(Photo by Marvin John F. Uy/ The Varsitarian)

AFTER tenants left en masse due to lockdowns in 2020, dormitories and condominiums around UST are preparing for the return of students as the return of face-to-face classes (F2F), albeit at limited capacity, looms.

The One Santo Tomas has cut its rates due to the low number of tenants.

‘Yong rate namin before the pandemic sa isang 14 square meters na unit ay P13,000 per month. Ngayon, ang ino-offer namin ay P10,000 at negotiable pa siya,” Monneth Sandicon, assistant property manager at The One Santo Tomas, told the Varsitarian.

North Forbes Place Dormitory, located on Dapitan Street near UST Hospital, is also offering discounts amid the pandemic, with additional price cuts for vaccinated tenants.

Pacific Suites on Dapitan Street is giving discounts of up to 20 percent for tenants renting for at least seven months.

Athena Ladies Dorm on Dos Castillas Street is also offering “pandemic promos.”

“The rate before was P5,500 per student per month but during the pandemic, we gave a discount on a case-to-case basis depending on length of stay and number of persons per room,” Dr. Ruth Ang, Athena Ladies Dorm president and a UST alumna, said. 

Gloda Building slashed rates by about half, particularly for Thomasian student-athletes who stayed despite the suspension of F2F classes.

Rates at the Holy Spirit Ladies Dormitory near UST Gate 7 remained the same as two years ago, but the dormitory allowed occupants to leave their belongings in their rooms without requiring any payment.

“They went out pero ni-reserve pa rin nila ‘yung kuwarto nila. […]  In fact, they left some of their things behind in their rooms. […] We don’t charge them,” dormitory administrator Salome Ancille said.

Prices and discounts varied depending on rates set by unit owners in condominiums like Grand Residences España 2 on Lacson Avenue.

Dito wala [pong discount] kasi mga unit owners naman po kasi ‘yung mga nagpapa-rent,” Jennifer Tuy, a staff member at Grand Residences España 2 administration office, said.

Rates of two- to four-person rooms in dormitories ranged from P8,200 to P16,500 per month. Rates for dormitories and bed spacers that charge per person stood at P5,500.

For high-rise condominiums, prices ranged from P10,000 to P18,500 per month for units that could house up to four occupants. Prices also varied depending on the size of the room.

A 14 sq.m. unit at The One Santo Tomas, which can accommodate up to two occupants, is priced at P10,000 per month, while a fully furnished unit at Pacific Suites good for four occupants is priced at P18,500 per month.

At the North Forbes Place Dormitory, a 12 sq.m. single room is priced at P9,000, while a 14 sq.m. room for two ranged from P9,500 to P16,500.

Rates at the Holy Spirit Ladies Dormitory depended on the number of occupants in a room and whether the room has its own bathroom. The rate of a private room stood at P8,200 a month.

The above-mentioned rates exclude electricity, water and internet costs.

Covid-19 protocols

Dormitories and condominiums have implemented different Covid-19 protocols, including temperature checks, UV disinfection and RT-PCR tests for tenants.

“The survival of our business depends on the resumption of face-to-face classes, but we want to make sure that all the students and teachers are safe before classes resume,” Athena’s Ang told the Varsitarian.

“All new tenants need to have a medical certificate or a negative Covid test result before coming in, or they can avail [themselves] of the services of our in-house medical doctor for screening,” Ang said.

The One Santo Tomas requires tenants to undergo RT-PCR testing but does not require vaccination. 

Hinihingan namin ng RT-PCR or antigen test ‘yung mga titira. Then, ‘di naman kailangang vaccinated. Pero lahat ng employees dito ay vaccinated na,” Sandicon said.

Grand España Residences 2 requires swab tests for new tenants, but tenants may present either a medical certificate or vaccination card, Tuy said.

Residents testing positive will be quarantined inside their unit, Tuy said.

North Forbes Place Dormitory requires tenants to be fully vaccinated and present a negative Covid-19 test. 

Mary Anne Cosares, caretaker of the dormitory, said each room was limited to a maximum of two tenants. 

“Binawasan namin, kasi dati sa isang room, apat sila. Ngayon, dalawa na lang,” Cosares said.

Most dormitories and condominiums like Gloda Building strictly prohibit visitors and outsiders from entering the building.

[Dito kasi], bawal pa talaga magpaakyat ng mga bisita. So, kumbaga mga parents lang [‘yung puwede]. Pero yung halimbawa classmate, hindi pa puwede ‘yun,” said the building’s caretaker, Lino Adorna.

Hopes for normalcy

Cosares lamented the lack of tenants as students shifted to online learning.

Sobrang nakakalungkot dito dahil kami lang. Halos lahat ng floor bakante. Sa isang floor, tatlong tenant lang,” said Cosares.

Dormitories like the Athena Ladies Dormitory that previously catered only to students were forced to change their target market to cope with the pandemic.

We targeted the working people who work from home most of the time but need to report to their nearby office a few times a week. This enabled us to pay for the salary of our staff,” Ang said.

Adorna said he was thankful for the improving pandemic situation in Manila.

Siguro kasi parang medyo lumuwag na rin. Makikita mo naman ‘yung mga bata mga nasa labas na rin…hirap na rin ‘yung mga negosyante,” he said.

UST is eyeing to expand limited F2F classes to more degree programs in the second term of the Academic Year 2021-2022. 


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