Write Post

Featured Image
Community Events
cywong

A few days ago, I spotted a water dispenser in a sports equipment shop. It was accompanied by a banner that says "#Refill and Refrain - Say No to Single-use bottles". Wow. Someone (The Primer Group) is actually giving out free water in the Fort! Some people may dismiss it as a marketing gimmick to get customers into the shop. Maybe it is, but I wish more shops would do the same, spreading a message that promotes public benefit and spending their money to support the message.

Then, this morning I attended a networking event organized by Fort Bonifacio Development Foundation Incorporated. Several social enterprises briefed officers from different corporations located in the Fort about the projects that they did that could contribute to a better society.

Businesses need to make money to survive, and to reward investors and employees. Some are so successful that they make much more than is needed to survive and to give investors a decent return. These businesses are often geared to be lazer-focused on making more money, with no regard to anybody or anything other than the financial gain of their owners or shareholders. It is about beating the competition.

How much monetary rewards do corporations need?Do the shareholders and top executives really need that much money? Is success measured merely by how much more money one makes compared to our peers?

More and more successful business owners seem to feel the emptiness that a focus on pursuing a pure monetary goal brings. The satisfaction of owning more luxury goods diminishes with each additional item. The missing element is our value to others.

We have heard of corporate social responsibility. CSR encourages corporations to think about doing something for the benefit of society, after or while making money. Another, more recent, approach for corporations and individuals to contribute to public well-being is Impact Investing. According to Wikipedia, Impact investing refers to investments "made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return". It allows corporations to contract out the actual work of delivering deeds that benefit the larger society, and more importantly, focus on the performance of the investment.

I guess impact investing is an approach that corporations may feel more comfortable in explaining to shareholders when they want to do something good for the society. The familiar term of return on investment can still be used, but that investors will seek return not just in monetary terms.

Photo above: Project Inclusion speaker, Mr. Grant Javier, explains the work of Project Inclusion to CSR officers from companies in BGC

At the first BGC Social Development Network Forum held on November 14, three non-government organizations presented their projects. Apart from Project Inclusion, which promotes the hiring of people with disability, there were Adarna House (promotes literaracy development) and HERO Foundation (donations for orphans of Army personnel).

At a personal level, I definitely am drawn to the #Refrain and Refill Project, since single use bottles are so prevalent that the problems that they create are enormous, yet they can be tackled by individuals. Plastic bottles pollute the sea as well as our food source. With #Refrain and Refill, all we need to do is carry a reusable bottle. In fact, if there are water vending machines, I think many people will not mind paying a little for the water and reduce the number of bottles discarded into the landfill or ocean.

Businesses should start seeing social returns the same way that they see economic returns, at least after they made it above survival level. That's the difference between an ordinary company and a great company, in my view.

Featured Image
Community Events
greenurban

Several of us from the Green Urban Network were invited to the inauguration of the BGC Greenway today. Many of us have been using the BGC Greenway since 2016. This inauguration marks the next phase of development of this well-loved amenity of BGC. It will add several pocket parks and some length to the existing walking/jogging path, as well as lots of greenery.

The inauguration ceremony was done as part of a joint meeting of the Makati and BGC Central Rotary Clubs, since the clubs were two of the sponsors of the project, and Mr. Charlie Rufino, the major proponent of this project is the Makati Rotary Club member who chairs this project in the club.

Two speakers at the event really got our attention because they shared information that is quite relevant to our advocacy.

Photo above: Ms Aileen Zosa of BCDA elaborates on the Metro Manila Greenway Project

Ms. Aileen Zosa, Bases Conversion and Development Authority, updated us on the progress of the elevated walkway that would link Buendia MRT to Bonifacio Global City, which is one of the segments of a big linked walkway and park project for Metro Manila. She said that they recently awarded the engineering design component of the project. This is good news, as we really want to see this project move forward. It should reduce demand for vehicles coming in or going out of BGC.

Photo above: Mr Alcazaren, environmental planner and landscape architect, highlighted the green space projects that he has been involved in.

Mr Paulo G. Alcazaren of PGAA Creative Design Inc. shared his experience in designing green spaces overseas and in the Philippines. We were particularly thrilled about his new project which aims to improve the sidewalks and street corners in Metro Manila.


