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Planning to throw a hybrid holiday party? Here’s what to do

Illustration by Yiffy Gu

December 16, 2021 2:08 p.m.

For this year’s celebration, many people are excited to gather in person again as the country stays on Alert Level 2 which means there are lesser restrictions and more fun activities to do. However, the Department of Health (DOH) urges employers to still hold Christmas parties virtually for the second time during the pandemic.

This means creative ideas for gathering from a distance will still be key to helping friends, family, and colleagues celebrate together—finding ways to tie in virtual events and hosting in-person activities. This is where a happy medium introduces itself: the hybrid party, in which some people gather in person and others connect virtually to celebrate together.

While people  still can’t celebrate Christmas like they used to pre-pandemic, a Twitter report showed that the holiday season remain to be a “joyous occasion” for Filipinos based on their vibrant conversations in the platform. It’s just a matter of recreating traditions in more accessible, safe, and secure ways.

Hybrid events may look and feel different, but they can still be fun, festive, and memorable with a little thoughtful planning.

“At HP, we’ve really harnessed technology and figured out how to continue connecting while miles apart and still keep that fun interactive experience like we’re just chatting and sitting in one table,” says Christian Reyes, Philippines Managing Director of HP Inc.

Whether you’re planning a simple Christmas dinner with friends, family Noche Buena, or an office holiday party, here are fun, creative ways to bring everyone together this year, wherever they are.

Share the ambience

Engage your virtual guests’ senses to create an experience that feels delightfully different from their day-to-day Zoom meetings and mimics what’s happening in the room. For example, if your in-person decor includes Christmas lanterns and fake poinsettia, send virtual guests smaller-scale versions for their home office and have them download Pinoy-themed and other festive Zoom backgrounds. Browse through various designs and print holiday craft activities and decorations for in-person guests on a high-quality home printer like the new HP Smart Tank 700 series available at Lazada and Shopee.

Send links to the same activities to remote guests so everyone can get creative together. Prepare home-style Bibingka, one of the Christmas food staples, as a gift for all attendees. If you want to make it a little more exciting, send virtual guests the ingredients so they can also make their own special versions.

Pre-record holiday-themed videos to watch together

Pre-recording content can help create communal experiences and level the playing field between in-person and online guests. A company might record an uplifting holiday message from the CEO, or prepare special performances from members of the team who are not afraid to showcase their amazing talents. For family get-togethers, ask some to film their greetings or special messages to the one they pick as Secret Santa.

Host a hybrid game or karaoke night

With the onset of virtual gatherings, many platforms have popped up to offer a variety of fun activities and games to choose from. Mentimeter and Kahoot are two of the most used for questions, polls, quizzes, and the like where responses from participants are showcased in real-time. You can create your own trivia quiz or choose from their templates. Zoom even have built-in apps that also deliver the same interactive experience. If the group feels more like singing Christmas carols, you can also host a hybrid karaoke party over Zoom. You can even mail virtual guests their own karaoke mic.

Organize a multi-location gift exchange

Draw names or use the free Secret Santa generator Elfster to match up gift givers and recipients. Ask everyone to mail their gifts well in advance — no peeking! — and then have everyone open their presents during your live event. Play a Spotify  holiday playlist with suggestions from all of your guests during gift opening.

Book a hybrid or virtual experience everyone can join

Or, instead of physical gifts, give experiences people can do together. Set up a holiday dessert tutorial or partner with a local business to arrange charcuterie workshops. Guests can post pictures of their creations on social media, and the one with the most likes wins a prize. Other experiences to explore include a virtual tour of your Christmas decorations at home or in the office and inviting a live band to serenade the guests.

Capture everything in fun video playback

Apart from taking virtual group photos and being creative in adding image filters or actual photo booth-like props, what makes an experience extra memorable is if you can capture the whole session and be able to replay it after or in the next year’s celebration as a look-back. You can task the most skilled in editing among the team or family to add some other video and sound effects that would make the recording more fun to watch and share on social media.

