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Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Philippines' urban density getting worse - World Bank

ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 01/26/2015 3:45 PM | Updated as of 01/26/2015 6:00 PM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/01/26/15/philippines-urban-density-getting-worse-world-bank
 
MANILA, Philippines – The country's urban areas, particularly Metro Manila, is getting more populated and is showing no signs of slowing down, according to a recent report by the World Bank.

The World Bank’s East Asia’s Changing Urban Land Escape report showed that the Philippines has the fifth-largest populated urban areas in the region, increasing at a rate of 3.3 percent annually to 23 million in 2010 from only 17 million people in 2000.

The country’s average population density in urban areas is second only to Korea, reaching 10,300 people per sq. km. in 2010 from from 9,500 people in 2000.

Metro Manila is the country’s densest city with 16.5 million people as of 2010 while the second most populated area in the country is Cebu with 1.5 million.

“The Manila urban area is the Philippines’ undisputed primate city, with no close competitors. In 2010, it had 56 percent of the urban land in the country and more than 70 percent of the country’s urban population,” the report said.

Metro Manila’s land area has expanded in the last 10 years, but the report said the expansion grew at a much slower rate compared with the growth in population.

The report said Metro Manila’s land area increased 2.2 percent per year to 1,300 sq. km. from 1,000 from 2000 to 2010.

However, population grew with a rate of 3.1 percent annually or to 16.5 million people from 12.2 million.

“Like almost all urban areas in the country, [Metro] Manila is becoming even denser. Its population density increased from 11,900 people per square kilometer to almost 13,000 between 2000 and 2010,” the World Bank said.

World Bank also noted that nearly all the new developments for residents or about 94 percent were located Metro Manila’s neighboring provinces of Cavite, Bulacan and Laguna.

The population growth, however, occurred mostly in Quezon City, Caloocan City, and Manila.

“The City of Manila the densest local unit (almost 48,000 people per sq. km.). In total, the administrative area of Metro Manila added nearly 2.3 million additional residents with a negligible increase in urban built-up area (just 14 sq. km.),” it said.

Outside of Metro Manila, Cebu has the largest population, growing rapidly at a rate of 4.1 percent to 1.5 million from 1 million between 2000 and 2010. The cities of Angeles City, Davao and Bacolod, meanwhile, are in the 500,000 to 1 million population range in 2010.
 
Banks set tighter standards for household borrowers

By Kathleen A. Martin, The Philippine Star
Posted at 01/24/2015 9:27 AM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/01/24/15/banks-set-tighter-standards-household-borrowers
 
MANILA, Philippines - Local banks tightened their credit rules for household borrowers in the fourth quarter, according to a survey by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

“The DI (diffusion index) approach… indicated a net tightening of overall credit standards for household loans owing largely to perceived stricter financial system regulations,” according to the latest Senior Loan Officers Survey.

“In particular, banks’ responses indicated reduced credit line sizes for auto loans and wider loan margins for personal and salary loans,” the BSP said.

Household loans pertain to finance auto loans, credit card loans, personal or salary loans, and housing loans.

A diffusion index of 14.3 percent was recorded for the fourth quarter, higher than the 9.5 percent in the third quarter, the BSP survey showed. This is the fifth consecutive quarter the index showed a net tightening for credit standards for household loans.

The diffusion index approach measures the proportion of banks that tightened credit standards versus those that eased them. A positive index means more banks tightened their standards, while a negative one shows there were that loosened them.

“Most of the respondent banks foresee maintaining their credit standards over the next quarter,” the BSP said.

“However, some banks expect overall credit standards to tighten slightly due to expectations of continued strict financial system regulations and banks’ reduced tolerance for risk, among others,” the central bank added.

On the other hand, banks maintained their credit standards for enterprises in the fourth quarter, the same survey showed.

“The unchanged overall credit standards was attributed by banks to their steady outlook on the domestic economy as well as specific industries, such as wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, and real estate, renting and business activities, among others,” the BSP said.

The central bank said the banks still expect to maintain credit standards for enterprises in the first quarter of the year.

Looking at loan demand, the BSP said a diffusion approach showed a net increase in overall demand for corporate and household loans.

“The net increase in loan demand for businesses was attributed by banks to clients’ improved outlook on the economy as well as increased inventory financing needs of borrower firms, among others,” the central bank said.

“Meanwhile, the net increase in overall demand for household loans reflected higher housing investment, lower interest rates, and more attractive financing terms offered by banks,” the BSP said.

The quarterly survey has been conducted by the central bank since the first quarter of 2009 to review banks’ credit standards, demand conditions for loans, and potential risks in asset markets.

For the fourth quarter survey, questions were sent to 35 universal and commercial banks, with only 34 responding.
MPIC to pursue NLEX-SCTEX link project

ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 01/26/2015 6:24 PM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/01/26/15/mpic-pursue-nlex-sctex-link-project
 
MANILA – Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) said it will continue to pursue the infrastructure project that will integrate the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).

“We’ve made that proposal many years ago so it is something that we support — the integration of NLEX and SCTEX,” MPIC chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said on Monday.

MPIC’s tollway arm, Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC), and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) are looking to sign the integration agreement by February.

“We are having the signing of the integration agreement, it is tentatively scheduled on February 5,” MNTC president Rodrigo Franco said.

Franco said around P600 million will be spent for the integration project, which includes the relocation of the toll plaza, additional toll booths, and the deployment of the electronic payment system.

The integration works will begin immediately after the signing of the agreement.

Franco said MNTC is targeting to complete the NLEX-SCTEX integration by November.

Meanwhile, the firm said it will have to carefully evaluate the offers for the operation and maintenance of the 94-kilometer SCTEX under the Swiss challenge process.

Pangilinan said MNTC has the right to match any offer submitted by the interested groups.

“We have the right to match. I think we will just have to wait for the number and look, consider, and assess it carefully,” he said.

The interested firms include San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and a group represented by the law firm of Aguirre, Abano, Pamfilo, Paras, Pineda, and Agustin.

The interested parties were given until January 30 to submit their bids. The contract is scheduled to be awarded to the winning bidder in March.

The companies will be required to match the P3.5 billion offer made by MNTC, and share 50 percent of the gross toll revenues with the BCDA.

The concession is valid until 2043, and will continue the integration of NLEX and SCTEX.
 
BGC 26th Avenue picked as train stop

By Chrisee J. V. Dela Paz, Reporter
Posted on January 26, 2015 10:28:00 PM
http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Corporate&title=BGC-26th-Avenue-picked-as-train-stop&id=101553
 
THE COUNTRY’s first subway will count 26th Avenue in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) as a train stop, the head of the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center said.

A committee of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) committee has picked the upscale street as the site for one of the stations for the proposed P378.33-billion Makati-Pasay-Taguig Mass Transit Loop, PPP Center Executive Director Cosette V. Canilao said.

The decision was made after technical advisors assured the Manila Golf and Country Club that the undertaking will not disrupt the latter’s operations, she added.

But it is the NEDA Board, where President Benigno S. C. Aquino III sits as chairman, that has the last say.

“There’s a preferred alignment attached to the condition for approval, it’s the 26th street [sic] but that’s for the NEDA-ICC (Investment Coordination Committee), it might change in the NEDA Board,” Ms. Canilao told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Makati City on Friday.

