Awards Highlights

Mixed-use Developments

New Cities

Housing Backlog

Residential Real Estate


The concept of integrated mixed-use developments is not something new in the Philippines. With the increasing purchasing power of middle-class Filipinos, thanks to the favorable economy, there has been a shift in the preference of property-seekers not just in Metro Manila but also in nearby provinces.

Many industry watchers believe that the robust business process outsourcing (BPO) industry has changed the way Filipino homebuyers view real estate. As a population who is always on the go, middle-income earners want to be in a place where everything is within their reach, fueling the demand for complete, self-contained communities.

Real estate giants saw the potential to establish townships to cater to these demands, companies like Ayala Land, Megaworld, and SM Prime have launched several of these townships across Metro Manila and in nearby provinces, the most notable of which include Eastwood City in Quezon City, Nuvali in Laguna, and Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

No doubt, this trend is still spreading like wildfire and now we see the likes of Ayala Land's Arca South and Cebu Business Park; SM Prime Holding's MOA Complex; Megaworld's McKinley West and Mactan Newtown; and Filinvest Land's City de Mare rising as the new generation of integrated, mixed-use developments.

As the clamor for such integrated developments continues to grow, it is not surprising that developers are now going beyond the confines of metropolitan areas to establish similar projects. One thing is for sure: mixed-use townships will pave the way for a less centralized economic landscape in the country, giving chance for other markets to be in the spotlight.


Overall Winner: Ayala Land (Nuvali)
History meets modern sustainability with Nuvali. Transitioning from a small portion of the Friar Lands to a sugar plantation at the onset of the 1900s, this Ayala Land project now stands as a beacon of visionary development in the south.

With its rapid expansion of commercial services, Nuvali stays true to its three-fold vision: harmony, diversity, and sustainability.

While it is not the case, Foster may have very well been describing what has always been in Ayala Land's drawing board: the move to mixed-use developments.

This huge Ayala Land development unleashes the potential of Southern Luzon with innovative residential and business communities, including LEED silver approved Nuvali One Evotech. Major educational facilities, topnotch hospitality spots, and recreational parks are also housed in the rearing green city of the south.

Spanning a total of 2,290 hectares of land between the cities of Cabuyao, Sta. Rosa, and Calamba in Laguna, Nuvali is more than a site for commercial advancement. Outdoor junkies are also free to enjoy local flora and fauna with the 35-kilometer mountain bike trail, wildlife sanctuary, hiking paths, and camping grounds. Residential communities also abound, including Cerilo, a 85-hectare upscale housing project amounting to a whopping Php11.3 billion. Cerilo is the eighth residential estate unveiled within Nuvali, establishing it as a site for generations of Filipino families to come.

Ayala Land prides itself for bringing surefire quality amenities to its customers, spanning major areas throughout the country. With the continuing popularity of its upscale properties, Ayala Land is ready to launch the country into an all-new era of real estate development.


Nominee: Megaworld Corp. (McKinley Hill)
Megaworld's biggest township development in Metro Manila strongly abides by its signature of staying true to the live–work–play–learn principle. From its status as a high-end shopping district to an outstanding professional hub, McKinley Hill is a perfect fit for every Filipino's needs. Covering a land bank of almost 50 hectares in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig, this Megaworld development has become the poster child of a successful mixed-use township.

McKinley Hill has formed a community of its own character, including 36 high-end residential towers, one exclusive village, office towers, shopping complexes, international schools, and foreign embassies within its turf.

A staple of office development, McKinley Hill's PEZA-certified cyber park features the highest standard of business process outsourcing (BPO) companies. However, the tenant mix of the township is more diverse than one would have thought. Corporate occupiers have chosen McKinley Hill as their home, including Colgate–Palmolive, Thomson Reuters, Hewlett-Packard, Holcim, and 3M Philippines, among others, which proves that the township is more than just an IT park but a full-fledged business district.


Nominee: SM Prime (MOA Complex)
Always a sight to behold, it is no wonder that the Mall of Asia Complex remains to be one of the biggest investment of SM Prime Holdings Inc. The reclaimed 1,727,000 square meters of land overlooks Manila Bay.

Feats of engineering ensuring seawall foundation, drainage channel, and land strengthening measures are all testaments to SM Prime Holdings' dedication to disaster risk reduction and has relied on this as its main commercial strategy. Putting the safety of its customers in the frontline, the MOA Complex is proof that the success of a project goes hand in hand with its concern for its patrons.

MOA Arena, a popular venue for both local and international acts, sits well within the complex. Governing over 64,000 square meters of land, the arena is built to house a crowd of 20,000. From concerts of iconic artists to widely watched sports competitions, the arena remains to be a site for all things worth staging at present day.

The area houses the world-renowned SM Mall of Asia, which at more than 400,000 square meters is the country's fourth largest. Nearby are the multi-tower condo developments (Shore Residences, Sea Residences, and Shell Residences) and glass-curtain- walled officer skyscrapers (One-Ecom, Two-Ecom, and Five-Ecom) all within striking distance of the mall, completing the MOA Complex's live–work–play atmosphere.


Visayas Nominee: Megaworld Corp. (Mactan Newtown)
Perfectly blending the concepts of live, work, and play is one of Megaworld's most well- known creations, Mactan Newtown, a 28.8-hectare resort-inspired community that has made history as the first major mixed-use township development with its own beach.

FThis thriving community is home to prime office towers, upscale condominiums, leisure amenities, luxurious hotels, a slew of retail shops, and a school handled by the Lasallian Schools Supervision Office. It's a dream come true for many homebuyers and property investors, given its accessible location in Lapu-Lapu City; it is after all located on the island's more tourist-focused side while still a few minutes away from the Mactan–Cebu Inernational Airport).

Fulfilling its live promise, Mactan Newtown offers high-end condominium projects that perfectly suit whatever lifestyle home seekers wish to have in this vibrant neighborhood. Projects like One Manchester Place, 8 Newtown Boulevard, and One Pacific Residence highlight the majestic beauty of the city with spectacular views of the historic Mactan Shrine, Magellan Bay, and Hilutungan Channel.

Mactan Newtown wants to be at the forefront of the city's economy, creating opportunities for local and foreign firms alike to tap into the city's pool of talent. It boasts a Cyberpark that is home to several office towers for its work aspect.

One World Center, one of the well-known office towers in this community, houses international business process outsourcing (BPO) firms. Its sister tower, the Two World Center, also hosts major names in the BPO industry. Other office skyscrapers are Eight Newtown Boulevard and Pacific Garden Tower. By 2021, the township is projected to be the location of at least five more office towers, a move toward Megaworld's aspiration to make Mactan Newtown Metro Cebu's next BPO hub. It is currently expanding its office spaces for BPO firms, targeting to offer 150,00 square meters of space.

The play aspect of the city comes from the planned premium hotels, two of which are beachfront. A world-class beach club will soon rise on the 11-hectare beachfront property formerly known as Portofino Beach.

Mactan Newtown is scaling up to be a major driver not just of the city but of the country's economy. Expected to be fully realized in the next few years, this creation will surely blaze its own path in the real estate space.


Nominee: Ayala Land (Cebu Business Park)
True to its Growing Business, Growing Life mantra, Ayala Land's Cebu Business Park operates to answer the growing demand for commercial and office spaces in the city. This 50- hectare master-planned development integrates business, residential, and recreation facilities all into one incredible experience. Its centerpiece is the 9-hectare Ayala Center Cebu shopping mall, home of the premier local and foreign retailers.

As a major player in city's premier and commercial district, Cebu Business Park has gotten the trust of business process outsourcing (BPO) and industrial firms. These firms have established their presence in the city knowing that Cebu Business Park will help them reach out to their target market, tap into the competitive talent pool, and take part in the continuous growth of Cebu.

Meanwhile, locals and foreigners may find their perfect home in any of the high-rise residences confined within the Cebu Business Park, with each tower reflecting different lifestyles. For stylish urban achievers, there is the Sedona Park condominium. For growing families, perhaps the Park Towers can help them paint their lives. Meanwhile, the affluent ones looking for distinctive living experience can find solace and luxury in either Park Point Residences or 1016 Residences.

Interestingly, Cebu Business Park also focus to the importance of breathable spaces. Its integration of bigger green spaces and other sustainable efforts such as its wastewater treatment and recycling facilities make Cebu Business Park head above shoulders of other mixed-use developments not just in Cebu but in the whole country.


Nominee: Filinvest Land (City Di Mare)
Foregrounding the Cebu City coastline is an urban development unlike any other. Aptly named as the Italian translation for its location, City Di Mare takes up a vast 50 hectares within the estate of the municipal government.

Geared to be the Lifestyle Capital of Cebu, Filinvest Land's premier township in Cebu is composed mainly of spaces for community building. Public spaces take up 60 percent of the property, lining the coast with vibrant greenery unique to the city by the sea alone. Leisure and family bonding activities need not be stressed about since City Di Mare is close by.

Residential hubs also thrive in Cebu city's largest master-planned seaside township. Italian- inspired condominium Amalfi provides upscale living amenities, with all three buildings, an Olympic swimming pool, and a clubhouse to boast for.

Contrasting the cosmopolitan specter that is Amalfi is Sanremo Oasis, innovating the traditional condominium with majority of its territory dedicated to open spaces. Determined to give residents the best that it can offer, the facilities are similar to that of a resort's, providing a stress-free atmosphere to the area.

Rooted in Filinvest Land's drive to build the Filipino dream, the group aims to boost Cebu's economy by adding this accessible yet impressive piece of development to the city's ever changing real estate landscape. And with almost 50 years of experience, the company is well underway to achieving that.

Industry watchers are proven right this year as the country's residential market delivers another stellar performance, with developers launching their innovative and promising projects not just in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu but also in nearby provinces.

Camella House

The property market has shown resilience this year, despite the internal and external geo-political uncertainties the country continues to face. The residential market in particular has shown promise, with developers seeing the potential in fringe areas of Metro Manila, particularly Laguna and Cavite. Much of the activity in Metro Manila's residential space involve vertical projects. In fact, 2017 saw several project launches by some of the biggest names in the industry.

Early this year, DMCI Homes unveiled The Celandine, a 47-story project located in Quezon City that will offer close to 1,600 units. It also started the construction works of the final tower of Oak Harbour Residences, an upscale vertical community in the Bay City; launched Prisma Residences in Pasig City, and four buildings of its Mulberry Place project in Taguig.

While many developers are shying away from building new spaces in major cities due to lack of developable land, some players are making use of the available supply in the pipeline. For instance, Keyland Corp. disclosed its plans to develop a high-rise residential project in Makati.

There are also major projects in nearby provinces. One of which is Moldex Realty's three planned projects in Cavite: Fern Parc, Moldex Residences Silang, and Heritage Spring Homes West. In the province of Batangas, a 43-hectare exclusive beachfront residential development was launched by AboitizLand. Nestled in the municipality of San Juan, this residential development will feature 800 homes.

AboitizLand also launched the 300-hectare Foressa Mountain Town in Balamban, Cebu. Expected to complete in 2020, this development embraces the beauty of nature to create the ultimate backyard and outdoor experience.

But out of all the developers who made their mark this year, five stood out in their own ways. Camella, Crown Asia, Filinvest Land, PrimaryHomes, and Maria Luisa Properties have proven their place in the real estate industry with their commitment in helping contemporary Filipinos realize their dreams.

Overall Winner: Camella


Camella has always been the Goliath among Filipino homebuilders. As a powerhouse in the horizontal housing space, Camella has already expanded its presence to about 104 cities and municipalities across the Philippines.

