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Seeing better days ahead

If there’s one thing certain about this pandemic, it’s that the learnings never stop.

Unprecedented challenges dealt by this still raging pandemic have kept many property developers in what seems to be an abrupt, accelerated cycle of learning, adapting and transforming—even up to today, more than 20 months into this global health crisis.

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While property developers are no stranger to change, the unpredictable and catastrophic nature of COVID-19, however, has thrown everyone off track. To survive and somehow thrive in these difficult times, out-of-the-box measures had to be rapidly rolled out. Being agile and innovative had been critical, enabling businesses to adapt to the new reality.

Sixteen industry executives shared with Inquirer Property their biggest learnings from the pandemic, how they charted a path to the new normal for their respective companies, and what they look forward to most in 2022.

FEATURED STORIES

SUSTAINING MOMENTUM IN 2022

Bernard Vincent O. Dy

President Ayala Land Inc.

There are a few notable learnings during this crisis.

First, it is important to build a strong corporate culture that you can rely on to rally the organization when faced with an extremely challenging environment. Second, black swan events are occurring more frequently and it is best to always be prepared for these low probability yet high impact events. Finally, this crisis showed us that the Bayanihan spirit is alive and so much can be done if all sectors of society work together to help our country move forward.

Financial sustainability

Our strategy was to rally everyone in the company to focus on our 5-point plan, which was anchored on financial sustainability.

By quickly addressing liquidity needs to service all our obligations and by maintaining a strong balance sheet, we were able to implement our other plans effectively—to protect and support our employees during this difficult period; to serve our customers in accordance to our brand standards; to help the community and our country through various Bayanihan efforts; and finally, to think ahead and prepare for recovery.

As we continue to operate in this new environment, we need to constantly innovate our products and services and create new ways to delight our customers.

All our business lines are gearing up for a strong economic recovery and are creatively tweaking our product offerings in line with changes in consumer preferences. We’ve also scaled up our capability to better serve our customers using both traditional and digital channels.

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Local consumption will be a key driver of growth as we anticipate less community quarantines and increased mobility moving forward. A low interest rate environment and the steady contributions of remittances by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and business process outsourcing (BPO) companies will also ensure long-term growth.

Sustaining momentum

We are excited at the prospects of accelerating economic recovery in the coming months and expect to launch new projects across our various business units while ensuring safe operations.
Despite the challenges this year, we launched P59 billion worth of residential projects in the first nine months and we look forward to sustaining this momentum in 2022. We also expect the performance of our commercial assets (i.e. malls, hotels, resorts) to improve significantly as we revert closer to prepandemic mobility.

EXTRAORDINARY OPPORTUNITIES OVER THE NEXT DECADE

Edgar Sia II

Chairman and CEO DoubleDragon

The past two years have really been a rollercoaster ride for our economy with the three rounds of enhanced community quarantines (ECQ) we’ve had in the Philippines.

DoubleDragon and MerryMart were not totally immune. Our team focused on finding ways to further strengthen the position of both companies during the pandemic.

Next wave of economic boom

We worked harder, planned more clearly and executed more intensely during the pandemic as we believed firmly with the old saying that even during a crisis, there are opportunities.

An example: during the pandemic was when both DoubleDragon and MerryMart completed the largest series of equity fundraising ever, bringing in a total of P20.2 billion of new equity during the pandemic, which strengthened our balance sheets significantly.

We likewise believe that this crisis will come to an end and would be followed by another round of economic boom. We thus need to make sure that both DoubleDragon and MerryMart will emerge stronger after the pandemic as this is the only way that these companies can benefit and ride the next wave of economic boom.

Given our young, resilient populace and other favorable elements, we firmly believe that our economy will soon grow and strengthen significantly over the next 10 to 20 years, to a level we have never experienced before.

First industrial REIT in PH

For 2022, DoubleDragon is excited with its industrial warehouse equity partnership venture with Jollibee Foods Corp. as we aim to conduct the first industrial REIT in the Philippines.

For MerryMart, we aim to continue with the rollout of organic branches; pursue select acquisitions in the pharmacy and grocery space; and continue to deepen the market traction of our online retail and wholesale channels next year.

In general, the year 2022 looks like a year to begin the rebuilding and repositioning of the new economy. We have always reminded our team that during this unprecedented chaos brought about by the pandemic, the companies and their teams who have worked hard to navigate defensively and strategically forward with a stronger balance sheet will be in a very unique position to grow faster and stronger in the next economic boom cycle.

