Faces behind the structures

The Philippine real estate sector has never been as robust and resilient as it is today. Over the last several years, the country bore witness to the unprecedented growth of the Philippine property sector, which has now captured the attention of local buyers and foreign investors alike.

The Philippine real estate sector has never been as robust and resilient as it is today.
Over the last several years, the country bore witness to the unprecedented growth of the Philippine property sector, which has now captured the attention of local buyers and foreign investors alike.

While much credit should be given to the people who head these different real estate companies, there are also the unsung heroes who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes and on the sidelines to create these burgeoning communities and towering skyscrapers that have helped shape what are now stunning skylines across the country.

The engineers, architects, sales and marketing teams, interior designers, and construction workers—these are just some of the creative geniuses who have lent their skill and expertise to make things happen, to put these sketches and plans into life in order to provide Filipinos a decent home, and allow local industries to thrive.

They form the solid foundation by which every road, structure, and building stand. And despite their significant contributions, many of them have remained unnamed and unrecognized.

And as a way of paying tribute to the time, energy and hard work that these individuals have been pouring in for every project, Inquirer Property is devoting a full section, at least for some of them to allow you to know more about the minds and faces behind these structures.

Levi Robles’ passion for business comes naturally, and it is highly evident in the way Levi Robles speaks about his role in one of the country’s most trusted names in property development, Sta. Lucia Land Inc. (SLLI).

In an interview with Inquirer Property, Robles recalled how he started his stint at SLLI, headed by his brother Exequiel Robles, back when they were starting to grow the company from its humble beginnings.

“I started out as a housing manager, I was basically in charge of field work while my brother Excy was the one doing all the office work. Basically. my job entailed procurement of materials and overseeing of the property and the ongoing development,” Levi shared.

The daunting task of overseeing the progress of each development, and making sure that everything was done efficiently proved to be a real challenge for the then 20-year-old fresh graduate, who had no background in property development at all.

But his discipline and desire to achieve greatness allowed Levi to overcome the challenges on hand, rightfully deserving of the trust that the older Robles gave him.

Levi, in fact, wore quite a number of hats when Sta. Lucia was just starting—from overseeing operations to purchasing of materials.

“It’s not that difficult. But it required a different kind of discipline and dedication. You can’t leave anything to chance and luckily, we were able to pull it off and do good on our promise to our buyers. Being in the business of housing is fulfilling and challenging at the same time but at the end of the day, what’s really important is that you are able to do good on the promise that you made to your buyer,” Levi explained.

“Our first project was a subdivision development, where we initially built two house models. The first house actually took three months before we found a buyer and the other one for another six months. Then we did Marikina Greenland where we built 10 houses and this proved to be a more effective move,” Levi recalled.

While Levi didn’t have a formal background in construction, his willingness to learn the ropes of the business proved crucial in the overall success of Sta. Lucia.

Since his brother Excy was busy attending to the business and other paper works, Levi, on the other hand, spent much of his time learning and ensuring that each of their development would be of quality and would be appealing to their buyers.

“Construction was something that really interests me and it was one of my cousins who helped me better understand the business. Learning from him and Excy, I started to work on the different projects and was tasked to look for workers that could help with the construction of our projects,” Levi said.

“We then had to hire more labor contractors. From the initial two model units, we then built 10, and then 20, and then to more than a 100. The rest they say was history. And now, we are working on hundreds of various developments across the country,” Levi related.

Indeed, it did not take long for Sta. Lucia Land to finally capture a good share of the market, and eventually become one of the biggest players in the industry.

This, however, would not have been possible if not for the hard work of all the people involved including Levi, whose role proved crucial as it entails procuring materials and ensuring cost and operational efficiencies at construction.

“I was privileged also that I had my brother as my partner because he allowed me to freely understand the business and he trusted my suggestions. It was a smooth experience overall despite the few glitches that we encountered. But it was a fulfilling journey and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Levi concluded.

Levi is currently at the helm of creating and building various Sta. Lucia projects. As the company’s vice president for operation (vertical construction), Levi is tasked to oversee the various condominium developments of Sta. Lucia.
He remains optimistic that the company still has a number of opportunities to explore. Theresa S. Samaniego
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THE ‘GREENGINEERING ADVOCATE’

Engr. Alan A. Chavez
They were trained to plan, construct, and design structures and systems. Their skills have allowed them to bridge links that could pave the way for new technological solutions.

They are the engineers and the expertise they lend in every development and infrastructure project undertaken has proven to be crucial.

Thus, for trusted property developer Sta. Lucia Land Inc., the contribution of one man named Engr. Alan A. Chavez could never go unnoticed.

Chavez—who currently heads Sta. Lucia Realty and Development Inc.’s engineering department—began his career at the Quezon City engineering office, where he worked for two years.

After he got married, he applied for an engineer position at Sta. Lucia and got accepted. He has been with the company since then.

According to Chavez, he started out as an assistant project engineer for the company, working on various developments in Rizal and Cavite. And his work in the government proved to be useful in the new task that he was given because he was able to apply all his learnings and expertise, especially in road planning and water systems.

“My exposure in planning and designing horizontal projects, roads, drainage and water systems, allowed me to bring to Sta. Lucia practices that have proven to be useful in all our projects. By applying the expertise and discipline that I have acquired while I was still with the government, we were able to address and mitigate problems that proved crucial in the success of our developments,” Chavez claimed.

As the head of the engineering department, Chavez’s main task is to ensure the structural integrity of the company’s numerous developments.

“My group is in charge of the structural component, which in essence means that we are the ones who will ensure the structural stability and soundness of a project, be it a building or a road,” he said.

Chavez’s work starts as soon as a land is acquired by the company. From there, they would usually visit the site, do a topographic survey, check the boundaries, and study the land contours before they proceed on creating plans.
“After such work has been done with the help of the urban planner, then that’s when we create the detailed design for road networks and we are given the challenge to do it in the most efficient, and most effective way possible,” Chavez shared.

“But what’s good with working for a company like Sta. Lucia is that the president of the company deals with you directly and he really listens to what you have to say. There’s always interaction and while he often gives the direction, he is very much open to suggestions,” he added.

Chavez noted that much has changed in the way they do things before compared to now, especially with the growing problems concerning climate change.

“It’s different. Before you don’t see tremendous rainfall, but now it has become a common occurrence which means that you have to plan and create developments that would counter the ill effects of climate change while at the same time ensuring that your projects are designed to follow the so-called ‘greengineering’,” Chavez related.

Despite the changes and the challenges, Chavez noted that he remains happy with his work at Sta. Lucia as he is not only given a free hand to do his job, but also because he is given the privilege to work for a man whose values and integrity cannot be questioned or put to a test.

“Being with Sta. Lucia (for more than two decades), I must say I have grown and learned a lot. Here, I was given the privilege to be exposed to all kinds of land developments given the company’s wide portfolio of products, and this is the kind of experience you can’t get from any other developer. I’m lucky to be working with Excy (Sta. Lucia Land president Exequiel Robles),” Chavez related.

“For the new and upcoming engineers, I advise you to just work hard and avoid taking short cuts, even if this means having to cut the long work hours you have to spend on a project,” Chavez concluded. Theresa S. Samaniego

February 14, 2017