Saturday, December 19, 2015

Proud Filipino Nurses

By Oliver Oliveros, Editor-In-Chief

Filipino nurses in New York are a dime a dozen, but contrary to the “lackluster value” that the idiomatic expression “a dime a dozen” connotes, these selfless caregivers’ service to their patients is invaluable.

Filipino nurses working abroad, especially in Manhattan and its nearby boroughs, are proud Filipino nurses. Shouldn’t we be proud as Filipinos like them?

On my second year as a graduate student at New York University (NYU), back in 2012, I found myself at one of the clinics at the NYU Health Center on 726 Broadway for my annual physical examination. As a Filipino nurse was about to administer a flu vaccine to me, she asked me (curiously), “Are you a Filipino?” I answered, “I could be easily mistaken for a Thai or a Vietnamese, but I’m proud to be a Filipino!” The nurse’s face lit up, because according to her, it’s seldom that Filipino students at NYU admit that they’re Filipinos.

“They seem to be embarrassed to reveal they’re Filipinos,” she said.

“Not me,” I told her. “And I’m very happy that a Filipino nurse is attending to my needs.”

Accordingly, I’m also very grateful that three superPinay nurses are also gracing our cover in this special Christmas issue of Fil-Am Who’s Who: Sally Nunez, Maria Lea Batomalaque, and Florida Lucas of RN Express Staffing Registry. Sally, Lea, and Florida first worked together at the Amsterdam Nursing Home in Manhattan during their first few years into their nursing careers. They’ve been inseparable friends and business partners since, learning further from each other, as well as drawing strength and inspiration from each other.

“[Filipino nurses] being naturally hard working, caring, hospitable, helpful, and generous set us apart from the others,” said Lea in our cover story. Read more on pages 8-9.

A FRIENDLY REMINDER: We celebrate Christmas to rejoice greatly the birth of Jesus Christ. This Christmas season, let’s avoid too much commercialism; let’s put back Christ in Christmas instead! 

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Hallmarks of Great Leadership

By Oliver Oliveros, Editor-In-Chief

In various Filipino-American (Fil-Am) organizations, we’ve seen and occasionally worked with leaders with different leadership styles: some are autocratic; some are didactic while some are comfortable delegating tasks to their team members, which is a form of empowerment, especially to those who are sharing their time and talents as volunteers.

“Great leaders are aware of their own style and make the effort to learn how their style actually comes across to their team. They learn to flex their leadership style to individual team members so that they communicate and behave in ways that motivate and inspire,” said Michael Burke of MSR Communications.

Exemplary character traits make an effective leader.

Among those good traits, right off my head, are transparency (being honest), strategic thinking (knowing where you are now, and knowing where you are going), passion (living and breathing your raison d’être), and respect and trust in the workplace.

Our cover subject for the month, Ma. Consuelo “Connie” Almonte, president of PAGASA Social Foundation Inc. (PAGASAsfi), a nonprofit for Fil-Am seniors, is one conscientious leader who is competent, dutiful, and self-disciplined.

But above all, Connie is not greedy for power: she delegates tasks to her nonprofit’s volunteers whom she considers the lifeblood of the organization, and she knows when it’s time to pass the baton of leadership to her worthy successor.

“The greatest challenge is to get everyone to work together in the most efficient and harmonious way,” Connie said in our cover story.

“Leadership is all about being able to inspire and communicate to people and to make them understand what your objectives are.”

Connie, kudos for all your tireless work for Fil-Am seniors.

You are an awesomely courageous woman!

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Saturday, September 05, 2015

Finding Own Voice, Reinstilling Pride

By Oliver Oliveros, Editor-In-Chief

There are two recurring themes in this issue of Fil-Am Who’s Who: (1) Finding your own voice in a cultural landscape that is so diverse—so that you will be heard and can make a ripple effect; and (2) Reinstilling pride in the Filipino people, especially in those who live, work, or study in the United States—no matter how cliché it is.

Besides the repeated mention, “finding your own voice” and “reinstilling pride in Filipinos” also share an important causal relationship:

Knowing your unique cultural identity sets you apart from the rest, which can make you become more familiar with yourself. “You can only love something that is familiar to you,” Doris Magsaysay Ho, Asia Society Philippines chair, pointed out to me in a recent interview. Essentially, that love for what is familiar can lead to nurturing a sense of pride and belonging.

The ongoing exhibition at Asia Society Museum dubbed as “Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms” works exactly in the same manner:

By piquing interest and creating awareness that early Filipinos were relatively affluent, sophisticated people, contrary to what history teachers taught us, creates a new familiarity; and by displaying nearly 120 jaw-dropping pieces of gold work from the 10th to 13th -century Philippines, a sense of great pride is being restored.

For four months, this groundbreaking exhibition is on display for the first time in the United States. I strongly urge you, please check it out. Expose yourself to historical art gold pieces that beam early Filipino ingenuity and rich culture.