This year, Camella solidified its position by unveiling 32 new projects in one day: 15 new projects in Luzon, six in Visayas, and 11 in Mindanao—a feat that was never before seen in the industry.

Camella has launched some of the most sought-after residential projects in Luzon. One of its biggest projects is Camella Laoag, which successfully infuses the province's rich Spanish heritage with the rustic Ilocano culture. This 18-hectare project provides homeowners with the accessibility to major transport hubs, educational institutions, malls, and health facilities.

Camella House

In Malolos, Bulacan, Camella Provence takes inspiration from French suburbs, aspiring to create an exquisite yet affordable dwelling for its residents. Camella Provence has 230 hectares of land area that boasts scenic landscapes, tree-lined throughways, modern facilities, and state-of-the-art houses.

Camella Legazpi, meanwhile, is a Caribbean-inspired community that leverages the city's laid-back lifestyle and atmosphere to provide residents with a quality housing development. This house and lot project offers residents a verdant community with majestic view of Mount Mayon to boot.

And who would imagine that a coffee and citrus plantation would be transformed into a beach-like residential community? Camella's Plantacion Meridienne in Lipa City has been known to feature homes inspired by those in the sunny state of Florida, making every day seem like vacation for residents.

Camella also made its mark in the urban jungle. In fact, Camella Cerritos East is one of its most accessible projects in the metropolitan area. This three-hectare house and lot development in Pasig has been one of the most sought-after residential development due to its convenient access to the business centers of Ortigas and Makati.

Consistent with its tagline “We Are Everywhere,” Camella plans to push and reach further, aiming to extend its network to 200 cities and municipalities in 2018.

Nominee: Crown Asia

For more than 21 years, Crown Asia has created and provided Filipinos housing masterpieces that are timeless and elegant, meeting the dwelling needs of the middle to the upper-income earning families.

This Vista Land subsidiary is known for its top-notch aesthetics, which is apparent in its major projects in Luzon. For instance, the Italian-inspired Ponticelli in Cavite boasts the Designer House Series where homeowners are given the flexibility to decide about home partitions. This 22-hectare development is strategically located along the Daang Hari Road in Bacoor, Cavite, close to Las Piñas. It exudes the vibrancy of a laid-back lifestyle that takes residents into a holiday experience away from the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila.

Another Italian-inspired Crown Asia project is Citta Italia, also in Cavite. Its stunning landscapes, calm surroundings, and refreshing atmosphere make this residential project a gem for nascent property-seekers looking for a place to kick-start their lives.

Crown Asia's Valenza Residences

Sitting atop the grassy hills of Antipolo is Mille Luce, a residential project overlooking Metro Manila's ever-changing skyline, while Marina Heights, part of the 60-hectare master-planned community Lakefront City in Sucat, Muntinlupa, exudes American suburbia. Composed of over 170 homes, Marina Heights wants its residents to unwind and enjoy its the tranquil vibe.

Crown Asia also expanded its presence in Laguna with its three residential projects that stand out on their own. Valenza in Sta. Rosa mirrors the allure and the romantic atmosphere of Italy, while Fortezza in Cabuyao adds a contemporary feel to its Italian flair. On the other hand, the 46-hectare La Merea in San Pedro reflects a Southern American lifestyle, perfect for those households who have conservative yet contemporary lifestyles.

Most importantly, Crown Asia has pushed the boundaries of the industry with its Aventine project in Taguig. With Aventine, the company has proven that it can still deliver an upscale country-club experience within the confines of a busy city. Aventine secludes its residents from the urban jungle and immerses them in the relaxed ambience of the suburbs reminiscent of the Italian countryside.

At the end of the day, Crown Asia aims to be not just a homebuilder—it aspires to help Filipinos build their dreams and reach their goals.

Nominee: Filinvest

Going outside the box is the name of the game for Filinvest Land, Inc. (FLI). It has built its reputation by introducing exciting and innovative formats to the residential real estate space, challenging the norms and blazing new paths for other players to follow.

Historically focusing on the development and sale of affordable homes, FLI's business has recently expanded out to the upscale market. Over the course of its existence, FLI has transformed over 2,400 hectares of land into some of the most inventive residential projects and has provided 150,000 families with the home of their dreams.

This real estate giant is known for its unique take on house expansion. It has created a way for homeowners with houses on small lots to expand with ease through an addition of a second story. Additionally, FLI brought to life the concept of Asenso Village, a collaborative effort allowing small- and medium-size business owners to work in a residential project with access to government agencies.

Crown Asia's Valenza Residences

FLI's level of commitment to its craft is certainly apparent in some of its most popular projects scattered in Metro Manila and the nearby provinces of Rizal, Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite and Laguna.

The Spanish-themed Alta Vida in Bulacan and the English-inspired Ashton Fields are some of the more contemporary projects of FLI. Both projects promise its residents blissful mornings and calm nights with its lush landscape, amazing amenities, and perfect location.

Perhaps one of FLI's most iconic projects is the Havila townscape. Situated in the mountainous part of Rizal, Havila sprawls over 300 hectares of land overlooking a breathtaking panorama of verdant landscapes meeting the city skyline.

FLI has truly come a long way since its humble beginnings. A lot may have already changed but its mission to fulfill the Filipino dream continues.


Camella Houses in Cebu

Visayas: Winner: Camella



As the largest homebuilder in the Philippine real estate industry, Camella has made its mark in the Visayas region with some of the most lucrative and popular residential projects homeowners can find.

Through the years, Camella has been on the top of its game, creating an immense selection of high-quality yet affordable homes inspired by different places in the world. Savannah City in Iloilo City is one of Camella's greatest creations in Visayas. Inspired by the landscape seen in the U.S. state of Georgia, this sprawling 300-hectare estate sits cuts through three municipalities in Iloilo. Savannah City has five major enclaves, each caters to the diverse home demands and requirements of modern property seekers. The Glen offers affordable housing plans for the budget-conscious ones. On the other hand, middle-income families have two options: The Trails and The Glades. For the affluent population, Savannah City has The Orchard and The Crest.

Camella Aklan is also a quite popular residential project, given its proximity to the world-renowned Boracay. This 11-hectare project sits within Metro Kalibo and boasts Italian-inspired houses.

Meanwhile, the 17-hectare Camella Bogo transports its residents to the colorful culture of South America. Given its location within the New Bogo City Central Business District, Camella Bogo offers a fantastic connectivity to different points of interest in the city.

In the emerging residential hub of Talamban in Cebu sits Camella Riverfront. This recent house and lot development embraces nature with its verdant landscapes, scenic views of the sea, the hillsides, and the valleys, and the steady stream of water from its nearby river.

With the success of Camella Ormoc, this developer unveiled another residential project for Ormocanos, Camella North Hill. Known as the Little Baguio of Ormoc, this 14-hectare development paints a perfect picture of a gated community where families can raise their children and build memories together.

Indeed, no one's stopping Camella from conquering the whole country with its creations. With the Filipinos as its primary source of inspiration, Camella continues to move forward with its affordable yet world-class homes.

Nominee: Primary Homes

Cebuano families have always found a reliable partner in Primary Homes Inc. Celebrating its 25 years in 2017, this real estate powerhouse is among the pioneers of large-scale vertical and horizontal residential developments in Metro Cebu and in the Visayas Region.

One of its newest flagship projects is Astele, a contemporary community nestled in the balmy Mactan. Astele is a sanctuary surrounded by beautiful beach resorts, allowing its residents to turn their everyday lives to a never-ending vacation. Astele's minimalism is reflected in the clean façade of its house models. Its modern architectural take allows each dwelling to maximize the use of natural elements, allowing sunlight to illuminate and air to cool the interior of each house.

With Royal Palms Tres in Panglao Island, Primary Homes is showing a perfect example of world-class resort living made affordable. This project boasts Mediterranean-inspired houses and state-of-the-art facilities that will truly make anyone's stay feel like a vacation.

Fulfilling its duty to give a home that fits the budget, Primary Homes launched Colorado Homes Bohol. What is interesting in this affordable housing development is the use of bricks in each house to make sure residents enjoy a comfortable temperature even in the warmest of days. More so, Colorado Homes Bohol's quaint vibe invites homeowners to enjoy a peaceful and tranquil lifestyle.

With the booming tourism in Cebu and the robust housing demand in the whole Visayas region, there is no doubt that Primary Homes will play a huge part in the housing market in the years to come.

Nominee: Maria Luisa Properties

There are three things that best describe what Maria Luisa Properties has to offer: quality, strategic location, and innovativeness. In its more than 50 years of existence, Maria Luisa Properties has continuously been a major player in the prime real estate scene of Cebu.

This regional powerhouse began with a 10-hectare high-end Maria Luisa Estate Park, which the company has successfully expanded to 200 hectares, making it one of Cebu's most sought-after residential developments.

Located in Brgy. Banilad, Maria Luisa Estate Park prides itself on being the only upscale community that is highly accessible to Cebu's city center. Despite its proximity to the hustle and bustle of the metro, Maria Luisa Estate Park still offers its dwellers a quiet sanctuary, secluding the residents from the harsh city noises.

Within the estate park is a cluster of homes known as 8 Maria Luisa, designed for those residents who embrace minimalism as a way of life. This small development within Maria Luisa Estate Park offers only a limited number of contemporary-style homes complete with amenities such as a two-car garage, infinity pool, scenic landscapes, and large entertainment decks.

Perhaps one of Maria Luisa's most prized developments is The Heritage, an exclusive subdivision built on the former site of Hacienda Mandaue. This development is a melting pot of the old and the new, paying homage to its roots while at the same time embracing the contemporary movements in architecture and design.

Maria Luisa Properties continues to prove itself as one of the most innovative, committed, and powerful real estate player not just in the Visayas but in the whole country.

Over the past ten years, we have seen the increasing number of condo developments in the Philippines, owing to the fact that many are drawn to the idea of living close to the burgeoning business districts of the country; namely, Makati, Bonifacio Global City, and Ortigas Center. And now that we are seeing the growth of financial centers in other spots like the Bay City in Pasay and Parañaque; Eastwood City, Eton Centris, Cubao, and Vertis North in Quezon City; Cebu Business Park and Mactan Newtown in Metro Cebu; and Metro Davao, developers are taking advantage by bringing their condo development experience to these areas as well.

Cebu 38 Park Avenue Condo

In Metro Manila, condos are the go-to residence of young professionals, young couples, and students for their convenience in location, and even property investors are buying for exactly that. Living in a condo with top-notch facilities is one thing, but being close to your place of work or school plus countless other essential establishments is akin to getting a golden ticket to the ultimate city life.

Southward in the Visayas, the most sought-after condos are ones located near areas considered to be business centers, such as the Cebu Business Park and the Cebu IT Park in Cebu City, calling the attention of employees already in the area, as well as relocators hoping to move in a neighborhood teeming with employment opportunities. Being an island province, Cebu is surrounded by countless beautiful beaches, something that has been good not just for tourism but also for real estate with the increase of expats finding a new home in the area, as well as locals in search for a vacation home that can double as a rental for income.

Whatever the reason for investing and whoever is purchasing, condos will remain to be a popular choice among people of all walks of life, which is why these developers are working tirelessly to meet the demands of its growing market here and abroad.


Overall Winner: Ayala Land



With a history that dates back to the 1830s, Ayala Land has been changing the Philippine real estate landscape for nearly two centuries. Much of the large-scale transformation of Metro Manila and beyond happened under its tutelage, such as the Makati central business district in the 1960s; Ayala Alabang in the 1970s; Cebu Business Park in the 1980s; and Bonifacio Global City and Nuvali in the 2000s.

