Wednesday, September 30, 2009

SBMA's Revenue Management

Comment from a reader on "SBMA Not Worried About Offending Investors":

First, FEDEX left for very different reasons. So it is not a good example.

But yes, investors come here to do business as they are allowed by law. And as a Freeport, that is pretty much almost anything. ALMOST, but not THE WAY THEY WANT.

There are regulations. Unfortunately, we have officials who do not care about the future. But they do seek refuge in the concept of a 'future' to secure immediate personal gains.

Here is an example:
They wanted to ensure their political standing by way of good financial standing. So they sold the future of subic today by way of lump sum payments. Good revenue numbers. But they got trapped when they realize that they could not leverage the money they have now and grow them.

In short, they spent it and/or they realize that their managers was not sophisticated enough to give reasonable returns. Oh, and did you think Arreza or Salonga ever thought of replacing their managers. No! Even they did not know how.
So they placed it in the bank which gave them 2% interest. Silly.

Even with CPA lawyer Millan in the team, revenue is flat with the future prospect of going down.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Uncontrolled Access To The Freeport

Comment from a reader on the fences surrounding the Freeport:

This year the fences surrounding SBMA are being breached and stolen.

If you study perimeter fence surrounding Taiwan industrial park, facing Olongapo river, or fences in Kalayaan, fences there are being removed by thieves. They are cutting galvanized metal pipes and also cutting holes in the fence. I don't know what SBMA LED dept is doing with this. If they do not take any action soon, the base will not be a gated community anymore. We we still have all the entry gates, but people are free to walk inside anywhere else.

There are something like 1000 police in LED dept and they are not doing to much to enforce the rules. Personnel are being transported from place to place continuously and you see Police cars all over, but if you approach them with any problem, they are not of much assistance and it is like you are burdening them.

Example, we have rules against loose dogs, motorbikes without silencers, garbage in street, etc, but police are just overlooking such. If you contact them to report, you first have to explain the rules, they will ask why you want to report, and give a lot of information about yourself.

The whole attitude of this force should change into something more productive, as of now they are not justifying the big numbers.

[The Subic Bulletin] Tragically your observations are correct, over a year ago the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce presented the SBMA with a report and photographs relating to hundreds of fence breaches, this included a gate big enough to drive a truck through. There is even a trike service running inside the fence.

SBMA's response to the report was that the people outside the fence used the hundreds of holes they made in the fence to retrieve water and use the land inside the Freeport for farming, they seemed to think that this somehow made it OK. It was clear their concerns were greater for the people outside than the people inside, after all when the LED officers finish work they ARE the people on the outside, so without any strong management directives from SBMA they are quite happy to gradually let their compares slowly move further and further inside.

I also makes you wonder why the SBMA would deliberately have a gate big enough to drive a truck through. Is this SBMA's secret smuggling gate?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Barretto's Seafront Zone

Comment from a reader on "Barretto, The New Hawaii":

commenting on baretto the new hawaii. i think the subic bulletin, missed what the responder was trying to tell investors. they will take the land back, its been done there already. why subic bulletin glazed or did not understand the implications of this,, it questionable.

[The Subic Bulletin] The law in the Philippine provides that a strip of land on the salvage zone of 20 meters that cannot be "legally" titled or built on allowing access for the general public to the beachfront, regardless of what the title says. This is not something new or anything to do with Dick Gordon.

Although the law relates specifically to coastal land not bay front land, its not such a difficult stretch that this law applies along Barretto and would likely have been the law when the "investors" bought the land along the beachfront (we have been trying to find out the date this was introduced).

Our point was quite clear, the owners of the land along the beachfront at Barretto with the exception of 3 or 4 have done nothing to take advantage of the location and in many cases block access to the public in favor of structures not much better than a squat.

So far no one has specifically suggested the land from the water to the highway would be taken so at this time would would believe any proposal would be to develop the 20meter strip of public land. This would not only make a great open promenade but would increase the value of the current properties because they would have 2 frontages one to the national highway and one to the Promenade.

If we have missed something please tell us what it is? If you think it questionable then start questioning! It will all be printed here on The Subic Bulletin.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Philippine Road Safety Problems

Comment from a reader on "Subic Freeport Traffic Lights - The New Mexican St...":

IGNORANT DRIVERS, It is my experience here that no matter if you have even the best traffic lights or signs, many drivers will just ignore them. This link describes an accident on the SCTEX where the motorbike drivers admit that they drive 150 to 170 kph on the SCTEX.

We've all seen them, as well as BMW and Porsche drivers etc. doing almost twice the speed limit. Of course, traffic enforcers do little to nothing here to earn their pay. It's clearly a matter of ignorance and irresponsibility. To say that drivers here are undisciplined is a gross understatement!

[The Subic Bulletin] The vast majority of drivers coming up from Manila seem to be oblivious to any form of discipline and that's revenue for the Freeport. But more of concern is that the enforcement divisions are inept and all areas of operation.

As reported previously in The Subic Bulletin, the SCTEX operators seem oblivious as to what the speed limit is on the Expressway, we note that sign posted limits on the SCTEX have still not been fixed.

We think your concern for BMW's and Porsche drivers is the least of concern, typically they are more educated in the consequences of their actions. Last week there was a Jeepney with bald tires that blew a tire, flipped and killed a two year old girl and injured 15 others. Whats more dangerous a 150kph Porsche or a Jeepney with balds tires? The lack of vehicle inspections and road safety basics is much more a threat to road safety in the Philippines.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Health Insurance Issues For US Citizens Living In Subic

Information for US Citizens in Subic sent in by a reader:

U.S. Sen Baucus recently released health care reform proposal would require all U.S. citizens to enroll in one of several health care plans--the new health insurance, Medicare (if eligible), or Tricare (if eligible) and a few other options not relevant to citizens living outside the U.S. While those who are eligible for Tricare can use that coverage to cover medical and dental costs incurred outside the U.S., the new health insurance will not cover medical and dental costs incurred outside the U.S. for those who would be otherwise be eligible for the new health insurance.

