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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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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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