By Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--The construction sector in three to five years will experience a boom, helped by low inflation levels and an expanding real estate sector, according to property consultant CB Richard Ellis Philippines Inc. Inflation, or the rise in prices of goods and services, greatly affects the material and labor costs. Inflation has fallen to single digit-levels, with the lowest rate recorded at 2.2 percent in March 2007. A real estate boom usually precedes a construction boom, ensuring that demand will sustain the latter. The real estate boom was perceived to have started in 2005, largely due to a growing outsourcing industry that has spurred demand for office spaces, very low interest rates on housing loans, and an increasing appetite for homes among overseas Filipino workers. The continuous rise in office space take-up, 70 percent of which come from business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, have spurred office developers to start building again since 2006, albeit at a more cautious manner, such as by pre-leasing the space before projects are completed, said Victor Asuncion, CBRE director for Global Research and Consultancy Services. "The macroeconomic fundamentals are strong, and so is BPO demand," added Rick Santos, CBRE chairman. The property consultant said office building supply this year will reach 232,180 square meters, and will grow to 330,425 square meters in 2008 based on commitments by certain firms. In 2009, commitments to build office space have reached a total of 105,909 square meters. On the other hand, demand for office space is seen at 220,000 square meters in 2007, almost matching the projected office supply, and will grow 10 to 15 percent a year, CBRE director Paul Ryan Isip said. The construction boom is also underscored by the estimated 21-percent growth in construction sales in the first semester, as measured by gross value added (GVA). GVA is a key performance indicator of the construction sector, and is derived by deducting the intermediate goods used in production, such as raw materials, fuel, advertising and other non-industrial overhead costs, from the total value of output or construction sales using 1985 prices as the base year, CBRE noted. GVA grew almost 21 percent to P29.87 billion in the first half, from P24.76 billion in the same period in 2006, data from the National Statistical Coordination Board showed. With high-rise residential condominiums, supply is expected to reach nearly 4,500 units in 2008, from over 4,000 in 2007. Asuncion estimates demand right now is for half of the projected supply 4,500 units, with demand mostly coming from BPO workers and middle-class families. "Most developers nowadays are pre-selling their projects before they break ground to eliminate the risk of speculative demand," Asuncion said. "Moreover, [developers were] able to increase project profitability with the inflow of installment payments from buyers." CBRE also said the voluntary freeze on major construction work is starting to melt, with activities from both the public and private sectors flourishing. For the public sector, the Arroyo administration has lined up infrastructure projects for completion by 2010. In the private sector, construction projects are ongoing in Metro Baguio, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao.
September 2007 Archives
By Charles E. Buban Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Consumers these days are increasingly yearning for a “feel-good” space in their homes -- an area where they could not only nourish their body but also their soul. For them, such a place could only be their bathroom. “The bathroom has indeed come a long way from being purely functional. It is now being viewed as a place of relaxation, and consumers are investing more time and money to create a place of seclusion and escape,” promised Steve Courso, GM of Dornbracht, manufacturer of high-quality bathroom fittings and accessories from Germany. Dornbracht is among the high-end lines that recently become available in the Philippines through a globally acclaimed sanitation ware distributed by Hamburg International Sales Corp. Aside from Dornbract, Hamburg International Sales’ newly opened showroom in Makati (ground floor of BMC Centre, Paseo de Magallanes) feature other top-of-the-line brands like Blanco, Villeroy & Boch and Keuco. Carefully selected “We have carefully selected some of the world’s best sanitary ware ranges. These brands offer the best in terms of functionality, durability and beauty,” said Hamburg International Sales CEO Horst Kessler von Sprengeisen. He cited as an example Villeroy & Boch’s 2007 collections that offer pioneering concept designs for daily well-being and optimum rest. These latest collections from Villeroy & Boch promise to set strong interior design trends: private bathroom transforms into an all-round room for pampering the mind, body and soul. In Villeroy & Boch’s Lulu line of bath fixtures and accessories for example (which includes everything from a drinking glass to towel holders to a single-lever basin mixer with raised base), the metal fittings and accessories are available in either a polished chrome or platinum matte finish, which successfully combines the functions of a beauty salon, fitness room and dressing room. 80 years Another interesting brand that Hamburg International Sales is carrying is Blanco, a German brand that has been around for more than 80 years. It offers several sink designs in attractive colors, plus a wide selection of good quality mixer taps, waste separation systems and shining accessories. By mixing simple modern forms with traditional spirit and grace, Keuco is another German brand of bathroom furniture that bridges eras with a timeless style. “The brand is committed to design and quality that customers can surely rely on for years. Trends and fashion can change but Keuco will remain committed to stylish innovative design,” Von Sprengeisen said. Take for example Keuco’s Edition Palais that offer a touch of opulence and elegance from a bygone era, yet able to deliver all the conveniences of contemporary interior design. Edition Palais uses a sumptuous top quality materials such as porcelain and wood, smooth elegant surfaces with platinum appearance fittings and accessories, and master craftsmanship. “I believe that it’s best to view these collections in our showrooms. Consumers who are renovating their houses or those planning to refurbish their bathroom will discover that a bathroom could also become a place animated by considerations of wellness, style and atmosphere,” said Von Sprengeisen.
By Elizabeth Sanchez-Lacson Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Property giant Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) on Wednesday unveiled its massive mixed-use development in Canlubang, Laguna, said to be eight times larger than the Makati central business district. Called Nuvali (pronounced as New Valley), the first phase of the 1,600-hectare project will cost P3.5 billion, Miriam Katigbak, head of ALI's strategic landbank management, said after a press launch at the Ayala Museum. Nuvali is so far ALI's largest master-planned regional hub in the country. It is a partnership between the Yulos and ALI. In 1993, ALI bought 70 percent of the 1,600-hectare property of the Yulos in Canlubang, with the latter retaining the 30 percent. In 1993, the property was valued at P275 per square meter, ALI president Jaime Ayala said. The land value now was placed at P2,000 per square meter by independent property consultants. The first phase of the project, which covers 300 hectares, will include a retail center, a multi-functional lake, a business process outsourcing campus, campus apartments, a visitor's center, residences and Xavier School. Officials said Nuvali would devote 50 percent of the development area to open spaces and greenery. Of the total budget for the first phase, P2.5 billion will go to the development of infrastructure and clubhouses for ALI's three major housing brands -- Ayala Land Premiere (high-end), Community Innovations Inc. (for urban achievers) and Avida (affordable segment). As part of residential offerings in Nuvali, Ayala Land Premiere is launching Abrio this Friday, a cluster of 380 exclusive lots on a 70-hectare portion of the Nuvali project. In October, Community Innovations will launch Treveia, a 60-hectare house and lot community, which may cost roughly P9, 000 to P9, 500 a square meter per lot. Lot sizes may measure roughly 300 square meters each. Also next month, Avida will launch Avida Settings in Nuvali, where lots are priced at P1.9 million to P3 million. The lot size is at least 120 square meters.
By Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Paramount Hotels & Facilities Management Inc. has been appointed by a unit of SM Investments Corp. to manage the group's beach club in its eco-tourism project in Nasugbu, Batangas. Costa Del Hamilo Inc., the developer of the beach club and a subsidiary of SMIC, appointed Paramount to manage Pico De Loro Beach & Country Club in Hamilo Coast. Due to be operational in the third quarter of 2008, Pico De Loro Beach & Country Club is an exclusive membership club featuring resort, recreational and leisure facilities, SMIC said in a disclosure to the stock exchange. Paramount is a property management company that aims to introduce internationally accepted hospitality industry standards to the local property market. It specializes in property management, encompassing hotel management, food & beverage operations, and restaurant franchising. Also, the Paramount team also forms part of Microtel Inns & Suites (Pilipinas) Inc., the Philippine master franchise-holder of the Microtel Inns & Suites brand. Early this year, SMIC said it was spending P5-P6 billion over the next five years to pursue the first phase of the 5,800-hectare Hamilo Coast beach-resort community in Nasugbu, Batangas. The initial phase of Hamilo Coast, dubbed Pico de Loro, will span 40 hectares and will feature 11 condominium buildings consisting of 1,500 units.