Of course, otherwise eligible U.S. citizens living outside the U.S. are not now eligible to enroll in Medicare, nor will they be eligible under Senator Baucus proposal. Even though, under Sen Baucus bill, persons living outside the U.S. will not be able to avail themselves of the new coverage or Medicare for medical and dental costs incurred outside the U.S., Sen Baucus proposal, starting in 2013, would impose penalties on U.S. citizens living outside the U.S. for failure to pay for the new coverage or Medicare--a minimum of $750 per year per head (for those whose retirement income is under 3x the poverty line)-$1500 for couples.

U.S. citizen ex-pats need to be either exempted from the new insurance requirement, or, alternatively, the new health insurance and Medicare be extended to U.S. citizen expats, the latter with premium reductions reflecting the lower cost of medical care in the P.I. and other foreign countries.

Anybody have any pull in D.C.?

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Philippine Islands

Comment from a reader on "Philippine Unity, Sovereignty, And National Identi...":

I stand corrected ! It would appear that the term dates to the pre 1935 era. Between 1935 and 1946 the Americans called the territory the Commonwealth of the Philippines, if however one checks the 1935 Philippine constitution the territory is referred to as the Republic of the Philippines which in modern terms is shortened to RP.

The term PI is generally limited to use by Americans and one Canadian that I know. I find that most educated Filipino's find the term PI to be offensive.

[The Subic Bulletin] If educated Filipinos found PI offensive then why do they bank with BPI?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wisdom And Insight

Comment from a reader on "Investing Without A Visa Is Keeping Your Investmen...":

The writer speaks with great wisdom and pragmatic insight.

Wish I had been that smart when I first took up (expat) residence many years ago.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Clean Living In Zambales

Comment from a reader on "The Simple Life":

Agreed! I'm a foreigner living in central Zambales, and the people here are very friendly, honest, and clean.

I would never move back to a city.

and another:

Very wise comment. I hope someone in management at SBMA reads it also; especially the part about eating laying hens or the rooster!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quit While Your Ahead

Comment from a reader on "History Rekindled":

Thank you, SB, for once again passing on an input without editing and/or nit picking.

I've been lucky in not getting caught up in my own limited rhetoric, so guess I should consider quitting while I'm ahead. I look forward to the forum. Helps me keep abreast, sorta, of Subic Bay area happenings.

World Class Morons

Comment from a reader on "Subic Freeport Traffic Lights - The New Mexican Standoff":

This crazy half flashing red/half flashing red intersection makes it very dangerous to obey the law.

If you proceed on yellow, the guy who just stopped at red will often dart in front of you, not knowing that you have the yellow. The only safe way to proceed to is to stop at the flashing yellow light and roll forward trying not to get hit.

The guys who set up this SBMA traffic light system are world class morons.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's The SBMA Marching Band

Comment from a reader on "SBMA Deceiving Investors Over Lease Charges":

Listen, Dear, they're playing our song, SEMPER CAVEAT EMPTOR

Casino Bars For Barretto

Comment from a reader on "Barretto, The New Hawaii":

Have we changed the type of government? "FEDERAL" land?

You obviously mean that the land belongs to the national government.

Dont worry Dick hasn't got a cat in hells chance of becoming president. Yes a boardwalk type arrangement would be nice but the way Barretto is going now it looks more like Fields Avenue every day. I guess it will not be long before the big investors come in with their casino bars.

[The Subic Bulletin] Shouldn't that have a capital "P" on President, OH NO DON'T START AGAIN!
The word we have from City Hall is that the number of Bars in Barretto is being capped so there shouldn't be many more.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Main Gate Bridge

Question from a reader:

I have a question about the "construction: on the bridge in front of City Mall.

I have seen no evidence of any construction being done on the bridge.

Did they just want an excuse to close the bridge or are they really making repairs on it? When will it reopen?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Calling Passengers For Subic Guam Flights

Comment from a reader on "Guam And Olongapo To Be Sister Cities":

I'm confused. Is the "sister" arrangement between the City of Olongapo and the City of Guam, or does the resolution propose a sisterly relationship between the Province of Zambalez and the U.S. Territory of Guam?

If its to be a sisterly thing between Olongapo City and Guam, I say shoot for all the marbles.

Substitute San Marcelino for Onlongapo and propose sister status between that Zambales city and China.

I would leave to those far wiser than I the decision of which of the two China's would be so awarded.

Hell, while were at it, why not two sister cities, The Republic of China in the city of Taiwan, and the BIG city of China known as the Peoples Republic. Mind boggling, isn't it?

[The Subic Bulletin] I wasn't confused till I read your mail...

And another;

SBMA should suggest to Pearl Pacific Airways (ostensibly based at SBIA but not now flying from there)to begin flights SBIA-Guam-SBIA leaving SBIA Friday afternoons and returning from Guam Friday nights, and also flights SBIA-Guam-SBIA leaving from SBIA early Sunday afternoon and returning from Guam Sunday night.

Such flights would serve the Olongapo based OFW population on Guam, medical tourists coming to the George Dewey Medical Center, as well as sex tourists coming over for the weekend.

Such flights would cement a sister city relationship like nothing else.

[The Subic Bulletin] There have been some announcements in the press this week that Pacific Peal will start again. I find it amusing that the press releases make it sound like SBMA has attracted an airline to base itself in Subic rather than a defunct one plane airline that must have found a new investor. SBMA chest pounding politics aside, anything that keeps the airport open is OK with us!