Whether you’re imagining something immersive or trying simple touches like festive Zoom backgrounds and a shared holiday playlist, we can all agree that the most important consideration for any celebration this year is staying connected while being mindful of each other’s well-being and safety. It’s being able to spread nothing else but love and care no matter what. This, after all, is the spirit of Christmas.

For more information about HP, visit HP.com.

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Heated Pokémon battles at Paldea Region

August 23, 2022 5:42 p.m.

The Pokémon Company is pleased to share the following news about the Nintendo Switch software titles Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet.

Here’s a New Pokémon that you can meet in the Paldea Region!

Cyclizar is a Pokémon that lives with humans. This Pokémon has lived in many households in the Paldea region since ancient times. It has a mild disposition, and people riding Cyclizars are a very common sight. It appears that Cyclizar don’t mind being ridden because the warmth of a rider helps stave off the cold.

Cyclizar has a body optimized for running. It can sprint at over 70 mph while carrying a human. It has an extremely hard head and thick, lithe tail that are not only useful for maintaining balance and absorbing shocks while sprinting—they also provide effective ways to attack during battles.

Here’s a new move from Cyclizar: it can shed its tail! The user can create a substitute for itself using its own HP before switching places with a party Pokémon in waiting.

Battle with Pokémon Trainers from All over the World in the Battle Stadium!

With the Battle Stadium feature in Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet, you’ll be able to use the internet to enjoy battling Trainers from all over the world.

Ranked Battles, which players have had the chance to enjoy in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, will be returning in Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet. Players will be able to take on battles in modes like Casual Battles and Online Competitions as well.

Get ready to have heated Pokémon battles with the new partners you meet in the Paldea region!

Casual Battles are low-stakes battles in which results are not recorded. One appealing feature about these battles is that you can use any Pokémon.

In Ranked Battles, you will be able to test your battle skills against Pokémon Trainers from all over the world. Your rank will change depending on your battle results. Trainers are sorted into tiers based on their ranks. If you can reach Master Ball Tier, the topmost tier, you’ll have a chance to vie to be the best Pokémon Trainer in the world in fierce battles.

Online Competitions are competitions in which Trainers can battle with other entrants.

In Official Competitions, various kinds of rules may govern these special competitions in which you compete to see how high you can place in the rankings.

In the Friendly Competitions format, you can hold your very own competition or join one set up by other Trainers.

Rental Teams lets you easily borrow Battle Teams by inputting IDs that have been shared online. You’ll also be able to build your own Battle Team and make it available for Pokémon Trainers all over the world to use!

Please note that a paid Nintendo Switch Online membership is required to use the Battle Stadium. To use the Battle Stadium, you may need to install updated data that may become available on or after the games’ release date. Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield players cannot battle with Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet players.

Master Using the Terastal Phenomenon in Battle!

Terastallizing is a phenomenon in the Paldea region that makes Pokémon shine and glimmer like gems. Terastallized Pokémon shine during battles, too.

Change your Pokémon’s type and turn the tables!

The primary feature of Terastallizing in battle is that it changes your Pokémon’s type to its Tera Type. Pokémon don’t outwardly show what their Tera Type is until they Terastallize—a fact that

you can use to take opponents by surprise in battle. Combining Tera Types with different moves and abilities can open up near-infinite strategic possibilities.

This Tyranitar, which is normally Rock/Dark type, became Ghost type after Terastallizing.

If a Coalossal combines the Steam Engine Ability with a Water Tera Type, the Pokémon can take less damage and receive a speed boost when it gets hit by a Water-type move.

Tera Blast is a new move that shows its power when the user is Terastallized.

Tera Blast is a Normal-type move that can be learned with a TM. When used by a Terastallized Pokémon, it becomes a move of the same type as the Pokémon’s Tera Type and displays its immense might. Use it at the right moment to change the flow of the battle.

Tera Blast inflicts damage using the Attack or Sp. Atk stat—whichever is higher for the user.

New Items That Can Make Battles Even More Exciting

These items can be held by Pokémon to trigger a variety of effects. How you use them may mean the difference between victory and defeat. Use them in conjunction with Pokémon moves and Terastallizing to achieve victory.