By Elizabeth Sanchez-Lacson Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Eton Properties Phils. Inc., the property arm of the Lucio Tan Group, launched on Monday its second condominium project in Greenbelt, Makati City, which targets professionals working in the central business district. Eton president Danilo Ignacio said during the launch that the 34-story Eton Parkview Residences is on Gamboa Street behind the Asian Institute of Management. The project will offer 230 all-loft units. A one-bedroom unit ranges from 40 to 57 square meters, and will sell at about P3.6 million. A two-bedroom unit on the other hand, which is about 70 sqm, costs about P6.5 million. Parkview follows Eton's first project in Greenbelt -- The Greenbelt Residences -- which as of July is 90-percent sold. Eton Parkview is in front of two parks -- the Washington SyCip Park and Legaspi Park -- and is close to the Greenbelt Mall. It is a foreclosed asset of Allied Bank. The turnover for completed Eton Parkview units is scheduled for December 2011. Eton also unveiled Monday a partnership with sister company Allied Banking Corp. to offer home mortgage financing rates at 5.5 percent to 8.38 percent for a fixed period, lower than the industry average of 8.5 percent. Allied Bank president Reynaldo Maclang said the housing loan will offer 5-,10-, 15- and 20-year terms to interested home buyers at fixed interest rates. Initially, the home loan financing will be offered exclusively to buyers of Eton's twin tower residential project in Ortigas dubbed the Eton Emerald Lofts .
By Cris Evert Lato Cebu Daily News CEBU CITY, Philippines--An estimated P10-billion residential community is being developed in the mountains of Cebu City. Monterrazas de Cebu, which literally means mountain terraces, sits on a 200-hectare property and cuts across three barangays (villages) -- Labangon, Sapangdaku and Guadalupe. It is a joint venture of Landco Pacific Corp. and Genvi Development Corp. Landco president and chief executive officer Alfred X. Burgos said they are currently developing the highest peak (Peak 1) of the eight hills, which covers 90 lots. Around 20 to 30 percent of these lots are now reserved. This percentage, Burgos said, is proof that there is healthy interest for real estate development from buyers and potential buyers. Peak 1 is located 335 meters above sea level, which is equivalent to a 105-story building. Considered as the prime lots, each square meter costs P15, 000. "We start with the most expensive lots to make a statement that Landco is a very high-end developer. With this arrangement, it would be easy for us to move from top-of-the-line to upper middle class targets," Burgos said. Francis V. Ceballos, Landco executive vice president and chief operating officer, said lot prices will be "lower as they move to the lower peaks." Along with the houses, condominiums will also rise in the site. Other amenities include a resort-inspired clubhouse, jogging trails, fitness and health facilities and theme parks, among others. The gated community also features a 24-hour security system, including an electronically-controlled entry system, integrated walkways, graded roadways and other facilities. Developers have also ensured that the community has 24-hour access to the Internet. Ceballos said Peak 1 will be on continuous development for the next two years, while the entire project will have ongoing developments (considering all its amenities) in the next 10 years. Drainage system As for the drainage system, Ceballos said the developers are working closely with the city government to ensure that flooding will not be an issue. "We are constructing detention ponds so that rain can be detained for a certain period (up here) before it rushes down (to the plain)," he said. He added that topnotch engineers, who are working on the site's infrastructure, are cross-matching data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration and the University of San Carlos. Landco is a multi-product developer of high-quality residential resorts, leisure farms, residential communities, shopping centers and memorial parks. It developed the world-class seaside communities of Peninsula de Punta Fuego and Terrazas de Punta Fuego located in Nasugbu, Batangas.
By Charles E. Buban Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Imagine being at the oval viewing deck of this soon-to-rise residential high rise at the corner of UN Avenue and Mabini Street. Offering a 360 degree view of its environs -- with the Manila Bay as the centerpiece -- the Mayfair Tower is indeed one of the most anticipated projects in Manila. In fact, owner and developer Anchor Land Holdings Inc. is happy to announce that their two- and three-bedroom units facing Manila Bay and their 36-square-meter single bedroom units are still available. The project is expected to meet its deadline of completion in the second quarter of 2008. “Alhi is guided by the principle that you have to deliver what you promised. And more than simply building a structure, what we want for our homebuyers are units where they can safely and comfortably rest after their busy day,” said Alhi vice chair Steve Li during the Mayfair Tower’s recent topping-off ceremony. Cosmopolitan living Li added that Alhi made sure that the P850-million Mayfair Tower will respond to the lifestyle of its homebuyers who have been exposed to cosmopolitan living. The design of the building alone conveys the message: extensive use of rectangular prism of jade green, reflective glasses and lines of stainless. The 7th floor will feature a 30 meter, three-lane pool as well as a kiddie pool, spa, sauna and shower areas, fitness center, pond, function hall, sun deck, pocket gardens, viewing deck, waterfall feature and a lounge area. But the main attraction of Mayfair Tower lies on top of the building where it is crowned by a unique, oval-shaped structure rising on the 30th floor. This is also where the Skygarden and the Vista Deck are located. 30th floor attractions While the Skygarden will feature pocket landscaping, bench seating and a multilevel outdoor function area, the Vista Deck located at the 30th floor will have the Skylounge where a lounge and reading areas, breakfast nook, bar, viewing deck and indoor pocket gardens will be located. This area can also be converted into an open-plan indoor function area. “Mayfair Tower’s location also makes it very accessible to Manila’s finest restaurants, schools and various entertainment options. Long-staying expatriates or homecoming Filipino professionals would indeed appreciate having a unit here,” said Alhi AVP Elizabeth Sison. Famous sunset She said that as an added bonus, those who bought or will buy units facing west will get a fantastic view of Manila Bay’s famous sunset right from their living room. “Now that’s an added feature that very few developments here in Manila offer.” Alhi is a multinational company with several projects in China and some parts of Asia. It began its commercial operations in the Philippines with the launch of Lee Tower, a luxury condominium project located in Binondo, Manila. Photos courtesy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
By Elizabeth Sanchez-Lacson Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Legacy Ventures Realty and Development Inc. is investing nearly P1 billion in its maiden condominium-townhouse project near the Manila Bay, its president said. Dubbed the Sentosia, the project features 127 exclusive clusters of duplex and quadruplex housing units, bearing a modern Singaporean design. Sentosia is five minutes away from the SM Mall of Asia and 15 minutes away from the domestic and international airport. Legacy president Carlos Wilfredo Pineda said the units would be sold for about P52,000 per square meter or at least P8 million for a 161-square-meter unit. The property is seen appreciating by about 10 percent in a year’s time from turnover, Pineda said. Legacy is offering a guarantee that if the property fails to appreciate after one year it will buy back the unit from the customer at the original price. Pineda also said the company would offer discounts especially for cash payments and in-house financing. A total of 24 units -- the first phase of the project -- will be turned over to the buyer by the end of November. Another 32 units will be turned over to the buyers in December. All units will be completed by December 2008. Pineda added that construction cost alone would amount to about P350 million.
