Monday, June 8, 2015

Donate Your Old Books

There were times during my elementary and high school days where I have to share my text book with at least 5 more students. We read together, we outline together and work together to make sure it will work. During those times, I was wishing I hope I could have a separate book of my own.

One day, being a son of a teacher in the bario. Me and my siblings visited the place where my mom teaches. We walk hours, we hitched in a truck full of gravels and sand. That time I felt lucky at least we have a library and at least i have one book to share with only 5. Unlike them (pupils of my mom) only have 10 books for all of them.

Fast forward to today, my brother is now teaching to where my mom used to teach. He noticed that the problem way back is still the same as of today. So he decided to solicit books from his classmates way back in his college days. He tapped his friends as well. Apparently, it is not enough to supply for him to create a library for the school.

I decided to help and put up the Project Mountain Alphabet. It envisions to reach out to those schools like my brother's school where he teach. If it is possible to create a library for everyone in the school or even the community to help.

Our first project of course is to help my brother at a good cause. It is hard to collect books from different people as we dont have an office for them to drop off their books. We dont have an office because this is simply a group of friends working together for the common good. It is somehow an extra curricular activities aside from our own work.

TROFI or Truly Reach Overseas Filipino Investors help out and shared a portion of their resources. Somehow, the cash they gave us were used to buy new books, bags, notebooks, and other school supplies. Friends and colleagues from Thomson Reuters help out as well in various ways plus of course volunteering their team to deliver the items to the school and build the shelves in the library.

This time around, we are beginning to collect books one more time, or any donations from everyone to revisit the school. The books you donate or the resources you share will help one school in the mountains to have at least a book to read, to research on. Teachers will teach their students to research. Students will have a chance to learn through the mini library and through the resources you share.

Lets help each other to help communities not fortunate enough to have a decent books to read.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

My Personal War on Financial Freedom

I always imagine to land a job on the best companies after college. Thanks for my ambitious attitude I ended up with the best companies in their own crafts. I had the best company in managing people, landed a job in a financial institution under the umbrella of their multimedia services. I was able to help my mom send my sister to the school she wants in college and take the course she dreamed. Own a house through mortgage have a phone for my so called internet/online business and of course have my own pet etc. Is this all that it takes so you could say you are financially free?

At 20, the way I look at financial freedom is to have a job. I thought that having a job will secure me all through out. Of course, we all need a stable job to buy the things we need and sometime the things we want. The job will help us make through the so called personally quest to be financially free. I always thought that Social Security System will provide me with the things I need because I am eyeing for their upcoming pension.

Now at 30, financial freedom struck with a crystal clear realization that all the while I thought I was doing right. Don't get me wrong I am always thinking of how I could juggle for financial freedom when I age incapable of going to work anymore. I always thought that if I pay my Social Security System regularly I will secure my future. Later did I realize it wont but it will be of help to pay your monthly bills.

Here's what I learned along the way.

1. SAVE - Is one of the biggest contributor to you becoming financial capable at the age of 50. So here's how it would look like. Lets say you started working at the age of 25 and you wanted to retire at the age of 50. It would mean you'll have 25 years to save before you retire. Php 500 per pay day can go along way. So when you started working at age of 25 and you regularly save Php 500 of your salary it means that when you reach the age of 50 you'll have approximately Php 300,000 in your bank account. When you say SAVING it means you shouldn't be using it no matter what it takes.

Question is can you retire if you only have SAVINGS? The answer is NO. In my idea, you can't retire if you only have savings because as you age it means your expenses in medicine and doctors fee will increase as well.

When you say savings, you have to consider your daily expenses in the future, health care when you grow old and of course that includes your ability to enjoy the amenities you used to have when you are working like the basic necessities such as phone bills and cable TV.

2. Invest - I learned it the hard way. Investment is really huge factor in securing your financial freedom the moment you retire. I was talking to some of my friends and we were discussing how far we have gone to securing our future or when we retire. I realize that I was so far behind compared to their achievement. I also realized that I lack planning on my SAVINGS and INVESTMENT. When we say investment, my friends refer it an asset that yields MONEY that will add up to your savings. If this is their definition, is GADGET consider an investment? NO when they say investment I learned that it should be long term and it should yield.

I love The Suzy Orman Show and according to her, when making a decision you need to follow simple rule: People First, then Money then Things. Putting this in perspective in terms of investment. I would say that house first then start considering investment that will yield money in the long run.

Here's how they generate more money, they have mutual funds, they trade at stock exchange and they have online businesses and other income generating investment.