“There’s continuous discussion with Manila Golf if it will be felt on the surface. Our technical advisors assured that engineering solutions will be implemented for them not to feel it. They are open to it, the dialog is still continuing,” she added.

The subway system was one of the seven infrastructure projects approved by the NEDA committee last Jan. 14.
ALI to expand mall portfolio

By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 26, 2015 - 12:00am
http://www.philstar.com/business/2015/01/26/1416688/ali-expand-mall-portfolio
 
MANILA, Philippines - Property powerhouse Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) plans to put up a slew of new large-scale shopping centers in the next five years as part of the company’s vision 2020 program.

In an interview, ALI chief finance officer Jimmy Ysmael said the property unit of the country’s oldest conglomerate would pursue growing its mall portfolio as it has no intention of being left behind in the battle for mall supremacy in the Philippines.

Ayala malls of the Zobel family, together with SM malls of the Sy family and the Robinsons malls of John Gokongwei Jr.’s clan, are the leaders when it comes to shopping center development in the country.

“There will be a lot of new shopping center developments which is really aligned with our 2020 vision where we intend to expand the portfolio of shopping centers,” Ysmael said.

Ysmael said Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod and Iloilo are the sites outside Metro Manila where ALI is looking to put up its new mall offerings in the coming years.

Within Metro Manila, he said the Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati is a potential location for another Ayala mall.

Ysmael said ALI is not likely to venture into developing small, community malls yet so its upcoming mall developments would continue to be large-scale shopping centers.

 “What we are looking at more now is to concentrate in bigger developments because it actually takes the same effort to actually plan, build, and manage a small mall compared to a bigger one. So if you would want to achieve the scale that you want to achieve, we’d rather do it on a bigger manner and we have the land bank to do that, especially within the Metro Manila,” he said.

Aside from building new malls, Ysmael said ALI would also be continuing the expansion of its existing malls.

ALI’s mall portfolio includes the TriNoma mall in Quezon City, Glorietta and Greenbelt shopping centers in Makati, Market Market in Fort Bonifacio, and Marquee mall in Pampanga, to name a few.

Total gross leasable area of all ALI malls across the country stood at 1.33 million square meters as of end September 2014.

It has an average occupancy rate of 93 percent with an average building lease rates of about P1,134 per square meter a month.

 “In the case of shopping centers, we normally redevelop every now and then, as what we’re seeing in Ayala center in Makati. Redevelopment continues so we really look at retail as more of an interim use at the end of the day. As the community develops, we can redevelop and increase density,” he said.

ALI’s 2020 vision is to grow its earnings by at least 20 percent annually to achieve a net income of P40 billion by 2020.

Aside from expanding its shopping centers, Ysmael said part of the plan is to aggressively expand ALI’s office, hotel and resort portfolio “to achieve the balance growth between development and recurring income.”
Why Sta. Lucia ventured into house construction

ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 01/26/2015 4:54 PM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/01/26/15/why-sta-lucia-ventured-house-construction

MANILA – Sta. Lucia Land Inc. (SLI) is confident that its house construction arm, Sta. Lucia Homes (SLH), will help address the gap between lot buyers and contractors.
SLI said it has seen that most of its lot buyers face issues such as limited access to contractors and bank financing in building their homes.

“Majority of our lot buyers do have the intention and the initial capital to construct houses, but has limited access to contractors, difficulty in securing the necessary business permits and little or no access to bank financing,” said David dela Cruz, SLI and SLH executive vice president and chief financial officer.

“We have seen this gap and decided to offer our buyers a reliable contractor to address all their construction, documentation and financing needs,” he added.

SLI incorporated SLH in 2014 to offer construction services to its more than 120,000 lot buyers.

“SLH is the company’s contribution to the country’s housing backlog of 3.9 million houses, which benefits not just our current customers but the communities within the area as property values will increase once houses are constructed and communities are developed,” the company said.

SLH general manager Ria Rivadeneira said the firm estimates that more than 60,000 of its lot buyers nationwide have yet to build homes.

She admits that constructing homes for its lot buyers is a challenge, but noted that its agents are still in touch with thousands of lot buyers who have yet to build houses.

“All we need to do is to reestablish these relationships,” she said.

The firm also believes that house construction is not only profitable, but will also give a significant boost to its financial performance.
Larossa building set to bloom in Quezon City’s first botanical ville

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 26, 2015 - 12:00am
http://www.philstar.com/business/2015/01/26/1416693/larossa-building-set-bloom-quezon-citys-first-botanical-ville
 
MANILA, Philippines - A unique residential building with natural lighting and cooling features is set to be topped off and made to blossom in all its glory in Quezon City’s first and only urban botanical village now fast taking shape in a prime and prestigious address in Capitol Hills.

The structural top-off completion in the last week of January has been announced, making the building a grand showcase of nature-based construction technology. Named “Camia,” the building has its lower levels in the finishing phase for its turnover early this year.  Another two buildings, Sampaguita and Magnolia, in Phase 1were also announced to be in full-blast construction for completion towards the end of the year.

The construction and development of the project dubbed “Larossa in Capitol Hills” is being handled by Primehomes Real Estate as one of the multi-billion projects in prime locations awarded to the company for masterplanned development.

Run by the country’s top architects, Primehomes is developing the Larossa as a mid-rise residential condominium community of 10-storey residential buildings with basement parking and roofdecks elegantly designed to complement the playful 3.6-hectare terrain, featuring century-old trees and lush vegetation dominating the open space that accounts for 65 percent of the property.

Larossa in Capitol Hills is envisioned to redefine what living in harmony with nature is all about to “create communities that matter.”  This concept involves the use of natural materials to create the ideal natural environment for aesthetics, recreation and relaxation.

Located in one of the highest peaks of the metropolis in the heart of Quezon City, Larossa is surrounded by the remaining chunks of the city’s natural greenery and just a five-minute drive to the country’s top universities University of the Philippines – Diliman and Ateneo de Manila and commercial hubs UP-Ayala Technohub and UP Town Center.

For more information, visit www.primehomes.com.ph and www.larossa.com.ph. Model units are available for viewing at the LAROSSA in Capitol Hills showroom, Capitol Hills Drive cor. Zuzuaregui Road, Old Balara, Quezon City.
How to save on real estate taxes

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 26, 2015 - 12:00am
http://www.philstar.com/business/2015/01/26/1416695/how-save-real-estate-taxes
 
MANILA, Philippines - The Center for Global Best Practices will hold a special one-day seminar entitled, “Optimizing Tax Savings for Real Estate Transactions” on Feb. 20 at The EDSA Shangri-la Hotel, Mandaluyong City.

This comprehensive program will discuss the legally permissible means of avoiding taxes in real estate transactions. The lecture will also include updates, examples, new regulations and specific situations that will be discussed thoroughly to guide participants in executing their plans or solving their tax problems and issues effectively.

Featured speaker is expert tax practitioner Francisco Gonzales, CPA, and a partner at Ong Meneses Gonzales & Gupit Law Offices where he specializes in tax practice. He is a faculty at the Ateneo Law School since 1997 and a bar review lecturer at the same school since 2002 up to the present. He served as the executive director of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants from July 2006 until June 2010.