Mirror Herb

This herb will allow the holder to mirror an opponent’s stat increases and boost its own stats–but only once.

Covert Cloak

This hooded cloak conceals the holder, protecting it from the additional effects of moves.

Loaded Dic

If a Pokémon holding this item uses a multi-strike move, that move will be more likely to hit numerous times.

Lastly, the latest trailer for Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet has been released! Check out the trailer titled “Competitive Play Trailer | Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet” at https://youtu.be/22fAJ6Iy_80

For more information about Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet, please go the official webpage: https://scarletviolet.pokemon.com/en-us/

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From PayMaya Enterprise to Maya Business 

August 21, 2022 5:06 p.m.

PayMaya, the country’s largest processor of merchant payments, has relaunched its enterprise brand as Maya Business. 

The new Maya Business seamlessly integrates omnichannel payment acceptance solutions, business-to-business (B2B), and business-to-government (B2G) payments,  with digital banking services powered by Maya Bank, including a high-interest business deposit account and a range of credit products for enterprises and their customers.  

The transformation comes on the heels of the successful launch of the new Maya brand and consumer app in late April this year which saw an accelerated uptake for wallet and digital banking services. 

“With the new Maya Business, we’re creating the future of the enterprise, unleashing digital at a faster speed and on a broader scale,” said Manuel V. Pangilinan, Chairman of Voyager and PayMaya, and Chairman Emeritus of Maya Bank.  

Accelerating the digital transformation of businesses 

During the event, keynote speakers Department of Trade and Industry Secretary (DTI) Alfredo Pascual and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Felipe Medalla emphasized the need to accelerate the digital transformation of businesses as critical components of sustainable economic growth and inclusion. 

“The BSP welcomes the rollout of new digital financial services that bring the benefits of digitalization to Filipino businesses and end-users. We are creating the right environment, but without enterprises like Maya, it means nothing if the private sector does not find a way of utilizing the opportunities. These efforts contribute to our push to expand financing options for our MSMEs and bring them into the mantle of the formal financial system,” said BSP Gov. Felipe Medalla.  

For his part, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual underscored the crucial role of the private sector in helping the Philippines achieve its digital transformation goals.  

“The private sector, with its agile mindset and disposition, has to play a key role, particularly in implementing the digital transformation of large and small enterprises as well as the government itself. Congratulations to Maya for providing a fast and secure financial transaction platform for businesses and consumers,” Pascual said.  

According to the BSP 2021 E-Payments Measurement, business payments account for 24.1% of total monthly retail payments. Supplier payments make up almost 90% of total business payments, but most of these still use non-digital channels.  

Maya Business is committed to accelerating digital transformation among enterprises and consumers in line with the national targets under the Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap 2023 and eCommerce Philippines Roadmap 2022. 

“As a growth and transformation enabler, we are embedding our digital Maya solutions into the operating systems of our merchants, big or small, online or physical,” Orlando B. Vea, PayMaya Founder-CEO and Maya Bank Co-Founder, commented.  

From payments to digital financial services 

“From being a payments partner for enterprises, we’re now an all-in-one growth partner for businesses,” said Shailesh Baidwan, PayMaya Philippines Group President and Maya Bank Co-Founder. “Beyond leadership in payment acceptance, we’re enabling our customers with new digital financial services like business deposit, payroll disbursements,  working capital loans, and buy-now-pay-later products.” 

Maya Business offers merchants the broadest range of payment acceptance solutions, allowing businesses to accept any credit, debit, and prepaid card, scan-to-pay via QR, or via Maya wallet, whether online or on-ground. Solutions include Maya Checkout for online payments, Maya Payment Links for digital invoicing, Maya QR enabled by QR Ph Person-to-Merchant (P2M) payments – the national standard promoted by the BSP, and Maya Terminal, the country’s first android point-of-sale device.  

Business owners and corporations can fast-track their business growth with a fully digital bank account that offers free PesoNet transfers and a 1.5% interest rate, four times higher than traditional banks. This feature is currently available for existing Maya Business clients.   

