Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Adventures of a Rookie Real Estate Broker - Chapter I "Chemotherapy"

Maaga akong bumangon at sa aking paggising ay medyo kinakabahan. Luluwas na naman ako pa-Maynila at sasabak sa tinatawag ng marami na "rat race". Mula dito sa kabukiran ay tila nag-iba ang anyo at kasuotan ng mga tao. Paglapag ko pa lamang sa Alabang South Station, iba na nga ang mundo at medyo pakiramdam ko ay tumatanda na ako. Ganun pala pag ika'y namundok o namukid.

Nariyan ang mga estudyanteng magkakaibigan, ang inang naghahatid sa kanyang anak, ang bagong mga graduate na may hawak-hawak na brown envelope, ang mga nag-aapply, ang mga nagbibisi-bisihan na istambay, ang mga turista, ang mga yuppie na may matutulis na itim na sapatos, ang mga mag-nobyang nakaakbay - at nariyan si manong.  

Si Manong sa loob ng Igan Bus papuntang Vito Cruz mula Alabang

"Chemotherapy" 
Tila hindi ko malaman kung paano, magre-react kay Manong. Sa isang panig ay lumalabas ang aking pagka-praktikal na tao. Sa isip-isip ko, "Anong gimik nanaman ito? Kahit siguro isang libong biyahe pa Lawton, pa Alabang o pa-Baguio ay hindi siya makakalikom ng karampatang halaga para sa chemotherapy niya."

Sa aking pagkilatis ay tinignan ko siya - at tinitigan niya ako. Batid ko sa mga namumugto niyang mata, payat na katawan at iba pa, na maaari ngang totoo ang kanyang ipinahihiwatig. Naalala ko tuloy ang lahat ng mga taong yumao na kakilala ko dahil sa kanser. Masakit, malungkot, mapait, ngunit ganoon nga ang buhay.

Parang regalong hiram lamang natin.

Tilang naglalaban laban ang aking mga damdamin sa pagkilatis ko sa kanya. "Bibigyan ba o hindi?" ang tanong na paulit-ulit umaalingawngaw sa aking gunitain. Nais ko sana siyang kausapin, nais ko sana siyang "imbestigahan", ngunit sa bandang huli ay nanaig ang aking pampersonal na lakad at buhay. Hindi ko kayang pagalingin ang anumang sakit mayroon siya, mapa problemang bulsa man ito o mapa kalusugan.

Marami na rin akong libing na napuntahan.

Patawarin sana ako ng Diyos, kung ako'y nagkamali at naging makasarili, binigay ko na lamang ang hawak kong barya.

Sa Las Pinas

Tia Maria Building Las Pinas
Nakarating ako sa Las Pinas at tumuloy sa Star Mall upang maghanap ng bag na maaaring paglagyan ng mga dokumento. Kakailanganin ko ito kung ako'y sasabak sa mga lansangan upang maghanap ng lupa na maipapagbili.

Wala akong nakita na aabot sa aking budget. Kaya ako'y tumigil na lamang sa Coffee Bean, nagbasa ng libro at uminom ng kape.

Ang pamagat ng librong binabasa ko ay "How to Protect Your Property and Business from Lawsuits" ni Jim V. Lopez. Sa aking pagtugis sa librong ito, batid ko na magaling na manunulat si Jim Lopez. Hindi mala teknikal ang kanyang pagtahak sa isang paksang natural na napakabusisi at napaka"boring". Bagkus marami itong mga anekdota at mga katotohanang bumabagabag sa lagay ng tao, sa buhay niya sa mundong ito at sa mga ari-arian niya.


Full Quote:

Bourgeois Blues
Alexis de Tocqueville, the French historian and one of the giants of social thought who wrote Democracy In America in 1835, may have unknowingly unveiled the underlying force behind the evolution of asset protection law: fear of loss of possessions. Generally, inhabitants of a democracy have property, and live in conditions in which men attach most value to property. Tocqueville observed that the passions due to ownership are keenest among the middle class. "The poor often do not trouble much about their possessions," he writes, "for their suffering from what they lack is much greater than their enjoyment of what they have. The rich have many other passions to gratify besides those connected with wealth, and moreover, the long and troublesome management of a great fortune sometimes makes them in the end insensible to their charms." 
But what about the people who belong to the middle class, whose comfortable existence is equally far from wealth and poverty? Members of the middle class place too much value on their possessions. Perhaps, Tocqueville's thoughts about the close affinity of the middle class to their assets were on target when he concluded that "the constant care which it occasions daily attaches them to their property, their continual exertions to increase it make it even more previous to them. The idea of giving up the smallest part of it is insufferable to them, and the thought of losing it completely strikes them as the worst of all evils."
~ (How to Protect Your Property and Business from Lawsuits, 
Jim V. Lopez, 
Anvil Publishing, 2003) 