We could all relate to the photos of unsightly and obstructed sidewalks that scatter around the streets of Metro Manila outside of Fort Bonifacio that Mr Alcazaren showed us, and could not hold back our laughter when we read the acronym of the proposed action group to improve these street corners and sidewalks.


We learned that this second phase of the BGC Greenway is sponsored by Aboitiz Power, BDO, Leechiu Property Consultants, Inc., Neo Projerty Management Inc., Philippine Stock Exchange and Transnational Diversified Group.

After the presentations, we walked to an upgraded section of the BGC Greenway, where a plaque has been installed to thank the partners and sponsors of this project.


In addition to the donations made by these sponsors, other entities have come forward to do more, notably Norman foster Development, which has adopted a pocket park adjacent to the greenway on 26th Street; the Bonifacio Arts Foundation which has agreed to refurbish Kasalikasan Park; and Pacific Plaza Towers will be furnishing Balanghai Park with electrical power for lighting.

We, members of the Green Urban Network, were grateful for being invited to the inauguration, which was sponsored by the two Rotary Clubs. We managed even to have a photo taken with the two major proponents of the BGC Greenway project, Mr. Charlie Rufino and Mr Michael Keppler, without the efforts of whom the BGC Greenway would not have been possible.

Side note: rocks of the Fort


A week or two ago, we noticed that a big piece of rectangular rock was dug up from a ground of a future pocket park. We now see it being made part of the pocket park in its original, natural form, which is very nice. The rocks kind of remind us of the little bits of beauty of nature around us.


Read more about BGC Greenway or Buendia Elevated Walkway here (Resilient and Safe BGC), here (Launch of Greenway 2016), and here (Greenway to health 2016).

Featured Image
Blog
greenurban

There is a looming waste management crisis in Metro Manila and if we do not do something about it now, one day when we wake up, we will find trash rotting at our doorsteps.

The best action is of course to reduce the production of waste. When that cannot be done, the next approach is to reuse or recycle the materials that we do not need any more. Many residents in the Fort are environmental conscious, but lack the information about the places that support recycling.

This blog is prepared by the Green Urban Network, a residents' group based in Bonifacio Global City, as a resource page for residents in the Fort who care about the environment.

Places to Recycle

In most buildings in the Fort, there is no proper garbage separation facilities. Thus, materials that, if kept clean and dry, could have been recycled are instead being transported to the landfills. Luckily, there are places in the Fort that we can bring our used items to, so that less goes into the landfill.

Plastics and Paper

1. SM Aura Premier

Materials to recycle: cardboard, paper, plastic bottles, metallic cookware

Collection point: "Trash for Cash" project, basement 1 of SM Aura Premier, first Friday and Saturday of each month during mall hours (not 8am to 2pm as shown in the banner). 

They pay a small amount for the materials accepted for recycling, such as 5 pesos per kilogram of plastic water bottles, 2 pesos for each kg of cardboard and so on.

They also collect Eco-Bricks, which are plastic bottles stuffed with shredded plastic wrappers and packaging that will be used as construction materials.

Next collections:

November 1 and 2, December 6 and 7, and subsequent first Friday and Saturday of each month.


2. R.O.X.

Materials to recycle: plastic wrappers and packaging materials. They need to be stuffed into used plastic bottles for use as Eco-bricks.


R.O.X. has a collection box for Eco-Bricks. SM Aura Premier Mall also collects Eco-Bricks on the first Friday and Saturday of each month. 


Clothes recycling

2. H&M store at Uptown Mall

Matierials accepted: H&M Foundation accepts clothings of all makes, not just their own.

Collection point: H&M at ground floor, Uptown Mall.


Printer cartridge


3. Canon at 4th floor of SM Aura accepts empty ink cartridges of their own brand.

4. Brother at Marajo Tower, 26th Street, BGC, takes back empty toner and other printer consumables from their printers.


Tetrapak recycling

5. Collection point is in Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf's Bistro at 26th Street. See featured photo.


General Household items

6. Segunda Mana at 2nd floor of Market!Market! mall.

Segunda Mana accepts the following items:

– OLD ITEMS that can still be used

– USED ITEMS that still have value

– NEW ITEMS

– OLD STOCKS and NON-MOVING INVENTORIES

They will resell the items and then use the proceeds to fund their charitable projects.

