(Article published in the Jul 14,2003 issue of TODAY, Business Section)
THIS column’s piece about the Special Visitor’s Visa and the Special Retiree Visitor’s Visa (June 30 issue of TODAY) was not meant to be the start of a series; but when reader Dodit Reyes wrote in to say she would spread the word around, it seemed the subject of retirees deserves a reprise.
Jun Marcelo, officer in charge and deputy general manager of Philippine
Leisure and Retirement Authority (PLRA) sent in a packet of documents
relating to the agency’s new products.
Responding to this corner’s remark that all the work that went
into facilitating the entry of foreign retirees would go to waste if the
visitors were to be left to fend off for themselves upon arrival, Jun
Marcelo had his staff provide documentation on the focus of their current
efforts to bring in retirees from nearby Japan and demonstrate to the
country and to the world how the system works.
Looks like the PLRA is one government office that is neither going
about its business leisurely nor looking forward to its own retirement.
with its over 30 million retirees in need of cost-efficient supportive
community and facilities for quality health care, active leisure lifestyle
and well-planned and secure housing and complementary infrastructure, is a
logical market for our retirement industry.
Ours can rightfully boast of its big reservoir of trained and
particularly gracious, caregivers and health-care workers.
While tapping into the Japanese market could be attempted
separately by the existing retirement facilities in the Philippines, going
about it in a coordinated and systematic way is more cost-efficient.
Hence, the logic of the wholesale marketing of retirement homes and villages through linkages and working arrangements with institutions in Japan that are dedicated to addressing the retirement concerns of its citizens.
The PLRA took a major step towards such wholesale marketing of Philippine retirement facilities to Japanese retirees when it entered into two memoranda of agreement with the Long Stay Foundation of Japan (LSFJ) on November 18, 2002.
is a government-sponsored organization with 80 private companies as the
members of the Conference on Extended Leisure Stays Abroad. Its objective is to promote wholesome leisure and travel
programs for Japanese elderly, as well as their proper care. It is thus a perfect fit to serve as the entry point, if not
the major link, of the PLRA into the Japanese market.
first memorandum of the agreement articulated the areas of their common
endeavors. Both the PLRA and
the LDFJ will try to secure grants and development assistance from
bilateral and multilateral plans collaborative undertakings and incentives
to promote the Philippine as the area of choice; and establish teaming
arrangements to make room for mutual consultations, easy coordination and
quick completion of projects. A one-stop processing center in both places
could be one such teaming arrangements.
The parties agreed to extend full support to each other and gave
themselves a deadline of 60 days within which to execute the appropriate
contracts to give effect to the spirit and intent of their agreement.
second memorandum of agreement spelled out what was expected from each
party. LSFJ was to provide
the market study, e.g., study on the requirements of the Japanese elderly,
volumes, costs, income profiles, etc.; solicit project funding from
various institutions, such as the Official Development Assistance;
identify support for the project from its Japanese corporation members,
and seek Japanese developers and investors for the project.
The PLRA committed to promote the project with Philippine investors
and give the necessary support in terms of legal, systems and other
coordination work with appropriate government agencies.
help entrepreneurs set up training institutions that would equip the
retirement homes with skills to address the needs of the Japanese retirees
under the program, the PLRA, on April 23 of this year entered into
memorandum of agreement with the Small Business Guarantee and Finance
Corporation (SBGFC), the agency mandated to provide credit supplementation
and assist in implementing programs for the development of small and
this agreement, the PLRA will evaluate the training institutions which
require financial assistance, either as additional working capital or
expansion of present facilities, and endorse to the SBGFC those with
confirmed and ready market for their trainees.
The SBGFC will help fund institutions endorsed by the PLRA in
accordance with its own existing loan guidelines.
PLRA-accredited facilities and services will be offered to retirees,
whether part of the Japanese project or not.
Accreditation is handled by the PLRA’s Division of the Resident
Retirees Servicing Center. This
unit ensures that the facilities and services conform with internationally
accepted standards of quality in comfort, medical care, sanitation,
safety, security and aesthetics. The
accredited establishments must also incorporate the United Nations
Principles for Older Persons, i.e., independence, participation, care,
self-fulfillment and dignity. An
interesting requirement is that at least 20 percent of the work force
employed by accredited facilities should be senior citizens.
facility, in order to be accredited, must obtain a passing mark under the
PLRA’s Rating Point System. In
addition to meeting the usual local and national requirements for
operation, such as the local licenses and permits, a facility must be
owned and governed by people of known probity and integrity
The physical structure engineer as safe and sound; location must be accessible to transportation; 24-hour security guard services and water must be provided.
the retirees are expected to have special health needs, every facility
must have a clinic. There
should be a complete line of medical specializations in such fields as
family medicine, neurology, nephrology, pulmonology, gastroentorology,
gerontology, orthopedic medicine, anesthesiology, and surgery and it must
also have nursing and training aides.
Most important, the facility must have formal arrangements with
tertiary hospitals for the services of specialists, the conduct of
diagnostic procedures and, when required, confinement.
The standards may sound daunting but, in fact, a number of facilities have already received PLRA accreditation. According to Orlando Habitan, OIC of the servicing division, the following, among others, have been granted accreditation: The Rose Principles Homes, Filipinas Paradise Complex, Subic Homes, Subic Heights and Sunrise Holiday Mansion, Matabungkay Beach Club, Pacific Retirement Agency (Cebu Kiener Hills) Elysium in Parañaque.
It seems that everything has been done to help make the Philippines a retirement haven. All that is now needed is one significant development that would tip the balance and bring to a happy fruition the efforts that have been spent in laying down the required legal and physical infrastructure.
Marcelo hopes that the much awaited coming of the first batch of Japanese
retirees, under PLRA’s tie-up with LSFJ, would start the buildup to, if
not itself act, as the tipping point.
We, for the sake of our country presently so starved for good news,
hope so, too.