Drawing Conclusions

Comment from on your post "Political Principles":

Good for you, SB!

Were it that more people researched their data before drawing conclusions.

I wrote those comments sort of on the fly. For readers who may have misunderstood the intent, I would add, "May not have been considered racist when uttered, but certainly would be unworthy and unacceptable if spoken now.

Friday, September 18, 2009

No Legal Remedy For SBMA Leaseholders

Comment from a reader on "Let The Buyer Beware"

Referencing an earlier post on your site, generally speaking, the "caveat emptor" definition, in relation to property transfers was initially crafted by lawmakers with intent to protect both vendors and purchasers after the closing/possession date.

While some can questionably argue that all property in SBMA is leased land, hence this principle doesn't apply, after my relatively short stint of living in SBMA, it appears no rule of law exists nor is enforced in this so-called democracy.

Unbeknownst to me until recently, I was stunned to learn of SBMA's new housing policy, evidently approved late last year, and by coincidence, a mere month after my contracting with SBMA on a leased property in Binictican. This new policy now prohibits long term leaseholders from selling within the first 3 years of acquisition. The same policy, without elucidation or rationale, also unilaterally increases lease extension fees from 150% to 700% higher than fees prescribed under the old policy.

These fees appear to be calculated using a surreptitious formula, primarily, but not exclusively contingent upon the number of years remaining on the lease. In my case, with fewer than 9 years remaining, the extension fee alone, as quoted by SBMA, is practically equivalent to the original purchase price of the lease. The plethora of houses for sale in SBMA is likely indicative of the fact that many other residents are in the same quandary as I, having no alternative options at their disposal and are forced into limbo, to either rent out their property or wait out the prescribed 3 years to sell.

It appears SBMA can modify their policies at any time, providing no legal remedy whatsoever for its leaseholders.

This experience goes well beyond the intent of "caveat emptor", when a regulator, such as the SBMA chooses, at will, to conjoin, significantly and retroactively, without limitation, the terms and conditions of a lease agreement, which one would ostensibly expect, to be an obligatory, legal and binding document.

Filipinos Love For Their Country

Comment from a reader:



Thursday, September 17, 2009

SBMA Not Worried About Offending Investors

Comment from a reader on "Turning The Tide On Philippine Corruption":

If the investors did not have the option to act as they wanted, then why would they come to the PI.

They came because they want to take advantage of what the PI has. Namely, they can act they way the want without government interference.

If you pressure the investor, then they really have to incentive to come to the PI. If you pressure them, they will leave just like FEDEX.

Investors all come for the same underlying reason, TO ACT AS THEY WISH. Remember that when you try to pressure an investor, if you push too hard, they will leave, and if they leave, you will be left with nothing.

[The Subic Bulletin] Well SBMA doesn't seem to be worried about pressuring investors and showing them the bully tactics with the lease registry scheme they cooked up to fleece investors, likewise I don't think FedEx is a great example, leaks from inside FedEx tell us that moving the hub was the biggest financial mistake the company has ever made.

Philippine Unity, Sovereignty, And National Identity

Comment from a reader on "Turning The Tide On Philippine Corruption":

The first reader correctly notes that the term "PI" is bankrupt. He is in error, however, in suggesting the descriptor was in effect prior to 07-04-09

The Commonwealth of the Philippines was the political designation of the Philippines from 1935 to 1946 when the country was a commonwealth with the United States. Before 1935, the Philippines was an insular area with non-commonwealth status, and before that, it had been a U.S. territory.

The creation of the Commonwealth was envisioned under the Philippine Independence Act, popularly known as the Tydings-McDuffie Act as a ten-year transitional government in preparation for full Philippine independence and sovereignty, which was promised through the Philippine Autonomy Act or Jones Law. The Commonwealth was officially inaugurated in November 15, 1935.

It marked the end of the colonial eras as well as the transition of the nomenclature of the Philippines from the plural "Las Islas Filipinas" and "Philippine Islands" of the Spanish and American colonial periods, to the singular, "Philippines", which is a sign of unity, sovereignty, and national identity

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What Value Is A Permanent Visa

Comment from a reader on "Investing Without A Visa Is Keeping Your Investmen..."

At the rate $750-$850 for month to month rent of a house in the Subic Freeport, you won't have money to "invest" much longer.

A cost of long term lease, amortized over the life the lease, would likely cost you in the neighborhood of $200 a month. That means that your decision to rent instead of lease has already cost you $8250 in the fifteen months you have been here. Not to mention the opportunity to open your own business, plus the ability to open an account in most banks, without an ACR card.

Perhaps most significantly, your tourist VISA could be non-renewed at any time. What would it cost you if you had to abandon your vehicles, etc? My observation about living in the PI: in for a dime, in for a dollar.

[The Subic Bulletin] We agree that the long term view makes a lot of sense but for retirees and regular travelers its making less sense especially when they hit you up for 3,820 pesos extra to get out of the country.
Legal residents have to pay 1650 travel tax, 2170 Immigration Charges on top of the airport fees. If you leave the country very often the Permanent Visas start to make less sense.

Ignorance Is An Attitude Not A Race

Comment from a reader on "Turning The Tide On Philippine Corruption":

It never ceases to amaze me how some people can be so blatantly racist and use stereotypes. Reminds me of certain minority groups in my country like White Supremists/KKK/Nazi's, uneducated rednecks, followers of Louis Farrakhan (sp), etc.

I will grant that they, along with their counterparts in your country are ignorant. But by making comments and branding Americans as "ignorant" and always in the same breath, I submit that you sir, are the ignorant one.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

SBMA Not The Only Game In Town

Comment from a reader on "No More Retirement Plans For Subic":

I would like to remind the author that SBMA is not the only game in town.

