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Memorable Events
cywong

On an early Saturday morning, a group of residents of Bonifacio Global City met up in front of the fountain at Serendra Piazza. A couple of group members had an app called The Clan Race downloaded, and they found the race that they were looking for. It was called BGC Art Walk #2

The group had done BGC Art Walk #1 a few weeks ago, so they were not totally strangers to how the app works. After getting the first challenge, they started walking around Serendra Piazza to count the objects named in the challenge. They keyed in the answer. It was wrong. Undeterred, they counted again, and they got the answer correct, and got the clue to the next stop.

It was a group with diverse background and age, but nothing stopped them from enjoying each other's company. They worked together as a team to look for the places described in the clue, and even the 5-year old helped in counting objects and keying in the answers!

Some technical issues were encountered during the walk, so members had to linger in a place a little bit longer to wait for the next clue to arrive. That just gave us more time to get to know one another!

The walking group, led by Ms. Marianna, met through a local community organization called EQUIP@BGC that brings together the residents of Bonifacio Global City in community building activities. I feel fortunate that there are such civic minded groups in my neighborhood so that I can benefit from such healthy activities and get to know my neighbors at the same time.

Marianna organizes the walk for BGC residents once a month. If interested, please contact her at anna.price2008@gmail.com.

To know more about the app used for the fun walks, visit www.ClanRace.com.

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Food
newbie

Last Friday evening, I was amongst a group of local residents invited by Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation to dine at one of the newly opened food establishment at the One Bonifacio High Street mall.

We are members of a local community group called E.Q.U.I.P@BGC, and we usually just share views and resources via a social messenger app. We were invited by FBDC to visit their newly opened mall located across Shangri-La at the Fort hotel. Some of us met for the first time in person in this event.


Ms Joanne Balawan-Magno (wearing green) of FBDC, introduces Ms Iza Galego (center), who invites residents to support the BGC Passionfest to be held in December 2018, which will have a theme of "Festival of the World". As in previous years, there will be a parade of various community groups on the first day of the Passionfest, which will be on December 1. Many activities will be held in the following two days as well.


After dinner, Ms Magno took us to the balcony area on the fourth floor of the mall, which provided a great view of the park below, as well as that of Shangri-La at the Fort. Ms Magno said that One BHS mall was the first indoor mall built by FBDC. But similar to the one-mile long outdoor built by FBDC, visitors to One BHS can enjoy a spacious shopping environment.

For those of us living near the mall, we were relieved to learn that there will be underground parking space (400 slots) to meet the needs of shoppers. 

The food at this ramen shop located on the 3rd floor of the mall was great. As we toured the mall, we saw a few more eating establishments. One even had a big covered outdoor dining area. We are sure the mall will be a new destination for foodies in and around the Fort in the near future.

Over dinner and afterwards, members of the community group got to know more about each other. Through participation over the years, members of this community group have learned the benefits of being in a neighborhood group like E.Q.U.I.P@BGC. We share valuable information like where to get services such as home maintenance, or references for medical services; disseminate information like local traffic matters, and other resources. We are grateful that neighborhood groups like E.Q.U.I.P@BGC exist, and that the local estate management company FBDC shows its support to these groups from time to time.


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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.


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Memorable Events
cywong

Yesterday (August 8, 2018) I attended the Philippine Investment Conference 2018 at Shangri-La at the Fort organized by The Philippine CFA Society. One of the most memorable moments was when the president of Union Bank, Edwin Bautista, made comments about non-banks companies that used mobile app to offer banking services, during a panel discussion, which was also attended by Anthony Thomas of Globe Mynt.

Mr. Bautista sounded quite agitated when he expressed the concern of traditional banks about companies like Globe Mynt and Grab which offer customers services that allow them to purchase a variety of goods as well as sending money to others using money stored with these companies. His sentiment was: "they will eat our lunch!"

(In the featured photo, Mr. Bautista of Union Bank is seated second from the left, and Mr. Thomas is at the far right.)

