How parents of PWDs can be unfair to the world

One day, while waiting for a yoga class, I sat inf ront of a man at the gym’s lobby. At first, it seemed like he was talking to somebody on the phone, but then I realized he was talking to himself. He was merely uttering gibberish, exclaiming names and “I’m sorry, mommy” over and over again.

As a licensed teacher with background in special education, I walked to the reception to ask if the man, probably in his mid to late 20s, was accompanied by anyone. The receptionist said no.

I know the man. I’ve seen him at the gym before. I saw him several times at around closing time, watching snippets of Filipino movies on Youtube.

I was concerned because it seemed that the man was autistic and he was around serious gym equipment.

“Pero Ma’am, harmless naman siya,” said the receptionist.

The gym’s staff seemed to mean well. But also, I felt that from a PR perspective, they’d rather just let the man be. Apparently, the man is brought to the gym by his parents, left there for hours, before getting picked up. I guess that’s why I saw him late at night.

This guy is left here for hours upon hours.

The first feeling that came upon me was anger. How can these parents treat the gym as a daycare center? The gym employees are fitness experts, not special education teachers. So this man sits at the lobby for hours, talking to himself if not going online. After that, he goes upstairs to use some gym equipment, before staring out the window and mumbling to himself anew.

While checking my phone by the rowing machines, he started shouting “Papatayin kita!”

I guess he watched one of those movies with Chanda Romero or Cherie Gil, or maybe it was a line thrown at Sharon Cuneta. He seemed to be fond of those. An older lady on a treadmill saw and put her headphones on. She didn’t seem to mind much.

With the rest of the gym functioning normally, I thought that maybe I shouldn’t mind much, too. It’s a prestigious gym with top of the line equipment, commanding top dollar for their facility. Was it bothering my gym experience?

Can I say yes?

Most people might think I’m being an ultra-sensitive douchebag for caring too much that a PWD is being allowed to be with me in a gym. Everyone deserves everything, true. But this is different. Nobody should leave an adult with special needs at the gym alone for hours.

There’s a sign in the gym that says “To avoid any untoward incidents, children below 14 should not be allowed inside the gym.” But the man was clearly suffering some delays in development, but is allowed inside.

I’m not going to play victim, because I’m not going to die because there’s a guy beside me mumbling while I crawl to my third kilometer. What bothers me most is that the gym has to put up to this.

I get it. The man is still a customer who’s willing to fork out Php 3,500 a month for the membership. Also, can you imagine the backlash they can receive if they turn him away?

I go back to my point about the parents, and how they discarded this guy and left him to deal with himself at the gym. He has no trainer. He just roams around as he pleases. At one point, he blew his nose on his hand. And licked it.

The next time, he blew his nose on the gym’s towel, then placed the soiled side on the gym chair’s armrest. You see, there’s also a health and sanitation aspect to this.

Clearly, this guy needs an attendant with him while at the gym.

So to this guy’s parents, I can just imagine the kind of responsibility that an adult with special needs brings to your life. I’m a PWD myself. But please, he’s not a problem that can just be put away for hours at a time at the gym.

The gym isn’t daycare, just as you are not part time parents.

The case of SMDC and their million-peso parking slots

This is a story about a developer’s greed, and a cautionary tale for those thinking about buying cheap, only to be victimized by the bait and switch method in the end.

In 2009, I bought a 20-square-meter studio unit at the SM Jazz Residences in Makati. They offered me a spread downpayment of 8,300 pesos until turnover in 2012. As a (fairly) fresh graduate making enough, I jumped at the idea. I figured it was in the CBD, and in the worst case, it can serve as my halfway house when traveling home to Paranaque was too much of a pain.

As with most condominiums, the turnover was delayed by 14 months. When I moved in, I was asked to pay 100 pesos (plus vat) per square meter of condominium dues. The problem was, there were no amenities to speak of. They promised a gym, a bunch of swimming pools, a jogging path, blue skies, among others, but upon turnover, they said these won’t be available until 2015 (except the blue skies, which was readily available immediately).

