Homebuyer Tip: Knock on Wood — literally

The first thing you need to know when checking wood in your new home or home-to-be is that appearances can be deceiving. How a wooden beam looks like, for example, has no bearing on its condition. A perfect-looking beam or wood trim may hide a rotting interior, courtesy of termites and wear and tear due to extreme temperatures.

Go check it out!


If you're a car aficionado, it's impossible for you to have missed this great television commercial on the debut of the Toyota Corolla Altis featuring Hollywood hunk Brad Pitt.

Yes, I know, guys shouldn't care about Brad Pitt's endorsement of a car brand, but you've got to hand it to the guys that conceptualized the commercial. They knew Brad could convey the message that driving a Toyota Corolla Altis is either cool or makes one look cool.

Brad Pitt isn't the only selling factor of this classic car commercial. There's also the theme song, Shake Your Bon-Bon by Ricky Martin. Here's an excerpt from the lyrics:

I'm a desperado
Underneath your window
I see your silhouette
Are you my Juliet
I feel a mad connection
With your body
Shake your bon-bon
Shake your bon-bon
Shake your bon-bon

Not much impact there, but if you listen to the song, you'd probably agree with me that Brad Pitt plus a catchy tune made waves for the sales of the Toyota Corolla Altis back in the early 2000s. Oh, just check out the video:


Here's this month's price guide for Ford Group Philippines Inc.'s lineup of cars and monster trucks. The image of the price list is a little large, so pardon the slow loading time. As usual, I'm including a link to our favorite currency converter, Oanda, to help resident aliens and expatriates with their conversion needs. Today's interbank rate is USD 1 = PHP 48.97. Yes, the peso is continuing its down slide.

In a hurry to compute? Well, that's why I have installed that nifty Currency Converter gadget from Google.

Check out the price list below:

Ford Price List

Like in previous installments of Price Check, all prices in the list are subject to change without prior notice.


Here's my version of warm appreciation for Cribs and Rides' top Entrecard droppers for the month of October 2008:

Top Entrecard droppers for the month of October 2008 on Cribs and Rides

I am, however, upping the ante (as if there's a bet going on) by excerpting the latest postings of Cribs and Rides' top droppers:

Visit New York
New York City is one of the largest city in the world. It is also one of the main tourism destination. Many people from around the world, travels to this wonderful city. So why is New York City become so famous?

Tampa Florida Real Estate
Live Oak Preserve Homes
Live Oak Preserve currently has many Bank Owned Homes and Short Sale homes currently active in The Tampa Mls. Live Oak has been hit hard with foreclosure homes due to the fact many inventors bought in early and are letting the homes go to the banks.

My MOM is a GEEK!
B2evolution Template "Hot Red"
This was the first template I used when I started blogging two and half years ago. It's simple yet classy. It is now yours and you can download it anytime for free. This template is of course a B2evolution compatible.

Look Beyond Today
Servers now aren’t what they used to be in the past. Not only have their sizes shrunk, they also now offer amazing speed which one could not associate with those giant servers of yesterday. The wide range of contemporary servers available today presents a Hobson’s choice for buyers—which one to buy, which one not to.

Hidden Gems from Untold Treasures
An exciting new social investment community with innovative analytics : Inner 8
Well, last couple of weeks, I have been in horrific shock to see all my investment going down south and loosing money value seconds by seconds. It was quick sand sinking feeling. With watery eyes, I seen my 401K going down and my kids college savings becoming nothing. During those painful moments, I keep thinking what could be the best way to get out of this. Only if I have statistical tools and right advising friends around me, I could come out of it successfully.

Mike's Blog Marketing Tips
Setting yourself apart
Today, affiliate marketing is considered as one of the better ways to earn money and is attracting more and more people representing themselves online. With the large amount of competition, it is imperative for you to distinguish yourself above the fray. Because a large portion of your competition are promoting many of the same programs, I thought I’d post some tips for you to consider so that you can get ahead and stay ahead of the pack.

Well, there you have it. Again, many thanks to my top droppers. For those who didn't make it to the list but still contributed greatly to this blog by dropping cards and reading articles, including My Pictures of Montana, iBlogZone, Ez DIY Electricity, and Entrecard Tips, my heartfelt gratitude goes out to you, too.