For details and a complete list of seminars, check www.cgbp.org or call the Center for Global Best Practices in Manila 556-8968/ 69, Cebu (032) 512-3106/ 07 or Baguio (074) 423-5148.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Land values in Metro continue to rise

By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 28, 2015 - 12:00am
http://www.philstar.com/business/2015/01/28/1417441/land-values-metro-continue-rise

MANILA, Philippines - Land values in Metro Manila continued to rise as of end-September last year, boosted largely by the sustained strong demand for office space in the capital, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said.

Implied land values in the Makati central business district (CBD) went up 35 percent to P435,000 per square meter in the third quarter from a year ago, the central bank said, citing data from Colliers International.

The latest level is also 19 percent higher than the P366,425 per sqm recorded in the second quarter of last year, the BSP said.

“The significant increase in the Makati CBD land value is primarily attributed to the sale of JAKA Tower, an unfinished office building located along the prime area of the business district,” the central bank said.

In Ortigas center, land values grew nine percent to P154,000 per sqm in the third quarter versus the same period in 2013. It was also three percent higher than the P149,365 per sqm recorded in the second quarter of 2014.

“Implied land values in the Makati CBD were slightly above their 1997 levels in nominal terms, but only about 45.1 percent of their 1997 levels in real terms,” the BSP said.

“Meanwhile, land values in the Ortigas Center were lower than their comparable levels in 1997 in both nominal and real terms by about 79 percent and 34.8 percent, respectively,” the central bank said.

Nominal figures refer to the actual price in 1997, while real terms are nominal values adjusted for inflation.

At the same time, the BSP said office vacancy rate in the Makati CBD slid to 1.9 percent in the third quarter last year from 2.1 percent in the second quarter.

“This was due to continued strong office demand amid limited office supply in the Makati CBD. The office vacancy rate is estimated by Colliers to narrow further to 1.6 percent in Q3 2015,” the central bank said.

Residential vacancy rate, meanwhile, also went down to 8.1 percent in the third quarter from 10.6 percent in the second quarter.

The BSP said there were higher occupancy rates observed in high-rise residential segments although Colliers International expects the rate to go up to 10.7 percent by the third quarter of this year as more units will become available.
SMC, Ayala-MPIC, 2 others to vie for LRT-2 deal

Miguel R. Camus
Philippine Daily Inquirer
10:47 PM | Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
http://business.inquirer.net/185623/smc-ayala-mpic-2-others-to-vie-for-lrt-2-deal
 
CONGLOMERATES San Miguel Corp., Aboitiz Equity Ventures, DMCI Holdings Inc. and the Ayala Corp.- Metro Pacific Investments team yesterday signified formally their intention to participate in the bidding for the long-term operations and maintenance contract for the Light Rail Transit Line 2 in Metro Manila.

The four groups partnered with various international railway operators ahead of the submission of qualification documents for the LRT-2 public-private partnership deal, said Michael Sagcal, spokesman for the Department of Transportation and Communications.

San Miguel partnered with Korea Railroad Corp., DMCI unit D.M Consunji Inc. partnered with Tokyo Metro Co. of Japan, Aboitiz Equity Ventures partnered with Singapore’s SMRT Transportation and Ayala-Metro Pacific-led Light Rail Manila partnered with France’s RATP Dev.

The qualification process is meant to determine which groups will be allowed to submit technical and financial offers. The deadline for qualification documents was pushed back from last month after several bidders sought more time.

“Railway modernization entails improving infrastructure and shifting services toward better customer-orientation. Our projects for LRT-2 will make fast, affordable, and convenient transportation accessible to residents of the densely populated parts of Rizal, such as Antipolo and Cainta,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said in a statement.

The LRT-2 PPP deal calls for the private sector to operate and maintain the existing line for a period of 10 years, extendable by another five years.

The 13.8-kilometer LRT-2 line runs from Recto Avenue to the Depot at Santolan Street along Marcos Highway. It currently traverses the cities of Manila, San Juan, Quezon City, Marikina, and Pasig. The railway line handled almost 200,000 people per day in 2014, latest data from the Light Rail Transit Authority showed.

John Eric Francia, managing director at Ayala, said it made sense for their group to pursue the LRT-2 deal because Light Rail Manila in 2014 already bagged the P65-billion LRT-1 Cavite extension PPP.

“We can leverage our capabilities and provide consistent quality service between the lines,” Francia said.

The transportation department will separately build an “East extension,”  from Santolan to the Masinag market in Antipolo City along Marcos Highway. Once completed, the LRT-2 concessionaire will also operate the extension project.
City of Dreams Manila all set for grand launch

ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 01/27/2015 10:22 AM | Updated as of 01/27/2015 11:31 AM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/01/27/15/city-dreams-manila-all-set-grand-launch
 
MANILA, Philippines - City of Dreams Manila is gearing up for its official grand launch on February 2.

Developer Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corporation said more than 600,000 have visited the integrated casino-resort during its "sneak preview" period which started last December 14. Around 20,000 visited the casino on its first day alone.

The grand launch will be led by Melco Crown Entertainment co-chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho and co-chairman James Packer, as well as Melo Crown Philippines chairman and president Clarence Chung.

"Our official Grand Launch finally delivers our stated commitment to bring Manila its first international integrated leisure destination offering. The new resort complex will deliver a diverse collection of contemporary leisure and lifestyle brands from all over the world, including Crown, Nobu, Hyatt and the Pangaea Group, who are behind the world's most successful nightclubs and lounges," Chung said.

City of Dreams Manila had generated a lot of buzz for its promotional trailer directed by Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese and featured Hollywood stars Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio.

City of Dreams Manila will have an opening concert on February 2, with international R&B star Ne-Yo as the headliner. The concert will also feature Gary Valenciano, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Kyla, and Jed Madela.

The resort complex is located at Entertainment City, which the Philippines is hoping will rival Macau as the region's gaming hub.
STI inaugurates P250M academic center in Batangas

Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
10:46 AM | Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
http://business.inquirer.net/185601/sti-inaugurates-p250m-academic-center-in-batangas
 
MANILA, Philippines — Educational network operator STI Education Systems Holdings Inc. has inaugurated a P250-million new academic center in Batangas City in line with its nationwide expansion program.

The new academic center with a footprint of 5,621 square meters along Kumintang Ibaba stands on three floors and houses fully air-conditioned classrooms with LCD projectors and lighting systems, according to the STI’s disclosure filed with the Philippine Stock Exchange Tuesday.

The new center also has a library filled with updated research materials, Internet and WiFi connection and industry-grade simulation laboratories aimed at providing modern and conducive learning environment for its students.

STI said that with classes already ongoing since June 2014, STI Batangas has been ready to welcome up to 1,500 students taking courses under Information and Communications Technology, Business and Management, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Arts and Sciences and Engineering. This academic center is also one of the pioneer senior high schools nationwide with permit from the Department of Education to educate Grades 11 and 12 students.

“As we continue to grow our reach and improve our campuses nationwide, we are also building stronger foundations in education for those who are entrusting their future to us,” STI president Monico Jacob said.

