The other day, I published a column here on the site entitled “Limao, Samal Island = Heaven” in which I showed a video of the area where Feyma and I own land, and intend to build our house where we will live permanently. Very shortly after the article was published, I received an e-mail from a fellow named Vic. I know nothing about Vic. I don’t know if he is a foreigner, Filipino, if he lives in Davao, elsewhere in the Philippines, or if he lives in another country.
Vic said that I was unethical. He listed a number of reasons why I was unethical. Primarily, he seemed to have a problem with the price of the land that I showed on the video. Firstly, let me say, the video was not intended as a “sales” piece. It was just a little tour of the area where Feyma and I will be living in the future. Yes, I did mention that there were lots for sale, and the price of the land, and I said “By my neighbor” on the video. But, if I put the video up without the price and such, I am quite certain that people whould have been e-mailing me asking questions about the availability of more land, the price, etc. Either way, I did not intend the video to be a “hard sale” type of thing.
Let me address a few points.
First, the land on the video is selling for P2,500 per square meter. Vic complained that it was way too high. He said that he can buy acreage for a much lower price. Well, it is true that large parcels of land are always cheaper than lots in a subdivision. Acreage is undeveloped. Land in a subdivision is developed (or will be). The land in question will include roads, a park and other nice additions. Whenever you buy a small piece of land for a house, that’s always more than acreage would be. Vic said that he can buy land similar to what I’m showing in the video for about 500 pesos per square meter. Actually, I know of land that’s much less. One place I know has a beautiful view, much nicer than what I have in my own place, and it is 200 pesos per square meter. However the title is cloudy. The land is in dispute, and also quite inaccessible. But, it’s cheap, very cheap. If Vic wants I’ll help them buy that, and I’ll do it for free. However, when he has to fight a lot of battles in the future because of the title situation, that’s on him, I won’t help with that. The thing is land that has a clear title is selling for a much higher price than what Vic says. As a matter of fact, I know some places on Samal that are selling for up to 18,000 pesos per square meter. These are not rip off firms trying to find foreigners who don’t know the price. These are well-known local businessmen who are developing the area and selling the lots, and a lot of local people from Davao are buying these.
Here is another thing. Neither Feyma nor I set what price the land will be sold at. We do not own the land, somebody else owns all the land that Feyma shows to people. And, not just one person, but a number of different people own parcels of land that they wish to sell, and Feyma simply shows it to interested buyers for them.
Now, Vic seems to have a problem with the fact that we’re making a little money based on things on the blog. Here’s the thing, I spent a lot of time on this site, making it good, enjoyable, interesting and informative. I feel that I offer quality content here, which cannot easily be found elsewhere. But, I also have to make a living. I can’t spend hours on this and do it for free. Because of this, I offer things like advertising on the site, I write books which I sell through the site, and Feyma is selling land to our readers. Let me be clear, this is not land that we own, Feyma just gets a commission from the landowner. We don’t raise the price and tack on extra so that we get more. We sell it for the price of the landowner is asking, and the landowner pays a commission to Feyma. I don’t see anything unethical about that. Feyma works hard for the money that she earns. She spends a lot of days on Samal showing people around, showing land, informing people about the services available there, and even searching for land that people have e-mailed and asked her to find.
For anybody that thinks that the land is too expensive, no problem, nobody is forcing them to buy. But I also know, that there have been a lot of times when people have said that a certain piece of land was more than they could afford, and Feyma put in a lot of effort to find something more suitable for them.
Last year, I almost shut down the site. Why? Because I was spending a lot of time on it, and frankly, it made no money. Oh, I would get maybe $100 a month from Google adSense off of this site, but that’s about it. I spent hours every day working on this site, and the amount of money that came in simply did not pay for my time. So, as much as I love this site, I was very close to just saying that I would put an end to it. However, through the advice of a friend I decided to look for other ways to make money from the site. Before that, whenever I would mention in an article that we had land on Samal people would always e-mail and ask us about it, wanting to buy some land themselves. We referred a lot of sales to the person that we bought from for nothing, free. We decided that since we got so many inquiries about the land, this was another venue where we could perhaps make a little bit of money off the site. So we made arrangements with the landowner for a commission, and basically Feyma kept doing the same thing she had already been doing, but now making a commission.
If this is unethical, I will tell Feyma to stop selling land on Samal. However, I simply cannot keep this site going if earning a little money for my time is unethical. Let me know what you think, leave a comment. I feel that I am ethical and transparent on this site, and in my life in general. Like I said earlier, nobody is forced to buy any land or buy anything at all. Thousands of people every day read this site for free, and I don’t want to change that. But if somebody genuinely wants to buy a piece of land on Samal, I don’t see where there’s a problem in making a little bit of commission on that. It is usually through us that they get the idea to buy the land in the first place. And, on the people that do use Feyma to fill their land needs, she works hard for it.
Vic has gone on to other online forums and complained about me, saying many of the same type of things that I’ve mentioned here. Because of that, I feel that it is okay to mention him here and tell my readers about what he’s been saying. Honestly, one of the reasons I wrote this is because I want you to judge and tell me if this has been unethical.
What do you think?