Sweet.

The condo dues was for the monthly upkeep of the condo’s common areas and for the payment of the services of guards and janitors.

For the first tower, there were 783 units. Of course these varied in size, but even if we peg each unit to be only 20 square meters, that means that for one tower alone, they were going to make 1.5 million pesos if it was turned over 100%. Let’s be gracious and say only two-thirds of the units have been turned over. That still leaves the condo admin one million pesos a month for one tower alone for electricity, salaries of guards and janitors, and the general upkeep of a brand new building.

I thought that was too much, but blinded by the convenience of having a room in the city, I turned a blind eye to it.

Months later came the real problem: parking.

You see, Jazz did not offer parking slots until 2013, when they started turning over the units. Nobody had an idea about the price. In 2014, we were made very much aware, though, and not in the nicest way:

SM Jazz Residences in Makati sells parking slots for 1.138 million pesos.

Six square meters for more than a million pesos.

At first, when the mall wasn’t fully functional yet, early residents got to park for free on the second floor and around the complex. Then when the mall started to get busy, they started to cordon off blocks and blocks of parking spaces on the second floor, until they started charging per hour.

The only recourse was to park around the premises, within the condo complex. That was a gamble, too. Get home too late and you won’t have parking.

One day, they cordoned off the whole area. Why?

Dumaan po kasi si Big Boy. Yung anak ni Henry Sy. Bawal na po daw mag park,” said one guard.

Nice.

So there’s no free parking. Ok, let’s pay! That’s just fair.

At first, they allowed residents to park at the ground floor. Forty pesos for the first two hours, 20 pesos per hour per succeeding hour, then if you exceed after mall hours, there is an additional 300-peso charge.

Let’s do some math. If you get home at 7pm, prepare dinner, and get out by 7, that’s roughly 540 pesos.

Wow! Parang hotel lang!

That was then. But now?

Mall administration already disallowed parking within their controlled area, which included the entrance to the condo. After hours, you are not allowed to park on the ground floor.

Certainly, the condo has its own pay parking facility right?

“Ma’am, you may call Ainee sa leasing. She’s in charge of leasing and sales of parking slots.”

“Lease is hard to come by, because the demand is greater than the supply. Are there any other options available to me?”

“Ma’am, you may call Ainee sa leasing. She’s in charge of leasing and sales of parking slots.”

Right.

This was SMDC’s great plan. There are a total of 5,367 units in Jazz. How many parking units?

1,232

It’s like they assumed only 22 percent of the units need parking.

Genius.

This might leave people saying “Bibili-bili ka ng condo, wala ka palang pambayad ng parking! Eew! Poor!”

True. I don’t have 1.138 million lying around. In fact, I’m slaving away to make ends meet trying to pay mortgage for my 1.7 million peso condo. But seriously, even if I had 1.138 million, I wouldn’t spend it on a parking slot.

I have not tried to look up how much parking is for more conyo developers like Ayala and Century. But by gosh, I can’t believe I was duped by SM. They promised me affordable living, then four years after, surprise me with the cost of parking- roughly 60 percent of the cost of the unit itself.

As a late 20s yuppie, I appeal to others like me to think twice about investing in these things. The try to flirt with you with low downpayments, and the allure of owning your own place, and end up screwing you over.

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Lawmakers face tough battle in naturalizing NBA players McGee, Blatche

Lawmakers face tough battle in naturalizing NBA players McGee, Blatche

Granting of Filipino citizenship through legislation is not an easy task. Of the 13 bills of such nature filed in the previous congress, only one was enacted into law. Republic Act 10148 granted Gilas big man Marcus Douthit Philippine citizenship.

A similar bill filed in the 15th Congress, House Bill 2683, was supposed to grant citizenship to six-foot-three women’s basketball player Xiaojing Zheng. It passed in the lower house but languished in the senate.