“We believe that as we strive to continually improve the quality of education we have in STI, our commitment to nurture the growth of our students to become competent and responsible members of society remains our ultimate priority. This is also why the whole STI community is always driven to thrive for academic excellence and ensuring that our facilities, our campuses will serve as one of the important tools that will help us deliver world-class education to our students. From the facilities, to the curriculum and to the services that we provide, we are committed in finding ways to bridge the gap between graduates and the requirements of industries in various fields,” Jacob added.

STI Academic Center Batangas is the first of four of such STI centers to debut in the first quarter of this year. The others are in Calamba, Cubao and Lucena.

The Tanco-led network has existing centers in Bonifacio Global City, Naga, Fairview, Alabang, Novaliches, Malolos, Ortigas-Cainta and Caloocan.

The network also operates iAcademy, a college that provides specialized and industry-based Information and Communications degree programs; alongside West Negros University in Bacolod City. iAcademy has likewise inaugurated its eight-floor innovation center in Makati, investing on high-end technology and equipment in classrooms, a Cintiq laboratory for design students, computer laboratories, auditorium and customized student lounge.
Regus to open 4 more centers in PH

Ben O. de Vera
Philippine Daily Inquirer
3:15 AM | Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
http://business.inquirer.net/185582/regus-to-open-4-more-centers-in-ph
 
MANILA, Philippines–Regus, a global provider of “flexible workspace,” said it would open four more business centers in key commercial hubs in Metro Manila by the end of April this year.

In a statement, Regus said one new center each in the cities of Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig and Taguig would be opened in the first four months as part of its “unprecedented expansion” in the country, which was “buoyed by confidence in the Philippine market.”

The company did not disclose, however, how much would be spent to acquire or lease the additional sites.

The new business centers, whose office space can be used by individual Regus members as well as client-firms, will be located at the Nomad PBCom Center in Makati City, Polar Business Center in Mandaluyong City, Marco Polo Hotel in Pasig City, and Eco Tower at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.

These four upcoming locations will bring to 17—16 in Metro Manila and one in Cebu City—the total number of Regus centers in the country by April.

“The launch of four new centers in the first four months of 2015 marks an unprecedented move for Regus in the Philippines. In comparison, Regus Philippines opened four new centers in all of 2014; and the first four centers in the Philippines took 12 years to establish. This newfound optimism and confidence in the Philippines is primarily due to the growing demand for flexible workspace solutions from business owners, employees and employers,” said Regus Philippines country manager Lars Wittig.

“We are accelerating our growth and with these latest additions, we are reaching a critical mass or a pivot point where we become a business enabler and credible solution to employee retention, enterprise productivity, and operational efficiency for any organization,” Wittig added.

Last year, Regus added over 2,500 workstations to its Philippine business centers as occupancy rates here reached “sky high” levels, he said.

Globally, Luxembourg-based Regus has over 2,000 business centers in 104 countries where it provides “convenient, high-quality, fully-serviced spaces for people to work” to 1.5 million members.
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Thursday, January 29, 2015
Philippine economy to regain momentum in Q4

By Karen Lema, Reuters
Posted at 01/28/2015 1:19 PM | Updated as of 01/28/2015 6:43 PM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/01/28/15/philippine-economy-regain-momentum-q4
 
MANILA - The Philippine economy likely finished 2014 strong with growth in the last quarter expected to have regained momentum, putting it on course for another year of solid growth that will allow the central bank to leave policy rates on hold in the near term.

Buoyant consumer demand, strong exports and a recovery in farm output probably helped offset a pull-back in government investment, which had been a big drag on the economy last year and is expected to remain a key risk in 2015.

Economists polled by Reuters expect the data on Thursday to show that gross domestic product rose a seasonally adjusted 1.7 percent in October-December from the previous quarter, faster than the 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter growth in July-September, which was a more than five-year low.

On an annual basis, the economy probably grew 6.0 percent after expanding 5.3 percent in the September quarter. Growth in the second quarter was 6.4 percent and 5.6 percent in the first quarter.

"A fall in agricultural production and a decline in government spending dragged third quarter GDP growth...These factors should be transitory, and we expect economic growth to rebound in the fourth quarter report," Moody's Analytics said in a research note.

An increase in the production of crops, livestock and poultry sub-sectors in the fourth quarter, helped push 2014 farm output growth to 1.83 percent, faster than the 1.12 percent uptick in 2013.

Exports in the 11 months to November rose 10 percent from a year earlier, supported by shipments of electronics parts which have been benefitting from improving global demand.

For all of 2014, the same poll forecast growth of 5.8 percent, below the government's 6.5-7.5 percent target and the weakest since 2011, but enough to keep the Philippines in the list of Asia's fastest-growing economies.

Analysts' estimates ranged from annual rises of 5.5 percent to 6.8 percent for 2014.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco has said there was no reason to change its monetary policy stance at the moment but authorities stood ready to keep financial volatility in check.

Analysts expect the central bank to keep the benchmark interest rate steady at 4.0 percent in the first half. The central bank meets for the first time this year on Feb. 12.

The consensus in the same Reuters poll was for GDP to expand at a faster clip of 6.5 percent in 2015, but much of the growth this year will depend on the government's ability to spend its 2.6 trillion peso national budget.

State spending has slowed for most of 2014 after aspects of a 145 billion peso ($3.34 billion) economic stimulus fund the Aquino government created from budget savings were declared illegal by the Supreme Court in July.

That has made public officials more wary about accusations of recklessness and have submitted spending decisions to more scrutiny, putting at risk big infrastructure projects.

"We are still flagging the risk of public under spending spilling over 2015 and remaining a dampener on an otherwise robust growth outlook," said Eugenia Victorino, economist at ANZ in Singapore.

Manila has a 7-8 percent growth goal in 2015.
Metro condo prices: Lowest in Las Piñas, highest in Makati

By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 29, 2015 - 12:00am
http://www.philstar.com/business/2015/01/29/1417781/metro-condo-prices-lowest-las-pinas-highest-makati
 
MANILA, Philippines - Buying a condominium in Metro Manila? Las Piñas offers the cheapest prices on the average, according to global online property platform Lamudi.

In its latest report, Lamudi Philippines said property seekers on the hunt for a reasonably-priced condominium should consider buying in Las Piñas as it emerged as the city with the lowest average condo prices in Metro Manila.

The report showed average price of condominiums in the city stands at P49,849 per square meter, cheaper than anywhere else in the metro.

Makati, on the other hand, has the most expensive condominiums, with units costing an average of P139,012 per square meter.

That would bring the selling price of an average 120-square meter condo in the country’s prime business district at about P16.68 million, Lamudi said.

Lamudi, however, said although Makati’s property market is quite pricey, the city has a wide array of condo properties available which ranges from a very expensive P388,888-per-square meter branded residence in Ayala Center, to an affordable P27,137-per-square meter medium-rise condo in San Antonio Village.

Taguig came as having the second most expensive condominiums with an average asking price of P126,129 per square meter.

The report revealed that condominiums in Taguig’s Bonifacio Global City (BGC) area command the highest prices, with the most pricy reaching about P333,333 per sqm.

The cheapest condo in Taguig is located in the outskirts of BGC, costing P23,333 per square meter, the report showed.

Lamudi said Pasay and Quezon City have almost identical average condo prices at P104,685 and P101,277 per square meter, respectively.

The Lamudi data showed that average condo prices in Manila, Mandaluyong, San Juan, and Pasig are at P95,134, P88,174, P87,294, and P80,329 per square meter, respectively.