By Tessa Salazar Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Reynaldo Flores, 46, and Zenaida Fajardo-Flores, 48, never thought they would someday build and sell properties for other people. Reynaldo was a project engineer and estimator of buildings in Saudi Arabia from 1986 to 1987, and from 1991 to 1993, while wife Zenaida, who has a fine arts background, borrowed money from her parents to put up a small grocery store and refreshments dealership. In 1986, Zenaida was able to build a duplex from the 160-sq-m lot she bought at North Susana in Commonwealth, Quezon City. She offered half of the duplex for rent, and its earnings helped her pay the P500,000 housing loan from the Social Security System. Through loans By the time RG Flores Construction started building and selling property and houses in 1993, Zenaida had sold the duplex, applied once more for a loan from the bank, as well as loan from her sister, and then bought a 246-sq-m lot also at North Susana worth P1.4 million. The husband and wife team cut the 246 lots into two. They built a 2-story residential house at the 106-sq-m lot, which was quickly sold for P2.8 million. The remaining 140-sq-m lot, which already had a house-and-lot concept, was sold for P3.8 million (the ready plan was sold along with the lot). The Floreses again used the money to buy the lot beside the old one. This lot was quickly sold to a TV newscaster. After that sale, the Floreses bought another lot in North Susana and built a house over it. A show-biz celebrity bought this house and lot for P6.8 million. Referrals Developers started noticing the Flores couple’s designs and asked for their help in construction. One of the Floreses’ buyers referred the couple to Monterey meat shops, where eventually RG Flores Construction became its builders. Zenaida told Inquirer Property in a phone interview that currently RG Flores Construction builds the Netopia chain of Internet cafés. Zenaida credits the couple’s hard work to the three bundle of joy—a son and two daughters. Their courses are medical technology, architecture and the youngest in high school. The Floreses expanded business to buying and selling seven units of townhouses in Cubao, three units in Scout Fuentebella (367 sq m), a duplex in Scout Chuatoco (200 sq m) and five units in Project 6 (505 sq m). The company is also working on the layout of another project in Don Antonio Heights in Quezon City. Zenaida said that although the build-and-sell business pays off well, many loans have to be paid, too. Buying viable land With property and houses in North Susana, Cubao, and Quezon City among others, the Floreses have risen and strengthened their business in building and selling. A crucial aspect of their success is their principle of immediately buying viable land, including those foreclosed by banks. The Floreses recently took out a mortgage loan from GE Money Bank to buy the Don Antonio Heights. “If you don’t take a loan, you won’t grow. But it is important to manage your finances,” she said. The 8.75 percent fixed annual interest rate and a loan of P1.5 million (with a free GE ref worth P33,000) sealed the Floreses’ decision to choose GE Money Bank. Zenaida said it took just five working days to release the loan.
By Marcos de Guzman Jr. Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--A perennial problem for every homeowner is storage. As years go by, our personal stuff accumulates. We hate to discard some things due to sentimental reasons. We are so attached to other things even though a lot of times we do not really need them. Knowing full well that one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure, you have a couple of practical options. One solution is to sort out the things you no longer use and give them away. Heaven will bless you for your generosity, perhaps with a wonderful feeling of contentment. Another option is to hold a garage sale and earn a few bucks for your junk. However, I can say from experience that this may not be a completely fulfilling endeavor. You could feel slighted that the things you own are appraised much lower than you expected. Just look at it this way: these old items are like barnacles at the bottom of the boat; the more you have, the slower you go. After that’s done, I’m pretty sure you will still have a lot of things left at home to store. Now, for those who just can’t part with their possessions or for those with many interesting activities that require so much stuff, creating storage spaces must be practiced like an art. Storage is one of the most important factors to consider even when planning a house and oftentimes the most neglected. The sizes of the storage areas are based on need, but more important is the type of storage area required. When building or renovating, these requirements must be factored in at once and not treated as an afterthought. Configuration is very important. Avoid making storage rooms long and narrow; stuff at the back is likely to be forgotten. Choose to have 30- to 45-cm wide shelving on as many available walls as possible, with a walking space of around 90 centimeters. Having shelves of varied clearances is preferable to just having standard clearances; adjustable shelves are even better. There are a lot of very clever closet organizers available in the market, but these can also be constructed by a skilled carpenter. The type, position and swing of the door are vital too. Doors must be wide enough to enable carrying in bulky items. Doors that swing outward allow for more space inside the room. Doors positioned too close to a wall forego shelf space on that wall. Proper lighting and ventilation is another important factor. The room must be adequately lit and may be provided with an automatic ball switch, which enables the light to turn on automatically when you open the door and shuts off automatically when you close it. Fortunately, this even costs less than a regular switch. More often than not, these rooms are located where there is no opportunity to put windows, so an exhaust fan is important, the control switch for which may be connected with the lights. It is better to have several small storage areas instead of having just one big one. The main reason for this is accessibility. A linen closet, for example, should be found near the bedroom or bathroom for easy access to beddings and towels. Comforters and pillows usually take up a lot of space but there are several gadgets available for compressing them to a fraction of their size. Garden tools must obviously be within reach from outside the house, perhaps in an outdoor closet or shelves. This is where you put tools, hoses, fertilizers and insecticides. It should not be the same place to put your pets’ supplies, as they might get contaminated. General garage storage is also important. This is where you can stock car spare parts, cleaning agents, and lubricants. Here, you can likewise store things needed for home maintenance like spare light bulbs and water-based paints. Now, where do you store flammable items? You don’t! Inside the home, you can install closets or racks for shoes, clothes, gifts, toys, rain gear and umbrellas, suitcases and bulky coats, dishes, etc. The trick is to organize them first, then store like things together. Small spaces may be found below stairways, above big appliances (like washing machines), under furniture (like beds), along hallways, in attics, among others. Hobby closets for sports equipment may be a necessity for you. Motorcycle apparel, dive equipment, cycling or golf paraphernalia occupy considerable space and must be planned carefully. Storage space for books must be easily accessible and well-lit. Christmas or Halloween decor may be placed in areas that are not easily accessible, but should be free from moisture, such as an attic or the crawl space above the ceiling. The pantry should be able to accommodate at least a week’s supply of foodstuff. Rice and water jugs, among others, require a lot more space and should be situated close to the kitchen. When planning for storage, do not forget to allocate space for garbage, empty bottles and other recyclables. The more often you can clear the latter space, the better. The issue of creating storage space is a two-edged blade. There is an art to finding sufficient storage space and a skill to keeping it clutter-free.
By Elizabeth Sanchez-Lacson Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Holding firm Fil-Estate Corp. is undertaking a P6-billion expansion of the 250-hectare Camp John Hay tourism and leisure estate in Baguio City, a former US military rest and recreation facility. To pave the way for the implementation of the remaining construction on the leisure site over the next five years, Fil-Estate's Camp John Hay Development Corp. is currently winding up the restructuring of a lease agreement with the Bases Conversion Development Authority, involving CJH Devco's P2-billion rental payments owed to the government, Fil-Estate Corp. chair Robert John Sobrepeña said. Following a stockholders' meeting Thursday, Sobrepeña said the remaining work on Camp John Hay includes the construction of a condominium-hotel consisting of 366 rooms, dubbed Camp John Hay Suites. The hotel at present is partly operating with 50 rooms available. Forest cabins will also be built in the area which will target retirees and foreigners. Camp John Hay's new development footprint over the next five years covers 13 hectares. This will feature commercial and retail developments, recreational, sports, medical and wellness facilities, condotel and hotel, and private residences. A town center will also be built near the entrance of the estate which will feature an information technology campus, business park residences and commercial centers. The P6 billion budget for Camp John Hay's expansion does not yet include the IT Campus, Sobrepeña stressed. Leisure homes will also be constructed within the year, consisting of five buildings. The new hotel will be located near the 2,500-seat CAP Convention Center in Camp John Hay to cater to participants. Sobrepeña also said that over the next five years, Camp John Hay will bring in P13.6 billion in revenues. He also expects net income from the new projects to reach about P3.3 billion. Fil-Estate's interest is equivalent P751 million of the income.
