Thursday, March 23, 2017

Finding Lusno Falls in Ronda, Cebu, Philippines



There is no more doubt in my mind that Cebu is home to numerous waterfalls and I stumbled upon another one together with my cousins and sister. Another not-so-mainstream yet equally notable waterfalls in the island of Cebu is called Lusno Falls located in the town of Ronda, Cebu, Philippines.

The Lusno Falls in Ronda has no entrance fee and is also quite a distance from the national road. Asking our habal-habal driver as well as the locals, we found out that this beautiful natural wonder is actually near the border between Ronda and Argao already!

You will pass by some farms along the way towards Lusno Falls
Also, some of the locals installed this place to chill overlooking the river and the waterfalls, luckily it was summer and thew water levels were not really high
Its untouched beauty will definitely be appealing to anyone who loves nature or spending time in the great outdoors. The front of the falls features a shower cascade as the first level and a green-blue deep pool-like area in the second level. As always, when one is exploring these places one must be careful for the rock formation is slippery and the downward current of the falls is also strong (depending on the season or weather of course).

It blue green for a moment then it suddenly turned murky. Climate Change perhaps?
The second level can give you a feeling of being in an infinity pool surrounded by green mountains and a clear blue sky if one took a dip atop the first level waterfalls.


This was our first stop in our southern exploration during our family reunion in Dumanjug, Cebu and after this we also went to find another waterfalls in Dumanjug (which I'll talk about in a separate post.).

It does look like the 5th level of Aguinid falls in Samboan at first glance
I'll definitely try to return to this place since I got word that there's another waterfalls and possibly a cave just over the border into Argao.

Getting There!
Just like other southern destinations in Cebu, this is accessible via South Bus Terminal and you only have to stop in the Town of Ronda. From there you can hire motor-taxi drivers to take you to this place. However, the drawback to this place I think is that the habal2 drivers asked for a 100Php per person fare, although given it's distance from the main road, I found it rather acceptable later on (it's really far away).

Also, be prepared to sit for at least an hour since this place is really really, I mean really remote that you have to ask the drivers to wait for you since there are no readily available habalx2 drivers in the area.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

MLuillier partners with AsiaTravel.com




MLhuillier Financial Services Inc., the non-bank financial arm of the MLhullier Group, has forged a partnership with Asiatravel.com to make travel easier and accessible to Filipinos, especially those living in the countryside.

With its tagline, "Ka-byahe mo ang MLhuillier", the partnership intends to provide greater connectivity to key source market in the Philippines by creaing easier and wider reach for Filipinos who aim to travel at prices they can afford.



Filipinos can now instantly book to over 200,000 hotels, 500 airlines and 8 million full-packaged travel services both in domestic and international destinations through any of MLhullier's 2,000 branches nationwide. The partnership will make the services of both institutions more reachable for all Filipinos.

AsiaTravel.com was awarded as the Best Online Travel Agency by the TTG Awards Asia Pacific from 2013-2016. It was also recognized as Top Grosser for 2015 and 2016 Philippine Travel Mart. Asiatravel.com is an online travel agency headquartered in Singapore.


Michael Lhuillier, president and chief executive officer of MLhuillier Philippines Inc., said the partnership with Asiatravel.com is a welcome addition to their growing business unit. He said the collaboration will also help the company expand its client base to include the rising travel market.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Understanding our relationship with money




Money, making it as well as losing it is closely tied to our behavior or perhaps our own psychology of money. A healthy relationship with money is having conscious and purposeful relationship with money that isn’t overly stressful. Unfortunately, so many people don’t even realize that they have any relationship with money.

People instantly think that the word relationship has everything to do with people, but we have relationships with everything.

Relationship — it is the way in which, two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.

It’s not our fault
Everyone has a complex relationship when it comes to money; some healthy, others unhealthy for you may have been taught to think about money a certain way since you were a child or perhaps our environment and culture may contribute to this. Some people have had some bad experiences around money at some point, and carry around this bad feeling their whole lives.

For example, if you value religion, you might do tithing. Or, if you value education, you may prioritize college savings.If you grew up in an entrepreneurial household, you may have higher risk tolerance or perhaps more frugal than others.

Know yourself
This is easier said than done, but knowing is only half the battle. If knowledge is power, then what is more powerful than knowledge? It is habits. Once you pin-point these (both good and bad), you must seek to change it as soon as possible.

