Saturday, December 26, 2009

BIR circularizes approval of Socialized Housing Ceiling from P300,000 to P400,000

RMO 30-299 circularizes the relevant portions of HUDCC Resolution No. 1, Series of 2008, approving the adjustment of the price ceiling for socialized housing, as per HUDCC Resolution No. 1, Series of 2008 promulgated on December 11, 2008.

Under HUDCC Resolution No. 1, Series of 2008 promulgated on December 11, 2008increasing the socialized housing loan ceiling of Low Cost Level 1-A had been increased from P300,000 to P400,000.

The newly adjusted price ceiling shall apply to all sales of real properties utilized for socialized housing, as defined under RA No. 7279 otherwise known as "Urban Development and Housing Act", and other related laws such as RA No. 7835 otherwise known as the "Compreshensive and Integrated Shelter Financing Act of 1994" and RA No. 7863 otherwise known as the "Home Guaranty Act of 2000", beginning January 1, 2009.

Read full text of RMO 30-2009 > > >

CDC Holdings boosts success with relationship marketing

(The Philippine Star) Updated September 25, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The real estate industry is one cutthroat battleground with developers always trying to outdo competition by continuously coming up with one project to the next like a manufacturing plant churning out homes.

Amidst this mechanical process, today’s homebuyers are overwhelmed with the choices and the programmed responses to the whole process of procuring a property. Lost in the urban milieu is the traditional relationship of old, which transpired between buyers and concerned developers seeking to give a family their dream home.

For CDC Holdings, this strategy called “relationship marketing” should never be compromised. Instead, it is espoused until today, with transactions between client and company elevated on a personal level.

“We train our people to recognize the importance of having a good relationship with our customers – to be with them every step of the way to owning a new home,” said Elsie Chua, president of CDC.

Chua, an expert with more than 22 years’ track record in the property industry, refers to the strategy as one of the winning formulas for the company’s success.

In fact, the continued implementation of this technique boosted CDC’s gross revenue sales, from P80 million in 2007 to P364 million as of July this year. A significant portion of the sales is attributed to the high referral rates – another testament to the company’s admired products and much sought-after services.

Strong start

CDC Holdings is the investment arm of a group of companies engaged in property development, property management, sales and marketing, hotel and serviced-residences management. When it started, CDC Holdings began building and selling residential units for the middle income market.

The company soon expanded to vertical developments, the most notable of which is Millennium Plaza. The project became the benchmark of serviced apartments in the country as Millennium Plaza was managed by an international hotel group.

In 1994, The Quadrillion Marketing Corp. was created to better manage the growing portfolio of CDC Holdings Inc. Under the Quadrillion umbrella, other companies were established such as Quadrillion Sales Inc., Quadrillion Property Management Inc., and the Quadrillion Filipino Center.

These companies further boosted CDC’s ‘relationship marketing’ strategy as the companies provided opportunities that empowered CDC’s sales force – giving them the chance to excel in sales and be their own entrepreneur.

CDC Holdings Inc. is currently ironing out future plans of establishing serviced apartments in Quezon City, Manila, Cebu, Iloilo and other parts of the country. For inquiries, call 813-8331, SMS: 0917-8520011 or visit the website at

Success in business

(The Philippine Star) Updated December 25, 2009 12:00 AM
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New opportunities: The Cityplace Mall and Tiangge Mall will open new business opportunities.
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MANILA, Philippines - One secret of successful Chinese-Filipino businessmen is this: they never rest. They are the first ones to open their stores and the last ones to pack up their wares. As long as there are still customers, they will stretch the hours… sometimes at the expense of family time.

Back in the old days, Chinese businesspeople lived right above their store. That way, it will be easier to go back to the house or go to their shops, not to mention savings from transportation costs.

Today, however, this is not a common practice with residential areas far from the centers of commerce and marketplace. Now, people have to travel and brave the traffic everyday just to get to their shops. But this won’t be the case anymore at Cityplace.

Modern-day shophouse

Cityplace is Megaworld’s newest residential condominium project

in Binondo. Located at the center of Chinatown, Cityplace is a modern version of the Chinese shophouse, where businessmen can set-up new stores, restaurants and offices downstairs and live upstairs। This is the perfect set-up for those who are looking to start their business in the area as well as those who already have an existing business in Binondo.