Makati remains as Ayala Land's crown jewel; its growth from an undeveloped piece of land to the country's premier financial district is proof of the company's vision and expertise. Aside from housing Ayala Avenue and Ayala Center, Makati also contains many of the developer's most prominent vertical addresses, including the ultra-high-end Two Roxas Triangle and Park Central Towers by Ayala Land Premier.

After Makati, the 240-hectare Bonifacio Global City (BGC) is considered to be another one of Ayala Land's most monumental achievements. Once a U.S. military base, Fort Bonifacio has since been redeveloped through a partnership with the Bases Conversion Development Authority and is now a world-class residential and business center. The company's pioneering BGC condo development, One Serendra, was a true game-changer: a residential project that blurred the lines between city living and rural escape. Other developments soon followed to accommodate other markets, such as Ayala Land Premier's The Suites, West Gallery Place, and East Gallery Place; Alveo Land's High Street South Block; and Avida Towers Turf BGC and Avida Cityflex.

Ayala Land's veracity as a property developer is well-known, reflected on their desire to ensure that in their task to remain one of the top-of-mind real estate names in the country, the customer will always come first, whether it be a starting family looking for a first home or a small business in need of office space for its expansion.

Nominee: DMCI Homes

Construction firm DMCI Holdings had been investing in infrastructure and real estate projects through its subsidiary DMCI Project Developers, Inc., but it was not until 1999 that they launched DMCI Homes, aiming to build residences in the form of condominiums and house and lots. Starting their venture with Lake View Manors in Taguig in 1999, they dared to be bolder and more innovative with their following developments; namely, Hampstead Garden in Manila in 2000 and East Ortigas Mansions in Pasig in 2003.

But perhaps the greatest testament to DMCI Homes' constant evolution is Acacia Estate, a 150-hectare Taguig development consisting of commercial areas, events halls, shared amenities, as well as a host of themed condo developments. Not one to stick with traditional modular design of a traditional condo, the company brought together internationally inspired aesthetics with the Filipino–Spanish project Ivory Wood, the neo-Asian Cedar Crest, the boutique hotel Maple Place, the Asian tropical residence Mulberry Place, the modern Balinese The Birchwood, Thai tropical Royal Palm Residences, and the modern Polynesian Verawood Residences.

Initially focused on building condo developments in Metro Manila, DMCI Homes has since expanded beyond, making their mark in Aklan with Alta Vista De Boracay, Baguio with Bristle Ridge and Outlook Ridge Residences, and Davao City with Verdon Parc.

Nominee: SMDC

SM Investments Corporation's integrated property developer SM Prime altered the middle-income condominium landscape when it introduced residential subsidiary SM Development Corporation (SMDC). SMDC made its presence known officially in 2003 with the launch of its maiden project Chateau Elysee in Parañaque, and it has since launched over 30 vertical residential developments all over Metro Manila. “Location, location, location” is perfectly embodied in SMDC's developments, which are concentrated in Makati, Ortigas Center, Taguig, Pasay, Quezon City, and several other business districts.

As the leading mall developer in the country—65 and counting—it was only a matter of time when they decided to build one of the biggest malls in Asia. But they did not stop there; around SM Mall of Asia, they developed the Mall of Asia complex, a district that not only offers commercial, retail, and entertainment, but also condo developments: Shore Residences, Sea Residences, and Shell Residences. Designed to emulate the look and feel of a tropical resort, these condos are well-equipped with amenities that define “staycation.” And with getaways in mind, SMDC has also started venturing out of the boundaries of Metro Manila with Wind Residences in Tagaytay, Cheer Residences in Bulacan, and Charm Residences in Rizal.

In recent years, SMDC has also taken on the luxury property market with an upscale brand, SMDC Premier. The high-end name started off their ritzy portfolio with S Residences in MOA Complex, followed by Air Residences in Makati, Fame Residences in Mandaluyong, and Coast Residences in Pasay.

Winner: Cebu Landmasters

A vision to “provide better homes for the average Filipino worker” is the catalyst that drove Cebu Landmasters to begin their task of changing the condo landscape of Cebu. Established in 2003 as a residential, commercial, hospitality, mixed-use, and civic project developer, Cebu Landmasters began with the platform of family values, passion for real estate, and customer commitment.

In 2010, the company embarked on condo development through their first vertical development Asia Premier Residences in Cebu IT Park. Together with New York–inspired 38 Park Avenue, the Cebu real estate brand also proved their commitment to not just provide reasonably priced condos, but also projects that surround residents with everything that matters.

Later on, Cebu Landmasters' condo portfolio expanded further with the rise of the 16-story Baseline Residences in Midtown Cebu in 2011 (to be followed in 2015 by Base Line Center); and the seven-building Mivesa Garden Residences in Lahug in 2013. The success of some of their subdivision developments even led to the construction of more condos. Launched in 2012, the twin-tower Midori Residences in Mandaue is a spin-off to the Zen-inspired subdivision Midori Plains located in Minglanilla. Casa Mira Towers-Labangon, launched in 2015, is the vertical counterpart of the economic housing development Casa Mira in Talisay.

Cebu Landmasters' mission also brought them outside Cebu Province; the company has launched condos in other provincial locations; namely, Mesavirre Garden Residences in Bacolod City, Mesaverte Residences in Cagayan de Oro City, and MesaTierra Garden Residences in Davao City.

Nominee: PrimaryHomes

Having been in the real estate business for over 20 years, PrimaryHomes is one of the very first brands to develop large-scale housing projects in Cebu. It started in the real estate business with the subdivisions in Bohol: The Royal Palms Panglao and Colorado Homes Bohol. The success of these communities led to more horizontal developments, namely Royal Palms Dos and Royal Palms Tres both also in Panglao, as well as Richwood Homes in Compostela, Cebu. But perhaps their most noteworthy development is Astele, an award-winning modern community with an Asian contemporary aesthetic and well-designed amenities.

It is not only with horizontal developments that PrimaryHomes excels in; the leading Cebu property developer has also ventured into the condo development game with the launch of Woodcrest Residences and The Courtyards at Brookridge both in Cebu City, as well as Brentwood in Mactan Island. Woodcrest Residences is not just about the convenience of having everything within reach; its location also provides the simple joy of having a nice view of the city lights at night. The Courtyards at Brookridge offers the ultimate in living with nature; its design allows residents to enjoy lush greenery through its many open-air courtyards. Divided in clusters and found in an island city setting, Brentwood has many of the most sought-after qualities of a modern condo development: resort-inspired amenities, low-density areas, and unconfined spaces.

With an intent to carry on the skills developed throughout their two-decade industry experience while also developing new skills and concepts to remain ahead of the competition, PrimaryHomes plans to continue providing home that offer residents a sense of assurance and pride.

Nominee: AboitizLand

For years, AboitizLand has been creating subdivisions and houses that respond to the needs of its clients, having already completed a fair number of communities; namely, Molave Highlands and Briza in Consolacion; Mahogany Grove, North Town Woods, and North Town Homes in Mandaue City; and Kishanta Zen Residences in Talisay City. And ready to change the lives of people looking to start new are upcoming projects Priveya Hills in Bacayan, Pristina North Resideces in Talamban, Amoa in Compostela, Almiya in Mandaue, Ajoya in Cordova, Foressa in Balamban, and Seafront Residences in San Juan, Batangas. But AboitizLand is on the verge of expanding their residential portfolio to accommodate buyers who are looking for something different under the company's name.

The Persimmon is AboitizLand's first foray into condo development, and the project is already making waves for bringing convenient urban living to Cebu. The mid-rise Asian contemporary residential enclave boasts a wide expanse of open green spaces and a view of the city or coast. The project also incorporates commercial space and first-class amenities to provide residents with a truly cosmopolitan experience, making it a worthy investment.

Ultimately, though, AboitizLand is all about providing “the ultimate real estate experience,” as expressed in the way by which they design and deliver each project. The company fleshes out its vision guided by the core values of integrity, teamwork, innovation, and responsibility, ensuring that their name will constantly be synonymous with quality.


The past few years saw immense progress in the real estate sector, proof of which is the continuous development not just of residential properties, but also of commercial elements that make up thriving mixed-use communities: offices, retail spaces, hotels, and recreational establishments.

Just in the third quarter of this year, we saw the completion of eight office buildings in Metro Manila, including Robinsons Cyber Sigma in Fort Bonifacio, Vertis BPO Phase 1 in Quezon City, and South Park Corporate Center in Alabang, adding a total of 194,600 sqm gross leasable area to the current supply. Also, by the end of the year, there is a projected additional 30,000 sqm leasable retail space to be completed by various developers, plus an expansion of about 800,000sqm in retail stock annually for the next three years. And with 2017's tourism numbers targeted at six million arrivals, developers are working to fill in the need for more accommodations. Activities are being seen among the country's biggest players, many of which have plans to expand their hotel brands.

Among the big names leading the pack of commercial developers are SM Prime, Ayala Land, and Robinsons Land, which already have multiple establishments and facilities under their belt and in the works. With more projects to come, there is no doubt that these developers will constantly be in the running as top-of-mind brands when it comes to commercial developments.

Winner: SM Prime Holdings

SM has long been ingrained in the consciousness of Filipinos; for over 30 years, the two letters have been synonymous with shopping, dining, and a myriad of recreational activities. From its early beginnings as a shoe store in downtown Manila in 1958, it has grown massively over the decades that by the end of 2017, there will be a total of 67 SM supermalls all over the country (plus seven in China). SM has also managed to produce some of the largest malls in the world, including SM City North EDSA, SM Megamall, and the Mall of Asia.

Under the Commercial Properties Group, SM Prime is also increasing its presence in the office space segment by constructing, leasing, operating, and managing office buildings. The Mall of Asia (MOA) Complex, for one, is home to the Ecom Centers, which are large corporate spaces fully equipped to accommodate BPO and IT companies.

SM has also established the SM Hotels and Conventions, which owns and operates a number of hospitality properties, including Taal Vista Hotel, Radisson Blu, Pico Sands, and Conrad Manila, which together boast a total of 1,514 rooms. This business arm also manages the group's SMX Convention Centers—events and convention venues with sites in the MOA Complex, Taguig, Davao, Cebu, and Bacolod.

Focused on the idea of being “catalysts for a better quality of life,” the SM group has been altering the Philippine real estate landscape for decades.

Nominee: Ayala Land

Turning an undeveloped tract of land into a thriving environment is not an easy feat, but the Ayalas had vision. They saw back in the 1960s that Hacienda Makati had potential and they jump-started it, helping it evolve into the country's premier financial district. Since then, they have not stopped using their expertise to awaken the economy of various parts of the country, from Bonifacio Global City to Davao.

To Ayala Land, a mall should not be just a collection of dining and retail options; they should be “lifestyle and cultural centers that celebrate Filipino architecture, artistry, and design.” As a result, retail hubs like Glorietta, Greenbelt, Bonifacio High Street, Solenad, Ayala Center Cebu, and Abreeza Davao have vibrant and innovative designs teeming with life. Parks are incorporated into the aesthetic, sustainability is built into the design, and the overall feel gives visitors a sense of community.

On the office front, Ayala is just as competitive. Built into their estates are corporate headquarters designed to accommodate local and multinational traditional companies, as well as so-called Technopods equipped to address the needs of BPO firms. Ayala is also upping the ante in terms of hospitality facilities, from their own hotel brand to recreational spaces. The Seda hotel brand, for one, is flourishing in locations like Taguig, Davao, Laguna, Cagayan de Oro, and Iloilo, while the tourist magnet Palawan is getting the Ayala treatment with the ultra-high-end El Nido Resorts.

