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How safe are Cebu’s buildings if an earthquake strikes

Monday July 17, 2017

Experts, developers share views on how Cebu’s developments are built While there was no reported damage on structures in Cebu when the recent 6.5-magnitude earthquake rocked the Visayas, one still can’t help but ask the question: Just how safe are the buildings here, particularly condominiums, from tremors in the future? People may have become wary of living in multi-level buildings following the 7.2-magnitude temblor that struck Cebu and Bohol in 2013 as well as the Leyte quake last July 6, fearing that these edifices could not withstand strong seismic activities. Despite this perception, major developers in Cebu assured the public that their properties are safe. “CLI had been very compliant and has always worked with qualified architectural and engineering designers,” Franco Soberano, chief operating officer of publicly-listed Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI), said in a text message. Building, fire codes Soberano said the best way to disaster-proof developments is by strictly adhering to the building and fire codes of the Philippines. The developer said the codes are there to protect the users of a building as these take into consideration the local natural environment and climate. Located within the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippine archipelago is home to many volcanoes and fault lines; and, thus, is prone to earthquakes every now and then. The country also experiences more than 20 typhoons each year, which is also one factor engineers consider when planning for buildings, residential or otherwise. “Another very important requirement is to do regular and routine checking of all integral parts of the building, including structural, electrical, mechanical, plumbing and fire protection systems,” Soberano said. CLI has more than 30 projects in the metropolitan as well as beyond Cebu with existing and planned projects in Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Iloilo, Dumaguete, and Bacolod, cutting across the economic segment to the high-end segment of the market. The same assurance was given by Cebu Holdings, Inc. (CHI), a subsidiary of Ayala Land and is the company behind Cebu Business Park in uptown Cebu City. “Developments built by Ayala Land and Cebu Holdings, particularly buildings and facilities that are intended to be occupied or contain vital support functions, are not built on top and do not straddle a known fault line,” CHI said. Technical due diligence As part of the company’s technical due diligence, geotechnical studies and the required EGGA or Engineering Geological and Geo-hazard Assessments are conducted. Furthermore, all projects begin after careful assessment and clearances from applicable government agencies and in-house experts. CHI also continues to explore new technologies in design and construction that advance its communities’ aptitude for disaster resilience. Cebu Property Ventures and Development Corp. (CPVDC), the firm behind Cebu IT Park, is a joint venture between CHI and the Cebu provincial government. CHI said that in Cebu Business Park and Cebu IT Park, they make sure that building constructions follow all requirements not less than those required by the National Building Code. “We do not allow construction to begin unless plans are reviewed and are issued the required construction permit by the Office of the Building Official,” the company said. National Building Code Engineer Josefa Ylanan, chief of Cebu City’s Office of the Building Official (OBO), said no permitted residential structure within the city was compromised by the tremors last week. “If they have secured a (building) permit, that would mean their engineers complied with the requirements as per the National Building Code,” she said in a phone interview. The National Structural Code of the Philippines, most recently revised in 2010, is based on the National Building Code of the Philippines enacted by Congress in 1972 following the 7.3-magnitude earthquake in Casiguran, Aurora in 1968. Prior to the 2010 revision, critical changes in the code were also made when on July 16, 1990, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Baguio led to the collapse of 28 buildings. The code enumerates a set of requirements that developers and construction companies should adhere to if they intend to keep their buildings from sustaining major structural damage. Primarily designed to protect homeowners and building occupants, among the guidelines included in the code are choosing safe locations as well as the use of high-quality materials for construction. “I would say that structures that are permitted have passed National Building Code requirements. We can be confident that these buildings can withstand earthquakes as strong or even stronger than the last one,” Ylanan said. Magnitude 9 temblors Ylanan pointed out that before the revisions in the code, buildings could withstand only up to magnitude 7 earthquakes, but can now survive up to magnitude 9 temblors. Following the Cebu-Bohol earthquake in 2013, Ylanan said contractors revisited their areas to see whether their buildings no longer meet current standards. “If this is the case, they may recommend retrofitting,” the OBO chief said. She said no building owner would refuse this as retrofitting a structure would cost less than if something unfortunate happens to the building. (CEBU DAILY NEWS)