If you truly love the Philippines and its people, then live outside the confines of SBMA, out in town and amongst the people. You can always go on SBMA for things such as shopping and Banking services.

When my wife and I decide to pack it in and retire, SBMA will be one of the last place on our list for consideration. I like living in the Philippines because I like the culture. I like the Olongapo City area because of the people. That is where we will settle.

[The Subic Bulletin] No need to write and remind the author he is referring to living in Subic Freeport not living in the SBMA offices, lets just call it slang.

The Barretto Shakedown Lives On

Comment from a reader on "Police Shakedown Motorists At Their Own Risk":

As i spend almost every day in barretto , i have come across many maids , waitresses and day workers there that have all assured me that what you printed is true! The local police were shaking down everyone they could regardless to their need of their wages to feed their families, have not want not, huh?

Also there’s still one so called PNP sergeant that everyone calls "sarg" that is still shaking down everyone he can, why in the world didn’t they get this guy???

He’s careful not to show his name badge but walks around showing his gun in his waistband to intimidate all that he can and telling all that he needs money for the guys at the office (nothing new) with his name , we could contact the mayor !!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Don't Forget The Brits!

Comment from readers on "Philippine - American History 101":

The English also played a part, albeit reasonably small, in the history of the Philippines.
A British conquest of the Spanish Philippines occurred between 1762 and 1764, although the only part of the Philippines which the British actually occupied was the Spanish colonial capital Manila with the principal Spanish naval port Cavite, both on Manila Bay.
Full story here

The Philippines is a great country with fantastic friendly people. There are obviously major differences in the culture from the western living people and so like any foreigner in any other country 'we' should try to adapt to the local customs.

This from a Brit EX Pat who wishes he could be back home there but sadly must work overseas for the time being.

And Another:

When I first posted, "Was the USA Subic's First Big investor," SB responded with an acknowledgment the article was written tongue in cheek.

I had absolutely no intention of denigrating the Filipino people, or its history thereof. It would appear that some people lake the wit necessary to "read between the lines." Thank you SB for printing my inputs, and recognizing the basic intent of the rationale.

Comments Welcome

Comment from a reader on "MAGUNDA!":




[The Subic Bulletin] Please send any stories or comments even if not related to a current topic to

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Investing Without A Visa Is Keeping Your Investment Safe

Comment from a reader on "SBMA Taunts Indignant Subic Investors":

I have lived in the Philippines 15 months and so far I love it but I would never invest one penny here. I really wouldn't invest any money in anything I didn't understand completely and trust (Warren Buffet's advise).

Does anyone truly believe a foreigner will be treated fairly if a local has the opportunity to get more money by treating him unfairly?

How will you protect yourself? Get a lawyer? Do you feel totally safe and secure that if you pay a lawyer, by taking your money and accepting you as a client, he will be an agressive uncompromising advocate for your best interests?

My advise for newbies who love the country as much as I do is continue to enjoy it but RENT on a month to month basis,

I will gladly undergo the expense and inconvenience of renewing my visa every two motnhs and leaving the country every 16 months. At least I can sleep at night.

Perhaps I am too paranoid or too careful but I don't trust a lot of people to have my best interests at heart.

[The Subic Bulletin] Coincidentally there seems to be an overwhelming number of houses for rent in the Subic Freeport right now...

History Rekindled

Comment from the original author of "Philippine - American History 101":

The writer makes the assumption I'm an American, and my knowledge of Philippine history the product of the U.S. educational system. Half right. I'm indeed a U.S. citizen, U.S. educated, been in the Philippines off and on from 1950 to 1984, the last five years as an resident expat. If my knowledge of Philippine history is flawed, we'll just have to put the blame on the Western Luzon Ag College (not sure of of current name) San Marcelino, which I attended from 1980-84. Until that time, I knew little of Philippine history, which admittedly is little touched on by most U.S. schools at the High School level.

Students of Far Eastern history and politics are likely to stand stark staring astounded at the claim the entire Philippines, except Manila, was in the hands of the Aginaldo forces in May, 1898.
It was the opposition to the power of the clergy that in large measure brought about the rising sentiment for independence. Spanish injustices, bigotry, and economic oppressions fed the movement In 1896 Revolution spread throughout the major islands. Emilio Aguinaldo, achieved considerable success before a peace was patched up with Spain. The peace was short-lived, however, for neither side honored its agreements, and a new revolution was brewing when the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898.

After the U.S. naval victory in Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, Commodore George Dewey supplied Aguinaldo with arms and urged him to rally the Filipinos against the Spanish. By the time U.S. land forces had arrived, the Filipinos had taken the entire island of Luzon, except for the old walled city of Manila, which they were besieging. The Filipinos had also declared their independence and established a republic under the first democratic constitution ever known in Asia. Their dreams of independence were crushed when the Philippines were transferred from Spain to the United States in the Treaty of Paris (1898), which closed the Spanish-American War.

While its true the Spanish were "teetering," its somewhat ludicrous to suggest that the Filipinos had control of the country PRIOR to Dewey's arrival in May, 1898.

The American Government claimed sovereignty over the entire archipelego in December 1898 because that was the terms of the treaty with Spain worked out in Paris. There was no such thing as a Filipino based government to "infring on."

When U.S. forces returned in 1944, the Puppet Government, under Laurel, was indeed an independent Philippine entity, just as long as their leaders did what the Japanese told them to do. The "independent Republic of the Philippines" served at the pleasure of the Imperial Japanese Army. I think the author would be well advised to re-examine his own research of Philippine history. I would suggest he not rely too heavily on the text books referenced, particulary Gerald Anderson's account of Subic Bay history, which is interesting, but certainly not intended to serve as a geo-political reference. (Numerous uncorrected errors in Anderson"s product indicate he was only interested in presenting a thumb nail sketch of Subic history.)