By Doris Dumlao Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--The government has raised its budget for low-cost housing programs next year by 200 percent to P7.62 billion as part of its bid to boost social spending. In presentation materials distributed during a government economic briefing Wednesday, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said the allocation for the affordable housing sector for 2008 would rise substantially from the P2.5 billion budget for this year. Of the total amount allotted for next year, P5 billion will be used to subsidize the government's resettlement program, mainly for informal dwellers. No such allotment was made under the 2007 budget. Most of the country's informal dwellers are scattered in the National Capital Region, mostly consisting of people leaving rural areas in order to seek better livelihood opportunities. Another P900 million of next year's budget will fund the socialized housing programs of the state-owned Home Guaranty Corp. Low-cost housing units refer to those worth P300,000 to P3 million, HGC president Gonzalo Bongolan said. He said the national government's support for HGC was usually in the form of equity so that the agency could beef up its socialized housing guarantees. "By charter, our guarantees should be 70 percent in low-cost and socialized housing," Bongolan said. "With these guarantees, banks will be more confident in lending to socialized housing," he said. Another P900 million was allotted next year for the purchase of mortgages for securitization, or the process of pooling assets in order to raise funds backed by these assets. Finally, some P500 million was allotted for the government's community mortgage program.
By Augusto Villalon Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Two upscale developments to watch are Hacienda Escudero near San Pablo City in Quezon, and Montecito in Canlubang, Laguna, both outstanding but each demonstrating a different approach to offering quiet getaways from city life. Hacienda Escudero offers the reassuring comfort of Filipino tradition. Covering the area around Villa Escudero, the venerable tourist destination that successfully pioneered the concept of an all-Filipino resort, the mixed-use development retains the all-Filipino flavor that has made the Escudero resort so popular. The Escudero family and Landco Pacific are jointly developing 415 hectares of plantation land into a residential resort community that takes its cues from the resort’s down-home Pinoy charm. In the halcyon days of the 1930s Philippine Commonwealth era, the plantation was recognized as probably the most progressive, innovative coconut plantation in the country. So forward-thinking was the Escudero patriarch that he installed one of the first hydroelectric plants in the country, harnessing the lakes in the hacienda property to produce power for mechanizing agricultural processing. The modern development takes its identity from the Escudero family vision and their legacy. When completed, Hacienda Escudero will have hotels, spas, medical facilities, shopping and restaurant facilities, and leisure facilities that include a golf course, water park and botanical gardens winding throughout the development. Completely 21st-century Filipino in attitude, new houses are to be designed in Modern-Filipino style, contemporary architecture based on surviving plantation houses from the 1930s Commonwealth era that are typical to the San Pablo area. Together with Monterrazas de Cebu, another Landco development, Hacienda Escudero is one of the few new developments that champions Modern-Filipino architecture. Hacienda Escudero, designed to bring back traditional neighborhood values, is people-friendly, encouraging houses to have verandas face the street to give residents opportunities to interact with each other. Walking is another way to get neighbors together. Parks and forests ring clusters of houses, all linked by pedestrian walkways. Getting around by water is another feature. Choice Hacienda Escudero properties either have their own access to the freshwater lakes or open up to specially built waterways, allowing construction of moorings within lakeside lots for privately owned boats. Laguna sanctuary An abundance of water and limitless greenery is the first impression at Montecito, an upscale sanctuary slightly over an hour’s drive from Manila. A portion of the vast Canlubang Sugar Estate has been turned into a development of generously sized lots surrounded by luxurious greenways, roads, lakes and recreational areas that create not only a strong feel of peace and serenity but also provide a powerful connection to nature. The environment at Montecito is definitely green. Nature is so important that approximately 50 percent of its area has been given over to communal open space. A spring originating in Tagaytay Ridge, called Matang Tubig (Eye of the Water), runs through the property, supplying water for residents, landscape irrigation and powering a mini hydroelectric plant which generates electricity to light up the streets until ultimately feeding into a large, fish-stocked lake in the property. Residents are offered the opportunity to recharge from the pressures of city life in a tightly guarded, secure environment with unpolluted air and an intimate, landscaped panorama. From the height of its rolling hills, the Montecito perspective stretches past a panorama of its designer landscapes to include the vistas of Mt. Makiling, Tagaytay Ridge and Laguna de Bay. Intimacy among neighbors is achieved by the low-density development, where a total area of 60 ha accommodates only 250 houses, offering residents rare access to space beyond the boundaries of their properties. Majority of Montecito lots are designed with a border of open space on all sides. No houses are ever adjacent to each other. Grass courtyards, greenways, and “open salas” effectively buffer houses from each other and provide a bonus of shared public areas for neighbors. Model houses, designed around a series of courtyards that allow indoor and outdoor spaces to integrate, are surrounded by manicured lawns, banks of flowering plants, and lush fruit-bearing trees all grown in Montecito’s on-site private plant and tree nursery. Montecito is the place for its residents to recharge themselves. Whether it is high-end exclusivity at Montecito or the comforting familiarity of Pinoy traditions at Hacienda Escudero, lifestyle choices are increasing for those seeking refuge from the stresses of city life. E-mail comments to email@example.com
By Tessa Salazar Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Property experts note that aside from “good sign” the deluge of condo developments brings for the Philippine property market, it gives prospective buyers more choices in terms of size, design, location and price. Global Property Guide’s chief economist Prince Christian R. Cruz notes that the more options available, the better it is for buyers. Richard Raymundo, Colliers International’s director for research and consultancy, says that as with other industries, a more robust property sector would contribute more to the economy and also increase property values. He also says another positive result of a property sector boom is increased employment for the construction outfits. But are low-priced condominium developments enough for you to “bite the bait,” so to speak? Without driving you back to overpriced condo units from reputable developers, experts remind Filipino condo unit buyers not to commit the common mistake of buyers in the past. If you’re considering buying from condo developers without proven track records, don’t just take their word for it. Investigate. “Residential units are sold on a preselling basis in the Philippines. Buying from a developer with a good track record gives an assurance that it will be delivered on time and with the quality agreed on,” Raymundo advises. Buying a condominium in the Philippines “is very tricky,” Cruz notes, and he reminds buyers to seek first the developer’s track record in terms of reliability, service and quality. “The company’s reputation in terms of structural design is very important. It is easy to check the size and layout of condo units, but to check whether substandard materials were used or that the building can withstand typhoons and earthquakes is difficult.” Cruz stresses that the Philippines is located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions constantly threaten the land. “Completely surrounded by water, we are also under constant threat of typhoons and flood.” Cruz says the building’s life actually depends on its structural design and maintenance. “In other countries, a well-maintained building can last up to 100 years without any major renovations or repair. In the Philippines, a building’s life span is probably shorter due to harsher environmental conditions.” He adds that condominiums are set like a corporation. What the unit owner actually owns are shares to the corporation proportional to the unit’s size. Contrary to popular belief, the owner does not lose ownership of the unit after 50 years, according to the Condominium Act (RA 4726). The owner of a condo unit as a shareholder in a company has a say on what would be done to the condominium building. Raymundo says a condominium is run under a condominium corporation. “That is why there are condominium unit owners’ meetings held to decide on issues like property management, special capital expenditure, condominium rules and regulations. This said, the financial position and how the association dues are arrived at have to be transparent to all condominium owners.” Cruz says that as the condominium building gets older, association dues used for maintenance typically gets higher. “If unit owners feel that association dues are too high, they have the right to see the company’s audited financial statement. They should remember that they are not mere tenants in the building, they are stockholders. The property manager should serve at the owners’ pleasure and not the other way around. Active participation in the condominium