All that glitters is “gold” in this show.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Mama Renee's Living Legacy

By Oliver Oliveros, Editor-In-Chief

Ollie David, who was the overall chair of Philippine fashion icon Renee Salud’s recent smash hit fashion shows held at Double Tree Newark Hotel in New Jersey and at the Philippine Center, the building that houses the Philippine Consulate General in New York, pinned down in her opening remarks that Mama Renee, a moniker for the well-loved fashion designer, who rose to fame in the ‘80s, has been “at the forefront of creating intricate masterpieces that weave native piña (pineapple fiber), abaca, and the Maguindanaon’s inaul, among others, even way before other Filipino and non-Filipino fashion designers started to claim that same exact design process.”

“Mama Renee’s original intent and his still ever-burning passion to promote only the Philippines’ indigenous fabrics in his fashion pieces makes him even more relevant till this very day,” Ollie added.

For Mama Renee, he did it—and still doing it—to show his enduring love for the Philippines and the Filipino people. He also believes our native fabrics and meticulous beadwork and embroidery should be seen all over the world.

So it’s not at all (or hardly) surprising to meet a brood of young fashion designers today who have been following the footsteps of Mama Renee. One of these promising young designers is San Francisco-based Anthony Cruz Legarda, whom I had the pleasure of meeting with at San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel in Manhattan a few years ago. Legarda incorporates authentic hand-woven fabrics especially that of the piña, into unique American wear. In fact, Mama Renee and Legarda, alongside fellow Filipino fashion designers Patis Tesoro and Dita Sandico Ong, not too long ago collaborated on a fashion-trade show called “Fibre Filippine,” which features high-fashion pieces made from local fabrics abaca, banana, salago, maguey, buri and, of course, piña, held in Rome.

In the same league as Mama Renee and Legarda is Betina Ocampo, one of this year’s recipients of The Outstanding Filipino-Americans In New York (TOFA-NY) awards. Also inspired by the complex handmade fashion pieces of tribal communities in the Philippines, Ocampo launched a luxury t-shirt line, Betina, in 2012, while finishing her studies at Parsons School of Design in Manhattan. To her credit, her designs have been featured in premier fashion magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan.

And the list goes on.

Bottom line is that what Mama Renee, together with a few fashion designers, started several decades ago has continued to grow in the safe hands of our new generation of Filipino couturiers.

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Friday, August 07, 2015

Know Your Rights as a Landlord

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If you’re a landlord, there’s this high probability of encountering problems with your tenants every once in a while. Fundamentally, to solve any problem between you and your tenants, you have to know your basic rights, including the dos and the don’ts, as a landlord.

To help you further, we’ve listed some of these rights you have in your hands as a lessor:

Choosing a Tenant 

As a landlord, one of your major rights is to choose your tenants. You can do that by asking for income and credit information, rental history, and guarantees. You may also want to be picky about accepting tenants, but you can’t refuse a tenant based on one’s race, place of origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, religion, and disability.

If you want to make sure you’re choosing the right tenants, work hard on the inspection process and take time to know them personally before you accept them.

Collecting Deposit and Rent 

Before your tenants move in to your property, you have the right to collect a rent deposit. When you both sign the lease tenancy agreement, you may collect the rent deposit in full. The agreement should state the amount of the rent deposit and when it is due.

As for increasing the rent, you have the right to do so but only once in a 12-month period and depending on your lease tenancy agreement. If you’re to raise the rent, make sure the new amount is justifiable and can be compared to similar properties in your neighborhood. 

Entering the Premises 

Landlords can only enter the property in case of emergency and for the purposes of inspecting the premises, cleaning, and making repairs and improvements. You can also enter the premises to show the property to prospective buyer or tenant. However, you’re not allowed to enter the premises impromptu. If you would like to inspect the property, you should give prior notice to the tenants.

In case of a tenant’s extended absence, which is seven days or more, you can enter the property to inspect for damages that may need repairs.

Maintaining the Property 

Maintaining the property can be more like a responsibility than a right. However, it’s not just you who’s responsible for the maintenance but also your tenants. They should also take care of your property during their stay, and you have the right to charge them for any damages. If the tenants refuse to pay for the cost of the repair, you can make a deduction from the tenants’ damage deposit. 

However, you can’t charge your tenants right away. You should be able to show a proof that the damage was caused while your property was occupied by them. Therefore, it’s wise to take detailed photos of the entire property before your tenants move in, so any “future damages” can be spotted quickly.

By the way, you can’t charge the repair of normal wear and tear of furnishings, e.g. carpets and furniture, to your tenants.

Evicting Tenants 

If your tenants didn’t pay for a long period and no solution was offered, you have the right to evict them. Make sure to give them notice first. You can’t harass your tenants in any way so inform them in the most proper way.

If they remain in your property at the end of the notice, you can apply for a possession order; if they don’t comply, you can then apply for an eviction warrant—in such a situation, only the police can evict tenants under court order.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

5 Great Reasons To Invest In Home Automation

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Home automation is the process of controlling basic home features remotely and automatically. Using smart devices such as a smartphone or a tablet, you can easily automate and schedule operation of security, heating, and airconditioning systems; water sprinkling and lighting equipment; and even different appliances at home.

Below, we’ve listed some of the ways on how home automation can make your life a lot easier.

Safety & Security 

One of the myriad reasons why people opt for home automation is because of safety and security. Since you’re able to control lighting and appliance functions, for instance, you can ensure your home will be safe from any wear out caused by electronic devices. By simply tapping your finger on your device, you can control all the lights in your house and make sure they are turned off when you’re away at night. You may also turn them on anytime you want.

