For people moving to the Philippines or families dependent on relatives remitting money home while working abroad, one of the first priority purchases is property. One of the primary benefits of earning money abroad is the increased buying power one has when back home. Buying a “house and lot” is an important foundation for any family and, for many, the security and relative peace afforded by a gated subdivision are among the necessities when deciding where to settle down.
Walking into any real estate firm in Bacolod City or meeting with agents set up at the local malls handing out flyers, as with any kind of sale, potential buyers are told of all the amazing features available to residents; and the frills they are selling are mostly true (on paper).
Most gated communities promote their properties as safe environments, with security manning the area around the clock; convenient as they offer various amenities; and clean, with rules regarding how residents are expected to conduct themselves along with regular maintenance.
There are some communities that do a very good job with maintaining all the promises made to buyers, but there are many more that fail to live up to their expectations – often times it’s a case where the situation has deteriorated and residents have already lived there too long to do anything about their diminishing living arrangement.
Such is the case with one local subdivision that employs a security team that is professional, abides by the rules, and ensures residents are greeted with a friendly salute; but there are many more subdivisions that started out that way and have since declined as the years have gone by.
In some instances, the subdivision gets rid of their existing security team and goes with a cheaper option; while management may be saving money, residents are left with security guards that are too busy socializing or being buttered up by tricycle operators and, as a result, do the exact opposite of their profession and make the area less safe with their lax demeanor; they no longer greet residents when they enter and just open the gate, letting anybody and everybody pass through.
Subdivisions often restrict certain vehicles to ensure the roads within the community are clear and navigable. Another subdivision used to ban the entry of tricycles and pedicabs but has since relaxed nearly all those rules as such vehicles are often seen driving in and out, without a second glance from security.
Tricycles also cause congestion at the entrance gates as they wait for potential passengers and instead of waiting to the side, they idle right in the face of the gate – all done in front of the security guards. That same subdivision also offers exits on both sides of the property, which allow residents two options when leaving. Security, with their hands-off approach, often allows the subdivision’s primary artery to be exploited by random drivers looking for a shortcut.
As with any neighborhood, residents are expected to respect their neighbors’ space and should not be intruding on another person’s property. Many subdivisions place restrictions on where one can park vehicles, but some, despite sending notices directing residents to refrain from parking their vehicles on other people’s property, as with the laws and ordinances passed by the local and national government, it’s all for show with no actual implementation. Under normal circumstances, one would not park their vehicle at another person’s house or on their lawn – obviously, one cannot park their car at another person’s home – yet, when it comes to some subdivision residents, they lack a sense of respect and common sense when it comes to other people’s property.
With the city often touting the number of property developers looking at Bacolod City to establish new residential communities, one must also see what is happening to some of these places as the years pass. What begins as a respectable establishment that offers residents a devoted security team, convenient services, and a clean environment often deteriorate into a free-for-fall, where security no longer conducts themselves professionally, properties charge residents for certain facilities despite paying a homeowner’s fee, and landscaping and regular maintenance are disregarded.
Given the reality of so many of these communities in decay, after starting off with such promise, the “progress” the city government loves flaunting, with unending photo opportunities of officials wearing hardhats and posing during groundbreakings, is looking like a big bubble.
With properties still being developed and an active market offering plenty of potential buyers, after a while, once people see how many of these properties hyped as pristine gated communities end up looking like any rundown neighborhood in the city, just with a wall around it and unmanned security gate at the entrance, buyers will start looking elsewhere – some place where subdivisions are managed properly./WDJ