board could prevent this from happening in the first place. Cruz says condo buyers should ask questions, not just from the real estate agent and the developer, but more importantly, from prospective neighbors. These include other condo owners and people within the locality. “They know if it floods in the area, if there are serious peace and order problems, or if the garbage is regularly collected. These are simple things that are often neglected but are very essential.” What rights do condo unit owners have after the building has lived out its supposed life span? How would an owner know if association dues are used properly? Questions like these have to be answered even early on. Raymundo says that each building owner has a proportionate right to the land on which the building stands. Once the building is economically obsolete, the land, however, retains value. “The property can be redeveloped with each unit owner having a proportionate right or share in the land value. For example, if there is a 10,000-sq-m condominium and Owner A owns 5,000 sq m, Owner A has a right to 50 percent of the land and its value,” Raymundo says. Some condominium developers experience difficulties forecasting market demand, Cruz says. According to him, not all developers conduct a proper market study before building a condo building. Since there are always chronological gaps between planning, construction and marketing, several factors such as customer preferences, economic conditions and construction costs, may change. “There can be a mismatch between what is available and what is demanded, especially in terms of unit sizes. While this can be remedied by merging or dividing units, this is costly and can affect the building’s structural integrity,” Cruz reminds. For more tips on how to choose structurally safe condos, check Inquirer Property’s July 14, 2007 issue or log on to http://showbizandstyle.inquirer.net/lifestyle/lifestyle/view_article.php?article_id=76523
By Ronnel Domingo Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--China’s real estate giant Shanghai Shimao group is vying for a joint venture with the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) on two properties for the development of “high-end, mixed-use” projects, BCDA president and chief executive Narciso Abaya said. The properties include a 7.4-hectare lot where Shimao is planning to invest $2 billion to build hotels, condominiums, offices and a commercial complex, Abaya said. Abaya said Shimao was also looking at the 35-40 hectare area known as the Jusmag housing area from which retired Armed Forces officials have been evicted after an ownership dispute. He said the Chinese firm was expected to submit a project proposal for the 7.4-hectare lot by November while another proposal for the larger parcel of land was expected next year. Abaya clarified that joint venture agreements on both properties would go through bidding or a Swiss challenge, in line with a government policy that requires a competitive process for selecting government partners. The National Economic and Development Authority “is currently working on the terms of reference” on how to enter into joint ventures like the one proposed, he added. The Jusmag (Joint United States Military Assistance Group) area -- so-called because it was originally a housing project for the American agency which declined to take it -- was recently the subject of an ownership dispute between BCDA and a homeowners’ association comprised of the wives of retired Armed Forces officials. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of BCDA, which is preparing to appraise the area toward eventual disposition of the asset through a joint venture with a private company. Last May, Abaya said Shimao chair Hui Wing Mao personally reiterated his serious and firm interest in investing in Fort Bonifacio during a recent meeting with BCDA officials in Hong Kong that month. Abaya said Shimao was a world-class, fast-paced developer that could finish a 900-room twin-tower luxury hotel in 18 months, as what they did with the Hyatt Hotel at the Bund in Shanghai. BCDA chairman Aloysius Santos had said that Shimao’s entry into the domestic setting would set a new standard in real estate development in the Philippines. The China visit by Santos and Abaya was made upon the invitation of Hui, who came to Manila last March to sign a memorandum of understanding with the BCDA on a joint development of a sizable portion of land at the Global City. Abaya said this was one of the biggest partnerships of the government for property development in 2007, which would further boost the asset disposition program of BCDA and enhance its revenue-generating capability.
By Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--The last shingle’s in place, the dotted line has been signed and the lights are working. Time to move in! But before you do, here are a few reminders from the old folks on how to bring in good vibes into your threshold. Some might sound downright silly or absurd, but as the pragmatic might shrug, better safe… 1. Time your moving-in day on a new moon when it is waxing towards fullness. That’s supposed to bring in burgeoning luck and wealth. 2. Be sure to be in your new home before the sun rises as this signifies a bright new beginning. 3. Before bringing in your furniture and other stuff, march into your new household with the requisite symbols of plenty: rice, sugar, salt, water, oil and the Holy Family. Others say that any religious image would do as well. Some also suggest taping red envelopes with cash on the rice containers to further attract good fortune. 4. To establish ownership of the place, some feng shui experts suggest placing nine orange, lemon or lime skins in a bowl or pail. Fill the container with water and splash the citrus water on all floors, cleansing the place of bad chi and evil spirts. 5. For the same reason, some folk suggest turning up the radio full blast on the first day to let the spirits know that you are now the owner of the place. Walk through each room to establish your presence. 6. Another way to claim ownership is to shine a flashlight on all corners of your closets. This, according to some people, should guide the good spirits from your old place into your new abode. 7. After moving into a new house, avoid sleeping on an old bed, goes another belief. If a new bed sounds like an unnecessary expense, you can just buy new sheets and a bedspread to simulate the feeling of freshness. Anxious homeowners sometimes brush each bed with a new broom just to make sure that bad spirits are driven off. 8. A similar ritual of cleansing the house of bad spirits involves a Japanese ritual of burning incense and going around the house while waving the now smoke-filled incense burner. 9. To bring continued prosperity to homeowners, coins are usually placed on top of house posts and cabinets. 10. Feasting on a whole chicken as a first meal in the new home is supposed to bring luck, prosperity and family togetherness. Chuchie Quevedo-See
By Eric S. Caruncho Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Let's face it, kitsch ’R’ us. We might pay lip service to Bauhaus style, or minimalism, or the Miami style, or whatever new wrinkle in interior design happens to be trendy at the moment, but deep down, we’re all the same. Face a Pinoy with a bare wall or an empty shelf and that old horror vacui just wells up inside him. And chances are, he’ll pick the cheesiest possible piece to put there. For instance: • The Sto. Niño theme. Much has been made of the Filipino devotion to the Christ Child. What most commentators fail to mention is the fact that for many of us, the Sto. Niño also fills the role played by Ken and Barbie for young girls, an opportunity to play “dress up.” And age—or gender, for that matter -- is no barrier. I once interviewed a high-ranking police official on some long-forgotten story, but I’ll never forget the foot-tall Sto. Niño on his desk, dressed from head to toe in full khaki uniform, complete with insignia matching the rank of the owner (this was before the PNP switched to dress blues). I’ve also been to some local government offices where the Sto. Niño is dressed up like some minor government functionary, in polyester barong and double-knit pants, and some clinics where he’s dressed in scrubs and is carrying a toy stethoscope. And of course, there’s the “farmer” Sto. Niño, with his little salakot, red pajamas and neckerchief. • Religious décor: While we’re on the subject of Jesus, whatever happened to those 3-D pictures of Christ -- you know, the one where his eyes seemed to be looking at you no matter where you were? Holy paranoia, Batman! There used to be one in every home, laminated on a wood plaque, very likely hung next to a similar plaque containing the story of “Footprints in the Sand” or some such “uplifting” sentiment. They seem to have been replaced by “disco Jesus,” where in lieu of a halo, Jesus’ head is surrounded by flashing colored lights. This is a Vietnamese import, but it could just as well have been Pinoy. • Baguio : Apart from being the country’s produce market, the City of Pines is also the source for much kitschiniana, and just about every lowlander who pays it a visit goes home with a bottle of strawberry jam, a month’s worth of veggies and a “barrel man.” There seems to be a city ordinance that says you can’t visit Baguio and not buy one of these “conversation pieces.” Me, I prefer the giant Igorot warriors brandishing the freshly-severed heads of their enemies, or carrying a deer or wild boar across their shoulders. If only I had the space! • Dining room décor: Baguio is also where you get those giant wooden spoons and forks that Pinoys like to hang on their dining room wall, together with the de rigueur Last Supper. Our family was considered avant garde in our neighborhood because we had Dali’s “Last Supper” in our dining room, instead of Da Vinci’s. • Weapons of Moroland: The origins of this artifact are lost in the mists of time. Probably some enterprising craftsman thought it might make a good souvenir for Yanks coming home from