Author Topic: CCGA Realty sponsored Real Estate News  (Read 51502 times)

Offline PinoyBroker

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Re: CCGA Realty sponsored Real Estate News
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2015, 12:21:16 PM »
CCGA Real Estate Services & Advisory
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Real Estate / Economy / Infrastructure / Environment / Energy
Monday, February 23, 2015
Why PH needs to improve investment freedom
Posted at 02/20/2015 10:55 AM
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is among the very best performers in terms of improving economic freedom or promoting equal economic equal economic opportunity and prosperity, but it still needs improvement.

The publishers of the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom say while the Philippines has had an 11 percent improvement in economic freedom over the last five years, it must do more in terms of freedom of investment.

"The Philippines' score is 60, no change over the past year. It's not bad, slightly above the world average. But in terms of the countries you are actually competing for investments with, it is not a particularly strong area. Other countries would have scores in the 80 to 90 range," Terry Miller, executive director of The Heritage Foundation, said.

"So this is an area where there are still substantial regulatory burdens in the economy, a number of restrictions that guard selected areas. I am told that perhaps that this is even an area tht some sort of Constitutional change might have to be envisioned to make reforms in this area," he added.

Miller is referring to Charter change to allow more foreign ownership in the country that of course is a very touchy topic, as many still fear lawmakers could use it to abuse their power.

But the Aquino government has done well even without Charter change.

Last year, it grew foreign direct investments to nearly $6 billion, despite averaging just $3.5 billion in the two years before.

But even then, the Philippines still ranked lowest among ASEAN nations.

"You may feel, 'Oh, there is a disconnection, we have this much economic freedom but where is our FDI?' But as we know it will take some time, but in the case of the Philippines, it's not that far away. Already you've been implementing good policies over the past five years, not just a year or two over the past five years," Anthony Kim, senior policy analyst, The Heritage Foundation, said.

Such policies include the opening up of the banking sector to foreign companies, which has so far drawn interest from Japanese banks and other regional players. - ANC
JICA backs study on North-South commuter rail project

by Rainier Allan Ronda, The Philippine Star
Posted at 02/22/2015 11:33 AM
TOKYO – The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide technical assistance for the conduct of a feasibility study on the North-South Commuter Rail project proposed by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

The North-South Commuter Rail is envisioned to have a route length of 91 kilometers and will be an elevated railway with modern, high-capacity trains running from Malolos, Bulacan to Calamba, Laguna.

The feasibility study is for the Malolos to Tutuban, Manila stretch only.

Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya earlier said the Tutuban to Calamba stretch would be offered to prospective investors via the Aquino government’s public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.

Jin Wakabaayshi, director of JICA’s Southeast Asia Division 5, told The STAR the agency already expressed its commitment to support the conduct of the feasibility study to Philippine government officials.

Wakabaayshi also said the North-South Commuter Rail and a subway along EDSA were in the list of big-ticket projects recommended in the Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and its Surrounding Areas, which was submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority in June 2014.

According to the roadmap, the EDSA subway is envisioned to serve as the second north-south mass transit, running from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan to Dasmariñas, Cavite.

If pursued, the two railway projects are expected to strengthen connectivity between Metro Manila and adjoining municipalities in Central Luzon and Calabarzon, thereby decongesting the metropolis.
SC asked to halt LRT1 Cavite extension project
The P64.9B mass rail transit project is the ‘most disadvantageous government contract of all time,’ a lawyer ​says in his petition before the High Court
Published 6:30 PM, Feb 20, 2015
Updated 6:30 PM, Feb 20, 2015
MANILA, Philippines – A lawyer is asking the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the implementation of the P64.9-billion ($1.47-billion) Light Rail Transit 1 (LRT1) Cavite extension project for being “the most disadvantageous government contract of all time.​”

The tandem Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) and Ayala Corporation has signed with the government the 32-year concession agreement for the project in October last year.

The LRT extension project will lengthen Line 1 from 20.7 kilometers to 32.4 km, with a new south endpoint in Niog, Bacoor, Cavite. Approximately 10.5 km of the Cavite Extension System will be elevated and 1.2 km will be at grade level.

The consortium of the groups, Light Rail Manila, was the lone bidder for the public-private partnership (PPP) project. The consortium is led by MPIC, with a 55% stake, and Ayala, with 35%. Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte Ltd holds the remaining 10%.

Under the agreement, LRMC will construct the planned extension of rail services to Cavite in exchange for, among others, the takeover of the existing LRT 1 facilities and the right to its daily income of around P7 million ($158,227.87) per day.

In his 21-page petition for injunction​, lawyer Salvador Belaro Jr, said ​that if ​the project is not enjoined, it will result in public debt of unfathomable magnitude, plus violations of the Constitutio​n and the Build-Operate Transfer (BOT) Law.

Belaro said the project is overpriced by at least 300% versus the recently finished North extension project.

The 5.71-kilometer North extension project from Monumento to North EDSA costs only P6.3 billion ($142.37 million), Belaro said.

The Cavite extension project, ​which double that distance, costs P64.9-billion ($1.47-billion), ​P39 billion ($881.29 million) of which is for civil and electrical works.

Belaro said that upon the execution of the concession agreement, LRMC already earned P18 billion ($406.73 million) – the alleged overpric​ing in the project.

​Because of such “income” upon contract signing, the 10% down payment ​made by the concessionaire ​– equivalent to P935,010,390 ($21.13 million) – ​did not ​become a burden to LRMC.

Upon signing, the concessionaire already started to earn approximately P2.53 billion ($57.19 million) yearly from LRT1, Belaro ​said.

On the ​4th year, when quarterly payment on the balance of the total concession price starts, the estimated P2.53 billion ($57.19 million) can already be used by LRMC to pay such quarterly payments.

But despite such, there would still be a balance on such yearly net income of LRT1 of more or less P2.23 billion ($50.41 million) for the concessionaire “to enjoy yearly for the entire duration of 32 years of the concession,” which is also can be extended up to 50 years.

The P2.23 billion ($50.41 million), when aggregated, would earn the concessionaire approximately P80 billion ($1.81 billion) from LRT1 alone, not including the income from the Cavite extension project, as well as income from non-rail services of both LRT1 and the extension project, Belaro said.

Also, if the concessionaire would be spending up to P20 billion ($452.08 million) for the Cavite extension project, the latter would still derive a profit (from LRT1 rail services alone) of at least P60 billion ($1.36 billion or P2.23 billion [$50.41 million] multiplied by 32 years) for the entire concession period or P1.6 billion (36.18 million) yearly, Belaro pointed out.

The P1.6 billion (​$​36.18 million) yearly net income for the concessionaire is said to balloon to a yearly net income of P3 billion ($67.84 million) because of the numerous provisions in the concession agreement.

“In effect, the government stands to shoulder all the burden just to make the project a reality, making it the most one-sided contract of all time,” Belaro said.
Constitutional violation

Belaro also ​said​ the LRT1 Cavite extension project should not have been awarded by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) ​because both ​agencies do not have ​the power to ​do so.

It is only the Congress which can grant such a franchise​. He said the “closed door” negotiations on the project ​also violated the people’s constitutional right to information.

Belaro’s filing of the injunction follows several other cases filed in court questioning the increase in fares of LRT and Metro Rail Transit (MRT). SC asked DOTC to explain its basis for the fare hike.

“Under the concession agreement executed between DOTC and LRTA, and LRMC, the government bound itself to make fare increases,” Belaro said.

LRMC targets to complete the extension project by 2019.

The consortium is committed to deliver a safe, reliable, and world-class rail system comparable to commuter railway hubs in the region, MPIC chairman Manuel Pangilinan previously said. –
Right-of-way woes cancel NIA project

By Ferdie G. Domingo | Feb. 23, 2015 at 12:01am
DINGALAN, Aurora –  A P10-million communal irrigation project in this mountain resort town has been scrapped over recurring road right of way problems, the National Irrigation administration said.

Angelito Miguel, manager of the NIA’s Bulacan-Aurora-Nueva Ecija  division based in San Rafael, Bulacan, said that the prject’s budget  has been realigned to the Umiray CIP although the  original projecthas already been awarded to a contractor.

Bane is one of three divisions under the NIA Region 3 office under regional manager Josephine Salazar. The others are the Tarlac-Zambales (Tarzam) and Pampanga-Bataan (Pambat) divisions.

“The project has not been started although the contract has already been awarded so we resolved to just terminate the contract,” Miguel said.

The project encountered a setback after the owner of the land where the Umiray CIP is set to be constructed, lawyer Romeo Roxas, put up a makeshift checkpoint in the barangay, preventing NIA officials and fieldmen from bringing in construction materials to proceed with the project.

Miguel said the project would have made an impact on the community since it could irrigate 100 hectares and benefit at least 50 farmers. He said the funding had to be diverted because it has already been earmarked under the Fund 101 of the General Appropriations Act.
Rizal wind farm may open in May

By Alena Mae S. Flores | Feb. 22, 2015 at 10:05pm
Alternergy Wind One Corp., a company led by former Energy Secretary Vince Perez, is expected to complete the 67.5-megawatt wind farm project in Barangay Halayhayin, Pililia, Rizal in May.

The $177.9-million project is due for completion in July 2015, Energy Department records showed, but a source said the project might be completed as early as May.

Energy Department director Mylene Capongcol said several wind turbines were now installed in the area.

The Energy Regulatory Commission approved last year the application of Alternergy to develop, own and operate dedicated point-to-point limited facilities for wind farm projects and connect to the distribution network of Manila Electric Co.

The Pililla wind project received confirmation of commerciality from the Energy Department last year.  Once completed, the project is expected to yield around 154 gigawatt-hours annually.

Alternergy Wind One earlier secured a $130-million loan from a syndicate of banks to fund the 67.5-MW Pililla wind farm project.

Alternergy is putting up another wind power facility in Pililla, Rizal, called the Sembrano wind farm, with a capacity of 72 MW and costing $236 million.

The company said power produced from the two wind projects should be connected to the distribution network of Meralco, which owns the franchise to operate in Rizal.

It said connecting to Meralco’s system was the most feasible and least costly means of dispatching power and would put into beneficial use the generated capacity of the two plants.

Alternergy proposed that the Pililla wind farm be interconnected with the distribution system of Meralco through a 10-kilometer, 115-kilovolt sub-transmission line.

The Pililla wind project will be connected to Meralco’s 115- kV Malaya-Teresa transmission line. The project is expected to be commissioned in June this year.

The company also proposed that the Sembrano wind farm utilize another 15-km 115-kV line from the wind farm to the switching station and then be connected to the Malaya-Teresa transmission line.

ERC said it approved Alternergy’s application but the company should undertake measures “to ensure that its proposed interconnection shall not result in the degradation of Meralco’s distribution system.

Alternergy Wind One is a joint venture between Alternergy Viento Partners Corp., Korea East West Power, a unit of Korea Electric Power Co. and Meralco PowerGen Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Meralco.

The 67.5-MW Pililla wind farm is the first renewable power project that has secured full project financing under the feed-in tariff regime.

FIT is a cost-based compensation mechanism assuring certainty of price and designed to encourage renewable-energy producers to invest in the country.  The rate is normally higher than the cost of other power projects.

Alternergy plans to develop renewable power projects with at least 200 MW in generating capacity within three years.

Offline PinoyBroker

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Re: CCGA Realty sponsored Real Estate News
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2015, 12:21:32 PM »
New tourist attraction to open in Intramuros

By Jennifer Ambanta | Feb. 22, 2015 at 10:45pm
Manila now has a new tourist attraction, after the Bureau of the Treasury agreed to open the restored Ayuntamiento Building in Intramuros to foreign and local tourists and the public in general.

Treasurer Roberto Tan said the agency was still finalizing the details on how it could open the historical building to the public, without disrupting the day-to-day operation of the Treasury, which is in charge of raising funds for the government.

“We will coordinate first with the Intramuros Council and see how it can be integrated in the Manila tour,” Tan said.

The BTr spent P1.3 billion for the rehabilitation and restoration of Ayuntamiento de Manila.  Tan said “with the cost of restoration, we are happy with how it turned out considering how much we spent.”

“It is not cheap to restore a historical building, there are many limitations,” Tan said.

The treasurer said the agency was not allowed to tear any walls or any part of the original building and was also prohibited to change the design of both interiors and exteriors.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad agreed that such “restoration is expensive.”

Ayuntamiento de Manila, located at the corner of Andrés Soriano Avenue (formerly Calle Aduana) and Cabildo Street beside Manila Cathedral, was rebuilt three times over the past four centuries, after being damaged by earthquakes and war.

It served as the office of the American military governor in 1903 and hosted the First Philippine Assembly.  It was destroyed during the Battle of Manila in 1945, with only the outer walls of the first floor standing. The Bureau of Treasurer funded its reconstruction, based on the 19th Century design.  It was completed in 2013.
Belle sees revenue growth from City of Dreams Manila

By Zinnia Dela Peña, The Philippine Star
Posted at 02/21/2015 10:11 AM
MANILA, Philippines - Leisure estate and gaming firm Belle Corp. expects revenues to grow bigger in the near to medium term especially due to the lease and operating agreements with Macau casino giant Melco Crowne Ltd.

Belle CFO Manuel Gana said in the nine months ending September last year, the company booked P1.2 billion in revenue from the lease to Melco of the 6.2 hectare property where the City of Dreams Manila stands. In 2013, Belle realized revenues of P1.3 billion from the lease.

These figures, Gana said, are seen to rise further as City of Dreams is beginning to attract high-rollers and consumers and generate foot traffic.

For this year, lease revenues from the City of Dreams property is expected to hit P1.4 billion.

Apart from the lease revenues, Belle will also be realizing a share in earnings from City of Dreams’ gaming operations through its 78.7 percent subsidiary Premium Leisure Corp., which has an operating agreement with Melco.

City of Dreams Manila soft-opened on Dec. 14, 2014 and had a grand launch last Feb. 2. It covers about two hectares of gaming space, more than 900 hotel rooms operated under three hotel brands (namely Crown, Hyatt and Nobu), the DreamPlay indoor amusement park, and approximately two hectares of restaurant and retail space.

Belle also owns significant real estate assets in and around Tagaytay City, encompassing about 800 hectares of land available for future development.

The Sy family consolidated its gaming assets including its stake in City of Dreams Manila under PLC, formerly Sinophil Corp.

City of Dreams Manila is one of the four integrated resort and casinos licensed to operate in Entertainment City, which is expected to become a prime new leisure destination in the country.

Solaire Resorts & Casino of port mogul Enrique Razon is the first to open among the four licensees. The two others are Travellers International Hotel Group Inc, a venture between Genting Hong Kong Ltd and Philippine conglomerate Alliance Global Group Inc , and Universal Entertainment Corp of Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada.
Ayala to triple shopping spaces

By Jenniffer B. Austria | Feb. 22, 2015 at 11:10pm
Ayala Land Inc., a major property developer, plans to triple the size of shopping malls, office space and hotel and resorts businesses over the next seven years to achieve its P40-billon net income target by 2020.

Ayala Land said in a presentation during a recent investors’ briefing it expected the gross leasable area of its shopping malls to reach 3.6 million square meters by 2020 from 1.3 million sq. m. as of end 2013.

The company plans to increase the GLA of office development to 1.8 million sq. m. by 2020 from 600,000 sq. m. as of end 2013.

The hotels and resorts business is projected to reach 6,000 room keys by 2020 from 2,000 room keys as of end 2013.

Ayala Land this year plans to add 147,000 sq. m. of leasable space for shopping centers that will open in Tagaytay, Nuvali, Makati and UP Town Center in Quezon City.

Ayala Land will also add 106,000 sq. m. of office leasable space with the completion of several projects in Bonifaco Global City and Alabang, and open 153 hotel rooms this year with the addition of Seda Iloilo.

The property company plans to be aggressive with the expansion of the retail and hospital business.

The group ended 2014 with 87 FamilyMart convenience stores in operations. It plans to increase the outlets to 500 over the next few years.

Ayala Land as of end 2014 has two QualiMed clinics and one hospital in operations. It aimsw to operate 10 clinics and 10 hospitals in Ayala Land township projects over the next five years.
Megaworld founder recognized for 'live-work-play' concept
Posted at 02/22/2015 5:58 PM | Updated as of 02/22/2015 6:12 PM
MANILA - The Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) will fete Megaworld Corp. founder Andrew Tan for his contribution to the growth of the retail industry.

Board members of the PRA unanimously decided to bestow upon Tan the title “Pillar of Mixed-Use Developments” for his role in promoting businesses in the country.

“Dr. Tan gave retailers premium sites for expansion with ready markets coming from the residential and office components of his integrated developments. His invaluable contribution to the Philippine retail industry truly deserves PRA’s highest recognition,” PRA president and Duty Free chief operating officer Lorenzo "Enchong" C. Formoso said.

Tan is being recognized for his signature “live-work-play” concept in the development of fully integrated locations like Eastwood City in Libis, Quezon City and McKinley Hill in Taguig.

Tan will receive the PRA President’s Award during the 18th Outstanding Filipino Retailers and Shopping Centers of the Year Awards at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria on February 25.

Previous recipients of the President’s Award include
Henry Sy (Father of Philippine Retailing),
Fernando Zobel de Ayala (Pillar of Philippine Retail Development),
Jorge Araneta (Pioneer of Philippine Retail Entertainment),
Samie Lim (Pioneering Pillar of Franchising),
Socorro Ramos (Matriarch of Philippine Retailing),
John Gokongwei Jr. (Champion of Retail Entrepreneurship),
Amb. Bienvenido Tantoco Sr. (Father of Luxury Retailing),
Mariano Que (Father of Health and Wellness Retailing), and
Teresita Sy-Coson (Philippine Retailing’s Woman Visionary Leader.)

“Retailers have become more aware of the stringent criteria for evaluating and judging the candidates and they know that when a company is awarded, they are truly world-class. This is why in the many years that we have been presenting the awards, the number of nominees, including self-nominations, has consistently increased,” PRA secretary general Evelyn Balmeo Salire said.
The mysterious sinkhole of GenSan
If the hole keeps growing bigger, it could affect more than 1,000 families living in the area

Edwin G. Espejo
Published 5:46 PM, Feb 20, 2015
Updated 10:12 AM, Feb 22, 2015
See pictures here:

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Residents here who have resisted relocation for more than 30 years now are left with no other choice but to leave the shores where many of them practically lived all their lives.

43-year-old Reynante Desidorio said he was born in Purok Tinago, a community of informal settlers in Barangay South Dadiangas, and has not known any other work but to supervise the loading and unloading of copra and other agricultural products from Balut Island in a makeshift wooden jetty near his house.

But even that quay will soon disappear if the underwater hole continues to eat into the shores and gobble their homes.

Disaster officials are still puzzled why a deep hole – or a suspected sinkhole as the local TV stations here are reporting – has suddenly appeared.

Desidorio said a payaw (FAD or fish aggregating device) deployed some 50 meters away from the shore disappeared on Wednesday at the same time white bubbles emerged from the bottom.

He said a pumpboat operator tried to measure the depth of the hole. After dropping its anchor, only 20 dipa (fathoms) were left of the 350 fathoms of rope.

He fears their homes could collapse as the stilt posts of their houses now appear to be already on the rim of the hole.

From an aerial photograph taken Friday, the hole appears to be a collapsed wall that extended more than 100 meters to the sea. It is now deep blue from above and is distinctively different from the adjoining shores whose bed of sand and silt is unmistakenly black.

The city disaster risk reduction and management council (CDRRMC) said it cannot yet determine what caused the hole.

CDRRMC head Dr Agraprino Dacera said the Mines and Geosciences Bureau will not conduct ground penetrating radar and sounding survey until next week.
Emergency evacuation

Disaster officials have already ordered families living in the area to seek temporary shelter in nearby Ireneo Santigao High School.

On Friday, February 20, General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera met with some 100 families of Tinago and offered immediate relocation for 47 of them whose houses are in imminent danger of collapsing.

“We have set aside 3 hectares of land in Mabuhay for those who are already ordered out of the area. You will each be given 75 square meters,” he told the affected residents.

He assured them that the city will no longer allow any structure to be built in their former homes which will soon be demolished.

“The main priority here is to protect them from danger kasi nasa danger zone na talaga sila,” Rivera said.

If the hole keeps growing bigger, it could affect more than 1,000 families living in the area that stretches more than a kilometer east across the public market. –
STI to foreclose Benitez family’s Davao property
This is the third planned foreclosure in an escalating conflict between STI and the Benitez family over the Philippine Women's University
Published 4:57 PM, Feb 21, 2015
Updated 4:57 PM, Feb 21, 2015
MANILA, Philippines – STI Education Holdings Incorporated of businessman Eusebio Tanco is set to foreclose another property owned by the Benitez family in Davao.

This is the third property of the Benitiez family that STI wants to foreclose in an escalating dispute with the family over the Philippine Women’s University (PWU).

The dispute began when the Benitez family, owners of PWU, and its sister company UNLAD, failed to settle its obligation worth around P1 billion.

“The Davao Petition is the last petition initiated by STI Holdings, on its own or together with AHC, for the satisfaction of UNLAD’s obligations to STI Holdings and AHC in the aggregate amount of P294,073,466.68 ($ 6,645,836.85), and PWU’s obligations to STI Holdings in the aggregate amount of P702,446,308.08 ($15,874,752.70),” STI said.

STI said it filed a petition with the Office of the Clerk of Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, for the extra-judicial foreclosure of a parcel of land under the name of Unlad Resources Development Corporation, owned by the Benitez group, located in Davao City, and all improvements located therein.

According to STI, the said properties were mortgaged in favor of STI Holdings and Attenborough Holdings Corporation to serve as security under the Omnibus Agreement dated June 8, 2012, executed noting Unlad, as debtor, and STI Holdings and AHC, as creditors.

STI earlier filed a petition with the Manila Regional Trial Court to foreclose Unlad’s property, the site of PWU, located along Taft Avenue in Manila.

It also made similar filing with the Quezon City RTC to foreclose Unlad’s property in Quezon City.

In December 2014, STI issued notices of default to PWU and Unlad after the Benitez Group failed to meet all its obligations, demanding a combined total of P996 million ($22.5 million) covering interest, penalties, lawyers' fees, and value added taxes within 7 days.