Your relationship with your money is very individual, emotional and personal.  Only you will reap the benefits or problems that will result from your efforts or lack thereof.

What are the ways to improve your relationship to money?

* Practice mindfulness - If you believe you will never have enough money, you will never have enough money. What you focus on the most will likely be the outcome of your actions. Also, if you are itching to buy something, pause or let a day pass before deciding.

* Stop looking at money as an obstacle - Instead of "I wish I had enough money to do that", feeling as if money is holding you back from doing the things that are important, you can start by asking "How can I make my money work for me?"

* Prioritize and make goals — In order to make your relationship with money a priority, you must have something that you are working towards by creating an action plan.

* Adjust your goals — Take a good look at your budget. One way to help yourself change your spending habits is to establish incentives that will motivate you to meet your goals.

* Do not shame yourself — If you set goals and do not meet them, if you make a financial mistake, or if you violate a personal financial boundary or value, do not shame yourself for it.Change can be painful—but from change comes growth.

Get some Help
In order to change your financial world, you need to change your feelings and paradigm about money. Also sometimes we cannot go at it alone, don’t hesitate to seek out the help of expertsas well (that’s not a salesperson!).

What are some ways you are improving your relationship with money?
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The writer is an RFP® - registered financial planner of RFP PH, Licensed Real Estate Broker and Director of CERTA, Inc., a family estate planning and investment advisory firm. To know more, please visit www.certa.ph
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Originally Published in Philstar - The Freeman Newspaper last March 14, 2017.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The ROI of travel



We are approaching summer time once again and people will start to plan or even travel. We have seen a lot of articles, travel agencies, airlines, local tourism board, or even banks promoting travel because YOLO (You Only Live Once), or perhaps they simply want you to use their products and services. But I say that travel can indeed broaden one’s horizons, and I’m not just talking about business trips but also leisure travels or even weekend getaways.

Sometimes travel is not possible for all of us, even short distances. Maybe we still do not have that confidence to explore places we've never been before. Perhaps we have incurred some debt or even our income simply does not permit it.

Travel can be one of the most life-changing experiences of your life. If you never go anywhere, you'll have a very limited view of the world.

Experience is the best Teacher

There’s a lot to learn about yourself as well as other people that you travel with or interact along the way. You will learn a lot about one’s culture, including the foreign culture that you are faced with.

Travel also forces us into different, perhaps unexpected challenges, which not only challenges our perceptions of the world but also our own creativity, inner strength and personality as we react and learn to interact with these new situations.

Innovation and Inspiration

Ideas require some form of stimulus to manifest, if you are a frog in a well then it may be difficult to encounter new things or ideas. Creativity is born of new experiences, sights, sounds, smell and comes from the excitement of doing new things.

Some people I know travel to other countries to even copy existing ideas that has potential to be replicated and grow big here in the Philippines. It can also be a good opportunity to make new friends, network and connect when you are in a new environment.

Psychological, Physical
Health Benefits

•Lowers Anxiety – studies had shown that hiking outdoors can have a remarkable positive impact on people. This in effect will improve one’s mood and also lowers one’s stress levels.

•Good for the brain and the heart – We’ve read that travel has been the go-to cure for a broken heart. Perhaps this is true, but experiencing new things, especially in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nature can also decrease muscle tension, lowers blood pressure and even strengthen the immune system over time.

•Builds your self-image – this includes your confidence, self-esteem and belief; by travelling, trusting yourself will be your first hurdle, but after overcoming that you will feel more confident and start your journey towards self-development – becoming better versions of ourselves. This can aid you in your career, or perhaps finally writing the book or pursuing that business idea for a startup and the like.

Treat Travel as a form of lifetime education investment. The more we travel, the more we see. The more we see, the more we grow. The more we grow, the more we change and evolve as a human being. Investment in travel is indeed an investment in yourself.

