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
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
Community Events
cywong

There are many benefits of having a neighborhood community. We can share information about what is happening, get recommendations about home maintenance services, organize hobby group activities, order goods in bulk and so on. For residents of Bonifacio Global City, we have an additional reason to join a neighborhood group like E.Q.U.I.P@BGC, because it is supported by the estate management entities of BGC.

Fort Bonifacio Development Corp, which markets BGC and manages BGC in conjunction with its affiliated company BESC, invites members of E.Q.U.I.P@BGC to attend marketing activities of its commercial partners from time to time, which often means freebies like lunch or dinner.

On March 14, 2019, we were invited to a lunch hosted by the recently opened Chateau 1771 restaurant, located on the second floor of One Bonifacio High Street mall.

Chateau 1771 is an established fine dining European restaurant first opened in Malate, Manila, in 1988. 

In the featured photo, Chef Vicky Pacheco, Chief Executive Officer 1771 Group of Restaurants, introduces her dishes that were served to the community group.

Photo above: Front entrance of Chateau 1771 at One Bonifacio High Street.

The food was delicious. There were scallops with cheese, chicken boncoccini with marsala sauce, fettucine with light lemon cream sauce, among the many dishes.

Smoked gindara carpaccio (like raw tangigue) and four seasons salad were the appetizers that the restaurant showcased. We also had a chance to taste desserts like meringue with lemon custard, and valrhona ganache tarte.

It was a great occasion to taste exquisite food courtesy of Chateau 1771 and arranged by FBDC, and for us neighbors to catch up with other neighbors we met before as well as network with new friends.


Featured Image
Community Events
newbie

There may be more than one community group for residents in the Fort, but the ones that is quite active is E.Q.U.I.P@BGC, a group started in 2014 by several families with young kids. They had the need to arrange play activities for their children, so they met regularly and invited other parents to join. Lately, the group, which primarily communicated via the social messenger platform Viber, expanded to include everyone who lives in BGC, not just those with yound kids.

2018 Year End Party


A year-end gathering was held on December 27, 2018 at the spacious and beautiful Coffee Project cafe at Vista Hub, BGC. Families attended to say 'hi' to each other, as well as meet the principal founders of EQUIP@BGC, Pauline Tan, who now lives in two countries during the year, and Sue Pasustento. Organizers Jac and Sandra prepared an ice-breaker game for participants, as some met for the first time only.


Coffee Treat by Malongo

Members of our community were invited through our friend in Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation to a coffee tasting event at the newly opened Malongo Cafe located at the ground floor of One Bonifacio High Street. We learned about the different ways of making coffee, as well as observed onsite coffee bean roasting that was done by Malongo's hi-tech coffee roaster.

We got to try some cold brewed coffee and some snacks. To top it all, a brand new capsule coffee maker and a few other goodies were raffled off to our lucky residents. 

Since its formation in 2014, EQUIP@BGC has grown from strength to strength, providing a platform for residents of BGC to gather together to share resources or just enjoy neighborly friendship.  With the participation and support of FBDC, it also fosters better understanding and communication between residents and the management of BGC, which is Bonifacio Estate Services Corporation (through FBDC).

Featured Image
Community Events
newbie

Last week, a group of neighbors in the Fort got together to celebrate mid Autumn festival.

According to Ms Audrey Ann Lee, a resident of the Fort and an associate at Zhu Kitchen at 5th Avenue, the event, one of many that she has organized and is called  the Meet & Greet lunches/dinners, was an idea by Pauline Tan of E.Q.U.I.P.@BGC, a community organization, and Chef Karl of Zhu Kitchen, to bring the community together, and "have a venue to personally meet and greet each other beyond the virtual community that we have."

"Chef Karl plans out the menu, proposes it to the organizing group and I plan out activities for the group. So we dont just sit and eat, but really have an activity to break the ice.

Initially we just opened it for adults. So moms and dads can have their me time. But for game nights, similar to the Mooncake Dice Game we would love to have the kids as well."


Dice game was played and good food was served

Ms Ann Lee had an anecdote for the dinner to share. "Funny story is, Chef Karl and I wanted deviate from the traditional dice game wherein you get to win hopia or mooncakes from the smallest to largest size (about 12 inches mooncake in diameter). So we made sure every one has a mooncake to take home and hopefully a loot from the game too.

