New Trends In New Business Opportunities!

Last month saw a Franchise Expo at Ayala Mall, hosted by Franchise Agents RK Franchise Consultancy. Rudolf Kotik, the founder of RK wasn’t there, but his Visayan representative Buddy Villasis was. Buddy is an intelligent, personable professional who was very open and forthcoming about the Consultancy and the franchise opportunities they managed and offered to potential franchisees here in Cebu. They have business opportunities going from a little more than US$1000 up to major investments in big name franchises.

I looked at the franchises on offer and noticed how there is a growing number of coffee shop opportunities. To me this proves there is a spreading trend to enjoy what is really a bloody expensive drink when you realise most cappuccino’s and latte’s start around P50 and go up from there! The Coffee Beanery, Indulgence Coffee, The Java Man, and a couple more are all on offer.

Food franchises do take up the majority of those offered but there were also educational and consultancy type franchises offered, as well as service oriented businesses such as massage studios. Wraps!, Rai-Rai-Kan, Kookels’, Ice Castles and others handled the food section. PC Quick Buys were there for computers, House of Praise for religious CDs and lots of other brands on show.

My favourite food franchise that was on offer is Dunkin’ Donuts. Me and the Anonymous Bear both love the Bavarians! We could buy into a franchise in Mindanao somewhere, but sadly everything on Cebu is taken! With Dunkin’ Donuts you can’t just buy a cart or kiosk or open a store, you need to buy the are or regional master franchise and then run things in the region, including setting up your own bakery. Big Money!

Out of all the 20 or so booths on display and the 70 or more franchises RK manage my favourite was the Kuryente Electrical Shop franchise. This is a nice looking concept that really should be looked into further because you could own a shop from around US$10,000 that will do well because light bulbs blow! What I couldn’t believe is they don’t have either a web site or an email address! Now that could be an opening for an intrepid web designer to leap in and make some money. If you want to know more, I would suggest you contact Buddy and ask him about Kuryente, I really think it just might take off! Otherwise, call Daisy Rafal on 0927 916 0565 and ask why they haven’t got a web site in this day and age!

It didn’t take too long to check out the entire expo, but what I saw was promising. There are much larger trade shows I Manila, but it was good to see someone trying something here in Cebu. I would suggest anyone with the intention of getting into a small business, either for themselves, their Asawa or an inlaw, contact Buddy and tell him you heard it here first!


A Few (More) Thoughts On The Importance Of The Expat Exercise Plan.

I had a term or two playing tennis at school although most of the time was spent watching the girls and very little time actually learning to play tennis. In fact, we avoided the coach as he was a known “Chester”. Chester the child molester. Of course in those days we didn’t know we were supposed to be traumatised about it, we just ragged this old fairy mercilessly and played hookey and blackmailed him into signing our attendance sheets.

Somewhere along the line I must have learnt something because when I went to play for the first time in decades, I could actually hit the ball. And return it over the net and within the lines! Amazing! Not only that I could serve! Within a few chukkas or rubbers or whatever you call these games with the weird scoring, I was enjoying myself immensely. Then the heat hit me.

You need to drink lots of water. You need at least one change of shirt and a towel. You need to start playing about 5.30am like we do! Even then, by 6 or 7 I’m sweating like a rapist and I need to refill the fluid levels regularly. The sign on the wall states that playing regularly “Adds Years to your Life”. I have to agree, playing just a few games in the heat and already I feel about 86! But I love it!

I play at a court in a back block in Minglanilla. The old retired San Miguel executive who owns the court is 78 and still spry. He was pushing the roller to smooth out the court when I first saw him. We usually renew the chalk lines with this ladder like frame and a chalk dispenser, then have a bit of a hit around before starting play.

Manong will play if we are down a player for doubles, but if you come by yourself he’ll probably just get the ball thrower machine out. For P10 you get 100 balls fired at you, great exercise by itself and cheap! The rental of the court for two hours only costs P20 each and so its great value.