The Benitez group, countering with its own figures, argued that STI’s demand – for the family to pay P923 million ($20.83 million) for obligations of P448 million ($10.11 million) – is exorbitant.

The Benitezes will honor its commitment to Eusebio Tanco and STI but stressed that it would only be under “fair and just terms,” PWU media director Lydia Benitez-Brown said previously.

STI bailed out PWU in 2011. It bought the debt paper from BDO Unibank and provided additional funds to pay for salaries and wages, utilities, repair leaks, retirement pay, upgrade of laboratory facilities and learning, and other operational expenses. –
TIMELINE: DECA Homes through the years

( | Updated February 20, 2015 - 9:00am
MANILA, Philippines – DECA Homes started from the vision of three friends who want to offer affordable and good-quality homes to Filipinos through mass housing. Initially, it focused on building residential properties in provinces, particularly in Cagayan de Oro with its first project, Villa Candida.
Through the years, DECA Homes has expanded its borders, constructing more houses in Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Cavite and now, developing an urban home in the metro.
The public listing of its mother company, 8990 Holdings Inc., marks another milestone to its journey.

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Re: CCGA Realty sponsored Real Estate News
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2015, 08:37:45 AM »
CCGA Valuation & Advisory
Real Estate News
Real Estate / Economy / Infrastructure / Environment / Energy / Design
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
PH prospects ‘positive’ come ASEAN integration

Most investors have higher than ‘excellent’ expectations about the country’s economic performance – which overall, is still positive

Chris Schnabel
Published 8:16 PM, Mar 24, 2015
Updated 8:17 PM, Mar 24, 2015
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is in such an enviable situation that, in a worst case scenario, it would still do well in an integrated Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

On Tuesday, March 24, the Asian Development Bank's flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook 2015 (ADO), forecasted the Philippine Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to grow by 6.4% in 2015, and 6.3% in 2016.

Factors like expanding government expenditure, along with robust private consumption and continued strong investments are expected to continuously fuel growth in 2015, the ADB said.

In the Euromoney Investment Forum session on ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) held also Tuesday, BDO Unibank President and Director Nestor V. Tan said that the country’s biggest enemy at the moment is the non-alignment of investors’ expectations with the actual state of the Philippine economy.

Most investors have expectations that are higher than excellent, Tan said.

Echoing Tan’s sentiment, fellow panelist Suraj Moraje, managing partner of Mckinsey and Company in the Philippines said his experience in the country since he arrived in 2013 has, so far, been positive.

The level of talent present in the country struck him the most, he added.

“The quality of the managers is quite good – the best talent compared with the whole region. I’m surprised the Philippines hasn’t had a more global presence,” Moraje said.
Growth areas

The level of talent present protects the country from competition from other ASEAN countries as there is enough talent to build niches in the international economy, Moraje said.

“Everyone looks at automotive manufacturing but there are other sectors in the country that are [also] interesting,” Moraje said.

Specifically, the country already has a wealth of talent in the areas of seafaring, health care, and consumer goods, and local companies in these areas still have more room to grow.

A strong India and China also bodes well for ASEAN economies as they raised the total volume of trade within the region.

“Everyone thinks of these markets as trade with ‘China or India’ but I think it should be both of them. Both giants will contribute to pulling the rest of the region through trade,” Moraje said.
‘Single ASEAN capital market’

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima agreed with his fellow panelist, and said that ASEAN will eventually become a hub of Asian trade.

But Purisima is not seeing yet the possibility of a unified ASEAN currency.

“I don’t think that a single currency is needed, in hindsight even the European Union is now finding out that it’s not as easy as they thought it would be,” Purisima said.

He instead eyes a “single ASEAN capital market” to develop an ASEAN class of financial products.

Such will allow our industries and corporations to access the best possible financial products at the cheapest possible price because individually, the markets are not deep enough, Purisima explained.

In his speech at the Euromoney Investment Forum, President Benigno S. Aquino III said the country's compliance rate in the AEC scorecard is now at around 86%.

"I have already signed crucial laws that will help us meet our financial integration commitments, including an 'Act Strengthening the Insurance Industry and the Act Allowing the Full Entry of Foreign Banks in the Philippines,'" he said.
DAR eases land conversions for power projects
Posted at 03/24/2015 10:01 AM | Updated as of 03/24/2015 10:06 AM
MANILA, Philippines - The government takes a step that will make it easier to build power plants in the future.

The Department of Agrarian Reform says it will process a land conversion, usually from rural to industrial, even if documents aren't complete, if the Department of Energy certifies it as urgent.

Confirming a BusinessWorld report, DAR Secretary Gil delos Reyes said the processing can proceeds as the applicant works on his requirements, though all documents have to be submitted before a final decision is made.

"We can process, but we still wait for all documents before resolving application for conversion," he said.

Regulatory and environmental issues have held up several power plant projects, contributing to power shortages and blackouts.
Vista Residences turns Manila into one of top investment cities in the world

by Jeahan Virda B. de Barras - March 24, 2015
WITH Manila now touted as one of five key investment cities in the world alongside Tokyo, Shanghai, Jakarta and Sydney, it is clear that the Philippine government and the private sector are pulling their weight in creating a perfect economic environment for stimulating and sustaining investments, locally and internationally.

The rooms being operated by the leasing group are well taken care of and maintained regularly.The rooms being operated by the leasing group are well taken care of and maintained regularly.

While 2015 is looking good for the local real-estate industry, the impending Asean integration that will result in the birth of the Asean Economic Community will boost growth of the country’s real-estate businesses.

In the midst of the positive outlook, Vista Residences (VRI), Vista Land’s subsidiary on top of the group’s condominium developments and the only real-estate in the country that offers a broad selection of leasing options, is set to strengthen the country’s investment possibilities by providing a number of leasing options for those who have, or intend to, invest in a Vista Residences property.    The company’s newly created Leasing Group offers a selection of four proactive solutions for unit owners looking to lease out their units.

The Vista Residences Leasing Group’s mission is to enhance the values and marketability of Vista Residences’s developments, both for its end-users and investors, so as to turn their purchases into working investments.

Vista Land is known largely for its horizontal developments.  As such, investment clients for the group’s condominium properties account for about 40 percent of purchases. The majority are still end-users.  The country’s average for investment purchases is 60 percent to 70 percent.  While not one to follow industry trends, Vista Residences is determined to increase its investment purchases, as the group is currently targeting that particular market.  Among its “weapons,” so to speak, are its four leasing services.  With approximately 30-percent to 40-percent buyers “absentee owners”—accounting for both foreign and local owners—the company expects its Leasing Group will be quite busy.
Enjoy the view of the city at night from this room in Avant Serviced Suites.Enjoy the view of the city at night from this room in Avant Serviced Suites.

A key advantage of the group’s leasing services is hinged on the fact that Vista Residences is an industry pioneer in full-service, property-leasing management.

On the roster of Vista Residences’s leasing services are Asset Management Service (AMS), Leasing Services Only (LSO), Serviced Suites and the Condormitels, specifically created for the “University Series” condominiums.

AMS—This service offers basic housekeeping, which is ideal for fully furnished units with tenants looking for short-term rentals of not more than a year—ideal for owners who are away for long periods of time. Vista Residences currently has 11 towers offering this service, namely, Avant, Mosaic, Symphony, Trevi, Salcedo Square, Wil Tower, Currency, Pine Crest, Madison, Presidio, Pacific Residences and North Point.

LSO—LSO involves the usual leasing or rental of bare units to tenants for long-term rentals.  Usually, this means a stay of over a year.  It is available in the same condominiums that offer AMS.

Serviced Suites—These involve choice units that are operated by the Leasing Group as “serviced apartments” with full-hotel services, including a staff with concierge functions.  The units are preselected, furnished, serviced by the Leasing Group and equipped with hotel amenities—for short-staying guests and for daily or weekly use.  Currently, Vista Residences’s Serviced Suites are available in Avant, Bellini, Salcedo Square, Wil Tower and Currency—all very premier condominiums within the Metro Manila’s business and leisure hubs.

Condormitel—Condominiums, located close to educational institutions and what Vista Residences has dubbed its “University Series,” will offer a number of units called “dormitory-hotels.” With the turnover of five new projects, services and features centered around the needs of the students are in the offing. The condormitel units will be set up like dormitories, with options for two, three or four occupants. The “dormers” will be charged either on a monthly or annual basis.  Curfew hours and house rules will be implemented, as well as whatever other rules the unit owners wish.

The Condormitels will also provide services  such as housekeeping, laundry, water utilities, Internet and cable services, and the like, apart from the e-library, study pod, gym and roof deck with solar panels, which can be used for charging mobile phones and other gadgets. The students will be closer to their schools and will be watched over in a secure environment.

Designed to simplify the lives of customers who intend to invest in Vista Residences’s units, the VRI Leasing Group will be involved in sourcing possible tenants; marketing the service; managing enrollees’ accounts; administering to contracts; payment collection; negotiating renewals, requests for extensions and contract termination; unit housekeeping and maintenance; and assisting tenants with moving in or out.

Beyond all these, investing in a condominium unit for the specific purpose of eventually leasing it out actually offers a safer and better yield than putting one’s money in a bank, mutual funds or stocks.

Interestingly, properties that have a leasing component have been proven to result in a higher rental yield than those without.  Thus, in the industry, there is a heightened awareness of the need to offer a leasing component and, while several property developers have already done so, none have done it to the extent that Vista Residences has.

Vista Residences has assumed responsibility for the portfolio of condominium projects previously held by other Vista Land subsidiaries. Vista Residences carries with it Vista Land’s nearly four decades of experience in building homes, developing properties and creating master-planned communities—integrating into every project an unparalleled expertise in space planning, and flair for finding accessible locations. The company is committed to assuming a chief role in the condominium sector, creating greater awareness of their capabilities, as well as enhancing efficiencies in their resource distribution.

Please visit to learn about our company and how we can serve you.

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SM Cares breaks ground for housing project in Ormoc

by Felix N. Codilla, III
March 24, 2015 (updated)
Ormoc City – SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPH) broke ground for a housing project on a two-hectare land donated by Mayor Edward C. Codilla in Sitio Catmon, Brgy. Concepcion here. Marissa Fernan, SVP of SMPH, led the groundbreaking ceremony last March 18.

The project is undertaken by SM Cares, the corporate social responsibility arm of SMPH.

To be constructed are 200 units costing P250,000 each, the most expensive housing project for typhoon Yolanda victims. This is because the concrete houses will be disaster-resilient to withstand 250-km. winds and a magnitude 7 earthquake.

Mayor Edward Codilla lowers the time capsule to mark the groundbreaking of the SM Cares Village in Ormoc. From left: Mayor’s wife Engr. Violeta Codilla, SM Prime Holdings SVP Marissa Fernan, Atty. Christina Frasco, Duty Free Philippines Cares Chairperson Debbie Ongcip, Fr. Isagani Petillos, Councilor Pedro Godiardo Ebcas and ANCOP Operations Manager Elmer Cadiz.

Mayor Edward Codilla lowers the time capsule to mark the groundbreaking of the SM Cares Village in Ormoc. From left: Mayor’s wife Engr. Violeta Codilla, SM Prime Holdings SVP Marissa Fernan, Atty. Christina Frasco, Duty Free Philippines Cares Chairperson Debbie Ongcip, Fr. Isagani Petillos, Councilor Pedro Godiardo Ebcas and ANCOP Operations Manager Elmer Cadiz.

SM Cares will spend P50 million for the construction of the houses alone. Each single-story house has a size of 20 sqm including a three-sqm open area at the back which will also serve as a kitchen. Its high floor-ceiling ratio makes it loft-ready. Duty Free Philippines Cares contributed P6.6 million, good enough to build 12 units.

Total cost of the project is P300 million to include site development that will feature a half-hectare football field, community center, main road and secondary roads measuring six and five meters wide, respectively, to be funded by donations from employees, contractors and tenants of SMPH.

The mayor’s wife, Engr. Violeta Codilla, thanked SM Cares for the project.

“I would like to extend my profound gratitude to the SM Foundation and to the family of Mr. Hans Sy. This is a great contribution to our city,” she said. She also asked her husband to concretize the road leading to the site.

In response, Mayor Codilla addressed City Engineer Ranulfo Oliveros and told him not to forget the road project.

The idea of the project started when Ms. Fernan narrated SMPH’s housing projects in Cebu and Tacloban to Atty. Christina Frasco, the mayor’s niece, when they shared a plane ride.

Atty. Frasco became interested in putting a similar project in Ormoc and hooked up SM Cares with her uncle who is known for his philanthropy. Early this year, Mayor Codilla allowed the use of another 50-hectare land owned by his family for a housing project for 2,000 families.

Priority beneficiaries of SM Cares Village will be families who are forced to live in danger zones because of typhoon Yolanda. They will be required to demolish their old structures to ensure they won’t return and will be made to take part of a livelihood project of “Answering the Cry of the Poor,” a Catholic non-profit organization.

Considering that the units will be equipped with modern amenities like flushing toilets and aluminum sliding windows, the residents will be trained on how to take care of their new homes.

Ms. Fernan hopes they can also get scholars from among the beneficiaries’ children. SM Cares has over 1,000 scholars, 120 of them from Tacloban City.

Ms. Fernan also stressed that the residents will not own the homes; rather, they will just be allowed to occupy the units for 25 years subject for renewal to prevent them from selling their rights or renting out the homes. The project is targeted to be finished in September.
Ayala Land’s ‘Cloverleaf’ aims to become new landmark in Quezon City

by Betheena Kae Unite
March 23, 2015
Balintawak, the gateway to the north, is where Ayala Land Inc., the company behind the Makati Central Business District, Bonifacio Global Taguig, and Nuvali, expands with another premier development project.

Ayala Land has named the project “Cloverleaf” and it is designed to be another addition to its list of products.  It will bear features of exclusivity, convenience, strategic location, and diversity of lifestyle options anchored on a well-thought out blueprint for growth.

Ayala Land broke ground for Cloverleaf March 16, at the 11-hectare mixed-used development site in Balintawak, Quezon City.

“Our vision is to create a pocket urban development. Cloverleaf will give people access to refreshing retail, business, lifestyle and residential possibilities, elements that create an ideal urban lifestyle,” said Meean Dy, Ayala Land SVP.

Cloverleaf, the newest Ayala Land signature project, is a P25-billion development which will be completed within 10 years. It will house a 40, 000 sqm mall, a hospital, two residential towers, and a landscaped pedestrian promenade.

A highlight of the development is the 500-meter long landscaped open area that will connect EDSA to A. Bonifacio and will allow residents, shoppers, and workers to have a safe walking experience.

The 34 percent of the area will be assigned for residential purposes. Avida Tower and Alveo Tower will occupy a 1.4-hectare area.   Avida Tower will have about 2, 000 units and Alveo Tower will house 600 units. Avida and Alveo towers will be completed by 2019 and 2020 respectively.

For the commercial area, 62 percent of Cloverleaf is envisioned to house retail and business developments that will be anchored on the 40, 000 sqm Ayala mall.

The mall, which is set to be opened by 2017, is positioned to be a melting pot for Asian culture offering a diverse array of dining concepts for residents of Balintawak, Caloocan, Malabon, Novaliches, and Valenzuela.

Across the mall will be the Qualimed Hospital that has 250 beds with state-of-the art medical equipment which will be completed by fourth quarter of 2017.

“We always make it a point to locate where our products and services are easily accessible to more people,” said Dy.

Cloverleaf will rise along EDSA and A. Bonifacio, flanked by Metro Manila’s major cities, including Caloocan and Quezon City, with the community being accessible to the LRT1.

Dy said that phase 1 of the project, that includes the mall, hospital, Alveo, and Avida towers will be finished in five years. After that is completed, phase two will start the construction of the retail stores, residential area, and offices, with a target completion date set within five years.
SC issues TRO vs cutting of trees in SM Baguio

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News
Posted at 03/24/2015 5:33 PM | Updated as of 03/24/2015 6:08 PM
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – The Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order to halt the cutting and balling of trees on Luneta Hill, where SM Baguio is located.

The order stems from a petition filed by a group called Cordillera Global Network, opposing the uprooting of trees.

The court also ordered Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and other respondents to comment on the petition within 10 days.

SC spokesman Theodore Te said the TRO is effective immediately and until further orders from the Court.

SM Baguio has been under fire from residents and netizens for uprooting 60 trees in Luneta Hill last January.

The trees were uprooted to pave the way for the 7-storey Sky Park project, which SM claims to be environment-friendly.

Back in 2012, an environmental group foiled SM's plan to earthball and cut 182 trees in Session Road's remaining green zone.

A temporary environmental protection order was later issued, but the Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling, effectively lifting it.

SM Prime Holdings Inc., meanwhile, said it has yet to receive a copy of SC order, but noting that it will comply with the court order.

“SM Prime Holdings Inc. has yet to receive a copy of the Order from the Supreme Court as reported in the news. Rest assured that SM will comply with the directive of the Supreme Court,” the firm said in a statement.
ZipMatch raises $2.5M to expand PHL and Southeast Asia operations

Danessa O. Rivera/GMA News
March 24, 2015 6:28pm
Real estate marketplace ZipMatch has raised $2.5 billion from selling shares to a Singapore-based venture capital firm and existing investors to expand further in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia.
In an e-mailed statement, ZipMatch said it closed a $2.5 million Series A round with Singaporean Monk’s Hill Ventures and existing investor 500 Startups.
This is one of Monk's Hill's first investments as a firm, and the first in the Philippines.
Kuo-Yi Lim of Monk’s Hill Ventures will join the ZipMatch board following the investment.
ZipMatch said it will use the proceeds to recruit more talent and experts in real estate, computer programming, content creation, product development, and customer service.
The company's business revolves around a process that leads prospective homebuyers into making confident decisions when buying their homes.
Among the growth areas is Philippine real estate, given its growing economy.
Last year, the Philippine gross domestic product grew by 6.1 percent, maintaining its position as the second fastest growing economy in Asia next to China.
“Having updated, reliable data in an online real estate marketplace is a big challenge, and I think we have made strides by putting out a product that is unique,” ZipMatch chief revenue officer and co-founder Chow Paredes said.
Unlike other platforms that focus mainly on classifieds, ZipMatch claimed it presents an array of services that eliminates most of the online research and physical work done when searching for a property.
The startup collects and curates pertinent information about a property, which is accessible by homebuyers in a single, interactive page.
ZipMatch is led by Paredes and co-founders John Dang as CEO and Kyle Wiltshire as chief technology officer.
So far, the team has raised more than $3.5 million, with investments also from Hatchd Digital, Ideaspace Foundation, and IMJ Investment Partners.
Why real-estate development should be about ‘giving back to the land’

by Amor Maclang - March 24, 2015
SUSTAINABILITY, in the context of real-estate development, requires a design that considers and gives back to the land.

As I have always said in the past, the impact of design calculates the iconicity of a development. When a structure presents a thoughtfully designed façade, for example, it immediately becomes a recognizable building—a landmark that stands tall in its location, an enormous signage that pins down directions. Hence, if you are building to establish an image, know that you need to show you are ridiculously good at it. On the other hand, if you are building to preserve your reputation, know very well that you should first have a clear understanding of where your identity as a company is rooted.

The challenge, however, remains huge for developers eyeing to build a reputation through design. Remember that an iconic architecture or design can never be a substitute for trust. Clearly, you will need more than just an innovative design or a highfaluting architecture; you need to earn the confidence of the market you can, indeed, get the job done. The real-estate market has grown wise enough over the years; their needs and wants in choosing a place to work or live in are determined by convenience, safety, and even how the place affects their respective lifestyles. They have learned from the mistakes of the past and are now consciously looking beyond the aesthetics.
Strengthening your core

One institution that has particularly fared well in strengthening their identity is Arthaland. Through Arya Residences, the company’s flagship residential condominium in Bonifacio Global City, Arthaland has solidified its position with the benchmark development of the Philippine Green Building Council’s BERDE (Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence) Program, and is recognized by global organizations for quality and sustainability.

“United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recently called 2015 the year of action on global challenges and the year of sustainability. Additionally, the pope called on us to make our contribution in showing concern for the environment,” Arthaland President and CEO Angie de Villa Lacson said in a recent interview. “What these tell us is that the right thing to do is to be responsible citizens of the earth in whatever small way we can. What we want to do is to enable our customers to practice an ecologically conscious lifestyle—using energy efficiently, consuming water efficiently, using nontoxic materials, among a lot of other options. These may be small and easy steps that we have embedded in the design and construction of our properties but we know that these practices will help alleviate the effects of climate change and resource depletion in the long run.”

What I’d like to share by taking Arthaland as an example is the idea of designing your brand like you were choosing your wardrobe—attractive but unique to you and your company. Strengthening your identity as an institution that champions sustainability is built on communications, visuals, and customer experience, but mostly it’s built on what other people say about you.
Community engagement as the new battleground

In an era when communities of people demand a higher degree of sincerity, marketing has become more about creating greater value for the land and upholding sustainability for your community from all fronts.

This is exactly the reason I have always spoken about stakeholder mapping as the new marketing. While the media remains important, obviously, it’s what everyone says about you—from your employees to your sales force, to your customers, to your brokers, to your competitors, to the government, and industry experts—that ultimately decides your reputation. If only one channel of communications is managed, the others can easily become problematic and may end up countering any good publicity that you get.

How do we ensure that we create programs that improve the greatest number of lives? You need to care about what people say about you. Engagement through marketing calls for the sincere and genuine engagements with members of various communities.

This is one of the many reasons when we do tourism planning for our partners from the local government sector, we just don’t stop with creating a catchy advertisement slogan. It’s about engaging the entire population, the youth, the farmers, the indigenous communities, and the tourism industry to be able to communicate the same way. It’s about ensuring that we promote the interests of all concerned groups without sacrificing those that are of lesser priority.

At the end of the day, our sworn mission as real-estate developers should always rest on making sure that we give the land the development that it truly deserves.