What’s more, you can ensure security inside your home through security cameras and automated door locks. Wherever you are—just as long you’re close to your smart device—you can easily see if someone is entering or trying to enter your home, thus increasing the safety of your house and family.


Having a home automation system is truly convenient. Whether you’re away or just relaxing at home, you don’t need to check on everything from time to time because everything is scheduled and automated. Additionally, when you’re on vacation or at work, you can easily control things the way you want it. You don’t’ have to call someone inside the house to do a thing for you because you’ll be able to do it yourself.

Time Management

Home automation is very ideal for busy people. In the morning, you don’t have to rush to check out and set things and worry about being late for work. Also, when something is left turned on inside your home, you don’t need to stop by or call people to check on it. Now, those time saved can be devoted to more meaningful and important tasks for the day.

Peace of Mind 

When you have an automation system at home, you’re certain that everything and everyone is safe, which can give you peace of mind. You don’t have to call your children and check if they turned everything off before going to school, for instance—HINT: that is sometimes irritating to the kids. 

Energy/Cost Efficiency

Lastly, when you’re controlling your electronic devices and appliances at home, you’re also controlling energy, which can help you lower your utility bills, thus saving money. By automating your home, you’re also only using resources and energy that you actually need. Therefore, you’re not only helping yourself, but you’re also protecting the environment. Home automation systems are expensive though, but in the end it will be all worth it, especially with all these sound benefits.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Why 35 is the Ideal Age to Buy a House

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Everybody dreams of having their own home. But have you ever wondered about the perfect time to buy a house? Truth is, the perfect time depends on you. Recent studies say the ideal age to invest in a house is 35 though. While buying a house at a younger age is wonderful, doing it at 35 is still encouraged.

Here are the reasons why:

Financial Stability 

Typically, 35 is the average age when people become financially stable. Mostly in your 20’s, you’re still struggling to find a steady and profitable job that can help you save enough money for future investments. Additionally, if you’re in your 20’s, there are many things that divide your attention such as holiday travels, parties, and romantic dates, among others. In this stage, you’re still having fun; investing in something big isn’t on your mind yet.

In your early 30’s, on the other hand, you’re likely to have a stable job; but this stage could only be the beginning of you realizing to save some of your hard earned money and exercise financial wisdom.

When you reach 35, you should be ready to invest in bigger things because you already learned enough from past financial mistakes. This is also the peak time when you would want to achieve something noteworthy for yourself and reap the hard work you’ve done over the years. 


After college some people are reluctant to find a job right away; some even study further—after all, education is important. However, studying continuously can be a financially tough time. You may be learning a lot, but you’re also spending a lot on education while not earning any income.

If you’re one of those people who prioritizes education, it will be difficult to save money and invest in big things. However, once you’re finished with school, you’ll be able to start earning and saving more for future investments. This usually happens around 35, when you’re already successful in both your scholarly and professional undertakings.

Relationship Status 

Your relationship status can be a factor for buying a house or not. Buying a house while you’re still single may be far from your mind. If you’re single and independent, you can live alone and rent an apartment. However, if you’re in a long-term relationship, you may eventually think about settling down.

People settle down at different ages; however, 35 is the average age when people have met their partners and had their babies. At the age of 35, investing your savings on your dream house can be the perfect gift you can give yourself and your family. 

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Five Ways To Survive An Earthquake

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Recently, there has been an alarming rise in seismic activity in the Philippines. In the last month alone, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS) recorded 305 earthquakes, in which two quakes were strong, six were mid-strong, and 441 quakes were weak.

The recent earthquake in Nepal, which killed more than 8,000 and injured more than 23,000 people alarmed not only Filipinos but also everyone else in the world.

Now the question is, “are we prepared for a strong earthquake?” Is the simple “drop, cover, and hold on” enough to keep us safe?

Here are some safety tips to follow before, during, and after an earthquake. 

Know What to Prepare 

Earthquakes are inevitable so you have to prepare yourself before it arrives. In emergency situations, such as earthquakes, you’ll likely need a first aid kit, flashlight, fire extinguisher, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries. Make sure you have all of these life-saving items. 

Stay Calm and Alert 

When inside your home, stay calm and make sure to stay away from the doors and windows. Crawl under the table or stand against a wall. When you’re out, stay away from buildings or from anything that may fall. If you’re in a car, don’t get off. Stay inside until the quake stops. When near the shore, drop, cover, and hold on until the quake stops.

However, if the shaking lasts for more than 20 seconds, get to a high ground.

Drop, Cover and Hold On 

During an earthquake, it’s important to drop, cover, and hold on, which increases your chance for survival. Simply drop onto your hands and knees; cover your neck and head; and hold on to your shelter until the quake stops. By doing this, you will be able to move if necessary to protect you from falling objects.

Things You Shouldn’t Do 

While knowing what you should you in an earthquake, it’s also important to know what to avoid. For one, you shouldn’t run outside or to other rooms while the ground is shaking. Do not move as much as possible. If you’re in a building, don’t use the elevator because it may get stuck. If you’re trapped in a room, don’t use candles, matches, or any flames.

