Wednesday, March 25, 2015

California Pizza Kitchen Treats Photo Contest Winner To Sumptuous Dinner For Two

Peng Cruz and Cecil Cruz with California Pizza Kitchen-Shangri-La Plaza's
Store Manager Liezl de Gracia, Abby Pereira, Checile Montevirgen, Raymund
Macairan, and Nelson Cerda (Photo: Oliver Oliveros)
First published on 

City of Mandaluyong—It seemed like the food was endless when Cecil Cruz, winner of property search portal’s “Most Romantic Valentine Arrangements at Home” photo contest, together with her elder sister Peng, was recently treated to a delectable selection of authentic Italian pasta and pizza at California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) in Shangri-La Plaza.

Her joining the contest, which had a dinner for two at CPK and a pair of tickets to the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” as prizes, was actually unplanned. Cecil’s photo entry subjects, her recuperating dad, Roberto, 70, who suffered a heart attack at the height of typhoon Glenda last year, and her dad’s loyal, loving, and caring wife, Luisa, 64, posed before the camera after the former surprised the latter with a few plastic rose stems; a borrowed teddy bear; and some branded chocolates from the fridge clumped together impromptu!

Cecil said, “It was my dad’s simple gesture to thank my mom for she was so brave and caring during his recent three-month stay in the hospital.”

On the day the photo was taken in Greenwoods, Pasig, Cecil, a former employee at Jamba Juice and an occasional actor on GMA Network, even recalled her mother saying, “I’m just glad your father is still with us; that’s all I ask for.”

Brimming with love and wide smiles, Roberto and Luisa’s photo together, which garnered nearly 50 shares and 150 likes on the social media platform Facebook, was an instant favorite even prior to officially winning the Valentine-themed contest.

California Pizza Kitchen's baked penne
On hand at the celebratory dinner with Cecil and Peng were CPK-Shangri-La Plaza’s Store Manager Liezl de Gracia, alongside her very hospitable staff Abby Pereira, Checile Montevirgen, Raymund Macairan, and Nelson Cerda, and’s Social Media and Community Manager Oliver Oliveros.  

CPK’s bestselling menu items: mouthwatering quesadillas, roasted pumpkin soup, and original barbecue chopped salad as appetizers; fresh-from-the-oven mupesa (mushroom, pepperoni, and sausage) pizza and baked penne as main course; a reimagined campfire favorite s’more—a baked pizza crust topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream—as dessert; and free-flowing iced tea were exceedingly a feast for the eyes and tummy. extends its heartfelt thanks to Cecil, Peng, Roberto and Luisa, and to CPK’s Liezl de Gracia and General Manager Jem Ramirez.

CPK-Shangri-La Plaza accepts catering services, call 0927-7401136.

For more contests and promos, visit

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

6 Homeownership Costs You May Not See Coming

First published on

Purchasing a property comes with inevitable costs. You might not have imagined these things prior to buying your new home, but expect these bills to land on your doorstep soon.

When owning a home, here are some of the additional costs you have to deal with:

Mortgage Fees

You worked hard on financing your home, and now you have to work harder to pay the mortgage fees, e.g. mortgage arrangement fees, indemnity costs, and broker fees. It’s a must to pay these fees on a monthly basis or else the bank or lender will order foreclosure of your property.

Property Insurance 

It’s a must to have a homeowner or hazard insurance that covers basic protection against fire and theft. A building and contents insurance is also important to protect your assets in case of an emergency or a major disaster. So choose only reliable insurance products from the most reputable insurance companies. 


You have to pay property taxes depending on the assessed value of your home. Local tax rates vary, but the average cost can add up to a few thousands of pesos.

Paying taxes is compulsory; you can’t do anything about it.

Homeowners’ Association Fees 

Owning a home is a shared responsibility.

There are areas you share with other homeowners, which are called common areas such as elevators, balconies, parking spaces, and lawns. The homeowners’ association fees are paid by homeowners for the regular upkeep of these common areas.

Maintenance and Redecorating 

When moving to new house, you would need to redecorate it; and in doing so, you will have to spend some extra cash to buy furniture and home décor.

You also have to maintain your home. Keep some extra money in case an appliance conks out and needs repair.

