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Philippines: Watch out for this roadblock

on Feb 23, 2015

Philippines: Watch out for this roadblock   Nyshka Chandran (CNBC) Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 | 6:10 PM ET Momentum in the Philippines, Asia’s second-fastest growing economy, may dwindle in coming months as Citigroup warns of a potential slowdown in a key growth driver: remittances. Remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) make up nearly 10 percent of Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) and hit an all-time record high of $26.9 billion in December. But weakness in “third currencies,” or major currencies excluding the greenback, such as the Japanese yen, Australian dollar or euro, could restrain future remittance growth, warned Jun Trinidad, economist at Citigroup, in a recent report. Those “third currencies” have all weakened sharply against a broad range of currencies in recent months, including the Philippine peso, making for a tough foreign exchange trade for OFWs in those countries, Trinidad noted, adding that those currencies are expected to weaken even further ahead. “Since prospects for JPY, EUR and other third currencies are expected to weaken substantially against the U.S. dollar by more than the Philippine peso, a portion of remittances, particularly from OFW earnings in non-USD currencies, faces material downside risk,” Trinidad explained. Over the past three months, the peso strengthened nearly 12 percent against the Aussie, 10 percent against the euro and 4 percent against the yen. Citigroup estimates that a 1 percent appreciation of the peso against the yen potentially lowers remittances from Japan by 1.6 percent, while a 1 percent rise against the euro decreases remittances from Europe by 1.3 percent. “Remittances from Europe (three-year average share of 16 percent of total) and Japan (three- year average share of 4.2 percent) are vulnerable to currency risk since these flows are converted to U.S. dollars through banking channels,” Trinidad said. Indeed, remittances from both Europe and Japan have been slowing. Euro-area remittances fell an annual 8 percent in the fourth quarter, extending the third quarter’s 13.8 percent on-year decline, according to Citigroup data. For Japan, flows rose by a meager 2.9 percent on year in the October-December period following double-digit gains in previous quarters. While the majority of OFWs reside in the U.S., Australia and Japan are home more than 300,000 Filipinos, while in Europe, they account...

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Women Buyers Debunk Myth Men Drive Home Shopping in Emerging Economies

on Feb 23, 2015

Women Buyers Debunk Myth Men Drive Home Shopping in Emerging Economies   By Michael Gerrity (World Property Journal) September 2, 2014 9:55 AM ET   According to a new report by property portal Lamudi, women in emerging countries including the Philippines, Bangladesh and Mexico are dispelling the myth that men drive the house-hunting process in these regions. Lamudi’s research that shows the majority of homebuyers in these countries are women. The figures are based on an analysis of search behavior on the Lamudi website, which is active in 28 countries in the emerging markets. The analysis reveals that more than 60 percent of homebuyers in Mexico are female, while the majority of house-hunters in the Philippines are women. In Bangladesh couples search for property together, but the final decision is most often made by the female. The research also shed light on the average age of homebuyers in countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. While the average buyer is aged up to 50 years in Sri Lanka and up to 60 in Colombia, those purchasing property elsewhere can be much younger. In Jordan, the typical buyer is aged 28-38 years, while in Mexico they often fall in the 25-34 range. In Indonesia, the average buyer is a 27-year-old male. Lamudi’s Global Co-Founder and Managing Director, Paul Philipp Hermann, said: “These findings dispel some of the stereotypes around who the typical buyer is in emerging markets, where men are often seen as dominating the house-hunting process. Women in these countries are becoming more active in choosing where their family settles down.” Earlier this year, Lamudi released research into the rate of homeownership in its markets. The analysis found a strong bias towards renting in some countries, including the Philippines where over two thirds (69%) of Filipinos would prefer to rent rather than buy property. Elsewhere, such as in Pakistan, homeownership remains the norm. The study found 72% of Pakistanis are buying property, opting to purchase their own home instead of...

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Robinsons Homes builds up brand, project portfolio over two decades

on Feb 23, 2015

Robinsons Homes builds up brand, project portfolio over two decades The Philippine Star Updated February 20, 2015 – 12:00am   MANILA, Philippines – On its 20th year in the business, Robinsons Homes remains more committed to provide more Filipinos its stamp of excellence in building value-for-money homes across the country. “With a heritage that dates back to the 1990s, Robinsons Homes has a long track record of building enduring addresses that stand the test of time,” said Cora Ang Ley, business unit manager for Robinsons Homes. “The Robinsons Homes brand’s commitment of quality and enduring value is an assurance that each development is a wise investment that even the next generations can enjoy,” she added. Through its carefully planned and resilient projects, the Robinsons Homes brand has established a heritage for building homes of lasting worth. Staying true to its cornerstones of quality and value, the brand features a design approach that is both practical and functional to address a growing family’s changing needs. From the first residential subdivision built in Antipolo 20 years ago, Robinsons Homes East, the brand now carries with it 32 residential subdivisions in key growth areas nationwide. Over 5,000 homes have been built in Laoag, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Antipolo, Batangas, Cavite, Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro and General Santos. All projects are strategically located and highly accessible via major thoroughfares and public transportation. Robinsons Homes now has three sub-brands. These are the premium Bloomfields, the mid-level Brighton, and the affordable Springdale. All sub-brands highlight Robinsons Homes’ value-for-money proposition and are differentiated by location, house and lot sizes, and types of amenities. Bloomfields subdivisions feature a contemporary tropical-inspired design, using a modern Asian Tropical concept that provides more natural lighting and ventilation with a minimalist touch. It offers lots at a price range of P8,000 per square meter and up, and options for housing for less than P10 million. With lot sizes average 320 square meters, developments under the Bloomfields sub-brand ideal for growing families or extended families. Bloomfields enclaves cater to professionals and executives living with an extended family or for a second home away from the city or as an investment. The Brighton sub-brand offers contemporary Mediterranean-inspired development that showcase a timeless façade...

