Thursday, February 17, 2011

Feng shui consultant sees good year for Philippines

By Mia A. Aznar

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

IF THERE is anything economic forecasts and a feng shui master agree on, it is that the country faces some good business prospects in 2011.

Marites Allen, a feng shui consultant who was the guest speaker during the economic briefing hosted by the Cebu Business Club and Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, explained that feng shui entails a lot of analysis and its readings are not plucked out of thin air.

“It is not a religion. It is not magic. And it is not a superstition,” Allen said.

She said feng shui analyzes the path chee chart, which holds the destiny of the year.


To demonstrate, she showed that the previous year, 2010, had an unbalanced chart, as the elements of water and fire were missing.

As a result, 2010 was riddled with earthquakes, flooding, snow storms, heat waves and volcanic eruptions.

For this year, Allen noted that the elements are clashing.

She sees assassination attempts, violent clashes using small and big weapons and natural disasters.

She also warned that 2011 is not the time to change careers.

In the year of the metal rabbit, Allen said businesses under the wood element have a discouraging outlook.

She identified plantations, agriculture, publishing, public relations and flowers as some of the businesses under the wood element.

However, she identified businesses under the metal element such as jewelry and appliances as being competitive if the right strategies are applied. She added that there may be short-term profits in such businesses.


Under the fire element, Allen said stocks, the entertainment and restaurant industry and bright lighting businesses will take off. She especially predicted the Philippine Stock Exchange to do well in the summer months.

Businesses such as banking, shipping, transport, tourism and fishing were identified as being under the water element and are also expected to prosper.

Earth element businesses such as mining, construction, hotels, real estate and property are expected to yield medium term profits.

As for the country’s prospects, Allen said the Philippines has a status star, which means many will bring honor to the country.


She added that it also has the three general star, which is expected to have good leaders and potential chief executive officers.

Also under the country’s path is a star of art, which she says means Filipinos who are skillful such as designers, actors, singers and painters will succeed. She encouraged the country’s leaders to send out more talents abroad.

The flower of romance is also in the Philippines’ way, which Allen interprets as making it attractive in the international market.

Allen also said a lunar virtue star shows many opportunities for the Philippines.
“It is up to us to grab it,” she said.

Allen also sees big wealth for the country, especially from outside sources, which she said, could come from exports.

She noted, though, that the wealth distribution could be uneven and that the power lies in the hands of the rich.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 10, 2011.

Relocation ‘under LGU discretion’

By Elias O. Baquero and Rebelander S. Basilan

Friday, February 18, 2011

THE Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) yesterday said local government units (LGUs) are mandated by Republic Act 7279, also known as the Urban Development and Housing Act (Udha) of 1992,to provide relocation sites to squatters affected by demolitions.

However, HUDCC Undersecretary Cecilia Alba clarified that the law only applies to those who became informal settlers not later than 1992. Otherwise, informal settlers will have to rely on the discretion of the LGUs on whether they will be provided with relocation, she said.

Udha was signed into law by then president Corazon C. Aquino in the last year of her term. President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, her son, wants to fully implement it.

In Mandaue City, Mayor Jonas Cortes ordered the demolition of 18 illegal structures along the Centro Creek in Barangay Centro. The City Housing and Urban Development Office (Udho), though, will first identify who among the affected families are “professional squatters.”

City Legal Officer Giovanni Tianero said the law defines “professional squatters” as informal settlers who accept financial assistance from the government to relocate, but continue to set up illegal structures.

Their houses can be demolished even without financial assistance and a relocation
site, said Tianero in a press conference yesterday.

Proposed relocation site

Mandaue City Udho officer-in-charge Emmanuel Arong said the demolition will be carried out next week.

“Those who are not `professional squatters’ will not face demolition, pending the availability of financial assistance and relocation site. Because we have to follow the law,” said Tianero.

One of the proposed relocation sites for families affected by the demolitions is a 6.5-hectare lot in Barangay Paknaan, Mandaue City. The lot, valued at P4,000 per square meter, can accommodate 1,200 families.

One arrangement being considered by the City Government is to give financial assistance to informal settlers upon demolition for their mortgage payment of the lot.