“This gives businessmen the best of both worlds. They get to be closer to their family and also closer to their business. No more commuting or worrying that you will be late. This is ideal for people who are just starting their business because they can be really hands on. It is also good for those who already have established businesses because they can use their Binondo office as the main branch since it is closer to their homes

. It’s an exceptional deal,” noted Megaworld Newport Property Holdings FVP for marketing and project head John Natividad.

Cityplace is strategically located at Reina Regente St., Binondo. For investment options on Cityplace, please call Megaworld at 241-8000 or visit the Cityplace showroom at Burke Plaza, San Fernando cor. Sto. Cristo St., Binondo. Or check out

Ayala Land unveils 2010 plans in multiple growth centers

(The Philippine Star) Updated December 27, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Fresh from meeting 2009 head on in the face of global economic recession, the country’s most trusted real estate company, Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) goes full throttle next year with a more aggressive posture.

Ayala Land takes on 2010 with the most number of new projects to be launched within a single year ever. Antonino T. Aquino, Ayala Land president, announces new initiatives on the establishment of multiple growth centers across the Philippines to bring to more areas the well-recognized expertise of Ayala Land in enhancing land, enriching lives. He says, “We’ll have the busiest year ever as we’re expanding in geography, in the products that we offer including new business lines and in the market segments that we cater to. There will be a dynamic interplay of our projects and where we used to be focused only on the traditional segments, now we’ll be expanding for the benefit of our customers.”

There is no landscape too small or too large to change

“We are thinking of more than a dozen different locations, starting off in the North with Baguio, Angeles in Pampanga, Subic and in five locations in Southern Philippines namely Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Iloilo and Bacolod. We are making sure that we are coming around with product offerings that are best suited for the market and which will show the best practices that Ayala Land is known for,” he states, as he proceeds to give an overview of activities to take place.

In Baguio next year, the retail area and the BPO complex will begin development in Camp John Hay, allowing customers to enjoy the natural beauty of Baguio. Meanwhile in Subic, a bustling development will arise with a mix of retail, BPO and residential components.

In Pampanga, the company relishes the market acceptance of the Marquee mall in levels beyond expectations। “In the pipeline for the area is a very nice residential development right across the mall. It will be a mid-rise project with a Serendra feel,” enthuses Aquino.

With the successful expansion this year of Ayala Center Cebu with The Terraces, the company is set to have its first foray with Alveo and Avida offerings in the first quarter in Cebu.

Meanwhile in Davao, where Ayala Land jumpstarted its entry with the lifestyle mall, Abreeza Mall, new residential developments are slated to be launched coupled with a BPO complementary project, states Aquino. Similar mixed-use developments are also planned for in Cagayan de Oro.

Northpoint, a project of Ayala Land Premier in Bacolod, will host a new commercial development along the main road fronting it, making the area a multiple growth center. Aquino points out, “The whole idea behind our multiple growth center strategy is to highlight our mixed-use experience as a major differentiator of our organization. We’re known for how we masterplan things and how our projects develop into excellent growth centers, bringing in a new lifestyle.” This will also be realized in the mixed-use project to be developed in Iloilo.

In the Greater Manila Area, where Ayala Land focused largely in Makati and in the South, year 2010 sees the company pushing thru with plans for development covering the North Triangle area in Quezon City. Ayala Land again manifests its expertise in master planning, envisioning for the city a thriving business district that Quezon City still needs to date. “We want this to happen in a shorter time as we know there are business locators and partners who would like to see the priming of the area accomplished soonest,” Aquino declares.

A piece of land is never just a piece of land

In line with bringing in a new lifestyle, first off to be introduced as a new product in the retail segment will be the neighborhood and community centers. These will be quaint shops and retail establishments that will support residential and BPO developments. Ayala Land is also exploring hotels and tourism-related products to expand its portfolio.

Expansion projects and the opening of new phases of other existing developments are also set to go on full swing.

Ayala Land’s continued redevelopment of Ayala Center is brought to another exciting stage with the opening of the Ayala Triangle Gardens. According to Aquino, this will be the starting point for ramping up the Makati Central Business District with projects that will include upgrading the Glorietta retail center as well as launching a high-end residential play for Ayala Land Premier in that area, very much like how The Residences at Greenbelt (TRAG) is just a walk away from the mall. Other new residential offerings by Alveo will be in the office enclaves of Salcedo and Legaspi Villages. “These are excellent follow-throughs for the continued upscaling of the areas in Makati,” he describes.