Here's their advise knowing the fact that I am a regular employee with no other source of income and that I am simply

3. Spend Less - Less expenses means more money to save. During our chit chat with friends I later found out that they are spending less. I mean they don't have the most expensive phone out there. I noticed that they aren't 

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Dark Ages in Financial Literacy

Work, work, work, and MORE WORK.... I thought this is what I thought financial freedom should be. If I work, I would have a penny to somehow bring me to financial freedom to the point of buying everything I want.

Fast forward after my university days. Excited as I am to finally have a chance to look for a better job who could at least pay me enough for what I have been dreaming off was the start of my so called dark ages of financial freedom.

I built and plan my career, I made sure that I my timeline and career path is followed strictly... I told myself that each step I successfully made would mean I will land to a better and very well compensated company and with that I will be able to buy whatever I want.

I was able to be successful in reaching the company I ever wanted and the salary I ever wanted. Definitely it is good because I was able to prove that I can make it for as long as I am persistent and definitely hard work along with good career planning. However, it realized the hard way that it is not a guarantee for financial freedom.

Over the weekend, I am chatting with my neighbor about the struggle we have to undergo just for us to get a housing loan. My neighbor is a plain housewife with three elementary kids and a husband who works with a minimum wage. They were able to extend their house, tiled the floor, move the comfort room and had a concrete divider and changed their windows. They accomplished 85% more than what I accomplished.

This is my eye opener that a true financial freedom is not measured by how much is your monthly income but rather it is measured by how much you save out of your salary. I have higher compensation versus them but I am in huge debt, I don't have savings in the bank, and I accomplished only 15% compared to how far they've accomplished in their home improvement.

I told myself that this is the proof of being financially incapable of managing my resources. My future action then would either tell me if I fail the challenge to become financial literate and if I am capable of handling my finances and saving for my future. I wanted to retire at 50. In order to do so, I should have plans on how to achieve such goals.

I will be sharing that story in the coming days or months.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Coca Cola Philippines Did It Again

Year after year, I am waiting what advertisement Coca Cola Philippines would launch. Last year was a tear jerking short film type of advertisement showing different real life drama from working on the graveyard to working during Christmas and New Years celebration.

Coca Cola marketing genius jumped into using the Filipino Characteristics and used it to its 3 minute advertisement through its Share a Coke Campaign. Personally, the advertisement call us out to continue with the habit that we are used to and use it to our advantage.

Check this video and let me know what you think.

It is indeed the Happiest Than You! A real life drama, a very creative advertisement and definitely it is "relatable"  to every Filipino.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Where to Eat in Tagaytay

Tagaytay has been my favorite spot for a quick getaway. It is a place where I could definitely be myself. Tagaytay is a place where I am very confident I am more comfortable staying and roaming around. I am confident for many various reason but to top it all, it is the closest to where I grew up when it comes to weather and ambiance of the whole place.

So over the weekend, I had this opportunity to roam around a friend from the US and I am most proud of bringing her to the best places I have known at Tagaytay. A place where she could be herself and definitely a place where she could unwind and have the best of Filipino foods at its finest.

It is by Filipino nature to bring a relative or a friend to a certain place and of course for their visitors to experience what the host loves so much and so that's what we did and I know where exactly I could bring her to have the best experience by far.

Bulalo at its Finest

For every Filipino, I am certain that they have the common knowledge of what Bulalo would look or taste like and maybe everyone has their own technique and style of cooking. One thing is for sure, the longer the beef is boiled and cooked the better the soup would taste like.

...and when you say Bulalo, Tagaytay is the nearest place in Metro Manila who prepares it BEST. For me, when you say BULALO it will be Alegre's Canteen at Mahogany Market is the face. The mouth watering stew is definitely a must try aside for the fact that they have a crew who provides wonderful service.

First from the Left is my favorite crew of Alegre, then Judy Alegre with Mylyn, Me and my friend Anthony.

What to expect?

Mahogany Market is technically is a WET Market so don't expect to have a restaurant like set up. The place is cool and totally comfortable to dine. One thing is for sure you'd love the service and the food they serve.

Aside from Bulalo here's my awesome favorite. Mild Spicy Sisig and of course Tawilis. Tawilis is an endemic fish found only at the Taal Lake.

Nothing beats a good service, cool store owner and definitely a rock star of service representatives. So next time you visit Tagaytay... drop by at Mahogany Market and look for Alegre's Canteen. Am sure you'd be fascinated not only with the food they share but by the people who'd serve you at their finest. Oh I almost forgot to mention it is your one stop shop too as they also have a store that will cater for your pasalubong from key chains to t-shirt and to definitely accessories.