the Jolo campaign of 1915. In any case, this wooden plaque with miniature replicas of the kris, the barong, the kampilan and other blades from the far South used to hang in every Filipino home to remind the inhabitants of their proud warrior heritage. Now, of course, they’re hot sellers on eBay, billed as a genuine “cultural, ethnological artifact,” which is probably why you don’t see them as often. Among other things, Weapons of Moroland would be a cool name for a hardcore band -- somebody start one! • Art: This is where good taste and good sense fail the Pinoy utterly, because as long as he gets a kick out of a picture, he’ll put it up a wall, whether it’s an Amorsolo, a black velvet painting of a bare-breasted Igorot maiden, an on-the-spot charcoal portrait of the owner, or a tapestry of dogs playing poker or shooting pool. More than likely, he’ll have all of them on a wall somewhere in his house, maybe even in the same room. • Plastic: Pinoys like to keep their furniture in mint condition, the same way that comic book collectors do, by wrapping them in plastic. Many’s the home in which my ass has sweated on a plastic-covered sofa or armchair. And since for many Pinoys the car is simply an extension of their home, they also like to preserve that new car smell by not removing the factory plastic wrap on the upholstery. While we’re on the subject of coverings, Pinoys abhor a bare surface just as much as they do a bare wall, and in almost every Pinoy home you’ll find carpets, mantelpieces, table runners, doilies, antimacassars, coasters, placemats—sometimes several layers of covering between you and bare wood. On the bright side, bad taste is the great equalizer. You might think that Pinoys have all this horrible shit in their homes because they can’t afford better, but you’d only be half right. When Pinoys start making money, they just buy more expensive kitsch. They might make a show of sophistication and purchase a Bencab, but they won’t take down the Ermita paintings they already have hanging. They might trade up from a Tamaraw to a Toyota Corolla but they’ll keep the nodding dog and the stuffed Garfield and the seven dwarfs and their other dashboard ornaments. They might start serving pasta al dente and leave the sugar out of the sauce, but that wooden couple will still be dancing the tinikling on their wall.
By Charles E. Buban Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Buying a house is one of life’s most exciting decisions. And though it may seem complicated—or even scary—it is quite a simple and easy process as long as you take it one step at a time. The first thing a homebuyer should ask: What type of housing unit should I buy? Phinma president and CEO Willie Uy suggests that homebuyers first determine if they prefer a single family home, which means the ownership includes the house and extends to the limits of the property lines; a townhouse wherein the ownership includes the lot on which the house sits as well as the entire structure, or a condominium, where ownership is limited to a single unit and a shared interest in all of the common areas, like the swimming pool or the gym, for example. Uy says that while a house with a lot would give homebuyers ample privacy and room for extension, a condo or townhouse would relieve them of yard work and exterior maintenance. He adds: “Remember, you are making a long-term commitment so don’t hesitate to ask questions. The type of house you choose depends on your life situation, lifestyle and budget. A house-and-lot package is generally more expensive than owning a condo unit. Most condo units meanwhile are near city centers so they would appeal more to young professionals or those who pursue a busy life.” In addition to the type of housing, consider as well the financing method you’d avail yourself of, as it also has an impact on the overall cost of the property you’re buying. Uy suggests going around and comparing prices since one should also consider the down payment needed to secure the property. “Know how much you can afford prior to looking, or you may be looking at properties that are way over your budget. Since you will most likely need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible,” reminds Uy. Another thing to remember is selecting the community that will allow you to live your daily life comfortably and in peace. Uy notes that most homebuyers’ choices are influenced by the property’s proximity to good schools and access to public transportation. Yet other house buyers prefer the peace and quiet of a rural community, according to Sonny Ducay of Firm Builders Realty whose projects are mostly outside the city. Says Ducay: “When you find places that you like, talk to people who live there. They know the most about the area and will be your future neighbors. More than anything, you want a neighborhood where you feel comfortable in,” he adds. Once you have chosen the type of house and the community you like, the next step is to check the house itself. “Is the house structurally sound? Check the painting, the carpentry, the plumbing and electricity to see if they are working properly. Imagine the house in good weather and bad. Will you be happy with it year-round?” asks Ducay. Ducay notes that a close review of the exterior of the prospective home can tell a lot about the quality of the structure. Bring a tape measure, he suggests, to check if your appliances and furniture will fit in the space. “Also, check the ceiling and wall paintings for signs of water stains that could be caused by rain water seeping from the roof or an inadequate drainage system,” suggests Ducay. Remember, you are making a huge investment, he adds. Don’t hesitate to ask neighbors or even the barangay captain about the flood and crime situation in the area. Indeed, this is one of those times when seeking out the local gossip pays; you’d want to know as much as you can about the place that you intend to call your own.
By Michael Tan Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--“Namamahay” is the term we use when, while on travel -- it can be Baguio or Bahrain -- we are unable to sleep at night, or are dogged by a feeling of malaise and disease, including unproductive sitting in the morning. “Namamahay” is a graphic description of how the psyche, the spirit craves for home so that the Filipino, even as he boards the plane to leave the country, already wants to go back home. Home is where the heart is, the cliché goes, and it doesn’t matter how humble the house might be. The last national census had a startling finding: the median floor area for Filipino households was 29.6 square meters. We’re not just talking about several informal settler families (read: squatters) cramped into a tiny shack; look through the classified ads and you’ll find condos with 16 square meters of space. The Filipino adjusts to whatever’s available. I’ve seen air conditioners even in squatter areas, part of a massive recycling economy which allows Filipino households to constantly upgrade their homes. The poor have been particularly resourceful at tapping into the many junk shops for materials they can reuse, from plywood to discarded advertising tarpaulins, from sinks to commodes (kubeta). The remittances from 8 million Filipinos working overseas have created a boom for housing construction and interior furnishings. It’s helped, too, that in recent years, low-cost housing fixtures have been made available from China, Thailand and Indonesia. The Filipino home is like our telenovelas, with numerous installments, complete with stories of triumphs and victories, of blood, sweat and tears. I’ve found homes with half a wall, or holes in the walls meant to be windows, owners apologizing about a delay in money from Saudi (or, if I’m in some remote province, from Manila). The Filipino home is Philippine society in miniature. No matter how tiny, the house has socially demarcated spaces and corresponding furnishings. Visitors from a lower class usually make it only to the gate or the garage. Honored guests are ushered into the living room (or for richer households, the den), which is kept neat and clean, the sofa and the TV still wrapped in plastic, sometimes with their price tags still attached. Our fear of empty space, and love of the borloloy (frills), is reflected in the living room, often a museum for all the photographs, abubut (knick-knacks) and souvenirs from weddings, baptisms and overseas trips. Intimate friends make it all the way to the bedrooms, where we dump all our junk when unexpected visitors arrive. But amid the junk are the treasures as well, saved for the eyes of closest friends, like that 36-inch television set, and the Magic Mike karaoke set for friends to sing along. There is one place in Filipino homes that is often neglected: the “comfort room.” Despite that unique Filipino-English word, we seem to associate the toilet with “profane” activities like bathing and evacuating (the Taglish slang) and therefore allow toilets to fall apart: cracked or missing tiles, leaky faucets, commodes that no longer flush, even heaters that have long burnt out. Gardens are better cared for than the comfort room. Even urban poor shanties will have a few plants growing out of recycled infant formula cans, precariously hanging from window sills that threaten to come crashing down on hapless Bantay, the family dog, miserably tied on a short leash. A paradox in the Philippines is that while we treasure our homes, our surroundings are often filthy. To some extent, it’s because of the way we define spaces: The home is private space, for which we take responsibility while everything else, even the street in front of the house, is public, which we perceive to be the government’s responsibility. I do think it is possible to combine both individualism with a sense of community. Look at how the upper classes have built their own little worlds within their subdivisions or even condominium buildings, with their own shared spaces such as the playground, sports facilities and the clubhouse, with the community of residents sharing in the upkeep. This can happen with the poor