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How to File a Refund From Your Real Property Developer

Having experienced a hard-time looking for resources and information on how to go about the proper process of filing a refund, and if such action merits my decision to do so, I decided to blog about it and put this un-related topic for reference of those who, like me, delved into a real property investment that turned unfavorable to your part or simply, due to circumstances brought about by the developer (take note of this).

Real Estate (image from: Blue Ribbon Real Estate)

As a backgrounder, me and my brother partnered together around November, 2011 to purchase in installment a combined unit at one of the upcoming high-rise Condominium in Quezon City, claimed as the first "Sports Condominium" in the Philippines. The developer has earned our trust for having completed already a number of low-cost projects. We were also convinced as it suited our location preference, payment option, living features, and turn-over period (May, 2015) enough for us to build up funds for the transfer/miscellaneous fees before our monthly equity begins.

After completing our reservation and documentary requirements, we've patiently waited and observed the construction progress... for 2-years... and it was very slow until it already seemed like the construction totally halted. Our agent became hard to reach also with our SMS getting no replies and calls un-answered. When he finally kept in touch with us, we only get frustrated with his excuses as to why he wasn't able to attend to our messages and calls (but was very much available when he was still trying to convince us). He gave us many excuses, until at the turn of 1st quarter of 2014, he finally admitted to us that the delay was because their contractors were made to swiftly finish the then on-going construction of a much bigger project in Bulacan -- Ciudad de Victoria -- thus favoring just a single project out of the other pending projects being paid by many of their clients in the Metro.

Looking at the situation, we are at a disadvantage and are no longer happy with this venture. Add to it that during this time, 3-years after closing our deal, the construction progress was still at the 3rd-floor. So thinking hard about it, we've finally decided to end our contract and ask for a total refund. This decision did not came easy as we've had a lot of fears and disinformation coming -- that we will not be able to get our hard-earned money back, or if luck comes with us, only up to a maximum 50% of our payments will be returned as stipulated under Republic Act 6552 (RA 6552) - Realty Installment Buyer Protective Act (26Aug1972) or much popular as the "Maceda Law".

That's what most of the real estate agents are telling us and to other misinformed people who had the same predicament as us. But that policy for me felt so unfair for buyers who have faithfully kept their part of the bargain and obligations on the contract. Luckily, by digging and scouring the internet with all the search keywords I can think of, I've chanced upon a "somewhat" lesser known rule of law under Presidential Decree 957 (PD 957) - Subdivision and Condominium Buyers Protective Decree (12July1976). You may read the specifics at section 23-24 under Title IV of the decree.

I have learned that the difference, and probably short explanation between these two policies is what kind of protection does a buyer get according to who's at fault or who failed from their obligation. Under RA6552, the buyer gets certain refund when they are no longer able to continue paying their installments (buyer is at fault); while in PD957, the buyer gets full refund when the developer failed to complete the development or deliver the project within the required period. You may read more about the differences of these two from this link.

Having our fears armed with that new found information, we proceeded with the refund process beginning with a series of calls, intent letter, another follow-up call, and finally a complaint to the office of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) in Diliman, Quezon City.

Okay, just for a disclaimer, I am not in any way claiming to be expert in any of these 2 laws or any other law governing the real estate rights of buyer or developer. All the information and steps posted here were all based on our own experience and that which applied to our situation. Study your own circumstances and the protective act that may apply to you and follow according to your understanding and discernment.

So to make it easy, below are the steps on how to file and request for payment refunds from a real property developer under P.D. 957. The steps we've taken were also guided and inspired by another buyer which you may find at this forum.

1. Request for your latest Statement of Account (SOA) from the accounting department of the developer's office. This SOA will be used to prove your total payments, outstanding balance, if there are penalties, and if your account is still active.

2. Request for a Certification from HLURB or copy of License to Sell (LTS) (if you don't have one yet) that will prove that a developer is current with its obligations with the government requirements. In our case, the developer was not issued with an LTS on the date of our document signing, nor even during the period of filing our request for refund. We paid Php 288.00 for this Certification.

3. Submit a Refund Letter request to the developer indicating your intent and reason of such action. Attach those pertinent documents in steps 1 and 2. Don't forget to get a receiving copy, and contact person to whom you can follow-up.

4. Give them 3- to 5-days after receipt of your letter to call you back. Follow-up every now and then by calling the person in-charge about the progress of your request.

5. Submit a Follow-up Letter to the developer if there's no valuable feedback yet. Indicate on your letter that you will be filing a complaint at HLURB when there's still no action from their part is taken. Attach your original refund request letter, the original copy of all the ORs, and photocopy of the Contract to Sell (CTS).

