Lantus is low-cost diabetes medication for low-income Filipinos

Low-cost diabetes medication for low-income Filipinos
By Walter Ang
June 30, 2009
Manila Bulletin

A new program that aims to deliver diabetes medication at a lower cost to low-income Filipinos was launched by pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis with the Institute for Studies on Diabetes Foundation (ISDF) of the University of the East-Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERMMMC).

Titled "Innovation for Life," the program created by Sanofi-Aventis specifically for patients in developing countries to allow increased access to Lantus, an injectible insulin glargine medication that helps control blood sugar levels in the body. The Philippines is the first country in the world where the program will be implemented.

Diabetes is one of the ten leading causes of death for millions of Filipinos. Estimates reveal that by 2025, about eight percent of the total Philippine population will be afflicted by the disease. Globally, diabetes is estimated to be the cause of six percent of deaths, amounting to 3.8 million lives lost every year.

Diabetes is characterized by increased blood sugar levels and is associated with long term health complications such as damage and failure of the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart. Diabetes occurs either when insulin (which controls sugar levels in the body) is not adequately produced by the pancreas or when the body cannot properly use insulin.

Lantus is injected only once a day as it releases insulin into the body over 24 hours. In the initial stages of Innovation for Life, the lowered-price Lantus vials will be made available to the patients of ISDF. Established in 1989, the foundation is the country's first research institute devoted to the study of diabetes mellitus and improvement of its treatment. Located in Marikina, it averages a hundred patients every Saturday.

Dr. Ricardo Fernando, ISDF founder, said, "We're happy that Sanofi-Aventis understands the difficulties and cost burden that patients face when coping with diabetes. Through the program, ISDF can help ensure that the greatest number of patients who are in need can now have access to diabetes health care."

Dr. Benedict Blayney, Sanofi-Aventis Asia Pacific Medical Affairs Vice President, noted that since diabetes is a life-long disease, the program is envisioned to provide low-cost medication to its recipients "for as long as they need it." The company projects that thousands of low-income patients will benefit from the program. After ISDF, Innovation for Life may possibly be implemented in government and military hospitals.

Also published online:
http://mb.com.ph/articles/208324/lowcost-diabetes-medication-lowincome-filipinos

The Medical City's live broadcasted spinal surgeries highlight medical convention

Live broadcasted spinal surgeries highlight medical convention 
By Walter Ang
June 30, 2009
Manila Bulletin

Spinal surgical procedures were performed simultaneously in The Medical City (TMC)'s operating rooms for this year's Operative Course in Spinal Surgery and broadcast live via streaming video to at least 150 Filipino and foreign participating orthopedic and spinal surgeons.

The procedures performed were used as teaching demonstrations of different techniques in spinal surgery involved in the treatment of traumatic, degenerative, infectious, neo-plastic spinal ailments, and spinal deformities. Co-organized by the Asia Pacific Orthopedic Association (APOA) and the Philippine Spine Society (PSS), the convention was moderated by a panel of the best spinal surgeons in the Asia Pacific region.

"This convention showcases TMC's world-class facilities and demonstrates our medical and technological expertise in providing advanced surgical solutions in handling complex orthopedic and spinal surgical procedures," said TMC Department of Orthopedics Chair Dr. Rafael Claudio.

TMC's orthopedic department has a complement of more than fifty consultants in seven subspecialties related to spine problems. The cameras used to broadcast the operations for this convention have the capability to be used in operations that need to be broadcasted abroad in case procedures may need the inputs of international doctors.

Claudio added that Filipinos living abroad and foreign patients who seek orthopedic treatment can come to TMC to avail of orthopedic and spinal surgical procedures that are at par with the world's best but at competitive costs. The convention organizers said international magazines have reported that the cost of spinal surgeries done in Manila can cost up to 80% less than procedures done abroad.