Cebu’s economic boom boosts demand for high-end condo units

Monday July 17, 2017

Ayala Land Premier (ALP) is banking on Cebu’s growing demand for exclusive high-end residences to boost sales. It recently launched its third luxury condominium project in Cebu, The Alcoves, inside the Cebu Business Park. “ALP developments are guided by key points that we always emphasize in every property we develop—unmatched location, masterfully crafted design, distinctive living experience and value appreciation,” said ALP managing director Mike Jugo during a briefing. The Alcoves is expected to follow the success of ALP’s two tower communities—the 1016 Residences, which was launched in 2010, and the Park Point Residences launched in 2012. “With 1016 Residences flourishing as an established community, and Park Point Residences’ ongoing unit turnovers—residents and buyers have expressed extreme satisfaction and delight over the quality and living experience of their new homes and the appreciation of their investment,” said Jugo. The 1016 Residences, with only 109 units, is connected to the exclusive City Sports Club Cebu, the city’s premier urban lifestyle club. Park Point Residences, on the other hand, is an exclusive community of only 255 residences, connected directly to Ayala Center Cebu. The entry of Alcoves will bring in a total of 844 luxury condominium units from the three luxury projects inside Cebu Business Park. But Jugo said there remained demand for high-end condominium units in Cebu since the island has become an economic and cultural powerhouse. He pointed out that the completion of the new airport terminal by 2018 would triple the tourist traffic in Cebu. With more people coming to see Cebu, Jugo said the interest to invest was bound to increase. Jugo said the group would focus its investments on Cebu Business Park in the next two years in line with the thrust of Ayala Land and Cebu Holdings Inc. to invest around P800 million in the redevelopment of the business park. The Alcoves is integral to Cebu Business Park’s redevelopment. Jugo said units at The Alcoves were priced at between P12 million and P60 million. As of the latest count, about 40 percent of the units in The Alcoves had been sold. Jugo said 25 percent to 30 percent of the buyers were non-Filipinos looking for investments in Cebu. He said the group expects to sell out all units at The Alcoves in the next two years. “Cebu has become an international cosmopolitan destination and demand for projects like what we are offering is expected to rise,” he said. (CEBU DAILY NEWS)

International Travel Festival set on July 14-16

Monday July 10, 2017

GET your passports and suitcases ready because the most awaited travel fair in the region is back this July 14 to 16 at Ayala Center Cebu. International Travel Festival invites travelers to book their dream destination and browse through over a hundred exhibitors. Directly book your flights and vacations hassle-free at the booths of local and international airlines such as Philippine Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, SilkAir, Singapore Airlines, Eva Airways, AirAsia, and Air Swift. Book your stay at over 50 hotels and resorts from across the Philippines’ prime destinations. Visit the booths of The Manila Hotel, Berjaya Makati Hotel, Bayview Park Hotel Manila, Hennan Bohol, South Palms Resort Panglao, Bluewater Panglao Beach Resort, Radisson Blu Hotel, Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa, and Cebu Parklane International. For more information, you may contact MyEventology Co at +63915 915 6701 or (032) 406 6692. You may also email them at, or visit their website at (CEBU DAILY NEWS)