Okay, although these are the initial steps that we took, I think you may directly file your complaint to HLURB. I just decided to follow these steps for hopes that the request can be settled sooner with the developer without going thru the once I thought "hassle" steps in dealing under any government office. I was wrong though as our transactions with HLURB went smooth without any red tape. So if you choose not to follow the steps above, you may proceed below:

6. Submit a Complaint Letter to HLURB office in-charge in the area of the project. You may attach the letters you've previously submitted to the developer. Our complaint letter took 2-pages long as I've detailed our purchase history and it also entailed a paragraph of drama about our having a "dream property".

7. Fill-up the "Request for Assistance" form from HLURB. While writing on this form, I realized that you only need a single page complaint letter as this form from HLURB is where you will put most of the information and facts about your complaint.

Note: there was not any payments made or asked by the HLURB office from this process, nor from the succeeding processes.

8. Wait for notice of hearing/conference from HLURB. We received our notice 2-weeks after filing our complaint. The notice though was issued 7-days from the date of our complaint letter.

9. Appear at the hearing date and place stated from HLURB's notice. From hereon, all the succeeding steps will be based according to the results of your conciliation or settlement between you and the developer. The HLURB will act as the arbiter/mediator and will take note of the minutes of the conference.

10. Once all the series of hearing is done, claim your refund. It took us two conciliation meetings/hearings which were scheduled 1-month apart before we were able to agree on each of our terms.

Our term was to ask for full refund including the reservation fee and interests (which were not indicated as we don't know where to base the interest rate). The developer's lawyer told us that the reservation fee may not be refunded anymore if we wish to get the refund as soon as possible. Their soonest timeline for encashing of the cheques were scheduled 5-months after in three equally divided amount which are also dated 1-month apart each. While if we insist with refunding the reservation fee, the cheques may get re-scheduled for another month or two since they still have to defend and present that term to the board and other blah, blah!

We just agreed to the lawyer's term accepting the fact that we will no longer be able to get our reservation payments. A 3rd and last conference was scheduled a month after to receive the cheques. When we finally claimed our cheques, we were surprised that the first cheque was dated 1-month earlier than the previously agreed schedule. But instead of only three equally-amount cheques, there were 5 cheques already, with total amount now including the reservation fees. The result came out still amenable as we've received 100% refund of our amortization payments, except the earned interests and lost time (of course).

From the date of our first letter, it took 3-months before we were able to get the attention of the developer, additional 2-months before we got hold of the refund cheques, plus 2-months before the first schedule of cheque encashment, and final 5-months to complete the cheque encashments. All in all, it took 1-year to complete the refund process, or a total lost investment time of 4-years from the date of our contract.

Investing on a property is not that easy as it seems, there are laws and regulations that we have to know and be armed at. These information may not be readily available just by agreeing with your agent. I've learned that we also have to ask a lot of questions, even if you think that the agent may not be able to answer it. Leave those questions for them as their assignment to you. As a piece of advise, it is okay to trust some not-so-famous developers, just make sure that they have complied with the government requirements and that they are still able to deliver new projects. But for peace of mind, it is always best to trust those with good track of record already.

Sample Refund Request Letter
Sample Refund Request Follow-up Letter

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Lakbay2Love - A First Biking Feature Film

We don't normally see local movies that features an advocacy, much more about our environment from protection, preservation, to the nurturing, and to re-building those that have already lost its gem.

When I first heard the movie title Lakbay2Love around November last year, I wrongly judged it as another movie genre with a predictable ending of "...and they found each other and lived happily ever-afer..." story. My judgment didn't end there as when I saw the trailer, I dismissed it again as a movie revolving just about love but masked under the hood of biking with the same predictable ending.

Dennis Trillo, Solenn Heussaff, and the Firefly brigade members during Lakbay2Love's Outdoor premier at UP Diliman

I am not much of a movie-goer but I also admit that I seldom watch our local movies aside from those with social relevance such as Juana C the Movie and Erik Matti's OTJ.

Taking back my negative judgments of Lakbay2Love, it defied my stereotype judgment about our local movies. It still has the love story around it yet it is not filled with so much cheesiness and corny lines. The movie's storyline is actually simple, with pivoting love-triangle between Solenn Heussaff (Lianne, videographer), Dennis Trillo (Jay-R, biker/forester), and Kit Thompson (ex-BF/biker). Mind you though as the ending is not what you might expect where the other guy went heart-broken and the other one winning the girl's heart at last!

The whole story was balanced between the journey of love and the joy of biking with some comedic touch from Ms. Patricia Ismael (Monday, Lianne's friend). It will definitely attract the attention of the millennial generation and make them stay at the same time to become aware about what's facing us with the destruction of our forests.

