Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mutual Funds : What I know that you might need to know

Mutual funds are my newest source of happiness! I wanted to share the happiness to everyone so this explains this post. Allow me to relate my short but long written journey about Mutual Funds.

This is NOT a sponsored post by the way.

I started investing in Mutual Funds last year and as of date, I’m amazed on the achievement of my little and hard worked money. I’d like to share this chance to earn to my local blog friends. As much as I want to speak for my foreign blog friends, I’m not sure with the differences in the governing laws across countries. However, I’m sure that every country, especially in the US, offer more and mutual fund investment opportunities. Nevertheless, I hope this post will give you an idea of how this promising investment opportunity works.

What are Mutual Funds in the first place?

I admit that I’m not a financial expert. I’m an ordinary investor. So my definition and understanding of Mutual Funds is good as what I absorbed from my constant internet research and the lectures of my Financial Advisor.

The easiest way to define Mutual Funds, go to Wikipedia. LOL Seriously, in my level of understanding, this is how I define Mutual Funds.

Using the word “mutual,” these are joint funds between an investor and the investment company. Since these are joint funds, both parties become beneficiaries of the funds’ earnings.

So how does the earning system works? The investment company offers mutual fund opportunities to investors. The interested investor enrolls his money as mutual fund investment. In return, the company treats the investment as an asset to manage and improve. The company may invest in the stock market and other means of earning. The system may look easy but in reality, the execution entails more processes and decision making. What complicates the situation is the way the company manages its investment. A wise and secured investment company doesn’t simply purchase stocks to another company. They have a pool of Financial and Risk Managers. They rigorously monitor the economy’s outlook and analyze to which companies they will purchase stocks.  As my Financial Advisor mentioned, the role of these managers is to maximize our earnings and reduce the risks of loses.

At this point, I would like to believe that you see Mutual Funds as a deep water well that emits earnings from every piece of money thrown to it. If the economy is at its good times, this will work to everyone’s favor. However, we all know that every economy contains a cycle of peaks and troughs. In times of trough, both the investor and the investment company will suffer. There could be zero earnings for both parties. But before that happens, we should remember that every secured and established investment company has Risk Managers. The job of the managers is to anticipate and lessen the degree of loses. Investment companies wouldn’t want to experience loses as well. Your investment’s loss is the company’s loss. You and the company share the same dream and interest. You see, that’s why it’s called mutual funds.

Since I’ve been mentioning risks and loses, it’s important for every Filipino investor to remember that mutual fund investors are not protected by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC). Unfortunately, this is the risk that every investor should pray for. When the investment company declares bankruptcy, the chance of retrieving your invested money is quite impossible. Some of you might be disheartened by this fact. But as I have said, every investment entails a level of risk. In order to avoid this misfortune, choose a reputable, trusted and stable investment company.

Now that I have laid down the definition of mutual funds, let me discuss the requirements and amount you need to raise.

As of date, I have only invested in one company, Sun Life Asset Management Corporation (SLAMC). So the succeeding information I will be relaying will be good for this company. Although after some internet research and inquiries, I could say that there are relatively few differences in the requirements and application system among other companies.

For the application requirements, you need to prepare valid government IDs, a 1×1 picture, money for the initial investment and an agent or a Financial Advisor. You cannot directly apply for investment in the company. More often than not, the company will refer you to their Financial Advisors. In my case, my Financial Advisor was a former employee of Sun Life Philippines.

The Financial Advisor’s job is to fully explain the benefits you can gain from investing in mutual funds. He should know better and he should explain it to your ability. The role of the Financial Advisor is to orient you on both the positive and negative sides of the mutual funds, please remember that. Your Financial Advisor should educate you, than offer you with other products and services.

Mutual fund investment features and offerings may vary across companies. In my case with Sun Life, I was presented with three types of mutual investments. This includes the Low Risk, High Risk and Balanced.

You can choose where to place your mutual fund investment. In my case, I played it safe. I availed of the Balanced Investment. Though during my last meet up with my Financial Advisor, I decided to diversify and place my additional investment to the high risk group.

Now that I’m getting specific with the requirements, I will answer the question that is bugging everyone.
How much is the minimum requirement for investment?

In my case with Sun Life, it’s Php 5,000 (around $ 128).