PSS president Dr. Antonio Sison said, "The convention was aimed at significantly adding to the knowledge of the participating surgeons and contributing to the capabilities of Filipino surgeons and to the actual field of spinal surgery in the Philippines." The convention included speakers from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and India.

TMC is a tertiary care hospital with over forty years experience and serves 40,000 in-patients and 380,000 out-patients annually. It has over 1,000 physicians who are established experts in their various fields of specialization. TMC is accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), the world's most prestigious accrediting body for international health care organizations.

Bikers raise awareness for the fight against cervical cancer

Bikers raise awareness for the fight against cervical cancer
By Walter Ang
June 16, 2009
Manila Bulletin

More than forty bikers completed a 500 kilometer tour that started in Alabang, Muntinlupa City and ended in Camarines Sur to raise awareness and funds for the fight against cervical cancer. The tour, titled "The Tour of Hope 2009: XXX Dare to Be Bold!" is on its second year and was able to raise over half a million pesos. All proceeds benefit the Cervical Cancer Prevention Network Program (Cecap).

Pledges were gathered for every kilometer ridden by bikers that included volunteers from David's Salon (the Philippine's first all-women multi-sport team), Polo Tri, and Candon. Noted personalities included interior designer Tessa Prieto-Valdez and husband-and-wife sports enthusiasts Ernie and Geena Lopez, who is a champion wakeboarder. The first Tour of Hope in the Philippines was held last year with a route that started in Vigan and ended in Subic with more than P300,000 raised.

Cervical cancer is the second most common women's cancer worldwide, with 500,000 new cases and 250,000 deaths reported each year. Over 80% of cases occur in developing countries like the Philippines where it is ranked as the second most common cancer afflicting Filipino women. Every two minutes, one woman dies of cervical cancer around the world. In the Philippines, ten women die every day of this disease.

Cecap brings together health organizations, both in the government and private sectors, and other concerned local and international groups, in a concerted effort to eradicate cervical cancer. Cecap uses a comprehensive approach in combating this disease: advocating proper education about prevention through healthy living and providing quality cervical cancer services such as research, vaccination, counseling, screening, and treatment.

The tour aims to let more women know that cervical cancer is actually preventable through vaccination and treatable if diagnosed early. To this end, Cecap doctors conducted lay lectures at all the tour stops, namely, Tagaytay, Lipa, Lucena, Daet, Camarines Norte, Naga, and Camarines Sur. This year scored over 1,000 total attendees to its lectures.

Cecap advocates vaccination against cervical cancer. Studies have shown that one of the causes of cervical cancer are certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Vaccination options are available like GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix vaccine which provides at least six and a half years' worth of protection for women against the two most common cancer-causing HPV strains (HPV types 16 and 18) and twelve other cancer-causing HPV strains. HPV types 16 and 18 are responsible for over 70 percent of cervical cancer cases in Asia Pacific.

Oncologist-gynecologist Dr. Cecilia Ladines-Llave, Cecap director and UP-PGH Cancer Institute chair, stressed that a woman who is not screened for cervical cancer is five times at risk for developing this disease.

Part of Cecap's efforts also goes toward supervising cervical cancer screenings throughout the Philippines by using the "Single Visit Approach." This method combines counseling, screening and treatment in just one visit to the doctor and is geared towards women from rural areas that may not have ready access to healthcare.

Unlike women living in urban areas who have more access to cervical cancer screening tests such as Pap smears, this method uses vinegar to detect precancerous lesions on the cervix. If necessary, treatment can be done by freezing the lesions (using a liquid coolant like carbon dioxide), effectively eliminating the abnormality and preventing possible progression to cancer.

Cecap is a program of the Cancer Institute Foundation, a non-stock, non-profit organization that supports the Cancer Institute of the Philippine General Hospital. A major proponent of the tour is Bravehearts, a multi-sectoral coalition led by CIF. To help raise awareness, Bravehearts publishes a monthly journal and conducts lectures. Bravehearts is currently supported by a growing number of women, including prominent personalities such as Sen. Loren Legarda, Rina Jimenez David, Ellen Tordesillas, Atty.Gaby Concepcion, and Suzi Entrata.

