I can personally attest that an Ayala condo unit was prone to gas explosion

You can look back in time. The explosions in Glorietta Ayala and also in Serendra were said to be possibly caused by gas leak. I could attest to that "possibility" and I have evidences.

My evidence could prove how Methane can fill the entire condo unit.

As a Broker, I am managing one unit of AVIDA MAKATI, an Ayala project. Way back in September 2012, the tenant complained about a foul suffocating smell in the unit similar to a sewerage. Remember this is also the similar account of the tenant before the May 2013 Serendra explosion. So I went to the unit to do my duty as manager. I have proofs that Ayala made a major error in their sewerage system, which could cause methane accumulation and possible explosion when you light a lighter for your cigarette of when you turn on your cooking stove. The owner of the unit knows this because I reported it to him. I have photograph of the entry point of the methane gas into the condo unit, photograph of my DIY solution that will prevent the methane gas from entering the condo unit, and I am willing to present the photographs to the Serendra Blast investigators, to the media, and anyone who needs to see it, and will even send it to the subscribers of this Real Estate Service Coach (RESC) blog site -- just ask for it nicely. Aside from the pictures, I have THREE corroborating witnesses, a record of communication to the owner about the problem, and a complaint form that Ayala failed to act upon to troubleshoot the problem.

Nag complain ang tenant, pero hindi man nila inayos, so ako na lang gumawa ng napaka simple na solution.

The problem with Ayala (and of course many Real Estate Developers) is that they hire unlicensed professionals -- mga colorum. Example in this picture below is a colorum Sales Agent engaged by Ayala.

You can easily detect a colorum Sales Agent by getting a specimen of their marketing fliers (you can find many colorums in malls), and counter-checking the names in the professional license verification in PRC Website. If they can engage colorum Sales Agent, how much more in construction department that the public don't see? Those could be unlicensed colorum engineers doing the construction. Colorum professionals are dangerous to the public, but colorum are favorite service provider of real estate developers because colorum offers cheap and exploitable services. The public must know our warnings. The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) is the one to blame in the prevalence of colorum -- they tolerate it, they refuse to issue a law enforcement memorandum that we requested, that is why we, IPORESP is on licensing strike now. Corruption and government failure -- that is the reason why real estate consumers are exposed to hazards.

On the Serendra explosion, my suggestion for the DOST investigators (I hope they can read this blog) is to get the list of people working in Ayala (in Sales, Leasing, Property Management, Interior Designers, and Construction Department) and check it out with PRC if any of these are UNLICENSED. How they do do it? Well, go to BIR and get a list of people that Ayala pays for in the Income Withholding Tax. Let me predict, THE NATION WILL EXPLODE with the result if it is exposed! From Sales to Engineers -- a lot of them are UNLICENSED (mga colorum). Of course, investigate also the other developers -- this is for the greater good.

But before I show my evidences, let me see the insides of the Serendra unit that exploded. I hope it is still untouched. Please allow me to check the debris inside the unit, I will be looking for a particular evidence that would possibly be similar to what I have. If it is already cleaned, I hope to see the detailed pictures. I am looking for something in particular, which I expect would not be obliterated because it is usually located in an isolated part inside the unit. Whether I find what I am looking for or not, I can show you the Avida evidence that I have in my possession. With my evidence at hand, we can possibly conclude the cause, close the case, and help prevent other units that are yet to possibly explode.

Finally, once they see my evidences, ALL CONDOMINIUM OWNERS must check their units if something looks like it to prevent explosion like Serendra.

QUESTION FROM THE PUBLIC: Rltr. John, how much will you charge to inspect my condo unit just to see if there is anything in here that could possibly cause a gas explosion?

ANSWER: Oh I never thought about that opportunity of inspecting explosion possibilities. Thank you for the idea. I do inspect wellness and safety of leased units on routine basis for a fee of P3,500 per unit owner (individual client) and been checking only the concrete cracks, door locks, stability of steel welding, glass mounts, and fire exits. Part of it is also installing peep holes and door chime if there is none. Thank you for the idea. I will try to include prevention of gas explosion in the next inspections. Just give me a call. Nevertheless, much better if the media can publish my evidences of possible causes of Methane accumulation and explosion, so that everyone who knows how to use the screwdriver can Do-it-Yourself (DIY) in checking their units.

QUESTION FROM THE PUBLIC: Rltr. Petalcorin, is there a way for a building to know which unit/s are defective, meaning, which units are prone to gas accumulation and explosion?