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Re: CCGA Realty sponsored Real Estate News
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2015, 08:41:21 AM »
Good morning!
CCGA Valuation & Advisory
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Friday to Sunday, March 20-22, 2015
DPWH to award Cavite-Laguna expressway project July 7
Interested parties like San Miguel Corporation are told to submit all the required documents again to bid for the P35.4-billion PPP project
Published 6:43 PM, Mar 20, 2015
Updated 6:43 PM, Mar 20, 2015
MANILA, Philippines – Submit all required documents again and old submissions should not be resubmitted or risk being disqualified, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio L. Singson told interested parties in the rebid for the controversial Cavite-Laguna expressway (CALAX) project.

In a pre-bid conference Friday, March 20, Singson stressed that the P35.4 billion ($7.87 million) public-private partnership (PPP) will be running on a very tight schedule as it is set to issue notice of award on July 7, 2015.

The following are the dates leading to DPWH’s issuance of the notice of award:
    Bid submission and opening of qualification documents – May 19
    Opening of technical proposal – June 2
    Opening of financial proposal – June 15
The draft concession agreement for the CALAX project will be made available on Monday, March 23, DPWH said.

Interested parties were also told to submit new bid security as the agency is set to issue guidelines via a bulletin.

Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) and San Miguel Corporation (SMC) attended the pre-bid conference. Reyes Tacandong & Company representing an undisclosed, interested party, also attended the pre-bid conference.

Singson told the attendees that the agency will make sure that all concerns raised by those who bought the bid documents will be addressed.

SMC has formally expressed interest to rebid for CALAX via a letter of intent.

The CALAX rebid was approved February 16 by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board chaired by President Benigno Aquino III.

The NEDA board also approved the new floor price of P20.105 billion ($447.12 million), the same as the submitted bid of SMC’s Optimal Infrastructure Development Incorporated. The SMC subsidiary was disqualified in 2014 due to a non-compliant bid security.

The SMC said its unit was fully compliant with the bid requirements for CALAX. The diversified conglomerate brought the case to the Office of the President, which later ruled in favor of SMC and offered a rebidding.

Team Orion, the 50-50 joint venture between Ayala’s AC Infrastructure Holdings Incorporated and Aboitiz Equity Ventures, was the highest bidder at P11.66 billion ($259.22 million). Team Orion said it is no longer participating in the rebidding after it expressed disappointment over Malacañang’s decision.

CALAX is a 47-kilometer expressway project which connects Bacoor and Kawit in Cavite and the South Luzon Expressway areas. –
Tutuban Center may become Manila's busiest transfer station
Posted at 03/20/2015 11:14 PM
MANILA – Prime Orion is pursuing plans to expand leasable space in Tutuban Center as competition gets tighter in Manila's famous shopping district of Divisoria.

Yuen Po Seng, president and chief executive of Prime Orion, said around 40,000 square meters (sqm) of leasable space will be added to the complex in the next two to three years.

“With new development coming in, we will probably be having another 40,000 sqm leasable area in the next two to three years. This short term vision would maybe even double revenues we have in Tutuban itself...Right now, we have about 60,000 sqm leasable space,” Seng told ANC on Friday.

Seng said the expansion will allow the company to take advantage of the growing population in the area, which is the site for the proposed common station of the North-South commuter rail and the Light Rail Transit-Line 2 (LRT-2).

Tutuban gets about 1 million visitors every month, but the new railway line is expected to bring an additional 400,000 people per day.

"The DOTC has made some recent announcements that it is establishing the North-South commuter rail. What's exciting is that it will intersect with LRT-2 on Recto. And they are intersecting right where Tutuban is, so right where we are is going to be a major transfer station, the likes of Hong Kong and Japan where you have massive people criss-crossing. The consultants were saying that there could be as much as 400,000 people on a daily basis," Seng said.

He noted that 2014 may have been the “worst year” for Tutuban Center due to the rise of competitors such as the 168 Mall, 999 Mall and Lucky Chinatown Mall.

“We welcome all these new names, really, because it made the area much bigger. Although the pie has been much bigger, our share of it has shrunk a little bit. We think that maybe 2014 could be our worst year,” he said.

However, he is confident that Tutuban’s sales will bounce back this year and grow 10 percent, driven by the country’s economic growth that results to higher spending power.

“Looking forward, and looking at the numbers we have right now, we are coming back up again. Partly because the economy is doing much better, there's more spending power now for the people. So I’m really positive that we will see a much better year in 2015,” he said.

Aside from Tutuban Center, Prime Orion is also the listed firm behind Lepanto Ceramics, FLT Prime Insurance Corp, Orion Maxis, and Orion IT Solutions. -- Report from Michelle Ong, ANC
DILG relocates 135 families from Pasay City waterway

March 20, 2015 6:42pm
The Department of the Interior and Local Government has helped 135 informal settler families in Barangay 201 in Pasay City move to government housing in Cavite.
According to a DILG press statement, the families were moved form Cutcut Creek, which has been identified as a dangerous waterway, to National Housing Authority homes in Trece Martires, Cavite.
Personnel from the Pasay City government and the Philippine National Police helped the families move.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development will give the families P18,000 each to help them adjust to the move.

The relocation is part of a government plan to move informal settler families away from flood-prone waterways while also clearing the canals and streams for flood control projects. — JDS, GMA News
'2015 is the year of townships'
Posted at 03/21/2015 12:55 PM | Updated as of 03/22/2015 2:34 AM
MANILA – Township projects will continue to be a real estate trend across the country this year, with several projects being established even outside Metro Manila.

Michael McCullough, managing director at real estate services provider KMC MAG Group, said major developers such as Megaworld, SM and Ayala are continuing to focus on township projects.

Megaworld Corp. has invested more than P100 billion for its high-end project McKinley West and Uptown Bonifacio in Taguig.
Uptown Bonifacio in Taguig. Photo from Megaworld Facebook page

The Andrew Tan-led firm is also investing P35 billion over the next 10 years to build two townships in Negros Occidental.

It also has townships in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Cebu, Iloilo and Davao. Two more townships in Luzon and one in Mindanao are expected to be launched within the year.

Megaworld, Filinvest, and Ayala also have township projects in Cebu.

SM Development Corporation, meanwhile, is looking into reclaiming more land and expanding the Mall of Asia complex in Pasay while Ayala Land is developing the Arca South in Taguig, Makati Circuit in Makati, and Vertis North in Quezon City.
Ayala Land's Arca South development. Photo from Ayala Land Facebook page

Federal Land has also started to build townships in Pasay and Taguig. Vista Land is also spending about P50 billion for the Vista City project that covers Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Cavite, and Laguna.

“The live-work-play lifestyle encapsulated in these townships have resulted into a lot of success for some of the major developers, so it’s no surprise that new players are working to capitalize on this and bring the concept to new areas,” said McCullough.

He also said the big developers are also spending record amounts as capital expenditure programs are now expected to breach the P300 billion mark this year.

The funds will be used for land acquisitions, ongoing projects, and launches.

“The township concept also provides a way for developers to be part of the solution to the congestion in Metro Manila…With developers taking the critical first step and building in other areas within and outside of the Metro, they’re creating new microdistricts and encouraging more Filipinos to live, work, and play closer to home. We hope that this will help reduce congestion and make Metro Manila more liveable,” McCullough said.

McCullough, however, noted that the challenge for government now is in building infrastructure to connect these districts.

“We hope eventually that the Rapid Bus System, which is very easy to put in place, will help connect these cities,” he said.
Manila’s building boom triggers glut concern

By Bloomberg | Mar. 20, 2015 at 05:45pm
By Siegfrid Alegado and Ian Sayson
The capital Manila is in the grip of a building boom, led by developers such as Megaworld Corp. and Ayala Land Inc., that will add a record number of apartments over the next two years. It also threatens to lead to a glut that will weigh on returns for investors.

An estimated 55,000 residential units will come onto the market in Metro Manila this year, slowing growth in lease rates, according to broker CBRE Group Inc. Spending by property companies will rise 18 percent to more than 300 billion pesos ($6.8 billion) in 2015 from last year, according to broker Savills Plc.

Philippine developers have been on a building spree as the nation’s biggest economic boom since the 1950s and rising remittances from Filipinos working abroad spur home purchases. The market may need more time to absorb the expected record supply of new units, according to Macquarie Group Ltd.

 “Some developers may have to slow down in starting new projects because there is a risk of overbuilding,” said RJ Aguirre, an analyst at Macquarie in Manila. “If developers don’t slow down and sales won’t move, we will see a build-up in inventory and receivables that will hurt earnings.”

As inventories increase, investors may find themselves holding assets that are yielding less, said Romeo Arahan, a Manila-based analyst with broker Colliers International UK Plc.

Rental yields will be 3 percent to 4 percent in 2015, said Antton Nordberg, research manager with KMC MAG Group Inc., the local associate of Savills. Yields have averaged more than 5 percent since 2011, he said.
Spending Frenzy

Construction will begin this year on 130,000 condominiums across the Philippine capital, KMC MAG said.

The capital region includes 17 cities and municipalities spread across about 640 square kilometers (247 square miles) sandwiched between Manila Bay to the west, and Laguna Lake and the San Mateo Mountains to the east.

Prices of Metro Manila residential condominiums rose 5 percent to 110,000 pesos to 180,000 pesos per square meter last year from a year earlier, according to Colliers. They may rise as much as 6 percent this year, the broker estimates.

Ayala Land, which developed the Philippines’ main business district of Makati, will spend a record 100 billion pesos this year. Robinsons Land Inc. is boosting capital spending by 20 percent in the current fiscal year to 17 billion pesos, while SM Prime Holdings Inc.’s 2015 budget is 70 billion pesos, 17 percent higher than last year.
Overseas Remittances

The number of residential units already on the market is equivalent to about two years of sales, said Aguirre at Macquarie. He maintains an overweight rating on developers because he said they can delay new projects to rein in the supply. Aguirre prefers residential builders that are cutting or have cut inventory, and those with a relatively higher share of income from office and retail rents.

Megaworld, which is spending 230 billion pesos in the next four years to build townships across the country, hasn’t seen a demand slowdown, said Senior Vice President Jericho Go.

“At least 70 percent of our projects are sold within the first year of pre-selling and that’s still the norm for us; there hasn’t been a change,” Go said.

The 10 million Filipinos working overseas, many of whom can now afford more expensive homes, are underpinning demand, Go said. More than half of the money they send home goes to real estate-related spending, he said.

The Manila metropolitan region is home to 22 million people and the population is forecast to rise to 30 million by 2025, making it the world’s largest urban area after Tokyo and Jakarta, according to forecasts by Belleville, Illinois-based Demographia.

“Developers are spreading outside Metro Manila where they see a growing potential,” Colliers’s Arahan said.
Property Measures

Policy makers last year introduced measures to curb parts of the property market amid concerns prices were rising too fast. They ordered banks to cap the collateral value of real estate mortgages at 60 percent. Lenders were tested to determine if they have enough buffers against an asset price crash.

The central bank has held its benchmark interest rate at 4 percent since raising it by 25 basis points each in September and July last year. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said Thursday its current monetary policy stance is “appropriate.”
Megaworld to launch Makati condos in 2015

By Manila Standard Today | Mar. 20, 2015 at 05:55pm
Property developer Megaworld recently announced that it sold 2,346 residential units from its six residential projects in the Makati Central Business District (CBD) over the past six months, namely, One Central, Two Central, Paseo Heights and SalcedoSkySuites in Salcedo Village; and Greenbelt Hamilton 1 and Greenbelt Madison in Legaspi Village.

It plans to launch three more residential projects until 2016. The new residential towers will be part of the company’s efforts to increase the portfolio of property developments in the country’s premier financial hub to more than 30 towers by 2016.

“The official reports the good economic condition since last year is largely felt in Makati CBD,” said Eugene Em Lozano, Megaworld’s vice president for sales and marketing. “The office spaces are getting filled up and the retail industry is on its all-time high. That is why our residential condominiums, all located in premium addresses, are also on high demand,” said Lozano.

Megaworld has around 27 office and residential towers in its portfolio in the country’s financial center.

This year, the company is completing Two Central, a 29-storey residential tower along Valero Street in Salcedo Village, with a total of 408 residential units.

To date, construction of the 30-storey Paseo Heights fronting the Salcedo Park and the 50-storey Three Central along Valero Street, which will house its own podium mall, is on full-swing. Both towers are expected for completion by 2017 with a total of 992 units.

The first tower of Greenbelt Hamilton, which is near Legazpi Park, is also under construction, and is scheduled for completion next year. The second tower, which is now almost sold out, is up for completion in 2019. Both towers will have a total of 601 units.

The 32-storey SalcedoSkySuites is scheduled for completion by 2018 with a total of 241 units.

“As Makati continues to establish itself as the top location for real estate investment, we are poised to expand its residential condominium portfolio in this premiere city,” said Lozano.
Avida targets SMEs with new BGC project

By Manila Standard Today | Mar. 20, 2015 at 05:50pm
Avida Land is drawing small and medium enterprises to Bonifacio Global City (BGC) with its second office development, the 26-storey Capital House. The project is valued at P4 billion, and was designed for professional firms, small agencies, and entrepreneurs seeking a BGC address.

Avida, a subsidiary of Ayala Land, Inc., is launching Capital House as a sequel to the One Park Drive office project also in BGC. One Park Drive, at 20 stories high, is also geared for SMEs, and sold out at a P2.5 billion value on its first year of selling alone.

“We see a good market for businesses seeking a sought-after address like BGC, as evidenced by the success of One Park Drive,” said JoJo Fabricante, Avida’s innovation and design group head. “Capital House positions movers into an area where offices are usually tailored for large-scale operations such as BPOs and multinational conglomerates. Units are not smaller than 100 sqm. with modal offices at around 250 sqm.”

Capital House has 222 units with sizes ranging from 62 sqm to 159 sqm., with special whole floor units at 1,400 sqm. The project sells for P9.9 M to P25.6 M.

“Right now, our buyers are a mix of investors and end-users,” said Herbert Herrero, Avida project development manager. “As the Philippines becomes a booming real estate market, more and more investors are inclined to buy a mix of residential and office developments.”

The property is located in BGC’s “Active North” district, along 34th St. corner 9th Ave., near attractions such as the Turf BGC all-weather football field and Flying Trapeze Philippines. Soon to rise in the area are the BGC Sports Complex and Kidzania, a family “edutainment” center.

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Travellers’ profit hits P5.4b

By Jenniffer B. Austria | Mar. 20, 2015 at 11:10pm
Travellers International Hotel Group Inc., the owner and operator of integrated gaming and entertainment complex Resorts World Manila, said net income in 2014 doubled to P5.45 billion from P2.73 billion in 2013, despite the 5.4-percent decline in revenues.

Travellers said in a financial report with the stock exchange net revenues declined 5.8 percent to P29 billion in 2014 from P30.84 billion a year ago, as a result of lower gaming revenues and reduced contribution from hotel and food and beverage business.

Gross gaming revenues in 2014 reached P28.376. billion, down 5.4 percent from P30 billion  it booked in 2013.

“The decline in gaming revenue is a function of the decline in volume, particularly in the VIP segment as there was a deliberate move in holding less tournaments and focus on growing the core customer base,” Travellers said.

Revenues from hotel, food, beverage business fell 9.5 percent in 2014 to P2.26 billion from P2.502 billion in 2013.

All hotels in the Resort World complex registered higher occupancy rates in 2014.  Maxims posted an occupancy rate of 89 percent; Remington, 91 percent and Marriott, 83 percent.

“Creating shareholder value was our main objective for 2014 which we achieved through quality earnings and operating efficiencies,” Travellers president Kingson Sian said in a statement.

The company’s financial condition, however, remained strong with total assets rising to P63.9 billion from P61.2 billion a year earlier while total liabilities declined to P24.8 billion from P27.8 billion.

The company said it remained on a net cash position at P4.4 billion as of end-2014.

Travellers’ spent P5.9 billion in 2014 for the phase 2 and phase 3 of Resorts World Manila.

The Marriott Grand Ballroom is set to formally open in July this year, while the Marriott west wing, which will add 227 room keys, is due for delivery by the end of 2015.

Phase 3 is slated for turnover by the end of 2017.

Travellers also subscribed to 95 percent of the increased authorized capital stock of Resorts World Bayshore City Inc., the company that will build and operate the Bayshore City Resorts World in Entertainment City in Parañaque.
Anya offers investors 5-year annual yield

By Manila Standard Today | Mar. 20, 2015 at 05:40pm
Real estate developer Roxaco Land Corporation recently offered a guaranteed annual yield for 5 years to all resort unit buyers of Anya Resort and Residences its latest project in Tagaytay, Cavite.

“Investors usually buy into the traditional vacation home mindset, not realizing the hidden costs that come with the purchase, such as periodic maintenance costs,” said Santiago R. Elizalde, executive vice president of Roxaco. “With Roxaco’s business model, the unit is basically paying for its own upkeep.”

Each Anya unit comes with a Certified Condominium Title and earnings are paid out according to square meter ownership. Since the units are considered included in the resort hotel inventory, any additional earnings made are divided in a 45-55 split between the investor and the hotel owner, respectively.

The guaranteed yield program is spread across five years, with the payout pegged at 6% for the first year, 7% for the second year, and 8% each for the remaining three years. Roxaco also sees capital appreciation to reach 10%, compared to the regular rate of 5% to 7% per annum due to future cash inflows. One can buy into this unique investment program for as low as P7.85 million.
How Robinsons Galleria Cebu got its design
Posted at 03/21/2015 7:30 AM
MANILA – Vernacular or native architecture was used as inspiration for Robinsons Galleria Cebu, which is Robinsons Land Corp.'s (RLC) biggest mall outside Metro Manila.

RLC said Robinsons Galleria Cebu incorporates aspects of the local culture in its building design.

“Vernacular architecture is the inspiration for the front retail paseo albeit with a modern interpretation…This is a modern take on the ‘village feel’ that prevails throughout Cebu’s landscape,” said Robinsons Malls general manager Arlene Magtibay.

Magtibay said the layout and architecture of the Cebu mall was suited to match the relaxed, congenial and sociable nature of the Cebuanos.

“Robinsons Galleria Cebu’s design is in keeping with Robinsons’ vision to elevate and create a new shopping experience,” Magtibay said.

“Angular shapes were employed throughout the development to create dynamic spaces and interesting zones. The paseos have indoor and outdoor components. The outdoor component offers an al fresco experience where pedestrians can meander, as well as lounge, dine, appreciate the sights, and breathe in fresh air while under the shade created by the terraces and balconies above,” she added.

Its 4-floor commercial building will house Robinsons Supermarket, Department Store, Food Court, Cinema, True Value hardware, Robinsons Appliance Center, as well as outlet stores of key local and international brands.

RLC said the vernacular design of the mall will be enhanced by stores that carry distinctive Cebu brands and restaurants serving popular local or homegrown favorites.

Robinsons Galleria Cebu is located on a 4.7 hectare lot along General Maxilom Avenue in the North Reclamation Area.

RLC envisions the mall to reinvent, revitalize and increase property values in an area of Cebu City that was previously underutilized.
Shades of gray: Haze in Metro Manila
What's behind the haze episodes in Metro Manila?

Shaira Panela
Published 8:00 AM, Mar 21, 2015
Updated 8:00 AM, Mar 21, 2015
MANILA, Philippines – Almost every morning, Metro Manila looks like it's under the curse of dementors from the Harry Potter series: a thick blanket of gray haze – sometimes in darker shades – envelops the cityscape, threatening to swallow the metropolis.

While the government's air quality monitoring sites have been reporting "Good" to "Fair" status from its 12 stations, an experimental station at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman recorded at least two haze events since the start of 2015.

The Atmospheric Physics Laboratory of the UP Institute for Environmental Science and Meteorology (UP-IESM) headed by Dr Gerry Bagtasa recorded haze episodes at noon of January 29, and in the morning of March 14.
Post by WeatherManila.
The science of air pollution

Haze episodes happen when fine particles suspended in the air obscure light. Scientists said that the haze seen enveloping Metro Manila can also be called smog, or the combination of smoke and fog, indicating the presence of pollution in the air.

Dr Ronald Macatangay, head of the Climate and Atmospheric Radiation (CARBON) laboratory at UP-IESM, explained in an interview that air pollution is a combination of various gases such as sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, surface ozone (which is also the main component of smog), as well as particulates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), among others.

Sulfur oxides, especially sulfur dioxide, come from burning coal and petroleum. Nitrogen oxides are produced during high-temperature combustion. Carbon monoxide comes mainly from the exhaust of vehicles, and from burning coal, wood, and natural gas.

Meanwhile, ozone could be either good or bad, depending on its location in the atmosphere, said Macatangay. The ozone layer that we know is the "good" ozone, as it traps ultraviolet radiation from the sun; on the other hand, surface ozone, or the ones produced by VOCs and nitrogen oxides and is found in the much lower portion of the atmosphere, is "bad."
Measuring air quality

Air quality is usually measured using Particulate Matter (PM) and Total Suspended Particulates (TSP) as indicators.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) monitors PM2.5, PM10 and TSP.

PM2.5, particles smaller than 2 micrometers, are the most dangerous type of pollutant particles. They are small enough to enter the bronchial tubes of the lungs which could lead to severe respiratory diseases, said Tess Peralta, an engineer at the Environmental Management Bureau of DENR, in an earlier report.

PM10, are smaller than 10 micrometers and slightly larger than PM2.5, and can also be inhaled. It is small enough to settle in the bronchial tubes and the lungs, and could also lead to respiratory infections.

Meanwhile, TSP are bigger than 10 micrometers and could also be inhaled. These are the dirt that usually settles in the nostrils.
Haze episodes

The UP-IESM Atmospheric Laboratory recorded a surge in PM2.5 in UP Diliman around noon January 29, while its CARBON Laboratory saw a sudden increase in local carbon dioxide levels.

Their reports said sea breeze pushed the air along coasts inland and produced a westerly wind over Metro Manila. This wind opposed the prevailing amihan (northeast monsoon) at the same time, which led to the stagnation of air; this helped accumulate local emissions in the area.

Another haze episode was recorded Saturday morning, March 14. Bagtasa said on the Weather Manila page on Facebook that it was due to a phenomenon called "inversion," where a layer of warm air overlaps an area of cold air. This causes the temperature to increase in the higher elevations and causes the accumulation of vehicular emissions brought by Friday night traffic.