Traditional banks have the right to be concerned. As one speaker at the same conference, Mr. Paul Schulte, observed, in several countries like China and Japan, customers could use their mobile phone to complete all sorts of financial transactions, from shopping to investing. Yet these companies are not as heavily regulated as banks.

What should be the response of traditional banks? Their first stop will probably to the regulators, like taxi associations going to the government when under threat by cab hailing services provided through mobile app. However, if that's the only thing that they will do, traditional banks will not stop the pain. For them to meet this challenge properly, I have two advices for them.

(Photo above : Undersecretary of Finance talks about the tax reform package at the Philippine Investment Conference 2018)

One, play to your strength. While people are willing to deposit a few hundred pesos to a telco account, not many will let a telco or a social media platform keep 10,000 pesos or more. Use their trust of banks to facilitate transaction of high value items, but make it easier than before. Think real estate crowd funding. Be the realtymogul.com or fundrise.com of the Philippines.

Two, do something that you should have done before but did not just because you did not have to. Make bond issuing and trading more accessible, for example. Traditional banks did not push for this because the people that have the know-how and resources to do it (investment banks) and you could make more money by selling bonds at P500,000 a pop instead of P50,000.

With new technology like block chain, high value items can be traded in small parcels safely, with relatively low cost and very little friction. Banks can generate income by collecting fees from high volume of transactions, instead of getting paid from a few big transactions. You may have less chance to rub shoulders with the super-rich, but the upside is, you Do Not have to rub shoulders with the super-rich. Default risk is more dispersed, and the pool of funding source will become bigger as many middle income savers can now have more options to invest.

Technology will not go away. Work with it, and make it work for you.


(The author Chiu Ying Wong is a CFA charterholder. She is currently running a start-up called iOpenhub Inc., the latest project of which is a mobile app that allows individuals and teams to design and play their own treasure hunt with more fun. She has no direct investment in fintech companies.)


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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!


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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.

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Food
newbie

I only take a cup of coffee once every few days, but when I do buy a cup of coffee, I need to know that I am getting the good stuff, since a cup of specialty coffee can cost as much as a meal for many people.

Today, I had a meeting in a new specialty coffee place that does not seem to bother to attract customers with its signage. It is located at the ground floor of W City Tower, 7th Avenue, the building that has a series of balconies on its external wall, lined up to form a crescent shape.


With a sign that is so cryptic (they can't even put a "%" sign in the company's url, but have to use this: https://arabica.coffee/), % Arabica must be doing something right, because the cafe had a line at its cashier on a weekday at around 10am. 

% Arabica has a very small menu. You will not find cafe mocha on it. Instead, they have Spanish coffee, which has a sweetener addeded to its expresso.

How does its coffee measure up against other specialty coffee shops in BGC?

The contenders are:

- Single Origin at BHS

- Kuppa Coffee at Ecommercenter

- Luna Coffee at BHS and NAC Tower

as well as coffee chains like:

- Toby's Estate (SM Aura, Ecotower, Shangri-La, to name a few branches in the Fort)

- Starbucks' (everywhere)

- UCC (Burgo's Circle, Forbestown Road, Uptown Mall, Venice Grand Canal Mall)

- Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (at least 8 branches in the Fort)

- a few branches in the Fort : Seattle's Best, Figaro Coffee, San Francisco Coffee.


Our % Experience

We bought a cup of their short hot caffe latte (P150). It has a very mellow taste, and no harsh acidity that you will often find in a small specialty coffee brand. We did not ask, but suspect that their beans are not those commonly found in other coffee shops. They display samples of Ethiopian coffee beans in the shop. They have a unique coffee roaster in the store. And the owner of the % Arabica brand claims that he owns a coffee farm in Hawaii, according to the website of % Arabica.

It is therefore fair to say that % Arabica can make a good cup of coffee, and that the experience is very unique and reflects the Japanese heritage of the brand's owner.

Photo above : Coffee art from a cafe in Bonifacio High Street.

Coffee Quiz

Instead of asking you which coffee brand tastes best, which is very subjective, let us test your knowledge of the brands.

Which coffee brand is best associated with each statement below?