Surviving the Aftershock 

Just because the shaking stops it doesn’t mean you’re already safe. Earthquakes have aftershocks. After an earthquake, check yourself and others for injuries. If there’s anyone injured, provide the person first aid.

Check gas, water, and electric lines for damages. Keep away from damaged buildings and neigborhoods.

Listen to news on the radio.

Lastly, don’t go near the beach because an aftershock could create a tsunami.

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How to Choose the Ideal LED TV for your Home

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Slim design. Low power consumption. Adjustable backlighting. These are the basic reasons why most of us replace our outdated conventional TV with a more state-of-art LED TV. Apparently, choosing the best LED TV is not an easy task. With the many features and attributes of LED TVs, there are also numerous things you have to consider when shopping for the perfect TV.


Before you buy an LED TV, the first thing you should consider is its size. When choosing the right size of an LED TV, it’s always important to take note of the size of the room in which the TV will be placed. You may also want to consider your budget because the larger the size of the TV the more expensive it will be.

Viewing Distance 

The ideal viewing distance has something to do with the size of your TV; the bigger the TV the longer the viewing distance should be. If you have a huge LED TV, you definitely won’t like sitting in the front. To get the ideal viewing distance in inches, divide the screen size by 0.84. For instance, if the TV’s screen size is 40 inches, the ideal viewing distance should be around four feet away from your couch or bed.

Screen Resolution 

Most people choose LED TVs because they want to see better images on screen. Thus, it’s important to check the screen resolution before you buy the TV. Essentially, the screen resolution determines how clear the images will appear on screen. When watching movies on Blu-ray or HD cable channels, higher screen resolution is required. But of course, the higher the screen resolution the more expensive it will be. If you have ample budget, opt for an LED TV with 1080p label; its pixels may be smaller, but it produces more defined images.

Refresh Rate 

The refresh rate, the number of times an image is flashed on the screen per second, is as important as the screen resolution. The refresh rate, whose standard rate is 60 times per second, is measured in Hz (Hertz). The higher the refresh rate the faster the images are redrawn, thus making the motion smoother. Hence, if you want to avoid blurry images on your screen, choose an LED TV with higher refresh rate such as 120 Hz or 240 Hz.


Without quality sound, the quality of the images on screen will be nullified. When choosing an LED TV, make sure it has good sound quality so you won’t need to buy additional accessories such as headphones, large speakers, or a soundbar.


Ports connect your gadgets such as laptops, cellphones, and tablets to the TV. If multimedia entertainment is your thing, make sure you have enough ports: one for the Blu-ray player; one for the game console; and the other for the soundbar. You can also sync your MP3s and digital photo files to the TV using these ports.

Smart TV 

Buying a Smart TV is a smart choice if you’re looking for a full multimedia entertainment package. SMART TVs offer many perks such as video streaming services Pandora, Netflix, and Hulu Plus. Make sure you choose a SMART TV that has Wi-Fi connection so you can easily upgrade the software.

Life Span

Lastly, consider the LED TV’s life span. The life span of any appliance or gadget will depend on your usage. Make sure not to overuse or misuse your LED TV.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Checklist Before Buying a House or Condo on Pre-Selling Stage

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Before putting your money in a house or condo on pre-selling stage, follow this checklist to help you in the buying process.

1. Check first if the house or condo you want to buy is registered with the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) and has been issued a license to sell by the same agency. The HLURB regulates and monitors all real estate developments such as vertical (condos) and horizontal (house and lots) projects.

2. Conduct a site survey to see if the location of the house or condo is acceptable to you and according to your liking and preference. Pay careful attention to its neighborhood and proximity to commercial, recreational, financial, and educational establishments.

3. Do a background check on the property developer and the people behind the company. Your best bet is the developer’s official website, which has a list of past, current, and future projects.

4. Know the terms of sale such as:
  • Reservation Fee – Know how much and valid for how long? The reservation fee is normally valid for 30 days prior to the down payment (DP) 
  • Down Payment (DP) – Due 30 days after you paid the reservation fee 
  • Balance – Normally required 30 days after paying the DP; can be paid in installments and spread over the repayment period prescribed by the developer
5. Know the construction schedule such as:
  • Date of Groundbreaking – Start of development and construction 
  • Target Completion Date – Turnover to buyers with Certificate of Completion (COC) issued by HLURB.
6. Lastly, know much would the association fees be (for condos) and monthly dues (for house and lots) upon completion and turnover of the property.

