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Work Life

We have a small startup that operates in BGC. So we need to have our business permit renewed every year at Taguig City Hall. In previous years, we hired an agent to do that, but this year, the agent did not respond, so we decided to do it by ourselves. 

From press reports, we learned that the registration period was between January 1 to 20 only, but the City Hall of Taguig had set up a Business One Stop Shop (BOSS) at the main office and its satellite office at SM Aura Office Tower. Naturally, we wanted to do it all in one place, so we made sure we would do it within the operation of the BOSS period, and went to the office located at 9th floor of SM Aura office tower.

But before going there, we prepared all the documents needed, which are detailed below as needed at various stages of the process.

First Visit

We arrived at 9th floor of SM Aura office tower at 9.44am on a week day in the second week of January 2020. We asked the receptionist about the steps and were given a number and told to go to the windows designated for our company's barangay clearance, which is the barangay of Fort Bonifacio.

Step 1. Barangay clearance

Documents needed were the original and photo copy of previous barangay clearance.

We were told and paid P1,500 at Counter 25 for Fort Bonifacio's barangay clearance. Other counters were avaialble for other barangays.

There was no display of the fee, so we do not know if it was the standard rate for all companies or not.

Step 2. Insurance

We were instructed to fill in an application form for business permit renewal (obtained for free from the receptionist), and then go to Counter 114. There, we showed them last year's insurance policy and paid P1,800 for the new insurance policy for the company. It was an increase from just over P1500 last year.

After that, we had to go back to Window 21 to get a chop on the application form.

Step 3. Show application form at Window 17 or 18

There, we showed them the completed application form, and were then told to go to Window 16.

Step 4. Assessor's Window

At Window 16, we got a chop from the assessor on the application form.

After seeing the chop from the assessor, the receptionist told us to go to the window for notary public to notarize the app form. Time: 10.21am.

Step 5. Notarize the application form

Window 13 is notary public. We gave them the application form and then waited. After about 10 minutes, we paid P200, and got the notarized application form.

So, after five steps, our accomplishment was that we got 3 stamps on the application form, obtained new insurance policy and had the application form notarized. The next step was the big one, as we had to go up one floor to the Business License office on 10th floor.

Photo : checklist that accompanies the application form, and one of the number tags. We got at least two number tags during the Day 1 process.

Step 6. Document check at Business License Office

On 10th floor, we got a number, and waited for our turn. When called, we went into a big room with a row of tables. At one of the tables, a lady asked us to provide the prepared documents, which were:

- completed and notarized application form;

- Copy of old business permit and sanitary permit, and official receipt

- Copy of new barangay permit

- Copy of VAT returns for first 3 Q of 2019

- Copy of 2018 audited financial statements

- Copy of insurance cover, already provided by insurance company on 9th floor.

- Certificate of Employees. Name and age of each employee.

- Lease of office space, and all the related documents such as tax return of the leased space, location map of the place, and photograph of the building

For documents that we only brought the original, we could get them photocopied for free right outside the room. It was pretty convenient. Free snacks were also provided.

After examining the papers, the lady stapled them together and filled in a checklist, and gave them to us. It appeared that all the documents that they needed were there, hooray!

Step 7. Assessment

A staff at the Business License Office guided us back to a room on 9th floor, where about 30 people were waiting. Time check: 10.42am

In that room, there was no queue number, so you had no idea where you were in line. They just call out your company name when it's your turn. We peeked behind a partition, and saw about 10 employees of the City Hall engaged in the processing of the applications. Our paper was probably assigned to one of the employees.

In that room, not only free coffee and biscuits were provided, but also free massage. Quite a few people took advantage of the free message. 

After one and a half hour in that room (12:10pm), we were called and given the bill for the business permit.

We paid what we were told to pay at the counter 5 there. Then we went to counter 2 to get the cedula, which is another fee for the barangay.

We took a look at the bill. They asked us for gross sales in 2019, then they add about 50% to it, and multiply it by a percentage. Apparently, the rate for Information Technology is 1.5%. 

We were told the business permit would be ready in 5 to 7 working days

Second Visit : Jan 20

We arrived at 9th floor of SM Aura office tower at around 2pm, on the last day of the business permit registration period. Not surprisingly, there were a lot of people who wanted to submit their renewal application before the deadline.

Upon arrival, we were given a number at the reception after we told the receptionist that we were there to collect our business permit. Knowing that our English may not be understood very well, I went up to the window for Fort Bonifacio business permit and asked where I could pick up the new business permit, instead of waiting for our number to be called, which probably was meant for people submitting the application, instead of picking up the new permit. We were told to go to window 32 to 34. There, we were told to bring a pile of paper to Window 11.

At Window 11, we were told to photocopy 2 pages and write contact name and number.

We lined up 2:26pm for photocopy. Fortunately, they already provided photocopying at the same office, and it was free of charge. Photocopying done at 2:36pm.

We brought the required copies to counter 11. The officer kept the copies and told me to go back to Counter 33. There, we waited for 5 min and got the permit. Magic!

We share our experience here so that people considering starting a business can have an idea what they need to do every year. But note that the process may change year to year, and may depend on the type of business that you plan to operate.

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It is probably like living in a desert city. Like sand, the ash can be felt if you are on the street and a vehicle passes by, disturbing the ash on the ground.

Taal Volcano in Batangas, 90 kilometers from Fort Bonifacio, has been recording tremors as early as 11 am on Sunday, January 12. It started spewing thick ash from 5pm on January 12, 2020. It erupted at 3AM the following day.

We were playing near De Jesus Oval in Bonifacio Global City, near Pacific Plaza Towers, at around 4 pm on Jan 12, and did not feel anything unusual.

We went home and then only went out for a little at around 8 pm. At that time, we could feel something like a light drizzle on our hair, but ash fall was not visible. We went to a pharmacy at 1st Street to buy something, and kept seeing people asking for masks. They were told that masks were sold out. At night, we received news that there would be no school in the whole of Metro Manila the next day. 

This morning, we looked out of the window, and did not see any ash fall. We waited until 11am and decided to take a walk around BGC.

Some people were still wearing masks to filter out the ash.

A thin layer of ash could be seen on the street.

But we saw workers had started washing away the ash in some areas.

In the One Bonifacio Park, plants looked unaffected. Only a thin layer of ash covered the art installations.

In the swimming pool of our condominium, we could see and feel the ash that sunk to the bottom of the pool.

Then we went to lunch at One Bonifacio High Street, and saw the impact of the volcanic eruption in the retail sector. About 40 percent of the shops were closed. At the food court at basement, which usually would be packed with lunch goers, there were still a lot of empty tables. We had no trouble in getting a table.

In all, the impact of the eruption of Taal Volcano on the Fort is small, and hopefully it stays this way.

We actually checked the air quality a day after the volcanic eruption.

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Community Events

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.

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Community Events

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).

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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



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.

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Memorable Events

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 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).


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.

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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.

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Community Events

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.