Our team is excited for the extraordinary opportunities that our economy will bring in the next 10 to 20 years. Next year and onwards, we will continue to push for DoubleDragon and MerryMart to be in a position wherein they can bring significant and meaningful contributions to our society, and eventually become among the major pillars of our economy.

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EMBOLDENED TO CONTINUE THE GOOD WORK

Kevin L. Tan

Chief strategy officer Megaworld Corp.

The past 20 months have been very challenging, not just to us but to a variety of other industries and businesses as well.

A lot has changed with how we operate our businesses at Megaworld. From how we conduct our headquarters operation, frontline operations, all the way to how we even construct our buildings and market our developments. All that has been severely disrupted and changed because of the restrictions that have been imposed to contain the pandemic.
Finding opportunities

We found it both a challenge and an opportunity on how we connect to our customers. The traditional retail channels have all been restricted and disrupted so we’ve had to find new ways to get to our customers.

We responded to the needs of our customers through new digital connections we have established. New habits are currently forming which opened up a lot of new channels and platforms.

During the pandemic, we have also reaffirmed the strength of Megaworld’s township model. We saw a study done in Europe at the height of the pandemic about a movement called “the 15-minute city.”

Essentially, they’re looking to re-plan cities like Paris and Barcelona to have people within a 15-minute walking distance from where they work, from where they’d get their essentials, or from medical services. We’re happy to note that we’ve been doing that for the last 20 years. It only re-affirms the strength of this vision we’ve had, and it now emboldens us to continue the good work.

We’ve been motivated to accelerate our product innovation as well. This is something we continue to be excited about as we grow our real estate business, as well as our new digital ventures like Pick.A.Roo and Boozy.ph.

Recovery in demand

We are seeing a lot of pent-up demand right now for the retail and tourism sectors. Foot traffic in malls is already recovering following the government’s lifting of restrictions, which is also why we continue to implement stringent health and safety protocols.

There’s also huge demand in the travel and tourism sector, which is why we continue to invest in this segment by building our hotels. We believe that we can develop more meaningful tourism estates all over the country, and we’ve started that with the launch of the 462-ha Paragua Coastown in San Vicente Palawan, our 27th township.

The BPO sector, which continues to grow resiliently, offers a bright spot. This is why we continue to be bullish about the future of our Megaworld-sponsored MREIT Inc. Recently, we announced plans to inject more assets into MREIT’s existing portfolio, which include topnotch office developments in Uptown Bonifacio, as well as more from Iloilo Business Park and McKinley Hill.

We also continue to see an increasing demand for our residential products, for our horizontal and vertical products, especially those in key cities outside Metro Manila, and surprisingly, in key tourism estates, like Boracay, Tagaytay, and Antipolo.

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CONTINUING THE LEGACY

Exequiel Robles

President Sta. Lucia Land Inc.

No one was spared from the pandemic, but as we have seen over the past 20 months, real estate was fortunately one of the few industries that have exhibited a relative resilience amid this crisis.

We also had to quickly evolve. Right at the onset of the pandemic, we immediately put in place measures and protocols that would allow us to continue safely serving the market while still ensuring a strong communication and relationship with our buyers. We also maximized technology and social media because we believe it would allow us to better cater to and reach our market.

But while the pandemic tested our mettle anew, it has also rightfully shown that we are on the right track, that the developments we have been building over the last 50 years are truly future-proof, and that the Sta. Lucia Group has always been one step ahead of the game.
Navigating through the new normal

After all, we have been in the business for 50 years now, and the Sta. Lucia Group has already weathered various economic cycles. I think one of the merits of being in this industry for so long is that we have the foresight that allows us to know what the market wants.

At the same time, it allowed us to quickly adapt to the drastic changes caused by the pandemic, and serve a discerning market. The diverse portfolio of Sta. Lucia Land, the listed arm of the Sta. Lucia Group, presents a highly diverse selection that could fit the changing demands and needs in the new normal.

Whether you now prefer bigger open spaces, you like to be near recreational facilities, or you want to be closer to nature, Sta. Lucia has something in its portfolio that will allow you to navigate through the normal with ease.

Worst behind us

We believe that we have been through the worst of the pandemic and we are now on our way to a recovery. It may not be easy, there may be a few challenges along the way. But with vaccination being done in various parts of the country and government programs being implemented to help pump prime the economy, it really won’t be long before we again see a vibrant and thriving Philippines.