"The World Is a Book and Those Who Do Not Travel Read Only One Page" – Saint Augustine of Hippo

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The writer is an RFP® - registered financial planner of RFP PH, Licensed Real Estate Broker and Director of CERTA, Inc., a family estate planning and investment advisory firm. To know more, please visit www.certa.ph
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Originally Published in Philstar - The Freeman Newspaper last March 07, 2017.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Mining and sustainability




The closure and suspension of 28 mine sites (and contracts) across the country will cost 17 affected cities and municipalities in 10 provinces more than Php821 million annually in foregone revenues, the Department of Finance (DoF) said. Another 1.2 million jobs will be lost and by extension affect a lot of families as well.

Lingering challenges from all sides
Digging deeper on this current issue, there is a combination of problematic challenges from various perspectives as shown below (this is just the tip of the iceberg):

* Cultural – whether you like it or not, a good number of us Filipinos somewhat worships the rich; maybe this is due to oligarchs ruling on the sides for so long until now or how so many Filipinos still get scammed by get rich quick schemes. Mining firms can take advantage of this easily by paying-off some environmentally ravaged community with the cheapest deals when these folks don’t see the long term effects of the irreversible damaged that has already been caused.

* Regulation – Mining, like logging, has similar features that make it extremely difficult for the state to regulate: these operations are located in the hinterlands, where state authority, especially its police and military are the weakest. No roads, not enough equipment and personnel to patrol these places. There’s also the smuggling issue of gold and other mineral resources by foreign-owned firms. And that’s not even including property rights issues!

* Foreign interference – If you look closer into the structure and financials of some of these “Philippine” mining firms, there’s going to be a number that may have violated the Constitution’s 40 percent limit on foreign ownership; this maybe through shifting ownership to various offshore companies and some may still get away with it.

* Politics – The mining groups are quite powerful, who knows how many past DENR folks they have allegedly bribed or driven-out!

* Environment – What “selective logging” was to loggers is now “responsible mining” for mining firms. Both merely allow the steady destruction of our environment.

* People – Health and incidental hazards. And I doubt that the taxes, hazard-pay and health insurance is enough to compensate for the work that workers do and the taxes paid to the community or LGU in the long term.

Outdated arguments and metrics
The mining industry currently has a 0.7 percent contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).GDP has not taken into account the social, environmental, health costs and the like at all. We should stop denying, ignoring or sweeping these hidden costs under the rug.

Another silly, old argument is that we rely on products of mining all the time, therefore we have to support it.But haven’t you guys heard of the global market? We buy these materials from countries, which have better-larger scale mining practices than us!

A better metric is to determine how much health coverages they provided to communities; ask for a mitigation or rehabilitation plan; actionable-sustainable CSR agenda; and measuring wealth and prosperity of the community. If they can prove that communities end up better instead of sicker and poorer in the long term then let us all embrace it, if not, then let’s just close all the mines.

“The economic benefits of mining are not sustainable.” – TedGartner

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The writer is an RFP® - registered financial planner of RFP PH, Licensed Real Estate Broker and Director of CERTA, Inc., a family estate planning and investment advisory firm. To know more, please visit www.certa.ph
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Originally Published in Philstar - The Freeman Newspaper last February 28, 2017.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Phl Tax Reform update so far (Part 3)



“Thinking is one thing no one has ever been able to tax.” – Charles Kettering

About two weeks ago, I wrote about tax reform updates; I mentioned the update about automobile-related taxation but wasn’t able to include it. The bill mentioned that there shall be levied, assessed and collected an ad valorem tax on automobiles based on the manufacturer’s or importer’s selling price, net of excise and VAT.

Automobile Tax

* Under the measure, if the net manufacturer’s price/importer’s selling price is Php600,000, the excise tax will be 4 percent;

* If the net manufacturer’s price/importer’s selling price is Php600,000 to Php1.1 million, the excise tax will be Php24,000 plus 40 percent of the value in excess of Php600,000;

* If the net manufacturer’s price/importer’s selling price is Php1.1 million to Php2.1 million, the excise will be Php224,000 plus 100 percent of the value in excess of Php1.1 million; and

* If the net manufacturer’s price/importer’s selling price is Php2.1 million, the excise will be Php1.22 million, plus 200 percent of the value in excess of hpP2.1 million.

Note: Perhaps you can start buying that dream car of yours before this measure is fully implemented!

Other changes
On the relaxation of the Bank Secrecy Act, the bill authorizes the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) commissioner to inquire and receive information on bank-deposit accounts and other related data held by financial institutions.

And for some reason you will win in PCSO or Lotto, you will also face a final tax rate of 20 percent.