Back in 1984, Manong retired from his job with the Coca Cola division of SMB Corporation. He had started tennis when he was 35 because he was out of shape and smoked too much. Gentle reminders are panted on the wall at the back of the court to play tennis regularly and not to smoke. He can still run around alright but his eyes are going and seeing the ball is getting to be difficult.

With nearly as many years to go as I have already lived before I catch up with Manong, I hope I can maintain my new found enjoyment for tennis. I should as I have invested over P549 in the best tennis stick technology the Gaisano House of Fake Rolexes and Empty Shelves Supermarket can offer! I couldn’t see the point spending ten times that when it wouldn’t make me ten times the tennis player. Besides, it really is just for fun!


Taking A Look At The Cost Of A Pregnancy

Last month we took a peek at how much it costs to leave this mortal coil. This month we’ll start at the beginning and discuss bringing a new Filipino into the world. I have only been responsible for one new mouth to feed in this burgeoning land, but I have done my research and it is interesting how the costs and what you get for your peso varies from place to place. I can’t comment on Manila, although I have been led to believe the situation is pretty similar and prices fairly consistent.

So, you and the Asawa are about to enjoy the blessed event, you’re in the family way, she has a bun in the oven or, as they say in Visayan, she is Buntis! Well done but now you have to suffer the mood swings of the first trimester, the incredible urges of the second trimester and the dragged out interminable length of the third trimester! Personally I wouldn’t want to suffer through that again and I remind the Asawa of this whenever the subject arises. Since she is a Filipina and we only have two kids (I inherited a lovely daughter) this subject does arise often. She also thinks I would have an illegitimate child with another woman providing it is son! As far fetched as that sounds to us foreigners, it is perfectly reasonable to a Filipina.

If you think you are too old to become a Daddy (again perhaps), then stay away from the Philippines. I know men who have fathered at the age of 73 and men hitting retirement age at 65 and being a new parent at the same time is not at all a rare occurrence here. Some might argue how fair that is for the child, will they ever really know their father? Who knows? People are living longer these days and if having a child with a woman 30 or 40 years your junior keeps you feeling young, who is to say what is and isn’t right?

What is important is that if you have the child, make sure you look after the poor little tyke! That care starts as soon as you know the Asawa is pregnant. Women are funny creatures and I haven’t all the answers but I have learnt that what might seem trivial to us mere males is of vital significance to a pregnant Filipina. Keep in mind they may be sensitive and insecure to begin with and all of a sudden they are burdened with bringing a new life into the world. She wouldn’t be the first woman to wonder if you are going to stick around until and then after the big day! Some reassurance, no matter how trite and banal it might sound to your male ears, just might make all the difference.

Remember women go through some major hormonal swings when pregnant, it is a big deal after all. You really have to give them a lot of leeway and put up with a great deal of BS, for want of a more apt term! Not just the regular female pregnant BS, but the stuff that has her wearing black bra and panties to keep the Onggu’s away, or stuffing leaves in the window sills and pinning black patches onto her clothing. I must admit the Juju works as we didn’t get one Onggu coming around wanting to rip into the foetus! Some of these Onggu’s actually cut themselves in half and fly away into the night, then crash through the roof and drop onto the sleeping mum to be and devour the baby! Not worth the risk! Get the black knickers and keep them handy!

You also need to keep away from old women down the market. Many of these crones are actually Onggu’s themselves and love to disrupt the pregnancy by touching the swelling belly. They cluck and make cooing noises but in reality they are sucking the vitality out of the unborn! Don’t let it happen and make sure she has her Anting Anting pinned to her black bra!

Now, should you make it to the big day, you will have had to attend a pre-natal every month. Or maybe not! Some women can’t afford it or don’t want the expense, others will rely on the Barangay Quack Doctor or local midwife. Personally I have a lot of faith in these midwives. They have seen just about everything there is to see when it comes to Ob-Gyn work! Forget Stanford Medical School or wherever, these old hags have been in the front line for generations.

Our local Quack successfully turned our baby when it was threatening a breech presentation and the rather expensive, US trained Ob-Gyn specialist in Cebu was too scared to risk trying this. Of course I was left in ignorant bliss about what was happening to my child or maybe I would have stuck my fat foreigner face in where it turned out not to be needed.

