The Ghosts in New Orleans

The Philippine Association of REALTORS Board (PAREB) members who attended the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) convention in New Orleans’ Morial Convention Center from November 5 to 8, 2010 experienced a lot of adventures. The group was headed by PAREB 2010 President Manny Bocaling and was joined by ten other REALTORS namely: Melinda Lit, Nympha Bocaling, Hubert Claveria, Paz Bentulan, Daniel dela Cruz, Mae Ponce de Leon, Abet Cuevas, Cherry Chrisostomo, Anton Bocaling, and myself, Nick Pongos.

Among my most memorable were:

Click to see video

1. Dining at Antoine’s Restaurant – this was suggested by Paz Bentulan, whose American husband Scott listed the must-visit places in New Orleans. Antoine’s is one of its oldest (1840) and most famous restaurant. I enjoyed tremendously the company, the charm, the history, and the splendid French-Creole cuisine.

2. Staying at an old haunted hostel – since I booked late, the only available accomodation near the convention site was a former children’s orphanage built in 1861, the St. Vincent’s Guesthouse. On my second night,  Hubert Claveria joined me and occupied the extra double bed. The next day, he claims somebody joined us too. Scary.

In front of St. Vincent Guest House

Eating hotdogs along Bourbon St.

3. Going to Bourbon Street at night – you have not been to New Orleans if you have not experienced the revelry in the famous French Quarter. This is the place where the annual Mardigras celebration is held and the street is regularly blocked off on weekend nights. There is a rule that bottles or glasses are prohibited on the street (you have to use open plastic cups). With all the drinking, there is usually a lot of things that happens into the night. You may have to invite any of us in facebook if you want to see more of our photos.

The Earth, Wind , and Fire

4. Listening to Earth, Wind, and Fire  – one of my favourite bands. The delegates enjoyed watching them live in concert on the last night of the convention. It was fun seeing many local and international REALTORS sing and dance together.

On our last day, we went to see District 9, the place severely affected from the floods spawned by hurricane Katrina. After seeing the damaged and abandoned houses, I conclude that there were indeed ghosts in New Orleans (there are a lot of ghost tours available).

I don’t know if you would ever believe me, but it is highly recommended that you join in the next NAR annual convention in Anaheim to experience a different kind of adventure.

Have a fun-filled new year!

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Merry Christmas!

Click the greeting card to watch REALTORS sing

This is the Christmas Greeting Card sent by the Pasig REALTORS to their clients, friends, and loved-ones. The card is very interesting because of the holiday video attached to it. The three videos were made by REALTORS who won the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) 2010 Holiday Video Contest. Click here to see the winners.

The Secret to Long Life

PAREB President Manny Bocaling giving plaque of appreciation to REALTOR Castañeda

I was fortunate to hear PAREB history as narrated by Realtor Ernesto G. Castañeda during the PAREB Induction and Awarding Ceremonies last December 9, 2010. The event was held at the Manila Hotel as part of the Christmas Party celebrations of the Philippine Association of REALTORS® Boards, Inc. (PAREB). PAREB is the leading brokers association in the Philippines with more than 4,000 members. Mr. Castañeda is 96 years old and was the PAREB National President from 1968 to 1969.

When he walked to the stage to induct the new set of national officers for 2011, most of us couldn’t believe that at his age he is as strong as any of the younger Realtors. He spoke clearly and has good eyesight as he was able to read the Oath of Office without glasses. His memory was still sharp; in fact he remembers well the story that led to the creation of PAREB 50 years ago.

According to him, PAREB was created from a group of Manila-based real estate brokers with two American journalists. They planned to have the group accredited with the REALTORS® association in the United States. A special mention was made of ethics as a character of the new organization and its goal to set a high ethical standard in the real estate profession.

Members of the Pasig REALTORS Board at the 2010 PAREB Christmas Party

As a practicing licensed broker (DTI Lic. No. 19164), I liked Mr. Castañeda giving importance to ethics because I believe ethical practice is one of the distinctive mark of a REALTOR®. My analogy to this is, if there are “high end” and  “low end” products, a “special” or “regular” food; in real estate brokerage there is a REALTOR® who is distinct from an unlicensed practitioner.