But in 2 days of trying to find a set of 6 dice, almost all bookstores, toy stores and department stores in BGC just ran out of stock of the dice.

Luckily Puzzles, the restaurant the offers food and board games, had a box of dice from probably all the games they have.

I was asking if they sold any, but they don't.

Kevin, one of the guys from the resto, was very kind that he gave me a set of 6 dice.

I was offering to pay for it, but they wont accept my money and they said I could have it :-)

Basically that experience showed me what community should be all about - support and friendship among others." This is so true. When we open our doors to neighbors, a lot of nice things can happen.

From the photos, I saw that many dishes was served. I asked about the favorite dish.

For Ann, she said "Probably, the group's favorite would be the Taho. Hahaha. If I may speak for the group."


Food. Taho in a bucket was really popular, and I was told that the whole bucket was finished in no time.

It was a small gathering.  I was unable to attend due to other commitments, but those who participated said that they had a really good time, and the photos can vouch for that!

The participants were really serious in playing the dice game.

Marianna, one of the Fort residents who attended the event, said that while she enjoyed the taho, her favorite dish for the evening was a fish dish. 

She shared her experience of the event and told me that she and her husband were introduced to the dice game a little over 10 years ago. "We try to play every year because the kids enjoy it so much, the 14-year old is very proud of the loot he wins and shares it with us.

This year he really enjoyed himself again even after all these years of having played it!"

Ms Lee will host this community event in the future.  Watch out for the event poster in www.TheFortCity.com.


Featured Image
Community Events
chiu

A lot of people run or jog for exercise, but I bet few people in that group are willing to take a few flights of stairs to go up to their office or home. Even when the lifts are busy, people prefer to wait a long time to take the lift to go up a few floors. Why is that?

I kid you not, there are actually two phobias named after the fear of climbing stairs: climacophobia (fear of climbing) and Bathmophobia (fear of the sight of stairs or slopes). But the most common reason for not climbing stairs is probably the exertion that one imagines is required to climb stairs.

But there are so many benefits of climbing stairs: It is good for your heart, it can be done on rainy days, it is free, and it burns a lot of calories!

Photo: At the start of the vertical run. Each wave of start had about a dozen runners. I waited behind an earlier wave for my start.

When I first started stair walking, I did 10 floors, with a break at every two floors. I practised once every week, and it took me a couple of months to get use to doing twenty floors in one go. Two days before the third Vertical Run at Shangri-La at the Fort that was held on July 8, 2018, I practised walking up forty floors.

Since I participated in the first Vertical Run Manila in 2016, I knew what to expect, therefore I was quite relaxed while waiting for the start. 

The stairwell was well lit and clean. There were staff making cheering sound at some floors, and water was served at some floors.

My wave was scheduled to start at 10.21am. There were about a dozen of us in that wave, mostly men. 

My plan was to walk up to the top. Running would be too much for me, and I knew would have been exhausted long before I reach the top. I did not give myself any pressure other than aim to reach the top.

At the lobby, we started on time. Because it rained last night the stairwell was not too hot or humid. There was ventilation and the machine was noisy. It took me about 4 flights to get used to the sound, temperature and humidity.

I let everyone in my wave pass me, so that I could take some photos. When I reached 15th floor, I was passed by the first runner of the next wave, 10.24am. On  27th floor I was passed by a runner from 10.27am. On 59th floor by a runner from the 10.30am start. On the whole, about a dozen or two people from the later waves passed me.

I also passed a couple of 10.21am runners on the way up. 


At the finish. 

At 60th floor, the finishing floor, they announced my name and time, like they do for all runners. My time was 20 min 13 seconds, about two minutes slower than last year, but I was ok with that.  I got my finisher medal. It was very sunny and hot on the roof deck at 60th floor, so I did not stay long. The wait for the single lift going down actually felt as long as the walk going up!

View from 60th floor of Shangri-La at the Fort. You get this view either by owning a unit on the top floors of Shangri-La at the Fort, or join the annual vertical run.

When I reached the assembly area on 5th floor, the gym of Kerry Sports Manila, I had a chat with the team that flew in from Hong Kong to manage this event. I was told that the oldest participant of this run was 69 years old. The oldest runner that they had met was a 75 years old man in a Hong Kong vertical run, who finished the full challenge. This gives me hope that I can still be fit enough to do this  twenty years from now!