He clarified that the relocated families, not the City, will purchase the lots. This, he said, is meant to teach them how to become responsible.

The arrangement, however, has yet to be finalized, he said.

Cortes also urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to take the lead in solving drainage problems, saying elected officials are constrained by term limits.

“We tend to forget there are government agencies whose mandate is to establish drainage system. That’s part and parcel of the mandate of DPWH,” he said.

Also yesterday, the Pabahay Caravan was launched at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu City.

Binay’s message

HUDCC chairperson Vice President Jejomar Binay, in a message read by Undersecretary Alba, said that under Udha, LGUs are mandated to deliver quality homes to their constituents.

“Our role in HUDCC is to enable them (LGUs) to provide these services by orienting
them on our housing programs and training them to facilitate the implementation of such projects in their areas,” he said.

Alba said they are happy Cebu LGUs, headed by Gov. Gwen Garcia, is receptive to the Pabahay Caravan.

Garcia and mayors in Central Visayas, who attended the launching, discussed resettlement assistance, local community mortgage and housing loans.

Binay also ordered the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board 7 to talk about how comprehensive land use planning can help LGUs ensure rational, ecologically-balanced and sustainable development of resources and growth of human settlements.

“By making the LGUs aware of our housing programs and services, we will be able to
encourage them to work together with the national government in accelerating shelter production and enhancing the delivery of housing services to the people,” he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 18, 2011.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Top development firm sees continuing uptrend in real-estate industry this year

The real-estate industry is expected to continue on its uptrend this year although developers should be cautious about building up too much inventory as the probability is there that it could plateau very soon, an industry expert said.

Victor H. Manarang, president of the Extraordinary Development Corp., said the industry as a whole remains bullish as the factors fueling the growth are still there, such as the low-interest regime, GDP growth, and the rising income level of the population.

“But the supply side has also grown substantially in the last few years so a lot of inventory is coming in, and therefore, we cannot say for sure if we have balanced the supply and demand, or if the supply has actually overtaken the demand. That is why we, at Extraordinary Group, are cautious in growing our supply,” Manarang, who has personally witnessed the movement of the industry as an insider since 1987, said.

Just like in 2009 and 2010, Manarang said 2011 should see the continuation of the uptrend. But when it will begin to plateau is something that they should watch out for.

“If we use the supply and demand as the basis, there will be no sudden drop. It will rise, reach a plateau, and then start the downtrend. We think the plateau will come, but we are not sure when,” he said.

Manarang said some would predict the cycles by counting the number of years from the last experienced uptrend to the downtrend as gleaned from the past 50 years. But there are economic and industry factors that should also be considered, including the period of the delivery of the supply and the resale of units that were bought by investors.

He said a lot of the buyers are not acquiring property for end-use but for investment, like having them rented or offer them later for resale. These, Manarang said, will greatly affect future market conditions as plenty of resale will cause oversupply.

Unfortunately, he said, it is not easy to separate which purchases are for end-use and which are for investment purposes.

Also, Manarang said the 3 million to 4 million housing backlog as announced by the government is not a good gauge in determining the size of the demand.

“This is derived from the survey of the population and while it says how many of the people need housing, it does not say how many can afford to buy. And considering the state of our economy, majority could not afford. So this is not an ‘actualizable’ demand because while the desire is there to purchase a house, the capacity to buy them isn’t there. But they can also become the tenants or customers of our buyers,” he said.

Cityhood ruling reversed anew

THE Supreme Court (SC) has reversed itself for the second time on the issue of whether the cityhood laws, which allow 16 municipalities to be converted into cities, is constitutional.

After declaring the cityhood laws unconstitutional in a ruling issued on August 24, 2010, the Court, in Tuesday’s en banc session, reversed that decision with a vote of 7-6-2, and reinstated its December 21, 2009, decision which affirmed the constitutionality of the laws.

At a press briefing, Court Administrator and spokesman Jose Midas Marquez explained that the reversal of the Court’s ruling on the cityhood laws should not come as a surprise, considering that the case “is unusual and the vote of the justices was very tight.”

Marquez indicated that the latest ruling might not put an end to the issue since it is expected that the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) will still file a motion for reconsideration.