Nominee: Robinsons Land

A company that prides itself in creating “new opportunities and a better life,” Robinsons Land has spent decades developing well-planned and vibrant communities and establishments. By building malls, offices, and hotels all over the Philippines, the brand aims to provide Filipinos with a truly well-rounded live–work–play experience.

Aside from being a leading subdivision and condo developer, the Gokongwei-led company is one of the largest office landlords in the country, and is considered the pioneer in providing corporate workspaces to BPO companies and call centers, as well as local and international corporations in the country.

Robinsons entered the retail property industry in 1990 with their flagship mall Robinsons Galleria, situated at the corner of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue. The property giant has since built 44 more malls throughout the Philippines with more in the pipeline, specifically in Naga, where their 46th mall and first mall in the Bicol Region will be built.

Addressing the growing need for tourist accommodations, the company—through the Robinsons Hotels and Resorts Group—has also diversified its hospitality portfolio, which began with the deluxe brands Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria and Holiday Inn Manila Galleria. Robinsons also introduced the Summit hotel chain with the opening of flagship hotel Summit Galleria Cebu, which was followed by Summit Hotel Magnolia, Summit Ridge Tagaytay, and Summit Circle Cebu. For the budgeted tourist, they launched, which is currently present in 15 locations in the Philippines, and are also co-selling hotel rooms for Karaksa Hotels in Japan.


Every Filipino dreams of having their very own home—a place where they create their own rules and make their own decisions. Juan dela Cruz need not dream any longer as this has now become an attainable reality owing to the existence of more affordable housing developments throughout the country.

Whereas not so long ago one has to be a top-level manager or a successful businessman before being able to purchase a piece of real estate, today the working class Filipino can equally become an able buyer. Easier finance schemes and lower interest rates have brought home-owning to a reachable level.

As more and more industries move out of Metro Manila, real estate properties have long gone ahead with the construction of affordable dwellings in significant places outside the Philippine capital. These places include Bulacan and Pampanga in Central Luzon, and Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, and even as far south as Batangas in southern Luzon. In the Visayas, places outside Cebu City are becoming popular for affordable housing developments, including Lapu-Lapu City, Talisay, Minglanilla, and Compostela, among many others. These areas' idyllic ambiance coupled with the rapid development of transport infrastructure are making them an ideal place for would-be homebuyers.

For instance, new railways and expressways being built in Central and Southern Luzon will make travel to Metro Manila faster and easier. In addition, these locations' vibrant tourism will play an important role to making them real estate investment hotspots.

Price will always be a primary determining factor when it comes to purchasing a home. Developers are keenly aware of this such that many projects offer house and lots with prices ranging from Php1.75 to 3.3 million for a two- or three-bedroom unit condominium in Metro Cebu. In addition, commitment to quality and excellence while maintaining price competitiveness is no easy feat, which is why real estate builders who continue to pursue both should be given proper recognition. The following are the projects voted as the Best Affordable Housing Development in Lamudi's 10,000-strong survey.


Winner: Avida Settings Cavite (Avida Land)

The word Avida stands for “Celebrate Life,” which is what every Avida Land development is founded on. With accessibility, unique features and amenities, quality assurance, stress-free buying, and a relaxing living experience as its five pillars, this ISO-certified company has indeed come a long way since its inception and has now established itself as the “developer of choice for the rising middle class.”

Dasmariñas is among the fastest growing cities in Cavite. It has evolved from being an agricultural town into an urbanized industrial city with the influx of industries and presence of major educational and medical institutions. As the largest city in terms of population in the province, Dasmariñas is home to over 70 residential subdivisions.

Avida Settings Cavite is a vibrant community with easy accessibility. It is a mere 15-minute drive to Alabang Town Center through Daang Hari Road and is likewise conveniently accessible from Metro Manila via the South Luzon Expressway or the Manila–Cavite Expressway. Its American-inspired homes lend a charming appeal that blends both innovation and class. Its two- and three-bedroom units, with floor areas of 90 and 131 sqm, respectively, are the perfect place to grow a healthy and active family.

This 58-hectare property is complete with contemporary amenities that every member of the family can enjoy: infinity pool, modern basketball court, freestanding gazebo, American-inspired clubhouse, courtyard system, and preserved sloping terrains. Their round-the-clock security, CCTV cameras, and an electric perimeter fence provide a sense of peace and security.

Nominee: Camella Cerritos (Camella)

Camella's tagline “We Are Everywhere” rings true as it has, through the years, took on the title of the largest homebuilder in the Philippines. Forging ahead and staying on top of their game for the past 40 years, Camella has consistently built high-quality affordable homes in 39 provinces and 104 cities and municipalities in the country.

Camella Cerritos, located in Daang Hari Road, Molino, Bacoor, Cavite, is situated adjacent to the rapidly growing Vista City and is an assemblage of several residential enclaves—namely, Terraces, Heights, Trails, Lessandra Heights, Hills, and Carson. Poised to become the premier location in the south, it is conveniently located a few minutes' drive away from the commercial districts of Alabang and Las Piñas.

This master-planned estate themed and spacious three- to four-bedroom homes, which are perfect for growing families. The development's tranquil environment, charming landscape, well-equipped amenities, and proximity to establishments allow parents to provide their children with village upbringing without being detached to urbanized living.

Nominee: Amaia Scapes Bulacan (Amaia Land)

Amaia Scapes Bulacan, a 3.3-hectare affordable estate by Ayala Land subsidiary Amaia Land, is situated in the municipality of Sta. Maria, first class, highly urbanized municipality in Bulacan and is considered part of the Metro Luzon Urban Beltway Super Region. Just a 15-minute drive from the Bocaue Exit of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), present and future residents of this development will find themselves near grocery stores, schools, and hospitals, as well as the Sta. Maria's downtown core.

True to Amaia's pledge to affordable housing, one can own a house and lot for only Php800,000. This development offers 200 units, each of which ranging in size from 27 to 75 sqm, giving single and married buyers as well as those with family more housing options to choose from. Despite the low cost, Amaia Scapes Bulacan did not scrimp on amenities. The site has a swimming pool, a basketball court, a tree-lined spine road, and a guarded entrance and exit, as well as Amaia's signature Patio Greens, which is a sprawling grounds of manicured greeneries. It also boasts a Village Pavilion, which is a versatile open space that can accommodate various family and community activities.



Winner: Camella Riverfront (Camella)


As the flagship brand of Vista Land, Camella has become not just a master builder but also a master-planner who has the expertise to construct well-thought-out communities. Location takes up a large chunk of a property's appeal and Camella has always had great foresight when it comes to choosing the best venue for its next residential project.

Camella Riverfront is one of the six strategically—and excellently—planned enclaves that make up the 70-hectare property development called The Riverscapes. Riverfront, which is a 10-hectare property, sits atop the hills of Talamban in Cebu City. This location is complemented by winding tree-lined roads and a magnificent river that make for one picturesque view after another.

Residents surely get the best of both worlds with the marriage between the beauty and serenity of nature with the practicality of urban living. Just a 10-minute ride away from the Banilad–Mandaue junction, they can conveniently find themselves surrounded by restaurants, offices, prominent schools including also Gaisano Grand Mall, while the city center is but a 20-minute commute away.

Camella's best-selling two-story unit models come with al-fresco, upper-floor balcony, as well as car garage provisions. The Mediterranean-inspired homes are certainly well-worth every centavo as the community comes with topnotch amenities, such as a swimming pool, children's playground, jogging paths and bike lanes, clubhouse, and landscaped parks and gardens.

Nominee: Amaia Scapes North Point Bacolod (Amaia Land)

Amaia Scapes North Point located in Bacolod is the first house and lot project of Amaia Land in Negros Island and the Visayas region. Residents and would-be buyers of this housing development are indeed “all smiles,” as their tagline goes, because of the many benefits this property has to offer.

Amaia Scapes North Point Bacolod is close to the city's important sites; it is a mere 10-minute drive away from the Bacolod Silay Airport and only 7.9 km away from Bacolod City proper. It is likewise part of a fully integrated community within the Ayala Land property, which includes BPO offices, a retail strip, a school, and other residential projects. A shuttle service from the entrance of the Ayala Land development to Amaia Scapes North Point provides extra convenience and comfort.

Homes are not only exquisitely designed, but are also energy efficient. From the wall colors to the placement of the windows, everything is carefully planned and properly executed to optimize energy consumption. In addition, are delivered in bare finish to make room for more design options. Homeowners are also given a one year warranty on workmanship and materials. Further security can be felt because the property is situated in a flood-free community. Family members can take advantage of well-appointed amenities—pavilion, pool, playground, basketball court—and open spaces surrounded by lush greens.

Amaia Scapes North Point homes grow with the family as each unit has provisions for expansion allowing residents to enjoy the fruits of their labor for many years to come.

Nominee: Richwood Homes (PrimaryHomes)

For over 20 years, PrimaryHomes has become a partner of Cebuano families in fulfilling their dream of owning not just any home, but quality home. The company is among the first to develop large-scale housing projects in the province of Cebu and is the only Triple A ISO Standard Construction Company in Visayas and Mindanao.

Built on a 5.4-hectare property and boasting about 709 housing units, Richwood Homes is set apart from other low-cost housing as others are usually located far from the main roads. Richwood Homes, however, is less than 200 meters away from the national highway. It is a 15-minute ride to SM City Consolacion and is a mere walk away from the church, supermarket, municipal hall, and the beach.

A 50-sqm unit in Richwood Homes is offered for Php1.25 million, making it ideal for young families. With flexible payment terms where one can begin equity payment of only Php4,500 per month, this housing project can easily be obtained by those working in the business process outsourcing (BPO) and manufacturing industries who Primary Homes targets.

The houses feature sleek modern designs with smooth concrete finished flooring, tiled toilet and bathrooms complete with fixtures, a kitchen counter, and a well-designed plumbing and electrical system. The community's amenities and features include 24-hour security, concrete access road, a multipurpose hall, a convertible court, and selected landscaped areas.


One will be forgiven to think that one will only find high-end subdivisions and gated communities in Metro Manila. After all, the Philippine capital for many years has been home to many well-known upscale villages, among them Forbes Park, Dasmariñas Village, and Urdaneta Village in Makati; Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa; Corinthian Gardens and White Plains in Quezon City; and Valle Verde in Pasig.

However, building high-end housing developments such as these require large land areas, which unfortunately is in short supply in Metro Manila at the moment—not to mention that the cost of acquiring such huge tracts of land would be prohibitively costly—so it is not surprising that developers are now venturing out of the Philippine capital, including the Cavite and Laguna provinces, for their next upscale housing projects. And because land is no longer much of an issue in these places, builders can now add a long list of impressive amenities (man-made lake and gold courses, anyone?) that buyers would surely swoon over with.

Here are the top high-end housing developments voted in Lamudi's 10,000-propery-seeker survey, and we can say that these projects are truly upscale and impressive.


Winner: Ayala Greenfield Estates (Ayala Land Premier

A project by Ayala Land's luxury subsidiary Ayala Land Premier, Ayala Greenfield Estates is situated in Calamba, Laguna, only 20 minutes south of Alabang via the South Luzon Expressway. This estate is also strategically located, being close to Laguna's industrial parks, to Tagaytay, and Ayala's other Laguna project Nuvali, and it sits on the slopes of Mount Makiling, offering residents spectacular views of Tagaytay Ridge, Laguna de Bay, and Batangas. Being a high-end project, lot size range between 400 and 700 square meters, with prices ranging from Php3 to Php16 million (approximately Php17,250 per sqm).