Also published online:
http://mb.com.ph/articles/207053/bikers-raise-awareness-fight-against-cervical-cancer

Filipinos win online Martha Graham dance video contest

Pinoys win online Martha Graham dance video contest
By Walter Ang
June 8, 2009
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Paul Morales and Myra Beltran recently won third place in the "Clytemnestra ReMash Challenge" organized by the Martha Graham Dance Company. The worldwide contest involved downloading any out of five solos featured in Graham's 1958 masterwork, Clytemnestra, and "in any way imaginable, create a radically re-conceived, re-mashed short video." The video clips available online were from the company's 2008 production of the 50th anniversary of Graham's work based on the Trojan War.


The pair submitted a black-and-white entry titled "Clytemnestra-Manila '58," described as "a cinematic adaptation that delves into the motives and pre-meditation of a woman on the verge of committing a heinous crime ? in a Manila closer to Graham's time." The video (which can be viewed at www.clytemnestraproject.com) was shot, directed and edited by Morales with Beltran as the dancer.

Morales is Artistic Director of Airdance and Beltran is Artistic Director of Dance Forum. Beltran found out about the contest through her sister Ida, former Ballet Philippines executive director, who's now based in Canada. "I thought it would be interesting for me to go into Graham's choreographic mind, to get to be in her skin somewhat. I thought that would be very useful to me as a choreographer at this point where I already view things differently," she says.

Process
Beltran had purchased a video projector last year and has since been exploring dance on video or dancing with video. "My questions to myself as an artist, with the virtual world [being] so much the reality of people these days, is: where is the body in technology? Do the performing arts, the live performing body, still have a validity when everyone is virtual? I have been trying to insert myself and my art in all of this and trying to understand it," she says.

Morales, on the other hand, had just finished directing the film "Concerto." "We were into experimenting with video and dance, it seemed logical to enter the contest. But we did it more as a lark, just for fun and to try out my new camera, a Nikon D90 DSLR," he says.

Their use of resources and time management were characteristically Pinoy, done with whatever was on hand with a sense of humor. The video was shot one day before the deadline in Beltran's home with no lighting equipment and with her driver playing the role of Clytemnestra's husband. "He was slightly freaked out in the murder scene because I was using a real knife," Beltran laughs. "The shoot was spontaneous, light, and creative. It had an incredible and indomitable spirit behind it."

Craft
The pair note, however, that the process was done with craft. Both worked under certain parameters. "We wanted to create a Philippine presence in the competition. We were not making any pretensions about where we are coming from and what resources we had. We both have a reverence for Ms. Martha and her work and her influence," says Beltran. "Paul is a filmmaker and this is his great advantage, that he is both a dance and film artist. We could do a contemporary reading of Graham's work that was adjusted for the camera's eye."

Morales adds: "We came up with the idea to re-shoot our entry in a 'cinematic' way. It was a bit contrary to the idea of the remash since most of the other entries used the original footage of the dances, but we went with the idea anyway. In that sense it was really a pleasant surprise to win."

Both dancer/choreographers are advocates of contemporary dance and acknowledge Graham's strong influence in this form. "Graham created a modern dance technique which had wide dissemination and was taught in most places," says Beltran.

Both were former dancers of Ballet Philippines and were exposed to Graham's techniques through their teachers. Beltran trained under Norman Walker while Morales trained under Agnes Locsin. "Graham was also a strong influence on Ballet Philippines founder Alice Reyes' work," says Morales.

Morales is the festival director of this year's Wifi Body Festival (the only annual contemporary dance festival in the country) and this recent victory serves to further push his efforts in the use of video in dance. "We always showed dance films in the past festivals, but this year, we have a dance film competition. We believe that the future of dance includes film in a big way, either as an element in live work, as an end product you can easily and readily share to a wider market (through the internet, for example), or as a collaborative frontier where the arts can meet and mix in new ways," he says.