as well. Hernando de Soto, a Peruvian economist who wrote “The Mystery of Capital” some years back, has pointed out that the key to development is giving the poor legal rights, even ownership, of the land on which they live. This gives them collateral so they can borrow money from banks to build a small business, while caring for the land and house on it. People will build on, and care for something they own. Visit the areas in Tondo where people were organized by ZOTO (Zone One Tondo Organization) and are paying to own their land—the homes and streets are well kept in sharp contrast to the misery and squalor of neighboring unorganized slums. Even when condemned to squat, or to pay outrageous rents on substandard housing, Filipinos find ways to make a home. Think of the possibilities if they see some hope of security of tenure, or of ownership. As people are assured of a private space, even a few square meters, they will expand their sense of home, of bahay, to shared public spaces and care for them accordingly. Uwian na, going home, then takes on a new meaning. • Home truths about Pinoy housing Long before condominiums made compact homes fashionable, majority of Filipinos have had to make do with limited living space. According to the 2000 national census, occupied housing units in the Philippines had a median floor area of 29.63 square meters. This means that more than half (or 59.75 percent) of the country’s occupied homes had a floor area below 29.63 square meters as of the year 2000. The figures are broken down as follows: • 23.45 percent of occupied housing units had a floor area of 10 to 19 sqm • 18.78 percent had 20 to 29 sqm of space • 17.52 percent had less than 10 sqm • 16.56 percent had 30 to 49 sqm • 3.21 percent had 90 to 119 sqm Source: National Statistics Office, 2000 national census: http://www.census.gov.ph/ data/pressrelease/2002/pr02178tx.html
By Tessa Salazar Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--There’s no let-up of projects for Ayala-subsidiary Community Innovations Inc. (CII), SM Development Corp. and SM Investments Corp. CII is developing a six-hectare in-city property on Felix Huertas Street, San Lazaro, Manila, which includes a townhouse, condominium and retail infrastructure. SM Development Corp. is into a new cluster of medium-rise towers near SM Bicutan, Taguig, while Hamilo Coast in Nasugbu Batangas, an Eco-Tourism project of SM Investments Corp., will feature 11 condominiums in Pico de Loro Cove (the first of Hamilo Coast’s 13 coastal developments). Leisure community Celadon Manila is the leisure community from Ayala Land’s subsidiaries in uptown Manila. It is surrounded by nearly 35,000 square meters of open spaces which CII claims is the largest in any residential development in Manila. Celadon Manila includes the Celadon Residences (gated Mediterranean-inspired townhouses) and Celadon Park (condominiums with meditation garden and swimming pool, among other amenities). Ayala Malls’ shops at Celadon are in the pipeline, and these include coffee shops, health spas, salons and dining destinations. On the rise is the biggest BPO (business process outsourcing) site in Manila, courtesy of the Ayala Land’s Commercial Business Group. Celadon Manila’s BPO center will be the first call center site in Manila with retail and leisure amenities open at extended hours. Cluster of towers SM Development has launched a cluster of medium-rise towers offering a total of 500 units at its Chateau Elysee condominium village in Bicutan, Parañaque City. The new cluster of the French-Mediterranean-themed Chateau Elysee consists of four medium-rise buildings, each offering 125 units. These buildings have a mix of one- and two-bedroom units with gross floor areas of 20 sq m and 40 to 46 sq m, respectively. Balanced mix Pico de Loro Cove has a balanced mix of residential districts, leisure amenities and adventure facilities. The Boardwalk within the Hamilo Coast will have a mix of retail stores, food outlets and entertainment venues. Sports and leisure recreational facilities are also planned for the Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club. Majestic views of Hamilo Coast and its surrounding vistas will be achieved via its eco-adventure tours for nature lovers, experienced mountaineers or trekkers specific to their level of expertise to be supervised by Sandugo Adventure, a team of total adventure specialists Price ranges CII’s Celadon Park’s one-bedroom to three-bedroom units range from P3.8 million to P8.6 million, while Celadon Residences’ units at 168 sq m, 194 sq m and 204 sq m range from P9.5 to P12.5 million. Units at SMDC’s Chateau Elysee ranges from 20 sq m at P980,000 to 40 sq m two bedroom unit at P1.8 million. SMIC’s Hamilo Coast Pico de Loro condo unit price, according to market prices online, ranges from P2 million for a studio unit to 12 million for a penthouse unit.
By Marcos de Guzman Jr. Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Do you believe that the design of a house can affect the relationships between family members? Most definitely. While it is true that the basic function of a house is shelter, proper design can actually bring families closer and enhance relationships. The size of the house is not as important as its functionality. When planning to build or improve your home, consider these tips, which have been known to inspire family interaction. Living room The living room, which I would rather call the family room, is the place wherein the members can stay, play or even pray together. In designer houses, it is not fashionable to have a TV set in the living room. However, in the average house, this is where the entertainment center is found. Just ensure that the TV set is not the sole focal point of the room and that other activities can take place there simultaneously. Dining room The dining room must be situated in one of the most comfortable spots in the house. Do not put TV sets in this area. Mealtime is the best opportunity to hold family discussion, so keep this family time focused. Try to include a place for a breakfast caddy where oven toasters, microwave ovens, coffee makers and water dispensers can be stored, near the actual dining area. This will teach the children to help themselves, instead of relying on other persons to do things for them. Kitchen The kitchen must be properly planned for time and motion efficiency. If planned well, this may be the best area in the house where the kids can learn how to organize. A neat and functional kitchen may also arouse the children’s interest in cooking. It would be great to have a double bowl kitchen sink that two people can use simultaneously. Instead of having one kitchen faucet that swivels, install two separate faucets. This type of sink will enable siblings to share the responsibility of washing dishes, which could make the task more enjoyable. Bedroom Do not put a TV set inside your bedroom. This will allow the couple more time to talk to each other and more time for intimacy. Although many people have workstations inside the bedroom, it is advisable to have this in a separate area or tucked away in a corner where it will not distinctly remind you of daily activities and problems, thus affecting your sleep or your attention to your spouse. However, it is all right to have a small writing desk for your journal or short reminders. Some people like to put a refrigerator inside their bedroom, just like in hotels, but this is not always a good idea. It is much better to share meals with the other members of the family rather than eating by yourself. Having food so close at hand can be too much temptation. It is nice to have positive mental attitude triggering mechanisms inside your room. It could be in the form of your family pictures, children’s photos, or pleasant souvenirs from your trips. It can be a picture of religious devotion or a holy icon. It is not necessary to give each of your children his own room. It is important, however, to give each one of them his own space. Siblings of the same gender can share one big room with their own area defined with a divider of sorts for a little privacy. This enables them to interact even while keeping their own space. The bigger room also allows for better ventilation and can be more economical to cool. On the other hand, giving them their own rooms would create too much individualism and will rob them of the opportunity to mingle and communicate. Make sure that lighting is designed carefully, such that each person can get as much or as little as he needs. Bathroom A good time to plan your day could be in the toilet, since it is often the first place you go in the morning. Make enough room in front of the mirror for the couple to use it simultaneously. You do not need two washbasins; one will do, as long as there is sufficient space for a second person. This translates to approximately an additional 15 minutes of available time for spouses to communicate, which is vital if the spouses are always in a hurry every morning. Common spaces If possible, it is better to have a common study area that is comfortable and free of distractions, meaning no TV and no PlayStation. A computer may be placed but strict guidelines when it comes to games and entertainment must be imposed. It is ideal to have only one TV set per home. This ensures that the family members can watch shows together. It likewise allows the family to learn the art of negotiation and reciprocity. Later in life, this skill could prove useful, especially if they decide to go into business together. It would be nice to have a space in the house to store your books and reading materials, with well-lit corners to sit and read. This is one activity that must be encouraged in kids early on. Children’s books should be placed within the child’s reach, while any adult books should be kept away or on higher shelves. These are just a few points that can be considered in designing or renovating a home with family togetherness as the main objective in mind. With careful thought, you can come up with other clever ways to help turn your house into a home with a soul.