The online property platform, however, said no data was generated for Marikina, Valenzuela, Pateros, Malabon, Caloocan, and Navotas due to lack of condo listings in these cities.

Lamudi is a global property portal focusing exclusively on emerging markets, generating about one million visitors per month. Its fast-growing platform is currently available in 28 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, with more than 600,000 real estate listings across its global network.

Jacqueline van den Ende, managing director of Lamudi Philippines, said the report was designed to inform Filipinos on property prices and to give a clear picture of how the real estate market was behaving.

“The Philippine real estate market is rapidly growing and what the market needs is hard data to inform Filipinos’ buying decisions,” Van den Ende said.

“In the future, our property price analysis will also include not only of condos but also prices of houses, commercial and office spaces, and industrial properties from across the Philippines,” she added.
Signing of NLEX-SCTEX integration pact set

By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 29, 2015 - 12:00am
http://www.philstar.com/business/2015/01/29/1417799/signing-nlex-sctex-integration-pact-set


MANILA, Philippines - State-run Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) aims to sign next week with the Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) the agreement for the integration of the toll payment of North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).

According to the BCDA, said it is working with MNTC to speed up the signing of the agreement on the toll integration ahead of the Feb. 12 deadline set by Senate president Franklin Drilon.

Drilon recommended the toll integration by February after he endured an 11-hour trip to Baguio during the holidays.

“The integration of the tollways had always been part of the plan. We are grateful for Senate president Drilon’s interest because it is now gaining momentum,” BCDA president and chief executive officer Arnel Paciano Casanova said.

 “We are working at signing the agreement in the first week of February,” he added.

The BCDA, he said, is just waiting for the green light from the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel before signing the agreement.

After the signing of the toll integration agreement, it would be submitted to the Toll Regulatory Board for approval.

The integration of the NLEX and SCTEX is estimated to cost P600 million.

At present, the operations of the SCTEX and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) are partially integrated, as motorists no longer need to queue separately in La Paz to pay and get new toll cards.

The BCDA said there are currently discussions between SCTEX and TPLEX to make driving through the two expressways more seamless.

 “For the long term, there will be discussions for a unified radio frequency ID (RFID) and other technologies to make it even more efficient for operators and motorists,” Casanova said.

The BCDA, created by Republic Act 7227, is mandated to transform former US military bases into alternative productive civilian use.

It engages in public-private partnerships to promote infrastructure projects such as tollways, airports, seaports, as well as other major real estate developments.
Megaworld on track to complete Chinatown condo

ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 01/28/2015 4:29 PM | Updated as of 01/28/2015 4:33 PM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/01/28/15/megaworld-track-complete-chinatown-condo
 
MANILA, Philippines - Megaworld Corp. said construction for its residential condominium project in Binondo Chinatown in on track for its scheduled completion by the first quarter of 2017.

Yuchengco-owned EEI Corp. has been tapped to construct Noble Place, a P4.5 billion project in Chinatown.

"The project is on schedule. The foundation is already done and the contractor is already starting the construction of the residential tower," Wilson Sy, head of sales and marketing, Chinatown group, Megaworld, said.

The 47-storey building will have 460 units, and is located next to heritage buildings of Chinatown. Each unit, ranging from two-bedroom to five-bedroom, will have its own balcony to enjoy views of Manila. There are also studio and one-bedroom units available.

Noble Place is located at the corner of Juan Luna and Dasmariñas streets.

"This residential development gradually reinvents the old and traditional image of Binondo Chinatown into a vibrant modern metropolis by ushering new upscale developments within the area," Sys aid.

The building's amenities include an infinity pool, tai-chi and picnic areas, a clubhouse and tent pavilion. There is a viewing deck on the 47th floor, as well as a badminton court.

Sy said Megaworld has committed to helping in the rehabilitation of Plaza Cervantes.

"We are committed to bring the old glory of Binondo with the restoration of their historical street," he said.

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PH no more the ‘sick man of Asia’

Ben O. de Vera and Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
5:10 AM | Friday, January 30th, 2015
http://business.inquirer.net/185775/ph-no-more-the-sick-man-of-asia
 
Posting an economic growth of 6.1 percent last year, the Philippines is no longer the “sick man of Asia,” the country’s chief economist said on Thursday.

“Overall, the Philippine economy’s performance in 2014 and the preceding years starting in 2010 shows how our country can no longer be called the ‘sick man’ of Asia,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.

The economic growth in 2014 marked the second consecutive year the country posted the fastest rate in the region after China.

“Our economic growth is becoming more competitive with our East and Southeast Asian neighbors. We have avoided the dreaded boom-and-bust cycle that has hounded our economy for decades,” said Balisacan, also director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

In his presentation at the 5th Ayala-UP School of Economics Economic Forum, he said the country’s growth rate of 6.3 percent in 2010-2014 was the highest five-year average during the past 40 years.

In the fourth quarter, the economy grew by 6.9 percent, better than the 6.3 percent in the same period in 2013.

The Philippines’ fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) expansion was the third highest in the region, after China’s 7.3 percent and Vietnam’s 7 percent.

The fourth-quarter GDP growth was the fastest quarterly figure in 2014—the economy grew 5.7 percent in the first quarter, 6.4 percent in the second and 5.3 percent in the third.
 
State spending up

Balisacan told reporters that during the fourth quarter, the government made strides in addressing anemic government spending on public goods and services, which had slowed growth in the previous quarters.

Government consumption grew 9.8 percent in the fourth quarter, a reversal of the 0.4-percent decline in the same quarter in 2013 and of the 2.6-percent drop in the third quarter, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed.

In a statement, the Department of Budget and Management attributed the increase in public expenditures in the fourth quarter to “effective” use of government agencies’ cash allocations, on top of the “timely” release of employees’ bonuses, including yearend bonuses and productivity enhancement incentives.
 
DAP ruling’s effect

Public spending slowed last year mainly due to the “chilling effects” of the Supreme Court decision that stopped the flow of more money through the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Government agencies had also been more careful in their disbursements amid a more watchful eye of the Commission on Audit.

The Neda chief said the full-year GDP target for 2014 was not met mainly due to the sluggishness of government spending for the most part of the year. For the entire 2014, government consumption rose a mere 1.8 percent, lower than the 7.7-percent increase in 2013.

But “the worst is over” as far as the problem on underspending is concerned, Balisacan said.

“We have learned our lesson. We have identified the nature of the problem. The glitches in the previous quarters have been resolved, although not completely; some work remains in progress,” he said. “We made catch up in the fourth quarter; not all is lost.”

The effects of the uptick in government spending during the fourth quarter would spill over to this year, the Neda chief said. “The funds obligated in the last quarter of 2014 will impact on the economy, to be felt in the first half of the year. We expect a robust performance of the government sector in the first two quarters,” he said.

The government reported on Thursday that the GDP expanded by 6.1 percent in 2014—lower than the 7.2-percent growth posted in 2013 as well as below the 6.5-7.5 percent goal earlier set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee or DBCC.

The GDP growth last year was, nonetheless, within the 6-7 percent range, which Balisacan and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad had said was more “realistic” to be achieved.