For details on the Wifi Body Festival's dance film competition, visit www.geocities.com/wifibody.

Also published online:
http://showbizandstyle.inquirer.net/lifestyle/lifestyle/view/20090607-209269/Filipinos-win-online-dance-video-contest

Virgin Labfest marks 5th year, launches book

Virgin Labfest marks 5th year, launches book
By Walter Ang
June 8, 2009
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Five years ago, playwright Rody Vera conceived the Virgin Labfest as "a venue for playwrights, directors and actors to bring to life `untried, untested, unpublished and unstaged' one-act plays." This year, it celebrates its longevity and opens its fifth year with the launch of an anthology of fifteen plays culled from the past four fests.

Vera selected and edited the plays for the book in consultation with former Tanghalang Pilipino artistic director Dennis Marasigan. Playwrights featured in the book include established names such as F. Sionil Jose, Liza Magtoto, Nicolas Pichay and Floy Quintos together with a younger generation of playwrights such as Dennis Teodisio, Glenn Mas Sevilla, Layeta Bucoy, and Allan Lopez.

To be launched on June 24, the book is an appropriate and logical output for the festival as the labfest was created as a way to present the works of the Writers Bloc, an independent organization of established and aspiring playwrights headed by Vera. Plays are done in conjunction with Tanghalang Pilipino, the resident theater company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

As has become the tradition, there will be five sets of one-act trilogies where each set deals with a central topic or unifying theme. This year's sets have titles that range from intriguing such as "It's Complicated (The Buhul-Buhol Trilogy)," "Life is a Trap (Three Plays in Search of Escape)," "The Family That _______s Together (Tatlong Dulang Walang Diyos)," to wickedly humorous such as "School of Life (Mga Dulang Walang Pinag-aralan)," and "Blood Sports (Trilohiyang Dinuguan )."

Activities
One additional set restages three plays from last year's fest, namely: Floy Quintos's Ang Kalungkutan ng mga Reyna; Rogelio Braga's Ang Bayot, Ang Meranao at ang Habal-Habal sa Isang Nakababagot na Paghihintay sa Kanto ng Lanao del Norte; and Job Pagsibigan's Uuwi na ang Nanay kong si Darna.

Aside from the performances, there will be staged readings of works-in-progress, including a musical by Joel Trinidad that will eventually be produced by Repertory Philippines and devised improvisational comedy sessions by Silly People's Improv Theater (Spit). "Also included is a staged reading of Korean American Lloyd Suh's "American Hwangup," currently being staged in New York City by Filipino American theater group May-Yi Theater. It's receiving rave reviews," says Chris Millado, CCP Performing Arts Department head.

There will also be Talkback sessions with audiences for the first week of performances; and a creative playwriting workshop for high school students to be moderated by Glenn Mas Sevilla.

Brave new works
This year, the Virgin Labfest will be held concurrently with the fourth Wifibody Festival, an independent contemporary dance festival, and is preceeded by wordJam!, a Spoken Word Festival which opens June 10.

These three festivals in June are part of CCP's Brave New Works Festivals, a series which concludes in July with three more events: the 13 Artists Awards and Exhibition, opening on July 9; Musik Underkonstruktion, featuring new compositions for symphonies opening July 15; and the fifth Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, opening on July 17.

"The Brave New Works Festivals is part of CCP's 40th anniversary and exemplifies the CCP mandate of encouraging and showcasing original Filipino works. Through these festivals, CCP ushers in a deluge of provocative new works from poets, playwrights, choreographers, composers, visual artists and independent filmmakers," says Millado. "From June to July, audiences can experience groundbreaking productions in poetry-in-performance, modern theater, contemporary dance, new symphonic music, painting, sculpture, installation, multimedia and digital feature film."