Okay, first off, let me apologize for the journalese headline. There's really no other way to write it except "More people putting up more buildings" or something like that. With that out of the way, let's get to the story at hand.

Well, this increase in building permit applications bodes well for the Philippine economy, particularly concerned industries such as real estate and construction. Despite fears that the global financial crisis is putting an end to the construction boom, the government, led by Vice President Noli de Castro, remains optimistic that the property sector can weather the storm and continue to grow.

Here's an excerpt from a Business Mirror article on De Castro's reaction:

Philippine Vice President Noli de Castro

Vice President and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council chairman Noli de Castro, reacting to the "boom's over" prognosis for the Philippine property sector, said the housing sector would be able to weather the global financial storm arising from the subprime problem in the United States.

De Castro made the rebuttal after the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines noted that the "boom's over" for the real estate industry in the Philippines, as indicated by the entry of speculation into the local property sector.

The Vice President explained that the growth of the real property sector in the Philippines was fueled by the favorable policy environment in the housing sector and the Filipinos' desire to own a home.

It seems that De Castro is right as the latest National Statistics Office report on private building construction shows.

The report says approved building permits nationwide have reached 25,145 in the second quarter of 2008, indicating an increase of 9.3 percent compared with 23,003 applications during the same period in 2007.

Similarly, an increase in applications for both residential and non-residential building construction have been observed.

"Residential building construction went up by 16.9 percent to 18,451 from 15,781 approved building permits during the same quarter of 2007. Non-residential constructions, likewise, increased by 7.5 percent to 2,707 from 2,518 recorded during the same quarter of 2007," the report adds.

Six provinces posted more than a thousand applications each. This list includes Bulacan, with 1,377 applications, Cavite (1,719), Laguna (1,014), Rizal (1,108), Cebu (1,069), and Davao del Sur (1,077).

Number of Building Permit Applications in the Philippines


Here's a piece I wrote for the Business Mirror a couple of years ago. I still find it relevant, so I'm reposting it here. My apologies for the lack of visuals.

With the demand for sturdy low-cost housing steadily rising, attributed in part to the dream of Filipino migrant workers to own their own homes in the motherland, property developers are turning to foreign technologies—such as prefabricated materials—that allow the fast-tracking of construction, thereby cost-efficient.

Not Hilario N. Abbatuan, though. This mechanical engineer from the north says he is sticking to indigenous technologies for housing and good, old and solid concrete to do the job.

Abbatuan, fondly called Larry by friends and family, says he can finish a house in as short a time as 24 hours through a system he has developed—the H.N. Abbatuan Form System.

“With my system, I not only finish a unit faster than the conventional method of constructing a house—from laying down concrete for a foundation to the installation of galvanized iron sheets to form a roof—the house also comes out cheaper by about 30 percent,” Larry says.

Forming dreams

The use of the word “form” in the system’s name is not without basis, Larry explains. It turns out the system relies heavily on forms—much like molds—that dictate how a house will be built and how it will look like.

Larry says the proper name for the system is “cast-in-place” since the foundation, walls and roofdeck—yes, almost all the units he has built since the founding of his company, H.N. Abbatuan Builders, have solid concrete slabs as roofs—are literally cast in place using the forms or molds.

“The Abbatuan System entails the designing of a complete house form that allows the simultaneous concrete pouring of walls, partitions, beams and columns. The effect? Uniform distribution of strength for the whole house,” he explains.

The system does not use hollow blocks and plywood girders, two elements vital in the conventional way of constructing a house that Larry labels as “unnecessary expenses.”

“Construction sites are very chaotic and materials often get bruited about. Hollow blocks, being very weak, crumble easily when care is not exercised. At the end of a construction period, a contractor usually finds himself straddled with the loss of hollow blocks and, thus, more expenses,” Larry points out.

“It’s the same with plywood and other lumber. Once it’s used to form a cast to hold and form concrete, the wood is virtually useless—it can’t be used again,” he adds.