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PH in Lonely Planet’s top 10 countries to travel in 2015

on Feb 12, 2015

PH in Lonely Planet’s top 10 countries to travel in 2015    Inquirer: Aries Joseph Hegina 8:34 PM | Tuesday, October 21st, 2014       MANILA, Philippines―The Philippines has been recognized by an internationally recognized travel guide as one of the top 10 best countries to visit in 2015. In the Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2015” travel guide book published Tuesday, the Philippines ranked 8th in the list of “Top 10 Countries.” The recognition marks the first time that the Philippines was included in the “Best in Travel” guide book. Lonely Planet said that recognizing the country as a travel destination has long been overdue. “Many would say the time is well overdue for the Philippines to be recognized as the next big travel destination in Southeast Asia,” said Joe Bindloss in an article published in the Lonely Planet’s website. Bindloss said that the Philippines has “one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines, fringed by dive-tastic coral reefs, sprinkled with sunbathe-ready white sand, backed by swaying palm trees and dotted with simple resorts of nipa palm thatched huts.” He also said that Filipinos are experts at throwing parties and generally good at singing. Bindloss also highlighted the penchant of Filipinos to patronize anything that is “trending.” Other countries that rounded the top 10 list include: Singapore, Namibia, Lithuania, Nicaragua, Ireland, Republic of Congo, Serbia, St. Lucia, and Morocco. Each country is said to be chosen for three categories: topicality, unique experiences and “wow” factor. Lonely Planet also recognized the country’s capital recently in an article entitled “10 reasons to visit Manila.” The article cited the various reasons that tourists might visit the city which include: Spanish heritage in Intramuros, world-class museums, art galleries, and day trips and...

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Top Real Estate Companies in the Philippines

on Jan 28, 2015

Top Real Estate Companies in the Philippines       Property24 Philippines – Tue, Jan 20, 2015         The real estate sector is a primary driver of economic growth in the Philippines. These top developers drove this industry to the fore. To date, their continued expansion keep this sector on an upward trajectory. Get to know these top companies, starting with the largest property developer, Ayala Land, and the leading mall operator, SM Prime. Ayala Land, Inc. The property arm of the prestigious Ayala Corporation, Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) is often cited as the largest developer in the Philippines. ALI prides itself on having pioneered the development of the Makati business district. They acquired the parcel of land — then named Hacienda Makati — and developed it throughout the 50s and 60s. In the following decades, the property giant steered the hacienda’s transformation into what it is today: a leading commercial, financial, retail and lifestyle center. ALI itself as a property arm, was formed and incorporated in 1988. It has a number of ongoing projects in Makati till this day, among them a forthcoming township called City Gate. Its subsidiaries include Ayala Land Premier, Alveo Land, Avida Land, and Amaia Land, which cater to different income segments in the market, from premium condominiums to low-cost housing. SM Prime Holdings, Inc. SM Prime takes the lion’s share of the local retail sector. It is the biggest mall operator in the country and one of the largest mall chains in the world. It was incorporated in 1994 and holds up to 46 operating malls in the Philippines and five in China, with a gross floor area of 7 million square meters. In 2013, SM Prime became a holding company for various real estate subsidiaries and assets under the SM Group, including SM Development Corporation (SMDC), which caters to the condominium sector. SMDC has more than 20 high- and mid-rise residential towers to date, located mostly in Manila. SM Prime develops, operates, and maintains retail, residential, commercial, and recreational projects. Learn about two more top companies from this series: Megaworld Corporation, a developer led by business tycoon Andrew Tan; and DMCI Homes, led by concrete inspector and engineer David M. Consunji....

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Green architecture helps mitigate effects of climate change

on Jan 22, 2015

Green architecture helps mitigate effects of climate change   Manila Bulletin: January 21, 2015     Climate change is taking its toll in our country. Rainy seasons have become unpredictable, bringing severe flooding and other dire conditions that scientists predict will become more frequent as the planet continues to become warmer. In response to environmental threats, Filipino architect and green architecture advocate Albert Zambrano encourages architects to do their roles in limiting the effects of climate change in the communities. He said that architects are in a position to take a lead role in climate action by promoting green designs. “It has been estimated that 40 percent of all fossil fuels consumed are attributed to the construction and operation of buildings. If architects design buildings that are energy efficient, then the carbon dioxide emission, which is one of the leading causes of climate change, can be significantly reduced,” he said. To help mitigate the effects of climate change, according to Zambrano, architects can do three things: employ green building principles and processes to their projects; educate and convince clients, building users, other building professionals, and stakeholders to go green; and create examples or templates for easy replication on a mass scale for higher impact. Locally, architects and their respective organizations are quite active in addressing the issue of climate change by pushing for green building designs. The United Architects of the Philippines, for instance, encourages its members to design green. A number of academic institutions have also expressed commitment to promoting green architecture so future architects will be equipped with the knowledge and skill set to deal with climate change. Zambrano, who is teaching Urban and Regional Planning and Building Information Modeling courses at Mapúa Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture, Industrial Design, and the Built Environment, involves his students in social housing projects he spearheads to expose them to real-life situations. One of his recent projects is the vertical sidewalk-medium rise building, a multi-story structure designed to mitigate floods, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and create livelihood opportunities for the urban poor. Together with renowned architect Felino Palafox, Jr., he also spearheaded the Estero de San Miguel Project, which was unveiled recently. The buildings use natural light and ventilation,...

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