Did the figure surprise you? For as low as Php 5,000, you can become a Mutual Fund Investor! Perhaps, you can set aside some money for shopping, midyear bonus or save up for some months for this amount.

All the requirements were already enumerated, allow me now to answer the most awaited question. How much can you earn from investing in mutual funds?

One of the main reasons why I decided to invest in Mutual Funds is the decreasing interest rates implemented by local banks.

When I started working, local banks offer an annual interest rate of 1% for regular savings account. Years after joining the workforce, I was disheartened by the annual interest rate of most banks. Who will be happy with 0.375% to 0.5% interest rate? With mutual funds investment, the earning interest rates are fluctuating depending on the performance of the economy. The rates are way higher than 1%. In like manner that the earning rates are not too-good-to-be-true. Pyramid scamming and those fly by night investment houses? Mutual funds are way different than these fiascos because as I have said, the entire system is supported by a core of Risk Managers, Researchers and a reputable company to begin with.

What's also best about Mutual Funds is that you can pull out your investment any time. Although this act will have its own negative consequences. You have to pay a minimal amount to retrieve your money, your Financial Advisor earns a negative reputation and the worst, you lose the opportunity to earn as time progresses.

If let us say for some reason, the economy is not performing well and you decided to pull out your entire investment. Would the company allow you to do so? Yes but this move will prevent you from earning when the economy returns to its cycle of peak.  However, in cases when unexpected circumstances like death forces the company to pull out your money, your legitimate heirs are entitled to receive the totality of your earnings upon presentation of the required documents.

I think I have written and provided some information about Mutual Funds. In case you have questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will answer to the best of my ability. *hopefully!*

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Beautiful Sunday # 44 - Happy Glutton Family

Some weeks ago, I was reunited with my paternal family. One of my cousins welcomed the entire family to their new home. They had their home blessed by a priest and after the ceremonies, expect our favorite activity.

The feast of the gluttons
Our family's version of Pichi Pichi
Pichi Pichi is a dessert made of pinipig (roasted, pounded green young rice) that is coated with coconut gratings.

Kids in our family call this as the White Spaghetti.

Pork in pickes and vegetables + Lapu lapu (Grouper) in sweet and sour sauce

The grilled chicken was a hit.

No lines and disciplines imposed when the pang of hunger attacks

Don't talk when your mouth is full 

Meet Kieffer! The youngest member of the family :)

Still incomplete but this is as always, a rare family photo

Friday, February 22, 2013

Not too late for Valentine's Day

Someone melted my heart

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

This rare love letter

Reposted from Inquirer.net  

Love Letter to Filipinos 

I am writing to thank Filipinos for the way you have treated me here, and to pass on a lesson I learned from observing the differences between your culture and mine over the years. 

I am an expatriate worker. I refer to myself as an OAW, an overseas American worker, as a bad joke. The work I do involves a lot of traveling and changing locations, and I do it alone, without family. I have been in 21 countries now, not including my own. It was fun at first.  Now, many years later, I am getting tired. The Philippines remains my favorite country of all, though, and I’d like to tell you why before I have to go away again. 

I have lived for short periods here, traveled here, and have family and friends here. My own family of origin in the United States is like that of many Americans—not much of a family. Americans do not stay very close to their families, geographically or emotionally, and that is a major mistake. I have long been looking for a home and a family, and the Philippines is the only place I have lived where people honestly seem to understand how important their families are. 

I am American and hard-headed. I am a teacher, but it takes me a long time to learn some things. But I’ve been trying, and your culture has been patient in trying to teach me. 

In the countries where I’ve lived and worked, all over the Middle East and Asia, it is Filipinos who do all the work and make everything happen. When I am working in a new company abroad, I seek out the Filipino staff when I need help getting something done, and done right. Your international reputation as employees is that you work hard, don’t complain, and are very capable. If all the Filipinos were to go home from the Middle East, the world would stop. Oil is the lifeblood of the world, but without Filipinos, the oil will not come from the ground, it will not be loaded onto the ships, and the ships will not sail.  The offices that make the deals and collect the payments will not even open in the morning. The schools will not have teachers, and, of course, the hospitals will have no staff. 