Inversion usually happens early in the morning, said Bagtasa in an interview.

However, their data deviated from that of DENR-EMB's mainly because of two factors: the IESM laboratories compute the air quality based on an hourly averaging system, while the DENR-EMB computes the average for every 24 hours.

In addition, the DENR-EMB's equipment are very high-precision types, while Bagtasa's equipment was assembled out of low-cost materials and was established for experimentation purposes.

Manila Observatory Air Quality Division head Dr James Simpas said in a separate interview that depending on the location where the monitoring equipment is located, measurements could also differ. When the equipment is on the roadside, the measurement is higher, Simpas said.
Effects of air pollution

Yet, while government data show that the air quality within Metro Manila remains safe, prolonged exposure even to smaller quantities of pollution could still harm people's health. Among the adverse effects of air pollution are cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and even cancer.

Other than health implications, air pollution also affects the weather, said Macatangay.

"Pollution in the atmosphere can delay rain, affect rainfall amount, and atmospheric stability," said Macatangay.

Bagtasa explained further, "Nade-delay ang ulan to later in the afternoon, nagiging mas malakas." (Rain gets delayed to later in the afternoon, and becomes stronger.)

In some areas, the type of precipitation, such as snow or hail, could also be affected.

Haze is more common during the dry season (December to May) as the land has lower moisture content which could lead to more dust present in the atmosphere.

Simpas said that during the dry season, the lowest possible emissions and therefore highest air quality could be measured during Good Friday and during Manny Pacquaio's fights. Records from these days could be used as the baseline data on air quality in Metro Manila.
MACE 2015

Bagtasa also said that Filipinos have a quite low "perception of threat" of air pollution and that the correlation of air quality to weather forecasting is not explored as much.

Simpas and Bagtasa are among the scientists who are part of the Manila Aerosol Characterization Experiment (MACE 2015), a collaborative study to be conducted by the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) based in Leipzig, Germany, UP-IESM, the Manila Observatory, De La Salle University, and the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute.

The study, which is set to run from March to May 2015, intends to measure vehicular emissions and find how it contributes to air pollution. Measurements will be done along Katipunan and Taft avenues.

In an earlier report, DENR-EMB said that around 80% of the dirty air in Metro Manila comes from motor vehicle emissions while the remaining 20% comes from stationary sources like construction sites and industries. –
Can $300 billion buy Egypt a new capital?

By Shadi Bushra and Yara Bayoumy, Reuters
Posted at 03/22/2015 8:32 AM | Updated as of 03/22/2015 9:58 AM
CAIRO - It is a project as ambitious as Egypt's ancient pyramids.

Built from scratch to escape Cairo's choking pollution, a planned new capital will feature an airport larger than London's Heathrow, a building taller than Paris's Eiffel Tower and more than 10,000 km (6,200 miles) of boulevards, avenues and streets.

The city, meant to be built within just seven years, was unveiled last week at the Sharm El-Sheikh economic summit, where President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urged foreign investors to help Egypt recover from the turmoil triggered by the 2011 uprising.

But the plan was not universally welcomed, with residents of Cairo questioning the need to replace their 1,000-year-old capital with a shiny new city that, if it ever rises from the nearby desert, will rely heavily on Gulf Arab financing.

"If we need to move some buildings and some government employees, that's fine. But buildings don't make a capital, history does," said Amr Karim, a doorman at one of Cairo's art deco buildings in the Agouza district.

A number of countries conjured up new capitals in the last century, such as Brasilia in Brazil, which was founded in 1960, Canberra in Australia, founded in 1913, and Astana, which became the administrative centre of Kazakhstan in 1997.

Egypt's ambitions are on an even larger scale.

Its new capital is eventually designed to cover some 700 sq km (435 sq miles), roughly the size of Singapore, contain 1.1 million homes and create 1.75 million jobs, according to its promotional website.

It will also cost some $300 billion to complete, according to Mohamed Alabbar, the United Arab Emirates real estate tycoon who helped develop the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai and who is leading the mega Egyptian venture.

To put that in perspective, the CIA handbook says Egypt's total gross domestic product in 2013 was $262 billion.

After removing Islamists from power in 2013 and becoming president a year later, Sisi has announced a raft of proposals, including an expansion of the Suez Canal, promising to usher in a new era of prosperity for Egypt's 90-million strong population -- some nine million of whom are estimated to live in Cairo.

With Cairo's roads permanently clogged by bumper-to-bumper traffic and its housing crisis so acute that tens of thousands of people live among the tombs of the city's necropolis, the possibility of starting with a clean slate seems appealing.

But it is not a new idea, and the precedents are worrying.

Ill-conceived 'new cities' have sprung up on the outskirts of Cairo before, only for many to end up largely empty or just housing the super-rich, with a lack of infrastructure and transport deterring ordinary people from relocating.

"This will only be for the wealthy," said electrician Mohamed Hassan, 27, sitting at a cafe in a run-down Cairo neighbourhood. "For us, we will just continue eating fava bean and falafel sandwiches," he added referring to the staple diet for most of Egypt's myriad poor.

Some Cairenes say the cash would be better spent on improving basic infrastructure in a country where more than one in four people live in poverty, according to U.N. data.

"I haven't heard about the new capital. How can we afford a brand new city when we can't afford new roads or schools?" said Mosaab Mansour, a student at a gym in a trendy Cairo district.

"Who's going to pay for it? The Gulf? If they pay for it, then it's their capital. We'll just be renting it."

The glossy images on the project website bear a much closer resemblance to wealthy Dubai than they do to chaotic Cairo, with lots of green spaces promised and a theme park planned that will be more than six times the size of Disneyland in California.

Egyptian officials say the city will be built to the east of Cairo, away from the Nile river and on the road leading to the Suez Canal. An initial phase, costed at some $45 billion, is set to cover 135 sq km.

The authorities have promised to start work within weeks and Sisi, aware that street protests have helped bring down two presidents in just four years, is anxious for swift results in a country renown for its sluggish bureaucracy.

"Not 10 years, or even seven years," the president told Alabbar last week in comments captured on video.

Urban planners say for now the project is fuzzy about what kind of infrastructure will tie the new capital to Cairo -- a major flaw that has doomed other 'new cities' -- and question how many people will actually relocate.

Yahia Shawkat, an urban policy researcher with an independent thinktank, said Egypt had already spent $8 billion on 21 new city projects in the last 30 years with mixed results.

"There has not been any meaningful population movement ... and the average occupancy rate is about 20 percent," he said.

But investment banker Ahmed El-Houssieny, CEO of Planet Investments, disagreed with the many naysayers, arguing that it was "a great cause to rally people around", especially because it was meant to create a large number of jobs in a country where unemployment stands at about 13 percent.

Responding to criticism that moving the capital will take away from the historical significance of Cairo, with its ancient Islamic architecture, mosques, Citadel and bazaars, he said:

"You have lots of great cities that have been able to drive traffic away from the centre and still maintain the capital's glory," he told Reuters, stressing that the new city would be an administrative centre that would not detract from Cairo.

Clothing store owner Rami al-Rafie was also optimistic.

"This is a great idea, it's been a great idea since it was proposed years and years ago," he said, referring to past plans to shift major ministries away from downtown Cairo.

"The Gulf, the Europeans, the Chinese all know that Egypt is a good place to invest... I hope they use some of that investment to make this new capital as beautiful as Dubai, God willing."

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Thursday, March 26, 2015
Investors told: Better days ahead for economy

By Sandy Araneta | Mar. 25, 2015 at 12:01am
“YOU ain’t seen nothing yet.”
With these words, President Benigno Aquino III told participants in the 4th Euromoney Philippines Investment Forum that better days are ahead for the Philippine economy.

“Every year, without fail, I receive an invitation to speak at this forum, and every year, without fail, I accept. The first Philippines Investment Forum took place about a year and a half into my presidency. Since then, this has become a valuable opportunity for me to share the progress our country has made. Here, we have been able to trace the success story that is the Philippine economy,” Aquino said.

He again complained that the good news about the economy was often “relegated to the back pages” of newspapers, and said the administration was still trying to change the mindset that “negativism sells.”

The President said 2014 was a banner year for net foreign direct investments, which reached a all-time high of $6.2 billion, 65.9 percent higher than 2013.

From 2010 to 2013, he said, the Philippines averaged a 6.3 percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP), compared to the previous three-year period under his predecessor, at 4.3 percent.

Despite the lingering effects of typhoon Yolanda and the uncertainty in the global economy the country still posted a 6.1 percent growth in GDP last year, Aquino added.

The Philippines was also upgraded to investment grade by all three major international credit ratings agencies in 2013, and has continued to receive upgrades since, Aquino said.

“We are indeed making history. All these, and many other factors, have led to even greater optimism for our country’s prospects. Just to give you one example: Bloomberg recently reported, I’m told, that the Philippines is forecasted to be the world’s second fastest growing economy in 2015,” the President said.

He said the tremendous amount of confidence the global community has developed for the Philippines was gratifying, considering that not too long ago, the country was regarded as the “Sick Man of Asia.”

Aquino said his administration continues to work hard to maximize every opportunity available.

“I think many of you will agree with me when I say: You ain’t seen nothing yet,” the President said.

Infrastructure, he said, greatly benefited from the government drive to become more competitive.

Through the efforts of the Department of Public Works and Highways, corruption has been “vastly minimized, if not eradicated,” and projects are now regularly completed ahead of time and under budget, he said.

The department’s budget had tripled, from P165 billion in 2010 to almost P570 billion in 2015, the President said.

“We can expect this to grow even more, as our goal is to have infrastructure spending comprise 5 percent of GDP by 2016,” he said.

The President also highlighted the government’s efforts to spur infrastructure through its public-private partnership (PPP) program, with nine awarded projects, 16 in the process of being bid out, and 30 more in various stages of development.

In contrast, he said, the last three administrations had only completed six PPP projects.

The President also assured investors that his government was persuing ways to address a projected shortfall in power this summer.

He said the government was expediting the rehabilitation of the 300 MW Malaya Thermal Power Plant Unit 1 to help augment power supply in Luzon.

He also said partnerships with the private sector under the Interruptible Load Program would produce an extra 688.67 megawatts during times when power supply is tight.

Aquino said 48 committed power projects would produce 4,693.6 megawatts of power between now and 2018. Out of these, 21 will be from renewable energy, in line with the goal of diversifying the country’s energy mix.

Aquino said these efforts were even more crucial with the expected ASEAN integration later this year. The ASEAN Economic Community, he added, would be a formidable economic force.

In closing, Aquino told potential investors: “I invite you: Bet on the Filipino people, and discover for yourself how it’s more fun and more profitable to do business in the Philippines.”
BSP sees March inflation at 2.1 to 2.9 percent

Posted at 03/25/2015 6:01 PM
MANILA - The Philippine central bank expects annual inflation in March to be between 2.1-2.9 percent, reflecting lower transport, electricity, food and fuel costs, its governor said on Thursday.

"The BSP (central bank) will continue to monitor developments that could affect inflation in line with the BSP's commitment to price stability, conducive to a balanced and sustained economic growth," Governor Amando Tetangco said in a mobile text message.

Annual inflation was 2.5 percent in February.

The central bank meets on March 26 to review policy. It is widely expected to leave interest rates on hold with inflation forecast to fall within its 2-4 percent target this year.
PHL banks, BSP, LRA assure housing lenders and borrowers are protected

By DANESSA O. RIVERA, GMA NewsMarch 25, 2015 3:48pm
Housing credit continues to rise, prompting the Philippine banking industry and the Land Registration Authority (LRA) to create a system streamlining loans and mortgages documentation to protect both borrowers and financial institutions.
The final version of the uniform loan and mortgage agreement (ULAMA) is coming up this week, Chamber of Thrift Banks (CTB) president  Rommel Latinazo told reporters in a briefing in Makati City.
The agreement was developed in collaboration with banking groups, including the Bankers' Association of the Philippines, CTB, and Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines, together with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the LRA.
"The purpose... is we want to streamline the documentation, taking into account the interests of all the parties concerned in real estate mortgage transactions – the financial institution, the borrower, and the government," Latinazo said.
"We want to make sure that the documents we develop are acceptable to the agencies involved," he added.
Eliminate controversies
Latest BSP data show consumer loans rose 20.94 percent P849.6 billion as of end-September 2014, from P702.6 billion a year earlier, mainly driven by an increase in residential real estate lending.
In October, the BSP announced more relaxed rules on bank lending, noting that the ability of the borrower to pay, and not collateral, should be the basis for loan approvals.
The central bank also intends to cap the value of real estate mortgage as collateral at 60 percent for securing loans.
While there are no foreseen risks in bank lending, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo had said the central bank sees the need for circumspect in monitoring personal credit amid brisk activity in a growing economy.
Latinazo said real estate loan transactions, especially pertaining to housing, are indeed increasing and the ULAMA aims to protect borrowers and also the financial institutions.
"Having a uniform agreement should eliminate most, if not all, controversies or legal questions arising from home mortgage transactions," he said. – VS, GMA News
Firms urge gov’t to maintain PPP momentum as 2016 looms
The private sector is gaining confidence in public-private partnership projects as the government mulls joining a China-led development bank to help narrow the infrastructure gap

Chris Schnabel
Published 1:24 PM, Mar 25, 2015
Updated 1:24 PM, Mar 25, 2015
MANILA, Philippines – The new administration in 2016 would have to learn a lot of the lessons from how the current administration handled public-private partnerships (PPPs), and this would take a few years, said Ramon Ang, president of San Miguel Corporation (SMC).

“To maintain momentum, I hope we bid out as many of the additional PPP projects planned as we can before the current administration ends,” Ang said in an infrastructure discussion at the Euromoney Investment Forum on March 24.

Ang said on March 23 during the SLEX-TR4 project briefing that the conglomerate is setting aside billions to put the country’s toll roads on a par with those in neighboring countries in Asia.

“We look at infrastructure as an opportunity to participate in the growth of our country. Quality infrastructure will change and impact lives,” Ang said.

The Aquino administration was initially slow but the sizes of the projects that are being bid out are growing – 9 are underway with 16 to be rolled out, said Jorge Consunji, president of DM Consunji.

“We welcome this and we hope it will continue,” Consunji said.

Consunji's DMCI was awarded the civil works contract to complete within 18 months the elevated guideway or viaduct for the Light Rail Transit line 2 project.
Vote of confidence

The private sector’s increasing confidence in the PPPs played a significant part in the momentum.

But there are generally no power projects among the PPPs, said Eduardo Francisco, president and chief executive officer of BDO Capital and Investment Corporation.

This is because private firms can do power projects by themselves, supported by merchant banks, Francisco explained.

“Transitioning power projects to PPPs is the same – proponents are bidding without any government guarantees for profit. So the banks have gotten themselves comfortable supporting these projects,” Francisco said.

Banks are also coming up with a “staple financing,” which pre-analyzes a project and finances whoever the winning bidder is as long as it is pre-qualified, he explained.

BDO has done it for some projects and is looking at doing the same for the many projects that are coming along, Francisco confirmed.

The growing confidence the private sector has in the PPP projects was reiterated by Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson.

“We offered viability gap funding for all the toll roads we bid out, but no private firm took it so it’s an indication of the confidence the private sector has in these projects,” Singson said.

He also acknowledged that initially, the unsolicited mode as a method of getting PPPs bid out caused some delays, like that experienced in the North Luzon and South Luzon expressways (NLEX-SLEX) connector road project.

The government still needs to address right-of-way issues. But success would be evident if all of the PPP projects that DPWH initially lined up are bid out.

“We hope to have the remainder bid out by the middle of this year. If we close them all, we’re done as far as DPWH is concerned,” Singson confirmed.

To date, DPWH set July 7 for the issue of notice of award to the winning bidder for the controversial Cavite-Laguna expressway project.
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

The current administration is also mulling joining the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AAIB) to help bridge the infrastructure gap in the country.

The government is gathering information on the AIIB before it makes its final decision by June, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said at the sidelines of the forum.

"We are part of several meetings, but the President (Benigno S. Aquino III) has not yet made a decision whether we will join or not," Purisima said.

The Philippines, along with other countries, signed in October a non-binding agreement to become a founding member of the $50-billion multilateral institution that would finance infrastructure projects in the Asia-Pacific region.

Switzerland and Luxembourg were the latest nations to declare their intention to join the institution that is viewed by some to be a rival to the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB), as well as the World Bank.

Japanese officials had previously expressed concern about the new bank's transparency standards, while the United States is reportedly fiercely opposed to the AIIB.

Despite such, Purisima believes that the AIIB is “financial and economic in nature," and has no relation with the territorial conflict between China and the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea. –
BCDA readies Clark rail bidding terms

By Othel V. Campos | Mar. 25, 2015 at 10:45pm
State-run Bases Conversion and Development Authority said Wednesday it is preparing the terms of reference for the bidding of the 82-kilometer Clark Rail Transit System that will run from Malolos City in Bulacan to Tarlac City.

BCDA president and chief executive Arnel Paciano Casanova said the joint venture project would link with the North-South Commuter Railway project of the Transportation Department.

“Offhand, BCDA will provide the land needed including substantial areas for commercial development at every station. The private JV partner will plan, design, finance, build, operate and maintain the Clark Rail,” Casanova said.

He said Clark Rail was envisioned be an electric-powered transit system in an 82-kilometer double-back track between Malolos and Tarlac City, with 13 stations. The JV partner will conduct the final alignment study.

“We are considering to put Clark Rail on a new alignment that would allow us to provide the area needed for the commercial development at every station. The Clark Rail will serve as the backbone for the movement of goods, services and people to and from Manila, Clark Green City, Clark International Airport, Clark Special Economic Zone and Tarlac City,” Casanova said.

BCDA will provide 100 hectares of Clark Green City land for use as transport hub and to house the Clark Rail depot.  The bidding is expected to be conducted before the end of the year.

The National Economic and Development Authority board approved in February two projects under the North-South Railway masterplan - phase 1 of the North-South Commuter Railway Project and the North-South Railway Project – South Line.
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ayala Land launches P8-B mixed-use development in Cebu
Posted at 03/25/2015 1:21 PM | Updated as of 03/25/2015 1:25 PM
MANILA, Philippines - Ayala Land Inc. is building a new P8-billion integrated mixed-use development in Cebu City.

ALI recently broke ground for Central Bloc, a 2.2 hectare development in Cebu IT Park. Central Bloc will have office, retail, and hotel components.

Bobby Dy, Ayala Land President and CEO, said Cebu City was the first area outside of Metro Manila where ALI started developing mixed-use projects.

"It highlights our commitment to support Cebu City. We envision Central Bloc to be a refreshing hub where business and leisure converge," he said.

Ayala Malls Central Bloc will have approximately 43,000 sqm. of gross leasable area, and is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2018.

Central Bloc will connect to The Walk with a landscaped open area with dining and retail spaces.

ALI is also opening a Seda Hotel in Central Bloc. The 12-storey hotel, which will have 214 rooms, is expected to open by the third quarter of 2018.

It will also be the first Seda hotel to cater to long-staying guests with its 58 apartment suites.

ALI said it will also build two BPO office towers. Upon completion in 2019, the two buildings are expected to generate about 14,000 jobs in the BPO sector.
Megaworld posts P22-b profit

By Jenniffer B. Austria | Mar. 25, 2015 at 11:10pm
Megaworld Corp., the biggest lessor of office spaces in the Philippines, booked a net income of P21.6 billion in 2014, up 139 percent from a year ago, boosted by a one-time gain from the consolidation of the group’s property units.

Megaworld said in a disclosure to the stock exchange Wednesday the profit included P12.1 billion in non-recurring gain from the consolidation of Global Estate Resources Inc., Empire East Land Holdings Inc. and Suntrust Properties Inc. into the parent firm.

Without the non-recurring gain, Megaworld’s income rose 14 percent to P9.4 billion last year.

Consolidated revenues, excluding non-recurring gain, climbed 15 percent to P41 billion with real estate sales increasing 16 percent to P24.6 billion from a year ago while rental income grew 17 percent to P7 billion.

“Our income growth last year was driven by both real estate sales and rental income. We have a more diversified real estate sales mix that is propelled by our integrated urban township developments in Metro Manila, Cebu and Iloilo as well as tourism-related projects in Tagaytay and Boracay,” said Megaworld chairman and chief executive Andrew Tan.

“In the meantime, our rental income is growing in line with our expectations. Continued growth in our office and mall leasable space will provide the catalyst for exceeding P10 billion in rental income in 2016. Last year also saw the consolidation of Global-Estate Resorts, Inc., Empire East Land Holdings, Inc., and Suntrust Properties, Inc. under Megaworld. This enabled us to strengthen our land bank nationwide,” he added.

Tan expects the company to maintain a double-digit net income growth every year starting in 2015 on the back of a stronger and bigger township portfolio.

Megaworld plans to launch five new township projects in 2015. Two are located in Bacolod, namely the 34-hectare property that used to be Bacolod-Murcia Milling Co,. and the 50-hectare property along the new Circumferential Road on the boundary of Talisay City and Bacolod City.

Megaworld in 2014 launched five townships, namely the Woodside City in Pasig City (12.3 hectares); Southwoods City in the boundaries of Cavite and Laguna (561 hectares); Davao Park District in Lanang, Davao City (11 hectares); Alabang West in Las Piñas City (62 hectares); and Suntrust Ecotown in Tanza, Cavite (350 hectares).