The Bonifacio Global City (BGC), more popularly recognized as the Home of Passionate Minds, will witness Bonifacio High Street’s expansion to complete its 1-kilometer development plan to end closer to the Mind Museum, which will be the best science museum in the country. Also known as the “live, work, and play” zone, the city will likewise witness next year the addition of another building offering a total of 31,000 sqms of BPO space along with the launch of Avida Towers BGC and a new phase of Two Serendra, The Meranti.

Alabang will in turn follow thru with enhancements at the Alabang Town Center with an additional retail complex featuring department stores and supermarkets. Aquino added that Avida Towers Alabang will also be launched.

Further South in Laguna, the country’s first eco-community and now regarded as the nation’s sustainability capital in Ayala Land’s portfolio, NUVALI, earlier enjoyed highly successful take-up for its Ayala Land Premier (ALP) offerings: Abrio, Montecito and recently Santierra.

The sterling record provided fresh proof of Ayala Land’s ability to offer unique and highly-valued propositions to the high-end market. Where Ayala Westgrove Heights and Ayala Greenfield Estates further South fulfilled desires for lakeside sceneries, rolling hills and orchard-like environments, these new ALP offerings in NUVALI addresses particular aspirations for sustainable lifestyles.

Alveo will also be launching a project in NUVALI in the 2nd quarter of next year, while Avida will be expanding with Avida Settings Phase 4 and introducing new projects, Avida Village NUVALI and Avida Estates NUVALI.

Aquino also announced the introduction of more retail elements in NUVALI alongside the Sta.Rosa-Tagaytay road, with the construction of a new supermarket that enhances the Solenad retail area which has already scored distinct success in its provision of dining, shopping and convenience retail in the area.

“We expect NUVALI’s overall retail success and launch of residential developments to add to the attractions of One Evotech as a premium space for BPO locators,” states Aquino as he reveals the addition of the second BPO building next year.

Avida will be very busy launching some new phases in its existing developments, like Tower 5 for Avida Towers New Manila, Tower 5 for Avida Towers San Lazaro, and Tower 7 in Avida Towers Sucat, all to be launched in the 1st quarter and Avida Settings Phase 2 in Cavite in the 2nd quarter.

Cebu’s Amara and Alegria Hills in Cagayan De Oro will likewise see the addition of new phases.

A testament to enriching lives for more people

To top if all off, Ayala Land will be coming up with a breakthrough by launching projects in 2010 entering a new market segment. Aquino announces, “As part of being socially-responsible and contributing to nation-building, more will be benefiting from Ayala Land’s quality and level of service through ‘Amaia’. This is categorized as the economic housing line of Avida, ushering Ayala Land’s entry into a wider market—the very people who need us more. Amaia will offer house and lot packages with prices ranging from P700,000 to P1.3 million, to provide them with a high-quality product for their hard-earned money.” Amaia presents its maiden offerings in Laguna early next year.

“As we continue to finetune our products, our core competency on masterplanning is our distinct advantage and we want more and more people to benefit from this. This is part of our key thrust for the years to come, corporate social responsibility. This will be more integrated into Ayala Land’s business models, not as dole-outs but being more powerful as a driver for economic growth.” declares Aquino.

Friday, December 25, 2009

My top 10 tips for selling your condo suite

Preparing your condo for sale should be done in a prearranged and structured manner. Here are my top 10 ways to do so, in no particular order, as some might be more or equally important to you situation.

1: DE-CLUTTER - First and foremost. Creating the illusion of more space is a magical thing. An impression of a cluttered, messy space is certainly not. An open, inviting space is will be more accepted than a messy, bogged down one. Put "stuff" away. This includes everything from remote controls, to laundry, to dishes, to movies/video games. Also, some people think they can just toss everything into their closets as a quick fix. Nope! If it seems like your closets are jam packed and ready to explode, the potential buyer will come up with an image of their belongings not fitting either. The main word would be purge. If you haven't worn it in a year, you don't need it.

2: DE-PERSONALIZE - Yes, everyone is impressed with your gleaming certificates plastered all over the walls, but when you're trying to sell, lose them. This goes for personal/family pictures, religious objects and so on. Potential buyers are already trying to get in the picture mindset of living there, so try and make it as easy as possible for this to occur. Someone might not like your property because of your tastes, beliefs or opinions, believe me - I've seen stranger things happen! Slowly comb through your suite and try to eliminate anything that is overly characteristic or personal.