With the Virgin Labfest, Wifibody Festival and Cinemalaya as three of the more well-known events, having gained ground from the past few years, it is the aim of Millado to cross-pollinate the different audiences for all of the shows included in Brave New Works.

Audiences will have a chance to explore new art forms they may not be familiar with and artists, on the other hand, are encouraged to work with each other across crafts. "It's working. Choreographer Denisa Reyes has staged a play in a previous Virgin Labfest and is now turning it into a movie for Cinemalaya. Paul Morales, himself steeped in theater, dance and film, is curating Wifibody and has done some movement choreography for the music being developed for Musik Underkonstruktion," says Millado.

Spoken word
wordJam! is curated by Herminio Beltran, Jr. and has three main performance dates every other Wednesday beginning June 10 with Lourd de Veyra's Radioactive Sago Project. Oral tradition and balagtasan will be featured on the first night together with their modern variation: rap poetry.

June 24 features protest poetry while July 1 presents a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender night of poetry featuring the works of J. Neil Garcia and Aida Santos, among others. "All performances will be held at Barbaribas Bar where people can relax after the work day, have a meal with beer and enjoy the sounds and meanings of the spoken word," says Millado. A special performance of poetry for children will be held on July 6 at the CCP Main Theater Lobby.

For details, call 832-1125 or log on to www.culturalcenter.gov.ph.

Also published online:
http://showbizandstyle.inquirer.net/lifestyle/lifestyle/view/20090607-209272/Virgin_Labfest_marks_5th_year%2C_launches_book

Wifibody dance festival 2009 explores evolving body

Wifibody dance festival explores evolving body
By Walter Ang
June 8, 2009
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The evolving body is the theme of this year's Wifibody, an independent contemporary dance festival now on its fourth year held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Festival director Paul Morales says, "The festival asks dancers and choreographers where we can go and where do we go; how do we use our bodies differently and how we want to push our bodies further."

Morales succeeds Myra Beltran who was festival director for Wifibody's first three years. Both are proponents of the local contemporary dance scene with Beltran as the Artistic Director of Dance Forum and Morales as Artistic Director of Airdance.

"The arching premise of Wifibody was to question where the human body lies in this increasingly technological and wireless world, how contemporary dance groups and dancers are linked together throughout the country, and to allow the public to `access' contemporary dance," says Beltran. "Paul is now progressing the discussion into where our bodies are going next, how it is all evolving."

Presented by Contemporary Dance Network Philippines (a member of World Dance Alliance), the Cultural Center of the Philippines (as part of its Brave New Works series for its 40th anniversary), and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, one of Wifibody's objectives is to present contemporary dance as a viable art form as well as nurture up and coming talents.

Nurture
This is the first time that the festival will span two weeks and Morales has given sub-themes for each week. The first week is themed "2nd Wave" and highlights the works of winners and competitors of past New Choreographers' Competition.

"They'll be featured in the segment appropriately called 2nd Step because we want to see their next steps now that they're done with past competitions. This segment helps ensure that there is life for our dancers after they compete. Past winners really become confident and get better but some of those who don't win really get discouraged," says Morales.

"Audiences will get a chance to see how these artists are coming into their own, how they move on from being young into maturing artists. This gives them a chance to really put their choreography out there," he says. "It's also to instill in the younger dancers a fighting spirit, to remind them that they should always strive to push for their craft."

Interaction
"The second week is themed 'Conjunction' and it highlights the interaction that all dancers do with each other. "This includes regional and international dancers, both professional and student groups," says Morales.

One example of this type of interaction is a show that will feature Japanese guest artist Maki Morishita with Ballet Philippines 2 alumni. Morales notes that Wifibody has been helping push Philippine talents into global interaction by sending past winners of its competitions to foreign festivals.