What I have seen, that many of you have not seen, is how your family members, the ones who are overseas Filipino workers, do not tell you much about how hard their lives actually are. OFWs are very often mistreated in other countries, at work and in their personal lives. You probably have not heard much about how they do all the work but are severely underpaid, because they know that the money they are earning must be sent home to you, who depend on them.  The OFWs are very strong people, perhaps the strongest I have ever seen. They have their pictures taken in front of nice shops and locations to post on Facebook so that you won’t worry about them. But every Pinoy I have ever met abroad misses his/her family very, very much. 

I often pity those of you who go to America. You see pictures of their houses and cars, but not what it took to get those things. We have nice things, too many things, in America, but we take on an incredible debt to get them, and the debt is lifelong.  America’s economy is based on debt. Very rarely is a house, car, nice piece of clothing, electronic appliance, and often even food, paid for.  We get them with credit, and this debt will take all of our lifetime to pay. That burden is true for anyone in America—the OFWs, those who are married to Americans, and the Americans themselves. 

Most of us allow the American Dream to become the American Trap. Some of you who go there make it back home, but you give up most of your lives before you do. Some of you who go there learn the very bad American habits of wanting too many things in your hands, and the result is that you live only to work, instead of working only to live. The things we own actually own us. That is the great mistake we Americans make in our lives. We live only to work, and we work only to buy more things that we don’t need.  We lose our lives in the process. 

I have sometimes tried to explain it like this: In America, our hands are full, but our hearts are empty.
You have many problems here, I understand that. Americans worry about having new cars, Filipinos worry about having enough food to eat. That’s an enormous difference. But do not envy us, because we should learn something from you. What I see is that even when your hands are empty, your hearts remain full.
I have many privileges in the countries where I work, because I am an expat. I do not deserve these things, but I have them. However, in every country I visit, I see that you are there also, taking care of your families, friends, bosses, and coworkers first, and yourselves last. And you have always taken care of me, in this country and in every other place where I have been. 

These are places where I have been very alone, very tired, very hungry, and very worried, but there have always been Filipinos in my offices, in the shops, in the restaurants, in the hospitals, everywhere, who smile at and take good care of me. I always try to let you know that I have lived and traveled in the Philippines and how much I like your country. I know that behind those smiles of yours, here and abroad, are many worries and problems. 

Please know that at least one of us expats has seen what you do for others and understands that you have a story behind your smiles. Know that at least one of us admires you, respects you, and thanks you for your sacrifices. Salamat po. Ingat lagi. Mahal ko kayong lahat. 

David H. Harwell, PhD, is a former professor and assistant dean in the United States who now travels and works abroad designing language training programs. He is a published author and a son of a retired news editor.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Kiong Hee Huat Tsai

Some weeks ago, my friends and I braved the crowded streets of Binondo Manila for our annual Chinese New Year tradition. For those who have read my previous posts about Binondo, you are more or less familiar with the Philippines' own Chinatown. Here are some pictures of Binondo's festivties

Since it's the year of the snake, 
 Snake balloons are scattered everywhere

While waiting for my friends who crowded the famous Eng Bee Tin store, I caught a dragon dance along the street.
Too bad because I failed to take a shot of the dragon's head. There were so many people around me that I can't even take a decent photo.

Weeks before the Chinese New Year, the entire street is full of vendors selling variety of lucky charms

From plastic gold items to fruits and vegetables
I never bothered to ask the relevance of each. 

The main reason why we visited Binondo is for these
 Shanghai Fried Rice

 Buttered Chicken

 Fried Spare Ribs

I failed to take photos of our other orders but it was another night of oily but happy overload :)

To redeem my glutton self, we had a long walk on the way to the jeepney station
Till the next Chinese New Year :)

Beautiful Sunday # 43 - Of food, aging and weight gain

Two words to describe myself as I'm typing this post TIRED and HEAVY :(  I would like to believe that these are just pre-menstrual syndrome and not a bitter admission of unhealthy aging. In a way, I feel that my body is calling me to return to my regular weekend sacrifice ..... jogging. Otherwise, I might wake up as a pathetic 200 lbs. Nooooo But seriously, someone has to always remind and slap me of that possibility. In that way, I can start disliking my Coke upsizes, Taco Bell's belly heavy meals, guilty cake slices, quarter pound burgers... I think I'm inducing myself to crave haha