World Vision Run in Cebu on July 16

Wednesday July 5, 2017

For the first time in its six-year existence, the World Vision Run will come to Cebu City this coming July 16. The event, held in line with the celebration of World Vision Philippines’ 60th anniversary, will start and finish at the Cebu Business Park. Regularly held in Manila, the running event served as one of World Vision’s ways to raise funds for its charitable programs. This year’s edition will benefit World Vision’s sustainable livelihood projects in Sogod town, north Cebu. The run also aims to help raise awareness on the group’s advocacy against sexual exploitation of children. Organizers said there’s a reason why they chose to bring the race to the Visayas on the group’s 60th anniversary. “The World Vision here in the Philippines was born in the Visayas, so it’s fitting that we celebrate its 60th anniversary by bringing the World Vision Run to Cebu,” said World Vision Resource Development director Jun Godornes during the official launching yesterday at the Golden Prince Hotel. World Vision came to the country in 1957. Its first orphanage opened in Guimaras Island in Panay. Cebuano celebrity Matteo Guidicelli, a World Vision ambassador for many years, was also present in the press conference. Joining them were technical director Kenneth Casquejo of Kinetic Running, and World Vision program manager Faith Sy. The running event will offer 100-meter kiddie dash, 3-kilometer, 5k, 10k and 21k distances. According to Casquejo, they already attracted 1,000 runners. They are aiming to accommodate as many as 3,000 runners on race day. “If this running event gets enough support from the Cebuano running community, then we will surely be back next year. We are also expanding this run in Davao soon,” Godornes said. Guidicelli, meanwhile, said being part of this charitable organization is a big honor. He is encouraging fellow celebrities to take part in World Vision’s advocacies. Guidicelli is currently sponsoring two children while he is involved in a series of charitable projects in Liloan. “Cebu is a fitting venue for World Vision Run because it’s the home of one of Asia’s fastest marathoners, Mary Joy Tabal, and the running community here is huge,” said Guidicelli, who is planning to join the run along with fellow World Vision ambassador, former volleyball star Gretchen Ho. Registration fee is P350 for the kiddie dash, P400 for the 3k, P600 for the 5k, P700 for the 10k and P900 for the 21k inclusive of the bib, race singlet and timing chip. Registration can be done at any Toby’s Sports outlets in Cebu City and at the Runnr Ayala Center Cebu and Anytime Fitness Escario branch. (CEBU DAILY NEWS)

The making of a restaurant chain

Sunday July 2, 2017

Going into a restaurant business is no easy feat, especially when one has no background in the venture. But the Noel family-owned Casa Verde has proven that success has less to do with experience than it does with determination. “We just took the challenge one at a time. We learned things along the way and we learned from our mistakes,” Brian Noel, Casa Verde general manager, told reporters during the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) Grand Chamber Awards and Fellowship Night last Friday. That evening, 34-year-old Noel was recognized as CCCI’s Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year. Roots Casa Verde traces its roots to an ancestral house near Ramos Street in Cebu City and was first established in 2002 as a canteen for students studying and living in dormitories near the area. Since the house was unused for a long time, he said his family thought of putting up a dormitory for students at the nearby Velez College as well as set up study centers and an eatery. Green house The name Casa Verde is a Spanish term for “green house,” which refers to the family’s ancestral home. Noel said the family spent “millions” to restore the torn down house. He said it would have cost them less just to demolish the structure and build a new one, but they wanted to keep it as it is because it has been standing since the 1900s. he menu “When we started, we started with easier to cook items like chicken and ngohiong,” said Noel, adding that nobody in their family came from a restaurant business. Much of what Casa Verde’s menu is today, the family owes to his cousin Nicole Galang, who was among the pioneers of the business being the eldest among the cousins. He said his cousin was not a chef, but loved to cook and has since propelled the restaurant into what it is today. Home-style food Casa Verde boasts of home-style comfort food such as their best-selling mouth-watering steaks, sumptuous pasta, and sinful desserts. While the family’s primary target back then were students, the restaurant started to draw in professionals from offices nearby as well as people who would go out of their way just to find good food in hard-to-find places. What started as a 20-seater canteen has grown into one of the most successful family-owned restaurant chains in Cebu City. To date, Casa Verde has three more branches in Cebu City located at the Cebu IT Park, Ayala Terraces, and SM Seaside City Cebu. Noel was still in college taking up Management Accounting at the University of San Carlos when Casa Verde’s Ramos branch was first opened to the public. Expansions It was in 2008, after studying for a while in China, when Noel joined the family business. His first project was the expansion to Cebu IT Park. The group also has restaurants called The Suite Room at Ayala Center Cebu and Room for Dessert in SM Seaside. Years after their first few expansions in Cebu City, Noel said they explored the Luzon market and now has two Casa Verde branches and a stand-alone restaurant called the Port in Manila. Presently, Casa Verde has a total of around 800 seats across its six branches in Cebu and Manila. (CEBU DAILY NEWS)

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