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Providing relief amid the pandemic

It would be difficult to not feel any concern or worry about the deadly COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing enhanced community quarantine, which have already taken a toll on people’s lives, communities, businesses and the Philippine economy.

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Some, however, chose to remain optimistic especially since both the public and private sectors are working doubly hard to help flatten the curve, bring aid to those in need, and keep the economy afloat. Since the ECQ was implemented last March 16, stories about the efforts and measures rolled out by companies to help Filipinos better deal with this unprecedented crisis have made headlines and have been retold many times in social media. Indeed, never has the Filipino bayanihan spirit been more evident than today.

Property developers are among those that have stepped up their fight against COVID-19, continuing to extend assistance despite the fact that their respective businesses have also taken a hit from this health and economic crisis. Suntrust Properties, in particular, continues to extend a hand to individuals providing much needed relief amid this pandemic.

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Suntrustees take part in the company’s relief efforts.

Dealing with COVID-19

Staying true to its promise of being the home for every Filipino, Suntrust Properties has immediately rolled out programs that would not only help its residents to better deal with the pandemic but to also protect its own front-liners, whose tasks include ensuring the safety and convenience of the homeowners. With its genuine malasakit for the communities, along with its ingenuity and creativity, Suntrust Properties was able to provide uninterrupted service and aid to its residents and own front-liners.

“We made sure that the subdivisions and condominiums—whose homeowners are still under our care, either through Suntrust itself or through Sunrays Property Management Inc.—have volunteers to work on a stay-in basis in those communities. We are taking care of their basic needs such as their security, safety, facilities and utilities,” Suntrust Properties president Harry M. Paltongan said in an interview with Inquirer.

“Our people also coordinate with the local government units or hospitals for anything related to COVID-19. These brave people, who sacrificed not being with their families in these difficult times, are our front-liners,” Paltongan added.

Going beyond the promise of providing safe shelter, the company has likewise distributed alcohol and rice to many of its homeowners—a simple act that revealed the company’s resolve to look after the welfare of its community members and residents.

“It may not be much but it was, for us, a genuine and perfect way to reach out to our residents. It’s Suntrust’s simple way of letting them know that they are in our minds especially in these most difficult times,” Paltongan shared. Suntrust is still in the process of completing the distribution as it targets to give aid to at least 10,000 families within its communities.

Construction workers received donations from Suntrust.

Ensuring productivity

Suntrust also made sure to take care of its employees well. For instance, the company gave pay advances for its sales group to help them better cope with this challenging situation. At the same time, the company conducts various webinars and trainings for its employees to ensure their productivity and continuous learning despite the lockdown.

“More than the financial aspect, we made sure this ECQ is not totally unproductive. We told everyone that this is the time to learn, to research, to improve and to be better persons after this pandemic. For example, for our sales, we have been doing lots of webinars for them to learn digital marketing and selling especially about maximizing social media platforms and then using e-forms to complete their transactions. For employees, we have more for them other than digital learning—this includes communication skills, customer service, health and hygiene among others,” Paltongan explained.

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“For our front-liners, we have been trying our best to support them. Most of them are our employees so we made sure they get their pay. We made sure (our contractors) get paid so they can support their people. We also sent them rice and alcohol. Then for the caddies in our golf clubs, we have been asking for donations from our club members on top of their compulsory assessments. We also initiated soliciting from golf organizations. As of now, our Sherwood caddies had five rounds of support (mostly rice),” he further said.

Bags of rice were given to homeowners.

Future-proofing

Meanwhile, asked how Suntrust Properties is looking to efficiently navigate its way amid this pandemic and to future-proof itself, Paltongan believes that it’s best to continue with what they have started while adding a few more improvements.

“We need to develop more township projects. A pocket development will make it difficult for residents to survive this kind of pandemic. Their basic services must be within walking distance. Home, work, shops for basic goods and services, education and hospitals must be in such development or at least near each other,” he explained.

“Ideally, these should be located in the regions and provinces to spread out opportunities and ease the congestion of Metro Manila. That has been our direction even before COVID-19 hit us,” Paltongan concluded.

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