For inquiries and scheduling of pick up of the items you want to donate, you may call them at (632) 564-0205 to 562-0020 to 25 or email them at segunda_mana@yahoo.com.


Schools that facilitate recycling

Many schools in the Fort have set up mechanisms for students to practice recycling.

For example, Chinese International School Manila at McKinley Hill accepts clean and empty tetrapaks, plastic bottles, and cardboards. Plastics will go to Plastic Flamingo and Unilever. Paper and metal wastes will be given to Tsu Chi for recycling.

British School Manila has a Green Team After School Club. They collect and sort clean plastic for shredding, melting, sanding and these are made into new products. Email: communications@britishschoolmanila.org if you want to give them cleaned plastics.

If you have friends whose kids go to such schools, you may be able to give them your clean and dry empty tetrapaks, plastic bottles, paper and cardboards.


Visit the Facebook page of the Green Urban Network to participate in the discussion or work for a green environment.




Featured Image
Memorable Events
newbie

I blogged about my encounter with the author of Nas Daily (Nuseir Yassin) two and a half years ago, after I accidentally attended his meetup with fans in Bonifacio High Street. Read it here.

This time, I was invited to meet with him as one of the media people at the press con held just before his latest Philippine meetup at SM Aura Premier Mall's spacious Samsung Hall.


Photo above: James Deakin was the host and Alyne Tamir tossed out mini pillows to work up the crowd

In fact, there were so many people who wanted to attend the meet up that the organizer decided to split the two-hour meetup into two sessions, each for a group of about six hundred people.

Photo above: Nas received a portrait of himself from a fan

Same

Same as two and a half years ago, Nas was friendly, straight-talking and humble. Many questions asked were also the same as those asked before, and the answers mostly remained the same, like when did he start Nas Daily (2015), where he got his inspirations (from the people he meets).


Different

Two and a half years ago, he had 3 million followers on the social media. This time, he has 13 million. More people went to his meet up.

Last time, he was the only speaker. This time, his two travel companions, Agon Hare and Alyne Tamir (Nas' girl friend), also answered questions and interacted with the crowd.


Funny and awkward moments

One fan asked Nas when he was going to get married. He said probably never, in the full presence of his girl friend. Then the fan asked them to 'kiss'. Alyne thought the fan said 'kids', and jokingly replied, 'there is so much work just handling friends like you guys..'. They eventually did a peck in the cheek. 

Another fan complimented Nas: "I really liked your video on Iran." Nas looked puzzled. "I never went to Iran." The other fans suggested that he meant North Korea.


Photo above: Nas' tongue needs air after too many interviews. He actually has updated his T-shirt. Last time he was here, the shirt says 32%. Quiz: Since the number has increased by 4% in 2.5 year, what his life expectancy is?

Serious moments

Nas explained why he came back to the Philippines. He was invited by the Department of Tourism to do another video on the Philippines. He decided to do one about efforts being made to reverse the environment damage done to the Philippines so that it will become cleaner and more beautiful. As he mentioned in his first visit, he does not see himself as a travel blogger.

A fan asked Nas whether he would consider slowing down. Nas answered that he told himself that he would probably only live to 40 years old, and this thought made him determined to get a lot done every day. He replied that the fan should consider picking up the pace of his life instead.


Will Nas visit the Philippines again?

I do not recall any one asking him that question. He will start his company in Singapore, this means he will not be living far from the Philippines.


I don't usually attend meetups, but Nas is not the usual celebrity. Nor is he a travel vlogger that just takes beautiful videos. He uses videos to give messages about social issues, so that people start thinking or discussing about those issues. 

Since I noticed that many of his fans were young people, some of them were not even teenagers, after attending the meetup, I started watching some of his videos with our pre-teen daughter, in the hope that she will spend less time watching slapstick/funny/prankster videos. If that happens, this meetup with Nas would be the most well-spent time I had with a celebrity.

A special thanks to SM Aura Premier Mall for inviting me to the event, and informing us of the many efforts that it has put into supporting environmental sustainability. We did not know that it is the first mall to accept eco-bricks, but we have seen the herb garden that it maintains.



Featured Image
Food
chiu

Yesterday morning, when driving to Venice Piazza for lunch, we saw a lot of banners promoting Asia Town in McKinley West. So we turned our car around and went there instead.

