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Sending Bitcoin to Coins.ph

Sending Bitcoin to Coins.ph

I’ve written how easy it is to buy and sell Bitcoin using Coins.ph.

The service is also a great way to pay your bills. It offers all the mainstays such as Globe, Skycable, Meralco, Maynilad, Manila Water, etc.

If anyone wants to send me BTC here’s my address!

Recently though I had a simple question regarding sending Bitcoin to Coins.ph and I was disappointed that their customer service couldn’t give me a straight answer.

My question was if I send Bitcoin to my Coins.ph Bitcoin wallet how much do I receive?

This question came about because I noticed at the bottom of the wallet prompt there’s a discussion on the amount I send being “automatically converted.” Specifically, “Bitcoin sent to this address will be automatically converted to a specific Bitcoin Wallet value, using the current coins.ph sell rate.” Based on that text, which you can see in the screenshot, it would seem that Bitcoin is automatically converted to PHP.

I did not want that. I wanted my Bitcoin to remain as Bitcoin. Moreover I wanted to make sure that I would get the full amount of Bitcoin that I sent to my Coins.ph Bitcoin wallet (less of course the transfer fee).

So I asked, if I send .1 Bitcoin to my Bitcoin Wallet Address, how much Bitcoin will actually be credited to my wallet address?

All in all 5 different customer service reps took turns handling my question and none of them could give me a straight answer.

The answer would vacillate between the Bitcoin would automatically be converted to PHP or the Bitcoin would arrive in my Coins.ph wallet just fine. After a bit of back and forth it was clear I would not be getting a straight answer so I decided to just try it out for myself.

So, if you’re sending Bitcoin to your Coins.ph Bitcoin wallet then rest assured you will be credited the entire amount (less transfer fees). I sent .49BTC (yes I know the sign for Bitcoin is XBT but I’m old school) and I received .49 BTC.

Not sure though why customer service couldn’t give me a straight answer.

This is also my first occasion to use Coins.ph, “cash out” option where some of the pesos I have with them is deposited into an account I specify.

I’ll write tomorrow on my experience with cashing out.

 

 

Review: Mober

Review: Mober

Mober is like Uber for delivery vans/trucks. Now you don’t need a delivery van every day but you’d be surprised how often this need does arise.

I tried Mober out a couple of months ago when I had to transport a heavy wooden dining set (table and 8 chairs) from Magallanes village (in Makati) to San Antonio village (also in Makati). As the dining set would not fit into any of the vehicles I had on hand, I had to look for alternative means of transport.

If you’ve used any ride hailing app (eg. Uber or Grab) then you are familiar with how to use Mober. When I used the app I was skeptical that there would be a delivery truck which would respond to my request at all. It turned out though that a truck responded quite quickly.

I would find out later that while independent trucks can sign up to offer their services through Mober (again, like Uber), a lot of Mober’s fleet is currently provided by the company itself. It’s as if Uber bought cars and paid people to drive them around.

This is good in the short term for Mober as curious customers (like me) are assured that there will be vans/trucks waiting to fulfill their order. Also having the trucks ply the roads is great for marketing, I discovered Mober after seeing one of their trucks along EDSA. In the long term though the company can’t rely on itself to keep buying trucks to meet the demand. It will need to sign up independent trucks/vans if it wants to grow.

Back to the transit of my dining set. I met the Mober van outside Magallanes without any problems and ushered them into the village. For the actual loading of the furniture the Mober guys were ready with ropes and assorted paraphernalia to keep the items secure inside the van. The Mober guys were young and a little inexperienced, they had to think for a bit on how to get everything inside the van. That wasn’t a big deal but I think an experienced crew would have fitted everything in quicker.

After a short drive we reached our destination, the furniture was unpacked and the Mober guys brought it inside the house.

Overall the experience went much smoother than I expected. Admittedly the cost was a bit pricey. It was around PHP3,100 for a journey of less than 9KM. You definitely do not want to use Mober for long distances (eg. Metro Manila to Laguna or Pampanga, or even Makati to Alabang for that matter).

But if your transit needs are of a short distance, and you don’t mind paying a premium, Mober isn’t a bad choice.