I've watched the movie during its outdoor premier last January 29 at the Ampitheater of the University of the Philippines, Diliman.

Bikers and other viewers at the Concert party before the movie premier

Spearheaded by UP bike share, the premier started with a bike ride around the academic oval led by Dennis Trillo and Solenn Heusaff together with the Firefly brigade members. Journalist Howie Severino who is still limping from his recent bike mishap was also present. The bike ride was followed by a concert from the UP Music Circle and other performers such as Joey Ayala, Gig Manila, ‘lil Noizy, The Ransom Collective, and Oh, Flamingo! Dennis and Solenn also serenaded us with their bike-version of the song "Overdrive" by Eraserheads.

Dennis Trillo and Solenn Heussaff singing their version of "Overdrive"

Different biking destinations in Luzon where also featured in this movie. The La Mesa Forest Reserve at Quirino Highway, in Quezon City; the blue zone and Roxas Loop at Timberland Heights, in San Mateo, Rizal; the Ten Commandments at Camp Sinai in Pintong Bukawe, also located at San Mateo, Rizal; Gungol Rock in Ampucao Ridge, Itogon, Benguet; Bzkleta Classic bikes in Parang, Marikina; the crowded streets in Quiapo, Manila; and several locations in Benguet featuring the Ifugao wooden scooters where our Forest-builder, environment advocate, Cordilleran-biker Mr. JP Alipio was also featured for a few seconds.

The most exciting part was the raffling of the three Trek bikes that were used in the movie by Solenn, Dennis, and Patricia. I think my luck was rubbed-off as I didn't win any of the three bikes, or any of the consolation raffle prizes that were drawn from the start until the end of the premier. The sadness though was augmented with a photo-op with Solenn Heussaff at the backstage.

Last photo-op with Solenn after raffling her Trek bike

Lakbay2Love catches both the attention of biking enthusiasts, the not-so-hopeful romantics, and environmentalists. While for people who are not into biking, or have grudge with bikers, I urge you to watch this movie and understand biking from this viewpoint.

Bikers don't just pedal their lives away because they don't have money to buy a 4-wheeled vehicle, but because of what it can do for the personal health and the zero-carbon footprint of biking. It is a movie where viewers will come to realize that the appreciation of nature must also come with the responsibility of taking care of our environment.

Director Ms. Ellen Marfil narrating what inspired her to do the film

Trip: Lakbay2Love as directed by Ms. Ellen Marfil under Erasto Films is considered the first biking-feature film in the Philippine Cinema, a first also in the "green-carpet" outdoor premier.

The movie will open in Cinemas tomorrow, February 3, 2016.

*Special thanks to Ms. Gay Domingo for the invitation.

Ifugao wooden scooter that were also used at the movie
1 of 10 pure metal Batavus delivery bikes around the Philippines w/rich features such as integrated rear-wheel lock, 3-speed internal hub, RFID security tag, and coaster-brake hubs
The UP bikes
Mr. Joey Ayala, whose bike was stolen long ago, sang his rendition of the Lupang Hinirang
Great young talents of The Ransom Collective - you should hear their piece along with Oh, Flamingo!, Gig Manila, and UP Music Circle

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Mornings with ActiveHealth + Upcoming 2016 Run United

Look how fast time flies! It's already the 7th year of the always anticipated running trilogy of the RunRio and Run United tandem, seventh year of helping runners achieve their goals and as each of the season ends, participants are able to exceed themselves and become a progressive athlete, all thanks to the long-running partnership between RunRio Inc. and Unilab ActiveHealth.

With fellow bloggers during the Mornings with ActiveHealth at UP Diliman (photo by: Rene "JazzRunner" Villarta)

It was a great welcoming year from Unilab during the Mornings with ActiveHealth that was held last January 23 at UP Diliman. Coming together are fellow Bloggers in the running community, where we started the day with a short yet quality training session led by Coach Rio dela Cruz composing with dynamic warm-up, running drills, and an easy 4.4-km run around the academic oval. It was followed afterwards with the unveiling of the 2016 Run United series, and a lecture and discussion about the Runner's trots where some bloggers also shared their personal training regimen.

Let me share to you some of the things that were discussed to us during our short morning gathering with the ActiveHealth team.

The Runner's Trots

Some of us are already familiar with the Runner's trots, or the Runner's diarrhea, also previously termed as the "gingerbread man" -- and why it was called such, I have actually no idea! Most of us, if not all, might have already experienced it once or twice in one of our runs, specially on a mid- or longer distance races, and it's not a pleasing experience even if we can hold it until the finish line.

Our guest oncology Doctor from Unilab also discussed to us how we can prevent this from occurring before, during, or even after a run, be it while on training or in a race. What causes it are also actually controllable and with solutions that are within our reach.