On top of payment acceptance, Maya Business also offers a disbursement platform that enables organizations to efficiently distribute funds to their employees, suppliers, or citizen beneficiaries.  

Maya Business honors Financial Inclusion Heroes  

Maya Business is making big moves to help leapfrog millions of citizens, businesses, organizations, and government offices into more inclusive digital financial services.    

Formerly PayMaya Enterprise, the country’s largest digital payments processor for key industries, recently recognized trailblazing partners that have championed Filipinos’ welfare through accessible financial services.   

Recognized as Financial Inclusion Heroes, these organizations have proactively adopted digital solutions to empower their constituents by making everyday transactions more convenient and accessible.   

“Financial inclusion is at the heart of what we do. We are proud to honor outstanding partners who have led the charge in enabling more Filipinos to be financially included through innovative and relevant services,” said Orlando B. Vea, CEO-Founder of PayMaya and Co-Founder of Maya Bank.    

Maya Business is powered by the country’s only end-to-end digital payments company, PayMaya Philippines, and Maya Bank for digital banking services.   

DTI and BSP: showing the way for financial inclusion  

Leading the list of Maya Business Financial Inclusion Heroes are the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for spearheading the country’s digital payments transformation roadmap and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for championing e-Commerce adoption across consumers and enterprises.   

Through progressive regulation and initiatives led by the BSP, the Philippines has made significant inroads in achieving the national target of financially including 70% of adult Filipinos by 2023. As of end-2021, more than 53% of adult Filipinos already have access to basic financial accounts.   

BSP Gov. Felipe Medalla called on the private sector to support the national financial inclusion goals during his keynote remarks at the Maya Business event. Joining him to receive the Financial Inclusion Hero award for the BSP are Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier, Deputy Governor Bernadette Puyat-Romulo, and Monetary Board Members Anita Linda Aquino and Peter Favila.   

For the DTI, Secretary Alfredo Pascual and Assistant Secretary Mary Jean Pacheco accepted the recognition. In his keynote, Sec. Pascual said that “collaboration between industry and government is effective in promoting priority initiatives.”   

“We have accomplished much through our collaborations, and the successful outcome speaks for itself. Let us continue with our Ecommerce Roadmap 2023-2025 and assist large merchants and, more importantly, MSMEs in leapfrogging toward a cashless and inclusive fintech,” Pascual added.  

Financial inclusion at the grassroots   

Brgy. Namayan of Mandaluyong City, one of this year’s awardees, exemplified how financial inclusion can empower communities. As the first-ever barangay-level “cash lite” community in the Philippines, Brgy. Namayan enabled its residents and workers to enjoy digital transactions with the help of Maya Business.   

The barangay equipped its residents with citizen ID cards linked to Maya accounts for everyday payment transactions in sari-sari stores, karinderiabulalohan, and other small merchants. Barangay workers, meanwhile, can safely receive their monthly allowances through their Maya-powered citizen ID cards.    

“Our collaboration with Maya becomes even more relevant now, given the need for safer contactless transactions. By encouraging cashless technologies in everyday transactions in our barangay, we are building a safer and more inclusive community,” said Brgy. Namayan Chairman Victor Emmanuel Francisco Jr.   

Making Big Moves Toward the Digital Transformation of Enterprises: Maya, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) join forces to accelerate the digital transformation of businesses across the country. In this photo, during the Maya Business Launch event are (L to R): PayMaya Philippines Group President and Maya Co-Founder Shailesh Baidwan, DTI Assistant Secretary Mary Jean Pacheco, BSP Deputy Governor Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier, PayMaya Founder-CEO and Maya Bank Co-Founder Orlando B. Vea, BSP Governor Felipe Medalla, DTI Alfredo Pascual, Voyager and PayMaya Chairman and Maya Bank Chairman Emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan, and Maya Bank President Angelo Madrid.  