The services sector contributed 3.4 percentage points or over half of last year’s growth, while the industry and agriculture sectors chipped in 2.5 percentage points and 0.2 percentage point, respectively, PSA data showed.
 
BPO, other growth drivers

Balisacan told a press conference that the growth drivers in services were business process outsourcing (BPO), real estate and renting, among other business activities.

In terms of year-on-year growth, the industry sector posted the highest expansion of 7.5 percent in 2014 and 9.2 percent during the fourth quarter.

“[T]he acceleration in industry growth was due to the double-digit expansion in construction, even as manufacturing remained as its biggest growth driver,” Balisacan said.

Despite missing last year’s target, Balisacan said the Philippines remained one of the fastest-growing economies in the region last year, posting a full-year GDP growth just behind China’s 7.4 percent.

In the October to December period, the services sector was likewise the biggest contributor to growth with a share of 3.3 percentage points. Industry contributed 3.1 percentage points, while agriculture had a share of 0.5 percentage point.

The sustained growth averaging over 6 percent during the past few years showed that the country was “maintaining the trajectory toward the path of high growth,” Balisacan said.
 
More jobs

Sustaining robust growth over a long period of time would bring about an economy that attracts more investments and generate more jobs to ultimately slash poverty, according to the Neda chief.

At the Ayala-UPSE forum, Balisacan said the government “should be spending more” to place the deficit at 2 percent of the GDP.

In the fourth quarter, government consumption contributed only 0.8 percentage point to the GDP growth. Robust consumer spending amid strong flows of remittances from Filipinos overseas and an improving economy in general allowed household consumption to account for 3.7 percentage points or over half of the GDP growth in the last three months.
 
Sustainable

Despite potential external shocks to be posed by the downward trend in global oil prices as well as a still fragile world economy, the Philippines’ growth target of 7-8 percent for 2015 is “sustainable and achievable,” Balisacan said.

Other economic managers lauded the 2014 growth figures.

“Our improved growth in the last quarter of 2014 is a testament to the soundness of the Aquino administration’s fiscal management strategy … News like this is certainly a good way to begin the new fiscal year, with expenditures making a positive showing in the last three months of 2014,” Abad said.

For Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, last year’s fourth quarter and full-year growth “resoundingly affirm that the Philippine economy is on an upward growth trajectory buoyed by strong macroeconomic fundamentals.”

Peter Perfecto, executive director of the Makati Business Club, said the group was “pleased” with the economy’s performance in 2014.

“Given that the growth is broad-based, featuring expansion in the three major sectors, we believe that this lays the foundations for more robust growth this year, especially in the first quarter. With our hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings, the expected increase in public and private construction … will be able to greatly assist in attaining our year-end goal of around 7 percent,” he said.
 
PPPs to drive construction

“Furthermore, the most expensive public-private partnership (PPP) projects, such as the airports, subway and the Cavite-Laguna Expressway, will be bid out and some even awarded this year, which will drive up construction activities again,” he added.

Edgardo Lacson, Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop) president, said the economy would further grow in 2015 due to accelerated infrastructure spending, low oil prices and renewed mining activity.

He said the start of election spending in the fourth quarter, resolution of the port congestion problem in Manila and a stable foreign exchange rate could further fuel economic expansion.

“For 2015, I see major drivers being improvement in infrastructure (ports, airports and roads), power availability, peace and order (the SAF massacre may be detrimental to the ongoing peace talks), stable peso, favorable business climate and political positioning for 2016 elections,” said Dan Lachica, head of Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc.
'Philippines escaped boom-bust cycle'

Agence France-Presse
Posted at 01/29/2015 6:58 PM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/01/29/15/philippines-escaped-boom-bust-cycle
 
MANILA - Philippine officials voiced confidence the country had escaped a "boom-bust cycle" as they predicted on Thursday that economic growth would accelerate in 2015, after expansion last year beat international expectations.

The economy grew 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, new figures showed, offsetting weaker growth in the previous nine months to boost full-year gross domestic product (GDP) expansion to 6.1 percent, exceeding forecasts from major international institutions.

The rebound puts the country on a high-growth trajectory not seen in decades that will finally see it shake off its image as the "sick man" of Asia, economic planning secretary Arsenio Balisacan told reporters.

Balisacan added that the government expected the economy to grow by between 7.0 percent and 8.0 percent in 2015.

"We have avoided the dreaded boom-bust cycle that has hounded our economy for decades," he said.

"What we are seeing in the last five years has never been seen in the last 40 years. The last time we have seen such growth was in the mid-1970s," he said, referencing a period when the Philippines saw annual economic growth rates approaching nine percent.

Despite global uncertainties, the Philippines was buoyed by "solid" macroeconomic fundamentals including strong domestic consumption, ample foreign exchange reserves, a stable banking sector and manageable inflation, finance secretary Cesar Purisima said.

Purisima said in a statement that the country "has more fundamental strength than most peers to fuel long-term growth prospects and buttress against vulnerabilities to external shocks."

On a full-year basis, the Philippine economy grew at a rate second in Asia only to China's 7.4 percent, and narrowly outpacing Vietnam's six percent, Balisacan said.

"With this upbeat year-end performance, the economy is anticipated to gain further traction in 2015," he said.
Megaworld eyes P2-B in sales from Davao condo

ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 01/29/2015 2:01 PM | Updated as of 01/29/2015 2:49 PM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/01/29/15/megaworld-eyes-p2-b-sales-davao-condo
 
MANILA – Megaworld Corp. on Thursday said it is expecting at least P2 billion in sales this year from One Lakeshore Drive, its first residential project in Davao Park District.

The firm said the first tower of One Lakeshore Drive is nearly sold out in less than two months after it was launched by Megaworld’s Suntrust Properties Inc., prompting the firm to launch the second tower this month, way ahead of its original schedule.

“We are very happy with the overwhelming reception of Davaoeños to our first residential project in Davao Park District. Our experience is far beyond what we have expected,” said Suntrust president Harrison Paltongan.

The residential tower is a four‐tower condominium cluster located at the corner of Megaworld Avenue and Lakeshore Drive, and beside a man‐made lake that is about a hectare in size.

“Residents will have direct access to the lake and some of them will have this exclusive spectacular view right outside their windows,” said Paltongan.

The towers, each 21-storeys high, will have views of Samal Island, Mt. Apo, and Davao Gulf.

Each tower offers studio units (up to 27 square meters); executive studio (up to 40 square meters); one‐bedroom (up to 50 square meters); and two‐bedroom units (76 square meters).

Davao Park District, Megaworld’s first township project in Mindanao, is located in an 11.2‐hectare property along the S.P. Dakudao Loop in Lanang, and is envisioned to be Davao City’s central business district (CBD) and a center for information technology and business process outsourcing (IT‐BPO) in Mindanao.

Megaworld is allocating P15 billion in the next five to seven years to build and develop the township project.
8990 Holdings to launch 9 projects this year

ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 01/29/2015 12:26 PM | Updated as of 01/29/2015 12:47 PM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/01/29/15/8990-holdings-launch-9-projects-year
 
MANILA – Listed housing developer 8990 Holdings Inc. is planning to launch nine housing projects worth nearly P4 billion this year to add 4,486 units to its inventory.