We parked our car at the open parking at McKinley West, and walked about 5 minutes to get to this place called Asia Town.


It is a small open space wedged between two office buildings located along La Grande Avenue, one of which is called Intelenet. The open space is decorated by a lot of greenery, and has three food truck-type stalls. The most eye-catching feature of this space is a series of four golden buddha that are scattered around the area.


One food truck is Madrone, a place that sells kebab and sandwiches, and it has a two-storey open structure with tables and chairs for customers. Another is Banh Mi Kitchen, a stall that sells Vietnamese style sandwiches.


Surrounding the open space are food establishments that are supposed to support the "Asia Town" theme. Some of them do, such as a Taiwanese milk tea and snack bar called Black Sugar, a Japanese/Korean restaurant called Kisoya, a Singaporean herbal pork rib soup place called Rong Hua Bak Kut Teh, a Korean barbecue restaurant, and a Chinese restaurant is under construction.

Photo above: Rong Hua Bak Kut Teh has a soft opening Buy-1-Get-1 free promo for selected items.

On the other hand, there are also two western coffee specialty shops, a Starbucks and a Malongo.

If you work in the McKinley West area, this is probably a nice and convenient place to chill. The developer of McKinley West is constructing a couple of footbridges to make it easier for people from the other side of La Grande Avenue to get there as well. So maybe in a few months' time, Asia Town will be a really bustling place in the evening.


Featured Image
Community Events
newbie

Weekend mornings are usually a time for people to meet with friends and families for relaxation and fun. Then why are these residents out there in the heat picking up trash?

My friend Marianna is a member of a residents' group called EQUIP@BGC. The group's members have made Bonifacio Global City their home, and they are upset that their neighborhood is tainted by trash, garbage disposed by people who have no care for public cleanliness.

Instead of just complaining, Marianna and her friends decided to do something about it by themselves. They started organizing trash-collecting walks, called Trashtag Challenge Walks, since June this year. Last Sunday, August 11, Marianna and her EQUIP@BGC friends did the third Trashtag Challenge Walk. They started at 7am from Serendra Piazza. Below is her account of the event:

Surprisingly, last Sunday morning, August 11th, dawned bright and clear for our Trashtag Challenge #3! Pauline, Akiko, Mila, George, and I ventured into territory we hadn’t covered before that seriously needed attention! We have only one  before and after pic from that day because everyone kept filling up their bags all along the way to Pauline’s suggested focus which was outside the Department of Energy property across the street from Kidzania. It was wet and full of mosquitoes and somewhat difficult to get at but I’m happy to say we did a good job. The “after” photo might not look pristine but what was left was stuff we couldn’t get at.


Akiko was kind enough to threaten mosquitoes before they got to me, many thanks Akiko! Big thank you to JSA Barracks who again lent George their steel tongs for us and Mrs Bambi Harper who provided us with the garbage bags.

Bravo to Marianna, Pauline, George, Akiko and Mila for risking their health with getting dengue fever to make a silent but active protest about the bad behavior of the litterbugs.

If, you, like them, want to show others that their littering is not welcomed, and would like to join them for the next Trashtag Walk, please contact Marianna Price at 09178433001.

Featured Image
Blog
cywong

There are household items that we need to replenish all the time, like cooking oil, clean agents and so on. Every time we replenish, we have to buy new bottles containing the stuff that we really need, and dispose of the old containers, many of which are made of plastic.

We know we need to reduce the use of plastic for environmental reason, but we often do not have a lot of choices. Until now. 

A producer and distributor of sauces and condiments in the Philippines, NutriAsia, has taken an initiative to give us the option to refill containers for cooking oil, and vinegar. Their pop-up store is in front of The Mind Museum, and is called "BYOB", as in Bring Your Own Bottle.


I have been looking for a facility like this for a while, so I was determined to give it my support by becoming its customer. This morning, the second day of its opening, I visited the pop-up store, bringing two empty bottles with me. I read their requirements for bottles the day before (it must be clean and dry, and previously contained food only and so on), so I was well prepared.

When I got there, the door was closed, because there was a media interview going on. Since I am a sort-of blogger, I asked to be allowed in as well. So I got in after their interview with GMA was done.

Lucky for me, NutriAsia's Corporate Marketing and Communications Head, Mr. James Lim, was at hand to guide me through the process of refilling. Not that it was complicated.