Review: Vina Trang Restaurant San Antonio Village Makati

Review: Vina Trang Restaurant San Antonio Village Makati

There are a ton of restaurants in and around San Antonio Village. As I have moved closer to the area now I’ve been exploring them slowly. A lot of them are hole in the wall types without any pretensions. Generally I’m hopeful about these places as the owners can concentrate on the food instead of being trendy.

Generally a meal for 2 will run you around PHP500-600.

So, Vina Trang, as you might have guessed from the name, serves Vietnamese food. (Google map here.) The restaurant is bare but presentable. Service was good, speedy without any fuss.

Unfortunately though the food was ordinary. I had a bowl of pho and spring rolls. There wasn’t anything terribly wrong with either dish but nothing really made them stand out either. I can imagine coming here once in a blue moon if I just really need a pho fix.

Another review I read mentioned that they make their own bread. I wasn’t able to try the bread so I can’t comment on that but do try it if you are at Vina Trang.

I do have to mention that we saw a rodent scurrying around the dining area when we ate there. We weren’t put off but it (hole in the wall remember) but squeamish diners may want to stay away.

Filling up the Epson L220 with ink

Filling up the Epson L220 with ink

In recent years the trend for printers has been to move away from cartridge based ink replacement to a tank system. The customer literally has to fill up the tank with a bottle of ink.

The upside supposedly for the consumer is that tank based printers are more frugal with the ink, allowing more pages printed and resulting in overall less cost for consumer. (Of course you need to be a heavy user before you see any savings.)

My first experience with a tank based printer is Epson’s L220. It has 4 tanks which require 4 different colors of ink. Most cartridge based systems rely on just replacing 2 cartridges, a black and a colored cartridge.

The print quality of the L220 is pretty run of the mill. To be fair it is priced on the lower end of the market. Print quality is adequate, you buy the L220 to print documents, not to print photos or other high resolution works.

The scanner of the L220 is also pretty standard, it gets the job done.

I was not expecting though that putting ink in a tank based system would be a bit messy. The ink is very much a liquid (not of a viscous quality which would be easier to control) and you have to watch out for the splatter, both on yourself and on the innards of the printer. Admittedly I’m not the neatest when it comes to these things but I tried to be careful nonetheless. My care was in vain though as I still got ink on my hands.

Ink in a cartridge based printer is certainly easier to replace. However the added variable of having to pour ink into a tank based printer is at most a minor annoyance and if the cost of printing on these printers is really cheaper then having to deal with some ink splatter is definitely be worth it.

 

Review: Coins.ph

Review: Coins.ph

I’ve written before how much easier it is now to buy Bitcoin in the Philippines.

In my quest to explore all the local options for dealing in Bitcoin I signed up to Coins.ph. As a platform for Bitcoin trading, Coins.ph is fast, convenient and trustworthy. Moreover it has the best BTC/XTC prices I’ve seen in the local market. But Coins.ph is more than just a Bitcoin trading platform. In fact, based on the feature set it currently has, it would be accurate to say it aspires to be the Paypal of the Philippines.

Here’s my experience in kicking the tires of the site’s various offerings.

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Best Keyless Locks for the Home

Best Keyless Locks for the Home

If you browse around my blog you know I talk a lot about my business, which is an Airbnb style apartment rental in Manila. To enhance security and convenience we’ve installed keyless locks (ie. locks with an electronic keypad) in all of our apartments.

As it turns out many people are interested in keyless locks, I’ve even had a guest or two ask me where I bought them. A Quora post discussing their use also garnered a few views.

We’ve experimented with 3 different keyless locks over the years and I’ll list them down from best to least recommended. (Note that I can’t comment on how easy it was to install these things, I had our maintenance chief do it. He had no complaints though so I guess all of them are relatively easy to install.)

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Review: Joker.com Domain Registrar

Review: Joker.com Domain Registrar

This will be a quick review as I really have no complaints about Joker.j_logo

I’ve used Joker since 2010 to register most of my sites (except for the PH domains which are under a separate registrar) and I’ve had no reason for complaint.

The ordering process is straightforward and the interface to manage your domains is pretty self explanatory as well.