Financial Inclusion Heroes across sectors  

Maya Business feted partners who contributed significantly to promoting financial inclusion. Among these Financial Inclusion Heroes are:  

  • Ease of Doing Business Champions – National Government Agencies: the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), Pag-IBIG, and Social Security System (SSS) for making it easier for citizens to pay civic fees through omnichannel payment acceptance   
  • Ease of Doing Business Champions- Local governments: Taguig City and Caloocan City for adopting an ecosystem approach for person and business to government payments and citizen disbursements  
  • LGUs Embracing and Accelerating Digitalization (LEAD) program Champion: Department of Interior and Local Government for promoting e-payments adoption among local governments units (LGUs)  
  • Agriculture: Development Bank of the Philippines for the joint efforts in promoting countryside development    
  • Education: the University of the Philippines System for adopting an all-in-one ID card with payment capabilities for their students and employees  
  • Humanitarian: Oxfam Pilipinas for pioneering the use of cashless technology in disaster preparedness and emergency response via the Inclusive and Affordable Financial Facilities for Resilient and Developed Filipinos Project (iAFFORD) program  
  • Social Welfare: Department of Social Welfare and Development for utilizing digital technologies in delivering pandemic cash assistance to citizens  
  • Travel and Tourism: Philippine Airlines for helping grow the sector post-pandemic  

“With our Maya Business partners, we are making big moves in driving digital financial services adoption across the length and breadth of the country,” said Shailesh Baidwan, Group President of PayMaya and co-founder of Maya Bank.   

To know more about Maya Business, visit maya.ph/business and follow @MayaBusinessPh on Facebook.

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YouTube announces “YouTube: Game On,” a live online global gaming event

August 10, 2022 4:59 p.m.

YouTube celebrates all things gaming–from popular titles to top content creators–through the first-ever “YouTube: Game On,” a two-hour interactive livestream event premiering live globally on Sunday, August 28, 4:00 A.M. Philippine time.

YouTube: Game On brings together more than 60 top gaming content creators, including MarkiplierAliAAyChristeneBazerkCaylusChicaCouRageDreamEddieVREyStreemKwebbelkopNetoGeorgeNotFoundJake FellmanLachlanLARRAYLaurenzSideLDShadowLadyMatPatMuselkMythPreston & BriannaSapnapSidemenSlogoSunlessKhanSykkunoThe GrumpsTommyInnitTypical GamerWirtual, with even more to be announced. They represent over 400 million subscribers and more than 150 billion combined lifetime views on the platform.

They will be playing and featuring today’s hottest games, including Among Us, Fall Guys, Fortnite, Free Fire, Friday Night Funkin’, Grand Theft Auto V, Minecraft, Mortal Kombat 11, Poppy Playtime, Rocket League, Street Fighter 6, Trackmania and more.

Gaming fans can watch and play along by voting in real time on unique gaming challenges and influence how the stream will play out.

The event will include various entertaining segments: a frightening batch of analog horror challenges that’ll give viewers good and thrilling jump scares; the Hot Ones Challenge: Video Gamer Faceoff hosted by Sean Evans, where viewer-selected players will go head-to-head playing an early demo of the highly anticipated Street Fighter 6 while eating hot wings; Grandma & Gran-Poppy Playtime where unsuspecting seniors will try to be the last person standing in survival horror game Poppy Playtime; and even more fun and creative gaming challenges.

YouTube: Game On celebrates the diversity of gaming content that makes up YouTube gaming culture–from entertaining gaming challenges and surprise gameplay moments to honoring classic game anniversaries–all of which are inspired by the most popular trends on the platform.

YouTube saw over 800 billion gaming-related views, over 90 million hours livestreamed, and over 250 million uploads in the first half of 2021, and is home to the most relevant gaming trends and content across livestreams, video-on-demand, and Shorts content. The global livestream event also comes at the heels of a jam-packed summer of gaming on the platform with a non-stop slate of gaming content from fan-favorite creators around the world.

YouTube: Game On will simultaneously stream across the globe on August 28. Live chat and interactive polling features for viewers will be enabled  across all five streams, making livestream outcomes a global decision. Watch and pre-subscribe to the stream via the official YouTube: Game On Watchpage.

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Watch the trailer here!

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