Its biggest project is the DH Pavia 3 in Iloilo, which has a total value of P1.5 billion. The horizontal-type project has a total of 2,125 units, 1,680 of which are expected to be delivered this year.

The firm will launch three projects in Cebu, three in Davao, one in Cavite, and one in Munitinlupa.

8990 Holdings said it is looking at a 15 to 21 percent increase in its net income in 2015 and a 22 to 27 percent rise in its revenues.

Net income is expected to be between P3.8 billion and P4 billion while revenue is seen between P9.6 billion and P10 billion in 2015.

In 2014, 8990 Holdings said its net profit grew 52 percent to P3.3 billion, higher than its target of P3 billion.

Gross sales in 2014 also grew by 48 percent to P7.9 billion while net margin increased to 43 percent from the 41 percent in 2013.

The firm cited the country’s strong economy; increase in OFW remittances; BPO sector growth; and the 4 million housing backlog as external factors for the growth last year.

Internally, the company attributed the growth to increased average prices by 18 percent; improved sales incentives to sellers; lower prices for materials; and double-casting to produce more panels.

“2014 made us realize that, more than sales velocity, our capacity to build more and more units is the main determining factor to our long-term sustainability,” the company said in a disclosure to the stock exchange on Thursday.

8990 Holdings launched its first high-rise condominium project, the P735-million Urban DECA Tower-EDSA, in 2014.
 
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Property picks for this year

by Rizal Raoul Reyes - January 27, 2015
http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/property-picks-for-this-year/
 
INVESTING on property stocks will be productive in 2015 as the country is expected to post economic growth, according to stock, market analysts recently interviewed by the BusinessMirror. Astro del Castillo, managing director of First Grade Holdings, said investing in property stocks is a good move to start, as the property sector is expected to continue its growth path this year.

With the demand for more office facilities and tourism infrastructure, major developers,  such as Ayala Land Inc., Megaworld and SM Prime Holdings Inc., will capitalize on the boom and make the sector rosy.  “The outsourcing sector is expected to be a major contributor to the growth of property industry.”

“The business-process outsourcing industry is expected to be much stronger this year, as more outsourcing services will be required by the American economy.  As long as the economy of the US continues to rebound, outsourcing services will grow, which will benefit the Philippine economy.

“The opportunities are there and we must take advantage of it,” he pointed out.

Del Castillo said the government must also consider the potentials of a real-estate investment trust law to encourage foreign players to invest in the property sector. “We need to generate more capital to boost investments in the country.”

In another media briefing, online stock brokerage firm COL Financial Philippines chose SM Prime Holdings (SM Prime) as its top pick for the property section in 2015.

“Despite being one of the biggest residential property developers, it is still predominantly a Philippine mall operator [70 percent of operating income, 64 percent of NAV] making it a good proxy for consumer spending.

“Possibility of a share placement no longer a concern as the company already raised P18 billion through the sale of 1.06 billion treasury shares last November,” said April Lyn Tan, vice president and head of research of COL Financial Holdings Inc. in a recent media briefing held in Mandaluyong City.

SM Prime is one of the largest integrated property developers in Southeast Asia that is engaged in the development of malls, residences, offices, hotels and convention centers. It is the largest property developer in terms of asset and income base as of end-2013 in the Philippines. Aside from SM Prime, Tan said Ayala Land Inc. and Megaworld are the other picks for 2015. Tan mentioned that the continuous falling oil prices and the expectations of reforms that will be implemented by the current administration are going to drive the stock market beyond 2015.

“The most important reason the stock market will continue to go up is ample liquidity, both globally and domestically.”  The resulting drop in interest rates makes stocks more attractive compared to other liquid investments despite the Philippine Stock Exchange index’s relatively expensive valuation from a historical perspective.
Renewable energy as the future of property development in the Philippines

by Amor Maclang - January 27, 2015
http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/renewable-energy-as-the-future-of-property-development-in-the-philippines/


AS demand for power and energy prices continue to surge, property developers and other industry players are searching for more ways to help promote a more efficient way of sustaining the daily affairs of the Filipino household.

With developers realizing the role that they play in promoting renewable energy (RE) technologies as more viable, long-term solutions to the demands of today’s real-estate market, we can surely expect the emergence of future developments anchored on RE technologies as more players contend with this shift.

“Renewable energy is the thing of the future,” Imperial Homes Corp. (IHC) President and CEO Emma Imperial said. “With the full support from various sectors and organization generated from these technologies, we see it as the real estate of the future.” Imperial surely knows what she’s talking about, having led Imperial Homes to several pioneering milestones in terms of environment-friendly and energy-sufficient developments.

The latest of such efforts involved the unveiling of their project, Via Verde, a solar-powered mass-housing community of 1,000 homes in Santo Tomas, Batangas. The development, which sits on a 4-hectareproperty, is supported by the Department of Energy  and the Commission on Climate Change, and recognized by the World Bank and International Finance Corp.
 
A worthy investment

Via Verde offers a combination of row houses and two-bedroom townhouses. Every unit comes with free 500-watt solar panels to allow future homeowners to enjoy lower electricity rates through the leaseback program of Enfinity-Imperial, IHC’s partner.

“These solar-powered homes will dramatically reduce the cost of electricity and provide a greener environment for our low-cost housing projects,” Imperial shared. “It does not pollute our air by releasing carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide or mercury into the atmosphere like many traditional forms of electrical generations do. Therefore, solar energy does not contribute to global warming, acid rain or smog.”

For developers like IHC, investing on RE technologies for real-estate properties is a profitable initiative that yields optimal returns. “As an investment, the payback period [for RE-integrated developments] is between three to five years, and between 8 and 10 years when getting a loan payback,” she explained. “Also, the property appreciates faster compared to regular house and lot developments. Furthermore, it has a multiplier effect that can generate greater benefits, such as savings in fossil-fuel consumption and carbon-emission elimination.”

The project, Imperial added, aims to help alleviate the country’s backlog on mass housing currently pegged at 3 million, as well as to help provide a greener solution against the worsening effects of climate change.
 
A more conscious approach to doing business

Solar energy is ideal for communities because it is clean, isn’t easily depleted (unlike gas, oil and coal), sustainable, and thus helps protect the environment where families can comfortably live in and children can safely grow in. “By not using any fuel, solar energy does not contribute to the cost and problems of the recovery and transportation of fuel or the storage of radioactive waste,’’ Imperial noted.

The concept behind the Via Verde blueprint is a perfect complement to the ideals being championed by the Switch Right On movement—a groundbreaking RE campaign here in the Philippines that’s been gaining the support of various local and international organizations.