ANSWER: That is a great question. Yes, I have read about a very cheap yet effective procedure that can be implemented by the entire building to determine which units are gas-proof and which units are prone to gas accumulation and explosion. Moreover, there are also fixed and portable gadgets that can be installed inside to unit to detect possibilities of explosive gas.

QUESTION: Sir John, the image below says the owner did not do any renovation in the kitchen and toilet. What does this mean?

ANSWER: As I was saying, I have to see the unit first, if they would allow me to look for that particular thing that can cause gas accumulation and explosion. If the owner did not do any renovation, then it was really the worse scenario wherein it was an engineering defect by the developer (Ayala) that is similar to what I personally detected and repaired in Avida (Ayala). I would say worse because it would mean ALL units built by Ayala must be inspected to see if we can find anything similar.

QUESTION: Realter Petalcorin, how do you interpret the electric outage before the explosion? Please see this picture below.

ANSWER: There are many possibilities. An accumulated gas needs ignition in order to explode. If there was power outage, it is possible that the ignition was caused by a spark as a result of sudden return of electricity. It is also possible that the tenant may have lit a candle to remedy the power outage, or he tried to light a cigarette to remedy his boredom. Anything that sparks can ignite and explode an accumulated gas. If there was power outage, the electric powered exhaust systems that sucks away gas from the sewerage chambers underground won't work, so these gas creates pressure and naturally goes up to the units.

QUESTION: Sir John, I have read in the news that Mar Roxas was saying that it could probably be LPG Gas that caused the explosion. What can you say about this?

ANSWER: In my opinion, it is least likely. The capacity of standard LPG tank is 11 kilogram. An 11 kilogram full-tank LPG that leaks completely is not sufficient to explode a 20 square meter studio unit -- we can test it if you want. I think unit 501B of Serendra is bigger than 20 square meters -- please find it out. I also read the statements. They seem to be saying that Serendra have centralized piped gas system or in my understanding an LPG source that goes distributed by retail to the units through pipes. Kindly double check it if it is functional. I am not sure if this centralized LPG pipes are functional because I didn't know there is any existing condominium in the Philippines with centralized LPG source -- where will the building tap a source of LPG wholesale?

The tenant, Angelito San Juan, age 63, is a witness. He smelt foul odor. He did not say he smelt LPG. It is safe to assume that a 63 year old person is familiar with the smell of LPG. It must be something else, not LPG. My strong suspicion is that it was raw methane from the sewerage system. If I were one of the investigators, I would conduct a smell memory test on Angelito San Juan by letting him smell LPG versus sewerage methane, he should be able to tell which one he smelt inside his unit in Serendra before the blast. If you cant find sewerage methane, just ask me, I'll bring you to Avida and show you where you can smell sewerage methane -- you can even try to spark a lighter to see if the gas is combustible.

QUESTION: Rltr. John, there were already many government scientists and personnel who are members of the inter-agency investigating team who inspected the unit aftermath; but they could not find evidence to determine the source. Why do you think they are at loss?

ANSWER: Because they don't know exactly what to look for. They don't know what particular thing to look for. I bet none of them ever had experience in gas explosion materials investigation. In my experience, there is only one piece of material to look for to explain the source of the gas. I know what to look for, I know where it is located, I have a feeling it's still just there where it is supposed to be. I am curious. I would like to see that particular material with my own eyes. I just hope they did not clean out the entire unit yet.

6/11/2013 12:32AM. Here is the real event picture of how combustible methane could enter the condo unit as a result of lousy plumbing.

If there is anything else important that I forgot to include in this article, or if you experienced a real estate transaction that is anomalous, scam, fraudulent scheme that you want me to document and expose for others to be warned, or if you want to donate to the war chest of real estate consumer rights advocacy, please feel free to email me at JohnPetalcorin@Gmail.Com. If you want to comment about this article, there is a provision for this purpose that you can find below.
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josenolie said...

I agree with you. I have seen a developer who has many bosses in their company doing or managing a real estate project with a degree of engineering or architecture much so they have no license.

Sales group being managed by non-licensed much more if the position is for a sales director.

Marvin said...

Hi Rltr. John, how do you verify real estate salespersons on the PRC website? The only choices related to real estate in the "Profession" dropdown box are Real Estate Appraiser, Real Estate Broker, and Real Estate Consultant.

Rltr. John R. Petalcorin said...

Hi Marvin! Thank you for that great question. Salespersons undergo formal training. They are trained to indicate their name AND the name of the Broker under whom they are licensed. Fliers and websites are considered as marketing and offer documents, the advertiser, if a Salesperson, is responsible in indicating the name of the Salesperson and the name of the Broker. Salespersons are not verifiable in PRC website because they cannot act independently -- their authority is dependent under the license of the Broker.