From now until July, it’s a race against time for Puno in the lower house.

“Kailangan natin ikutan yung mga adjournment ng congress,” added Puno in an interview with Spin.ph. The congress will take a break from March 14 to May 4, further trimming the time to get things going. Puno added that they set the record with the fastest approval for citizenship with Douthit at seven months.

This time, they plan to do it in a bit over one:

“Kailangan kong ma-approve sa congress by March 14 and that would give the senate time to approve their counterpart bill [the Angara bill] between May 5 and June 13.”

Puno also has to get the support of Congress’ Justice committee and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, Jr.

The elder Belmonte took convincing the last time around, when it was Douthit’s naturalization on the table. “Critical yung suporta ni Speaker [Belmonte] kasi pag sumuporta si Speaker, lahat sasabay,” said Puno. With FIBA allowing only one naturalized player to suit up, Belmonte may need even more convincing now that Puno is asking for a “pool” of naturalized players, especially when it seems that players may be granted citizenship even if they will not be able to play. 

“Baka hindi rin umabot [si McGee] but he’s our first choice,” Puno added. “Pinakiusap ni Chot [Reyes] sakin kung pwedeng dalawahin na natin subukan i-naturalize.”

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Broke in Bangkok: Surviving four days on $100

Broke in Bangkok: Surviving four days on $100

Budget airlines always offer promo fares to various Asian destinations, but affordable flights to Bangkok have begun to dwindle. Filipinos are slowly starting to see why Westerners and Asians alike now flock to the City of Angels, where their money stretches for miles.

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How you let 7107 let you down

The producers of 7107 Music Festival recently released “Phase 2” of their performers and a lot of people are disappointed.

After inducing a much-welcomed freakout by bitchslapping us with Red Hot Chili Peppers and others for their Phase 1 reveal, more than 71 thousand people flocked to the producer’s Facebook page to play what seemed to be a never-ending guessing game as to who will banner Phase 2.

The chase

7107 teased potential patrons with Instagramed photos of lyrics, and with each post, some super fan, real or not, died and/or peed a little bit inside.

By December, 7107 kept on dishing out “specials” for bulk sales and holiday deals. Naturally, fans got impatient.

“Yeah and you guys still didn’t release the Phase 2 lineup,” one fan said on December 29.

Phase 2

And so with fans whining in social media about how the producers are holding out too long for their “next reveal”, 7107 quietly released Phase 2 this week. Who’s bannering Phase 2? Kanye? Jay? Tool?

Sorry, honey. No.

Kaskade.

Yes, Kaskade. Oh, and for some consolation, there’s Kendrick Lamar.

ImageAre you ok?

It’s everyone’s fault (or nobody’s), really

It feels natural to join the legions of music aficionados who are condemning the organizers for “taking them for a ride”.

But that would be unfair.

Those disappointed got on the joyride. Perhaps some more discerning people waited for “Phase 2” before purchasing tickets. Some bought immediately, blinded by Red Hot, thinking that if 7107 can haul such a huge act over, it wouldn’t be difficult to assume that more are coming.

They fed their minds with the Phase 2 guesses splashed all over the comments section on the event’s Facebook page.

Foo Fighters, Radiohead, Lorde, Blink, Greenday, Pearl Jam, Franz Ferdinand, Coldplay, Ellie Goulding, Frank Ocean and Drake were some of the names dropped…

… by fans.

How it would have worked

In my most humble opinion, 7107 would have worked if:

1. They invested the way they wanted the concertgoers to invest

7107 wanted the producers to have tens of thousands of people fork out 20 and eight thousand pesos to witness their spectacle. It didn’t matter that part of their target market had the starting salary of 16-18 thousand pesos fresh out of college. Perhaps they thought that’s what parents are for. I mean, their parents must know RHCP. Surely, they’d understand.