I do not know the background of the one who carps about my input, which was intended to be satirical (so noted by the SB), but for the record, in addition to my studies at WLAC, I was also a political science major at the University of Maryland, specialzing in what was known in 1966-67 as "Recent Far Eastern Politics." That certainly does not make me an "expert" on Philippine history, far from it, but does, I submit, entitle me to speak with as much authority as the auther who would quarrel with my opinions. I would be more than happy to correspond with that person separately and debate the issue to pieces. I don't think the SB forum is the place to engage in ill informed back biting.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Make SBMA Accountable

Comment from a reader on "SBMA Breaches Lease With Subic Investors":

I suggest that for every charge, the lessor should lodge proceedings against SBMA for "damages for negligence" - they, by their negligent administration, have put the lessor to expense in the payment of further sums.

When you get the bill, type up an invoice for "damages incurred arising from breach of contract" or some such and issue it and sue on it.

Find a judge and get a prospective injunction against the intended breach of contract.

The Simple Life

Comment from a reader on "The Philippines Needs Leadership":

Growing up on a dirt farm in Mississippi, not having shoes to wear, very little meat on the table, forget about doctors and hospitals, etc. I still remember what my mother told me 50 years ago. She said, "son- yes we are poor. But we don't have to be dirty. Go clean up the yard and then wash yourself".

We learned how to dig a hole to bury our fecal matter. We knew that if we raised chickens, we never ate the laying hens or the rooster, no matter how hungry we got. And we never ate our seeds that we needed to plant the garden.

I look back and I didn't consider myself poor at all. We went to school wearing hand me downs, but everyone else wore the same as us. And most of all, even thought we were poor, we were not dirty. The yards and roadways and homes were spotless.

[The Subic Bulletin] Thanks immensely for your comment. Your stories of growing up in Mississippi remind my of the lifestyle out in the Provincial Philippines. It you have ever been out in the distant provinces far away from the city the people are proud, hard working, honest and yes, very clean even without any sewerage or toilet (yes where I was they had to bury their own fecal matter also). What has made Filipinos loose sight of these roots and this dignity when they are in the cities?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Let The Buyer Beware

Comment from a reader on "No Security For Subic Investors":

Well look at it this way. In the Subic area (I refrain from implicating the entire nation), There exists natives with limited assets that they would use as barter to separate the well heeled foreigner from a portion of his wealth. For purposes of elucidation, I'll call the first group "Bilkers," and their clients the "Bilkees." The bilkers pity not the naive ones who trust without justification, for they know well that the blikees would, given the opportunity, rip off the bilkers without mercy.

This is a centuries old game, practiced by many without regard to geographical or national boundaries. Ask any American schoolboy about the Dutchmen who bought Manhattan Island from the dumb Indians for a hand full of beads and baubles. The DI's thought the transaction to be a wonderful deal. And for good reason - they didn't own the island. Just happened to be passing through the neighborhood when they stumbled across some white foreigners looking for some bargain basement real estate and business opportunities. Is the Olongapo-Subic bilker to be faulted for practicing business as usual. And please, folks, no lectures on standards of morality, ethics, etc. Think real, as in "Caveat Emptor."

[The Subic Bulletin] The "Dutchman" you refer to is Peter Minuit who was actually from Wesel Germany, many people think he was Dutch because he was the Director General of the Dutch Colony of New Netherlands which was on Manhattan island.
It is true that he purchased Manhattan island from the wrong Indians but he did it in an official capacity funded by his employer the Dutch West India Company, but alas, this was such a poor decision that he made only 20 days after arriving at the colony that he was ultimately fired.

Your comparison may ring true to buying land on baloy beach as so many have done who have gone this way before, but we are talking about Public Servants that are suppose to be accountable and responsible to the people under the constitution of a civilized country! Yeah, ok.... Caveat Emptor.

Subic Freeport Traffic Lights - The New Mexican Standoff

Comment from a reader on "Subic Freeports Traffic Light Circus":

The lights are flashing again at the intersection where you turn to go past Remy Field and over to Freeport.

Problem is, the left turn is flashing red (stop), and the oncoming traffic sees flashing yellow (proceed with caution), but the folks stopped at the flashing red have no idea if the other folks have flashing yellow, red, green or what?

So everyone kind of waits to see what will happen. Yesterday everyone oncoming was stopping at the flashing yellow so I proceed to turn left on my flashing red arrow, only to be almost run over a bus that did not stop and did not proceed with caution.

Land of almost right? No, I disagree. Land of almost always wrong.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

No More Retirement Plans For Subic

Comment from a reader on "No Security For Subic Investors":

Thank you Subic Bulletin for shining light on this dark place. I was planning a long term SBMA housing lease for my retirement, but that plan just crashed and burned!

[The Subic Bulletin] We are disappointed that Subic has not been able to meet your expectations as a retiree, it is a great place when the Bureaucrats are not abusing their power. We will certainly make sure the Philippine Retirement Authority hears about your decision.

Land Transport Is Such A Hassle

Comment from a reader on "Commuter Flights From NAIA To Subic?":

commuter flights would be nice like we had before but it didn't work then so i doubt it would work now.
Arrive NAIA go to domestic 30 mins check in 60 mins Fly 45 mins collect bags etc and go home at least 45 mins total time 3 hrs and thats without having to wait for a flight.

Does not make sense ! lease and running costs etc would not really make it viable.