3: AROMA - I'm sure you've read loads of articles & tips about baking cookies before an open house or showing. But let's not over do it too much. Granted fresh cookies and fabreeze does smell better than an avoided bathroom and four day old dishes, but we don't the smell to be too overpowering upon entering. Remember, there are people with all kinds of allergies. Consider investing in a couple of soft tone glade plug-ins or candles. A nice, soothing, calm and continuous aroma will ease the minds of buyers and assist them in sticking around for a while.

4: FIRST IMPRESSIONS - I figured I would follow aroma with this category. A great first impression is crucial in captivating a buyer's interest. From a large reflective mirror, to a stunning piece of art, to a simple and open clear sight line of the suite and/or its view, use what you can to create a quick wow factor. Think of where your eyes would shift upon entrance. Work on overselling the first impression and the buyers will be craving the full, interrupted tour. But remember, first impressions do start before actually entering the suite. Make sure your property management company is on the ball with providing a clean, inviting atmosphere.

5: STAGING - Vacant suite? If you're sitting on a vacant suite, staging is something to think about. There is nothing more bland and unappealing than a lonely, vacant condo suite. Consider hiring a design and staging consultant. Remember, staging creates a lifestyle and existence that buyers crave and ultimately desire. For a fairly affordable monthly cost you could have an exquisite looking suite and really push for an offer. Compare that to a vacant suite and your carrying costs for two to three months. Staged suites do statistically sell faster than vacant suites so check out your options and use your resources. I offer staging and design consultations. Combining staging with selling is an art that usually leads to quick, painless sales.

6: COLOR/TONES - Tone down the color. Eliminate any strong, dark or personalized walls. You might like the bright red feature wall in the living area, but it will scare away your buyers. Dark colors actually squeeze the visibility out of the space and make it appear smaller. The key word is neutral. If you have to hire someone to come in and repaint the majority of your space, it will be worth it. Try a cool, modern and refreshing color to liven up the area but consider how it will look with your accessories, art, etc. Don't go out and break the bank finding something that you adore, as the new buyer might have plans to paint over it again once they move in. Be resourceful yet practical.

7: AMBIANCE - Create an atmosphere that revolves around your target market. Plug in the calming water fountain, flick on the fireplace and hit play on the stereo. Remember who you are trying to sell to though. For a stylish, urban condo set the mood with some upbeat house music. For a quaint, large space utilize the fireplace as a relaxing focal point. Use your discretion and channel the energy of the space intelligently. Generate a fitting mood and everyone will feel pleasant and at home while viewing.

8: FOOD/TREATS - Want people to stick around for longer? Graciously leave a snack tray or some sort of offering for the individual(s) interested in your home. Bottled water is a great touch and a personal favorite. They might see 3-5 properties that day, but that water should last for a while, and they will remember that it was from you! Cookies, mints, gum, wrapped chocolate, etc... anything along these lines is a nice, thoughtful touch. Really want the wow factor? Get creative and consider something like a catered open house!

9: SANS SMOKE/PETS - This category may not apply to everyone, but it is tremendously important to certain households. If you smoke, take it outside...and not lean out the window type outside, all the way. Smoke is something that ultimately lives in your walls and will constantly be lurking around. Buyers definitely do not want this. Buyers want to think this home is their fresh start, not a second hand ashtray. If possible, pets should be removed for showings and always for open houses. As buyers, the last thing we want to see are stains on the carpet, pet hair, and/or a big litter box staring back at us. Your pet is a member of the family...remove them for showings and certainly clean up after them. The main thing here is that you do not want a questionable issue in the back of the buyer's minds.

10: FENG SHUI - An intriguing ancient Chinese art form developed many years ago. Feng Shui is a knowledge which reveals how to balance energies in a space to bring health, positivity and good fortune for the individuals living there. There are nine quadrants that define different areas in your home and life. If you're looking for more money, work on your prosperity corner. If you're looking to improve your relationships then work on altering that corner. The list goes on. By accepting Feng Shui into your life at home, you will create a natural flow and energy into any space. Ever had a good or bad feeling upon entering a property? This may be why! Even if you're not selling, try different aspects of Fung Shui in your personal life...the results could astonish you!