Among the development's first-class amenities include Nature Park, Arbor Trails, and Riparian Grove where residents can enjoy picnic groves, open playfield, tree groves, hike and bike trails, and even a fishing lagoon and camp and picnic sites. To top it all off, residents can also enjoy an 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones II.

Nominee: Ayala Westgrove Heights (Ayala Land Premier)

Another project of Ayala Land Premier, Ayala Westgrove Heights is a prime residential estate located in Silang, Cavite, and offers property seekers a magnificent and sweeping expanse of over 400 hectares of groves, hills, and valleys blanketed by thousands of mango trees. This nature-oriented high-end housing development is the perfect place to raise a family, as it boasts same topnotch level of security, luxury, and aesthetic standards accorded to every Ayala Land housing project.

Ayala Westgrove Heights is strategically located within close proximity to Nuvali, which in turn makes it near numerous commercial and leisure destinations, schools, hospitals, and even technology parks, including St. Scholastica's College–Westgrove, DLSU Canlubang, the Asian Hospital and Medical Center, Paseo de Santa Rosa, and Solana, among others. And in keeping with the Ayala tradition of preserving nature in its developments, half of the housing project's area is reserved for parks and open spaces. According to the Ayala Land Premier website, lot sizes at Ayala Westgrove Heights range from 430 to 720 sqm, which are priced between Php5.7 and Php8.5 million (approximately Php12,350 per sqm).

Nominee: Valenza (Crown Asia)

Named after the Piedmontese comune of Valenza, Crown Asia's upscale Sta. Rosa, Laguna housing development is testament to the developer's commitment to providing Filipino families with a trophy home they can be proud of. This 25-hectare prime and gated community is strategically located close to the South Luzon Expressway, Nuvali, and Alabang, and in turn it is also close to some of the area's highly sought-after establishments, including De La Salle Canlubang, St. Scholastica's College, Brent International, Xavier School, Paseo de Santa Rosa, and Solenad, among others. It is also close to Tagaytay via the Sta. Rosa–Tagaytay Road.

Valenza is part of the larger community known as Sta. Elena City—a 300-hectare, master-planned project of Crown Asia's parent company Vista Land. This massive development features exclusive residences and themed enclaves set amidst a well-preserved natural landscape. Valenza is now seen as a new destination for growing families who dreams of experiencing the same urban living close to nature and away from the noise of Metro Manila.

Apart from the quaint Italian architecture of its houses and plush landscapes, Valenza also offers topnotch amenities, including a swimming pool, a tennis court, a basketball court, a children's playground, parks and pocket gardens, and a clubhouse for special events and gatherings. Prices of house and lots in Valenza start at Php7.2 million.


Winner: Maria Luisa Estate Park (Maria Luisa Properties)

Considered one of the most desirable locations in Cebu City, Maria Luisa Estate Park—a high-end housing development of Maria Luisa Properties Group—is remarkable in that it is perhaps the city's only high-end gated community that is close to many of Cebu's attractions. In fact, this subdivision development (comprised of several themed villages) is strategically located in Brgy. Banilad, Cebu City, which is a mere 10- to 30-minute drive away from the shopping malls of Cebu Business Park, the cultural and historical attractions of downtown Cebu, and even the ocean-side ambiance of the South Road Properties. Maria Luisa Estate Park offers lots ranging in size from 230 to 1,467 sqm, with prices starting from Php6,500 per sqm for mountain-side lots to Php15,000 per sqm for super prime lots.

Nominee: The Residences at NorthRidge (GENVI Development Corp.)

The Residences at NorthRidge is part of Monterrazas de Cebu, is a 200-plus-hectare master-planned, high-end mixed-use development located in Cebu City's Brgy. Guadalupe. Developed by GENVI Development Corp., this gated enclave is the second part of Monterrazas de Cebu housing and land development project.

Set amidst rolling hills and mountainous terrain, The Residences' location is noteworthy as it offers property buyers and would-be residents a mountain resort–themed village, much akin to those found in Baguio and Tagaytay. Another great thing about this project is that it is just mere minutes from the hustle and bustle of Cebu City.

The Residences at NorthRidge offers two model designs for houses and lots, each of which boasts its own swimming pool. Houses in this project were designed and envisioned to be perfect for intimate gatherings, with communal living, dining, and kitchen that are set in an open layout to give residents free-flowing space. To allow privacy and personal relaxation, however, bedrooms are tucked away or on different levels of the property. Should buyers wish to have their own custom-designed houses in The Residences at NorthRidge, lots are also available for sale, ranging in size from 281 to 540 sqm.

Nominee: Priveya Hills (AboitizLand)

A project of Cebu-based AboitizLand, Priveya Hills is a premier and exclusive housing community that offers wide-open green spaces set on a natural rolling terrain. This project deserves a spot in this category, not only because of its easily accessible and strategic location, but also for the privacy it offers to its residents.

Nestled in the verdant hills of Brgy. Talamban, it is only about 15–20 minutes away from Cebu City's central business district. It commands a wide vista of the skylines of both Cebu and Mandaue. It is also an ideal place for growing families as this low-density development only has only 13 lots per hectare. This high-end community also boasts three hectares of parks and ponds, 45 percent of which are devoted to wide and green open spaces. Amenities include multipurpose court with bleachers, swimming pool, combinable function rooms, a clubhouse, a linear park, and a commercial area, among others. Lots for sale in Priveya Hills have sizes ranging from 383 to 440 sqm, with prices ranging from Php8.5 to Php11.2 million.


Although condominium properties have been around since at least the Makati central business district has been in existence, it is only recently when they have become truly affordable, with the proliferation of high-density developments and low- and mid-rise projects located in not-so-prime areas of Metro Manila. These pieces of real estate, after all, have been historically tied to the rich and famous.

However, buyers should be aware that the word “affordable” must not fool them—most of today's low-cost condo developments, with their high-quality amenities, well-thought-out designs, and topnotch security, almost seem like expensive abodes, sans the high price tag, of course. With competition between property developers to capture the mid-end and affordable market segments, buyers can only expect to have a lot more inexpensive condo options in the coming years.

Many of today's affordable condo developments are found in fringe areas—at the periphery of business districts, where prices are still low and space abundant. These areas include some parts of Quezon City, Pasay, Parañaque, Marikina, Pasig, Muntinlupa, and Las Piñas, among others. Outside the Philippine capital, cities that boast plenty of affordable condo options include the provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Bulacan, and Pampanga; Metro Cebu (particularly Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu City); and Davao.

Given that plenty of Filipinos—particularly the growing middle class and OFW families—now seem enamored with condo living, we can expect the affordable segment of the condo industry to only flourish over the next few years. And this is good news to the buying public; the more options out there mean more competitive prices. Right now we are seeing regular folks becoming real estate investors, buying condos as a form of investment, cashing in on long-term capital appreciation or leasing them out to BPO workers for rental income. Judging from the results of Lamudi's 10,000-strong survey conducted in 2017, Filipinos are very much aware of their affordable condo options, as exemplified by whom they have voted for as the Best Affordable Condo Developments in the country.


Winner: Trees Residences (SMDC)

SMDC has come a long way from being a mid-range condo developer to a respected builder of quality and well-located projects. And one of its projects that stands out in terms of location, quality, and affordability is Trees Residences—its latest development located in Novaliches, Quezon City.

Situated close to SM City Fairview, this resort-themed condo development offers 6 seven-story mid-rise buildings (for its first phase) that boast apartments starting from 19 sqm in size. This 8.35-hectare development, touted as the largest condo project in Metro Manila, is projected to have three phases, each of which will have between five and eight towers and an overall number of units of approximately 7,200 and about 1,800 parking slots.

Future residents of Trees Residences will also benefit immensely from the MRT Line 7, which is currently under construction and will run from North Avenue (between TriNoma Mall and SM City North EDSA) all the way to San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan via Commonwealth Avenue and Quirino Highway. According to SMDC, prices of units at Trees Residences start at Php1.7 million.

Nominee: Amaia Steps Alabang (Amaia Land)

For years, Ayala Land subsidiary Amaia Land has built quality housing and condo developments guided by its five pillars (“Malapit sa lahat,” “May dating,” “De kalidad,” “Napakadali,” and “Paangat ang buhay”), and its project in Las Piñas is no exception. Dubbed Amaia Steps Alabang, it is not surprising that this development has been voted as one of the best affordable condo developments in Metro Manila and neighboring areas in Lamudi's 10,000-strong survey.

Amaia Steps Alabang embodies its developer's five pillars. It is highly accessible to major transport infrastructure, most notably the South Luzon Expressway and the Metro Manila Skyway. In addition, its location along Alabang–Zapote Road makes sure that public transport options are easily available for its residents. At the same time, this development houses a collection of family-friendly amenities, including a swimming pool, village clubhouse for events and parties, a linear garden, a basketball court, and children's play area. And with flexible payment terms and affordable units (ranging from 24 to 49 sqm) priced between Php1.9 and Php3 million, Amaia Land makes sure that finally purchasing a condo property will be truly affordable for Filipino families.

Nominee: Brio Tower (DMCI Homes)

Not all affordable condos are situated in areas far from business districts. This is best exemplified by Brio Tower, DMCI Homes' very first project in Makati. True to its promise of delivering high-quality and well-located residential projects, 30-story Brio Tower is located in Barangay Guadalupe Viejo (along EDSA), which is a mere stone's throw away from Rockwell Center. At the same time, this development is easily accessible from Bonifacio Global City and Ortigas Center.

Similar to other DMCI Homes development, Brio Tower boasts excellent resort-inspired amenities, including kiddie and lap pools, landscaped atriums, a sky patio, a linear park, roof garden. In addition, this project features the developer's Lumiventt technology, allowing air and natural light to penetrate freely the condo's hallways and commons areas, which keeps them well-lit and ventilated. A studio unit measuring 24 sqm at Brio Tower starts at Php2.6 million during its launch.


Winner: Urban Homes Condominium (8990 Holdings)

This development of noted affordable and low-cost condo builder 8990 Holdings in Mandaue City is perhaps what best exemplifies the company's commitment to providing Filipino families quality and well-located projects at a fraction of the cost. This four-story, walk-up condo development in Barangay Tipolo, is close to the city's commercial and business establishments, and sits along the city's M. C. Briones Street, making it easily accessible from Lapu-Lapu City via both the Marcelo Fernan Bridge and the Osmeña Bridge. In addition, it is also a short drive away from Cebu City's North Reclamation Area via the Central Nautical Highway. And although positioned as a low-cost development, Urban Homes Condominium boasts special amenities, including a swimming pool, a basketball court, clubhouse for events and parties, and a children's playground. The development also has 24/7 security.

Nominee: Avida Towers Cebu (Avida Land)

If there is one thing in this development that stands out, it is the fact that it is the only condo project in this category that is located within a full-fledged mixed-use township (Ayala Land's Cebu IT Park). That fact alone makes sure that the buyers of this property are truly getting their money's worth.

Avida Towers Cebu is a 25-story condo development that offers units ranging in size from 22 to 52.5 sqm. According to its developer, prices of its units range between Php1.7 and Php5 million. And in keeping with Ayala's tradition of providing quality properties, this condo project's amenities do not scream affordable at all: adult and kiddie swimming pools, a clubhouse with a 150-capacity function hall, children's play area, an outdoor gym, and gardens and lots of open spaces. Figures from the Avida Land website show that units at this development start at Php1.7 million.