With all information at hand, you can already sign the reservation agreement and pay the required fees to reserve a house or condo of choice. It’s important to remember that the reservation fee is subject to forfeiture if you suddenly change your mind or if you’re unable to pay the required DP. Upon full payment, the developer then facilitates the Deed of Absolute Sale (DOAS) in favor of the buyer with the title (Transfer Certificate of Title [TCT] for house and lots or Condominium Certificate Title [CCT] for condos) to immediately follow.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

12 Ways to Survive the Hot Summer Without AC

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As the scorching summer heat rises, the more we want to get out of the sun and stick inside our homes. Problem is that heat still penetrates the interior of the house, especially when the air conditioning (AC) is turned off. However, did you know you can still keep your homes cool during the summer even without the AC? Here’s how:

  • Before the day heats up, close the windows and other coverings; open them at night for cooler air. 
  • Keep the sunlight out of your home because that can minimize solar heat gain. 
  • Use light-colored curtains to reflect the sun’s heat. 
  • Arrange drapes and furniture so they won’t hamper the airflow. 
  • Inspect, clean, and replace your filters often because dirty filters may restrict the airflow. 
  • Cook, iron, and wash your clothes during the cooler times of the day, i.e. precook rice or meals in the evening. 
  • Turn off the lights in the house when not in use. Take note that lights, especially incandescent lights, give off too much heat. Replace your incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lights, light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. 
  • Opt for an attic insulation, which keeps heat from spreading. 
  • Though it may cost you a little, install a solar control window film to reduce heat gain. 
  • If you have reroofing and repainting plans, make sure to use light-colored paint to reflect the sun’s heat. Also use metal roofs to help keep your home cool. 
  • Plant trees and vines because they are good exterior insulators. 
  • If natural cooling isn’t enough, use fans to keep you cool inside your home. The best type of fan to use during the summer is the whole-house fan, which should be turned on early morning or after dusk.
Besides keeping your homes cool during the scorching summer heat, these practical tips will also help you lower your electric bills by not using the AC.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Smart Business: Choosing the Right Office Space

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Finding the right office space for your business may seem like a daunting task–there are lots of things to consider before making any decisions.

To help you with this dilemma, we’ve listed some of the things you will need to deal with when choosing the right office space.


The location of your prospective office will be the first determinant of your employees’ convenience. For a business to grow and become successful, it’s vital that everyone is comfortable at work or else the quality of the work output will suffer.

For instance, an office located in an area where traffic is always slow will affect your staff’s level of comfort. Of course, you don’t want them to arrive at the office late and irritated as you know this will affect their performance and, eventually, your business. To save time and ensure convenience, choose a location where traffic is smooth and has easy access to public transportation.

Also, choose a location near the urban center to attract the best employees and clients. Think carefully about the neighborhood, too, as it will reflect the image of your company. If the neighborhood is crime-prone, don’t expect prospective employees or clients to come knocking on your door. What’s more, make sure the location is near important amenities and entertainment venues such as bars, clubs, and cineplexes. Find out if there are nice hotels in the area in case your clients pay a visit. It will be a big boost to your company if you can provide the needs and wants of your clients.

Building Specifications 

Now that you’ve found the perfect location for your business, the next important thing to do is check the building’s structure and specifications. If the building is old, for example, you’re likely to encounter some repair problems.

Talking to the building manager and staff will help you appreciate their day-to-day operations; if you want to know the quality of their services, you can ask some of the tenants. Additionally, ask about the building’s security services. If your employees have to work at night, you will want to make sure they’re safe inside the building. You may also want to examine the external noise as it may affect the concentration of your staff.

It’s also important to look at the building administration team’s emergency preparedness plans and the building’s drainage system and parking space.

Your Prospective Office Space 

The building may be working fine, but how about the space you want to rent or buy? It’s important to see the office space for yourself to determine possible problems in the future. While inspecting the place, check if the space is just enough for your business. Also, check if the mechanical and electrical equipment are all working properly. Find out if certain services such as airconditioning, plumbing, and waste disposal are shared with the other tenants.

The floor of the office is also an important consideration; if it’s on the lower floors of the building, it may affect your privacy and it could be noisy.


You should also know how much you have to spend for your new office; you should set a realistic budget to pay for its downpayment and the other costs that come with it: monthly utility bills, business rates, agent fees, personnel fees, new furniture, insurance, and fit out costs.

Work hard on your business to make your property investment worth every cent paid.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How Does RENT-TO-OWN Work?

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While purchasing a home is a great investment, sometimes, it takes time before you’re financially ready for it. That’s why some people prefer to wait, save more money before finally buying a house. 

However, you can still own a home even if you don’t have the means now through rent-to-own.

But what exactly is rent-to-own?

To learn more about this housing opportunity, here are some basic facts about rent-to-own; how it works; its benefits; and some considerations you need to take into account.

How It Works 

Basically, rent-to-own is the process in which the potential buyer rents a home and after a certain period of time, the owner gives the buyer the opportunity to purchase the house. Typically, the length of agreement between the owner and buyer lasts one to three years. The buyer pays the rent, an option fee, and a rent premium, which can later minimize the downpayment for the house.

In some ways, rent-to-own works like a car lease: you give a downpayment; use the car; then own the car after completing the required monthly payments. However, in rent-to-own, you have the prerogative not to buy the house at the end of the agreement.

Benefits to Buyer 

If you’re the buyer, the main benefit of the rent-to-own option is to give you more time to save money for the house while you live in it temporarily.

Though most owners will require you to pay rent at a price that’s slightly above the market, you’re not likely to lose much whether you decide to buy the house or not. If at the end of the agreement, you decide to buy the house, the owner will credit part of the rent back to you, which is usually more than the portion of rent that was above the market rate. On the other hand, if you decide to not buy the house, you will only lose the rent you paid.