The bill also added that the tax for each calendar year shall be 6 percent and shall be computed on the basis of the total net gifts made during the calendar year, provided that annual net gifts not exceeding Php100,000 shall be exempt.

Other improvements
In order to properly determine the correct taxes to be paid on the part of the taxpayer and the correct taxes to be collected on the part of the BIR, it has been mandated that all establishments shall issue an electronic receipt or invoice, as the case maybe, which shall be directly generated and transmitted to the BIR upon sale.

The need to institute genuine tax reform therefore comes at a critical time, as the country already faces a future where it may no longer be able to depend on its usual foreign partners, and where the world is retracing its steps from unbridled globalization.

Ours and history in general has demonstrated all too often that excessive taxation stifles productivity, causes misallocation of resources, and encourages flight of capital to less-taxed jurisdictions. A more liberal and fair tax system has the effect of encouraging capital formation and increasing domestic savings, investment and productivity, which eventually redound to higher tax revenue for the government.

To ensure future growth and development, the government should not hesitate to ease the onerous taxation currently shackling the fortunes of Filipino citizens. By doing so, state policy can finally become an instrument, rather than an obstacle, to the development of the financial strength and capability of its own people, who have been, and will always be, the pillars of this nation.

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The writer is an RFP® - registered financial planner of RFP PH, Licensed Real Estate Broker and Director of CERTA, Inc., a family estate planning and investment advisory firm. To know more, please visit www.certa.ph
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Originally Published in Philstar - The Freeman Newspaper last February 21, 2017.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Falling in love with the stock market




“Do I love you because you’re beautiful, or are you beautiful because I love you? Am I making believe I see in you, a woman too perfect to be really true? Do I want you because you’re wonderful, or are you wonderful because I want you? Are you the sweet invention of a lover’s dream, or are you really as beautiful as you seem?” – Oscar Hammerstein II, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella

Ever since I learned about the stock market almost a decade ago, it has been a slow-dance of love between me and the markets. The love analogy is an appealing one, but more is going on here than the cliché would suggest.

Love the market but not the stock
Is it really love? Have you fallen in love with a stock? Held on even when you were treated badly? Because investors or traders spend so much time and effort in analyzing a stock that we make the crucial mistake of falling in love with them.

The reluctance to part with a stock is part of what’s called “Prospect Theory”, which holds that people fear losses more than they value gains. Developed by psychologist Daniel Kahneman, which explains why investors keep laggard stocks around for years, even if they are losing lots of money already.

I understand people who feel the need for loyalty to a company, but the commitment was to the company, not the investment.While in relationships loyalty is an essential trait. In the stock market, it doesn’t always pay-off because even if you held on to it for years, you will eventually have to sell it.

Despite that, I still love the stock market because..

Math works for you
We have studied math for a good portion of our youth and like me, you probably have been waiting to apply what you learned; you invest and math makes your money grow.  If you bought Ayala Corp shares on January 1985 @ 1.6539 / share, and sold at end of January 2017 @ 819.50 / share, your growth rate is a whopping 49,549.54 percent. (This is not a buy/sell recommendation but an example).

You are a part-owner of a company you are invested in  
If you want to have a Jollibee franchise, it will probably cost you around Php15 to Php30 million. And that is excluding the operational capital, the time, effort and headache that goes with managing operations. Why not buy stocks of Jollibee Food Corp.  instead (@200+/ per share?

Make money in the worse times
If you own a business, you may have to cut costs to ensure your firm survives; if you are employed, you may not get a raise/promotion/bonuses; but in the stock market, you can still make money when things are bad through selective stock purchases, and there are even stocks that go up in uncertainty. What other industries or business can provide an opportunity like this?

Nation Building
Companies get listed on the stock exchange to infuse capital into their business for expansion; this translates to more growth which leads to more jobs, increased taxation, and the overall economic activity of our country.

If you are not afraid of falling in love despite the risk of heartbreak, then you shouldn’t be afraid to invest.

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The writer is an RFP® - registered financial planner of RFP PH, Licensed Real Estate Broker and Director of CERTA, Inc., a family estate planning and investment advisory firm. To know more, please visit www.certa.ph
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Originally Published in Philstar - The Freeman Newspaper last February 14, 2017.