For the real estate sector, we are quite hopeful to see a stronger comeback despite a few setbacks. We share the view of property analysts that the residential market will continue to display a steady rebound.

After all, if there’s one thing that the pandemic taught us, it’s the value of having a primary home, and even a secondary one where you can take refuge. Rest assured that we, at Sta. Lucia, will continue our legacy of building and creating future-proof communities for you.

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RENEWED OPTIMISM FOR A BRIGHTER 2022

Jose Emmanuel H. Jalandoni

CEO and president Ortigas Land

Our priority was to survive the pandemic. To achieve this, our strategy is threefold.

First, we made sure that our employees are safe and healthy. Physical distancing is ensured in our offices and daily health monitoring is implemented. We partnered with the local government units where we operate, and with AC Health for the vaccination of our employees and their dependents. At present, 99 percent of our employees are fully vaccinated.

Second, we continue to service our tenants and customers. One example would be the community markets in our estates, which served as an avenue for residents to see and support each other, but at the same time, it allowed us to support our local merchants.

Another example would be how our sales team has been equipped to conduct their meetings with potential investors virtually in order to address the need for safety, while also taking the opportunity to demonstrate how our company adapts to the time.

We also recognize that our tenants and business partners were badly hit with the lockdowns this year, and we have provided them with concessions according to their needs.

Third, protecting our balance sheet was also a priority. We made sure that as a company, we maintain adequate financial resources to continue our operations, service our obligations, and prepare for a recovery.

Steady recovery

Vaccination is still the most important growth driver not just for our industry, but for total economic recovery. We are hopeful that as more vaccines are being deployed to cities outside Metro Manila, and that a wider demographic is having access to vaccines, the country will be able to accelerate towards a steady recovery trajectory.

We are hopeful that market conditions will continue to normalize to prepandemic levels in 2022.

We are already seeing much improved market conditions starting this November for our mall operations and residential sales velocity.

Given the increased mobility and higher vaccination rates, as well as the continued observance of our health and safety protocols, we look forward to the approaching holiday season with renewed optimism for a brighter 2022.

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HELPING ENABLE AN ECONOMIC RECOVERY

Atty. Harry M. Paltongan

President Suntrust Properties Inc.

On the matter of real estate planning, developers must do more self-sustaining township projects.

This will allow people to contain themselves in the event of any crisis or calamity. It will also ensure that they can live life as usual and even work from home with all their basic needs available within walking distance. But as this requires wide areas of land, developers and landowners must learn how to collaborate and combine lots towards this new vision.

Also, these two years showed the need to spread out real estate developments and utilize idle lots of both government and private parties. This will avoid further populating the present urban areas.

On the matter of management and leadership, these two years called for creative ways to conserve resources while taking care of people. The challenge of leadership has always been to continually transmit that positive mindset to the workforce so they keep the faith.

On the matter of work processes and system, these were the years that brought new knowledge especially in the matter of virtual and electronic ways of doing business.

‘Suntrust cares’

We showed concern for homeowners especially during the height of the lockdowns. We had our property management teams on site 24/7 to assist our homeowners for their convenience and safety. We also initiated modest CSR activities for them and for nearby communities. We assisted the various local government units on COVID-19 cases monitoring and vaccination, National ID registration, and “ayuda” distribution.

We also did not stop our construction activities, except as mandated by the government, to show our homebuyers that we are committed to deliver their houses and condominium units.

We likewise expanded our contactless payment facilities and provided a client portal where they can access their account details within the safety of their homes.

In a nutshell, we showed our homebuyers that “Suntrust Cares”.

Key to recovery

Vaccination is the key to continued economic recovery. People must be vaccinated to restore at least that trust especially when we physically deal with each other.

Real estate development will always be a growth drivers to economic recovery. It triggers countless upstream and downstream industries. It does not only create houses for people, where there could have been an accumulated pent-up demand, but also enables the necessary infrastructure and facilities for work.

We have been working on prospects to do township projects outside the capital region. We are looking at 2022 as the start of the postpandemic recovery. It may be gradual, but we will do our role to help create jobs and build affordable homes for Filipino families.

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LOOKING FORWARD TO NORMALCY

Thomas F. Mirasol

President and COO Federal Land

This experience has confirmed that real-estate is such a strong investment asset. It was remarkable to see how property values all over the world responded.