Now at first we wanted the local doctor in the province to handle the pre-natal and delivery but she refused. It seems us foreigners have a reputation of complaining about everything and not finding local standards up to snuff. Actually, for a rural practise I have always felt Dr Dublin runs a pretty tight ship up there in Daanbantayan. Anyway, we had already cancelled our Cebu Doctors’ Hospital Specialist after the breech presentation fiasco and we didn’t think we’d make it down to Cebu in time anyway. Or else we would have to hang around in a hotel there for a week racking up the bills. Plus when I told the Asawa she could spend whatever she saved on some nice jewellery she was quite happy to look for something cheaper than the P25,000 (starting price and providing here were no complications) Cebu Doctor’s were charging. If she needs a caesarean and quite often the wives of foreigners do, that will set you back at least P50,000 or so at Chung Hua or Cebu Doctors’.

There are packages in Cebu at the Cebu Maternity Hospital from about P10,000 and this includes all the pre-natal check ups, ultra sounds and so on. A friend of ours insisted his wife have their child there as it was a maternity hospital and not a hospital full of sick people. If you have seen your average Filipino hospital you would understand his point. Basic hygiene is ignored as money for cleaners and maintenance is pocketed by the administrators and nursing staff are too proud of their professional status to clean walls and windows. Or do much else other than stand around and chat!

My sister in law had a P10,000 package deal at the Vellez Hospital but when she had complications and later, tragically died, the limitations of the “package” became evident. We could not move her to a private, aircon room because then we would have to pay for the doctor’s visits. Even though the room was right next to the public one she had been in for days! The rigid adherence to ridiculous “hospital policy” amidst emergency situations and surrounded by a total lack of professionalism really does make us foreigners wild. Perhaps Dr Dublin knew a thing or two I didn’t?

In the end we spent around P12,000 and had the baby delivered at Medellin Base Hospital. We had to buy our own delivery kit for the doctor and her team to use in the delivery room! This cost a few thousand but the local drug stores know what’s on the list and stock everything. Make sure you insist on pain killers for the wife for before and after delivery, the word epidural was unknown to the midwife! The doctor had heard of the term but since few of her patients could afford such luxury, she never wrote a script for it!

Be there and make sure you know what is supposed to happen because not all of the staff may know much about nursing, first aid, basic health and hygiene etc. Just because they graduated nursing school doesn’t mean much in my experience. I studied my US Army Special Forces Medical Handbook, an absolute must for any Expat! When the nurse brought my newborn daughter to me, I knew enough to know she had fluid on the lung and needed to be drained and ventilated. I turned her over and fluid poured out of her! Frightening.

My oldest daughter was born at home with just my father in law assisting. It thankfully went without a hitch as the midwife was delayed and of course, it was virtually free. However, although babies have been born since Adam was a lad, maybe I’m too much of a modern day wimp. Pay the money and get the best medical care for your wife and new born that you can afford. And be thankful you can afford it.

Investment Gem Or Potential Rip-Off? Part 2

NOTE: This Investment Scheme report was originally published in April 2005 and then followed up in November 2005. The scheme is still going strong, paying the dividends and interest and making money for all involved! You can learn more by visiting Dave Whittal’s Blog: Tell Dave Perry sent you!

And here is the update from the Investor himself. I have taken the liberty, at his request, to omit specific amounts of money, that are not relevant to the basic news value of the update and of course are the personal details of the Investor. I would like to thank the Investor for his candor in sharing this detail with us so we can all better decide whether this is a viable option for our own investment and retirement plans.

I am well pleased with the deposits in Bank of East Asia (who arranged to pay into my account with EastWestBank for the Car Loan repayments) and Pilipino Rural Bank (who credit my ATM Account with Land Bank, with withdrawals at HSBC and BPI ATM’s also).