There are some reviews online complaining about Joker. I’ve never had reason to contact their customer service so I can’t speak to that. But the fact that I haven’t had to contact them even after using their services for 6 years means that they Joker is a reliable and straight forward domain registrar.

So, I have no complaints, I’d recommend them if you’re looking to register a domain.

(I do wonder why they chose the name Joker for a web registrar. Still, I guess that makes as much sense as GoDaddy.)

Review: Puregold Delivery Service

Review: Puregold Delivery Service

IMG_20160504_134759031As Alcoves has expanded over the years the quantity of supplies we need has of course also grown.

The most difficult to buy is the bottled water, heavy and bulky, which makes it difficult to transport from the store.

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Review: Getting a housing loan from BPI

Review: Getting a housing loan from BPI

I’m a fan of BPI. I think the bank tries to offer innovative products (eg. one of the first, if not the first, to introduce internet banking in the Philippines) and their service is generally good. For my business I even use a BPI mobilePOS.

Recently though I got a housing loan from BPI and unfortunately it wasn’t smooth sailing. This was surprising as loans are  traditional bank business and you’d think BPI would have such a process optimized for speed and convenience while at the same time taking the necessary safeguards that the bank won’t lose money.bpi logo

It took forever to get the loan and the bank insisted we secure documents which were redundant.

The facts: My fiancee and I bought a piece of land with an existing townhouse on it. We borrowed some money from my family in order to afford the purchase. Complete payment was made and the title was transferred. The sale went smoothly, we had no problems with the seller.

After the sale we approached BPI and said we wanted to get a mortgage on our property. We would use the loan proceeds to pay back some of the money we owed to my family. I thought the mortgage would be a relatively simple thing as we had all the documents necessary to prove our ownership:

  1. Title of the property
  2. Certificate Authorizing Registration (CAR) from the BIR – The CAR basically says that all the necessary taxes have been paid on the sale and title can be transferred from the sellers to the buyers (ie. me and my fiancee). Title will not be transferred without a CAR.
  3. Real property tax (RPT) receipts from the local government unit proving that the RPT for 2016 has been paid. The title would also have not been transferred if there were still outstanding RPT due on the property.
  4. CENOMAR – Certificate of no marriage from the NSO that me and my fiancee are not married

propertiesSo, we apply for a real estate mortgage from BPI. The initial terms were for a loan amount of 6 million, with a loan period of 10 years at an interest rate of 5.8%. (Eventually BPI lent us less than this but at an interest rate of 5% for the first 3 years, we lucked out as they were having a promo at the time.)

First annoyance, several phone calls were made to me to verify the information I had submitted in the loan application. Once or twice is fine but I must have received 5 phone calls all asking me the same thing. The worst part is that the person calling to verify basic information had the wrong information! For example, one of the callers did not understand that we had already bought the property, she thought we were borrowing in order to be able to buy the property.

Eventually, BPI finally decides it has enough information (which it already had from when I first filled up their initial form, if they just bothered to read what they made me full up) and dispatches an assessor to the property. I meet the assessor at the house, everything is fine, he does his job and goes.

Afterwards I get an email from the loan officer handling the transaction. The loan has been approved. Great, I arrange to meet her at a BPI branch for the signing.

Second annoyance, when I get to the bank branch I find out that the loan officer still needs more documents from us before the loan can be processed. (Why didn’t she just tell me this over email instead of having me go to the branch.) Moreover the documents I was being asked to supply were redundant. As I explained above I already had sufficient documents to prove clearly my title to the property. Yet BPI still asked me for, among others, proof of full payment to the seller as well a certified true copy of the cancelled title.

I had already presented to BPI the original deed of sale where the seller acknowledged receiving full payment. Also I had presented the CAR from BIR authorizing registration of the transfer of title. With these 2 documents basically everything else they asked for was redundant.

When I complained I got the usual run around that it was bank policy, there was nothing they could do, it was BSP policy; it was the RDO’s policy, etc.

In the Philippines having a clean title in your hand is apparently not enough proof that you own that property.

Red tape - the bane of everyone.
Red tape – the bane of everyone.