Nominee: Amaia Steps Mandaue (Amaia Land)

Another project by Ayala Land subsidiary Amaia Land, Amaia Steps Mandaue is a mid-rise, nine-story condo development located in the city's Barangay Alang-Alang area. Similar to its sister projects across the Philippines, this development boasts a number of well-thought-out amenities aimed at families, including a clubhouse, a courtyard, a jogging path, landscaped areas, a swimming pool, and retail shops. This development is also well-located, being situated close to mixed-use developments, shopping malls, Cebu's airport, and transport infrastructure.

Prices of studio apartments (24 sqm) at Amaia Steps Mandaue range between Php1.7 and 1.9 million, while one-bedroom (31–33 sqm) and two-bedroom (34–41 sqm) units are priced at Php2.1–2.4 million and Php2.7–2.9 million.


Mid-end condominiums costing at least Php2 million are much in vogue today particularly with the flourishing IT and BPO industries that sweep not only across the capital but in other major cities as well. These concrete monoliths offering mid-priced dwellings sit close to office high-rises and commercial centers, which make them the perfect housing options for thousands of middle-class Filipinos, whose spending power only seems to increase every day.

However, the buoyant IT–BPO industry is not the only one responsible for the steady demand for condo real estate in the Philippines. Overseas Filipino workers (OFW) are another important clientele of mid-end properties as they, too, began shifting their interest from house and lot properties to condominium developments, mainly as an investment vehicle.

In fact, a Manila Times article mentioned that the World Bank estimates that up to 60 percent of OFW remittances are spent buying mid-end properties, which tells us that OFWs are interested in affordable condominiums that they can convert into investment properties. The mid-end condominiums that they have in mind are situated in prime locations; close to business districts, mixed-use townships, and transport infrastructure; and must feature topnotch amenities that will make city living feels like a “staycation.” It is not surprising then that Lamudi's users are fully aware of their mid-range options, as the following are their top choices for the Best Mid-end Condo Development in Metro Manila.

Winner: 100 West (Filinvest Land)

Filinvest Land nestled a modestly magnanimous tower block adjacent to the South Luzon Expressway and the soon-to-be-completed Skyway 3 and named it 100 West. This Scandinavian-inspired residential condominium located along Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue in Brgy. Pio Del Pilar reconciles the needs of its mid-range clientele as this project meticulously provides resolve to their long-standing traffic dilemma.

Its strategic location within the Makati central business district and its proximity to the Metro Manila Skyway makes sure that this condo is as close to downtown Manila, to the airport, to Makati's burgeoning mixed-use developments, and even as far south as Alabang as it can get.

100 West seems to epitomize a modern reinterpretation of practicality. This high-rise abode offers residents an efficient way to master time. On its lower regions are retail amenities such as food establishments, convenience stores, banks, and service centers, while the building will also devote four floors to work spaces equipped with fiber optic facilities, making it perfect for IT and BPO companies.

With its congenial environment and imitations of a self-contained utopia, 100 West compounds convenience all under one roof as it stays faithful to Filinvest's vision of not just providing premier living spaces, but sound real estate investment opportunities.

Nominee: Zinnia Tower (DMCI Homes)

Situated in northern EDSA is Zinnia Towers, another DMCI Homes gem that sits on a 1.9-hectare property in Balintawak, Quezon City. Despite being located in a busy section of QC, this three-tower condo development boasts resort-inspired amenities and plenty of open spaces, which is in keeping with DMCI Homes design philosophy. And just like other DMCI Homes development, Zinnia Towers also features Lumiventt technology—a design innovation of the property developer that lets ambient light and fresh air permeate the building, giving its hallways and common areas a pleasant, airy feel.

Speaking of resort-like atmosphere, the development's amenities—which include a koi pond, a lap pool, a kiddie pool, children's playground, a palm promenade, picnic groves, and lots and lots of open spaces—are perfect for growing families, while parents and working residents will be delighted to know that the condo is situated close to QC's transport infrastructure, such as LRT stations and bus stops.

Nominee: Avida Towers Centera (Avida Land)

Avida Land's first development in Mandaluyong, Avida Towers Centera covers 1.25 hectares of land at the corner of EDSA and Reliance Street, making it a perfect abode for city dwellers who work and frequent Ortigas Center, Bonifacio Global City, and even the Makati central business district. In keeping with Avida Land's philosophy of building quality residential developments close to where people work, shop, study, and relax, it is not surprising that Avida Towers Centera is close to leisure establishments like Ayala Malls at the 30th, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Greenfield District, Capitol Commons, Pasig's Barangay Kapitolyo, while at its podium are numerous shops and retail establishments for residents' convenience. The condo is even a stone's throw away from the headquarters of broadcast giant TV5. Indeed, Avida Towers Centera is a great condo, both for end-use and as an investment, as it adheres to its developer's philosophy of well-located, high-quality dwellings at reasonable prices.


Modern technology has afforded Philippine real estate industry an unprecedented array of choices; it is no wonder that most successful buildings today are rife with traces of strong eclecticism. Vertical communities are no exception as they are particularly at the forefront of such penchant for variety.

For one, the prototypical boxed-like condominiums that once cluttered Makati and Ortigas Center are now waning in popularity and gradually being replaced by a new breed of condominiums with a seductive architectural flair. A quick stroll down townships and business districts in the metro is all it takes to know that Manila is presently littered with impressive high-rises that do not only function as shelters, but also serve a myriad of commercial and entertainment purposes as well.

The country's robust economy can be said to be the driving force behind such dynamic shift as more and more people gain purchasing power to own units in residences that are extraordinary not just in design but in amenities. This trend is not only pronounced in Metro Manila but also in Metro Cebu as demand for exclusive high-end residences in the Queen City of the South are on the rise.

As the aesthetic language of real estate landscape is turning skewed toward luxury, it seems quite an imperative for Lamudi to come up with the crème de la crème of high-end residences in the country.


Winner: The Proscenium at Rockwell (Rockwell Land)

Redefining the city skyline seems to be one of the many expertise of Rockwell Land as it spearheaded the construction of The Proscenium, an enclave of very high-end condo towers sitting on a 3.6-hectare land just across the existing Rockwell Center in Makati.

Internationally acclaimed Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott, who is noted for his iconic L'Operra de las Bastille in Paris, designed The Proscenium. The very name of the residence itself, which directly translates to the main frame of a theater stage, is more than apt as master architect Ott envisions The Proscenium to be a cultural space with a multi-purpose hall, a fine arts museum, a book museum, art galleries, and countless other structures dedicated to culture. This fondness for theatrical elements is also apparent in the name of the project's first four towers—Kirov, Sakura, Lorraine, and Lincoln—which are all world-class theaters.

Aside from the regular dose of art, recreational activities can also be enjoyed within the confines of The Proscenium with its sophisticated outdoor tennis court, a jogging path, and multiple fitness facilities. Residents can also enjoy a library, a day-care center for kids, and function rooms for special occasions and corporate meetings. Families and working individuals who want to own a unit in this rare structural gem can immerse themselves in a neighborhood of opulence, comfort, and refinement for as low as Php7.9 million for a 29-sqm studio apartment to Php130 million for an expansive 435-sqm unit.

Nominee: One Serendra (Ayala Land Premier)

One cannot help but anoint the word “elegant” to One Serendra, a visually satisfying edifice straddling the well-charted streets of 11th Avenue and McKinley Parkway in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. One Serendra's two high-rise and five low-rise structures will surely enthrall onlookers with its hybrid architectural style composed of European-themed façade coupled with the enduring aesthetics of Filipino architecture typified by the distinctive bahay na bato.

Built in 2004, this garden-style development covers almost a 12-hectare land. Almost 500 units in the Narra, Mahogany, Bamboo, Jasmine, and Palm sections of One Serendra have been sold rapidly because of such ornate green beauty resembling the beguiling simplicity of a tropical rainforest.

This modern urban dwelling is nestled seamlessly among quaint shops, business complexes, unique service establishments, art galleries, and multi-cultural dining restaurants located within BGC. Families who choose to live here can send their children to nearby schools, such as the British International School, the Japanese International School, and Colegio de San Agustin. Also included in its attraction is its close proximity to Bonifacio High Street, touted as BGC's own Orchard Road.

Nominee: 8 Forbes Town Road (Megaworld Corp.)

A luxury property worthy to be included on this list, Megaworld's newest BGC development, 8 Forbes Town Road, is a 53-story concrete masterpiece designed by the Recio+Casas Architectural Firm in a five-hectare land in Forbes Town Center. Majestic blue curtain glass and steel made up the façade of the building.

“8 Forbes Town Road offers investors and future residents this last opportunity to have relaxing views of the golf course greens from their windows and from our luxurious amenities deck. This opportunity must never be passed up,” claimed Megaworld International Managing Director Marivic Acosta in an interview.

Aside from the impeccably picturesque view from its balcony of the endless stretch of grass, 8 Forbes Town Road also has in its arsenal a range of luxurious, first-class amenities, such as a gazebo, a Taichi station, fitness gyms, function rooms, and an infinity pool overlooking Manila Golf & Country Club, among others.


Winner: 32 Sanson (Rockwell Land)

The robust residential property market in the Philippines is also invading cities outside the capital. For one, Cebu City is currently savoring strong demands for residential condominium projects as its major business hubs like Cebu IT Park and Cebu Business Park are both prompting increased sales, beguiling foreign and local dwellers alike to take up studio and one-bedroom units within the vicinity.

32 Sanson enjoys such rainfall of enterprise. Touted as Rockwell Land's first development outside Metro Manila, this charming modern version of Garden of Eden skillfully flirts with natural motifs in a 3.2-hectare land in Lahug, Cebu.

Raising the bar in loftier levels, Rockwell's applies its formulaic expertise to Cebu by letting Cebuanos get a taste of the “Rockwell Lifestyle,” which is analogous to luxury and convenience. Residents no longer need to endure lengthy sojourns from one point to another in order to eat or shop, as commercial centers like JY Supermarket, Lahug Market, JY Square Center, The Walk are all in close proximity. First-class restaurants like Country Basket, Azubu, Marisse Patisserie, and Bellini are also nearby.

Digging up the details a bit deeper, the five low-rise buildings that comprised 32 Sanson's complex are all endowed with state-of-the-art amenities. Residents can enjoy a laidback lifestyle with its two clubhouses, gym, two swimming pools, jogging oval, playground, and multipurpose court. Health and safety considerations are also apparent in the way 32 Sanson is designed as pedestrians are scattered all over the area, giving its residents a walkable environment easy to explore and navigate.

Nominee: Marco Polo Residences (Federal Land)

The very notion of prestige is challenged by Federal Land when it commenced construction of Marco Polo Residences in Apas, Cebu. This high-rise tower confidently holds the gaze of anyone who would step foot on its territory, appeasing the strong appetite of property investors with its five-star glamor and panoramic vistas. Its stylistic tone can be attributed to the trusted names in architecture like The Gettys Group (Chicago), Architect Bong Recio, and E.A. Aurelio Landscape Architects. Modern amenities crowd the entirety of the complex as it has a mini-theater, an opulent grand lobby, culinary station, wine cellar, outdoor spa/cabana, game room, indoor day care, swimming pool, viewing deck, and al fresco area.

Living in Marco Polo Residences also entails being pampered with extraordinary hospitality as it stands true to its five-star hotel reputation, including concierge services, apartment cleaning, valet services and room-service-style dining, and a security system that ensures utmost comfort and privacy.

Nominee: 1016 Residences (Ayala Land Premier)

Creating an impression of affluence was attained when Ayala Land Premier constructed 1016 Residences in the bustling Cebu Business Park. A premier luxury condominium with only 109 exclusive units within a 27-story structure, 1016 Residences has sold almost 100 percent of its units since its launching in 2010.

