IN the middle of a meeting, the irrepressible Ms. HP broke the news that the houses in a gated village south of the Pasig were now going for P200 million to P300 million each, up from P45-50 million.
The retired judge in the room spoke up, “Inflation?”
The lawyer said, “In a village where some areas get flooded when it rains?”
I pretended to venture an answer, “Chinese from the mainland are buying!”
Ms. HP is familiar with property prices. She buys and sells houses, she builds them to rent them out. She did not offer an explanation for the astronomical jump in prices – the waiter had just placed her salmon-head sinigang on her placemat.
If my pretend answer is anywhere near being a shade of correct, I can only charge it to what I’ve been reading in the newspapers. Residential houses, condominiums, office spaces are being snapped up by a wave of Mainlanders who are convinced that it’s more fun to live, work, and play in the Philippines. The other side of this boom in the property market is good for thousands of our people who have been complaining of a lack of job opportunities.
The Chinese visitors, be they long-staying tourists or professionals with working visas, need to hire, pronto, squads of cooks, drivers, messengers, janitors, babysitters, translators, and what-have-you’s that we have no need for or have not imagined for ourselves. A certain law firm has struck gold, having found a lore of Chinese clients who need lawyers to take care of their papers for documentation of every kind, licenses, permits, contracts, utility services, etc.
Their helpers’ salaries may not be in dollars like those of their OFW cousins, but the law of supply and demand has reached them. They can now demand higher, better pay. Two of my friends who recently lost their housemaids suspect that their former “kasambahay” have found greener pastures with employers from China who are ready to pay more.
Anyway, the risks are not the same as those faced by their OFW friends. If the foreign employer turns out to be illegal, imperfect, or ignorant of Philippine laws and customs, good manners, they can always quit and escape, no need to demand the return of their passport.