1. The only home grown specialty coffee chain that has branches in China.

2. The Philippines was the brand's third market to open outside its home country.

3. It has the smallest espresso coffee menu among the brands that exist in the Fort.

4. It offers Chemex and Hario brewed coffee.

5. It has a hazelnut flavored coffee on its menu.

6. The first coffee shop with a coffee roaster in a store in the Fort.

Answer all these questions correctly, and you win the title of the most knowledgeable coffee drinker in the Fort. You can then tell us which brand serves the best coffee in the Fort in your view.


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Blog
newbie

Don't worry, this is not a statement extracted from an internal memo of an email marketing company.

It is a summary of my review after watching the theatrical performance of Spamalot, a stage play produced by Upstart Productions and performed at BGC Arts Center last Saturday. Upstart Productions is a local theatrical show production company that has very good reputation. I have always enjoyed their shows.

When I got the tickets to the show, I wondered if I had made a mistake. While I am familiar with British humor, I was not sure if my 10-year old could get the jokes. Would she need to have knowledge of British history to enjoy a show the title of which is a word play on a place in British history called Camelot? In fact, come to think of it, I don't think I know much about Camelot except that it was a name of a place in British history in medieval times. There was a legend about how a boy became king with the help of magical power.

And what the heck is Monty Python? The show is called Monty Python's Spamalot. I vaguely remembered that it was a term associated with a group of British comedians in 1970s, the most famous of whom was a guy named John Cleese. He is the British version of John Lithgow (a US actor that has starred in many movies as well as a successful comedy series called 3rd Rock from the Sun).

After the show, I was glad that I brought along my 10-year old. She was glued to the show the whole time, and talked about dressing up as King Arthur at Halloween, her most favorite annual event.

It was an outrageous comedy.

Audience eagerly lines up to get into the theater.

The show started with a scene set in a mental hospital. One of the patients became the lead character of the play, King Arthur, in the next scene. So everything in the play was supposed to be a dream in the head of a mental patient. Craziness was therefore expected.

The story line is not very important, because it only serves as a vehicle for a lot of silliness. Everything just happens. 

Briefly, the story was this: King Arthur, a king of England in medieval time, needed to recruit some knights to join him in a quest to find the holy grail. A lot of the jokes were about how King Arthur and his knights interacted with strangers and among themselves.

Photo above: Some of the cast of Spamalot and a fan.

A bunch of silly men running around could become bland after a while even though they were hilarious. Luckily, in the British legend about King Arthur, there was a beautiful sorceress called Lady of the Lake. This provided an opportunity to add some glamour to the play.  The Lady of the Lake, played by actress Rachel Alejandro in the show that we watched, was not only very pretty, but most of all, could sing silly songs and act silly very well.

While Spamalot is a British play that was written probably many years ago, the audience could still connect with it. One is because many of the jokes were about the misunderstanding of simple instructions by idiots. Second, some of the songs sang in the show that we watched, especially one that was sung by the Lady of the Lake, had been updated to incorporate bits of pop songs in it.  The young audience cracked up when they watched these songs being sung and dance in a comical way. 


T-shirt bought at the merchandise booth of the show shows the most evil villain in the plot, a murderous bunny.

Although one may miss one or two jokes that required a knowledge of British slangs in the 70s (such as the one about 'fairy', which means feminine man), or a few rude words that are probably not used any more, everyone will find this production of Spamalot a well performed comedy that delivers.  The acting and directing were superb, the venue of BGC Arts Center was great, and the dresses worn by the Lady of the Lake were enchanting.

Spamalot is directed by Joel Trinidad and Nicky Triviño of Upstart Productions. It is showing at BGC Arts Center until April 22, 2018. Get your tickets now if you want to have a tummy splitting experience this weekend!

My kid is begging me to bring her back to watch again with a friend. I may just let her do that if she promises to study hard, and continue to make jokes in a British accent.

(Btw, don't think too hard on why the show is called Spamalot, because that's not the way Monty Python people work. It was chosen probably only because it rhymes with Camalot).