Yun nga ang Katotohanan
Kung ika'y mahirap, ang mga nasa isip mo parati ay ang kalagayan at problema mo, kung ika'y mayaman hindi mo na iisipin pa ang pagkayaman mo. Kung ikaw naman ay nasa middle class, ika'y nangangamba na mawala ang lahat ng pinaghirapan mo kaya't ika'y patuloy na kikilos ayon sa iyong takot at pangamba. 

Lahat tayo'y mamamatay sa takdang panahon na hindi natin malalaman. Marami akong nakitang mga namatay, mahirap, middle class man o mayaman, sa oras na hindi nila inaasahan. Kapag titingnan mo ang kanilang naging kalagayan, ika'y matutulala din sa tindi ng kanilang kapighatian at higit pa ang kapighatian ng mga naiwan nila. 

Nariyan ang mga mayayaman, na may sangkaterbang ari-arian. Pag sila'y namatay, ang unang problema nila ay ang BIR, Estate Tax. Lalo na pag hindi handa ang pamilya, ang pagbayad ng Estate Tax sa gobyerno at paglakad ng sangkaterbang papeles ay tunay na nakakayanig sa tao na parang malakas na after shock ng lindol ng kamatayan. Kapag sila'y hindi napatnubayan ng husto ay dadanak ang samu't saring problema na ang iba ay dala na rin ng kasalanan at kakulangan ng kaalaman.

Nariyan ang mga mahihirap na baon sa utang at halos walang ari-arian. Sa pagpanaw ng breadwinner ng pamilya ay tila lalo lamang nababaon sa utang ang mag-anak. Paano na ang High School ni Junior? Inutang para maipalibing si Tatay. Paano na ang pagkain natin ngayon? Pinambayad na doon sa 5-6. Anong estate tax, estate tax? CLOA ang hawak, paano nga ba lalakarin yun? Bahala na. Hindi naman tayo basta basta papalayasin ni Mayor. Binoto ko siya e.

Nariyan ang mga middle class. Ang mga problema nila'y pawang isang hakbang sa problema ng mga mayayaman at isang hakbang sa problema ng mga mahihirap.


Business Meeting
Sa aking pagbubulay-bulay sa mga bagay na aking natutunan, pumasok sa aking isipan ang aking pupuntahan. Sinarado ko ang libro, tumayo at lumabas ng Coffee Bean upang magtungo sa opisina ng REBAP, na katabi ng Day by Day Ministries, na siyang paboritong pakinggan ng aking ina. 




First time kong pumunta sa isang "real estate business meeting" ng isang professional real estate organization. Ang una kong tanong sa aking sarili ay "Ano nga ba ang ginagawa ng mga broker sa isang business meeting?"

Ang sagot ay "pansit".

Ang unang ginagawa ay kakain ng pansit. Masarap, malinamnam at nakakatuwa dahil nakakasalamuha mo ang mga taong maaari mong maging mentor o tagapayo. Nariyan na ang mga beterano at may mapupulot ka ngang ginto sa kanilang mga sinasabi.

Mga Payo ng mga Tito at Tita Brokers

"If you're starting out and know nothing about real estate, go into project selling first." 
~ Tito Jimmy 
"Don't be afraid to ask. We are a family." 
 ~ Tita Cynthia

"Every transaction is peculiar, don't be afraid to ask."
~ Tita Eden

"There are literally so many projects to sell - choose and focus on the one you like the most."

~ Tita Zeny

Listing exchange
Tila ito pala'y parang laro, na kung saan, every broker is given a turn to present their listing. Listing, defined loosely, is the property that a broker is selling. So for instance, Broker A has a buyer-client, who is looking for a vacant lot in Canyon Woods, Tagaytay, 400 sqm., overlooking Taal lake and if another broker has a selling-client then the two can exchange this piece of information with each other and they can share the commission. That's the ideal scenario.