“This is really a very unusual case. I have yet to hear another case which has gone this way,” Marquez said.

The Court granted the motion for reconsideration filed by the 16 municipalities whose laws had earlier been declared unconstitutional.

Declared as valid and constitutional are the cityhood laws Republic Acts (RA) 9389 (Baybay City in Leyte), 9390 (Bogo City in Cebu), 9391 (Catbalogan City in Samar), 9392 (Tandag City in Surigao del Sur), 9393 (Lamitan City in Basilan), 9394 (Borongan City in Samar), 9398 (Tayabas City in Quezon), 9404 (Tabuk City in Kalinga), 9405 (Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur), 9407 (Batac City in Ilocos Norte), 9408 (Mati City in Davao Oriental), 9409 (Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental), 9434 (Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte), 9435 (El Salvador City in Misamis Oriental), 9436 (Carcar City in Cebu) and 9491 (Naga City in Cebu).

The Court held that the cityhood laws, enacted after the effectivity of RA 9009 or the Local Government Code, explicitly exempt respondent municipalities from the increased-income requirement, to qualify as cities, from P20 million to P100 million in Section 450 of the LGC.

Among the justices who voted to declare the cityhood laws constitutional were Chief Justice Renato Corona, Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Lucas Bersamin, Roberto Abad, Jose Perez and Jose Mendoza.

Justice Mendoza previously voted against.

Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Martin Villarama Jr., Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Conchita Carpio-Morales, Arturo Brion and Diosdado Peralta maintained the position that the laws are unconstitutional.

Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo and Antonio Eduardo Nachura took no part anew on the resolution of the issue.

In its November 18, 2008 ruling, the Court, voting 6-5, granted the petition filed by LCP seeking to declare unconstitutional the cityhood laws.

Justice Carpio penned the November 18 decision which held that the laws violate Sections 6 and 10, Article X of the Constitution.

Carpio explained that the exemption in the cityhood laws is unconstitutional because the Constitution requires that such exemption must be written into the LGC and not into any other laws.

The Court subsequently dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by the municipalities with a vote of 6-6 on April 28, 2009.

The LCP has been opposing the cityhood laws, saying that the “wholesale conversion of municipalities into cities” will greatly reduce the cities’ share in the Internal Revenue Allotment, since more cities will partake of the internal revenue set aside for all cities under Section 285 of the LCG.

However, on December 21, 2009, with a vote of 6-4, the Court reversed the November 18, 2008 ruling—on the ground that a deadlock vote does not show the sentiment of the majority of the magistrates.

Justice Velasco, who penned the December 21 ruling, granted the second motion for reconsideration filed by the municipalities.

Velasco explained that the 6-6 vote does not reflect the majority of the members of the Court as contemplated in Section 4 (2), Article VIII of the Constitution, which requires all cases involving constitutionality of a treaty and international agreement shall be heard by the SC en banc and decided with the concurrence of a majority of the members who actually took part in the deliberations of the case.

But, on August 24, the Court, voting 7-6, granted the motions for reconsideration of the LCP and reinstated its November 18, 2008, decision declaring the cityhood laws unconstitutional.

HSBC: Peso could reach 37.5:$1

THE peso was seen on Wednesday to gain sharply against the US dollar and likely average P37.5 per dollar by yearend, according to the British-owned lender HSBC.

This, as its managing director and cohead of Asian economic research, Frederic Neumann, also said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas was about the only central bank in the region that has kept its policy rates steady when everyone else in the region has since acted preemptively against rising price pressures.

He, likewise, said while the next rate-setting meeting of the BSP’s monetary board had been set for March 24 this year, the more likely hike in policy rates would come in May.

According to Neumann, the country’s macroeconomic underpinnings support the strong forecast growth of the peso over the near term.

Local output or the gross domestic product should grow by at least 5 percent this year and accelerate further to 5.8 percent next year on the back of accelerating private consumption, government spending and investments.

“Growth is expected to be strong, the exchange rate should reflect it,” he observed.

And because growth is rapidly expanding, inflation, or the rate of change in prices, was also seen to accelerate from 8.8 percent last year to 4.4 percent this year and to around 4.8 percent next year.