The main thing is adhere to what you think fits your selling situation. Another tip as a seller, that should be obvious, is leave! Yes, do not be present when your property is being shown or an open house is taking place. Buyers will feel awkward with you there and feel like they are snooping around.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ADB lends $120 million to Cebu power plant

By Ted P. Torres (The Philippine Star) Updated December 24, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved the grant of a $120-million loan for the construction of a major power plant in the Visayas.

The 12-year loan was extended to Kepco SPC Power Corp. (KSPC), a joint venture between Korea Electric Power Corp. and SPC Power Corp. The loan will go to the construction of a 200-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Naga City, Cebu.

Coal-based generation is the most practical option in Cebu since the further use of geothermal resources – already providing 70 percent of power in the Visayas – cannot provide enough immediate, reliable and low-cost power.

The new 200-MW power plant will use circulating fluidized bed combustion boilers, the best technology available for plants of this size. This is in line with ADB’s energy policy of helping Asia secure adequate power supply while promoting cleaner power generation.

The first 100-MW unit will come on line in February 2011 and the next 100-MW unit in May 2011. KSPC will sell power from the plant primarily to electricity cooperatives on Cebu and Negros islands, and to the proposed wholesale electricity spot market in the Visayas.

The Manila-based financial institution said many parts of the Visayas region are economically promising but poor. Under-investment in power generation, which has led demand to outstrip supply, threatens to hold back further development in the region. Intermittent blackouts on the islands of Cebu, Panay, and Negros are set to become more frequent until more power is made available.

“A steady supply of power will help develop the local economy, creating jobs in manufacturing, tourism and other sectors that will boost incomes for local families in the region. At the same time, a reliable power supply will allow hospitals, schools, and other public services to fully function,” said Joe Yamagata, deputy director general in ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department.

He added that the project would help promote a competitive market for electricity and provide a model for future private-sector investment in power generation, including renewable energy. These goals support the government’s efforts to reform the power sector.

Earlier,the World Bank and the ADB endorsed a $250-million fund to support the Philippines’ various initiatives to mitigate global climate change.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

City to award contract for 30 hectares of SRP

BY Early January (The Freeman) Updated December 23, 2009 12:00 AM


City to award contract for 30 hectares of SRP

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu City government expects to award by the second week of January to the highest bidder the contract to purchase 30 hectares at the South Road Properties.

The notice to bid shall be published anytime before this year ends to open to the public and to interested investors the bid for the purchase of the 30-hectare SRP lot facing Mambaling that SM Prime Holdings wants to purchase.

It its proposal, SM Prime Holdings expressed interest to buy six lots covering 30.41 hectares where they intend to build a 25-hectare shopping center, which is almost twice as big as the existing SM City Cebu at the North Reclamation Area.

The rest of the area will be used for the construction of a convention facility, hotels and eventually a school, hospital and condominiums.

While the city welcomes the proposal, it has decided to let the proposal undergo a Swiss challenge which will allow them to participate in setting the terms of the sale while opening doors for other parties to match these terms through bidding.

Mayor Tomas R. Osmeña said that during the latest configuration, the property will be sold by P19 million more on top of the original proposed price of P2.7 billion.

This as there was some adjustments on the lot to be covered; the left boundary has been moved about 100 meters towards the road side to complement to other projects intended for SRP like the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

Osmeña said the value of lot near the road is a little bit expensive so it is going to cost P19 million more.

In two weeks after the publication, the city expects to close the deal if there will be no challenge.

Aside from SM, there are also other parties willing to invest at the property like the Bigfoot Entertainment which is also interested in buying 4.6 hectares on top of their 25-year lease agreement with the city for two hectares in SRP. The lease was signed on 2007.

Another interested investor is a Korean company wanting to buy five hectares to build a hotel and a casino.

Should SM win the bid, they agreed to make a down payment of 25 percent which is over P600 million within 15 days from receipt of the notice of award.

The balance shall be paid on quarterly installments. Schedules of payment will be set as agreed by the city.

SM Prime holdings earlier said that this project will cost over P20 billion and promises more than 3,000 jobs for the Cebuanos. –Jessica Ann R. Pareja/NLQ (FREEMAN NEWS)

Supreme Court fines 2 Cebu judges

(The Freeman) Updated December 23, 2009 12:00 AM

CEBU, Philippines - The Supreme Court has fined two Cebu judges after they were found guilty of gross ignorance of the law for interfering in a civil case already taken cognizance of a co-equal court.