Monthly Bills

Even though you’re just renting a house, you can never avoid making monthly payments for the consumption of water, electricity, cable TV, broadband Internet, and telephone service, among others. Luckily, you have control of these extra costs; if you want to pay less, use less water and electricity at home.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Are You Ready to Sell Your Home?

First published on 

Do you want to sell your home, but you’re not quite sure when’s the right time? To help you decide on when’s the best time to sell your home, here are some important things to keep in mind:

Would It Get Sold Right Away? 

If you were to sell your home right now, would it get sold right away? Think twice.

If you’re moving or relocating for a new job, you could try renting out your house first until you’re ready to put it on the market. By doing so, you’ll have enough time to adjust to your new environment and focus on home selling later.


Real estate experts say that the weather or the season may affect your chances of selling your property. Bad weather can prevent most home buyers from searching for new homes. Good weather, on the other hand, can prompt prospective buyers to go out and show up at your open house.

Housing Inventory 

The housing inventory in your market may affect your timing and chance of selling your home.

A real estate agent can help you determine the housing inventory in your market, which changes every year. If the inventory of homes is low, it may be a good idea to sell your home at that time. 

Home Condition 

The physical condition of your property is a very important concern when selling.

Apparently, you can’t sell your property if potential home repair issues are visible. Before you plan to sell your home, you have to make sure it’s in its best condition.

Also, if there are major construction projects in your area and your prospective buyer finds out, expect the buyer to haggle over the price.

In situations like these, we suggest that you postpone selling your house. Wait until your house is ready and the construction works are over.

Current Employment Rate 

In general, people who are looking for properties are financially stable. So if the current employment rate is going downhill, you have a very low chance of selling your house.

However, you can explore tax incentives in your area. Tax rebates can be a strong motivation for home buying.

Market Condition 

Find out the current mortgage interest rates. If they are quite high, that’s good news for you. However, most home buyers purchase a property when the interest rates are low.

In addition, if you’re going to sell your home in a tight market, which is not advisable, the home buyer has more chances of getting your home at a much lower price. 

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Did You Know the Bahay Kubo is the Original Ecohouse?

First published on

Esteemed Filipino architect Francisco Mañosa, who designed the Coconut Palace at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) complex, and multi-awarded Italian architect Romolo V. Nati, CEO of Italpinas Eurasian Design and Eco-Development Corporation, so firmly believe that the bahay kubo (nipa hut), the iconic symbol of Filipino culture, is the Philippines’ original sustainable house.

“The bahay kubo is so beautiful in its simplicity and practicality. It harnesses the wind and the light coming from nature to provide its occupants basic comforts like cool air passing through its perforated walls without harming the environment,” said Nati in a statement.

Mañosa, on the other hand, even lives in his very own bahay kubo-inspired mansion that has only three posts or haligi, five one-inch coconut shell doors on the second floor, and a silong (basement), which Mañosa built in Ayala Alabang Village seven years ago.

A sustainable home design follows two essential principles: (1) Its main design ideas make use of renewable and natural materials; and (2) its structural design promotes proper air circulation, where the hot air rises and the cold air sinks, both of which the humble bahay kubo upholds.

It Reduces Carbon Footprint

Made of indigenous building materials such as bamboo and nipa, the bahay kubo produces smaller carbon footprint compared to modern building materials such as timber, steel, and concrete.

It Promotes Passive Cooling

The bahay kubo’s tall, steeply-pitched roof makes an ample room for dissipating heat inside the house. Its silong (basement) is well-ventilated (thanks to the bahay kubo’s traditional bamboo slat floors, which allow the cool air to naturally flow into the main living space from the silong below).

It Lets Sunshine In

The bahay kubo’s typical large awning windows allow natural light and the prevailing winds from the southwest to come in.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

House or Condo? Which One Should You Choose?

First published on 

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you basically have two options available for a home: a house or a condo. Bear in mind that each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. So it all boils down to the homebuyer’s preferences.

However, before you make any buying decision, consider these important factors:


If you’re single, you may want to live in a bachelor’s pad, where you can throw a party anytime. In addition, most bachelors prefer living in a condo because it gives privacy and freedom.

