Sharapova and Sugarpova: Game, Set and Mismatch – But Both are Winning

This post is part of a series that is related to the ongoing Australian Open 2015 tournament.

Sharapova and Sugarpova initially seemed to be a mismatch, but the combination actually makes sense.


Health and sugar don’t match. In fact, in recent years, sugar has probably earned the unhealthy reputation of bacon. Look at what has happened to Krispy Kreme.

A sport star is a bastion of fitness and if ever one will associate himself with a sugary product, the terms used will be “fuel”, “power” or “energy boost” rather than “sweet, “sugar” or “candy”.

In 2012, when Maria Sharapova, a five time grand slam tennis champion, launched Sugarpova, a line of premium candies, many were perplexed with the move.

Sharapova is the world’s highest paid female athlete, and she makes most of that money off the court by hawking products from Tag Heuer, Nike, Porsche, Cole Haan and other brands. What makes Sugarpova different from all those other brands is that it is actually Sharapova’s own business. She’s selling the candies on behalf of herself.

Sugarpova is “premium” candy; in other words, more expensive than usual candies. A 5 oz bag of Sugarpovas costs around USD 5.99, many times more than usual candy brands. Not that these candies have something to be premium about. Most premium products boast using the finest ingredients, the finest manufacturing technique (finest being either ultra modern or handmade, but never the in-between), posh packaging, or luxurious buying experience. None of these are present in or claimed by Sugarpova. Sugarpovas are expensive because of Maria Sharapova.

There have always been premium chocolates, but never premium candies. Who would have thought of coming up with premium sour balls or gummy bears? Apparently no one has, which is why Sugarpova occupies its own niche. There must be candy that’s worthy of selfies, instagrams and facebook posts. Sugarpova fills that void.

In its first three months of release, Sugarpova had sold around 250,000 bags. It has probably sold more than a million bags by now. That’s major, considering that these candies have limited availability. In fact, here in the Philippines, there’s only one store chain that carries it.

I was lucky to get a bag here in Manila. The store I went to had only two bags. One is  “Quirky Sour, the other is  “Quirky”. Obviously, I didn’t have to ask what the difference between the two is… Actually I did. The sales lady said one was sweet, the other was sour. I went with the non-sour one.

Sugarpova candies available in the Philippines
Cheaper in the Philippines. Just PHP 199.75 or USD 4.52 in Manila. Do I see an arbitrage opportunity? Image by


Continue reading Sharapova and Sugarpova: Game, Set and Mismatch – But Both are Winning


The Araneta Wealth

Stella Marquez Araneta is currently making headlines in the Philippines and not in a good way. See related post here.

From Filipino designers to Twitter users, it seems that many are expressing their disappointment – ok anger – with her. Will the angry netizens speak with their wallets though? Stella had married into one of the Philippines’ wealthiest families. The Aranetas are involved in many businesses in the country.

She didn’t end up as a trophy wife. She is actually now the second most famous Araneta. The most famous being the inanimate Araneta Coliseum. Stella during her wedding to Jorge Araneta. Image from Alo Magazine


A view of the Araneta Center’s most famous landmark, the Araneta Coliseum. The coliseum hosted the Thrilla in Manila, the 1975 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Image from Ramon FVelasquez


Aside from the Araneta Coliseum, which is part of the 35 hectare Araneta Center complex, what are the other business holdings of the Aranetas? Continue reading The Araneta Wealth

Overpriced Swiss Watches Become Even Pricier

Switzerland is the home of many watch brands, and of most of the luxury ones.

Breguet Tourbillon watch in Rose Gold priced at around GBP 88K. The owner will probably still look at his smartphone to tell time though. Image from


On January 15 2015, the Swiss National Bank (SNB), decided to remove the currency cap on the Swiss Franc (CHF) which kept the CHF artificially low against the Euro (EUR). Investors buy CHF because they consider it as safe haven currency. Because the SNB suddenly will cease the practice of “printing” CHF to buy Euros to support the cap, the CHF appreciated significantly. Before the move by the SNB, CHF:EUR was hovering around 0.80. On January 15, CHF:EUR went past 1.17. As of the writing of this post (January 21 Manila time), CHF:EUR is trading at around 1.0. See CHF:EUR quotes here

This is bad news for the Swiss since exports comprise around 70% of their GDP. Swiss made watches, who many people think are already expensive, will now even be more expensive. Continue reading Overpriced Swiss Watches Become Even Pricier

Papal Visit Philippines 2015 Special: How much is the Catholic Church worth?

This post is part of a series that commemorates the Pope’s visit in the Philippines on January 15-19 2015.

How much are the assets of the Catholic Church worth? The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., University of Santo Tomas in Manila, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, are just a few of the prime real estate assets of the Catholic Church. The Church also has a vast collection of expensive artworks. The Catholic Church is also the largest non-government provider of health care services in the world.

It is safe to say that the Catholic Church is one of the most asset-rich entities in the world. So how much is the Catholic Church worth? Continue reading Papal Visit Philippines 2015 Special: How much is the Catholic Church worth?