"Donna Miranda and Rhosam Prudenciado are two past winners who've won in competitions abroad and audiences will get a chance to see their works in this year's fest," he says. "The exposure is steadily building. We are now getting inquiries from foreign dance festivals about attending Wifibody. They want to know what's going on in the Philippines. We are creating buzz!"

New blood
The festival's line up is anchored on "main" evening performances in the IndepenDance segment featuring different contemporary groups such as Myra Beltran Dance Forum, Airdance, UP Dance Company, Kahayag Community Dance and Theater Company (Koronadal City), Dance-Pull (Bacolod), and Locsin Dance Workshop (Davao City).

Aside from the evening shows, a host of other performances and activities will be presented throughout the day and all over the CCP. There will be a photo exhibit, contemporary dance workshops, and two plenaries where artists, educators, dance enthusiasts and the public are invited to discuss contemporary dance and the evolving body. There will even be street parties at the driveway encircling the CCP fountain featuring groups like Krump Pinoy.

New blood is expected to come out of this year's New Choreographers' Competition, a competition exclusively for the solo and duet form. School-based dance groups, on the other hand, will have a chance to shine in the Emerging Talent Showcase.

While past festivals have always included screenings of dance film, a competition for filmmakers who focus on dance has been introduced this year. "Best Film, Best Student Film, and an Audience Prize will be awarded," says Morales. "Some of our judges include former Ballet Philippines danseur Nonoy Froilan and respected film maker Tad Ermitano."

Both Morales and Beltran feel there is still a lot to do in pushing contemporary dance further, but the Wifibody festival is becoming more and more integral in this process. "In the schools, more people are enrolling in modern dance and this is one of the results of the accumulated efforts of everyone involved," Morales says.

For details, visit www.geocities.com/wifibody. Tickets available at CCP Box Office 832-3704 and all Ticketworld outlets 891-9999. Festival passes and day passes are available.

Carlos 'Botong' Francisco's 'The Pageant of Commerce' gets freshly scrubbed

Freshly scrubbed
By Walter Ang
June-August 2009 issue
Metro Home and Entertaining Magazine

Detail from "Pageant of Commerce."
Via Retrato.com.ph
Twelve feet high and 24 feet across, Carlos Francisco's "The Pageant of Commerce" provides a dramatic panorama for visitors to one of the lobbies of the Eugenio Lopez, Jr. Building. Known also as "Pag-iimpok" or "Thrift," this oil on canvas created in 1956 is on loan from the Lopez Memorial Museum and was mounted at its current location in 2000.

The painter, popularly known as Botong, was a muralist from Angono, Rizal and was one of the first Filipino modernists along with Galo Ocampo and Victorio C. Edades who broke away from Fernando Amorsolo's romanticism of Philippine scenes. He was declared a National Artist for Visual Arts posthumously in 1973.

Commissioned by the Ramon Cojuangco family, the mural was intended for the Bank of Commerce and was initially displayed at the bank's Sta. Ana branch. In the mid 70s, the family had the mural put up for sale and it passed through several collections before it was acquired by the Lopez Memorial Museum in 1996.

The museum ensures the safety of its pieces, even works on loan. "For example, when the museum lent works to a museum in Spain, we called them to find out the climate there so we could start acclimatizing the works to their temperature and humidity, even before the works were boarded onto the plane," says Maita Maronilla - Reyes, the museum's consultant for art conservation.

The Botong mural is checked every quarter. "Aside from the lighting, humidity and temperature, we do visual inspections of the work itself to check for dirt and molds," she says. The mural had its last major cleaning in 2003 and in a recent check earlier this year, Reyes noted that it was time for another cleaning.

A chemist conservator who specializes in the "security, safety and survival" of art works, Reyes trained at the Facultad De Bellas Artes of the Unibersidad Complutense de Madrid and at the International Center of Conservation in Italy.