7107 had an amazing idea. They also targeted the perfect market. The variety in their lineup meant that it appealed to a wide range of people, from college kids to twenty-something fresh yuppies to 40 and even 50-something aware people who have money to blow. That’s what? The A and B crowd.

The problem was that the producers failed to remember that the A and B crowds are also demanding crowds. They’ve watched concerts here and abroad. Their Facebook feeds have been flooded with Coachella posts from their cousins and friends in the States. They probably watched F1 races in Macau and Singapore.

In short, they know what their money’s worth.

Photos with song lyrics wouldn’t cut it, especially to a more discerning audience.

2. The organizers saw sponsors and food commissaries as partners, not cash cows

This writer has been informed that 7107 asked eight digits for sponsorship deals for two days of exposure. How many TV and print ads can you buy with that? How many social media campaigns can you run with that? How many UAAP athletes can you get to endorse your product for a year or two with that? The Teng brothers are making an issue about Big Macs vs Double Cheeseburgers and they’re getting paid for that for a fraction of what 7107 wants its sponsors to cough up.

If, like the organizers, you want to make money out of the concertgoers, you can opt to drop 70 thousand pesos to sell food. You can rent a whole kiosk in a high foot traffic place in Manila for a whole month with that.

3. They managed expectations of everybody (including theirs)

Contrary to what the organizers thought, money won’t just keep flowing in, especially after the delay in the release of Phase 2. The delay in divulging Phase 2 artists only meant one thing: they didn’t have a lineup worth salivating over.

Also, if I borrow the meaning of “international” from, say, international schools, there should be more “international” people than local, whether or not you follow the 51% rule or 50%+1 rule. Someone from Twitter asked the organizers:

“More local artists than foreign? Isn’t that supposed to be a good thing?”

The organizer’s reply?

“We’ve always wanted to support local talent.”

Yaserious, bro?

Check out the “Sponsors” tab of their website and you will see so many…

… media partners.

They posted one photo of Smart’s sponsorship contract only a little over a month prior to the event. Maybe they reminded Smart of the campaign they did for the telco giant years ago, when they brought Lupe Fiasco and Jermaine Dupri over to perform at the Iphone 4S launch. Before that? Nada. If I were the organizers, I’d be so disappointed.

For how many friends and business partners that flock their establishments and grace their events, nobody trusted them with that eight figure price?

Comb twitter for posts about the event and you will see a buttload of celebrities asking you to buy tickets. Did those people even buy tickets or gratis lahat yon?

Mixed emotions

I can’t help but have mixed emotions for the organizers. It takes a lot of balls to organize something this big. It was a gamble on their part, and in a way, it’s admirable to see a group of people imagine something of this magnitude “for us”. But concurrently, I am disappointed that they wasted this opportunity. They could have secured quality talent by getting commitments from sponsors if they didn’t charge so much.

They minimum complianced their way into this project, hoping that all their ultra marketing plan would pull them through. But this week, they had a slice of humble pie, admitting that there isn’t anybody better besides Kaskade and Kendrick Lamar.

That weekend

Perhaps Red Hot will pull them through. Perhaps not. Perhaps the the concert venue will be so full, we’d be rubbing elbows with the same people we see at Republiq or Saguijo. Perhaps it will be half empty and people will have a place to play frisbee.

Perhaps the organizers don’t care because they have enough friends to fill up the VIP tables. Perhaps the NBI will be there since it has been suggested that the event is bankrolled by Napoles money. Perhaps 7107 will make enough money to actually donate proceeds, as they originally marketed.

Did anyone even ask how much of the proceeds are actually going to typhoon victims? Or do we not care?

Basta meron.

That’s how we justify going to this concert. “Part of the proceeds will go to charity,” they said.

What part? One percent? Two percent? Gross or net?

That’s the problem here. We never bothered to ask the relevant questions.