If you’re living a more modern lifestyle, like most bachelors, a condo is also perfect for you because most condos are located in urban areas, where many amenities and luxuries are available.

But if you’re married or planning to start a family, a house is more ideal. Even more so if you’re ready to have kids. In this case, you may want to allocate a larger space, where your kids can play around without bumping into any furniture. Most residential communities are also located in a peaceful environment, which is perfect when raising children.

Furthermore, a house is more ideal for growing families because you can easily do some home upgrades.

Cost and Other Expenses 

It’s not easy to compare the cost of owning a house to owning a condo. The reason is that there are many factors that affect the cost of living in a condo or a house. For example, if the condo building is located in an area where property taxes are high, the property can be far more expensive. The size of the property also affects the price; a larger property is definitely going to be more expensive.

Apart from the cost of the property, you also have to consider the other expenses that come with owning a home. If you’re buying a condo, there are likely more expenses that you need to pay. Though both houses and condos have annual property taxes, homeowners insurance, and mortgage insurance, a house does not charge condo fees. However, the monthly utility bills for a house would be much higher than those for a condo because the former occupies a much larger space.

Appreciation Potential 

Whether you’re thinking of a short-term or long-term investment, you also have to consider the appreciation value when buying your first home. But which one has the higher appreciation value? A house or a condo?

Most people think that condos have higher appreciation potential because they’re mostly located in urban areas. However, if you think of the annual expenses when living in a condo, it’s less likely to gain much from your home’s appreciation value. Although mostly located in rural areas, a house is likely to appreciate more than a condo. Instead of paying condo fees, you can save your money for some house improvements that will further help increase the value of your home.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top 3 Survival Tips When Living In A Small Space

First published on

Not everyone can afford a large house or condo. If you don’t have the means, you’re likely to compromise for a small space. However, living in a small space can be disheartening and sometimes annoying. Whether you’re single or living with your family, the difficulties of living in a small space are just the same. There are ways to get around with it though. Here are three survival tips when you’re living in a small space.

  • Learn How to Organize Your Home 

If there’s one thing you had to improve on, it’s your organizational skills. Unlike in a large place where you can put things wherever you want without sacrificing space, you have to make sure everything is well-organized in a small room.

If you live in a small space, your furniture choices are somewhat limited. But this doesn’t mean you can’t have the furniture you want for your home. You just have to organize them well and choose the furniture that will fit your living room, for instance; oversized furniture will only make your house look smaller.

Buy a couch that’s multi-functional. Since you don’t have enough room for guests, you can use this kind of couch that folds out into a bed, where your guests can sleep comfortably.

You can also cut the clutter and organize every last thing in your home by using different organizers. In the kitchen, you can use kitchen carts to store your utensils more efficiently. Make full use of your kitchen cabinets and drawers. In the bedroom, you can organize your clothes well by adding more vertical shelves; placing extra rods and hooks; and using shoe racks. Lastly, in the bathroom, you can hang a shower storage rack.

By keeping things well-organized, you’re not just making your house look clean and free of clutter, but you’re also maximizing space to make your small place look more spacious.

  • Make Good Use of Spaces 

Another thing to consider is making good use of spaces.

If you’re a bookworm but there’s not enough space to create a library, you can just place a tall bookshelf or a few bookcases in your bedroom or in the kitchen if you’re fond of cookbooks.

If you’re wondering where to put those extra pillows and mattresses, all you have to do is to get those underbed storage boxes. For easier access, choose storage bins with wheels.

And if you have kids who are staying in one room, choose a fold away bunk bed. You may also opt for a trundle or loft bed, which is more comfortable.

  • Decorate to Make the Room Look Bigger 

You can make your place look bigger with the right decorations. To start with, you have to use the right paint color for the interior. Essentially, you have to keep the color light as it will make the entire space appear larger. You may apply gray paint on the wall but make sure your furniture are light in color.

You can also use floor-to-ceiling window treatments to make your living room look more spacious. According to celebrity interior designer Lori Dennis, extra-high ceilings will draw people’s eyes upwards, which make a room feel bigger.

Lastly, you can add wall mirrors to your room as they work wonders with making a small space look larger, too.

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