Stable to low mortgage rates and a continued lack of supply in certain segments supported the market. But more importantly, consumers who were spending more time at home began looking at their homes differently—it could be more than what it used to be.

The pandemic also showed the resiliency of the Filipino. Filipinos are incredibly adaptive and tolerant. Enduring one of the most restrictive “lockdowns” in the world, people were mostly compliant to all conditions such as curfews, masks and shields, travel restrictions, etc. People followed the rules. I believe the country showed a lot of discipline.

Culture also matters. Workers adapted to working from home for a long time. But it’s hard to manage a team culture while working from home. If you didn’t have a strong work culture to begin with, you wouldn’t have been able to do as well as those companies that did.

Ultimately, I believe most office jobs will return to the office mostly on a full-time basis. As tempting as it seems to be able to work from home, it can never create the same camaraderie that working together does. That’s how culture is created and nurtured.

Challenges, strategies

Our customer-facing teams had to figure out ways to keep in touch with clients, service-providers and suppliers. This shift had to be done quickly and across multiple platforms to ensure that we could get the results we needed.

It was quite a challenge under the circumstances of the pandemic. Everyone was suddenly vying for the same means needed to work online. But we worked it out and deployed tools and resources to employees’ homes while our backroom teams modified their procedures to adapt to virtual operations.

Getting back to construction as quickly as possible was done at great expense to provide the new health and safety protocols that were required. But it had to be done, because we had commitments to make good on.

As a company, it was great to see how our people figured out new ways to work and how everyone pitched in. It was an admirable team effort—and it was a shared experience that brought people closer together. I’ve seen how the teams now get together after work to be with each other and share experiences. It’s great to see.

Steady recovery

Keeping businesses open and supporting employment while keeping everyone safe can help ensure recovery, as well as having a clear sight of policy changes that will affect the citizenry and business so that changes can be planned for and we can make informed investment decisions with confidence.

We are working on some major projects which will be announced in the first quarter of 2022. We are very excited about it.

I believe we are all looking forward to a return to normal in 2022, in whatever form that might be—simple things like get-togethers, parties, school or anything that lets us be a community again.

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ON THE PATH TO RECOVERY

Elizabeth Ventura

President Anchor Land Holdings Inc.

For the past two years, we have transformed the way we do business. We were among the first to shift from traditional to digital. It allowed us to provide safe, contactless and creative interactions with our clients. We also found ways to remain visible through social media, virtual tours, and online events.

As we have future-proofed our developments, we continue to offer innovative, functional and safe spaces that appeal to different generations and remain relevant to our discerning clients.

One thing, however, remained constant—our unwavering commitment to provide Anchor Land’s signature brand of customer service which is inherent in our culture.

Upcoming developments

We’re quite excited to enter a new year with our upcoming developments in Metro Manila.

In Binondo, we continue to develop iconic landmarks as we understand the importance of big, thoughtfully designed living spaces which translate to great investment value for our clients. We will continue to offer our unique brand of luxury and sophisticated lifestyle for Filipino-Chinese families who are among the most discerning investors in the world.

We will also continue to ride the e-commerce boom. As we saw great success in our warehouse and logistic facilities, we will expand our cutting-edge solutions and leverage on the growing businesses in the Binondo area.

Leisure, business travels

With the gradual reopening of the tourism sector, we expect a rise in demand for leisure and business travels. In the Bay City, we anticipate the success of Copeton Baysuites which is positioned to offer hotel-like experience. We are also excited for the opening of Admiral Hotel Manila M-Gallery in Roxas Boulevard.

The Centrium will meanwhile offer premium grade office spaces for businessmen and entrepreneurs who want to be part of Bay City.

As we carry our tradition of excellence outside Metro Manila, 202 Peaklane, our maiden project in Davao City, will offer exceptional passive income opportunities and hotel-like comforts to the locals as well as business and leisure travelers.

We are confident that we are already on our path to recovery and we welcome 2022 wholeheartedly with renewed excitement in changing more landscapes in the country.

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SMART HOME CHOICES IN THE NEW NORMAL

Prim Nolido

President and COO Pueblo de Oro Development Corp.

The future of real estate is no longer about delivering four walls to homebuyers. House buying in the new normal has drastically changed, too.

Homebuyers are now looking for comfort, convenience, and safety—new normal ready communities that offer plenty of open green spaces, better air ventilation, regularly sanitized amenities, and an environment conducive for leading a healthy lifestyle.

