UCC 3rd Wave Clockwork (Blue Bay, Macapagal Ave.)

UCC Cafe

I finally had the chance to check out UCC 3rd Wave Clockwork about a week ago. It wasn’t exactly a planned move, although I got curious about this newly opened place when I passed by its doors a few days earlier. It’s just that Starbucks (Bluebay Walk) at that time was rather full and I still had not eaten any lunch, so I retraced my steps and entered UCC Clockwork.

Upon entering its doors, it soon hits you that this place ain’t no regular coffeehouse for the pedestrian shopper (it is one of those places that, unless you have well-lined pockets, prompts you to check your wallet before entering) — it is spacious and the store layout is pleasing after the heat outside — in short, this cafe is consciously designed to impress and appeal to the burgis coffee-guzzling crowd.

Oh well, not that I ever really cared for any of that. All I wanted was a place where I could eat, drink coffee, work undisturbed for a couple of hours at least, and with a good wi-fi service and lots and lots of convenience outlets (please!). And what do you know, UCC Clockwork has all of that (4 check marks out of 5 would have been good enough for me).

Meanwhile, here are a few more snaps of the place.

UCC 2nd FLUCC Function Rm 1 view from the balcony view from upstairs

Based on some press work from the UCC management, UCC Clockwork is the company’s centerpiece (they have several stores scattered around the metro) for their current approach on third wave coffee. The logic of it escapes me, but you’re into a more detailed explanation of this newfangled concept, here is a good place for that.

Sorry, I only managed to take a few pictures. I didn’t want to attract too much attention lest they mark me as an undesirable busybody and refuse me entry next time hahaha. As you can surmise, I was at the second floor at that time, so I was not able to get a good look at the ground floor.

And here’s a sight to warm the cockles of a freelancer’s heart:
electrical outlet

Why yes, that’s a convenience outlet right there. And what’s more, they are scattered all over the place (practically under every table in the second floor), so there’s no need to worry about losing steam while you’re in the middle of your work.

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In Search of a Good Coffice

A coffice (coffeehouse + office) is a place where one can get coffee, but also where one can set up a laptop computer and do office work.

coffice

Despite my fervent hopes that somebody (business, interest group, enterprising individuals) would finally open a fully functional honest-to-goodness coffice (see how an actual coffice operates in London; Ziferblat London, pictured above) here in Metro Manila, it looks like it won’t be happening anytime soon.
So, to satiate my craving for a nice coffice, I am instead going to point out a few coffee shops that have become my favorite “working” haunts (as a freelancer). As I am fairly mobile, I can usually be found working away in some cafe in various parts of the metro. I find that this constant scenery change works best for my mercurial working habits, and coffeehouses have literally become my office of sorts.

Usually it takes me 30 minutes to 1 hour to decide if I “liked” the place well enough to consider it a favorite, which means that there is a very high probability that I would be coming back to that establishment sooner rather than later. Other times, I can tell right away that I’m going to like the place just a few seconds after I enter the store entrance. Typically it requires a quirky combination of factors — even seemingly inconsequential ones —  but when they do hit the spot, it just makes your work a little easier.

Anyway, here they are in no particular order.

1. Caffe Bene (SM BF, Paranaque City)
Pros: Fast internet, spacious, includes a walled smokers’ area, relatively near
Cons: Can get fairly crowded on weekends, closing time is rather early (9:00 pm)

Caffe Bene (SMBF)

2. Starbucks SM Aura (Bonifacio Global City, Makati)
Pros: Spacious with high ceilings, numerous convenience outlets, not too crowded
Cons: Too far, closing time is rather early, no wi-fi

3. Bo’s Coffee (Glorietta 4, Makati)
Pros: Good food selection; increased number of chairs, tables, and convenience outlets; fairly accessible; open for 24 hours; free wi-fi (for up to 2 hours)
Cons: Can get too crowded pretty quickly

4. Starbucks Bluebay Walk (EDSA cor. Macapagal Blvd., Pasay City)
Pros: Numerous convenience outlets, spacious, great lighting scheme, piped-in music, free parking, not too crowded (for now), long operating hours; a perfect place for reviewers
Cons: A bit far, no wi-fi

There you go. I am fairly certain that I will be expanding this list soon, but for the moment these are the places that I consider premium — which means that working in these particular coffeehouses can be a breeze. Also, I will be blogging about each of these establishments in detail later (when I have more time at my disposal).