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Important SSS Forms

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Every time I process something at any SSS Offices the line is literally too long plus filling up the form normally eats up a lot of my time. I always end up a minimum of 6 hours to accomplish everything every time I process something.

Here are few of my reminders when going to SSS Offices:
  • Download and feel out the form (depending on your purpose of visiting the SSS Office) see below list of downloadable forms.
  • Bring ball pen or sign pens.
  • Bring bottled water
  • Bring a lot of patience with you from falling in line to talking to SSS Employees.

Benefit Applications

 Sickness Benefit

Maternity Benefit

Retirement Benefit

Disability Benefit

Death Benefit

Funeral Benefit

Annual Confirmation of Pensioners

Member Loans

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Christmas Buying Tips in the Philippines

Christmas is fast approaching and in the Philippines, when you say "ber" months it is sign that Christmas is just around the corner. This only means, its shopping season. Malls are literally jump packed with buyers eager to buy stuffs from Christmas decoration to giveaways.

Here's what I learn over the years to avoid what I call Christmas Shopping Disaster.

#1. Plan your Budget - budgeting is very crucial when shopping and most specially during Christmas you need to be very strict on this.
  • Make a List - Your list tells you how much you'd need to spend for the Christmas Season. In listing down, you need to be very detailed and very specific. List down all your God-children, niece, nephews, cousin and everyone whom you would be giving gifts. When I say very detailed it would mean assigning specific item on each of them and a price range. This would include a list of your giveaways too.
  • Make a Menu - I plan my menu for Christmas eve and New Years celebration. I also list down every ingredients of it and make sure I have everything in order.
#2. Review and Decide - after planning you'd definitely want to go over the details of your shopping list and decide what to keep or change before making any decisions. In deciding it would include the following:
  • Separate and decide where you'd buy the items. This will definitely help you identify how much is your budget for "pamasahe" and definitely it helps you the hassle and bustle of the Christmas rush.
  • Stick to your Budget - this is where it gets tricky. Once you have that budget then stick to it. Don't bring your credit card with you when you go buying this would give you the urge to buy more and later going over your desired budgetary requirement. It is also best to eat at home before going to the mall because the more hungry you are the more food you put on your shopping cart. Buy only those that are in the list. It is also best to compare prices from different brand before putting it to your deciding which brand you'll buy for specific item.
#3. Dress Code - after planning your budget and deciding where and how you'd buy your Christmas shopping and gift ideas. It is also a must that you wear your most comfortable dress that you have. Wear something flowy and something really comfortable. Example, in my case, I go out with a shorts, rubber shoes and a cotton a little over sized t-shirt. If you are uncomfortable in your outfit you might end up rushing everything and just dumping everything in your push cart just to finish your shopping battle.

#4. Time Management - I would say go against the crowd. Go shopping on weekdays, mid-afternoon or mid-mornings in these way there are fewer people in the shopping areas like malls or Divisoria. If you plan of going to Divisoria to buy some giveaways I suggest you go there early in the morning like 7 AM or mid afternoon. If your only time is during the weekends then I suggest you go there as soon as the malls are open. Don't go there during pay days or weekend after the pay day am sure it will be a shopping war zone in the malls.

#5. Shopping Destination - Malls are definitely the most convenient shopping destination but I suggest you check "tiangge" or flea markets and of course online stores. Most of the time these shopping destinations are a little cheaper than that of the mall prices. Plus you've got to have the chance to ask for more discounts or freebies.

#6. Quality over Price - I think I don't need to explain these. It is always best to buy something a little more expensive than buying it cheap and compromising the safety and or the quality of the items you both. It is always best to give something knowing that it will last long.

#7. Buy in Bulk - Best prices always comes when you buy in bulk. This is specially true when you are buying in Tiangge or flea market or in Divisoria per se.

#8. Buy Extra Gifts - There will always be unexpected visitors coming to your house or there are always an instance where you'd need to give something to a friend or in the office. Also, it is always best practice to buy something extra rather than rushing to a mall at a more expensive price because there are unexpected occasions where you are required to bring something as a gifts like Christmas Parties and the like.

#9. Have a firm Decision in buying - There are some instances that you'd need to change what you've already decided for someone. In some cases when you are in flea markets you'd end up seeing something perfect for someone and that is within the budget. In this way, go get it right away. Don't park it somewhere so you could come back and get it. Someone might get it and you'd end up going around to look for something for someone.