Fast and furious

The Abbatuan Form System is also labor efficient, requiring only 12 workers to build a single 36 square meter to 72 square meter house in 24 hours. Larry also boasts that his company can build a medium-rise apartment building, from foundation to roof, in about 90 days.

Larry’s claim has been proven several times in the recent past, at housing sites in Quezon City, Manila, and Muntinlupa with the help of local governments.

He has also participated in building homes for the less fortunate through the National Housing Authority, which has recognized his system with a certificate under the Accreditation of Indigenous Technologies (AITECH) program of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council.

The goodwill he has fostered with the government, however, is not without its downside. Larry recalls a time he built a mass housing project for a local government but did not get paid.

“I even got sued. But the circumstances leading to this problem is a different story and cannot be talked about—for now,” Larry explains.

At present, Larry is engaged in projects in General Santos City, where he hopes to recover from the aches of projects that failed “through no fault of mine.” He is also on the prowl for a good challenge, someone who can dare him to a contest on who can build a house the fastest.

“I want the chance to prove that the Filipino can innovate and use the products of his considerable intellect to help his countrymen. I am surprised—and disheartened at the same time—to learn that many Filipinos still turn to everything foreign for solutions to their woes,” Larry says, referring to the foreign housing technologies now flooding the market.

“What the Abbatuan Form System proves is, what foreigners can do, the Filipino can do better,” he adds.


The coconut tree is again proving its worth as a source not only of medicinal or therapeutic products, such as virgin coconut oil, but also of alternative construction materials, primarily lumber and leaves that can be woven into sturdy roofs and walls.

Coconut trees in the PhilippinesThe Department of Science and Technology, however, has found another breakthrough in the construction industry from the once-lowly coconut—the “coco coir board.” Made entirely of coconut husk, the board is different from your run-of-the-mill paneling boards in the sense that it does not need synthetic chemicals, adhesives or cement as binders.

Aside from this unique aspect, the coco coir board’s production process is environment-friendly, said Dr. Dwight Eusebio, a senior researcher at the Forest Products Research and Development Institute in Los BaƱos, Laguna.

Although the board is recommended only for indoor paneling, it still entails a strict production process so that its binding property is achieved and maintained, Eusebio said.

“Milling and drying of fibers and hot pressing of the board are the critical processes for the technology. Coconut husks should go through a milling machine, passing a two-millimeter screen, and the fibers must pass through a dryer with a moisture content of between eight percent and 10 percent,” he said.

“Since there are not binders or other chemicals used, the production cost is cheaper, translating to cheaper selling prices. The manufactured sizes are 600 millimeter by 1,200 millimeter, or two feet by four feet, and 900 millimeter by 1,800 millimeter, or three feet by six feet,” Eusebio added.

Eusebio said the technology was also being used in different panel products, like particle boards, plywood, oriented strand boards, and medium-density fiber boards bonded with petroleum-based resins or cement.

“The technology can be transferred through outright sale, royalties, demonstration and piloting, and training. It is ready for diffusion but if commercial production is being planned, specific tests, like termite and fungi resistance of the boards on a long-term basis, should be determined,” he said.

“Also, if the boards are being planned for use as exterior panels or in rooms where humidity is high, exposure tests should be done to determine the durability of coco coir binderless boards. Since most of the equipment for the production of the coco coir board are already available, the transfer of the technology to existing particle board manufacturers is being encouraged,” Eusebio added.

The Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development, an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology, is overseeing the project.


Here's this month's price guide for Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation's lineup of cars, pickup trucks, and utility vehicles. I've decided to include prices for the pickups and utility vehicles so that viewers who are gearing up to be entrepreneurs will have an idea how much that small delivery vehicle costs. As for the cars, well, what's a successful businessman without a respectable car to back him up? Go check out the price list below:

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. price list

As in previous installments of Price Check, I'm including a link to our favorite currency converter Oanda to help resident aliens and expatriates with their conversion needs. Today's interbank rate is USD 1 = PHP 48.19. Whew! The peso is getting weaker.

All prices in the list are subject to change without prior notice.

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX: Go ahead ... drool.

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Price Check: Toyota Cars
Price Check: Honda vehicles (except motorcycles)