People are also spending a substantial amount of their time at home, with remote work and online schooling . The emphasis on health became more important and these factors affect all decisions including purchasing a residence.

Well suited for the new normal

Pueblo de Oro’s townships and gated communities in Batangas, Pampanga, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro offer abundant greenery. You can look at views of the mountains or enjoy picnics in landscaped parks and gardens. There are plenty of outdoor space where you can take a stroll while enjoying fresh air. All these make are well suited to the new normal ways of living.

Pueblo de Oro’s townships and gated communities also feature health and wellness amenities.

Our subdivisions have multifunction clubhouses and courts, parks and kids playgrounds. Because of the wide roads, biking , walking , jogging and other forms of cardio activities are possible. Neighborhoods in Pampanga also include a riverside park and a jogging path. Our 400-ha township in Cagayan de Oro has the Pueblo de Oro Golf & Country Club within reach.

Even prior to the pandemic, we were already seeing the trend towards digitalization and social media. This need was heightened during the pandemic and so PDO pivoted to adjust to the new normal. We had set up our online inventory and payment systems, intensified our social media campaign, resorted to new technology apps for virtual walk throughs, and other innovations.

Even in land acquisition, we are using technology such as drones to be able to check the viability of the properties.

Prioritizing safety and wellness

We are excited and optimistic as our residential projects, which are surrounded by nature, are receiving a lot of attention among today’s homebuyers and investors.

Take Pueblo de Oro Townscapes in Malvar Batangas, which we recently launched. This masterplanned work-live-play community has well curated communities that allow sprawling green spaces and other amenities to improve air quality, accommodate proper social distancing, support an active lifestyle, and make residents feel relaxed.

We likewise offer an environment that prioritizes safety and wellness—particularly important in light of the COVID-19.

I cannot stress enough that gated, green and sustainable communities are the best choices for families for 2022 and beyond, as these green spaces have now become the norm.

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ENSURING SAFE, HEALTHY SPACES

Valerie Soliven

Chief Revenue Officer Rockwell Land Corp.

The past two years emphasized the importance of adapting to circumstances that were constantly changing, and doing so quickly. It was a priority for us to ensure that each member of our community was kept safe and taken care of, from our customers and residents to our employees and service providers.

We noticed a significant shift in preference for residential spaces with more homebuyers looking into horizontal projects outside Metro Manila. For our retail, office, and hotel arms, it was also important to continue providing convenience in our services while ensuring that our spaces were safe and sanitized.

In implementing these changes, we were provided an opportunity to show the quality we commit to—not just in our product offerings but in our after sales service as well. They witnessed how we deliver well-appointed homes in convenient locations, and that our in-house property management and security teams are able to address their needs with their well-being in mind.

At the same time, the keen attention to care was also extended to members of our teams. They were provided with transportation and accommodation options to ease their worries with the nationwide restrictions placed, and make them feel safe as they continued to report for work.

This was especially important for us, to ensure that our own people felt valued and safe.

Diversified portfolio

Diversifying our products helped in ensuring our steady recovery. We continue to find ways to improve our services and curate our offerings accordingly.

We also expanded our geographical reach. Our project in Bacolod, Nara Residences, was well received by the market. We now have two mid-rise towers as well as residential lots here.

In Pampanga, we also launched the first high-rise residential development of Rockwell Center Nepo, The Manansala, which is already 66 percent sold as of October. We plan to continue capitalizing on this strong demand for Rockwell products outside Metro Manila and launch more projects to strengthen our presence in these locations.

For our commercial projects, we’ve also introduced technological innovations which helped in the steady increase of foot traffic and mall activity in our retail establishments and healthy occupancy within our office developments.

New projects

This year, we were bolstered by how well received our products were, especially with the launches of the Sillion Building at 32 Sanson and The Villas at Aruga Resort and Residences-Mactan Phase 2, both in Cebu; Nara Residences Lots in Bacolod in Negros Occidental; Terreno South Phase 3 in Lipa, Batangas; The Arton East Tower in Katipunan, Quezon City; The Balmori in Rockwell Center, Makati; and Rockwell Center Nepo in Angeles, Pampanga.

Next year we will officially launch Rockwell Center Bacolod, a mixed-use development twice the size of our flagship in Makati City. We look forward to introducing more developments that offer our distinct brand of quality and service.

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SUSTAINING TRUST OF STAKEHOLDERS

Marco Antonio

President and CEO Century Properties

Century Properties navigated the pandemic with agility and adaptability, an emphasis on resilience, and a drive for innovation. These three strategies helped sustain the trust of our stakeholders.