#10. Receipts - Always secure for receipt and keep it. Most especially if you are buying your stuff at the mall. You might be buying stuffs that doesnt fit the person whom you are giving or if they simply doesnt like color you bought. Or worst if the toy your bought for example is not working the way it should be working. At least you have a proof for a return and or exchange. 

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Overseas Filipino Workers Why They Fail

It has been written several time and stories and proofs has been shown for many financial institution about why the Filipino Overseas Workers remains to be poor despite working so hard in a foreign land.

Thank God we have Chat Apps nowadays like Viber and WECHAT as they are popularly known to OFW's in communicating with their loved ones back home (in the Philippines). These Apps definitely makes the world smaller as Filipino's abroad can send messages to their loved ones by simply logging into these social media. It has been a strategic moved as it cuts down their phone call expenses dramatically.

One hundred percent of my virtual friends says that using these apps definitely lowered their phone bills to as much as 50% since they shift from regular phone calls to voice calls using these apps as they are totally dependent on data services.

Also, in one occasion I asked them why they left Philippines despite being a degree holder and of course most of their response revert back to the old reason: "they aren't compensated well" sort of things.

When you ask an OFW as to their life abroad is, they'd definitely tell you their stories on how much they squeeze their budget to ensure they have a penny to send to their love one's way back home. OFW's are always a one day millionaire so to speak. During payday you'd probably see an OFW in remittance centers and or shopping malls sending money or a box full of goodies for their family way back home.

There was this one instance when a friend says he's cooking food for his dinner. I asked him what it would be and he simply says noodles, the following morning a canned good for his breakfast and lunch. So jokingly I said: "WOW, super tipid so supper kapal na ng bank account mo!" He answered me with a frowning smiley and said he had sent almost 85 to 90% of his salary for his child's education, families food allowance and to pay utility bill, a portion of his salary also goes to other relatives who are asking for a support or a gadget for his niece or nephews or a birthday party for his grandchild, etc. This is the same answer I got when I asked my other virtual friends. I've asked if they have savings and most would answer they either have with but too little.

Recently, I have this neighbor who is processing her papers to go abroad as a nanny and so considering my conversation with my virtual friends who are already working abroad, I asked her how she would divide her salary. She said that with her 15,000 peso salary she'll give 10,000 pesos to her family in the province to spend for their daily needs.

In my own personal point of view, Overseas Filipino Workers struggle because of many various reason and here's a summary of what I think an OFW needs to understand:

Spending Habit plays a very important role in everyone's daily life. OFW for example compensate their not being with their kids and spouse by giving everything what they ask.from the latest gadgets to the most expensive appliances. Plus a "help" to their extended family. I told my neighbor that it is ok to give the best gadgets to their loved ones but it is also more important to save something for her future.

Compromised Savings - Savings is really the list of most OFW they normally send everything and cross fingers that their wife or husband would do the savings for them and in most cases it is not always the fact. Savings should always be 2 way. The mentality that an OFW is a saving grace for the whole family should actually change. You can hear people saying, "buti pa kayo, may kaanak kayo sa ibang bansa (good for you, you have a relative abroad)" or you would hear people say, ask for a money to your family member who is working abroad sort of things. An OFW should always keep 10% of his salary to his/her dollar account before dividing the salary for his/her personal expenses and to his/her immediate family in the Philippines. That savings should not be used in buying expensive gifts during Christmas and when during their vacation in their hometown. 

Goal - Financial goal in most OFW is only short term. The mind set of going abroad to make ends meet is the main goal as to why most Filipinos work abroad. Of course, if there is a chance for anyone to work a little more than what you are currently earning is definitely OK. However, the tendency is you'd end up spending more because you are earning more. Which is not suppose to be the case. OFW would somehow need to have a goal so they could use it when they retire or when they can no longer abroad.

BAD DEBTS - I heard stories of OFW that in order for them to have something more extra to send to their love ones is to resort to credit from their colleagues with higher interest. Also, some OFW would have the latest gadgets not only for their loved ones in the Philippines but also for themselves. They change their phones every time there's a new release for example. Credit card also is a financial suicide for most OFW. The idea of easy access to credits plus having a higher credit limit tends for an OFW to buy more. CREDIT CARD plus MALL SALES equals MORE shopping.

Somehow credit has always been a escape goat for every OFW thus granting them more buying power which means more balikbayan box to come.