By Claire Agbayani Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--The city’s shrinking -- at least, that’s the message one gleans from the countless ads for resort living and leisure farms that entice readers to settle in the suburbs. Why put up with the congestion, pollution, traffic, and cramped space that the city offers, when countryside living can mean open spaces, fresh air, and bigger lots for grander homes? For young couples, the questions often translate to where it’s best to raise the kids. Open spaces, sure, but the best schools and the malls where everything’s within reach are often in the city. Just how do you choose where to settle? It’s still a matter of personal choice, says Redentor Valencia, a consultant of the Laguna Lake Development Authority, who has a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. Valencia has experienced both city life and suburban living. Although he grew up in Mindanao, he came to Manila in the 1970s and, except for a brief stint as an urban planner in Cebu, has worked in Metro Manila for most of his life. “Cities and suburbs are what their residents make them to be,” says Valencia. “These are their homes, workplaces, where they go to school and spend their leisure hours. Real estate planners and property developers can put up the infrastructures, but it is the people who choose whether to buy into it or not.” Just like an organism, town centers and suburbs grow, evolve, age, die and regenerate, Valencia notes. “I saw how Metro Manila grew into new commercial centers like Ayala, Ortigas and Araneta,” he adds. “I saw the rise of new urban centers like The Fort, Eastwood City, Rockwell, Ayala Alabang and Boulevard 2000 (Mall of Asia). I also saw urban renewal in the facelift of the Ayala Center and the Araneta Center. In Cebu, I saw how the circa 1982 Metro Cebu of the Gaisanos evolved into a Singapore-like metropolis with the help of the Ayalas.” While the old residential suburbs eventually decayed into slums, new suburban enclaves rose out of sleepy provincial areas. “You should see Punta Fuego in Batangas, with its beautiful seaviews and huge houses that cost at least P15M each.” Most cities like Manila, Valencia avers, “attracted rich merchants, traders and settlers because they were near the seat of government and ports servicing world trade. Up to the Second World War, people from all over the country sought to live in Manila.” Although Manila is still largely seen as the Promised Land by impressionable provincianos who seek out their luck in the city, the trend has been reversed drastically by a host of problems, foremost of them the perennial floods owing to the city’s below sea-level elevation. The influx of migrants has also brought on a housing crisis and a host of related problems, say Eden Garde, program manager of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, and co-worker Jaime Antonio Jr., program coordinator. The problems include “housing, secure tenure, safe water, waste disposal, drainage, access roads…” which, says Valencia, prompted rich folk to move to new residential suburbs developed by the Ayalas in Makati, the Aranetas in Quezon City and the Ortigases in Greenhills, San Juan. Quezon City has its housing projects for government workers through GSIS and SSS loans, while middle-income groups look to mall-makers Shoemart, Robinsons and Ever-Gotesco for affordable housing. Elmer Mercado, policy advisor for the AusAID-funded Land Administration and Management Programme of the Environment department, redefines suburbs. “There is no such thing as suburb in our situation,” he contends. “(Suburb) is an American invention and import in the Philippines specially during the early 1960s-1970s... This development was ‘copied’ for goverment and middle class employees. That’s why you have Teachers/UP Village and Projects 4 to 8 in Quezon City. The development later moved southwards to Parañaque, Las Piñas and Pasig. So the suburbs is really a movement of the rich outside Manila, which was later followed by the middle class.” Notes Valencia: “Wide spacious residential enclaves moved outwards primate cities like Manila and cars made the move easier, as suburban residents can easily drive to work.” Indeed the choice of one’s residence is largely dictated by its proximity to workplace, schools and shopping. When leisure is not part of the package, rich families opt to buy weekend suburban properties to satisfy their need for breathing space. Likewise, those who live in outlying provinces who need to be close to work are attracted to condominium living in the city, since most units are within urban centers. But the city-suburb dichotomy remains confined to Metro Manila and maybe, Metro Cebu, claims Mercado. In fact, he says, “Cities outside of Metro Manila and Metro Cebu more or less remain ‘rural’ in the culture and nature of their residents who maintain their close linkages with their rural past. This is what we see as the ‘promdi ’ culture. ‘Promdi’ culture is more accepted and pronounced in cities other than Metro Manila. So for me, the suburb-city distinction is actually an ‘elitist’ and ‘western’ concept from our real cultural moorings, our ‘promdi’ culture.” The danger in this, furthers Mercado, is ” the negative backlash of our ‘westernized’ urbanization: the shopping mall and consumption-based economy and lifestyle. The ‘consumption’ and ‘consumerist’ culture is slowly overtaking the sense of community that typifies our ‘promdi’ culture.” The lack of urban planning exacerbates the problem, says Mercado. “Most of our planning regulations were taken from both the American and British system.” He adds that public spaces are regulated by the local government unit and the DENR, “which apply environmental standards and impact assessments for any physical construction and disruptions of spaces and places. The problem of course is the implementation of these laws and guidelines.”
By Daxim Lucas Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Property developer Landco Pacific Corp. reported Friday a sharp turnaround in financial results in the first half to a net income of P109 million from a restated net loss of P129 million in the same period last year, with increased sales and a change in its income recognition system. The real estate unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. said that it was bracing itself for possible fallout from the credit squeeze in the United States, where many of its clients are located. In a news briefing, Landco chief operating officer Francis Ceballos said the company had shifted to a “percentage of completion” income recognition system for its current financial year. Landco reported first-half sales of P1.01 billion, up 267 percent from P382 million in the same period in 2006. Ceballos said the solid performance was expected to continue in the second half of the year, as the country’s strong economic growth in the first half boosted confidence in the property market. But he said Landco was also keeping an eye on the US subprime credit crisis, especially on the effect it would have on liquidity in the world’s largest economy. “There are very real ‘cautions,’” he said. “There are very real red flags we can’t ignore.” He said a significant number of Landco’s buyers are US-based Filipinos who borrow from US banks to finance their property acquisitions in the Philippines. “A good deal of our buyers are Filipino-Americans, so anything that could happen [in the US] could affect us,” he said. As much as 60 percent of Landco’s sales in its township projects are made to overseas Filipinos or locals funded by foreign benefactors, and of this portion, that as much as 40 percent is sales made to clients in the US mainland, Ceballos said. Landco is also closely monitoring government efforts in line with its promise to focus on infrastructure spending, as facilitating travel to provincial areas surrounding Metro Manila -- where many of Landco’s projects are situated -- would make it easier for the company to sell properties, he added. With INQUIRER.net