Recent figures shared by the Switch Right On movement—an initiative that we at GeiserMaclang support—show that the Philippines’s  dependence on energy provided by fossil fuels—90 percent of which is being imported, according to Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla—1) has been the main reason the country continues to bear the heavy burden of having one of the highest electricity costs in Asia; 2) The prices of coal—an important fossil fuel that has been the primary energy source in the Philippines for several decades—have more than doubled since 2010 and experts do not see any indication of this slowing down. The world has reached an economic tipping point where an increase in cost of fossil fuels and the decrease in cost of RE have made alternative sources of energy more practical.  With developers now beginning to promote a shift toward the use of RE, the local property sector has now taken the first step in making logical solutions to address a host of other issues.  The idea of promoting sustainable sources of power, thus, comes as a welcome development, if not a necessary investment, to help ensure a more progressive growth for the Philippine real-estate industry.
Alviera Industrial Park breaks ground

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 30, 2015 - 12:00am
http://www.philstar.com/real-estate/2015/01/30/1418111/alviera-industrial-park-breaks-ground

MANILA, Philippines - The 31-hectare Alviera Industrial Park, expected to heighten business in Porac, Pampanga through light to medium, non-polluting industries, was recently launched in a formal groundbreaking. The park will feature 16 lots ranging from one to 1.4 hectares and three clusters of ready-built standard factory buildings. As a Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) special economic zone, Alviera Industrial Park offers locators economic incentives plus a wide range of support amenities. Several companies have already expressed interest as the park’s first locators.
A Noble Place to live in Binondo

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 30, 2015 - 12:00am
http://www.philstar.com/real-estate/2015/01/30/1418105/noble-place-live-binondo
 
MANILA, Philippines - The construction of Noble Place, a high-rise residential condominium in Binondo’s Chinatown, is in full swing and on track of its target completion by early 2017, its developer Megaworld Corp. said.

“The project is on schedule. The foundation is already done and the contractor is already starting the construction of the residential tower,” Wilson Sy, head of sales and marketing of Megaworld’s Chinatown group, said.

The company has commissioned Yuchengco-owned EEI Corp., one of the country’s leading triple “A” construction firms, to build Noble Place, assuring future residents and investors of the project’s turnover by the first quarter of 2017.

The P4.5-billion residential project will rise as a 47-story modern edifice beside the famous heritage buildings of the old Chinatown with a total of 460 units. Each unit, ranging from two-bedroom to five bedrooms, will have its own balcony to enjoy the magnificent view of Metro Manila. For students and investors, studio and one-bedroom units are also available.

“This residential development gradually reinvents the old and traditional image of Binondo Chinatown into a vibrant modern metropolis by ushering new upscale developments within the area,” said Sy.

Noble Place brings a distinct, elegant style of luxury with world-class facilities, amenities and design which Megaworld has always been known for. It rises above the rest by providing residents a magnificent view of the Intramuros golf course as well as a 360-degree perspective of the entire Metro Manila skyline.

The building’s 8th floor tastefully caters to the various recreational interests of the unit owners. There is an infinity pool for health buffs, tai-chi and picnic areas for those who simply want peaceful relaxation, and a clubhouse and tent pavillion for hosting parties and gatherings. To get a glimpse of that breathtaking view of the Metro, the viewing deck at the 47th floor is the perfect spot, where a badminton court is also located.

Noble Place will also have an exclusive skygardens in 16th and 26th floors while a variety of boutiques, coffee shops and salons on the ground floor will surely please sophisticated shoppers.

Boasting of its location at the heart of Manila – specifically at the corner of Juan Luna and Dasmariñas streets, Noble Place prides itself of the multitude of landmarks, it also has easy access to all commercial and educational institutions of Manila.
Green living in Alabang

by Rizal Raoul Reyes - January 27, 2015
http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/green-living-in-alabang/
 
TODAY, living in a garden atmosphere is one of the aspirations of modern Filipinos. They want to get a break from the rage and frenzy of urban living. In response, Filinvest launched the Botanika Nature Residences—a high-end, low-density residential enclave in Filinvest City in Alabang.

Located at the finest locale, Botanika is designed for the privileged few who want to savor a relaxing atmosphere amid the bustling metropolis.

“Inspired by New York’s Central Park, Botanika’s centralized garden system offers scenic walks through the 1.55-hectare property with three towers that gives a very different identity compared to the other ultra-high-end developments in Makati and Bonifacio Global City,” according to Catherine Ilagan, executive vice president of Filinvest Alabang Inc., Botanika project developer.

“Open green spaces are getting scarcer in the metropolis. Our planners thus thought of offering Botanika residents a system of gardens that would allow them to enjoy nature’s healing properties right at their doorstep,” Ilagan added.

Experts in the social and environmental sciences noted that nature can reinvigorate and rejuvenate an individual’s mind and become more productive.  “Nature is the perfect setting for a walk or a swim. It encourages movement and discovery.”

Botanika will veer away from the conventional residential condo environment which highlights the space limitation.  In Botanika, an owner can enjoy comfortable space from its 369 units ranging from 123 square meters to 343 sq m and spread out over three towers. Botanika will be offering the best of both worlds with privacy and nature enjoyed by the owner.

According to Ilagan, “Botanika is the first of the Filinvest Group’s Exclusive Collection, the newest and highest-end brand category.  Each project with the Exclusive Collection brand is envisioned to be an iconic, top-end and one-of-a-kind residential space that will add prestige to the group’s large-scale projects.

The buildings have a nature-centric design. From the top, each of the buildings takes the shape of a leaf, a unique configuration which will mean that none of the units will peer directly into a unit of a neighboring tower. When a resident looks out his window, he will not have a direct sightline into a unit in the neighboring tower because of the curving walls of the tower.

There will be an atrium at the center of each building.  This will enable the natural light to go through the structure. Further, the atrium will also force air through the edifice offering passive ventilation. From the ground level, the atriums will be interconnected to each other and to a central pool area through a paved walkway that naturally blends with the lush tropical landscape.

Leandro V. Locsin Partners and international firm AEcom are the two organizations that worked tremendously to ensure the natural order of things will be retained such as the property’s sloping terrain. The pool thus has various levels with the waters from one level dropping down to form a waterfall curtain setting for a lower level. “The planners weren’t afraid to compartmentalize spaces to create greater interest in the landscaping,” Ilagan said.

“We’ve designed Botanika to appeal to captains of industry, self-made entrepreneurs and multinational CEOs seeking quick access to Makati, as well as Laguna’s industrial estates through the Skyway,” Ilagan said. “They may not always have the time to walk through Botanika’s nature sanctuary or to enjoy the lavish amenities of the developments. But just knowing that it’s there for them to use when they want them should be reasons enough to consider living there.”

True to its mission, Filinvest has strictly followed the guidelines set by the Philippine Green Building Council to ensure every detail required by the Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence (Berde) will be followed. Botanika is a Berde-registered project.

The first building has 13 storys boasting of above-par facilities. With only 101 units for Tower 1, residents get to enjoy much sought-after exclusivity that other residential developments could only promise.

Being all about gardens, Botanika’s The Courtyard, The Sculptural Garden and Central Gardens provide the property’s outdoor amenities that support green living.

With huge abundant space, The Courtyard allows residents to do whatever they want—read a book, feel the morning breeze, gaze at the night sky, or even enjoy a sumptuous outdoor feast with the family. The Greenhouse is, likewise, open for anyone who likes to commune with nature especially in the mornings.

With uniquely tiered, stylized swimming pools, a buyer is given a new experience. The Veranda, a canopied area by the pool, can also be used for intimate al-fresco gatherings. Other amenities in Botanika include tiered swimming pools, kiddie pool, lap pool and changing rooms

Further, other major amenities include sun-roofed central atrium, grand lobby, reception lounge, roof decks, administration office, mail room, fire safety features, key card access for boom gates and floor access, and underground parking.

All these are artistically splashed with greens to further wash away the stresses of the day.


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