Because running is a high-impact activity, it causes our gastrointestinal tract distress which gives us the immediate urge to defecate, this is true specially to those who are just beginning to run. Our diet also plays an important role. During the Greenfield City Sunset Run way back in 2010, the carbonated hydration drink that was served on the hydration stations caused my stomach upset. Just after this morning's training session, my stomach was also in distress and what caused it is my now being lactose-intolerant from the Chuckie drink I gulped the night before.

So how do we prevent it? Proper training still plays an important role -- that is training ourselves to establish a bowel routine ahead before our big event; watching out for our diet to not introduce new foods (such as foods high in fiber) and/or beverages (carbonated drinks) specially on race day; you may eat foods that are naturally constipating such as banana, although for me banana sometimes causes my stomach to ache specially if that's the only food that I took in the morning.

For a much peaceful run, having a loperamide at hand or in your pocket can greatly ease the runner's trots as it slows the contractions of our intestine. I always do have a few pieces of loperamide Diatabs in the house and even in the office. In my long runs, I also bring a capsule or two just to be on the safe side.

But if all else fails, there's a downloadable prayer that you can chant while on the move.

Run United 2016 Series - the 7th RunRio Trilogy

The 1st leg of the Run United 2016 will take place on March 13, 2016 at the SM Mall of Asia, with the following distances:
  • 5K - *Php 750.00 (5:30 AM gunstart)
  • 10K - *Php 850.00 (5:00 AM gunstart)
  • 21K - *Php 950.00 (4:00 AM gunstart)

Online registration via RunRio has already started last January 23, 2016 and will end on February 21, 2016. In-store registration meanwhile which will end on February 29, 2016 is also ongoing at the following stores from 12:00nn to 8:00pm daily:
  1. Runnr Store BGC
  2. Runnr Store Trinoma
  3. Toby's Sports Robinson's Galleria
  4. Toby's Sports Mall of Asia

The Run United 2016 medals -- an after-sought collection will continue to carry that of last year's introduction of the elegant inter-locking design, with distinction on the markings of course. For me, I still love having these inter-locking medals that I can connect together with the previous RU2015 medals that I have so far collected. Just imagine it hanging at the entire length of your room's wall if this kind of design continues for all the succeeding Run United series!

This year's singlet and finisher's shirt collection still carries the brand and great quality of the ActiveHealth gear. Yet, now on a much lighter color and design that depicts this year's goal for Run United participants -- to have a crystal clear fitness journey be it either to become stronger, much faster, or even to start ditching the couch and get on to a daily routine of physical exercise.

2016 Run United singlets (L-R): RU1 singlet on the Manequin; Franc Ramon for the RU1 Finisher's shirt; Ms. Bards sporting the RUPM 2016 singlet; and CJ for the RU2 singlet

Aside from that, participants also have a much valued registration package with the three (3) different online bundle registration promo for this year's Run United series. For participants who wants to get a training plan from Coach Ani de Leon-Brown, there's also an option to upsize their registrations.

2016 Run United 1 Registration Inclusions:
  1. ActiveHealth Singlet with Chaf-Redux Technology
  2. Race Bib with D-tag
  3. ActiveHealth Ventilation Bag and Drinks
  4. Finishers’ Medal (21K only)
  5. Finishers’ Shirt (21K only)
*Add Php 100.00 on registration fee if you opt to have the ActiveHealth Kit, with the following inclusions:
  1. Exceed Yourself Training Plan by Coach Ani de Leon-Brown (to be sent by email)
  2. Personalized Race Bib
  3. Race Belt (for 21k runners only)
  4. FREE Sports Nutrition Solutions:
    • One (1) capsule of Enervon Activ – Daily for training to help built stamina
    • One (1) 40g pack of Enervon HP – After Work out for faster recovery
    • One (1) ActiveHealth Carbgel Banana flavor – during work out for sustained energy
Bundle Registration:

Kindly visit and/or for more details about the bundle registration and other registration update.

The ActiveHealth Community

We all know that ActiveHealth has gone through many developments since its conception, bringing to us the different sporting events that we are now religiously blocking on our calendars; nutrition needs for a well-rounded athlete; the quality gears from running jerseys to compressions; as well as the training needs that are also optionally packed in our registrations from certified Coaches. Soon, there will be more to be launched for both the running and multisport community!

In relation to this, most of us have already received an e-mail requesting us to update our ActiveHealth profile. I welcome these kind of requests as coming from an IT background, I know how important it is to have an updated and organized record. So if you have also received such e-mail, I encourage you to do the same and be updated about what's coming next from the ActiveHealth community!

Don't get left behind, it's just a few click and tap away from your keyboard!

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