Friendships as Big as Texas

There was an opportunity to visit two friends in Austin, Texas last November 9 and 10 after the National Association of REALTORS Convention in New Orleans (see my previous blogpost for the New Orleans story).

From that visit, I’ve learned a few things:

Colorado River at the Background

1. Friendship trancends time and space; you become friends because you decide to become friends – Mauro is a friend from 1st grade who I haven’t seen for a long time. Over the years we’ve only heard about each other through other friends. Lately though, we had contacted one another through our batch’s egroup. It was from that communication that the plan to meet was hatched.

2. You don’t need to be friends for a long time to become friends for life – From the egroup, I learned about Rigel, who joined the batch when they were in High School. The visit in Texas was the first time we’ve met. However we found out that we have a lot in common: swimming, biking, ham radio, computers, table tennis, keeping fit, our faith, family, and our friends.

The beautiful skyline of downtown Austin, Texas

The Texas Capitol Building

3. Time is valuable for friendship to blossom – We only had a short time but we spend a good deal of it in meaningful activities. We have deep conversation over pancakes and salad at IHOP. We had pictorials at the Texas Capitol building and elsewhere. Mauro recorded an interview and taught me how to make videos (he gave me a flip videocam). Rigel explained to me how to blog. How wonderful and amazing.

Indeed, there is nothing bigger than the friendship I have with Mauro and Rigel. After that visit, I have seen the truth to the saying: “everything is big in Texas”.

To my dear friends, thank you.

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!

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.