[The Subic Bulletin] The issue as pointed out by other readers is that ground transport in the Philippines is overpriced and even then you have to put up with a long sob story as to how poor he is and how much he needs your money, no wonder people would rather fly!.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

SBMA Board Violates The Philippine Constitution

Comment from a reader on "Investors And Retirees Unhappy With SBMA's Lease R...":

This rule is flatly prohibited by Section 10, Article III, of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which provides:
"No law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be imposed" A long term lease is a contract.

A law varying the terms of a lease is an impairment of contract. Sorry, SBMA, Nice Try.

[The Subic Bulletin] Yes we quite agree with you that this move by SBMA is illegal, immoral and clearly in breach of the Constitution. It seems that SBMA has complete disregard for the laws of the Philippines and thinks they can bully investors however they want. Lets hope that the groups already commencing legal action over this issue can force changes in the governance of the public servants running this lucrative Freeport. Its obvious that the current administration cares so little about the Philippines that investor confidence, security and the Philippine Constitution means nothing to them.

Barretto, The New Hawaii

Comment from a reader on "Subic Bay's Driftwood Beach":

A couple of years ago Dick Gordon gave a presentation in Olongapo and made the statement that all of the property in Baretto on the beach side of the road is Federal Land.

Any deeds or other conveyances issued by Iba are null and void since they cannot deed federal lands.

His dream was to make it like another Waikiki Beach (that's a laugh in itself- imagine a beach in Hawaii at the local sewage treatment facility).

In any event, any landowner on the beach in Baretto had better research the situation. If I owned property there, I would sell sell sell. If Dick becomes President, you can rest assured that he will stake claim to all federal land and funnel federal money to his beloved Olongapo.

[The Subic Bulletin] At the risk of being accused AGAIN as pro Gordon, we have to put our two cents worth in here. With only a few exceptions like Papagayo, By The Sea and Palm Tree Resort property owners have done very little to take any advantage of the beachfront location.

Driving along the national road, you would have no idea that the beachfront that looks out into Subic Bay is just stone throw away, but forget Waikiki, the hotels are built up against the sand making the path along the beach front a goat trail, what Baretto needs is an promenade with one wide open walkway lined with terrace cafes and bars.

The sewage outlet should not be a problem providing the treatment plant and pipe extension is part of the plan. The only problem that would need to be solved is keeping beggars especially the pesky children out of the area.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

SBMA Deceiving Investors Over Lease Charges

Comment from a reader on "SBMA Breaches Lease With Subic Investors"

The SBMA website contains a brochure that lists the "Cost of doing business in the Freeport", this brochure does not contain anything about these costs or any cost involved in "registering a lease".

Investors will not take lightly to SBMA adding in other charges after an contract was already signed.

This situation must surely serve as a warning to investors of the unscrupulous attitude of SBMA.

[The Subic Bulletin] We checked the brochure you are referring to and fully agree. SBMA is deceiving investors by failing to list cost that where approved by there Board of Directors.

Subic Airport - Not The Place To Park A Plane

Comment from a reader on "Subic Bay International Aircraft Warehouse":

SBIA is the wrong place to lay up airplanes.

As you correctly mention salt air is bad for them but also the humidity here is a major problem.

Airplanes are normally laid up in hot dry places such as the Arizona and Nevada deserts.

You only have to look at the state of that Phil Air 737 that is parked on Boton ramp to see what happens. Income from parking would be minimal in any case.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness

Comment from a reader on "The Philippines Needs Leadership":

Leadership comes in many different forms, it's not all about money and corporate responsibility, though it doesn't hurt.

Local councils, barangay chiefs etc.. could simply introduce clean up operations, parents could educate their young in the simple practice of cleaning up after themselves, how to cross a road while keeping your eyes open as well as schools and churches that could highlight eco awareness.

Most local employees follow what they're told to do without question or consequence, but it would be helpful if regular folk could practice pinoy pride in their envirnment. At the end of the day cleanliness is next to godliness and there's no shortage or godly people in the Philippines.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

No Security For Subic Investors

Comment from a reader on "SBMA Taunts Indignant Subic Investors":

Guess I still haven’t learned my lesson!

As I’ve commented too many friends that our leases on SBMA are solid and safe with our original lease agreements that many of us have spent our entire retirement savings on!!

Each time I feel reasonably secure living here, the rug gets pulled out from under me "again" would be interesting to know how many investors have left over the years due to greed on the part of administrators here!!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Greening The Philippines Takes Discipline

Comment from a reader on "Cleaning Up The Philippines":

The problem of litter here in PI stems from the same cause as many of the country's many other short-comings: NO DISCIPLINE.

After the litter gets picked up we can start working on the grown men peeing in public in plane view. And then...

Grizzle About Foriegn Investors

Reader comment on "Was The USA Subic's First Big Investor?":

Good response, that part in which SB opines: "Doesn't matter the nationality, someone will always find something to grizzle about."

So true. Not sure I discern the full import of the term "grizzle," but its got a nice ring to it.

[The Subic Bulletin] We had to check 8 dictionaries to find our definition so you are right its not so widely used that way, but we also like it...

grizzle2 definition

griz·zle (grizəl)

transitive verb grizzled -·zled, grizzling -·zling

  1. to grumble; complain
  2. to fret or whimper

Friday, September 4, 2009

Investors And Retirees Unhappy With SBMA's Lease Registry Sham

This letter from a retiree to SBMA was sent to us for publication on the subject of "SBMA Breaches Lease With Subic Investors"

Registry of Ownership of Leasehold Rights August 28, 2009
Ground Floor, FSC Building,
corner, Causeway Road, Subic Bay Freeport Zone

Attention Att. Ma. Leonora R. Tabladillo, Officer in Charge

Re: Certificate of Ownership of Leasehold Rights

Dear Attorney Tabladillo:

I am writing you to express my observations, comments and feelings regarding the
meeting of August 25, 2009 held at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center
at the Subic Bay Gateway Park where the discussions centered on SBMA
implementing mandatory (new) rules for the registration of Certificates of Leasehold

New rules that have apparently been conceptualized, crafted, developed and
implemented behind closed doors with no input or observations from the people
directly effected as a result.