I must confess I was awed by Mr. Castañeda. For me he exemplifies the highly ethical and principled Realtor. It was his loving concern for the well being of others that made him share the secret on the ingredient of his long life.

And do you now know what that secret is? Just listen to Realtor Raffy Salaveria’s video below.

I won’t tell you myself. After all it is a secret.

Mama Mia, Here I Go Again

The Pasig REALTORS Board (PRB) celebrated its Christmas party last December 6, 2010 at the Valle Verde 1 Clubhouse. One thing that I like with this group is the high level of volunteerism and service orientation of its members. I have been in a number of organizations and have been in the service industry for more than 20 years yet I have to see a group as helpful and as selfless as the members of the PRB.

A good example of this service ethics is Diana delos Reyes: when the Philippine Association of REALTORS Board (PAREB) called for a broadway-oriented presentation for the National Convention, she stepped forward to initiate it. Another member, Toto Acosta, with his experience and resources then took over and developed the idea. Other members who are gifted with talent then completed the group. The volunteers were Dang Lorica, Mau Garin, Ket Santos, Leng Reyes, Manny Florendo, and George Bernares. Hence Mama Mia was presented both at the national convention and the board’s Christmas party this year.

With this presentation, PRB has really something to be proud of. The quality of membership of the board is superb. For me, these examples of service are some of the things that encourage more members to join the organization. This important attribute undoubtly make these Realtors  the number one choice of their clients for their real estate transactions (Diana owns her own realty company, the Metro Asia Estates, Inc. with office at the Mega Plaza, Ortigas Center, Pasig). Sadly she’s leaving us for another board.

One of the main reason why I’m writing this piece is her leaving us. When she’s helping, she encourages a lot of people to do their best. Last May she headed the PRB Team for the PAREB mini-olympics which was held as part of PAREB’s 50th year celebrations. In spite of being a small board, we won third overall.  The Christmas party attendance wouldn’t be much more than last year without her monitoring the confirmed number through her Sun Blackberry. She is also helping in the ongoing Continuing Professional Education program of the board.

I think with her 12 years in the PRB, her contribution would be sorely missed.

Here’s wishing you the best Diana!

What Goes Around, Comes Around

What a wonderful time Christmas season is! Last night we had our Christmas Celebration at a Valle Verde Clubhouse and it was well attended by the members and special guests of the Pasig Realtors’ Board. There was good food and dancing until midnight.  There was also entertainment and lots of beautiful company.

Within the past two years I have witnessed the tremendous growth of the Pasig Realtors Board (with membership doubling). It attracted a lot of well respected people of good standing in the real estate industry. Being with these people makes me very proud of being a Pasig Realtor.

The party preparation was really great. I can’t help but notice the high level of volunteerism and the superb quality of service within the board. For me, this shows the maturity and character of a lot of its members. If I may add, a good example of this volunteerism and selfless service is the work of Ms. Olive Ramos. She not only follows up everyone whenever we have activities, she goes out of her way to serve.

I remember last July, when the licensing of brokers and agents with the DTI were about to expire, she got the much needed documents for the licensing of one of my agents at the McDonald’s parking (of all places)!

Ms. Olive Ramos (center) receiving a PAREB award

Unfortunately this year, Ms. Olive’s brother died and she had to go to Chicago to attend the wake in a very short notice. I happend to be there visiting my family after attending the National Association of Realtors convention in New Orleans. By stroke of luck, even with all the different airline schedules and the choice of different carriers, her flight back to the Philippines happened to be the same as mine.

When we met at the O’Hare airport, we found out that her baggage was overweight by 10 pounds. Since I was travelling lightly, I took the extra pounds and happily muscled her heavy carry-on luggage up the overhead bins. We were seated closely so I took over the lifting.

She was so thankful to God for the coincidence, but she didn’t know that I was more thankful to God for letting me serve her back for her services to us in the board.

Now I know there is really truth to the saying “what goes around, comes around”.

Happy Holidays everyone!