Also, by living in the house you’re renting, you’ll be able to have a deep perception of the house; you’ll be able to determine current and future maintenance problems, for instance, that may affect your buying decision in the future.

Benefits to Owner/Seller

Rent-to-own also has some benefits for the owner/seller. For one, when the market is sluggish, the seller can lease the house to someone. The seller can also improve his credit because the cost of the rent is usually above the market rate.

If at the end of the agreement, the potential buyer decides not to buy the house, the seller has nothing to lose; apart from gaining income from the rent, the seller earns another chance to sell the house at a much higher price depending on market conditions. On the other hand, if the potential buyer decides to buy the house, the only thing the seller will lose is the part of the rent that’s credited to the buyer. At the end of the deal, the seller will gain income; improve his credit; and sell his home even in a slow-moving market.

Things to Consider 

The potential buyer and owner should be represented by their own real estate agents before entering into any agreement because the rent-to-own process requires contracts and other legal documents. Please take note that not all places in the metro allow lease options, especially on a residential property.

Inevitably, the house can appreciate or depreciate during the rental period or after the agreement. If the home’s selling price is incorporated in the contract and the home appreciates, the owner would somehow regret not selling it at a much higher price. On the other hand, when the home depreciates, the buyer would also somehow regret by paying the rent at a cost that was above the market rate.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Top 5 Laundry Tips For Homeowners (Or Practically Everyone)

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Most homeowners prefer to take their laundry to local laundromats, especially those who are too busy to wash their clothes at home. Nonetheless the trip to the laundromats, even though convenient, can cost a lot of money. That’s why some still choose to do their laundry at home. Though washing clothes at home can add up to your monthly bills, there are cost-efficient ways to save energy, water, and time.

  • Wash Clothes in Cold Water 

One of the most helpful ways to save energy and water is to use cold water instead of hot water, which takes up more energy, thus increasing your electricity and water bills. For dirty clothes, a 30°C cycle is enough. Additionally, washing clothes in cold water can actually make them last longer.

  • Always Do Full Loads 

When doing the laundry, it’s not practical to wash a few pieces of clothes in one go. Always do full loads to save water and energy. Doing full loads can save you 3,400 gallons of water each year; it also saves time because you don’t have to do your laundry every day. Pile up your used clothes for one week and wash them on weekends.

  • Skip Drying Your Clothes 

Though most washing machines come with a dryer, it’s not always necessary to use it. Apparently, using the dryer is neither energy-efficient nor cost-efficient. It’s better to just dry your clothes outside the house. After all, the scorching heat of the sun can easily get things done.

However, if you’re in a rush and you don’t have any space to hang your clothes outside the house, you may use the washing machine’s high-speed spin cycle. That way, your clothes will be almost dry when they come out of the machine.

  • Save Money On Laundry Supplies 

Using a reasonable amount of laundry detergent is enough to clean your clothes. This will help you save money on buying more detergents.

What’s more, not all laundry supplies are necessary. You can skip using fabric conditioners because the detergent itself is enough to soften your clothes and make them smell good.

  • Lastly, Choose An Energy-Efficient Washing Machine 

If your washing machine is more than 10 years old, it’s most likely to make your energy bills dramatically increase. That’s why you have to buy a new washing machine and make sure it’s energy-efficient; choose a machine with the EC-AG label.

Additionally, modern machines also provide energy-efficient options such as built-in sensors to prevent over-drying as well as weight sensors to ensure accurate full load weight and determine appropriate levels of heat and water.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Must-See Eco-Friendly Condos in the Philippines

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The Philippines is now home to many real estate developments, especially high-rise condos. However, the proliferation of tall buildings has negative impact on the environment; that’s why most real estate developers and building contractors have started incorporating eco-friendly structure designs in their projects.

Basically, what makes a building eco-friendly is its energy efficiency and sustainability. According to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), to make a condo environment friendly, it has to maximize the use of natural resources, which promotes minimum waste of water, energy, and other natural resources. It also has to use construction materials that are recyclable and cost-efficient.

Below are three examples of eco-friendly condos in the country:

Paseo Verde, Las Pinas City

Though located along the busy Real Street, Paseo Verde still offers its residents a serene and green environment. Registered with the Philippine Green Building Council, Paseo Verde is considered the first eco-friendly condo in the Philippines. Its amenities include a swimming pool, a clubhouse, and a landscaped site development.

Escalades at 20th Avenue, Quezon City

Escalades at 20th Avenue exudes calmness through its green architecture. Situated in the heart of Cubao, this township project features six cost energy efficient buildings, wide open spaces, a tropical Asian-inspired garden, jogging path, playground, and picnic areas. The buildings’ corridors welcome natural sunlight, which is good for ventilation.

3. Primavera Residences, Cagayan De Oro 

Primavera Residences is the first eco-friendly building in Cagayan De Oro, the capital city of the province of Misamis Oriental in Mindanao. It ensures a more efficient consumption of natural resources, particularly water and energy.

Its rooftops have photovoltaic solar panels, which help produce renewable energy. It also provides natural lighting and ventilation, which protects residents from heat even during the summer. What’s more, it has a green inner courtyard, which makes the building’s indoor air quality even cooler and fresher.