My name is , legal resident of the
Philippines by virtue of the Philippine Retirement Authority of which myself and
many others have invested a substantial amount of money, and currently living within
the Freeport Zone.

Suffice it to say that, like so many others, I found living in the Freeport Zone to be
preferable to other areas for any number of reasons. Those reasons, at the time, were
positive and compelling enough to offset the higher cost of lease ownership within the
Freeport Zone as compared to elsewhere in the Philippines or even Asia. Those other
options are being now evaluated by myself and, no doubt, others as well.

The Long Term Lease concept has been, for me, an acceptable alternative to
purchasing real estate elsewhere however, as in any business transaction, there comes
a point of diminishing return; I believe that point, for me, has arrived.

There are many things for a retiree to consider when choosing where to live; location,
cost, ongoing expenses, anticipated future expenses, upkeep of the property are some
examples. Obviously, those expenses can have a dramatic impact on quality of life
when one is a retiree and living on a limited and fixed income.

I’m quite confident that people who have made the decision to live within the
Freeport, based their decisions on not only the initial costs and their affordability but
the down stream costs which can be anticipated in properly maintaining a home

It comes as quite a shock to me to learn that my rights as a leaseholder are apparently
now in jeopardy to the extent that a Certificate of Leasehold Rights is now required
for my protection and, ostensibly, to somehow improve, the market value of the lease.

With all due respect, I find the rationale behind the New Rule of “Certificate of
Ownership of Leasehold Rights” to be a misnomer and an oxymoron. As a
leaseholder, our only right is to occupy the aforementioned property for a given
period of time based upon the life of the duly and legally executed lease agreement
between the lessor and lessee, in this case being SBMA.

To arbitrarily and unilaterally change / amend the terms and conditions of the lease,
after the fact, would to me, be ignoring the leaseholders legal rights as currently stated.
It begs the question if rules and regulations regarding the lease can be arbitrarily and
unilaterally changed; what other kinds of changes can one anticipate in the future?

In the presentation, there were attempted analogies made to the tax situation in non-
SBMA real estate (off base); e.g. Capital Gains, real estate taxes and registration fees.
I submit, these comparisons are not analogous as they represent real property within
the real estate market outside of the Freeport Zone.

There is no real property in question here as obviously the property in question belongs to SBMA as the leaser, moreover, this is a Freeport Zone and as such, exempt from taxes.

Moreover, the subject at hand is not real estate, it is a lease, a long term lease that was expected to be honored for the stated number of years under the terms and conditions stated in the lease at the time of signature(s). To change the terms and conditions of obtaining and maintaining a lease after the fact is a blatant disregard for the current leaseholders’ rights as defined in the current lease and could possibly be subject to further legal opinion and action.

During the presentation, there were numerous questions raised regarding fees,
requirements, documents and responsibilities.

It would appear that these “fees” are not actually fees at all but in reality a surcharge to the leaseholder based on current market values, lease values and property sizes. It is indeed intriguing that SBMA has elected to revisit the lease values after the fact. It would seem more appropriate to re evaluate those fees upon negotiation of new leases rather that create a post method of compensation for erosion of market value or improvement of revenue.

It would further appear that, based on the responses to the questions posed during the presentation, there remain areas that have not been considered fully in this dictum and require further examination, hence it may be appropriate to table this action pending further review and consideration of all circumstances.

One example is survey of the lot; there appears to be no definition of what a lot is. One could assume that based upon the presentation and the numbers cited therein, a lot is the piece of ground the dwelling occupies.

There are two incontrovertible facts at hand; 1) The current lease explicitly addresses surveys and who the responsible party is (Landlord, SBMA) in Section 2 of the lease and 2) the area of the leasor responsibility.

While it may indeed be semantics, there is no reference to a “lot”, a definition which is generally used to describe a parcel of land. We are not leasing land here, we are leasing a residence. The responsibility for obtaining and subsequent expense of a survey, if in fact a survey is required, is by contract a responsibility of the landlord.

The concept of a “Certificate of Ownership of Leasehold Rights” may seem an appropriate tool to satisfy SBMA’s administrative needs however, there appears no logical or rational reason to further burden the stakeholders within the Freeport Zone except as a tool to generate more revenue.

Insofar as benefits are concerned, the obvious is a net increase in the rents/lease revenues SBMA will enjoy as a result of these increased costs to the leaseholders; costs over and above those which have already been paid to SBMA solely for the benefit of leasing the property.

In other words, if I may, our leasing costs have just been increased over that which we have agreed to with either SBMA or a previous leaseholder; moreover, we have not been given the opportunity to make a decision of our own regarding perpetuating the lease under these new terms.

I may be new in the Freeport Zone, in comparison to other residents of SBMA however, I am not new to the concept of negotiations and agreements to which I become a legal part.

Contracts require the written agreement and consent of two or more legal aged parties. The Lease Contract I currently have has gone through the detailed procedure required by SBMA, unlike most lease agreements and, has passed the SBMA Board of Directors approval with a Consent to Assignment and only then is signed by me and a senior legal representative of SBMA. It’s not unreasonable to expect the terms and conditions of a contract to be honored and where an amendment may be desired by either party, it too should be by mutual agreement and consent.