So much so that having received a Pension Lump Sum from 2 of my 3 Pension Providers, I wanted to avail of another 6 year deposit, like I did with PRB.  Trouble is that scheme was closed at PRB and only available in Bacolod.  Marhlan & Nestor of Legacy Group managed to speak to the chairman, and this is what they reported back to me:-

Good news!!! Luckily, the Chairman of Legacy Group has just recently advised this morning to grant the 1 year advance interest of 20%, plus monthly crediting of interest on 6 years CTD for the following banks: PCRB, Rural Bank of Carmen, PRB, and BEA. This will be effective however until the end of October (Oct.31? 05). This means that after October 31, only Nation Bank Bacolod will be allowed to grant this offer.

So I am closely watching the GBP-USD Exchange Rate to see if it climbs since this seems to directly affect the GBP-PHP Rate (almost exactly GBP->USD->PHP) is a good free ‘Tool’ to see how the Exchange rate changes during the day.  It has climbed to a peak of 1.778, which is where it was 08:00 on 21st, and on 7th October early in the day,  and on 24th September.  However at 22:00 on 21st October it was up at 1.8125, or better still 5th Sept when it was 1.8501 – why could my funds not have come through by then!

The Foreign Exchange Rates as quoted by HSBC On-Line Banking seem to be lower, and lag behind what the FOREX Rate actually is.  Trouble is their Buy/Sell spread is 2.5%, so not much chance to capitalize on this lag. All day their Rate for buying Pound Sterling(GBP) has been 0.0103684

(96.447), when that FOREX Chart showed GBP-USD @ 05:00 to be 1.7688 .  So in this basis, HSBC should be offering 97.774, or there about, in the morning?

This might not seem a lot (less than 1%) but when you are considering changing £X,000+,  that’s nearly Php10,000 extra!

I owe PhpX.xM with my HSBC AssetLink loan against PhpXM on Deposit.  My first thoughts were to repay as much of this loan as I could possibly afford and then be able to borrow with less than 24 hours notice again.  Became aware of the needs for fairly large sums when Mama got sick and had to be admitted to Hospital – and more so with Harry Carter.

However, being able to avail of that 6 year plan means putting 4 deposits of PhpxK (A, B, A/B, A/C where A is say Bob, B is Mary and C is Child) means getting PhpxK back as soon as my PhpXM cleared.  Will use that to pay off on AssetLink Loan then use the PhpxK a month interest to repay more of loan each month.  This means I would be able to ‘borrow’ PhpxK in an emergency and this amount increases by PhpxK each month.  I may well be able to pay off more of my loan, especially when funds from my 3rd Pension Provider come through.  I could of course deposit another xK in the 6 Year scheme and get PhpxK advance and PhpxK a month.

To give you an idea of the amounts: if one was to take in Php1.5M deposit in ‘Cash’, one could get the Php300K advance interest the same day, and use that as a 6 Year deposit and get Php60K cash back from that and be receiving Php25,000 a month interest!

I don’t want to invest more in Rural Banks than I have in HSBC particularly, but the 6 Year scheme is very attractive. The 8.3% I am getting on the 5 Year HSBC Term Deposit is no longer available.

Please don’t quote the amounts I am depositing, but feel free to say I am particularly pleased with the Rural Banks affiliated to the Legacy Group, especially the 6 Year Special Deposit, and will be investing more here in Cebu, by the end of October.  If it were not for the PDIC scheme I would not be putting even Php100K deposit (the old PDIC limit)! (Editor: Philippines Deposit Insurance Council)

The fact that Joint accounts carry separate Php250K from Single Accounts (* as stated in PDIC web site) makes a big difference also, otherwise I would have run out of Rural Banks here in Cebu and be having to consider Bacolod and other places outside Cebu – not so convenient!

Thanks again, sounds like the investment is paying off. I hope you never have to test the PDIC but overall it seems like a relatively safe yet profitable investment strategy. Nobody has ever gotten rich playing it too safe and risk is relative, I think this is so far a good thing. We’ll hopefully be able to keep tabs on the progress of this investment over the next few years. If you are thinking of following suit, this guy found the deal, so can you. Just check out your local Rural bank and have the goolies to give it a go