In short, para pala itong laro ng Monopoly. Nakakatuwa at nakakalibang.

Sa katunayan, sa ngayo'y inaasikaso ko na muna ang aking lisensya na malapit ko ng makuha. Mangyaring marami pa akong maibabahagi sa inyo na mga adventures.

Kapag ako'y pagpapalain, nais ko sanang ihandog sa Panginoon ang una kong kikitain.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Fujihama CG411 Brush-Cutter Review

Most developers, farmers and Philippine landowners have this constant maintenance concern in mind - weed trimming. These perennially growing nuisance as far as my experience can count, only has three uses that I know of - food for animals, compost and it keeps the soil from eroding. Yes we need them, but we want them to be neat and trimmed just a few centimeters above the ground.

Fujihama CG411 - brush-cutter 

Now, if you are on a tight budget, it's easy to be attracted to cheap China made brush-cutters that one can buy from these surplus shops which sell imported "pre-loved" or "pre-owned" tools. 


As the saying goes, caveat emptor or "buyer beware". That good deal might come along with a box of Biogesic.




Fujihama CG411 - brush-cutter
I have been cutting the grass in our farm for the better (or worse) part of 4 years. I've had two shoulder slung grass cutters. My first one is a Kawasaki-TH43, a true workhorse, but old and outdated nevertheless.

Fujihama CG411 - brush-cutter
At that time, the Barangay keeps on borrowing it and I had to bring it in for regular maintenance to Lipa City's ever famous Mang Nic (near the cultural center) for maintenance and repair. I sold it to the Barangay for 4,000 pesos and used part of that money to buy the shiny looking Fujihama CG411 last year.

Big Mistake.

Now, don't get me wrong. The CG411 does a good job - at the beginning. After just a few months I've noticed these problems:

  • After a few hours of heavy duty work, the engine just dies off, maybe it's from overheating. 
  • The Allen bolts (hexagon top) keep falling off - or consider the alternative - somebody, God forbid, is removing the bolts...
  • Fujihama CG411 - brush-cutter
  • It is taking longer and longer to start. 
Of these three, the last one is giving me the most headaches. I have replaced the spark plug and tried to clean the inside parts with gasoline before. But after 3 months of not using it, ayaw na talaga mag-start.

Worst is, before whenever I try to start it, I have to press the trigger. Now, even that doesn't work.

I am not a mechanic...are you?

But if you don't want to buy a lot of Biogesic, do not buy the Fujihama CG411. Mahirap magstart, mahirap ang maintenance. It may be cheap (5000 to 6500). But it's not worth it. Even at full throttle it takes a bit of experience to cut the toughest Napier like talahib. Taas muna, tapos utay-utayin hanggang maabot yung ibaba nung damo.

Good for very, very, very light work

If it's good for one thing, it's good for light cutting work - or making a lot of noise. Yung tipong 100 sqm lang ang tatrabahuin mo. But if you're cutting, let's say a one hectare farm or the Star Tollway. Best go for a better professional brush cutter.

If I had more budget, I want to try the brand that says, "We don't sell toys, we produce professional equipment." 

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Sa Dalampasigan...


Noong ang araw ay bata pa, pagbangon sa umaga'y ang halik ng hangin ang bumabadya sa aking gunitain. Sisikat ang araw sa may Silangan at ako'y mag-uunat at maghahandang pumalaot sa dagat.

Nariyan ang agahan.

Simpleng kanin, simpleng ulam.

Ngunit walang pag-agam agam at ang bukas at kahapo'y nakabalot lamang sa ngayon.

Nariyan ang mga bata, at sa barong barong ko'y may tamis ang bintana.

Lalakad ako sa mga buhanging maputi at ang kalikasa'y humuhuni at umaawit. Ang mga bulong ng alon ay bakas sa aking isipan habang hinahanda ang aking mga kagamitan.

Sa aking pagkilos ako'y napatigil.

Tumingin sa dagat, sa malayong kawalan na walang hanggan.

Batid ko ang tubig na dumadampi sa aking mga paa. Tumambad at sinilayan ang bakas ng tubig dagat. At sa aking tuwa, ako'y napaluha sambit sa hangin:

Panginoon, ang Inyong lingkod ay nagagalak at nagpapasalamat. Sapagkat kaloob niyo po ang lahat ng ito ng walang singil at walang kapalit.