The company is launching at least 20 new malls and commercial centers in its existing and new townships over the next five to eight years to boost rental income.
DoubleDragon books over fourfold rise in 2014 net income

March 25, 2015 6:01pm
DoubleDragon Properties Corp., the property firm jointly owned by Jollibee Foods Corp. chairman Tony Tan Caktiong and business partner Edgar “Injap” Sia II, registered more than a fourfold rise in net income last year.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, DoubleDragon said net income surged by 360 percent to P560.8 million from P122.1 million a year earlier.
Revenues from real estate sales doubled to P1.2 billion from P511 million.
"2014 has indeed been a significant year for DD both financially and through the partnerships that we have formed and through the various property projects that we have recently embarked on," chairman and CEO Edgar 'Injap' Sia II said.
So far, the company has secured 33 hectares of prime land across the country, with approximately 480,000 square meters of leasable space.
DoubleDragon said it is on track to meet its goal of completing 25 CityMalls by the end of 2015 and 100 CityMalls by 2020.
DoubleDragon is the second business venture of Sia and Tan Caktiong after Jollibee Foods bought a 70 percent stake in Mang Inasal for P3 billion in 2010. Sia kept a 30-percent interest in the grilled chicken restaurant chain which he founded.
The company was incorporated as Injap Land Corp. in 2009. It changed its name to DoubleDragon after Sia and Tan Caktiong turned it into joint venture in 2013. It was listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange on April 7, 2014. – Danessa O. Rivera/VS, GMA News
JG Summit spending P35b in ’15

By Jenniffer B. Austria | Mar. 25, 2015 at 11:25pm
JG Summit Holdings Inc., the holding company of tycoon John Gokongwei, said Wednesday it plans to spend P35 billion this year to fund the expansion of its airline, real estate, food manufacturing and banking businesses.

JG Summit chief finance officer Bach Johann Sebastian said in an interview the 2015 capital spending was lower than the P50 billion earmarked in 2014, as the conglomerate had already completed the construction of the naphtha cracker facility in Batangas province.

“Its going to be around P35 billion this year, mainly for airline, property and Universal Robina Corp.,” Sebastian said.

The naphtha cracker facility recently started operations and is expected to start contributing around $800 million to $1 billion in annual revenues to JG Summit next year.

URC, the food manufacturing unit of JG Summit, earlier said it planned to spend P9 billion this year primarily to expand its domestic and international businesses.

The group’s property firm, Robinsons Land Corp. earmarked P17 billion for 2015 capital expenditures, as it plans to build new malls as well as office and residential projects.

JG Summit raised P8.8 billion through overnight placement of shares in January.  It raised the amount from the sale of 145.65 million common shares via top-up offering at a price of P61 apiece.

Proceeds from the fund raising activity will be used to finance various projects, as the company plans to actively bid for the bundled airports the government may bid out under the public-private partnership scheme this year.

JG Summit has substantial business interests in food, agro-industrial and commodities, real estate and hotel, air transportation, banking and petrochemicals.

Its airline unit, Cebu Pacific Air, reported an P853-million profit in 2014, up from P511.95 million in 2013.

The conglomerate also holds an 8-percent interest in Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and 27.1-percent stake in power retailer Manila Electric Co.
The business of transforming ordinary to extraordinary space
Hospitality Innovators

March 25, 2015
A hotel and property management company with a vision to break new ground in the industry –Hospitality Innovators, Inc. (HII) – puts character into ordinary space.  Founded 15 years ago, the company is already a leading figure in the field.

HII transforms ordinary properties into concept spaces that distinguish them in the market. With its expertise, HII recognizes a property’s potential to create exciting destinations for guests.

“The big property players are now getting into hospitality space and the reality is that there are smaller guys who also want in. What HII does is partner with these small independents and equip them with our ‘innovision’ to help create distinct concepts to make guests want to come back,” said HII founder and CEO Luis C. Monserrat. “The one-of-kind appeal and first-rate services that we develop for them lead to a property’s unique brand of experience which will allow them to compete.”

According to Monserrat, creating a distinct personality for a property would allow them to face the industry “Goliaths.”

“This is what we offer hotel and property developers who want to get into the lodging space – the impressive combination of a unique concept and great service, which can enhance the value of assets and create attractive returns,” he said.

Leading the successful properties managed by HII is The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences in Salcedo Village, Makati. According to Monserrat, Picasso was transformed into the spacious and stylish serviced residence that it is now after he “re-imagined” the property concept with architect Dom Galicia.

“We got Picasso after it was entrusted to us by a partner who liked what we did with their first property. Picasso was initially an apartment building but we re-conceptualized it to become a serviced residence with walls and rooms that speak of art. When it was time to think of a name for the property, we went back to its core, what it was about – which is transformation. Dom suggested that no other artist better embodies transformation than Pablo Picasso,” Monserrat said.

HII also manages both branches of The Henry Hotel: The Henry Cebu, which features 38 rooms filled with art collected from around the world; and The Henry Manila, which exhibits a nostalgic appeal with its five post-war style houses with rooms adorned with vintage furnishings.

Also in HII’s portfolio are two new properties in Makati: the Y2 Residence Hotel which offers a Zen-like feel with its Oriental design, and the KL Tower Serviced Residences, characterized by clean architectural lines that exude modern and sophisticated style.

HII also takes pride in the exceptional service it extends to guests, which Monserrat believes is crucial to their properties’ success.

“Having attractive and interesting properties is one thing, but what really marks the HII brand is the bespoke hospitality we give each of our guests. We go beyond the standard by making all guests feel that they are truly looked after, so they feel right at home every time,” he stressed.

This approach has allowed HII properties to generate higher occupancy rates than the industry average.  It is also the recipe behind all the awards that its properties have received from major travel websites.
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Thursday, March 26, 2015
Construction of Clark airport terminal eyed in 2016
Posted at 03/10/2015 2:47 PM
MANILA – The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) will be splitting the construction of the Clark international airport passenger terminal building into three phases, with the construction of the first phase targeted to start in the second quarter of 2016.

The first phase of the P7.2 billion project will be submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board chaired by President Aquino in May for approval, according to Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya.

“The direction of the DOTC is very clear to develop Clark international airport…[For] the Clark terminal, the initial phase of P1.2 billion has been submitted to NEDA, hopefully we get it up to the NEDA board chaired by the President by May of this year,” he said.

Upon getting approval from the NEDA Board, the project will then be auctioned to prospective bidders by the third quarter of this year.

Abaya said construction is expected to start by the second quarter of 2016. Completion of the first phase is being targeted in 2018.

The first phase aims to increase the capacity of the Clark airport to 8 million from the current 5 million passengers per year.

The second phase, meanwhile, is expected to increase the capacity to 46 million passengers by 2025 and to 80 million by 2032.

“There is not much of an issue except that plans drawn up by the Aeroport De Paris is quite aggressive and on a larger side, but we are sticking to their plans and we will defend the plan before the NEDA board,” Abaya said.

Aeroport De Paris is a French firm that was hired by the DOTC to conduct the feasibility study on design.

Government is expecting the development of both the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and the Clark international airport to attract more airlines to fly out of Pampanga.

Clark International Airport Corp. president and chief executive officer Emigdio Tanjuatco III earlier said passengers at the Clark airport is seen to grow 150 percent to 3 million over the next two years from the current 1.2 million passengers per year.
Gokongwei's JG Summit on the lookout for acquisitions

By Neil Jerome Morales, Reuters
Posted at 03/10/2015 2:10 PM | Updated as of 03/11/2015 11:05 AM
MANILA (UPDATE) - JG Summit Holdings Inc, the Philippines' second-largest conglomerate by market value, remains on the lookout for acquisitions following its food subsidiary's $609 million takeover of a New Zealand snacks maker, its president said.

"I know our balance sheet and cash flows would support further acquisitions if necessary or if a reasonable one appears," JG Summit President Lance Gokongwei told Reuters in an interview at his office in Manila on Tuesday.

The conglomerate is biased toward business it is familiar with, he said. JG Summit subsidiary Universal Robina Corp bought New Zealand Snack Food Holdings, the parent of Griffin's Foods Ltd in July.

JG Summit, which started as a corn starch producer in 1957, is also involved in the snacks and beverage, property development, airline, banking and petrochemicals businesses.

Gokongwei said the company would focus on consumption-related businesses that are boosted by low oil prices and higher consumer spending, even as it expanded into power generation and petrochemicals.

"Clearly, we are a very big beneficiary of oil prices going down because oil is 50 percent of my raw material," Gokongwei said.

JG Summit plans to build an up to 600 megawatts coal-fired power facility south of the capital while its almost $1 billion naphtha cracker plant will reach full capacity in the coming months, with the project contributing $800 million to $1 billion in annual revenues.

For its part, property unit Robinsons Land Corp will open three new malls this year while the office segment's gross leasable area will climb to more than 400,000 square metres (sqm) in two years from the current 275,000 sqm, Gokongwei said.

Cebu Air Inc, operator of the country's largest budget carrier Cebu Pacific, is taking delivery of 37 new Airbus aircraft until 2021 while selling old and gas-guzzling models, he said.

On financial services, commercial lender Robinsons Bank will double its capital to P12 billion as it prepares for a long-term expansion program, Gokongwei said.

JG Summit founder John Gokongwei is ranked by Forbes as the Philippines' second richest person with a net worth of $5.8 billion, jumping from fifth place last year.
Ayala Corp's net income surges 46 pct in 2014
Posted at 03/10/2015 2:40 PM
MANILA, Philippines - Ayala Corp., one of the country's leading conglomerates, reported its net income surged 46 percent to P18.6 billion in 2014.

The company attributed the strong profit growth to its real estate, telecom and electronics manufacturing units, as well as a net gain from the sale of its business process outsourcing asset.

Excluding the impact of accelerated depreciation from Globe's network transformation initiative, Ayala's core net income actually went up 25 percent in 2014.

Ayala said its profits have been growing above 20 percent in the last three years.

Equity contributions from its business units jumped 42 percent to P24.9 billion in 2014. Ayala Land's equity earnings rose 28 percent, while Globe's contribution more than doubled and Integrated Micro-Electronics' contribution expanded threefold.

This managed to offset the flat contribution from the Bank of the Philippine Islands, which registered lower trading income during the year.

"We are very pleased with the performance of our business units as they continue to benefit from the aggressive growth strategy they executed a few years ago.... As our business units sustain their growth momentum and the overall business environment continues to be encouraging, we are optimistic we can achieve our net income target of P20 billion this year, a year ahead of the plan," Ayala President and Chief Operating Officer Fernando Zobel de Ayala said.

Ayala Land's net income jumped 26 percent to P14.8 billion year-on-year, driven by its property development and commercial leasing operations.

Globe Telecom posted a record net income of P13.4 billion in 2014, on the back of continued growth of its mobile, broadband, and fixed line data businesses.

Meanwhile, Manila Water's consolidated net income inched up one percent at P5.8 billion, on improved billed volume and higher contribution from new businesses.

IMI's net income soared nearly threefold to $29.1 million from its year-ago level.

However, BPI's profit fell 4 percent to P18 billion in 2014, due to a 5 percent decline in non-interest income as a result of a sharp contraction in trading gains compared to the previous year.

Ayala parent company ended the year with a gross debt of P101 billion and cash of P48.3 billion.

This year, Ayala has set aside P21 billion in capital expenditures at the parent level. The funds will go to its power generation and transport infrastructure projects.

The Ayala group has earmarked P185 billion in combined capital expenditures this year mainly for Ayala Land and Globe's expansion.
Is PHL equipped to build the next generation of cities?

by Amor Maclang - March 10, 2015
I couldn’t contain my excitement the moment I received an invitation to speak at the 17th Worldbex Conference, which will be kicking off next week.

I’m so thrilled and honored to be joining a stellar cast of resource speakers, and I look forward to gaining a lot of fresh ideas from individuals who remain very passionate with their respective crafts.

As the Worldbex celebrates a thriving building and construction industry, I’d like to point out that there seems to be a great number of buildings racing to dot the Metro Manila skyline, as we speak. Interestingly, it’s starting to look like we’re seeing a new generation of high-rise buildings and infrastructure—the elaborately designed ones—that are emerging as icons in various parts of the metropolis.

We know for a fact that these edifices require some specialized, advanced machinery and the adoption of modern architecture ideologies, which prompt me to pose this question: “Is the Philippines on the cusp of building the next wave of modern cities?”

I spoke to a few industry players about their take on the future of modern architecture and how today’s real-estate developers are adapting to global standards of infrastructure and property development.

Matimco Inc. Marketing Director Billy Arrienda: “We observed that with the awakening consciousness for sustainability and lower waste contribution, technology for wood nowadays is geared toward engineering.”
Adaptation is key to innovation

With the rapid pace of urbanization, the technologies and methodologies involved in the design and building of today’s cities are also becoming more complex to adapt to the needs of the modern times.

“In real-estate development, the construction of high-rise buildings in cities and mixed land use, among a few others, have provided developers a cost-efficient way to utilize parcels of land,” said Enrico Micu, national sales manager of Allgemeine Bau-Chemie Philippines. “With the onset of high-rise developments, cities have become more capable of accommodating its expanding population, while lowering infrastructure costs. Mixed-use developments, meanwhile, help enhance the quality of living. As offices, leisure and commercial areas have now become more accessible within the neighborhood, travel time in between places are decreased, thus ensuring a more efficient lifestyle for the inhabitants within the area.”

Another key initiative developers and industry players have championed is the move toward the use of energy-efficient building designs and materials. “Notice that major infrastructure nowadays appreciate and incorporate the use of organic and sustainable materials, all the while actively seeking LEED-certifications or in some cases, the local version, Berde,” shared Billy Arrienda, marketing director of Matimco Inc., one of the Philippines’s leading providers of architectural wood products.

“With the opening of world markets, a rise in number of developments with foreign designer alliances can also be seen, thus, raising demand for complementing building products with understated aesthetics—minimalist designs that effectively combine different materials and efficient use of space contributing to the overall impact of the design.”

Despite this kind of dynamism, the industry has also become used to a certain level of cost and efficiency, as well as market practices that potentially undermine quality. “Here lies the opportunity for willing industry players to infuse innovation into these traditional construction practices by bringing in technologies and expertise that provide advantages to the current systems in cost, efficiency and quality,” Cemex Asia Director for Business Development Arturo Rodriguez added. “The good thing is that some are already being employed in other developing and more developed countries worldwide.”
Global to local

Building the next generation of cities here in the Philippines is no easy task; it requires a great deal of commitment to innovation and embracing a more sustainable approach to enhancing the landscape—a vision that translates to concrete solutions for the needs of the modern world.

“Here in the Philippines, we have already embraced the use of better materials, like concrete for roads, and now taking the next step by adopting the use of roller-compacted concrete [RCC] pavements,”   Rodriguez explained. “This entails the laying of a dry concrete mix placed using an asphalt paver and compacted using a static or vibratory roller. The road is built without forms, dowels or reinforcing steel, while being strong, dense and durable. The RCC pavement is used for select highways with moderate speeds, local streets, parking lots, industrial yards, bus lanes, rural roads and sometimes, as a base for top layers.” The advantage, he adds, includes better cost and a shorter construction time than asphalt and concrete pavements, higher durability than asphalt, and a smoother and more reliable surface than other solutions.

For Matimco, meanwhile, planning for new products goes beyond just coming up with new designs. “We consider factors like the current market demand, anticipated future aspirations, wood supply and sources—whether they are sustainable in supply or sourced responsibly—and whether they reinforce our commitment to delivering superior quality and maximum value to our market,” Arrienda added.
Becoming ‘game changers’

For companies to really champion the idea of innovation, one must be able to  understand the opportunities that are readily present and come up with strategies to maximize their resources toward this objective.

“The key to becoming game changers is by understanding the challenges and needs that the country is facing and the need to respond to them,” Rodriguez explained. “Companies should also be able to promote local research and development, while importing successfully proven products and systems coming from similar markets. Understand that investing in the country and shaking things out of the comfort zone, even though others will eventually adopt the same technologies, will result the growth of the pie for your business and put you in a better position in terms of agility and innovation against our peers.”

Agility and flexibility has also been one of the pillars of success of Matimco. “We strive to constantly listen to our customers, keep an eye on local or global trends, and be highly responsive to change because one cannot afford to be stagnant,” Arrienda said. We, likewise, place a premium on integrity and strive to be a trustworthy name in how we conduct business to our market, our stakeholders and the environment.  We firmly believe it is a prerequisite for business sustainability.”

For the Philippines to really sustain its momentum of building a solid foundation toward the future, industry players must adopt the same mindset that propelled the world’s most successful businesses to the top. As I’ve said in the past, making constant progress, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant it is, will still take you one step closer to reaching your goal. And I’m confident to say that, with industry players committed to shaking up things, it seems like we’re on our way toward achieving sustainable progress.
Experience urban resort living at the heart of Newport City

by BusinessMirror - March 10, 2015
NEWPORT City is one of the best world-class tourist and entertainment destinations in the country that offers a perfect “live, work, play, and learn” lifestyle. It offers an indulgence of “all feel-good” activities, such as do nonstop shopping, dine at favorite restaurants, pampering at various leisure and entertainment offerings, or stay at home with family or friends while enjoying freshly brewed coffee over the cool breeze of fresh air.

To experience all these and more, you no longer have to wait for a holiday, as Megaworld, the country’s leading real-estate developer which pioneered the “live-work-play-learn” lifestyle township concept, will bring this kind of lifestyle everyday at 81 Newport Boulevard.

The six-clustered mid-rise residential enclave is designed with unique amenities that will let out the resort fantasies of pleasure-loving people.

Its variety of outdoor amenities include a lap pool, children’s pool, in-water pool lounge, pool deck, sun deck, function areas, green trellis, state-of-the-art gym, day care center, pocket gardens and courtyards.

Another option at 81 Newport Boulevard is the direct access to the township’s very own world-class entertainment complex where future residents can just take a leisurely walk going to the famous Resorts World Manila, home of an upscale shopping mall; international-themed restaurants; a state-of-the-art performing arts theater featuring world-renowned musicals and other productions; and a first-class gaming center.

Aside from living in a tourist destination designed to fully integrate luxury residences, prime office spaces and an entertainment complex, the 81 Newport Boulevard is also right across the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 and 15 minutes away from central business districts of Fort Bonifacio and Makati City.  It also has a direct link to South Luzon Expressway, Edsa and Naia road.

81 Newport Boulevard is a prime address in Newport City where everything you need is within easy reach. Visit the Newport grand showroom at Montecito, the Residential Resort, Newport City (beside Marriott Hotel Manila).

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015
DOT downscales foreign arrival target to 5.5M in 2015

By Ted P. Torres, The Philippine Star
Posted at 03/11/2015 8:07 AM
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Tourism (DOT) has downscaled its foreign arrivals target this year from the original six million to the “more practical” 5-5.5 million.

In 2014, the number of inbound visitors reached 4,833,368 or 3.25 percent higher than the 4,681, 307 arrivals in 2013. However, it fell short of the target of five million.

Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. revealed one of the challenges that impacted on the full-year target was the negative travel advisories by a number of countries.

“We could have done better but there were some challenges particularly in terms of the advisories issued by some countries,” Bengzon said during the formal launching of Island Philippines Fun Caravan, an aggressive tourism campaign spearheaded by the Philippines Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) and the DOT.

Bengzon said on a positive note, visitors were extending their stay and spending more in the past two to three years.

“Foreign tourists continue to stay longer, and they continue to spend more,” he pointed out.

Total earnings last year from inbound tourism amounted to $4.84 billion, higher by 10 percent against the previous year’s earnings of $4.4 billion. In peso value, inbound revenues totaled P214.88 billion, higher by 15 percent compared to P186.15 billion in 2013.

The month of December also recorded the highest visitor receipts at $597.76 million.

Last year, average daily expenditure (ADE) of international visitors during the year was recorded at $103.55, which is 2.4-percent higher compared to the previous year ADE of $ 101.12.

In peso terms, ADE grew 7.11 percent from P4,292.16 in 2013 to P4,597.12 last year. Again, December pegged the highest at $96.36 (P4,306.12).

Visitors from the Asian region remained the biggest market for the Philippines during the year with 2.83 million visitors or 59 percent of total arrivals. Americas followed with 875,200 for a market share of 18 percent; Europe at 10 percent, Australasia/Pacific (six percent) and overseas Filipinos (four percent).

Tourism officials said that it was significant in lieu of the Asean regional integration, which is making it cheaper to travel in the 10-nation region.

In fact, PHILTOA president Cesar Cruz said they have been holding talks with their counterparts in exchange promotional tours.

“We were in Myanmar recently to promote the Fun Caravan,” Cruz said in the same press briefing.

The Fun Caravan is a year-round activity that will take domestic and foreign tourists in several destinations all over the Philippines.

For this year, it focuses on five major destinations: the Cordillera region, the Southern Tagalog region, the Visayan region, the Bicol region, and Central Luzon. The caravans or tours will run between four to six days.

There will also be minor destinations focused on Palawan, Batanes, the Calamianes Group of Islands and Zamboanga.
BCDA in talks with IFC over Clark Green City plans
Posted at 03/11/2015 11:41 AM | Updated as of 03/11/2015 11:50 AM
MANILA, Philippines - The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) said it is talking with the World Bank's investment arm for possible assistance in developing plans for Clark Green City.

In a statement, the BCDA said it is in discussions with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) over the Clark Green City project.

The Clark Green City project covers some 9,450 hectares in Tarlac and Pampanga, and is envisioned to be the country’s first smart, disaster-resilient and green city.

The BCDA said the IFC is looking at helping the BCDA in determining the business case for key utility services such as power generation, power distribution, water supply distribution and sewerage services and solid waste management.

IFC recently worked on the Clark Water project with the Clark Development Corporation and the Department of Agriculture and Land Bank of the Philippines for the Grains Central project.

Earlier, the BCDA said it is looking for a local or foreign partner to develop a portion of Clark Green City.

The partnership will be in the form of a joint-venture (JV) corporation to be owned 45 percent by the BCDA and 55 percent by the winning bidder.

The winning bidder will infuse the total initial paid-up capital of the corporation in the amount of P2.5 billion.
Shell to review options after SC ruling on Pandacan depot transfer
The High Court denies the oil firm’s motion for reconsideration, but Shell says it will observe the law as it reviews its options
Published 5:16 PM, Mar 11, 2015
Updated 5:46 PM, Mar 11, 2015
MANILA, Philippines – Pilipinas Shell will seek all legal remedies available after the Supreme Court (SC) denied its motion for reconsideration over the transfer of the Pandacan oil depot.

"We shall study the implications of the Supreme Court decision and shall review the options available to Shell. Rest assured that Shell will observe the rule of law,” a company statement read Wednesday, March 11.

The High Court denied the motions filed by Pilipinas Shell and Chevron Philippines on Tuesday, March 10, upholding its November 2014 decision that the oil firms must relocate and cease their operations in the populated Pandacan, Manila district.