The high court has ordered Regional Trial Court Judges Cesar Estrera and

Gaudioso Villarin of Branches 29 and 59, respectively, in Toledo City to pay P21,000 each as fine.

On top of it, Villarin was also required to pay an additional P11,000 after he was also found guilty for undue delay in rendering and order.

The High Tribunal likewise warned the two judges that a repetition of the same offense will be dealt with more severely.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed in February 2007 by the heirs of the late Simeon Piedad before the Office of the Court Administrator.

The complainants administratively charged Villarin and Estrera for issuing an unlawful order against a co-equal court and unreasonably delay the resolution of pending motions.

In 1974, the late Simeon Piedad filed with the Cebu City RTC a case against Candelaria Bobilles and Mariano Bobilles for the annulment of an absolute deed of sale.

Then RTC Judge Benigno Gaviola of the RTC Branch 9 ruled in favor of Piedad in March 19, 1992.

The decision was subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeals which became final and executory six years later.

A writ of demolition was ordered by the late Judge Gaviola which was referred for implementation to Sheriff Antonio A. Bellones.

However, Bobilles filed a petition to probate of the last will and testament of Simeon Piedad, but Gaviola found it untenable as it was viewed as an attempt to stop the enforcement of the demolition order.

Subsequently, Bobilles filed the Petition for Probate of the Last Will and Testament of Simeon Piedad with the Toledo City RTC which was raffled to Branch 59 presided by Villarin.

Another petition was filed by Bobilles with the RTC in Toledo City for the issuance of a temporary restraining order the sheriff to restrain the latter from enforcing the Writ of Demolition.

The petition was granted by Estrera who was the Executive Judge of the Toledo City RTC.

Last January 16, Court Administrator Jose P. Perez submitted his recommendations to the Supreme Court finding Estrera and Villarin guilty of the acts complained of Perez recommended that respondent judges, for gross ignorance of the law, be fined in the amount of PhP21,000 each, and that Villarin be fined in the additional amount of PhP11,000 for undue delay in rendering an order.

The Supreme Court in an order promulgated December 16 upheld the recommendation of Perez. – Fred P. Languido/NLQ (FREEMAN NEWS)

SEC warns public against Rise E-Commerce Systems

By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) Updated December 23, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Securities and Exchange Commission has warned the public against dealing with Rise E-Commerce Systems Inc. and its affiliates which were found to have been selling securities to the public without prior approval of the corporate regulator.

In an advisory issued, the SEC said it has received complaints that Rise E-Commerce and its affiliates are soliciting investments from the public in the form of investment contracts which fall under securities.

Sec. 8 of the Securities Regulation Code prohibits the sale of securities without prior registration with the commission.

“Per verification, the said company is no longer operating at the address indicated in its articles of incorporation. The public is advised that the company is not licensed to solicit investments from the public in accordance with Sec. 8.1 of the Securities Regulation Code. The public should take the necessary precautions before entering into transactions

with the company,” the SEC said.

Another company that came under fire from the SEC is Goodlife Fashion

& Accessories Enterprise Corp. which has been promising a double-your-money scheme to attract more buyers.

The scheme purportedly offers investments in the form of distributorship agreements to the public, enticing prospective investors to earn profits ranging from 15 percent to 30 percent interest per month. 

This kind of solicitation activity is similar to a Ponzi scheme where investors are lured with promises of high returns and, for awhile, they may get those returns.

But what they don’t know is that their money is not really being invested in anything at all. The “interest” they receive is money being paid in by later investors.

As long as more investors sign on, which they will because of word-of-mouth advertising about the “great returns,” everything seems fine. But since no real investments are being made, it can’t last long. Because the promoter is only collecting money from new participants to pay off earlier investors, the scheme will inevitably fail.

After a time, the con artists pocket the investors’ money and disappear.

ebu furniture industry makes slight pick-up in Q4

Written by Willy Rodolfo III / Reporter
Tuesday, 22 December 2009 20:39

Cebu furniture industry reported a slight pick-up in factory floor activities in the last quarter of 2009, but players remain conservative on its growth forecast for next year.

Cebu Furniture Industry Foundation (CFIF) Angela Paulin said orders have started to come in the last few months, but this does not mean the worst is over for the industry that saw its revenues, companies and work-force numbers cut by almost half in the last two years.