A five-person team rotating in shifts of three was formed to execute the meticulous cleaning. The mural was divided into a grid of 12 inch squares from a total of 288 square feet, and the staff had to thoroughly go through each square to remove surface dirt as well as treat it for molds and accretions (secretions and excretions left by insects). "Once the cleaning is completed, an ultraviolet-stable matte varnish is applied to protect the mural from the degrading effects of light," she adds.

"Not many people know this, but to attend to the needs of private owners and collectors, the museum provides conservation and restoration services through the Roberto M. Lopez Conservation Center," she says. "The goal of conservation is really to stabilize works of art. Our work involves preventing and arresting deterioration caused by natural and human-related disasters."

For details, call the Lopez Memorial Museum at 631-2417 or email pezseum@skyinet.net.

Homebuying as easy as plug-and-play at Ayala Westgrove Heights

Homebuying as easy as plug-and-play
By Walter Ang
June-August 2009 issue
Metro Home and Entertaining Magazine

With its Mediterranean-inspired homes, Ayala Westgrove Heights is situated amidst the rolling hills of Sta. Rosa, Laguna. This 400-hectare residential community features panoramic views of Mt. Makiling, Tagaytay Ridge, and Laguna Bay, providing homeowners with lush scenery in every turn.

Immersion in nature is a major component. The development includes a six-hectare park with man-made fishing lagoons and a 26-hectare orchard park filled with mango trees. It's less than an hour drive from Makati and accessible through the expansion of the South Luzon Expressway through three exits: Mamplasan, Sta. Rosa, and Malitlit.

Young families will appreciate Westgrove Heights' proximity to schools such as St. Scholastica-Westgrove, De La Salle Canlubang and Don Bosco School; retail centers such as Paseo de Santa Rosa and Alabang Town Center; and the currently in construction St. Benedict-Westgrove Church.

The major highlight for Ayala Westgrove Heights is The Crestwood, an exclusive phase offering house-and-lot packages (a first for developer Ayala Land Premier) featuring a selection of limited-edition designs by architect Conrad Onglao.

The idea here is "plug-and-play," where homeowners choose a lot first and then they select a house model to "plug" into the lot. Buyers of these homes won't have to go through the hassles of dealing with contractors, getting permits, looking for suppliers, and deciding on finishes. Ayala Land Premier will oversee the entire process for them. "It's like having your own house built without having to pay for the services of an architect or engineer," Onglao says.

Onglao has created three house models to choose from: Cypress is the basic model with 300sqm. Laurel has 350sqm. and features a balcony. Olive includes a lanai in its 400sqm. Both Olive and Laurel have additional service kitchen areas.

Foremost in Onglao's designs is the sense of height and space. "The common features for all three models are the double volume living room and the maximized space, with ceilings at almost ten feet high," Onglao says. "The windows are designed so that when you're lying in bed, you can appreciate the view." Almost every single wall has windows that allow as much light in as possible and for cross ventilation.

"Of course, the windows provide wonderful views. The only perimeter walls for the lots are in a corner where the laundry area is located," says Onglao. The Crestwood is planned around an 8,000-sqm. park and buyers of parkside lots will have the luxury of having their backyards extend into the park, further adding a sense of expanse. Of course, there are other options for lot locations such as those that face the rising sun or lots that are more secluded.

No matter the location, all the Crestwood homes will have interior finishes that include engineered oak wood flooring, tempered clear glass panelling, and travertine granite countertops for bathrooms. Exterior materials use concrete roof tiles and stone-clad accent walls. All homes have underground termite control systems and three-drain systems to prevent clogs.

Home buyers needn't worry about a potential cookie-cutter look for their home. Personalization is a key element of the process. "We made sure that every house would be markedly different from the other in terms of space planning," says Onglao. "They'll also have the option for structural or architectural extensions, fa├žade coloring and cladding, and landscaping, all done to their specifications."

For inquiries on Ayala Westgrove Heights, call 848-5000, email ask@ayalalandpremier.com or visit www.ayalalandpremier.com. Model houses are available for viewing onsite.