Ensuring welfare

As an agile company, we acted immediately on ensuring the welfare of our workforce, from our utility, construction, up to our office personnel, through a sustained and comprehensive healthcare program, including COVID-19 testing, provision of PPE supplies, and their full vaccination with our CPG VacciNATION: Covid-Protect our Generation immunization program.

We also allowed our employees to work from home and continued with our rigorous healthcare monitoring when we slowly grew our onsite personnel after the lockdowns.

With our push for resilience and growth initiatives, we generated reasonable profits from our diversification strategies in previous years, as well as carried out sound fiscal management policies, maintained a healthy balance sheet, and focused our growth on resilient real estate segments such as affordable housing and leasing.

In terms of innovation, we ramped up our digitization, which allowed us to continue to communicate with customers and other stakeholders, ensuring the continuation of our services through the lockdowns.

Resumption of launches

We will continue to deliver our on-going projects, including the full completion of our Century City developments. Expect a resumption of project launches for the in-city residential segment but in new formats.

For affordable, we will continue to build on the success of our core product with new project launches in identified strong areas. We are on “full steam ahead” in terms of project launches, given the strong demand despite the pandemic.

We are also looking forward to expanding our partnership with Mitsubishi Corp., which shall allow us to explore market segments that remain untapped, with a mix of residential and non-residential projects.

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CREATING FUTURE READY COMMUNITIES

Atty. Anthony Charlemagne Yu

President Empire East Land Holdings Inc.

The health crisis in the past two years has taught us valuable lessons on preparedness and adaptability.

We learned to adapt. Nobody could have fully prepared us for the lockdown, but we are grateful for having some system in place even before the height of the pandemic, which allowed us to adapt and respond easier.

We are grateful for the coordination of our employees who, despite having so many questions and fears, chose to trust the management and cooperated in every decision as we went through this new event together.

They had questions, but they instinctively knew what they needed to do, and they coordinated with the management in making the work-from-home setup work.

Transmutation stategy

We have accepted that we would be living in the new normal, so we addressed the need to recalibrate our 3 Ps—People, Processes, and Projects. Our company’s stakeholders, business processes, and project offerings had to be improved to meet today’s changing demands.

By reevaluating and repositioning these key factors, we implemented a comprehensive transmutation strategy to keep our company sustainable and adaptive to the ever-changing times.

The key to a company’s sustainability is its preparedness for any adversity. The best time for preparation is not when the crisis is already there, but during good and stable times. We must be ready to face challenges when they are most unexpected.

Herd immunity to drive growth

We strongly believe in science-based solutions as we combat this health crisis.

That is why we aggressively support our government in its campaign for Filipinos to get vaccinated. We started with our employees and sales force, and we are glad that we’re now close to a 100 percent vaccination rate.

We are likewise intensively encouraging the residents of our developments to be vaccinated through our property management teams. Achieving herd immunity is what will help businesses to recover steadily and help the economy bounce back.

In the past two years, we continued to listen to our homebuyers as we always do. Their aspiration to own their home and acquire property as an investment will keep the demand for residential developments. But the market is now leaning more toward sustainable communities, and this is one growth area that we will be more focusing on.

Future-ready communities

We anticipate launching new pre-selling towers of our township development in Pasig-Cainta area—Empire East Highland City—as we continue to experience high demand from both end-users and investors.

Sustainability will remain to be a trend in the real estate industry. Therefore, we shall continue to explore how our current and upcoming projects would evolve into safe, pandemic-proof, and future-ready communities.

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NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC WELL

Atty. Anthony Vincent S. Sotto

President and CEO 8990 Holdings Inc.

Our chairman emeritus, Luis Yu Jr., said it best: “Nothing beats preparation and planning”.

When the pandemic hit, there was an air of uncertainty. After restrictions eased following the first lockdown in 2020, the company’s top management convened for a week to identify and plan out what we needed to do for the rest of the year.

Knowing the pandemic would put a strain on logistics, we started to purchase materials in advance. That really made the impact on why we were able to not only survive, but actually post positive numbers.

Most important resource

What the pandemic also highlighted is that our most important resource is people. Our employees will ensure the sustainability of the company in the years to come.

We made sure our people were protected by implementing immediately our anti COVID-19 protocols and company-wide vaccination program. Given that the real estate industry was one of the first sectors that was able to open up, it is a blessing that none of our employees were hit with the virus badly. While there were infections, they were all contained.