For some, the past week was a "love" celebration. But for me, the entire week meant going home late because of some pasaway (hard headed, stubborn, lazy count all those negative adjectives) college kids. These kids really taught me to own buckets of bottomless patience. Editing papers and cramming with them. So after a long day at work, I always treated myself to a heavy and unhealthy dinner. Bad! Bad! Bad! Here are some of the weight gaining indulgences I made

Two slices of sweet mangoes from my Nanay and an order of cheap Shawarma from the food cart inside the train station. For those who are not familiar, Shawarma is a sandwich made of pita bread and combination of different meat slices. The meat used can be made of chicken, beef, goat, lamb, and sometimes, turkey. In my case, what I have is the regular beef with slices of onion, tomato, cucumber and spicy ranch dressing. Obviously, this heavy sandwich is not something you should take if you have weight related problems like me.

On the night of Valentine's Day, I was so tired after having my evening classes. So before I headed home, I treated myself to this

California Maki from Teriyaki Boy and Figaro's Red Velvet cake to console the single self. :-D I finished the entire set of Maki by myself because of tirednesssss (What a great and lame excuse).

Figaro's Red Velvet cake is my newest favorite. I took detailed photos of the red velvet cake but (signs of aging) I can't find the file in my hard drive.

In a totally unrelated topic, I discovered this

black soap from Watsons. You know that I'm no beauty expert. In like manner that I'm not the best person to maintain a beauty regimen. But since my face is showing some signs of advanced aging, fine lines and dark circles around my eyes, I pressed the alarm button on. In effect, my trips to Watsons have become more frequent. I'm particularly searching for more organic beauty products that don't really wreck my super slim budget ;)

Ironically this black soap claims to whiten those dark areas in my face (Hello dark circles in my eyes! Meet your enemy)
Let's see if this organic being will work for me. I'll try to make a review but no, I'm not turning to a beauty blogger. :)

What are some beautiful things that made your week?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

More of the Heart in Batangas

As promised, here's the continuation of my post for Casa Corazon.

Casa Corazon is more than a resort away from the city. It has an ancestral home, aviary and surprisingly, a car and motorbike museum. Nature, vintage stuff and those toys for the big boys? It doesn't sound like the ideal collections that match, but Casa Corazon made it happen. The pictures will tell you what to expect in Casa Corazon.

Casa Corazon has an extended and well-maintained garden.  

One thing we noticed about Casa Corazon is the well maintained lawns and trimmed plants. It looks like each plant is given its own regular hair cut. :-)

Can you see the houses that enclose the garden? Each house contains the owner's marvelous collections. The next pictures will give your eyes a treat of the owner's EXPENSIVE collections.
This was already enough to mesmerize me. 

The room is quite big but it tends to look smaller because of the owner's overflowing collections.

Aside from motorbikes, the owner has other interesting pieces too
An old candy machine!

On the second house, another set of collections amazed us

Even the floor has a theme.
 Were you already amazed? There's more to come! Take a look at the next photos

Woot! Woot! Look what do we have here.

A room full of BMW bikes! According to some of my reliable male colleagues, some of the bikes existed even before WWII. How about that? 

This BMW with side car existed way before my parents were born.

The fact that it's BMW, it's already expensive. I can imagine the thousands to millions of money spent to transport this piece of priceless treasure here.

I've never seen a BMW in orange.

Hey handsome! Haha

Wish I have male readers who can better explain these expensive bikes

Bike overload? We're not done yet. Let's move on to the vintage cars.

 Again, I don't have any idea about each piece haha

The second floor features different sports equipments and

 another breathtaking view.
Still part of the owner's property, how about that?

I thought Casa Corazon ends in these garden and museum. There's another gate that led us to another surprise.
Can you see the mansion up there? I believe this is where the owner usually stays.

On the right side of the gate is this man made waterfall and pond

The gate will lead you to a long trail.
This photo is from Casa Corazon's site
The trail ends in a hill that provides a spectacular view of the owner's property and the shores of Batangas.

Would you like to own and spent your retirement years to this place?

Casa Corazon also boasts its own aviary. However, I failed to take decent photos of the owner's rare collection. I had issues with the wire of their cages. Hence, these lousy pictures.

That's it for my blog post for Casa Corazon.

Hopefully, I'll discover another place away from the city. Till my next travel adventure :-)