At ang hangi'y lumipas sa aking mukha, tanda ng pagtanggap sa aking mga panaginip.

~
~
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Image credit: Flickr

Monday, June 08, 2015

I Am a Slave

I just had a horrible epiphany: I am a slave.

I am a slave in this system they created. It is an unnatural system. To them,  I am an account number, a serial number meant to be bilked and squeezed dry by the powers that be. From my birth, I am tagged, categorized and prepared like young livestock to be grown, to be bilked and then to be slaughtered.

As a young child, and while I studied, the system bilked my parents for everything they can squeeze. From the tuition, to the school uniforms, to the food that I ate in the carinderia to every single value they can squeeze from me, they had squeezed from my mama and papa.

A number...
Now, as a grown man, they have my phone number, my address, my picture, my family, my email, my dreams and they know my desires. They would try to sell whatever thing they can try to sell. They would appeal to all of my emotions to get me to want, what they want me to want. When they know that life has taken a rough turn, they would use these emotions, especially fear, so that I will get a loan to buy the things they want me to want.


  • I am afraid to not be accepted by the system's people. So I have to wear fancy clothes.
  • I am afraid for the future, so I have to consume data that "seems" to be in line with the system.
  • I am afraid to not belong, so I have to speak their language.


Otherwise, I am disconnected from that system's realities and advertised benefits.

The Media
Everything is interconnected. Get connected.

Wherever I look, it is a reminder that 
I - AM - NOT - ENOUGH. 

As a Farmer
I have to buy the seeds that they make. Seeds that grow plants and fruits that do not grow more seeds. They do this so that I would be dependent on them. 

The chicks that I buy cannot reproduce, so I have to buy from them again. The feeds that I feed them, comes from the company that would later sell my chickens in the grocery - where everything is overpriced. I am destined to make a small profit from all the hard work, while they continue to sell to me. 

As a Person 
Everything that I need, can be sold to me. They need to sell me my house. They need to sell me the "right" clothes. The "right" shoes. The "right" perfume. They need to sell me food that's not just overpriced, but also laden with all forms and tinges of slavery.  

They can sell that water that I drink. They will then charge me for whenever I go to the bathroom.

They will sell to me the right to be able to speak with my loved ones who are distant. They would this through contraptions that are reliant on the networks they have created.

They will sell to me the right to travel freely. First, the car. Then the right to own a car. Then the gasoline. Then the tollgates. Then the parking. Then when it gets broken. Then the insurance before it gets broken.

They will sell to me, even the soil where my body will remain when I die. They will sell to me the barong I will wear, the coffin and they will rent to me the car that would take me to a place I have never been to before.

If they can sell the sunlight...
They will. If they can sell clean fresh air, they will. They confine us in boxes and uproot us from the soil where we were born - by buying land which used to be our patrimony. They will then claim rights over this, they will build on it and then sell it to us again at more than 500 times its value when they bought it.

If they cannot buy it from us, they will take it from us through the laws that they only know. Most of us would be forced to flee. And in our desperation we would be at the streets begging for their mercy. 

Friday, June 05, 2015

Godlessness

An interesting article came up on rappler that provoked me to write a bit to help me organize my own thoughts. The article was entitled, "On being godless and good: Irreligious Pinoys speak out". It takes a healthy mix of urbanism, development, education and open-mindedness in a society for such a movement to come out, especially here in erstwhile conservative and onion skinned Philippines. For that, I must tip my hat out of respect to the brave gents and ladies of the Philippine Atheist and Agnostic Society.

That doesn't necessarily mean that I agree with them.

Their battle cry,

"'God is not necessary to be a good human,

is a highly complex moral and philosophical quandary. I for one, would like to get to the bottom of its validity.

To ascertain the claim's truthfulness, we must, first of all, try to define what is a "good human".

As an aside, I have still to meet a person who claims to be "evil". I've met murderers and thieves, and though they may know that what they may have done is - in the eyes of others, evil, they always end that phrase with a "but" or a "because".