Apart from its green features, Primavera Residences also offers amenities such as a multipurpose hall, swimming pool, jacuzzi, gym, restuarants, shops, and 24/7 security. It also faces the tranquil Macajalar Bay.

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Monday, April 06, 2015

3 Ways Real Estate in the Philippines Will Benefit from the ASEAN Integration

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In response to the increasing role of Southeast Asian countries in the global community, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders—11 of them, including the Philippines—signed the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) blueprint in November 2007 and officially formed the AEC earlier this year, in anticipation of a regional economic integration by year-end.

The main purpose of the ASEAN Integration is to create more jobs and income, and boost investments among member countries by creating a single market with free flow of goods, services, investments, and skilled workers.

With the ASEAN Integration just around the corner, expect a more robust economy and business environment, which can lead the way for an even healthier local real estate market.

The ASEAN Integration anticipates the following:

Increased Infrastructures 

The ASEAN Integration is expected to encourage highly-urbanized cities in the region to build more infrastructures—mostly commercial and residential. The construction of new malls and retail complexes will eventually translate into an even more potent real estate market. It will not only boost the Philippines’ property industry but also its construction industry, thus creating more jobs for Filipinos.

Soaring Foreign Investments 

There will be a higher demand for office and residential spaces from foreign investors. However, the Philippine government may need to attempt to push for a constitutional change anew to amend the prohibition of foreigners to own land in the country.

The potential influx of foreign investments to the Philippines as well as the emergence of new growth areas and economic hotspots in the region will help improve tourist arrivals in the country, which should also make a positive impact in the real estate sector.

Intense Global Competition

To realize the goals of the ASEAN Integration, member countries are expected to intensify real estate and construction activities, thus creating a stiffer competition among them. Essentially, the Philippines has to take on the challenge and do its part to remain a strong industry player. In fact, the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations Inc. (CREBA), the largest real estate umbrella organization in the Philippines, has been encouraging its members to pursue more relevant market reforms to stay competitive.

Since the local real estate industry will now be exposed to international markets, major operations should be expanded and properties should be acquired both from inside and outside the Philippines.

Additionally, the ASEAN Integration espouses the elimination of tariff on goods and services, which gives the consumers more money to spend.

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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.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

6 Homeownership Costs You May Not See Coming

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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

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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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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

PHOTO CONTEST: Win Post-Valentine Dinner For Two, Tickets to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ By Sharing Your Most Romantic Valentine Arrangements At Home, your full-service property specialists, and California Pizza Kitchen (CPK), which recently reopened at Shangri-La Plaza, are holding an online photo contest among couples, aged 21 and above, who reside in Metro Manila, to share a photo or photos of their “Most Romantic Valentine Arrangements at Home.”

The winner—one couple only—will win a Post-Valentine full-course dinner for two at CPK, plus two tickets to see the most anticipated book-to-film adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, at Shang Cineplex.

Photo Contest Mechanics: 

• Take a photo or photos of your most romantic Valentine arrangement/s at home. i.e. romantic dinner table setting, rose petals on the bed. Make sure you submit photos that you own.*

• Email photo entries to or send a private message at on or before Monday, February 16, 2015. Include your names, age, where you took the photo, and a short description of each photo. will post finalists at facebook/condoasiaph on Tuesday, February 17, 2015. Most number of likes (1 point per like) and most number of shares (2 points per share) will win the contest.

• Facebook voting—liking and sharing—will run from Wednesday, February 18 until Sunday, February 22, 2015.

• The winner—one couple only—will be announced on Monday, February 23, 2015.

• Post-Valentine dinner date at CPK, movie date at Shang Cineplex will be scheduled later that week.

* will not be liable for any third party claims on the photos.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Five Practical Ways To Find Your Ideal Neighborhood

First published on 

Checking out the neighborhood is one of the must-do items before buying a home. Instead of hiring a private inspector, we suggest that you study the neighborhood yourself.

To aid you through the process, we’ve listed below five important factors to consider when selecting the ideal neighborhood:

Crime Statistics and Safety 

Peace and safety should be at the top of your list. Who wants to live in a crime-prone neighborhood anyway?

To begin with, google how high or low the crime rate is in the neighborhood you’re investigating; if you want more information or to explore further, call the local police station.

Availability of Basic Amenities

Make a checklist of the amenities you think are most important to you. If you have children, make sure there are good schools in the area. Check out ratings and reviews of various local public and private elementary schools, high schools, even day care centers.

You may also need to consider the proximity of your prospective house to the schools and your office. If you’re going to commute, find out how long it will take you to reach your regular destinations. If you’re driving a car, it’s wise that you also identify other transportation alternatives. If there are buses and trains, check out their schedules.

Besides schools and transportation, other important amenities to consider are hospitals, malls, supermarkets, churches, parks, and entertainment centers.

First Impression 

Your first impression of a prospective home or neighborhood is crucial. Can you imagine yourself and your family living in that house or neighborhood? Do they fit your lifestyle?

To make a fair judgement, visit the place at different times of the day; drive through the area to capture a snapshot of life in the neighborhood. While looking for nice spaces, also spot for unpleasant sights such as abandoned buildings and graffiti on the walls. If you found too much disgusting surroundings, you would probably think it’s not safe to live in that neighborhood.