The oil firms, including Petron, were given 6 months to relocate based on their submitted and updated comprehensive plan and relocation schedule.

Shell filed a motion for reconsideration also in November before the SC, saying that their own pool of experts is willing to attest that the Pandacan oil depot is safe.
Denied motion

The SC denied Shell’s motion because the reasons given by the oil firm had already been decided and there is no need to rule upon them anew. The SC also stressed it would no longer entertain any pleadings or they will be cited for contempt.

In its November 2014 decision, the SC has given the oil companies 6 months to remove their Pandacan oil terminals after submission of an updated comprehensive plan and relocation schedule. It also gave the oil firms 45 days to submit the relocation plan.

Chevron, meanwhile, said it filed a motion for clarification and not a motion for reconsideration.

“We have yet to receive a copy of the decision hence cannot fully comment on the matter. Finally, we will comply with the final ruling of the Supreme Court on this issue,” Chevron said.

Chevron has already moved out of Pandacan.
No place in populated areas

Petron Corporation did not comment but previously said the company has been preparing to move out of the contested depot since 2010, following its commitment to cease operations in the depot by 2016.

“We made a commitment to stop our operations and we are ready. We have identified several alternative sites in Luzon to absorb our volumes in Pandacan,” Petron President Ramon Ang earlier said.

The SC pointed out that there are overwhelming reasons stated in its previous decision to support its pronouncement that given their nature, depots have no place in a densely populated area.

It cited the history of the Pandacan terminals, where flames spread over the entire city of Manila when fuel-storage dumps were set on fire in December 1942, and another incident involving an explosion – both of which were discussed in an earlier challenge to the oil depots.

The SC added that its decision is clear and that it was City Ordinance 8187 that had been declared unconstitutional and invalid as far as the continued stay of the Pandacan oil terminals is concerned. –
Aboitiz Equity Ventures says 2014 earnings down 13%
March 11, 2015 11:25am
Listed holding firm Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. (AEV) saw a 13 percent decline in 2014 net income to P18.4 billion from P21 billion a year earlier on lower contributions from its power and banking businesses.
The power business accounted for 71 percent of the total income contributions followed by banking at 18 percent, AEV said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday.
The food and land development units contributed 7 percent and 4 percent, respectively, to the total income, it added.

Power business
Aboitiz Power Corp. experienced a 10 percent profit decline to P16.7 billion from P18.6 billion, cutting its income contribution to AEV to P12.7 billion from P14.2 billion.
AboitizPower is spending P52 billion this year to expand its generating capacity by over 2,000 megawatts (MW) in five years.
"In the next five years we intend to increase our beneficial capacity by approximately 2,000 [megawatts], providing reliable and competitive power meeting the economy’s increasing energy demands," AboitizPower CEO Erramon Aboitiz said.

In a briefing Wednesday, AEV CFO Stephen Paradies said this includes the 420 MW Pagbilao baseload plant in Quezon which began construction late last year and the 340 MW Therma Visayas baseload plant in Cebu which will break ground within the year.
Paradies said another 300 MW will come from Therma South which will start operations in the first half of this year, while its unit three expansion of 170 MW will also begin within construction within the year.
The 68 MW Manolo Fortich hydropower plant in Bukidnon will start construction within the year, while the 600 MW Subic baseload plant has already recently overcome its Writ of Kalikasan case, according to Paradies.
He said the company has identified roughly 200 MW of potential run of river power projects located across the archipelago for the next five years.

Banking, food and real estate
Earnings of Union Bank of the Philippines decreased by 21 percent to P3.2 billion from P4.1 billion due to lower trading gains earned in the previous year.
Non-listed Pilmico Foods Corp. grew its income by 4 percent to P1.3 billion on the back of a remarkable performance by its feeds and farm inputs production.
“Our food group is leading the pack to integrate into ASEAN with its investment in Vietnam. It is also exploring opportunities for cross-border trade in the region,” he added.

"We should be exporting in the next month or two our first batch of flour to Indonesia," Pilmico Foods Corp. president and CEO Sabin Aboitiz said at a briefing.
He said offices are being set up around the Association of Southeast Asian Nations "to be able to export our flour."
AboitizLand Inc.’s income increased  by 132 percent to P633 million from P273 million due to growth across all its business units.
AEV will continue to seize growth opportunities from infrastructure investments, which the company made as the fifth leg of its business concerns.
“Our strategic growth plans remain intact as we pursue to further strengthen and expand our businesses, keeping pace with the country’s economic growth,” the company president said.
The group has recently formed  the consortium Trident Infrastructure and Development Corp. with Ayala Land Inc., SM Prime Holdings Inc. and Megaworld  Corp. for the P123.8-billion Laguna Lakeshore Expressway and Dike  Project, the government’s biggest PPP project to date.
It is also working on a 300 million liter per day bulk water supply project, through a joint venture with JV Angeles Construction Corp., to support Davao City's growing needs. – Danessa O. Rivera/VS, GMA News
Japan's FamilyMart, UNY to merge in 2016

Posted at 03/11/2015 8:52 AM
TOKYO - FamilyMart Co Ltd and UNY Group Holdings Co on Tuesday said they have agreed to merge in 2016, a move that would create Japan's second-biggest convenience store operator by sales.

Third-placed FamilyMart will be the surviving entity when it merges with the owner of fourth-ranked Circle K Sunkus in September next year, the companies said in a statement.

The pair said it will consider integrating the two convenience store chains under a single brand, though details including the merger ratio have yet to be decided.

FamilyMart and UNY on Friday said they were considering a merger to increase their competitiveness in a saturated market, grappling with a slump in consumer spending since a rise in the national sales tax last April.

Data from the Japan Franchise Association showed same-store sales at convenience stores fell 0.7 percent in January from the same period a year earlier, the 10th straight month of decline.

The merger would see the combined annual revenue of FamilyMart and UNY's convenience stores eclipse that of second-ranked Lawson Inc and close in on leader Seven-Eleven Japan, owned by Seven & i Holdings Co Ltd.

Shares of UNY have gained about 10 percent whereas those of FamilyMart have fallen 3.5 percent since the companies said they were studying a merger.

FamilyMart has a market value of about $4.3 billion, about three times UNY's $1.4 billion.
Experts hike risk of big California quake in next 30 years
While seismic activity in California has stayed mild in the last century, experts expect a big one to strike some time in the future – they just don't know when

Agence France-Presse
Published 9:46 AM, Mar 11, 2015
Updated 9:46 AM, Mar 11, 2015
LOS ANGELES, USA – The risk of a major earthquake hitting California in the next 30 years has risen dramatically, US scientists said Tuesday, March 10, using improved forecasting techniques.

Earthquakes are notoriously hard to predict and while seismic activity in California has stayed mild in the last century, experts expect a big one to strike some time in the future – they just don't know when.

"The likelihood that California will experience a magnitude 8 or larger earthquake in the next 30 years has increased from about 4.7%... to about 7.0%," said the US Geological Survey.

A report, known as the Third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, acknowledges the complex nature of fault lines and uses new methods to account for future risk.

"The new likelihoods are due to the inclusion of possible multi-fault ruptures, where earthquakes are no longer confined to separate, individual faults, but can occasionally rupture multiple faults simultaneously," said lead author and USGS scientist Ned Field.

"This is a significant advancement in terms of representing a broader range of earthquakes throughout California's complex fault system."

While the risk of a big quake went up, that of a more moderate one actually declined since the last assessment in 2008.

"The estimated rate of earthquakes around magnitude 6.7, the size of the destructive 1994 Northridge earthquake, has gone down by about 30 percent. The expected frequency of such events statewide has dropped from an average of one per 4.8 years to about one per 6.3 years," said the report.

Tom Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center and a co-author of the study, added: "We know that tectonic forces are continually tightening the springs of the San Andreas fault system, making big quakes inevitable.

"The UCERF3 model provides our leaders and the public with improved information about what to expect so that we can better prepare." –
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Thursday, March 12, 2015
DOTC sets bidding for 6 airport PPPs
Posted at 03/11/2015 10:56 PM
MANILA – The timetable for the bidding process for six provincial airport projects has been set, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said.

The deadline for the submission of qualification documents is scheduled on May 18 while the deadline for the submission of bids has yet to be finalized. The Notice of Award is expected to be issued by March 2016.

Government has decided to split the bidding for the operation and maintenance of the six provincial airports worth P128 billion into two packages to ensure that all the projects are awarded to competent players.

The P10.3 billion Puerto Princesa airport project, however, was removed from the two packages.

Transportation Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla said the inclusion of the Puerto Princesa project in the bidding process has been put on hold until further notice.

"Please be advised that the inclusion of the Puerto Princesa airport in the bidding process is being held in abeyance until further notice," he said.

Package A includes the Iloilo, and Bacolod-Silay airports while Package B comprises of the Davao, Laguindingan, and New Bohol airports worth P66.9 billion.

The DOTC said the 30-year concession contract will be awarded through a bidding following the rules and procedures prescribed under Republic Act 6957 as amended by RA 7718 otherwise known as the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law.

The DOTC, through the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, will enter into concession agreements on the operation and maintenance, and possible expansion of the airports to private operators.
Gov't rolls out Metro Manila air monitoring portal
By March 16, at least 12 cities in the capital region will be sending hourly updates on air pollution levels to a website the public can access

Pia Ranada
Published 3:34 PM, Mar 12, 2015
Updated 3:34 PM, Mar 12, 2015
MANILA, Philippines – Starting next week, Metro Manila residents will be able to monitor their city's air quality level at an hourly or weekly basis.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will roll out on Monday, March 16, its hourly air quality monitoring feeds on a website accessible to the public.

Anyone may access the data by visiting the air quality monitoring portal of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB). The portal, when launched, should show the air quality levels as measured by the 17 air quality monitoring stations spread out over Metro Manila.

The launch of the portal was delayed due to the difficulty of finding appropriate locations for the stations in some cities, said EMB Director Jonas Leones during a press briefing on Thursday, March 12. All stations were supposed to have been ready last December.

All 16 cities and one town in Metro Manila now have air quality monitoring stations, equipment that resemble a small, metal house that measure air quality using 3 different units of measurement.

Of these, 12 are "automatic" or capable of sending hourly data to the EMB central office in Quezon City via the Internet.

Five are still manual, meaning the data is still transferred by physical documents to the EMB and only at the end of the week.

EMB's engineer Tess Peralta said these 5 will be upgraded with automatic monitoring equipment by April.
Caloocan: North Caloocan City Hall, Zapote Street, Barangay 177, Caloocan City
Las Piñas: Rohm and Hass Property, Las Piñas City
Makati: Makati Park, Dr Jose P. Rizal Extension, East Rembo, Makati City
Malabon: Polytechnic Institute, Malabon City
Marikina: Parking Area of Marikina Justice Hall, Marikina City
Mandaluyong: Hardin ng Pagasa, Mandaluyong City Hall, Plainview, Mandaluyong City
Navotas: Navotas City Hall M. Naval St, Navotas City
Parañaque: Don Bosco Barangay Hall, Better Living Subdivision, Parañaque City
Pasay: NAIA Terminal 2, Pasay City
Pasig: Country Lodge, Oranbo, Pasig City
Muntinlupa: Bureau of Corrections, New Bilibid Prison Reservation, Muntinlupa City
Pateros: Pateros Elementary School, Pateros City
San Juan: Pinaglabanan Shrine, San Juan City
Taguig: Technological University of the Philippines, Taguig Campus, Taguig City (on-going installation)
Manila: De La Salle University, Taft, Manila
Valenzuela: Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela, Valenzuela City
Quezon City: Department of Public Works and Highway, EDSA, Quezon City

The monitoring stations measure air quality using 3 indicators: Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5, PM10, and Total Suspended Particulates (TSP).

PM2.5, said Peralta, measures the most dangerous type of air-polluting particles – particles small enough to enter the bronchial tubes of the lungs and cause severe respiratory diseases.

PM10 measures particles which are small enough to enter the nasopharynx in the upper portion of the esophagus.

TSP, meanwhile, measures particles bigger than PM10 – the dirt that usually settles in your nostrils.

The DENR plans to add more monitoring stations in different parts of the country. This year, it is purchasing 37 more stations – 7 for the National Capital Region and the rest to be distributed to other regions.
'Easy access'

To make it easy for the public to understand, an air quality index will be used. Air quality levels will be graded accordingly:
    Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
    Very Unhealthy
    Acutely Unhealthy
The stations are located in areas which give the most "accurate" idea of what the city's air pollution levels are, said Leones.

Thus, they are not located near busy streets since air pollution levels tend to spike during rush hour and dip on holidays or Sundays. These extreme fluctuations will make the recorded air quality level "unnatural and unrealistic," said Leones.

The stations, each costing P3 million ($68,000), are able to measure air pollution within 2 kilometers of its location.

The DENR is in talks with media outlets to include the air quality measurements in weather reports of news programs to increase public awareness on air pollution.

Leones said air pollution is one of the major environmental programs of the Aquino administration.

"This is one of the department's promises to the President. By 2016, Metro Manila must meet international standards on air quality," he said.

From January to July 2014, Metro Manila's air pollution level in terms of TSP was 136 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm). The international standard for safe air is 90 ug/Ncm.

The latest PM10 measurements shows that, in terms of PM10, slightly more than half of 13 stations (7 out of 13) measured "fair" air quality. This means air quality within the range of 55 to 154 ug/Ncm.

The international standard for PM10 is 60 ug/Ncm. For PM2.5, the international standard is 35 ug/Ncm.
Pressure for LGUs

Equipping all Metro Manila local government units (LGUs) with air monitoring stations is an effort to connect pollution with governance, said Leones.

The program was completed in time for the 2016 elections.

"LGUs will see, this is how high their air pollution is. This is already an appreciation and recognition of the problem. By means of informing the public, they will be clamoring for action. This is pressure for the LGUs to act," he said.

Dirty air may turn off Investors, entrepreneurs, and potential residents from making business or putting up their homes in that city.

To reinforce this, the EMB aims to send letters twice a month to LGU officials with worrisome air pollution levels.

This will hopefully mobilize them into action. But he also called on citizens to be proactive in demanding clean air from their mayors and councilors.

Air pollution has been found to cause cancer and increase the likelihood of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, especially in young children.

Around 80% of dirty air in Metro Manila comes from motor vehicles, said Leones. The remaining 20% comes from stationary sources, like construction sites and industries.

DENR only has jurisdiction over stationary sources, making it difficult for them to fulfill their promise of safe air for the metro. –
Transpo hub for Clark airport passengers to be established
Posted at 03/12/2015 4:55 PM
MANILA, Philippines - A new transportation hub catering to passengers using Clark International Airport will be established at the Robinsons mall in Pampanga.

Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) president and CEO Emigdio Tanjuatco signed the memorandum of understanding with Robinsons Malls general manager Arlene Magtibay and Genesis Transport Service marketing head Loren Zubia.

Under the partnership, a transport hub with a ticketing lounge will be located at the Bus Terminal of Robinsons Starmills Pampanga.

Tanjuatco said the new hub would cater to passengers and travelers using the Clark International Airport, which hosts Asiana Airlines, Qatar Airways, Cebu Pacific, Seair, Tiger Air, Jin Air, Dragonair, Air Asia Berhad and Tiger Air Singapore.

"We all aim to give our customers the best service possible and one of the concerns of the passengers right now is the mobility of the passengers from terminal to destinations, and we are thankful that we have partners such as Robinsons and Genesis to address that concern," he said.

Magtibay estimated there are around 500 buses from various points of Luzon that are ferrying passengers to and from Robinsons Starmills Pampanga.

"Now it will be much easier for passengers to go to Clark Airport by using the Robinsons Transport Hub," she said.

The volume of passengers using the Clark airport is seen to jump 150 percent to three million over the next two years from the current level of about 1.2 million passengers a year.
Filinvest Land 2014 profits jump 16 pct
Posted at 03/12/2015 12:41 PM
MANILA, Philippines - Developer Filinvest Land Inc. reported its consolidated net income rose 16 percent in 2014 to P4.6 billion.

The Gotianun-led company said consolidated revenues jumped 22 percent to a record P16.90 billion, driven by strong growth of its residential businesses and expansion of its office leasing operations.

FLI said it posted P13.2 billion in revenues in 2014 from its residential projects, up 26 percent.

Revenues from rental assets also increased 11 percent to P2.26 billion, as it booked revenues from new office buildings Filinvest One and Plaz@ E at Northgate Cyberzone in Alabang.

In 2014, FLI launched P12.5 billion worth of residential projects, including 100 West in Makati City, and horizontal developments in Tarlac, Rizal, Laguna, Batangas and Palawan.

FLI is looking to launch P16 billion worth of new projects this year.

FLI CEO and President Josephine Gotianun Yap said that the firm is on track with its plans to triple its recurring income portfolio by 2019 to about 970,000 square meters.

"We are targeting to increase our gross leasable area to three times our current office and retail space inventory within the next five years. For 2015, we are adding around 67,506 square meters of office space and 85,034 square meters of retail space to our portfolio," she said in a statement.

"The outstanding performance of FLI in 2014 was brought about by the company’s ability to address the needs of homebuyers as reflected in the consistent growth of residential sales and its ability to execute its plans to increase office as well as retail spaces in key locations nationwide," she added.
Alveo Land eyes P7.5-B in sales from QC condo project

by Jon Carlos Rodriguez,
Posted at 03/12/2015 5:11 PM
MANILA – Alveo Land, the high-end property unit of Ayala Land, is expecting to generate about P7.5 billion in revenues from the second tower of High Park at Vertis North, Quezon City.

High Park Tower Two is a 49-storey mixed-use condominium that has 803 units with a selling price of P140,000 per square meters.

Read more here:
DMCI Homes introduces innovations in condo living

March 11, 2015
DMCI Homes, a pioneer in resort-themed mid-rise residential condominium communities in Metro Manila, continues its successful urban living innovation this time by venturing into high-rise development.

The developer’s newly completed Flair Towers and upcoming Sheridan Towers, Lumiere Residences and Brio Tower are testaments to its product diversification and evolution into a premier developer the past 16 years. They also represent the company’s competitiveness in the growing residential condo market and the continuous appeal of its resort-style residences to homebuyers.

DMCI Homes became synonymous with spacious units, generous amenities, strategic location, affordability and a unique building design called Lumiventt.

The design facilitates natural ventilation and lighting of the building and units through balconies, single loaded corridors, atriums and breezeways.

Read more here:
Suburban living thrives amidst nature in Laguna
Greenfield City

March 11, 2015
It could well be the most complete and holistic community in Laguna. With residential parks, outlet malls, business districts, and economic zones, Greenfield City plays out the suburban lifestyle in a cradle of greens and open spaces.

The 400-hectare masterplanned community by Greenfield Development Corporation is a self-contained community that is a haven for those who opt to have everything – living, shopping, dining, commerce, leisure and play – all at their fingertips.

Greenfield veers away from the norm by setting its community amidst sprawling nature.

“This community is patterned after a park-living concept where much of the space is devoted to lush greens, open spaces, parks and playgrounds. It is a city built within a park,” explained Atty. Duane AX Santos, EVP and GM of Greenfield. “We want those who work and reside here to experience suburban bliss while having modern and upscale conveniences.”

Driving along Sta. Rosa is a leisure hub not to be missed – the Paseo. A retail landmark situated amidst Greenfield City’s vast development, it has become a favorite shopping and dining destination of southerners.

Establishing a firm hold on bargain shoppers, it is dubbed the “country’s largest outlet mall” carrying top brands on sale every day. With pedestrian-friendly atmosphere and an open-air concept, Paseo is a lush alternative to congested malls.

Read more here:
Water features enhance life at Radiance Manila Bay

March 11, 2015

There is something about water that attracts us in a way that enhances our well-being. Understanding the regenerative effects of water in an urban setting, Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) is building a twin-tower residential condominium that’s a stone’s throw from Manila Bay.

With its North Tower coming in 2018, The Radiance Manila Bay will offer residents an unparalleled lifestyle and experience. The condos not only maximize the view of the famous sunset but also provide water features that soothe the senses.  Moreover, its location in Roxas Boulevard is at the cultural heartland of Manila.

Read more here:
PH must push for new global agreement on disaster risk reduction

The framework must inspire participation of disaster-affected communities in every stage of the process – from understanding risks and their impacts to effective governance and accountability

Alison Kent
Published 5:19 PM, Mar 12, 2015
Updated 5:28 PM, Mar 12, 2015
Read article here:
Tsunami 101: What you need to know about tsunamis

The Philippines is an archipelago located along the Pacific Ocean's Ring of Fire, making it vulnerable to earthquakes that may cause tsunamis
Gwen de la Cruz

Published 9:00 AM, Mar 12, 2015
Updated 11:49 AM, Mar 12, 2015
Read article here:
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Thursday, July 16, 2015
DBS retains Philippine growth forecast

By Lawrence Agcaoili, The Philippine Star
Posted at 07/15/2015 8:37 AM
MANILA - Singapore-based DBS retained its 2015 growth forecast for the Philippines at six percent amid the sharp 17.4-percent decline in merchandise exports last May.

“Overall GDP growth may still come in around six percent this year,” DBS said.

“While a moderation in export growth is widely anticipated this year, the May figure still came as a huge disappointment,” DBS said.

It said export growth could be barely in the positive this year after expanding by an average of 8.7 percent over the last three years.

“High base effects certainly played a part, but the current state of global demand also means it is getting harder to sustain high export growth year after year,” the investment bank said.

The country’s merchandise exports fell the most in three years after contracting by 17.4 percent to $4.9 billion in May from $5.9 billion in the same month last year amid the global economic slowdown.

This translated to a five-percent decline in merchandise exports to $24.77 billion in the first five months of the year from $23.54 billion in the same period last year.

DBS pointed out sustained strength in the overall manufacturing sector would help ease some burden off from services and construction sectors.

“More importantly, note that contribution from net exports to overall GDP growth has been fairly small in recent years Private consumption and investment growth have been pretty much the drivers of the 6.6-percent average growth in 2012-14,” it said.

Last May, DBS slashed the country’s GDP growth forecast to six percent instead of 6.3 percent after the lower-than-expected economic expansion in the first quarter of the year.

The country’s GDP growth slowed down to 5.2 percent in the first quarter of the year from 5.6 percent in the same quarter last year amid weak government spending.