We are also proud to say that we did not retrench anyone.

Navigating the pandemic

To ensure a steady growth, it is pertinent that we stick to the plan we mapped out in 2020 on how to navigate and overcome this pandemic. We also review these regularly to make sure it adapts to the current environment.

Growth has always been there. The backlog currently stands at 6 million and the pandemic only emphasized the need for it.

Additionally, we believe that the demand for housing will further increase as the government further recognizes that homeownership is a wealth multiplier and, once unlocked, can support the country’s growth.

Should the pandemic situation continue to improve, we expect to see demand remaining strong next year. We have a number of projects in our pipeline and I’m excited that next year we will introduce another residential development in Metro Manila.

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SUSTAINING STRONG MARKET INTEREST

Willy Ocier

Chairman Belle Corp.

We managed two back-to-back external challenges—the eruption of Taal Volcano in January 2020, followed by the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that prompted nationwide lockdowns starting March 2020. We were able to navigate through these because of our continued prioritization on embedding robust disaster preparedness and emergency response planning into our business plans and daily operations.

Credit also goes to our employees and stakeholders for their dedication, diligence and hard work in helping to restore the affected areas immediately and minimize disruption in operations, extend community support and adapt our business processes and protocols to ensure a safe environment after the Taal Volcano eruption and amid the pandemic.

We note that Tagaytay Highlands Golf Club was able to reopen for business in February 2020, followed by the Midlands Golf Club and Highlands Country Club facilities in March 2020.

In addition, given Tagaytay Highlands’ prudent financial management, the recovery was at a much faster phase without the need for special assessments from its members.

Strong market interest

Amid quarantine restrictions however, the property market continues to thrive. Tagaytay Highlands is a clear illustration of this, as properties in this resort continue to be desirable tangible assets even during these uncertain times.

In fact, Tagaytay Highlands remains a sought-after exclusive mountain resort destination, as evidenced by continued strong market interest. Also, despite being affected by crises, the values of our membership shares continue to appreciate.

That’s because even after more than 25 years, Tagaytay Highlands remains a carefully masterplanned and exclusive luxury destination, with awe-inspiring views of Taal Lake and Mount Makiling. In spite of what we have achieved to date, we continue to live by our tagline “Set Your Sights Higher”. This keeps us striving to innovate and evolve with sustainability as our primary driver, as we pass on the stewardship of Tagaytay Highlands to the next generation.

Sound investment

According to research on trends and insights citing the pandemic’s impact on global real estate, the property industry offers good risk-adjusted returns compared to other asset classes even despite various downturns.

More potential investors are seeing this in Tagaytay Highlands, as we continue to build themed premium residential communities. A property in Tagaytay Highlands remains a worthy investment given the continued launches of new development projects, and improvements in facilities and amenities.

Despite the pandemic, we now have in the pipeline two horizontal projects in our Midlands estate—one adopting a nature-centric living concept with health and wellness as core values; and another with modern summer residences as its residential theme and central lifestyle. Meanwhile a first-of-its-kind vertical project within the Highlands estate is set to rise boasting of a log cabin feel, which Tagaytay Highlands pioneered.

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A RESOLVE TO KEEP ECONOMY MOVING

Ricardo F. Lagdameo

President Damosa Land Inc.

Keep your team motivated while knowing the company’s roadmap and they will perform.

People are still our best asset. We ensured that we could work safely from various offices and sites as well. This then enabled us to complete several key projects during the lockdowns.

I believe our homeowners, tenants, brokers, and the business community in general appreciated our resolves to keep the economy moving and preserve all jobs.

Living with the pandemic

We need to continue aggressively vaccinating the community while observing basic health protocols. We’ve learned to live with this pandemic. Projects can move forward.

In order to bring in more investments, however, travel restrictions need to be relaxed. For instance, we have several industrial park tenants that have committed to locate in the country but have not been able to travel here yet. Though I believe this is already being worked on by government, I truly hope this improves soon.

A resilient company

In terms of revenue, 2021 will have an improvement of about 35 percent over 2020. Next year should be even better as we continue to complete projects and fill office vacancies.

What gets us really excited is our latest project which we announced recently. We’ve been timing its launch to a better external situation which we felt is now. Launching a brand new project will be a good sign to our team members and to the investing public that Damosa Land is resilient and will pursue our growth objectives moving forward.

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