In the end, I hope we all see this as a learning experience. We should be aware about what we are going to buy, and not be swayed by photoshopped and filtered promises. Concert producers should also learn that you absolutely get what you give. If they give the minimum, that’s the same reaction they’ll get from the people. “Underwhelmed” is the word going around Twitter for now. Potential concertgoers will shy away because of the lackluster lineup. The organizers would have to offer the early bird prices till kingdom come.

Truth be told, a little honestly would have gone a long way. I would have spent 1k for a double dose of UDD and Ron Poe anyway. – RAF

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The (mas) kuripot 52-week money challenge: Earning 27k to 137k on barya

A blog post from Kuripot Pinay on how someone can save almost Php 69,000 a year went viral on my Facebook wall today. The premise is simple: start the first week saving Php 50, and add the same amount every week for 52 weeks. At the end, a person will have Php 68,900.

Fifty pesos seems easy enough to keep weekly, but having to add fifty for 51 more weeks it means that every week from October onwards, you’d have to save at least Php 2,000 a week. Bigat!

So on one lazy January day last year, charts varsity Emerald Ridao came up with modified table, showing how much you’d save with a base amount of Php 20 to a maximum of Php 100. You know, for those who have scuttled under the poverty line after spending more than three thousand pesos on that Starbucks planner.

Pick a base amount and multiply by the number of weeks.

Pick a base amount and multiply by the number of weeks.

Saving Php 20, adding the same amount weekly, will yield a decent Php 27,560 at the end of the year. A thirty peso-base will yield Php 41,340, while a Php 40 base will give you Php 55,120. For the more blessed, Php 50 weekly will net you Php 137,800 at the end of the year.

Not bad.

Emerald suggested that if the contributions get too heavy for the bigger amounts, it wouldn’t hurt to slide down a notch or two. For example, one can start with the 50-peso base. But when it gets heavy, say at Week 20, where you have to contribute Php 1,000, it’s perfectly fine to slide down to the 40-peso base, where Week 20 is still just as 800. In week 40, the contribution for the 50-peso base is already at Php 2,000. Sliding down to its equivalent from the 20-peso base demands just Php 800 as well.

[UPDATE]

We have put together a 2015 Pinaka-Kuripot version that starts with Php 10! Good luck!

Emerald Ridao 52 Week Challenge

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JaVale McGee’s Filipino citizenship #tbt

Just in time for some Throwback Thursday for our friends in the US.

Almost two years ago in the 15th Congress, a Philippine legislator filed a bill seeking to grant JaVale McGee Filipino citizenship. Pretty sure Congressman Puno didn’t comb Youtube for JaVale highlights.

The bill stated that his “remarkable track record” makes him an asset to the Philippines’ aspirations to “regain lost glory in international basketball competitions”.

House Bill 6169 never made it past the committee level, though. It can still be re-filed, but perhaps local congressmen may not be so enthusiastic this time around.

McGee has not been able to help the Denver Nuggets this season as he continues to rehabilitate his fractured left tibia. He is out indefinitely.

Read the rest of this bill here.

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Raiding the post-holiday fridge

I will not apologize for having that second saucer of fruit salad. 

A considerable number of people are going to flood gyms to write the wrongs committed during the holidays.

Some want to atone their gluttony. Other people (like me) don’t really care.

So as people got back to work, I spent my time raiding the fridge for edibles to combine. I saw my mom’s nine-day old potato salad. Up in the chiller were slices of Majestic ham. I scanned for some maple syrup and found that we had two. Awesome. Now to make something work. Ingredients:

  • Old potato salad
  • A slice of Christmas ham
  • Maple syrup

Instructions:

  • Squeeze a generous amount of maple syrup on the ham
  • Pop in the ham into the microwave for 15 seconds
  • Place ham on top of potato salad

The sweet glaze was a great contrast to the potato salad. The carrots also justified the sliver of fat on the ham. The meat offered some challenge, and to have it in the same bite as the crunchy pineapple bits was an absolute treat. Prep time was a breeze, too.

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