Long Term Plan - the problem may be is what we call the long term plan. What happens to the OFW after OFW? This must be the question I have been asking my friends who are working abroad. Most of the time, they will answer me with either looking for a job locally or having a business of their own. However, the most answer would definitely come with after my child's education or after investing into my new home. It is evident however in most of their response that savings is not at their top priority because according to my friends who works abroad most of their money is being deposited for their families daily consumption. Going abroad is definitely helpful alleviate the families financial status but it shouldn't stop from having the best gadget and appliances or fancied house with fancy stuff in it but it should also be about preparing what it brings on your table after OFW life. Going abroad is definitely not one way. What actually happens here is one is working abroad and the other one stays at home. It shouldn't be the case. One should be abroad and saving all the money she/he gets and the other one working for the families daily needs. That could be a better plan rather than having it one way. Worst is, the person working abroad supports up to his/her extended family.

Get RICH QUICK Schemes. OFW is the easy target for the "get rich quickly" schemes. The OFW are the easy targets for scams and "get rich quickly" schemes because of the fact that people tends to go the easy way and take the short cut. There is no short cuts. I would say that first we need to save at least 10% of our earnings to our bank accounts. Second, we must say learn how to say NO to our children, spouse, and relatives when they ask for money. Third, we need to talk to a financial adviser for them to recommend us the best investment. It is a good thing that we aim to have a business after OFW but we should also have to ensure that the business is only a fraction of our earnings and to have the best investment that can take care of our investment. We tend to invest to something that it is not moving and or it is not giving us a profit. Dont fall on the SALES talks of people who tries to sell you more than 20% returns in few months because tendency is... "YOU GOT SCAMMED!"

Unwanted Relationship. The way I look at it is OFW gets involved in extra marital affairs because they could not urge themselves to get lonely and definitely homesickness could be that reason. These is true in some OFW and this is the worst decision they could ever go through. Being in a foreign land without the support of the families pushes the OFW to engage in such activities. To avoid this from happening, an OFW should know how to properly manage her emotion and should build a group of support group abroad. People whom they could share their problems and frustration. The family member should also be part of the support group, a message of good morning and how are you is definitely helpful but to follow it up with "please send me $ for the latest iphone is definitely not working".

Bottom line is... help your family member who works abroad by educating them on how to properly invest their hard earned money and not by simply asking more MONEY from them for your own and personal expenses for your latest gadgets.

Leave a comment if you wanted to share an insights on how you could help the OFW or anyone who might want to understand proper investing or if you have financial management tips for everyone I encourage you to leave a comment too. Lets help each other.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Summer Pointe Residences: My New Home

Approximately over a year ago, I wrote about my discontentment on how the developer of Summer Pointe Residences incapacity and lack of consideration to their home buyers. I filed a complaint and they simply didn't care at all. They maybe thinking that they sold us a cheap loaned house through PAG-IBIG Housing. I can speculate thousands of reason for the developers inability to act and the way they treat their buyers complaints. Once its SOLD and as soon as they got the money from the government they careless about the safety and definitely the welfare of their buyers. They do not care about consumers rights. (Here's my previous article) After a year of filing my compliant and constant reminding the developer and their cold shrugging reaction and definitely unprofessional (unprofessional because they never called or pays no attention to their buyers complaints) in dealing with such complaints

So what's the update about my complaint to the developer.... Ahmmm NOTHING...

Kudos to the officers though of the Home Owners Association (HOA) for going the distance in building a new trend and definitely new culture to a newly built community. A community that is peaceful, quite, clean and law abiding community.

Over the year, the HOA Officers keep coming with engaging activities that in turn my neighbors happily engage themselves and owning every activity.

The Activities...

Halloween Party 2013

Summer Pointe Residences First Sunday Mass

Summer Pointe Residences Christmas Party 2013

Summer Pointe Residences Summer Outing 2014

Summer Pointe Residences SPORTS Clinic

Summer Pointe Residences Santa Cruzan

and of course my favorite is Zumba... Though I am not a good dancer I prefer Zumba as my weekend exercise...

Till next update....

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Game Gilas Played

Not so long time ago, Philippines is one of the top players of basketball players worldwide. They played so well and discompose the giants of the west. Unfortunately, the fame slowly deteriorates then later fades away just like that.

Just recently, the Philippine Team for the FIBA World Cup pivoted and make it through to finally regain the momentum they've lost for several years. Though they didn't finally make it through the Finals, they showed the most heart in the FIBA World Cup.

Though the Gilas Pilipinas team losts the games, I am equally proud of their achievement and their will to play the game so well putting more soul into it. They may have lack something in so many ways at least they have showed how well they handled the game.

Source: GMA NEWS Online

After all, it is OK to loose the game to the greatest players in the world and still lost at a very minimal margin plus it is how well the game is played.

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