We should just throw the whole Torrens systems out if everyone else keeps requiring other things to be presented along with the title.

Third annoyance, since I was speaking to my loan officer in person at this point, I asked a question about the computation of the loan. She couldn’t answer me. (To be fair after this meeting she did check and got back to me on my question. It doesn’t inspire confidence though when your loan officer can’t answer how your loan was computed.)

Fourth annoyance, we were asked to sign forms that were missing key pieces of information, such as the expiry date of the loan being offered to us. To be fair the documents we were signing were standard contracts and big companies often leave many portions of these standard contracts blank (eg. when you sign up to buy a condo from a developer). Still, this should not be standard practice. The documents I signed were incomplete with the missing information only being supplied verbally by my loan officer. Yes, I’m a chump though and signed the documents anyway as if I didn’t sign them there was no way for the loan to move forward.

Fifth annoyance, I handed over original copies of my real property tax receipts as well as the real property tax assessments. I specifically asked my loan officer if I would be getting these back (they’re important when you have to pay the real property tax at the start of the year). She assured me I would get them back. As it turns out I did not get them back when the loan was finally released. I was promised something and instead got the exact opposite. Gosh.

Finally, the process took much longer than I thought.  I inquired about a bank loan in October 2015, I finally received the loan in May 2016. Granted the delay in the first 3-4 months was not the bank’s fault, neither was it mine. The transfer of title was delayed because BIR got the assessed value wrong and then Register of Deeds wanted to weigh in on it so it took a couple of months for the bureaucracy to correct its mistake. Still, that it still took 5 months in 2016 to get the loan through is ridiculous.

I’ve gone on at length about this because in a way I do feel aggrieved that BPI was such a pain in the ass to get a loan from. I don’t think I’m entitled to a loan but I do think once I’ve established that I’m the rightful owner of the property to be mortgaged, that I have the capacity to pay for said mortgage, that the bank is interested in granting me said loan; then at that point I don’t think it’s too much to ask as a customer that my case be dealt with efficiently without making me jump through hoop after hoop after hoop.

Again, I’m a fan of BPI. I’ve had an account with them since I was a teenager. All of my primary accounts are with them. But honestly after this experience if ever I needed a loan in the future I would seriously consider other banks.

Review: Cote Resort Baler Aurora

Review: Cote Resort Baler Aurora

A friend recommended Cote Resort in Baler Aurora as an out of the way place to unwind. The resort only has 7 rooms and the beach isn’t often visited by tourists so you won’t need to worry about fending off vendors or tripping over people like in Boracay.

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Admittedly the price is a bit steep, slightly above PHP11,000 a night (their site gives you an initial quote of PHP7,500 but I guess with tax and other add ons the price jumps up) but overall I find it to be a worthwhile experience.

Some aspects of Cote which I enjoyed:

  1. Seclusion – The beach and resort were as advertised; with nary a soul in sight. Perfect if you just want to chat with the significant other you brought along on the trip, or play volleyball or frisbee on the beach with friends, or simply read in a hammock.IMG_4895
  2. Free surfing lessons – I tried surfing out for the first time and enjoyed it. My girlfriend and I each had our own instructor and had the beach to ourselves so we could wipe out without any embarrassment.IMG_4924
  3. Free use of ATV – Also my first time to drive an ATV. These looked a bit small but they still puttered along nicely.IMG_4868
  4. Excellent staff – Staff were solicitous but not obtrusive. Everyone was very polite and helpful. We had 2 bonfires in the 1 night we were there, 1 on the beach and 1 in the central pit which all the rooms are circled around.IMG_4886
  5. Spacious rooms – I had my doubts on the design of their cabins (retrofitted shipping containers) but the insides were spacious and comfortable.

    The room really looks better in real life, I'm just not a good shot with a camera.
    The room really looks better in real life, I’m just not a good shot with a camera.
  6. Everything is included in the price – Aside from everything mentioned above, meals are already included in the price as well.

I had a good time and would definitely go back to Cote for a quick get away.

(The only downside of the trip was the horrible Sunday traffic on NLEX returning to Manila. According to my friend this is the normal state of traffic on NLEX on a Sunday. Crazy.)

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