From IT education to iconic structuresBy Theresa S. Samaniego
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Ambassador Amable R. Aguiluz V once made his indelible mark in Philippine history when he pioneered the IT education in the country.
This time, however, the country’s Father of Computer Education is taking his pioneering streak to a different field where he is poised to make waves and create a ripple that will definitely be felt among buyers who have an eye for iconic and premium quality structures.
Through Picar Development Inc., the real estate development arm of The AMA Group of Companies, Aguiluz is embarking on a P60-billion investment over the next 10 years in various real estate projects. The company’s flagship project is the Picar Place in Makati, which will house The Stratford Residences.
Although technically a relatively newcomer in the local property scene, Aguiluz points out that he has been in real estate since 1980, when he started the education business. The “blue-blooded entrepreneur” has built the AMA Education System to a P6-billion conglomerate with 200 schools and 150,000 students from its humble beginning of 13 students.
“Real estate is a component of every school that I built, which was heavy on bricks and mortar. Learning the construction part and cashing in on the appreciation of real estate are also part of the freebies,” Aguiluz explains.
“I have dreamt of building an empire. As an entrepreneur I smell opportunities. Since I am already in the real estate business from the inception of my first school, building houses and tall buildings were already part of my agenda,” he further reveals.
Anticipating his eventual full-blown involvement in real estate development, land banking became part of Aguiluz’s agenda—like the 50-hectare property in Cavite that he acquired in 1981.
But it would only be in 2007, when he established Picar Development Inc. that Aguiluz would begin a more aggressive thrust toward real estate development. But even for a hailed and seasoned entrepreneur like him, the beginnings were fraught with difficulties.
“Building credibility, being a newcomer, is the biggest obstacle. We solved it by building first and sell later. On our third project, the Chelsea Residences in Alabang, we are now just like the other big developers who start building only after 50 percent had been sold,” Aguiluz says.
What helped Aguiluz came through was his late father Amable M. Aguiluz Sr., who was his “idol, mentor and inspiration.”
“He believed that hard work, integrity and honesty are the main ingredients to success. He dreamt of becoming auditor general when he was an audit clerk in Muntinlupa and he became one,” he notes. Thus, Aguiluz ensured that he stuck to the same principles that his late father believed in: honesty, integrity and hard work. Being an early bird, he adds, is also one factor as everything starts at 7:30 a.m.
“As a boss, I think I am very hands-on, I pay attention to the details and loved to be with my team. I always imply attention to time, honesty in work is an absolute must,” he further says.
At present, the real estate firm’s flagship project, the P11-billion “Picar Place” on Kalayaan Avenue in Makati City, is envisioned to be Makati’s premier address for luxurious living and global hospitality.
Nestled within this exclusive enclave will be the three-tower, 74-story The Stratford Residences, the tallest residential building in Makati; the P500-million Buddha Bar-Manila, the biggest establishment of the world’s high-end bar and fine-dining restaurant chain; and the Movenpick Hotel, the first-ever five-star, Swiss-run international hotel in Metro Manila, which will have 350 rooms on 26 floors of the second Stratford tower.
Other ongoing developments situated in prime locations around the country will include five-star hotels, upscale to mid-range residential condominiums, technologically advanced office and commercial developments, and self-contained mixed-use communities.
Over the next 10 years, Picar Development is poised to make waves with its planned portfolio of 10 to 15 real estate projects within 63 hectares of land owned by The AMA Group.
Although Aguiluz has a lot on his plate at the moment, he makes sure that he spends his spare time at home or having shabu-shabu lunch with his children and grandchildren. He likewise enjoys traveling with the family during school breaks and with his wife during special occasions.
While that may be the case, one thing’s for sure: there is no stopping this blue-blooded entrepreneur, who, if he were not a businessman, would “opt for the world.”
“I could not imagine myself as an employee. It is not in my cards,” Aguiluz says.
Amb. Amable R. Aguiluz V built the AMA Education System to a P6-billion conglomerate with 200 schools and 150,000 students from its humble beginning of 13 students. He has also started conquering China , United States and Middle East.
Aguiluz has been the recipient of numerous honors which include the Medallion of Bahrain, the President’s Medal of Merit, Canada Business Award and the Agora Award.
At present, he is also serving as the President’s Special Envoy to the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Ambassador Aguiluz is a Business Administration graduate from the University of the Philippines, received his Doctorate in Business Administration from Columbia College, Missouri, USA. He has also successfully completed the Top Management Program at Bali , Indonesia and Business Management Programs at Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania and the Owners and President Management Program of the Harvard University.