Finishers celebrate at the assembly area of the event, at the gym of Kerry Sports Manila, 5/F Shangri-La at the Fort.

The annual Vertical Run at Shangri-La at the Fort is a unique fun run. It may not be the most value-for-money fun run around, nor does it have much party atmosphere (which I do not miss), but it gives you an additional good reason for practising stair walking!


Featured Image
Community Events
chiu

Every month, a community event called BGC Yard Sale is held on a weekend at De Jesus Oval park. This event is facililated by the management of Bonifacio Global City for residents and people working in Bonifacio Global City to sell their used items. It started in mid 2016, two months after the first ever community yard sale organized in Fort Bonifacio by TheFortCity.com was held on April 23 and 24, 2016, at Megaworld Showroom, Forbestown Center. (Does any one remember that one? here is the article)

Because the event is facilitated by the management of BGC, who regards supporting the event as a community service, no rent is charged. This allows sellers to sell their items at a very low price. On the other hand, sellers have to abide by rules set by the authorities, e.g. they are not supposed to sell new items and must be residents or people working in BGC (see the full set of rules here).

Experience of a seller

I joined the BGC Yard Sale a couple of times. The first time was most memorable. It involved quite a bit of preparation. After putting all the items that I intended to sell in one place, I had to decide on the prices to sell them at, or at least to present to potential customers. Then I had to figure out how to bring the items to the venue.

I had a lot of items to sell at that time, so it was quite a physical exercise to bring the items to our booth. Oh, did I forget to mention that we had to get up pretty early to ensure that we had a chance to choose a good spot, since booth location was and is determined on a first-come-first-serve basis?

Talking about finding the right spot to set up our booth, I recall that at one of the yard sale that took place on a Sunday, a seller that we knew, had to move her booth three (or was it four) times, so that the booth could hide from the scorching sun! 

Used clothing is the most popular goods on offer at the yard sale.

There were a lot of potential buyers early in the morning. They were mostly security guards of neighboring buildings, or helpers. Expect a lot of haggling, so if you enjoy the bantering, you will have some fun in taking part in the yard sale, whether sales is good or not.




Treasure hunting in the yard sale

Last Saturday, I went to the yard sale to see if there was anything that would catch my fancy. Although I am not a big shopper, I have bought toys and books there before. And it is sometimes just interesting to see what old items people want to get rid of now. 


Some gadgets can be found at one of the stalls.

As usual, there were clothes, a lot of clothes. One booth had many ladies dresses that looked well maintained and made of good fabrics. I chatted with the seller, who was a young lady called Pia. According to Pia, she lived in BGC with her sisters, and they just had too many clothes in the condo unit that they needed to get rid of, before they could fit more in, of course!

Another stall sold vinyl records, something that reminded me of my childhood. I browsed the hundreds of vinyls, just to see if I could find artists that I could recognize. Unfortunately, I do not own a turntable, so even though I was tempted to recreate the lost memories with some of the vinyls, I couldn't. According to the lady who was selling the vinyls, her brother used to be a D.J., so many of the vinyls were used in his work. Used items are often interesting not because of what they are, but in whose hands that they passed through.


Miss Angel, coordinator of BGC Yard Sale, is always helpful to sellers in answering their questions and coordinating the renting of tents and tables

There were a lot of stalls that sold clothing. A couple of stalls sold used toys. Only one sold gadgets. A young man named Nate stood behind a table that was stacked with a range of electronic gadgets, from earphones, power banks, speakers to micro-drones. I was attracted to an almond shaped speaker that played music with a crystal clear sound. According to Nate, it was a Taiwan made speaker, presumably meaning that it was a high quality product. 

Another customer was interested in the micro-drone that he was selling. Nate played a short video made with the drone, and it was impressive. Since I showed interest in his video, he went on to show me another video he made - a video of BGC! It was a well made video that looked like one of those made by a tourism promoting authority. Now I know if I need a video made, whom I could call!


More than a yard sale

BGC Yard Sale is a place for residents to recycle their used items into cash. It is a place where would-be entrepreneurs test out their ideas or practise their marketing skills. It is a place where you can meet neighbors and make friends with them. 

If the organizers will allow, or encourage, residents to add other activities to the venue during a yard sale, like holding a community picnic in the center space of De Jesus Oval, BGC yard sale can easily become a festive community event that attracts not only helpers and guards, but all segments of the Fort community.