First the employees checked my bottles to make sure they are clean and so on. Then I had to sign a waiver on a digital device which basically says that they would not be responsible for problems caused by the containers.

Next they weighed my empty bottles to record the weight of the bottles. We should not have to pay for the weight of the bottles.

Then I chose the products to be put into the bottles. The price list was simple enough. Price per gram of weight ranges from P0.014 for vinegar, to P0.162 for corn oil. Currently, they only have 7 products to refill (vinegar, soy sauce, banana ketchup, palm oil, canola oil, soy oil and corn oil).

They filled each bottle according to my order, and then weighed them. My small bottle of vinegar came to 6 pesos, my soy sauce of about 750cc came to about P25, and my one liter of canola oil was P120. They were about 20% cheaper than if I purchase the items from a supermarket. 

Photo above : store worker filling up my bottle with vinegar. Inset is a poster on their plastics repurposing project.

Saving the environment while saving money! Actually, since they were doing a media promotion, they did not accept my money. But my positive view of this facility has nothing to do with their freebies to me.

Apart from refilling bottles, the pop-up store has another pro-environment function. It also serves as a drop-off point for plastic materials for repurposing. The BYOB store is made from eco-bricks produced from Arca South Eco Hub using plastic discards.

According to James Lim, all proceeds from BYOB, along with the plastic materials donated, will be used to produce upcycled furnishings for their beneficiary, GAT Andres Bonifacio High School.

BYOB is set to run only until September 12. It opens 7 days a week, 12 noon to 8PM, in front of the Mind Museum, Rizal Drive, Fort Bonifacio. I asked James if NutriAsia will open a permanent refilling store, and he was hesitant to reply. Perhaps NutriAsia is assessing the response from this store before making a decision. If so, we need to show our support for this initiative by buying from it as often as possible.

Photo above: I clicked the bottle counter. Inset is James Lim, NutriAsia's Corporate Marketing and Communications Head

Each time a bottle is refilled, the customer gets to press a button, and this will activate the counter outside the store that shows how many bottles have been saved.  When I finished my refill, I pressed it three times, and the number went up by 3 to 73. Let us show them we want the store to be permanent, by maxing out the counter!

Photo above: the counter for the number of bottles refilled. Let us max it out! Only 99,927 bottles to go!




Featured Image
Blog
tiffanyl

What happens if you’re stuck in the Fort with hours to kill? I encountered this dilemma when my flight was delayed by 5 hours and had nothing to do. Luckily, however, I was stuck in one of the busiest cities in Manila with plenty of activities to do. 



For my first stop, I decided to spend my time catching up on the new movies in Central Square cinema. Always updated with the newest showings, this cinema is one of the best in the city, with affordable prices and delicious vendors and snacks for the movie. This was one of the most efficient ways of killing time without having to do much, as the movie took around 2 hours.

 

While watching a movie was efficient, it was a little too ordinary so I tried out Breakout in Serendra. Breakout is a unique experience where you and a group of friends work together to escape a room. The room and experience are themed depending on the one you choose. Luckily I was traveling with my friends and we took on the challenge to break out. This was a fun and thrilling experience but it wasn’t as efficient since the maximum time given was 45 minutes. Going with friends also has an advantage because, on Fridays to Sundays and Holidays, the price per person decreases as the number of people increases. However, the experience is more affordable on Mondays to Thursdays, when the price is fixed.




To finish, I visited one of the busiest areas in BGC with the best food, Mercato Centrale. Mercato Centrale is located on 25th St. and is a giant food market with tons of vendors serving delicious food. Open from 4pm to 2am on Thursdays and Fridays, it was the perfect place to grab some food before leaving. I was able to have a unique experience while tasting a variety of cuisines and food for an affordable price. 


Although it wasn’t available this week, another good option to kill time with is Gourmand Market in Central Square. Similar to Mercato Centrale, it’s a food market with numerous vendors and delicious food. However, the market isn't as regular as Mercato Centrale and only pops up occasionally.


While a long delay is normally terrible, I surprisingly had a pleasant experience. So maybe being stuck in a city for 5 hours isn’t as bad as it seems, especially if you’re lucky and stuck in the Fort where there’s plenty of activities to do and try.