on the several side effects that can occur. Recent studies has prompted the FDA to look more closely into the safety of low T drugs as more and more people are filing lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies, claiming that they were not adequately warned or that they were misled as to the purpose of the drug. If you have been injured as a result of taking these drugs, you should contact a low testosterone lawyer to see if you have a case. There are already over 750+ filed lawsuits and judges are considering consolidation into a multi-district litigation.

photo credit: Incase.

photo credit: Incase.

As a Filipino, it can be hard to find a regular job. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the unemployment rate is slowly rising, with 7.5% or an estimated of 2.9 million individuals without a place of work compared to 7.1% in January 2013. The Philippines has few industries and graduates have a hard time finding a job they like. Most of them end up stacking shelves at local supermarkets or working as cashiers, jobs that could hardly be seen as suitable for someone who has just graduated from university. The reality is harsh, with many Filipinos opting to work abroad in order to support themselves and their families.

However if you’re a foreigner, things may look different to you. You already have the capital required to make it, the only thing that you need is a business idea and the right people to help you implement it. Luckily, Filipinos are hardworking people and it’s a known fact that Filipino VAs are some of the most resourceful and industrious English speaking workers that you can employ online. Because of this, opening a business in the Philippines is mostly about getting around the legislation and finding and providing Filipinos with an opportunity that they do not yet have.

Here are a couple of business ideas to kick start your idea-generating part of the brain. While not entirely new or exclusive, these ideas can give you a base from which to create your next winning business.

1. Rice retail business.

If you were born and raised in the Western hemisphere, bread is probably a staple in almost every Western cuisine. However when it comes to SE Asia, rice is king. Every Filipino eats rice. Getting into the rice retail business requires a starting capital of P60,000 to get something that is profitable right off the bat. If you’re not a Filipino, you’ll have to find one because that is the only way you will be able to start this business. Once you have your local partner, you will require a business permit, licenses with the DTI or the SEC if it is a partnership or corporation and also a license from the National Food Authority.

This isn’t a new idea by any means and it is mainly an arbitrage business. However, if you’re just starting out, it’s a nice starting point until you’re ready to tackle bigger fish.

2. Tarpaulin printing business

Tarpaulin is used as drop sheet for painting and can be used on anything from food carts to electoral billboards and even to funerals. Graphics printed on tarpaulin are cheap and the material is resistant, making it a good fit for Philippines’ tropical weather.

3.  CAD plotting business

Another specialized type of business, the main target customers would be architects and engineers. A plotter works like a regular printer except that it can take paper sizes larger than the standard A4 through A1 sizes

4. Second-hand clothing business

Known locally as Ukay-Ukay, used clothing is big with Filipinos because of the reduced prices it offers them. You can import clothes from other countries for cheap (clothes that did not pass local standards for example). This can be an alternative to opening a boutique or buying space in a department store.

5. Pandesal making business

Another staple diet of Filipino diets, Pandesal is a common bread eaten at breakfast or as snacks. Instead of opening a general bakery, it’s best to open a small bakery that specializes in making Pandesal. Assure that your Pandesal is of high quality and you will have no problem attracting customers.

6. Shoe, bag and leather repair business

Filipino markets are flooded with shoe and bag replicas from China, so almost everybody owns one. But while they’re cheap, they also break very easily. People would rather have them fixed instead of thrown away. That’s where a shoe, bag and leather repair business comes in.

7. Street food business

Street food carts are seen all over the Philippines. Isaw or grilled intestines, betamax (dried pork blood), pig ears (called walkman), chicken head and feet are all popular street foods. You can buy all of these products and the only requirement is to grill them on charcoal before they can be sold.

8. Personalized T-Shirt Printing

With recent advances in technology, almost everyone can buy a printer, t-shirt transfer paper and a couple of blank t-shirts to start off their business. Selling custom t-shirts is an evergreen niche.

9. Meat shop business

You will find many meat shops in wet markets and setting up shop near other shops similar to yours is a sure way to fail (unless you don’t mind operating on abysmal margins)

10. Cellphone loading business

Another idea for a business that does not require a big starting capital. Eloading allows people to sell credits from all telecom networks.


These are just a couple of business ideas to help you find the ideal one. Remember, if you’re going to open a business in the Philippines, you should create something that locals could not replicate. Otherwise, if you get into markets where arbitrage is everything, you will most assuredly lose to the competition who is willing to work harder for lower margins.

photo credit: gruntzooki

photo credit: gruntzooki

Many foreigners ask us if they can engage in retail trade in the Philippines. The short answer is yes. The long answer is that there are a number of laws that make the process more complex than it has to be.

Everyday foreigners visit to the Philippines with the intention of expanding their business locally. Businessmen who are selling anything from clothes to pharmaceutical products to cosmetics and other merchandise want to open shop in the Philippines. They have the capital, the products and the marketing skills to start selling but local laws impose certain limitations that prevent them from engaging in retail business right away.

These laws have been enacted in part to protect local vendors. Locals who do not have as much capital as foreigners would be wiped off, competitively speaking.

Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration has put out several warnings, cautioning foreigners to not engage in retail trade without meeting the requirements, lest they be arrested or deported for violating immigration and retail trade laws.

When is a business considered to be a retail business?

The law defines retail business as an enterprise that sells merchandise, commodities and/or goods to the general public. If your business fits this criteria then it’s safe to say that you have a retail business.

What are the requirements for a foreigner to engage in retail trade?

Foreigners or corporations with foreign equity must have a capital no less than two million five hundred thousand dollars ($2,500,000).

Does the Retail Trade Liberalization Law cover all types of retail businesses?

There are some exceptions to the rule where foreign ownership is allowed.

For example, sales of products by a manufacturer whose capital does not exceed one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) is not considered retail trade. The same exception applies to farmers selling their own produce.

Hotel owners or inn-keepers who have a restaurant that is incidental to their business are also exempt from this law.

Lastly, sales related to products where a single outlet is manufacturing, processing or assembling the product are also exempt.

If the requirements for capitalization are met ($2,500,000) can the business be foreign-owned 100%?

If business capitalization is between $2.5 million and $7.5 million then foreign ownership of the business can extend to 60% of the business. If the capitalization is above $7.5 million, then foreigners can own the business wholly.

Are foreigners required to keep their business capitalization in a Philippines bank?

No. The only requirement is that the foreign investor use the actual funds in the Philippines operation. Use of the funds will be monitored by the SEC (Security and Exchange Commission).

Perhaps you have been thinking of opening up a retail shop in the Philippines for quite some time. Now that you know the actual requirements for doing so, you should select your product and make sure that you have the required capital to operate a business here. Some business owners find trust-worthy Filipinos who agree to register the business in their name, for a small fee. This way, assuming you know and trust the person, you can open a business in the Philippines without the required $2.5 million.