The BSP earlier released a forecast that sees inflation averaging also by 4.4 percent this year but moderating to around 3.5 percent next year.

Neumann said both the US Fed and the European Central Bank (ECB) were unlikely to raise interest rates in their respective spheres because unemployment numbers in one and tentative growth in the other were forecast to remain weak.

He brushed aside arguments that cheap money in both the US and euro area should apply as well to countries in the region, pointing out that Asian trends for core inflation had been rising.

“Countries in the region are generating their own inflation pressures and central banks here need to respond independent of the ECB or the US Fed,” Neumann said.

He added there was an urgency to respond to rising trend inflation because central banks like the BSP, for example, are most effective when they respond preemptively rather than reactively.

“I think the earlier the better since the Philippines is now the standout in the region for not having raised its interest rate yet,” Neumann said.

In fairness to the monetary authorities, BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. acknowledged the presence of “more risks in the near future” although in the end the seven-man MB kept their policy-rate structure intact for the time being.

Neumann said the remittances of overseas Filipinos, the forecast surplus in the balance of payments, and strong growth all point to a strong peso; and that these and other factors are not reflected in the actual exchange rate.

From P37.5 per dollar this year, the exchange-rate should strengthen further to P35.5 the following year, according to Neumann.

BSP head of Treasury Wick Veloso, however, thinks that while the peso was bound to strengthen, the more realistic rate was around P41 per dollar by year end.

Veloso’s view is closer to an earlier forecast release by Goldman Sachs whose economists believe the peso upside was limited to around P41 per dollar.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cebu Landmasters sees more room for growth in residential condo market

By Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) Updated February 05, 2011 12:00 AM

CEBU, Philippines - A 16-story building will soon rise in one of the midtown landmarks in Cebu, within the 1.5 hectare Baseline Complex property, which will provide a total of 170 affordable condominium units.

Local real estate developer Cebu Landmasters, Inc. and property owner Riasjac Corporation have formalized their partnership to build a P350 million medium-rise residential condominium building in the uptown district of Cebu, maximizing the strategic property location of Baseline Complex, owned by the Canizares family.

Cebu Landmasters Inc. president Jose R. Soberano III said this is the 2nd condominium project of the company, following the success of similar project located at the Asiatown IT Park called Asia Premier.

Soberano said despite the entry of more condominium projects in Cebu, there is still a huge market for this kind of development, especially in the midtown area, where everything is near.

Based on the survey conducted by the company, Soberano said the location in the Baseline Complex is considered one of the premium locations for residential condominium projects in the City, as it is near the hospitals, schools, shopping center, and church, among others.

According to Soberano, while most condominium projects are located in the far uptown areas in Cebu, this new development will take advantage of the market that requires proximity to important destinations.

The 170 condominium units that will be built in the next 20 months will offer only studio and one-bedroom feature. These are primarily targeted to professionals, business, and out-of-towners, including foreigners, and OFWs.

The condominium project will kick off the re-development of the entire Baseline Complex, Soberano said expressing his gratitude for the Canizares family for the partnership.

The building will cover a total of 1,500 square-meter of the total 1.5 hectare property.

Soberano’s company, the Cebu Landmasters which is known for its series of pocket-subdivision projects in the sub-urban and countryside areas in Cebu, is now entering the fertile condominium development, re-enforcing Cebu’s bid to become the second home destination in Asia.

According to Soberano, even residents from within Cebu province residing for instance in Toledo, Danao, and far flung towns, are needing second-residence in the City, fueling the demand for condominium units here.

Landmaster’s first condominium project, the Asia Premier Residences located at the Asiatown IT Park is already 90 percent sold, barely a year after it was introduced to the market.

This indicates the strong demand for condominium units in Cebu, regardless of the growing number of developers entering into residential condominium developments.

Cebu Landmasters, Inc. is a home-grown real estate development company in Cebu. After its incorporation in 2003, the company brought its passion for real estate to the countryside by developing its first residential subdivision, called San Jose Maria Village, in the own of Balamban, followed by similar projects established in Minglanilla, Toledo, and Talisay City. (FREEMAN)

For Project Briefing call (63)(32) 3181589, +63918.9236123

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