Money Matters: When Money Sense Does Matter

pooled fund
Today marks the first-year anniversary of my initial (and tentative) foray into investing. That sounds rather serious and portentous (even for me), but since this is something of a personal milestone, I guess it makes sense for me to mark it with a post.

Taking my first dip

The first time I ever got truly serious about money was when I decided to leave regular employment so I could turn to freelancing for good. That was when I learned to grapple with things like “cash flow,” “receivables”, expenditures, etc. It was oddly unsettling, because it made me realize that from then on, I would be reaping the fruits/feeling the pinch of every decision/mistake I make.

A few years down the line, I began to realize keenly that if I did not change the way I was managing my finances, I was going to end up in a worse place than I had imagined. So, after considering my options and reading tons of blog posts, books, how-to guides, etc., I decided that I would have to start investing for my future (retirement) as early as I could manage. Soon. Today. In fact, yesterday (or last month, last year, 10 years ago) would have been a better choice.

UITF, mutual funds, or direct stock investment?

After paring down my options to three — mutual funds, unit investment trust funds (UITFs), or direct stock purchases — I decided to go with UITF. Why? Because, with my topsy-turvy schedule and my relative lack of knowledge about investing, this was the most convenient and affordable choice. With UITFs, I could just go the bank of my choice, open a trust account, and let the fund manager do the worrying/investing for me. It also helped that it only required a minimum amount of P10,000.

BDO investment

After comparing the UITF products of various banks, I opted to go with Banco de Oro (BDO) for the following reasons:

  1. Its fund managers have a good track record (in terms of growth and solid earnings).
  2. There are BDO branches practically everywhere, and that’s not even counting the SM malls (in some SM stores, there are even 2 or 3 BDO branches within the mall complex); plus they have longer banking hours and some are open during weekends.
  3. Their service fees (Trust fee) are lower than anybody else’s — 1% (BDO) vs. 1.5% (BPI) or 2% (Metrobank) may not seem like much, but if you are investing for the long term, that seemingly small difference is going to eat substantially into your earnings.
  4. It is easy to check the status of your investment if you have an online account.

Taking the plunge

For my first foray, I selected BDO Equity. If you are a neophyte, people would normally advise you to avoid high-risk products like equities, but since I was in this for the long haul and it was only for a relatively small amount (note also that I did a lot of research before I made my decision), I decided to push through with it.

piggy bank

A few days later, I also enrolled my BDO savings account in BDO’s Easy Investment Plan (EIP), which is basically an installment plan for small-time investors who are willing to put in a specific amount on a regular basis (monthly or bi-monthly) until the minimum amount of P10,000 is reached (which constitutes 1 unit). This time I hedged a bit and chose BDO Balanced Fund, which carries a slightly lower risk. (Note that in investing, high risk = high returns; low risk = low returns; it is just a matter of deciding how much risk you are willing to tolerate.)

A year later

Twelve months have now passed since I took the plunge, and I am glad (and mightily relieved) to report that my precipitate decision has paid off. As of the latest update, my first UITF (equity) has now grown by 15.52%, and my Balanced Fund UITF has inched up by 10.48%. It may not seem that much, but to me that small amount of profit represents some sort of a validation that I have done something worthwhile with my earnings and that I have actually taken a proactive step to make my future just a little bit more secure.

As for regrets, I guess my only regret is that it took me such a long time to take that first step and that nobody has told me about this earlier. As such, I am hoping that this post will also encourage my fellow freelancers to take stock of their situation and finally turn their own plans into reality (if they haven’t already).