The government expects the economy to grow between seven-and eight-percent this year.

The Singapore-based investment bank sees the country’s inflation falling within the two-to four-percent target set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Inflation eased to a 20-year low of 1.2 percent in June from 1.6 percent in May.

DBS said the BSP’s Monetary Board would likely keep key policy rates steady over the near term.

“No monetary policy response is likely in the near-term. It is interesting to see, however, if the central bank will spend more time discussing the relative strength of the peso,” the bank said.

The overnight borrowing rate is currently pegged at four percent while the overnight lending rate is at six percent.
PH badly needs key economic reforms

By Ray S. Eñano | Jul. 15, 2015 at 11:20pm
The Philippines may not realize it immediately, but it cannot compete under a free regional trade regime, or in a single market called the Asean economic community.

Philippine lawmakers and President Benigno Aquino III have ignored economic reforms that can make it at par with the advanced economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The local business community believes reforms must be done ASAP to prepare the Philippines for the AEC.

Economist Gerardo Sicat, a former director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority and ex-World Bank senior executive in-charge of its Public Economics Group, said the Philippines could be one of the least prepared for the regional free trade.

“Those countries with the freest and most flexible policy mechanisms will gain the most, while those burdened with domestic restrictions will be slowed down by those restrictions since they could prevent or cause investments from happening,” said Sicat in one of his papers.

The former top economist said the Philippines has not acted on “the most difficult reforms” it needs to capitalize on the free trade regime that will usher under the AEC.

“From personal observation, the most difficult reforms to undertake are often the last to be adopted,” Sicat said in an opinion essay. “I see that the main reforms we have to deal with [for instance, revisions of Constitutional economic provisions, labor market reforms, and investments in critical infrastructure] are stuck in Congress, in our own resistance, within the impasse of bureaucratic processes, and in the politics of wait—and—see.”

The Philippines, for instance, has lagged way behind its Asean neighbors—Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia—in the race for foreign direct investments, and is even having much difficulty keeping up with erstwhile tail-ender Vietnam.

The Philippine Business Group-Joint Foreign Chambers, whose members include 18 of the biggest and most active local and foreign business organizations in the country, has long urged the government to enact economic reforms to advance the Philippine economy.
SONA imperatives

In a May 15 letter to President Aquino ahead of his final State of the Nation Address, the PBG-JFC listed eight proposals that require prompt executive action and seven more needing swift congressional approval to cash in on the “unprecedented improvements in competitiveness, attractiveness to investment, and overall boost in the Philippine image in the eyes of the international community.”

PBG-JFC’s proposals for Palace action, including the formation of a public-private energy council to solve the power crisis, reducing the Foreign Investment Negative List of industries where foreign participation is limited, and speeding up the implementation of critical infrastructure projects, are designed to ensure massive job generation, facilitate trade and boost competitiveness.

The business grouping highlighted the importance of Resolution of Both Houses No. 1, or RBH 1, authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., whose congressional approval “will encourage greater foreign investment as well as prepare the country for high-level plurilateral agreements, such trade as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

TPP is the centerpiece of the US trade agenda of the Obama administration.

“The Philippines possesses immense untapped potential that will be unleashed with the proper environment and policies in place,” said PBG-JFC in its latest letter to President Aquino. “It is our common position that the enactment and implementation of the above measures will accelerate the country toward the progressive nation we all aspire to become.”

Belmonte’s RBH 1 seeks to lift the 60-40 rule—the constitutional proviso requiring Filipinos to own at least 60 percent of local businesses and for their foreign partners to own a maximum of 40 percent—in the 1987 Charter.

The House failed to pass RBH 1 before Congress adjourned in June 12, but there is enough time for lawmakers to clear it in the third and final regular session. They have seven working months to pass the crucial bill from the time both chambers open in July until they close in February 2016 in time for the national elections campaign period.

With the fast-approaching deadline for the creation of the AEC by end-2015, Philippines Inc. president Antonio Lopa called on the Aquino administration to support the calls to amend the economic provision of the 1987 Constitution.

 “By relaxing the limitations on foreign ownership, the Philippines will not only be able to participate in the TPP, but it will also be able to maximize its benefit from the Asean integration, and create much needed jobs for the Filipino people,” Lopa said.

“To realize inclusive growth, the country needs to further accelerate the velocity of growth by instituting a more open policy regime that nurtures a globally competitive investment climate that must be sustained beyond political timelines,” he said.
DOTC rolls out most expensive PPP yet
Posted at 07/15/2015 10:58 AM | Updated as of 07/15/2015 1:10 PM
MANILA – Government's most expensive public-private partnership (PPP) project so far is now up for bidding, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said Wednesday.

The DOTC has published an invitation to bidders for the P170.7-Billion South Line of the North-South Railway Project (NSRP), which involves the designing, constructing, financing, operating, and maintaining of a 653-kilometer rail system.

“This is our biggest project yet: the revival of the oldest rail system in Southeast Asia, beginning with the Manila-Legazpi section plus additional branch lines totaling 653 kilometers,” Transportation Sec. Jun Abaya said.

“Rail systems are a driver for inclusive socio-economic growth. They encourage trade and business activity, and provide access to employment and educational opportunities. The PNR, once a symbol of the country’s economic progress, should be modernized into a safe, convenient, and efficient system by 2020,” he added.

The winning bidder will be awarded the contact to design, construct, finance, operate, and maintain the following services:

• The 56-kilometer Commuter Rail service, for daily riders on the Tutuban, Manila to Calamba, Laguna route

• The 478-kilometer Long-Haul Rail service, for travelers on the Tutuban, Manila to Legazpi, Albay route

The Long-Haul service may also have the following extensions:

• 58 kilometers from Calamba, Laguna to Batangas City, Batangas

• 117 kilometers from Legazpi, Albay to Matnog, Sorsogon

The entire railway is expected to be operational in 2020, with 10 daily trips with seven train sets passing through 66 stations.

“This project will impact directly on a grassroots level. Those who have less in life, especially farmers and fisherfolk, will be given efficient means to expand their livelihood. This is our biggest project yet, and this is for those who need it most,” Abaya said.

The system is expected to yield a demand of 316,000 passengers per day on its opening year, and aims to entice around 44,000 public and private vehicle users to shift their commutes to the modernized railway.

DOTC is inviting both local and international companies to participate in the auction. A two-stage bidding process will be adopted, with the pre-qualification date targeted within the fourth quarter of 2015.

The bid opening is expected to be held in January 2016, and awarding is set in March 2016.
Palace: PH adheres to law on sea

By Sandy Araneta, Vito Barcelo | Jul. 16, 2015 at 12:01am
MALACANANG on Wednesday stressed its adherence to international law and a rules-based resolution to the disputes in the South China Sea in spite of China’s call to drop its arbitration case against it.

“The Philippines affirms its adherence to international law and preference for rules-based resolution of maritime entitlement issues,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a text message to reporters.

“The Philippines has presented its position before the UN’s Permanent Commission on Arbitrations [that] we consider to be the proper forum for the resolution of disputes.”

Coloma made his statement even as China on Wednesday said it will not accept any decision of a United Nations arbitration panel where the Philippines has filed a case to solve the dispute in the South China Sea, describing the proceedings as one-sided and involved “a third party.”

“We are the victim in the maritime dispute and China will oppose any move by the Philippines to initiate and push forward the arbitral proceeding,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said in an official statement posted online.

But Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said arbitration was an internationally recognized dispute settlement mechanism, and that it was also provided in UNCLOS.

“The arbitration would have been a good opportunity for china to explain the basis of its nine-dash line claim,” Jose said.

China on Tuesday urged the Philippines to drop its arbitration case over the South China Sea dispute to bring back the good relations between  both countries.

“China urges the Philippines to come back to the right track of resolving disputes through negotiation and consultation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

The Philippines has asked the United Nations tribunal in The Hague to declare China’s claims to virtually all of the South China Sea invalid, saying Beijing’s actions had trampled on other nations’ rights.

However, China maintained that it “will never accept the unilateral attempts to turn to a third party to solve the disputes.”

China contends the tribunal doesn’t have jurisdiction and has refused to participate in its proceedings.

China offered again to open bilateral negotiations to settle the maritime dispute, which the Philippines rejected.

Hua Chunying said Manila should return to negotiations and consultation with Beijing, which he described as the ‘’right approach’’ of resolving the matter.

Hua said Beijing still opposed Manila’s move to bring the issue to a United Nations-backed tribunal.

“On issues of territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, China will never accept any imposed solution or unilaterally resorting to a third-party settlement,” Hua said.

Hua said China was in fact the “victim” in the sea dispute, accusing the Philippines of illegally occupying some of the reefs in the South China Sea that Beijing treats as its territory.

“The origin and crux of the disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea lie in the territorial sovereignty disputes caused by the Philippines’ illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Islands since the 1970s, and the disputes concerning maritime rights and interests that arose thereafter,” Hua said.

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San Miguel, Megawide group qualify to bid for reg'l prison PPP
The new facility will accommodate 26,880 inmates and will include staff housing, administrative buildings, and areas for rehabilitation

Chrisee Dela Paz
Published 6:45 PM, July 15, 2015
Updated 6:45 PM, July 15, 2015
MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel Holdings Corporation and a group led by Megawide Construction Corporation have qualified to bid for the P50.18-billion ($1.11 billion) contract to build and maintain a new prison in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday, July 15, announced the two qualifying bidders among the 3 groups that submitted pre-qualification documents for the Regional Prison Facilities through a public-private partenership (PPP).

The two qualified groups are San Miguel Holdings and Mega Structure Consortium composed of Megawide, Citicore Megawide Consortium Incorporated, and GMR Infrastructure Singapore Private Limited.

The parent firm of construction giant DM Consunji Incorporated (DMCI), however, was disqualified.

“DMCI was disqualified for failure to submit complete required pre-qualification documents,” Rosario Elena Laborte-Cuevas, legal officer of DOJ's Pre-qualification, Bids and Awards Committee, said in a mobile phone reply.

The tentative schedule for the submission of bids by qualified bidders is on August 14, while the signing of the concession agreement is in September.

The tender for the P50.18-billion ($1.11 billion) deal involving the construction and development of a new prison facility, was launched in February.
Modernize prison facilities

Under this project, a new prison facility will be built to “provide adequate living space, facilities, and address the basic needs of inmates incarcerated in existing penal facilities such as the New Bilibid Prison and the Correctional Institution for Women.”

About 21,106 convicts at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City and 2,016 inmates at the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City will be transferred to the Nueva Ecija facility once construction is completed some time in 2019, according to the project brief.

According to the project information memorandum, the target date of the issuance of Notice of Award is on September 3. The target date of the contract signing for the winning bidder is on September 30, and of the issuance of Notice to Proceed, March 2016.

The winning concessionaire will be responsible for the financing, detailed design and construction, and maintenance of the prison facility for 23 years, inclusive of a 3-year construction period.

The new facility will accommodate 26,880 inmates, and include staff housing, administrative buildings, and areas for rehabilitation (sports, work and religious activities).

The Aquino administration has already awarded 10 PPP projects since 2010 with a total indicative cost of P189 billion ($4.19 billion). –
Trees in the city make you healthier – study

By Ed Biado | Jul. 15, 2015 at 07:30pm

It’s common knowledge that trees make the air and their general vicinity fresher, more beautiful. But in highly urbanized densely populated areas, there’s not a lot of them and we’ve always “paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” which results in the shrinkage and disappearance of green spaces. And if you need additional reasons to believe that we need more trees in the city, you should know that they may actually have a direct impact on your health and well-being.

Published in’s Scientific Reports, new research from the University of Chicago, Indiana University, the University of Adelaide, the University of Toronto, the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences and the David Suzuki Foundation found that people who live on city blocks with more trees are likely to be healthier than those who reside in neighborhoods with less trees.

The study took place in Toronto, Canada covering 530,000 individual trees planted on public areas and over 31,000 city residents.
Katipunan_Avenue in Quezon City

“We find that having 10 more trees in a city block, on average, improves health perception in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $10,000 and moving to a neighborhood with $10,000 higher median income or being seven years younger,” the researchers wrote.

Meanwhile, an 11-tree difference “decreases cardio-metabolic conditions in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $20,000 and moving to a neighborhood with $20,000 higher median income or being 1.4 years younger.”

Results “suggest that people who live in neighborhoods with a higher density of trees on their streets report significantly higher health perception and significantly less cardio-metabolic conditions.” To experience these benefits, increasing the street tree density by as little as four percent is hypothesized to be significant enough.

The paper acknowledges the “known” positive effects of trees in urban centers, such as improving air quality, reducing energy use for cooling and heating, and making the environments “aesthetically more preferable.” It also cites previous research on the physiological and psychological restorative effects of exposure to green spaces.

It seems that planting more trees is a cost-effective way to improve public health. Based on the findings, “improving health perception and decreasing cardio-metabolic conditions by planting 10 more trees per city block is equivalent to increasing the income of every household in that city block by more than $10,000, which is more costly than planting the additional 10 trees.”

Tree-lined streets and green spaces are common among Metro Manila’s gated communities, including Dasmariñas Village, Ayala Alabang Village and Forbes Park. But outside the subdivision walls, urban oases are hard to come by and the ones that remain are at risk of being completely annihilated. These include the Ayala Triangle Gardens, which tree population is set to be reduced once the northern part of the park gets turned into a mixed-use vertical development.
D.M. Wenceslao plans $250-M IPO

Posted at 07/15/2015 12:46 PM
MANILA - Philippine property firm D.M. Wenceslao and Associates Inc is considering raising up to $250 million from an initial public offering late this year or early in 2016, Thomson Reuters publication IFR reported.

Company director Delfin Wenceslao confirmed the IPO plan but declined to provide additional details.

"We have capital raising plans, which may include an IPO," Wenceslao told Reuters in a mobile text message on Wednesday.

From its beginnings in the 1960s as a general construction firm, D.M. Wenceslao has expanded into land banking, real estate development, land development and mass housing.

Its 204-hectare (504.09-acre) Aseana City project is beside Entertainment City, the Philippines' smaller version of the Las Vegas gaming strip.
Oceanway Residences Luxurious beachside living in Boracay

July 15, 2015

The lifestyle of living beside the world-famous beaches of Miami Beach and Santorini is the inspiration for Oceanway Residences, the first residential condominium cluster inside the 150-hectare Boracay Newcoast township in Boracay Island.

Oceanway Residences is being developed by Global-Estate Resorts, Inc. (GERI), a subsidiary of Megaworld. Oceanway Residences promises to offer amazing views of the Sibuyan Sea, the vast greenery of Fairways & Bluewater Golf Course and Mt. Luho, Boracay Island’s highest peak.

Oceanway Residences is divided into two phases. Once completed, this residential project will boast a total of seven towers with six stories each. It will offer units ranging from studios (up to 40.4 sqm), one-bedroom (up to 41.8 sqm), two-bedroom (up to 63.4 sqm) and three-bedroom (up to 126.8 sqm).

Located along Newcoast Drive, Oceanway Residences also offers first-class community beachside amenities as it is located at the heart of an integrated urban township inspired by the world’s best beach neighborhoods. Each cluster has a viewing deck, outdoor lounge deck and swimming pool.

Soon, residents and guests can also traverse the inclined stone streets in a colorful environment of numerous shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, an entertainment center and mid-rise residences.

Further up the estate are the exclusive residential properties that will give owners the privilege to see the island on a higher and distinct panoramic perspective.

A jetty port where yachts could be exclusively docked will be the start-off point for many of the estate’s guests and stakeholders. Also on both sides of the estate will soon thrive international brand hotels, an exclusive 18-hole golf course and other leisure centers.

With 60 percent of the development for open spaces and greenery, Boracay Newcoast will be the benchmark of environmentally-conscious urban planning with its pedestrian-friendly layout, as well as seamless arrangement of road networks, own sewage treatment plant, siltation tanks, and underground electrical lines.
A Place in the Sun

By Ana Warren González | Jul. 15, 2015 at 07:50pm

For a developing country that’s still trying to surmount economic challenges, this is a rather ironic reality: We have the highest electricity rate in Asia and we are charged exorbitant fees for a basic necessity we apparently can ill afford. Good thing then that the government has placed its support behind renewable energy initiatives, positioning the Philippines as a world leader in the technology with 30 percent of its power generation supported by the renewable energy sector. Looks like there’s hope on the horizon: the day will come when we spend more on ourselves than on our electricity bills.
The Blacks in the sun

Impossibly tall siblings Alex and Sara Black have begun Yes! Solar Cleantech – the local dealership for US-based renewable energy firm Yes! Solar Solutions. During his apprenticeship at non-profit Californian firm GRID Solutions, Alex discovered first-hand how transformative solar power is. “(Filipinos) have gotten so used to the traditional way of implicitly accepting a system where we never had a choice as to where our electricity would come from. We would walk into a home and plug in all our appliances and equipment only knowing that electricity came from somewhere, somehow.”

Dissatisfied with the status quo and recognizing that there were solutions readily available, Alex turned to his sister with a proposal: Change the way that future generations consume electricity. Sara, recognized as one of the country’s most amazing professional photographers, exclaims, “I immediately loved all the possibilities I saw for the product in the Philippines, given how abundant sunlight is here. I immediately told Alex, YES! I am in.”

The backbone of Yes! relies on the values that support the siblings, and their shared vision for the future of the nation. Alex’s vision is massive and worldwide. He quotes Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Laudato Si, in which His Holiness addresses climate change: “(The encyclical) stressed that developing nations such as the Philippines stand to be the most affected by climate change because of our large dependency on our natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing, and forestry.” It’s a fact: renewable energy will help address climate change. The Philippines is so battered and bruised by mutable weather conditions – climate change is something we all need to think about.

Sara’s values are more close to home. “Participating in solar energy helps each one of us to positively impact the environment by lessening our carbon footprint. Our vision is to create a community of people who live consciously, waste less, and gain more.” In fact, Sara connects the technology of Yes! to the recent movement of sustainable lifestyles. “I’ve been on this journey of wanting to live more consciously, starting with the way I consume food, how I nourish and exercise my body, how I have been developing my spiritual awareness. This technology just gives me another avenue to be more mindful about how I consume and waste, what my individual participation is in the world.”
Money out, benefits in

This renewable energy stuff is a bit of a Catch-22. Lots of people are wary to invest in it because of the steep initial investment. The developing world needs renewable energy more than ever to reduce carbon emissions and to cease the reliance on diminishing fossil fuels – yet by the nature of our economic situation, we’re hard-pressed to afford it. The siblings point out however that solar technology is the most affordable way to address renewable energy – and the easiest way for each individual to participate in the initiative to save Mother Earth.

To participate individually in the change that impacts a nation – this is indeed a worthwhile cause – and empowering indeed. Put it this way: We invest in our appearance, our businesses, in people we care about. We spend money on self-beautification, on commerce, on our loved ones. We might as well spend money on the planet as well.

As their website proclaims, Yes! is all about clean air – clear conscience. It’s been said so many times that it has become cliché, but it still rings true: We really all have a part to play in saving Mother Earth. It’s not enough to expect your neighbor or your government to do something about it; the change starts from within. As with all positive change, it rebounds back to you as well with tangible benefits.
No, Earth is not heading toward a ‘mini ice age’

By Chelsea Harvey July 14
This week, warnings of an impending “mini ice age,” set to hit in the 2030s, have been circulating in the media. It’s a story that has caused shivers among the public, but there’s one problem: Climate scientists aren’t buying it.

The ice age idea got rolling last week when researcher Valentina Zharkova, a professor of mathematics at Northumbria University in England, presented some of her recent research into solar variations at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Wales. The presentation was based on a study she had published last year in the Astrophysical Journal, which presented a technique for understanding variations in solar radiation and made some predictions about how this radiation will change in the near future. Most notably, the research predicts that between 2030 and 2040, solar activity should drop significantly, leading to a condition known as a “solar minimum.”

According to the research, solar activity at this time should resemble conditions last seen in the mid-1700s during a period known of low solar radiation known as the “Maunder Minimum.” The interesting thing about this period was that it coincided with a “little ice age” in Europe and North America — a time marked by unusually cold temperatures and bitter winters. Now that Zharkova and her colleagues are predicting another solar minimum coming up, media coverage has jumped on the idea that a modern “mini ice age” is in store.

It’s a dramatic idea, but it isn’t being embraced by many climate scientists, who argue that anthropogenic global warming — brought on by a human outpouring of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere — will far outweigh any climate effects that might be caused by the sun. As far as the solar variations go, “The effect is a drop in the bucket, a barely detectable blip, on the overall warming trajectory we can expect over the next several decades from greenhouse warming,” said Michael Mann, distinguished professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University, in an e-mail to The Washington Post.

However, the issue isn’t so simple for Zharkova, who is openly skeptical about the strength of anthropogenic greenhouse gases when compared to the influence of the sun.

On the one hand, Zharkova maintains that her research was not intended to make assumptions about the effects of solar variation on climate — only to lay out predictions about the solar activity itself. “What will happen in the modern Maunder Minimum we do not know yet and can only speculate,” she says. On the other hand, she adds, her gut assumption is that temperatures will drop as they did 370 years ago.

The reason, she says, is her belief that the sun is a bigger influence on earthly climate than the effects of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. “I am not convinced with the arguments of the group promoting global warming of an anthropogenic nature,” Zharkova says, adding that she would need to examine more research before she could take a clear stance on anthropogenic climate change. Given the right evidence, she says she might accept that human-caused climate change is a bigger factor — but her belief for the time being is that changes in solar radiation are likely to have a bigger influence on temperature changes on Earth, not just during times of solar minimum, but throughout history.

However, this belief is in direct contrast with much literature on the topic. Georg Feulner, deputy chair of the Earth system analysis research domain at the Potsdam Institute on Climate Change Research, co-authored a paper in 2011 specifically examining the effect a solar minimum might have on Earth’s climate. His paper, and subsequent related research has concluded that any solar-related temperature drops would be far outweighed by human-caused global warming. In the case of a solar minimum, such as the one predicted by Zharkova and colleagues, “The expected decrease in global temperature would be 0.1°C at most, compared to about 1.3°C warming since pre-industrial times by the year 2030,” Feulner wrote in an e-mail to the Post.