"I did this evil act - BUT - this guy is more evil"
"I did this - BUT - he deserved it"
"I did this - BECAUSE - my significant other was also doing it"
"I did this - BECAUSE - everybody is doing it"

On the other hand, I've also met religious people who are just outwardly dancing to the music and playing the game. Outside, they hold on to their beliefs and go through the motions of religious tradition, but you'd see in their own lives the contradictions and the outwardly perceived hypocrisy.

That notwithstanding, the core foundation of most Christian beliefs - is fallibility. That's the first thing that happened in the Christian bible (save for creation of course) , Adam and Eve's fall from grace.

We have all fallen from grace. 
We have all sinned. 
We all need to seek redemption - no matter what others think.

There are things that we do or think, that only ourselves will ever know - unless there is a God.

What is a "good human"?

Take away everything and strip down one man or woman of all the vanities and all the knowledge, place him on an island and try to ask that question again.

What will make that person on an island, by himself, a "good human?"

The description of "good human" is always societal in context...

Without a God, there would always have to be two or more people who have to agree on what is good. Without a God, they would always have to agree to describe a particular characteristic, a trait, an act or a thought as "good". The problem with that scenario, is that it turns the definition of "good", into a "belief" reliant on affirmative plurality. (Sorry, too much gobbledygook.... I'll try again)

Let's go back to the island with one man who is trying to be a good human. It's hard to define him as such by himself. So let's add another person. For convenience's sake, let's make the second person a woman.

The island has a few coconut trees, some fruits, some vegetables and a few animals. At first they just ate and ate, but then the food supply eventually started to dwindle - it was a small island. After quite some time, there were only a few pieces of fruit left since they ate most of the animals and most of the vegetables.

One day, the woman wakes up to see no more food. The woman slaps the man on the face for eating all the fruit. The woman says, you are a "bad human" for eating all the fruit. The man says, "No, I am not. I was very hungry so I had to eat all the fruit."

Is the man justified for eating all the fruit because he was hungry?
Is the woman justified for slapping the man who ate all the fruit?

For their future mutual survival, they would have to agree that should food somewhat ever appear again, that they would have to share the food. They would also have to share in the work to produce it.

In this sense, a "good human" is something agreed upon by two or more parties. Because if one or the other do not agree then it really doesn't matter. One, the other, or both would be dead simply because they would be competing with each other for the limited supply of food.

It gets morbidly complicated when you have 8+ billion people

Today, right now, while you are reading this, a child soldier is cleaning his AK-47 rifle in Africa, a special operations soldier is en route to 'neutralize' a high value terrorist target somewhere in Iraq, an employer is beating his employee to make him work harder, politicians are debating where money should go, a man is getting drunk, a husband is making love to a woman who is not his wife, a young child is watching pornography, a man is looking at the ceiling while he smokes marijuana, an enthusiastic young woman is packing his bags to volunteer to help build houses in a third world country, a minister of a church is receiving donations from the Mafia, a city councilor is planning on how to shave a little from public coffers to help him buy a Ferrari...

The question is, who gets to say that I am a "good human?"

Is the Past, Present and Future You a "Good Human"?

Are we our past, present or future selves? Empirically, since we are mortal, finite and most importantly bound by time - a decision has to be made in a given time. A person may be a good father, but a bad husband today on June 5, 2015 12:03 AM but what about tomorrow?

Who made that decision?
Who is qualified to form that belief?
What makes their belief valid

As a good father, that decision can be made by the children, by himself, by his wife or by anybody who could form an opinion, given that they have enough information so they could form a "belief" on what is a "good father".

*I know a thief, and his children see him as a good but imperfect father

My problem with this approach is it makes coming up with an approach of describing - being a "Good Human" irrelevant in the greater scheme of things

It turns relationships into temporal and temporary transactions that can be altered and changed from time to time, as it suits the person's needs.

If for one person, you are a "good human" yet to another a "bad human", then what does it make you?

Philosophically speaking, I know, that the smarter minds out there can defeat my approach.

But what if a Being that can make that absolute judgment with finality create a semblance of sanity or even coherence to our existence? The opinions of others, our own opinion of ourselves become immaterial.

And in my own humble personal opinion, this deference, this humbling, helps us live our lives without having to over-think things on whether we are good humans or not.

I am an imperfect man, in an imperfect world.



My father and my mother named me "Daniel". In Hebrew, it means, 

"God is my judge"