It is precisely these kinds of dictatorial and unilateral actions that impact decisions of people considering retirement in the Freeport Zone. I’m confident that Special Retirement Resident Visa and potential SRRV Visa holders will consider this style of administrative rule making a negative and affect the selection process of where to live.

In closing, I would like to reiterate, my surprise and disappointment in the crafting and hasty implementation of a rule so obviously designed to generate revenue at the expense of people who live here and do their best to make this a great place, be it work or retire.

Respectfully Submitted,

cc: Mr. Armand Arreza, Administrator and CEO, SBMA
cc: Philippine Retirement Authority

Thursday, September 3, 2009

SBMA Taunts Indignant Subic Investors

Comment from a reader on "SBMA Breaches Lease With Subic Investors":

The "primer" that they issued at the meeting refers to the new "administrator" as "beloved" and all of the managers of this new regulatory group as "Handsome" and "Gorgeous".

Are they serious about this registry or is it a big joke on all of us?

What kind of language is that in a formal document discussing a matter so serious as breaching our leases?

It seems that they are having a good laugh at us and congratulating themselves at, once again, stiffing the SBMA investors.

[The Subic Bulletin] Thank you for sharing this with us, we are horrified that SBMA could act so inappropriately at an official level. Where is the accountability for this, the writer of the Primer document should be fired and an official letter of apology sent to ALL investors. We know outside the Freeport Government workers have no accountability but SBMA is suppose to be operating the Freeport at international levels not like a kindergarten. Shame on you SBMA!

Land Transport Is Overpriced In The Philippines

Comment from a reader on "Commuter Flights From NAIA To Subic?":

Back when the Subic Airport was brand new there were flights to Manila and back. Not sure why it went away.

The price for a car and driver shot up last year when the price of gas shot up. Now that the gas price is back down the car rental prices remain high.

That's one thing that is out of whack here, the price of land transportation. I just flew 2 brothers-in-law to Leyte for the price of one on a bus trip.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Hanjin Bus Crash

Reader comments on "More Hanjin Employee's Die":

Both the inquirer and got it wrong. reporter John Bayarong and Philippine daily Inquirer's Tonnette Orejeas and Robert Gonzaga should do a better job next time.

That's was not a Hanjin bus. It was a ZAMODCA bus commissioned by Hanjin to ferry their passenger.

Second, they were not speeding as you described it. The first jeepney slammed the brakes to avoid a pedestrian making tough for the mini-bus to avoid the jeepney.

Because of the impact, it sent the jeepney slamming into the other one.

But yes, Hanjin should look into its contracts with WPH and ZAMODCA.

AND its nice to hear for once the subic bulletin calling things about Gordon the right way. There used to be just silence.

Maybe you are really politically neutral after all.

[The Subic Bulletin] Thanks for the corrections. But blaming the jeep for slamming on its bakes may be bending the rules a little. Road rules around the world state you have to leave sufficient distance to stop in an emergency the bus driver must be held responsible, but we get your point.

and another;

More blatant bias by the Zoobic Bulletin in another folly against a Korean investor.

If you are going to use Hanjin as the title and then add a spiel about PUBLIC officials, then why not title it "Recent road accidents in Subic".

I am surprised that they don't offer more news on car accidents seeing how Filippinos CANNOT drive and that having Jeepneys always causes issues on the roads whether here in Subic or in Manila. Jeepneys are a major liability to this great nation.

[The Subic Bulletin] The story was reported by all the media as a Hanjin related event we added in the other story to soften the focus on Hanjin but we can keep the focus only on Hanjin in future if you prefer?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

SBMA Breaches Lease With Subic Investors

Letter from a reader on SBMA's new "Office of Leasehold Rights".

In a public information briefing on August 25th SBMA executives presented that their own people have mismanaged the administration of the leases within the Freeport forcing them to set up a "Registry of Ownership of Leasehold Rights", sounded reasonable until they got to the point where it became clear that they intended to make the registration of leases expensive and administratively taxing on the leaseholder.

Most leaseholders have a legally binding signed contract with SBMA and hold a copy of that contract for our protection, for most of us that's enough so why should we be labored with heavy fees and documentary duties so that SBMA can clean up its contract administration?

The further you dig the more this whole scheme comes out as a sham to extort leaseholders into paying fees that they are not legally obliged to pay.

SBMA feebly tried to present this as in the interest of the leaseholders by enhancing and protecting the leasehold value but this is not a plausible excuse given the simple economics.

SBMA funded the set up of the registry office with 700,000 pesos however, according to the data found on the SBMA website, companies like Hitachi could have an exposure of 2 Million Pesos just to "register" one warehouse, making this "service to leaseholders" a multi-billion peso cash cow for SBMA. As far as housing area leases are concerned, if residential leaseholders paid a 500 peso service fee SBMA's costs to setup and run the new contract office would be fully covered, so how does SBMA expect residents to pay fees based on the improvements that where made by the leasor together with unspecified calculations, in many cases making the fee 15-20k or more.

Investors who attended the meeting may have been expecting that SBMA was going to issue titles for property within the Freeport because they were stunned when SBMA officials presented a poorly put together PowerPoint presentation that told investors that unless they paid levy's on their improved properties by 03 July 2010 they would be penalized. Something which is NOT allowed for under the terms of their leases.

SBMA already has a reputation for being in litigation with many of its lessors but generating a breach of contract so broad ranging that it encompasses all investors and residents at once is unprecedented.

[The Subic Bulletin] As this is an important topic comments on this subject will be prioritized over other subjects. We here at The Subic Bulletin are concerned that SBMA can attempt to add charges in on existing lease contracts without agreement.

Send us your comments and contributions!

Just send your coments to thesubicbulletin @