Talk to your future neighbors as well; ask them what they like and don’t like in the area.


Match your personality to your prospective neighborhood.

If you’re single and looking for a mate, you’re more likely to pick a neighborhood full of single people.

If you’re a parent, choose a neighborhood where there are businesses catering to children.

If you’re a professional, choose a neighborhood where other professionals live. If you’re surrounded by other professionals, who share a similar schedule as yours, you could save yourself from late night noise, and some of them could even form a good support group.

Property Value and Neighborhood Improvements

Most homeowners consider the potential value of their properties, which increases over time.

Your prospective home is a very good investment whether or not you sell it in the future. If the value of your property is high and its neighborhood is set for future improvements, such investment can be deemed as a good addition to your current inventory of assets.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Three Ways To Make Money With Your Condo

First published on

Buying a condo that’s right for you is a good investment. But it’s somewhat disheartening to recount how much you initially spent on it and how much you’ll need to spend further on a monthly basis. Although your property’s value will eventually go up, you can’t just sit back and wait for that to happen. If these things do bother you, making money with your property can be a great idea.

Here are three ways to make money with your property, particularly your condo:

  • Rent It Out 

This is the most obvious way to make money with your property. But renting out your condo can be very risky because it might lead to incurring damages or encouraging theft. As a landlord, you should be extremely picky when it comes to tenants; you should also insure your property.

If you’re renting out your condo, do it on a monthly basis or a 12-month lease. If you’re going to rent it out for business, i.e. set it up as an office space, you can still have a place to go home to at night. That way, you can avoid incurring damages to your property because your tenants won’t likely throw rowdy parties without you knowing.

  •  Use Those Extra Spaces 
You may have a garage, but you don’t own a car.

Rent it out to your neighbor who needs a garage or an extra space.

If you have an extra bedroom, find a housemate who can rent out the room. To avoid possible property damages and that feeling of strangeness and uneasiness toward each other, find someone you personally know and are comfortable with.

  •  Make It A Vacation Rental 
When you’re traveling for the holidays or gone for days for a summer camp, rent out your condo to tourists and guests.

However, before you convert your condo into a vacation rental, you have to determine first if it’s suitable to be used as a vacation rental. To start with, the location of your condo should be appealing enough to tourists and guests. Certain amenities such as high-speed Internet, a jacuzzi, and a swimming pool are expected.

Making extra money with your condo is a piece of cake if only you were resourceful and creative; you just have to spruce up your property and deal with the right people to earn that extra cash. However, make sure to check out your lease, condo and zoning bylaws so you’ll know if you’re violating any rules. Knowing where you stand and following the rules are always vital to responsible and successful investing.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Five Worst Mistakes First-Time Condo Buyers Make

First published on 

Investing in a condo can be one of your major life achievements; but it can also be one of your biggest downfalls, especially if it’s your first time, and you commit the same mistakes that some people did before buying their first homes.

For your first purchase to be successful, be cautious of your decisions, and avoid these five mistakes:

1. Not Getting Mortgage Approval 

Before purchasing a home, you must first secure a home loan and get your mortgage approved. Sadly, some first-time buyers fail to qualify for a mortgage due to poor credit history. If you’re applying for a mortgage, don’t secure credit for a new car or a bedroom furniture simultaneously. New financial obligations can lower your credit score.

Never co-sign a loan while you’re trying to close a home loan. Don’t act as a guarantor for someone else’s debt. Accumulating more debts can only diminish your mortgage eligibility.

Also don’t accept a new job offer while you’re applying for a mortgage because you will need a steady source of income to prove your liquidity to your lender.

2. Lacking Vision 

Lacking vision simply means not seeing what is about to come. A first-time buyer usually gets too excited about getting a house, but tends to forget the little, yet important, details. Be forward-looking—anticipate problems before they happen.

Besides the mortgage fees, buyers should not also forget to factor in the extra costs when buying a condo, which include taxes, insurances, monthly utility bills, and maintenance expenses.

Know what you can really afford before buying a condo.

Don’t settle on compromises. Again, be forward-looking; don’t decide depending on your current situation. For example, don’t buy a single-bedroom home if you’re planning to have children sometime soon.

3. Paying Extra for Upgrades 

Don’t be fooled by sellers, brokers, and agents who are trying to outsmart you. You don’t need those upgrades (wallpapers, flooring materials) for now. Physical imperfections are quite easy to resolve without spending too much. Minor upgrades, cosmetic fixes are actually inexpensive.

4. Not Doing Condo Inspection 

You need to inspect your future condo inside and out. If there are any adjustments to be made, you may want to reconsider your decision. Don’t spend extra cash on repairs and replacements.

To avoid this mistake, don’t close a sale until you have a concrete, full idea of your prospective property’s soundness and physical condition.

5. Not Hiring An Agent/Not Using Seller’s Agent 

You should hire a real estate agent to guide you throughout the home buying process. Agents, who follow ethical guidelines, should protect both the seller and buyer’s interests. To make sure that will happen, hire an agent for yourself first before dealing with the property seller’s own agent.

Your agent should lead you to various properties that fit your requirements and budget. The seller’s agent, on the other hand, may unearth important information that can guide you to making a wise decision.

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