Paulin said the activity could be attributed to the fact that most US retailers, the industry’s biggest market, are only building up their inventory after scraping to a bare minimum this year.

“We would like to take a conservative stance. There were some activities and some factories are busy, but we still do not know what will happen next year until we see the first quarter,” Paulin said.

“The situation is getting a little bit better, but as far as the industry is concerned, we cannot plan until the end of the year [2010]. We can’t plan that far.”

Figures in 2009 for the Cebu furniture industry were dismal. Exports for the first quarter of the year was only at $12.5 million, more than half less than the same period in 2008, which recorded $31.8 million. This, for an industry that only in 2001 posted revenues of more than $260 million for Cebu alone.

Cebu furniture makers, although making up only 10 percent of the country’s number, produces close to half of the country’s production in terms of export value.

Paulin said the industry’s optimism is pegged on recovering numbers in the US, especially on unemployment, which could translate to more economic activity. She said the domestic market has also helped a lot in keeping factories open with new hotels and condominiums opening up.

She said, however, that the export market remains the bread and butter, especially for Cebu-based manufacturers.

“The recession has taught us to be more creative, to think out of the box and to re-aim ourselves,” Paulin said.

Cebu furniture industry players believe that their strength in design and the reforms they implemented in their factory floors will help them succeed in 2009.

Atienza urges audit of forestry-lease contracts

Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga / Correspondent
Tuesday, 22 December 2009 20:25

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Lito Atienza has ordered the creation of an independent body to audit the performances of awardees of forestry-lease contracts.

Atienza has allocated P8 million for the purpose and has tapped civil-society groups and academe to help weed out what he describes as nonperforming awardees.

There are around 1,936 lease contracts covering 2.45 million hectares of the country’s forestlands.

Atienza wants the independent body to identify those awardees whose performances do not meet the criteria set in their lease contracts.

“The initiative will focus on optimizing the full-potential of the country’s forestry resources to achieve self-sufficiency at the local  and national levels in a more participatory and people-oriented approach,” Atienza said.

The chief of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) noted that the country’s wood requirement, which averages around 1.9 million cubic meters annually, would be sufficiently met if  even half of the awarded areas are developed to their full potential.

According to the Forestry Master Plan, the country needs at least 550,000 hectares of timber plantations to achieve self-sufficiency for its yearly wood supply, with a potential to create 13,000 jobs in the countryside.

Last Nov. 27, Atienza approved a proposal submitted by Forest Management Bureau director Marlo Mendoza seeking the formation of an independent audit team whose members will come from “qualified and credible party outside of the DENR like nongovernment organizations or state colleges and universities offering environmental science and forestry.”

In the proposal, Mendoza said that while assessing the performance of the tenure holders is being done by the DENR, the need for a “high-level of credibility of the assessment process” should be conducted by “a qualified and capable third party,” noting that “in some cases” performance evaluation being done by the DENR is “on an irregular basis.”

Mendoza cited the current situation in the implementation of the 1,783 and 153 lease contracts granted under the Community-Based Forest Management Program (CBFM) and the Integrated Forest Management Agreements (IFMAs), respectively.

IFMAs, awarded to cooperatives and corporations, cover some 832,597 hectares of the country’s residual forest areas, while CBFM is awarded to upland communities covering a total of 1.6 million hectares.

In particular, Mendoza observed that the immediate focus of the still-to-be-created auditing team be given to IFMA holders, saying that “the current IFMA holders in the country are not regularly monitored.”

Through IFMAs, the private sector is awarded up to 40,000 hectares of forest areas under a production-sharing scheme between the private sector and the government. IFMA holders are given the exclusive right for 25 years (renewable for another 25 years) to manage  and utilize their concession areas following specific management measures cited in their DENR-approved Comprehensive Development and Management Plan (CDMP).

“There are even IFMA holders who don’t even have an approved management plan [CDMP], which is required to be prepared by the holder within one year after the approval of the lease contract,” Mendoza stressed.

The IFMA scheme is the result of the 1987 Constitution which gave way to the principle of decentralization and recognition of people’s participation in resource development.

Unlike the old “Timber License Agreement” system whose concession areas included old-growth forests, all timber production under IFMA is now limited within residual forests in accord with the national policy banning all logging in old-growth forests.