1016 Residences provides the utmost convenience to Cebu City living as it affords residents direct access to the exclusive City Sports Club Cebu, Cebu City Marriot Hotel, and Ayala Center Cebu. Add to that exclusive perks, 1016 Residences also endows its residents a taste of the coastal rural life as it just 40 minutes away from the nearest beach. Homeowners can catch a tangy waft of the tropical winds in the comforts of their balcony.

And as befits a world-class building with polished notions of refinement and luxury, 1016 Residences triumphantly harmonizes different aspects of human life with its wide range of recreational and roof deck amenities. For one, it has multiple gardens and generous open spaces for kiddie plays and special occasions.

Top educational institutions like the University of the Philippines–Cebu, University of Southern Philippines, and San Carlos Seminary are just adjacent, while places of worship, such as Carmelites Monastery, Redemptorist Church, and St. Joseph Church, can also be traversed by foot from the condo.


No matter how many innovative real estate products turn up, the demand for good 'ol houses is still the greatest among all types of real estate. Lamudi data over and over reveal that Filipinos still prefer houses over condos.

However, it is still not enough to just provide housing inventories. Thanks to the changing lifestyle and taste of the Filipino market, it is inevitable for developers to up their game and deliver what Filipino homebuyers deserve. With this in mind, top real estate players are developing their brand to become more worthy of investment. All amenities, features, and even design and architecture are now well-thought-out to create homes that reflect the true need of the market.

Merit should be given to the flexibility and adaptability of local real estate movers, because of their brilliant ideas, the market upgrade was answered pretty well. In terms of architectural style, here are the two best examples of award-winning subdivision designs that heed the call of change.


Winner: Ayala Greenfield Estates (Ayala Land Premier)

Calamba is often referred to as the Resort Capital of the Philippines because of its numerous hot spring resorts located on the slopes of Mount Makiling. However, the city has now emerged as a residential destination as well. Ayala Greenfield Estates by Ayala Land Premier, the overall winner for the Housing Development with the Best Design and Architecture as cited by Lamudi's 10,000-strong survey is one of the reasons that real estate is a hot commodity in Calamba and the entire Laguna province.

Situated only 20 minutes away from Alabang via the South Luzon Expressway, Ayala Greenfield Estates is a prime exclusive enclave. Every unit comes with priceless views of either Mount Makiling, Laguna De Bay, or the Tagaytay Ridge. Truly a feast for the senses, Ayala Greenfield Estates also offer first-class amenities, including its very own 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones II.

This 350-hectare project is designed to be a community that works around nature. The estate serves as a habitat for 35 species and 21 families of endemic and migratory birds. The estate's nature-centric design is made even more ideal as its strategic location keeps the conveniences of the city only a short drive away. The subdivision also has a 15-hectare nature park with picnic and tree groves, open playfield, hike and bike trails, a skating rink, a fishing lagoon, and campsites that complete the environmental package offered.


Winner: Maria Luisa Estate Park (Maria Luisa Properties)

Modernization and urbanization showcase the steady progress of the country, but despite these modern advancements, nature-centric developments filled with fresh sceneries and lush landscape never go out of style.

This is especially true with another noteworthy housing enclave in the Visayas. Maria Luisa Estate Park in Banilad, Cebu City, is a 200-hectare fully developed project that maximizes the abundance of nature to bring a fresh residential escape to its homebuyers.

All lots and units are designed for residents to enjoy the amazing views of the city, mountains, and valleys that surround the development. Now on its last phase and selling just a few more lots left, the estate is already considered as one of the most sought-after residential addresses in Cebu City. The lush landscape of Maria Luisa Estate Park presents a fresh and peaceful ambience and yet it is just a few minutes away from the city's business and commercial core.

Maria Luisa Properties Group started the estate park with just a mere 10 hectares of high-end development. From then, Maria Luisa Estate Park has since evolved into a 200-hectare prime residential property where relaxing greens and eco-lifestyle is an everyday indulgence.


It cannot be denied that one of the factors that led of Philippine real estate estate's boom is the proliferation of condo properties. In 2013 alone, approximately 51,000 condo units were launched, according to data from property consultancy firm Colliers International Philippines. Equipped with lifestyle amenities and standing in the most strategic of locations, condos became a preferred type of dwelling and investment option among Filipino property hunters. Even ultra high-end luxury condos with prices that can rival the gaudiest of mansions in Forbes Park or Dasmariñas Village are raking up sales. Because of the overwhelming response of the market to condo developments, these vertical residences no longer just provide comfortable living spaces; they are also lucrative business prospects.

Now this is where the competition comes in. To catch the eye of new discerning investors, condos are now carefully planned to be iconic landmarks. The shift is now evident as numerous condominiums are becoming more sophisticated in terms of design and architecture.

As these impressively designed properties continue to reshape the Philippine landscape, we can already pronounce that better architectural structures can be expected in the years to come. Thus, in a bid to recognize the hard work and commitment of delivering only the finest properties that follows architectural excellence, Lamudi's 10,000-strong survey cited two condo projects—one in Metro Manila and another in Cebu—that deserve to be tagged as best in architectural design.


Winner: Venice Luxury Residences (Megaworld Corp.)

Standing tall amidst McKinley Hill's impressive skyline, the Venice Luxury Residences by property giant Megaworld Corporation is living up to its name. The Andrew Tan–led developer dreamed of an Italian-inspired enclave right at the heart of bustling Taguig so they commissioned the Rome-based architectural company Paolo Marioni Architetto to give the condo an authentic Venetian look and feel.

What really set this project apart are the complementing structures that surround the condo. The seven towers of the luxury residences will be built around the Venice Grand Canal Mall and the Venice Piazza retail areas. Residents and visitors alike can take a romantic gondola ride while passing by a replica of the famed Rialto Bridge at the Venice Grand Canal Mall. Likewise, renowned places in Venice such as the St. Marks Tower and the Piazza Grande are imitated at the Venice Piazza. They even completed the experience by making sure that a flock of pigeons will visit the piazza during afternoons.

One look from your unit's window at the Venice Luxury Residences, you can already appreciate the grandeur of living in a true Italian city. Without a doubt a total luxurious experience from interiors to lifestyle, not to mention the availability of complete everyday necessities, from groceries, dining, and shopping to entertainment and specialty services.


Winner: One Oasis (Filinvest Land)

The Visayas will not be left behind as they also have a fair share of remarkable real estate developments. Triumphant in the Visayas segment for the best in condominium architecture is the sustainable condo community of One Oasis by Filinvest Land.

Deemed to be an urban oasis at the heart of Cebu City's Mabolo district, One Oasis magnificently illustrates Asian architectural theme through its nine towers. This sprawling 3.7-hectare property will offer a host of delightful family-centric amenities that pampers and entertains. But more than the trimmings of the comfortable lifestyle One Oasis has to offer, its eco-friendly attributes sealed the deal. Designed to offer a patch of green in the city, One Oasis will become a lush and verdant refuge that will feature a haven of landscaped gardens and open spaces.

Winner: Vista Land

In real estate, good customer service is everything. After all, sellers will be dealing with prospective buyers for a quite a long time during the buying process, and a lot can happen during this period, which stretches from making an inquiry, to property viewing, making an offer, and signing all the necessary documents. As such, it is very important that the seller knows how to make the buyer feel valued and respected.

Being the lifeblood of any business, many real estate developers go at great lengths just to make sure they have the best customer service in the industry. Some have put up online chats for those who want a real-time response, while others set up ubiquitous show-flats or model units—most of them in shopping malls—where would-be customers can just walk in and make an inquiry.

As good customer service is all about bringing customers back (or making new ones through word of mouth), one real estate company that does this so well would be Manny Villar–led Vista Land. Judging by the popularity of its brands—Brittany, Crown Asia, and Camella—the company undisputedly has one of the best, if not the best, customer services of any real estate developer in the country. It is not surprising that it was voted as such in Lamudi's 10,000-strong nationwide survey.

Camella's reputation alone transcends geographical limitations. It is by far one of the most widespread and trusted housing developers in the country, with projects from as far north as Ilocos to down south in Davao. No small feat in our opinion. Its sister brands Brittany and Crown Asia, on the other hand, are equally trusted and popular, with projects that are giving their competitors, even seasoned ones, a run for their money.

All of this probably boils down to good customer service. After all, happy customers will most likely recommend a good real estate company to their friends and relatives, and buyers of Vista Land's properties are most than just happy to share their experience to others.

Winner: DMCI Homes

Buying real estate is more than just finding for a place to call your home. It is also finding the best home your money can afford. And since in most cases what one can afford is not adequate to what is available out there, buyers are faced with the dilemma of finding the property that is reasonably priced, well-located, and of high quality.

Although many real estate developers would claim to have the best value-for-money properties, one stand among the rest: DMCI Homes. Often cited to offer no-frills, high-quality projects at reasonable prices, the Consunji-owned real estate developer (which is a subsidiary of DMCI Holdings) has made its presence felt all across Metro Manila and even in Cebu, Boracay, and Davao. It has projects in some of the most prime locations in the National Capital Region (such as Makati and Taguig), and up-and-coming districts that are proving to be quite popular to homebuyers and real estate investors.

The company's strategy is to choose a location just at the fringes of the traditional business districts (such as the Pioneer Street area in Mandaluyong, C5 Road and Brgy. Ususan in Taguig, and Taft Avenue in Pasay) and there build a high-quality project. Backed by DMCI's engineering and building expertise, its condos and estates are highly sought-after by homebuyers not just because of their design and resort-like amenities, but by their quality, affordability, and location. As of DMCI Holdings' 2016 Annual Report, DMCI Homes has sold 80,464 housing units and parking slots since 1999, which is proof of the company's reputation as the developer that offers the best value-for-money properties.

Winner: Ayala Land

In this age when more real estate developers are vying for the attention (and spending money) of an almost fixed number of homebuyers, a plethora of offerings are rolled out to entice these increasingly becoming picky buyers. One of them is flexible payment terms. Another is a great concept and branding. In other cases, hefty discounts on cash purchases. However, one of the tried-and-tested ways to tempt homebuyers is to wow them with great amenities, in which one seasoned real estate developer is doing a great job at: Ayala Land.

It seems that Ayala Land won't run out of ideas on its projects' exclusive amenities. Ayala Land Premier, the company's luxury brand, leads the pack with the some of the most impressive lineup of amenities: Golf course in Ayala–Greenfield Estates; a private beach in Anvaya Cove; and man-made lagoon, green parks, and orchard in Ayala Westgrove Heights.

Even the company's other brands are not to be overlooked. Alveo Land's projects, for example, offer equally impressive amenities, such as several swimming pools and themed garden courtyards in Portico in Pasig; pavilions, jungle play areas, and elevated creek-side walkways in Kasa Luntian in Tagaytay; and sky deck, dance studio, and a game room in Solinea in Cebu City. Other Ayala subsidiaries Avida Land and Amaia Land offer topnotch amenities that are intended for young people and starting families—the companies' target markets.

Article Highlights

Mixed-use Developments

New Cities

Housing Affordability

Residential Real Estate


Live Where You Work, Work Where You Play

Mixed-use developments are not only sustainable, they also help forge human connections and social interactions.
Ayala Land luminaries discuss the future of mixed-use developments in the Philippines

If Daniel Burnham had his way, Manila would be a city with an efficient network of roads supplemented by an equally useful waterway. It would also be replete with greeneries, as parks would abound the metro. In his mind, Manila, if only well-planned, can allow for residents to live near where they work and find leisure.