Complicating the matter further is the idea that the 17th century’s “little ice age” wasn’t even really the result of the solar minimum going on at the time. Feulner also authored another 2011 paper that concluded that volcanic activity was the major cause of a cooler climate during this time, rather than solar variations. The takeaway is that changes in solar radiation are unlikely to hold a candle to the climatic effects being brought about by human-related greenhouse gas emissions.

While Zharkova is one of a small minority of scientists who do not fully accept human activities as the greatest drivers of current climate change, she says she’s surprised at the media response her study has garnered. “I didn’t realize there would be such a strong response from the climate people,” she says, adding that she would need to repeat the calculations of mainstream climate scientists and examine the evidence herself to decide if she can accept their point that anthropogenic influences outweigh those of the sun.

So there may well be a solar minimum in store for the near future — but it’s still probably safe to put your scarves and mittens back in storage for now. Research in the area suggests that greenhouse gas-related warming, not solar variations, will be the dominant climate factor for many years to come.

Still, Zharkova cautions, there’s not much time left until her predicted solar minimum hits. “We have only 15 years to wait, so we’ll learn soon enough,” she says.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015
PHL among top FDI recipients in East Asia; still below peers

Posted on June 25, 2015 03:29:00 AM

THE PHILIPPINES has emerged anew among top foreign direct investment (FDI) destinations in East Asia, beating global and regional growth rates besides, but value of inflows still paled against those of comparable Southeast Asian peers, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in its World Investment Report 2015 released yesterday.

In a statement accompanying the report, UNCTAD said the Philippines climbed to 9th spot among the top 10 FDI recipients in East Asia (composed of Northeast and Southeast Asia) with $6.201-billion inflows from 10th place in 2013 with just $3.737 billion.

Global FDI inflows fell 16% annually to $1.23 trillion in 2014, dragged by the “fragility of the global economy, policy uncertainty for investors and elevated geopolitical risks.”

Philippine inflows, as tracked by the central bank, grew 65.9% to an all-time high last year, compared to East Asia’s 10% increment and Southeast Asia’s 5%.

The latest ranking, which used data from the Financial Times and UNCTAD’S FDI and Multinational Enterprises Database, showed China at the top of the heap with $128.5 billion last year from $123.9 billion in 2013.

UNCTAD’s report cited among contributors to Philippine FDI inflows last year Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd’s acquisition of an 11% stake in Emperador, Inc. -- a producer of brandy and other alcoholic beverages -- for $390 million, as well as the takeover by Angat Hydropower Corp. -- a subsidiary of Korea Water Resources Corp. -- of a hydroelectric plant in Bulacan for about $440 million.

As a fraction of Southeast Asian inflows, the Philippines grew to 4.7% of the region’s $132.867 billion last year from 3.00% of $126.087 billion in 2013.

In terms of value, however, Philippine inflows were still dwarfed by those of its comparable Southeast Asian peers:

• Singapore added 4% to $67.523 billion last year from $64.793 billion in 2013;

• Indonesia grew 20% to $22.580 bilion from $18.817 billion;

• Thailand lost 10% to $12.566 billion from $14.016 billion;

• Malaysia gave up 11% to $10.799 billion from $12.115 billion; while

• Vietnam gained 3% to $9.2 billion from $8.9 billion.

Latest available central bank data show the Philippines’ inbound FDI flows dropped by half to $851 million last quarter from $1.715 billion in 2014’s comparable three months.

“The common complaint of foreign investors is the state of infrastructure,” said Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) President Gilberto M. Llanto during the report’s launch yesterday in Makati City.

“They are also mostly concerned on the tax regime, policy uncertainty, and regulatory framework,” he added.

“What the government can do is continue the reforms.”

In the same briefing, PIDS Senior Research Fellow Erlinda M. Medalla cited the need to “relax foreign equity restrictions” in various industries. “Imagine if you are a foreign investor and you invest in a country where you have no control of your investments, why would you do that?”

Mr. Llanto added that while the country’s incentives “generally compare well” with others, one problem with the Philippines is that it has seven incentive-giving bodies. “In other countries, investors talk to only one. There is a harmonized investment regime so the rules are very efficient,” he noted.

The report, which is the 25th in the series, noted that countries’ investment policy measures last year continued “to be geared predominantly towards investment liberalization, promotion and facilitation,” with more than 80% aimed at improving “entry conditions and reduce restrictions.”

“A number of countries introduced or amended their investment laws or guidelines to grant new investment incentives or to facilitate investment procedures,” it added. “Several countries relaxed restrictions on foreign ownership limitations or opened up new business activities to foreign investment.
PSEi slips below 7,600 on foreign selling

By: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
THE LOCAL stock barometer slipped below 7,600 on Tuesday as foreign investors continued to pare down their position and dump large-cap stocks.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index lost 57.58 points or 0.76 percent to close at 7,551.56. Elsewhere in the region, stock markets were mostly higher on optimism that Greece will strike a deal with creditors to avoid a debt default.

At the local market, the decline was led by the industrial counter, which fell by 1.47 percent. This counter was weighed down by URC, which slid by 5 percent and was the most actively traded stock for the day.

The holding firms, services, mining/oil and property counters also ended lower while the financial sub-index was modestly down.

Some dealers said foreign investors were pocketing gains from local stocks in line with the rotation of funds to North Asia. There was P798 million in net foreign selling in the market for the day.

Value turnover amounted to P6 billion. There were 70 advancers which were edged out by 92 decliners while 50 stocks were unchanged.

Aside from URC, the PSEi was dragged down by selling on Bloomberry (-4.15 percent) and URC’s parent conglomerate JG Summit (-3.62 percent). AGI also faltered by 2.39 percent)

ALI, SMIC, EDC, BPI, SM Prime and Jollibee also slipped.

Outside of PSEi stocks, among the notable decliners were consumer stocks RRHI and Puregold which both slumped by over 2 percent.

Among those that bucked the downturn were utility Meralco and infrastructure    holding firm MPIC which both gained over 1 percent.

PLDT, Metrobank, BDO, GTCAP, AC and Megaworld also gained ground.
Philippines' biggest waste-to-fuel facility opens
Posted at 06/24/2015 5:16 PM

MANILA – The country's largest refuse derived fuel (RDF) facility dedicated to producing fuel from waste was launched Wednesday in Pasig City.

Private construction firm IPM Construction and Development Corp. led the launch together with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and Pasig City government.

"We're excited to launch this project and officially start its operation as we celebrate World Environment Day and as the Philippines observes Environment Month this June," Pasig City Mayor Maribel Eusebio said.

The RDF facility, which aims to address concerns on increasing municipal solid waste and disposal, can process 600 tons of trash per day to produce alternative fuel for cement plants.

The co-processing of RDF from municipal solid wastes for cement plants is an environment-friendly technology used in other countries.

The facility is majority-owned by Basic Environmental Systems & Technologies, Inc. (BEST), a subsidiary of listed Minerales Industrias Corp. (MIC), and France-based Lafarge Industrial Ecology International.

IPM will operate and manage the facility. -- With a report from Doris Bigornia, ABS-CBN News
Isko asked to explain zoning policy that favored ‘Torre de Manila’

by Charissa Luci
June 25, 2015

Manila City Vice Mayor Isko Moreno (Franscisco Domagoso in real life) will have a lot of explaining to do in connection with the controversial 49-story Torre de Manila condominium project of the DMCI Holdings, Inc., former Manila City Mayor now Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said yesterday.

Aside from incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and former mayor Alfredo Lim, Atienza said the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, chaired by Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo should also invite Moreno to explain his alleged involvement in the supposed revision of the original zoning policy in the granting of building permit that prodded Estrada and Lim to approve the DMCI project.

“Dapat ang tanungin diyan si Vice Mayor Moreno kung bakit binago ng city council na pinamumunuan niya ang zoning policy sa pagbibigay ng building permit (Moreno should be asked why the city council headed by Moreno changed the zoning policy in granting a building permit),” Atienza said.

Atienza also questioned the implementation of new rules that require contractors and developers to secure clearance from the city council before proceeding with their projects.

“He (Moreno) should be made to answer why there is a need to require developers and construction companies to get clearance from the city council,” he said, noting that such policy is “subject of many complaints.”

“What is the legal basis for that (permit from city council)? There is too much red tape here,” he said.

The DMCI was granted a building permit for its Torre de Manila project after submitting all requirements,

including an approval from the city planning office in the form of a zoning permit and after being cleared of any violations under the national building code and other laws.

Last year, the Manila City Council decided to suspend the building permit of the DMCI for Torre de Manila after the developer supposedly violated local zoning rules and after concerned citizens and heritage conservationist opposed the project.

But, the Manila Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals (MBZAA) granted DMCI’s appeal for exemption from local zoning laws.

Lawmakers earlier pressed on the DMCI to voluntary remove the Torre de Manila that is ruining the Rizal monument. But DMCI still proceeded with construction even if the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) ordered the suspension of Torre de Manila construction since January 13, 2014 through a Cease and Desist Order (CDO).

Last week, the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the DMCI construction.
Ombudsman upholds IBC-13 property deal

Philippine Daily Inquirer
06:45 AM June 25th, 2015
The Office of the Ombudsman has upheld the joint venture agreement entered into by state-owned broadcast network IBC-13 with a property developer as it dismissed the graft case filed against those who signed the contract in 2010.

In a 29-page resolution, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said the JVA entered into by former officials of IBC-13 for the development of its idle property in Quezon City was advantageous since the payment to the government helped alleviate the financial condition of the corporation, especially all its employees.

“The JVA, far from being grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government, proved to be in fact advantageous with its intention of alleviating the financial distress of IBC-13 employees, both supervisory and rank and file, through the payment of their long delayed employment wages and benefits,” the resolution said.
The case stemmed from a graft case filed on March 24, 2010 against former IBC officials and Primestate Ventures Inc., the winning bidder.

The Ombudsman stated “thus for all intents and purposes, the transaction between IBC-13 and R-11 Builders Inc./Primestate Ventures Inc. is a valid and legal JVA”.

Upholding the deal, the Ombudsman dismissed the graft case filed against former IBC officials, Jose B. Javier, President and CEO; Joselito G. Yabut, Chairman of the Board; and Conrado A. Limcaoco, Supervising Secretary ; and property developer Nathaniel L. Romero, President and Managing Partner of RII Builders/Primestate Ventures Inc. for lack of evidence. It also ruled that the JVA they entered into for the development of the IBC compound in Capitol Hills, Quezon City was advantageous to the government.

The move was taken to address the decades-long labor problem of IBC-13 brought about by the failure of previous government administrations to pay the long overdue salaries and benefits to its employees due to its financial condition.

However, the Ombudsman said IBC-13 before entering into the JVA, had sought the legal opinion of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, which said the JVA was in furtherance of its primary purpose.

The OGCC stated in its opinion to IBC-13 that “entering into a JV agreement to develop its mostly idle property in order to secure its existence as a broadcasting corporation, support its operations, and continue to provide salaries to its workers, is thus in furtherance of IBC’s primary purpose. After all, if it does not devise creative ways, such as this proposed JV agreement, to raise funds in order to keep it alive, it will not be able to serve its primary purpose at all.”

The Ombudsman noted that even the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and Office of Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) also declared that there was no legal impediment that prevents the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) from giving its consent to the IBC-13 into entering into the JVA which is clearly beneficial to IBC-13.

The PCGG through a resolution interposed no objection in principle to the proposed JVA upon its signing on March 24, 2010.
Developers getting constructive in payment scheme offers

June 24, 2015

Property developers in the country are now offering flexible payment schemes at friendlier price points to push their developments.

Families and buyers are now given more flexible payment schemes that work within their budgets. One such example is Rockwell Primaries that is offering more families the opportunity to find the right home.

“Finding the perfect home for your family is a challenge nowadays, most especially when it comes to the terms of payment. This is why we at Rockwell Primaries are offering an easier way for our homeowners to gain access to the home that they deserve,” said Malou Pineda, senior vice president at Rockwell Primaries Development Corporation.

For its 53 Benitez development in Quezon City, a two-bedroom unit, which already includes a parking slot and a drying cage, is offered at roughly P6.8 million and given at a discounted rate of P6.5 million for cash transactions. Payment terms are made lighter with a minimal reservation fee and a 5-percent down payment on the first month and 15-percent spread out over the next 12 months.

For the 15-percent amortization, owners can opt to choose whether they would like to amortize the whole 15% across 12 months or divide it between a 7.5% amortization for 12 months, and the other 7.5% paid in lump sum on the third, sixth, ninth and 12th months. The balance is to be paid through cash or bank financing upon turnover of the units, which is set in July 2016.

Located within minutes of New Manila, 53 Benitez is very accessible via main roads and is in perfect proximity to the metro’s top schools, hospitals, and commercial and business districts.

Aside from the basic comforts of each unit, thoughtful inclusions such as a maid’s room, an extra bathroom, storage areas, drying cages, and balconies are also offered. The property’s floating corridors and private bridgeways also give homeowners a sense of space and privacy.
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Friday, June 19, 2015
Super Mega Manila and urban renewal
The emergence of Super Mega Manila, or GCR, requires inward-looking redevelopment, or urban renewal, programs to complement the outward migration of its people and development

Philip M. Lustre Jr.
Published 8:00 AM, Jun 18, 2015
Updated 8:00 AM, Jun 18, 2015
The concept of Greater Manila surfaced in the 1960s to refer to old Manila and the adjacent cities of Kalookan, Pasay and Quezon. By a mere stroke of the pen, dictator Ferdinand Marcos expanded it to become Metro Manila in 1975 and include Greater Manila and 12 other cities and a town.

The same 17 political constituencies composed the modern-day Metro Manila. In 1989, Congress enacted the law creating the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) as an administrative superbody to provide them with basic services traffic management, garbage collection, and urban planning, among others.

In late 1990s, the Mega Manila concept had emerged to refer to expanded Metro Manila. It was largely used by corporate planners as a conceptual guide to cover areas within the 50-kilometer radius with old Manila as center. In broadcast industry, Mega Manila became a selling point as it referred to areas, which radio signals could reach.

The Mega Manila concept did not take off as a political concept but policymakers, urban visionaries, and corporate planners had nevertheless used it in their works to refer to expanded Metro Manila.

In the late 2000s, the concept of Super Mega Manila emerged to refer to an expanded Mega Manila, which referred to areas that go beyond the 50-kilometer radius.

Since rapid urbanization continues its frenetic pace outside Mega Manila, the Super Mega Manila concept has been lately refined and redefined to become the Greater Capital Region (GCR). It covers areas in the 100-kilometer radius with old Manila as center.

Lately, the creation of the GCR Special Administrative Region (GCR-SAR) by 2030 has been proposed to become a special political body to provide the region with full autonomy.

Even the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the coordinating agency of Japan’s official development assistance to developing countries, has used this concept as reference in its planning works.

As conceived in the 1990s, the Mega Manila concept originally included parts of Pampanga and Bulacan in Central Luzon, and Rizal, Laguna, Cavite and Batangas in Southern Tagalog.

Mega Manila extended to Tagaytay City in the south, Malolos City in the north and the towns of Tanay in Rizal and Angat, and Norzagaray in Bulacan in the east.

The Super Mega Manila concept, or the refined Greater Capital Region, seeks to include Mega Manila and the areas extending to entire Pampanga and Bulacan, parts of Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, and Bataan in Central Luzon, and entire Cavite and Rizal, and parts of Batangas, Quezon, and Aurora in the Southern Tagalog region.
Coherent whole

Studies of urban planners, including JICA, said the GCR concept and the 2030 creation of the GCR-SAR address the rapid urbanization of Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.

Its development into a coherent geographical whole is being sought to improve the delivery of the following services: garbage disposal, waste and sanitation, traffic management, flood control, urban renewal and environmental planning, and disaster management.

The proposed GCR-SAR creation has become necessary as development projects keep on sprouting in every nook and cranny of the GCR area.

Several housing projects have mushroomed to shelter the growing population. Industrial enclaves and factories have been relocating there, too.

Also, the government has been building several big-ticket infrastructure projects there.

In fact, development centers have come out in the north, south and east of Mega Manila, or outside of the 50-kilometer radius.

Every development center has specific characteristics to make it distinct and unique.
Super metropolis

The imperative is to connect these development centers into a single, integrated, cohesive, and functional whole to maximize economic growth and development.

Hence, Super Mega Manila, or GCR, is an emerging super metropolis.

It is the perceived result of the integration of at least three development centers outside Mega Manila: the Olongapo-Angeles corridor, the Lipa-Batangas City corridor and the Calabarzon integrated industrial center, which is spread in San Pedro, Canlubang, Cabuyao, Biñan, Sta. Rosa City and Calamba City in Laguna, and Gen. Mariano Alvarez, Rosario, Dasmariñas City, and Silang in Cavite.

The JICA concept paper on GCR-SAR justified its creation because Regions 3 and 4 have to mitigate the increasing growth pressures on Metro Manila.

It has identified interventions on key areas: integrated transport for urban and rural mobility; disaster preparedness and resilience; environment and high quality public space; affordable housing and delivery; and land use management and development control.

The JICA concept paper spoke of a plan to build urban roads and expressways, and urban railways for integration into a coherent public transport system, pursue housing programs to include informal settlers and construct gateway ports and airports, and install traffic management systems.

The overall investment cost could reach P3 trillion, or $58 billion, until 2030.

These are not all. Urban planners have failed to consider that as outward urbanization continues, inward redevelopment emerges as an issue too.
Stop Manila's decay

Hence, the outward trend would have to be complemented by an inward move to stop decay at the aging cities, particularly the very center of growth – old Manila.

Urban planners have to pursue with vigor and dynamism the redevelopment of old Manila to bring back its old glory and stop its decay at its core.

The nation needs symbols. Manila, with all its splendor and glory reminiscent of its past, has to continue to embody its gentle soul and tranquil nature that goes back to the old colonial and postcolonial days.

While growth and development are unstoppable, urban planners have to look at maintaining and strengthening the old symbols of nationhood. Their destruction is criminal.

But the redevelopment of old Manila should not be limited to Manila alone. It has to include Quezon City, the country’s largest city in population.

While the move to make it the nation’s information and communications center is laudable, its planners have to move to make it a showcase of urban redevelopment, primarily to improve the quality of life of its almost two million inhabitants.

In short, the emergence of Super Mega Manila, or GCR, requires inward-looking redevelopment, or urban renewal, programs to complement outward migration of its people and development.

Urban decay has to be stopped too. Hence, redevelopment is a must. –
Construction materials prices slightly higher in May in Metro Manila

June 19, 2015 12:21am
Construction materials were sold at higher prices in the National Capital Region last month, data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority on Wednesday show.
The construction materials retail price index rose to 179.6 points in May from over 179.4 points in April, mainly driven by the slight increase in the prices of electrical and painting materials.
Prices of electrical materials, including wires and some wiring devices, generally increased 0.6 percent while painting materials and related products were priced 0.5 percent higher. The price index for masonry materials also increased 0.1 percent in May.
Plumbing and tinsmithry materials, meanwhile, were 0.1 percent and 1.2 percent more costly while prices for carpentry materials and miscellaneous construction materials remained the same.
Construction materials, however, were priced higher in the region during the same month in 2014. The latest index was 0.2 percent lower, on the back of a 2.3 percent and 5.9 percent decline in prices of electrical and miscellaneous construction materials.
The index for plumbing and tinsmithry materials were also slightly lower by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. The price increase in carpentry materials slowed down to 2.3 percent.
Painting materials and related compounds were 2.5 percent more expensive while prices for masonry materials were 1.6 percent higher in May 2014.  — Keith Richard D. Mariano/ELR, GMA News
New P3-B port rising in Bataan

By Lawrence Agcaoili, The Philippine Star
Posted at 06/18/2015 7:21 AM
MANILA, Philippines - The tandem of Filipino-owned Seasia Logistic Philippines Inc. and London-based Nectar Group Ltd. expects to complete the first phase of a P3-billion development port project in Bataan.

Seasia president Rafael Cosme said in an interview with The STAR that phase 1 of the port development project of Seasia Nectar Port Services Inc. (SNPSI) worth P1.2 billion, covering 5.9 hectares would be completed within the year.

Cosme said the port facility could accommodate two supramax vessels about 120 meters long and would be equipped with a 247-meter quay that could handle a capacity of at least three million tons per year.

Phase 1 would have an operational area of 3.2 hectares as well as truck holding area of 2.7 hectares.

SNPSI is 60 percent owned by Seasia Logistics and 40 percent by the Nectar Group.

The planned dry bulk terminal is designed to handle shipment of coal, clinker, silica sand and other cement raw materials, steel, fertilizer and other dry bulk cargo.

Cosme said SNPSI would be pouring another P600 million for phase 2 that would cover another 1.1 hectares and extending the berth by another 100-meter quay, allowing the facility to handle one supramax or panamax vessels.

Cosme also said that phase 3 is expected to cost around P1.2 billion, covering 4.4 hectares and another 200 meters of quay.

“It will be market driven,” Cosme said referring to the start of the construction of phases 2 and 3.

With the completion of phase 1, he said the company would start handling the clinker as well as coal shipments of Holcim Philippines.

“Right now they are using a handymax vessels carrying between 30,000 and 40,000 metric tons per shipment. We will also handle their coal shipments which comes in by barges,” he said.

For the second phase, Cosme said SNPSI would be looking at steel shipments and even containerized shipments of locators inside the freeport area of Bataan.

Services to be offered by SNPSI include berth management, guaranteed discharge rate as per agreement, proper storage and loading of cargo onto trucks, efficient system of discharging and stacking, truck tires and chassis washing, weighing in and out of trucks, among others.

SNPSI chairman Ramon Atayde said the dry bulk terminal in Mariveles, Bataan would help resolve congestion at the ports of Manila.

Atayde said ports operating in Manila include the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) of International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), the South Harbor of Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI), the North Harbor of Manila North Harbour Port Inc., and a private-owned Harbour Center.

He pointed out that Bataan is nearer by sea to Manila compared to the Subic Bay Freeport economic zone.

Deogracias Custodio, chairman of the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB), said the proposed facility would allow the zone to attract new locators.