When he went to the country in 1905 to make blueprints for the cities of Baguio and Manila, the American envisioned a plan similar to that of his works in Cleveland and San Francisco. Of Manila, Burnham said: "On the point of rapid growth, yet still small in area, possessing the bay of Naples, the winding river of Paris, and the canals of Venice, Manila has before it an opportunity unique in history of modern times, the opportunity to create a unified city equal to the greatest of the Western world with the unparalleled and priceless addition of a tropical setting."


In Burnham 's plan, the sixteenth-century city of Intramuros will be preserved for its monumental value. True enough, the walled city was of massive importance during the time it was built. It was the center of religion, economy, and education both in Manila and in the entire country. Plazas within the walled enclave allowed for residents to get from one point to another, whether it be to the market, to church, to the municipio, or to school, within a matter of minutes; and this, without the help of the trusty calesa. The city was walkable and was not lacking in parks and greens. For those living within Intramuros, life was convenient and comfortable. For Ana Margarita Dy, Ayala Land 's Group Head for Strategic Landbank Management, Intramuros is "the ultimate mixed-use space."

But Manila, during Burnham 's visit, only had a population of 200,000. Now, the entire urban agglomeration of Metro Manila is home to over 23 million, making it the fifth largest in the world in terms of population. Dy was not mincing words when she described city living today as "bustling and busy; frenetic and fancy; contemporary and chaotic," far from the charm of old Intramuros.

The challenge now, according to Dy, is "how do we humanize the experience of living in a city."


Interconnection Outside Cities
A quick Google of the verb "humanize" would crop up synonyms such as "civilize", "improve", and "better". By definition, it simply means making something more humane or civilized.

When Ayala Land's Ana Margarita Dy posed the challenge of making city living more humane, she was quick to pull out a quote from English architect Norman Foster who said: "Cities that are consistently rated highly in terms of quality of life are relatively compact and pedestrian- friendly, with good public transport and generous parks and open spaces."

While it is not the case, Foster may have very well been describing what has always been in Ayala Land's drawing board: the move to mixed-use developments.

ANNA MARIA MARGARITA DY, Ayala Land's Group Head of Strategic Landbank Management

As Dy put it, it is all about interconnectedness. "We want to be part of communities where we know people and people know us, where it is easy to create social ties, where we can access what we need easily, and where we can relax and be ourselves. We want easy-to- navigate, compact, and interconnected developments with open spaces for convergence," she added.

To date, the property giant has 24 estates in the archipelago, each with a unique thumbprint from land size to focus. There are those that promote wellness and an active lifestyle while some Ayala Land developments advocate the use of creative technologies. But as varied and different these properties may be, all carry a signature positioning of the company—being located near a major infrastructure, from primary toll roads and railways to airports and seaports.

Case in point is Arca South in Taguig, which Dy boasted as being "built around ease of connectivity. "Other than having key anchors like residential and office buildings, the development will feature a new transport terminal called the South Integrated Transport System. This will link 2,000 provincial buses coming from Southern Luzon to auxiliary transport in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Another Ayala flagship project is set to be a major intermodal transport hub—the One Ayala right in the corner of EDSA and Ayala Avenue in Makati. The complex will conveniently connect thousands of commuters to buses, taxis, shuttles, and the MRT. Manny Blas, Vice President and Estate Head of Makati and Bonifacio Global City (BGC) of Ayala Land, gave a picture of what is to become a new boon for pedestrians and motorists alike: "All of the buses in EDSA will not drop off passengers along EDSA; they will go inside the ground floor of what could otherwise be an expensive retail space so they can have a first class terminal when they board the buses, which is also safe and secure."

These multibillion investments do not come cheap, but according to Dy, it is worth the entire buck: "No matter how big we build our malls, or how tall our skyscrapers, or how beautifully we landscape our parks. For people, interconnectedness is top priority."

Connections Within
For Ayala Land, however, it is not all about external connections; just as important are the experiences made within the firm's estates and projects. Thus, the company has always been one to focus on pedestrians.

As part of the Makati Commercial Estate Association, the real estate player took part in a lofty program of making walkways that span the business district. This resulted to the creation of a network of seven underpasses and a 1.1-kilometer covered elevated walkway from the MRT's Ayala Avenue Station to the Makati Medical Center. The group has also now embarked on the granite repaving of the CBD's sidewalks, which is slated to be completed by 2020.

But it cannot be denied—if there is any major development the past decade that screams of having pedestrians in mind, it has to be Bonifacio Global City. "The grid network, for example, makes navigation easy but more importantly, the grids are tighter with 200-meter- wide blocks. Now, what it does is it makes it easy for pedestrians to get from point A to point B," Dy said.

Focusing on pedestrians, said Blas, allows for the community to evolve and grow organically. "The sense of place in BGC draws you to go out of the building and on to the street. There's retail on ground everywhere; it's a pleasant walk. And when you have an active street life, people cannot help but bump into each other. When you see each other in a park, in a coffee shop, in a lunch place, that atmosphere contributes to people engaging each other in many and very informal ways."

At the end of the day, Dy acknowledged that prioritizing people is all about recognizing that roads are a limited resource. "It is always a balancing act between cars and pedestrians, but we will continue to fight for walkable cities where pedestrians can truly be king."

Just like roads, there is a scarcity in parks and open spaces in Metro Manila. But Ayala Land did not let this deficiency stop them from creating spaces. "Our objective therefore is to make open spaces that count. They are strategically positioned, easily accessible, and openly inviting. Designed not just to be visibly beautiful, but more importantly, designed for interaction," Dy said.

Sticking with BGC as an example, Dy said the business district has a total of 3.7 hectares of open space distributed across four easily accessible parks. That's a vast increase from the original plan of having only a 2.3-hectare open space. Zooming in on Bonifacio High Street, she explained that there was a conscious effort to make it pedestrian-friendly. "This was to be BGC's defining street: the Champs Elysees or the Orchard Road of BGC. But unlike other defining avenues, this was deliberately designed to be for pedestrians only."

But, she admitted, having everyone on board was not a walk in the park. "We see it today, and maybe we think nothing of it, but imagine the debates and discussions that went on during its planning. ‘Really? No cars? You will let people walk on the grass and you will let their dogs come in? And no entrances and exits? How will security guards check the bags? Are you sure we can do this?'"

A decade after it started operation, Dy proudly alludes to Bonifacio High Street as having "set new standards in the design and management of open spaces."

Going Beyond the Basic
Residential buildings, offices, malls and retail offerings are a staple in mixed-use developments. But in order to give the complete community experience, property players have to go the extra mile to provide other offerings such as schools and hospitals. In the case of Ayala Land, it is a good thing they have reliable partners at hand.

Nuvali in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, for one, has three partners from the education sector. There's Xavier Nuvali, Miriam College, and soon to be on board is Everest Academy. Xavier, as a matter of fact, already has a student population of over a thousand in just 4 years, officially hitting a milestone they were expecting to surpass only after a decade.

As for medical facilities, Ayala Land was able to tap St. Luke's Medical Center to go beyond the confines of the metro and establish a hospital in their Azuela Davao development in Mindanao. This is St. Luke's first foray outside NCR. Capital outlay for that investment is pegged at Php2.7 billion. Of this new project, Dy noted: "We are proud of such partnerships, not only because their facility will set new standards in terms of health care in Davao, but in their choosing to partner with us, this shows their trust in our vision and our ability to deliver across different growth areas across the country."


On the entertainment side of things, Ayala Land has been known to be at the forefront of promoting Filipino talent and ingenuity. From exhibiting local art and historic artifacts at the Ayala Museum to larger-than- life murals at the Mind Museum, the firm is also cementing its contribution to performing arts. One testament to that is the 1,500-seater Circuit Performing Arts Theater in Makati where Broadway-level shows may be staged. Dy said all these platforms are meant to "make us feel proud of our heritage and our people. Now would you want to be part of such a community?"

Promoting Sustainability
The whole concept of mixed-use developments hinges on another ongoing trend in the property market worldwide: sustainability. Blas said being sustainable is not just about being green. "We miss the fact that township development, by itself, as a platform, is a sustainable approach," he briefly explained.

Living in a community where everything and every destination is within reach, said Blas, is a means to being sustainable. "When you got something like that, you know going from your 15th floor condominium unit down to the ground floor to eat instead of taking a car, by itself, leads to sustainability."

Ayala Land has a sustainability pillar by which all of its estates are measured against. These are site resiliency, pedestrian and transit connectivity, eco-efficiency, and economic growth. Dy said that these indicators are as important as their financial progress.

As a sign of their commitment to creating sustainable developments, the property giant made a commitment in January 2017 to be carbon-neutral in five years. Of this goal, Dy exclaimed, "Not really sure how we got our bosses to agree to this big, hairy, audacious goal—but not just to agree, but to make a public announcement of it-so now, as an organization, we have now choice but to deliver, because failure is not an option since we already announced it.

"But we plan to achieve this by partially transitioning to renewable energy, but mainly through long-term forest regeneration and both of these initiatives are already on its way and we are confident of our 2022 goals," she added.

In a modern world where interconnectedness is defined by virtual connections with the proliferation of smartphones and the Internet, Ayala Land continues to place premium on physical connection. After all, according to Dy, all mixed-use developments should strive to "satisfy the most basic of human needs: social interaction." As developers work toward this goal, then perhaps, there might be more towns, which like Intramuros, will not only promote the live—work—play lifestyle but will also transcend time.

What they said during The Outlook
As for their philosophy in building mixed-use developments: "We want to be part of communities, where we know people, and people know us, where it is easy to create social ties, and where we can access what we need easily, and where we can relax and be ourselves," said ANNA MARIA MARGARITA DY, Ayala Land's Group Head of Strategic Landbank Management. Quoting English architect Norman Foster: "Cities that are consistently rated highly in terms of quality of life are relatively compact and pedestrian-friendly, with good public transport and generous parks and open spaces."

According to MANNY BLAS, VP and Estate Head of Makati and Bonifacio Global City for Ayala Land, when we talk about sustainability, we always talk about the environment and green and landscape, and we miss the fact that township development, by itself, as a platform, is a sustainable approach. "When you put together a development...wherein it is mixed-use, wherein everything is there, where you live, where you work, where you shop…when everything is accessible by walking, when everything is pedestrian friendly—that development by itself as a platform is sustainable."

"We have a deep understanding of who our market is," said MIKE JUGO, managing director of Ayala Land Premier. "[We put] a lot of thought in trying to understand the market, what they want, and what they need. And in many ways projecting their needs well into the future. And you know that's why I think sites like Lamudi would come a long way in trying to help the industry as it tries to provide more information for developers to understand our market, this ever- changing market."

MANNY BLAS, VP and Estate Head of Makati and Bonifacio Global City for Ayala Land
MIKE JUGO, Managing Director of Ayala Land Premier

"We have already anticipated that a lot of our customers will be more active on the Internet", said CHRISTOPHER MAGLANOC, CEO of Ayala Land subsidiary Avida Land Corp. "So, it was important for us to have some [online] presence, like websites, but now we also have facilities like chat, which wasn't there before. Because now [customers] want real-time responses." Adding more insight into their target market, Maglanoc furthered that millennial homebuyers look for two basic things: value and convenience.

On Building New Cities


The concept of a city within a city is fast gaining ground in the Philippines. If this were a study on dreams or psychology, this might easily be called an inception; and it might very well be since this trend in urban development is what dreams are made of.

Imagine not having to rush in the morning to beat Metro Manila traffic just to get to work because the office is just a few minutes' walk away. What if an elevator ride is all it takes to get to the mall for a quick lunch? This is the dream that mixed-developments or townships have helped turned into reality.

Following the integration of a live-work-play lifestyle, mixed-use developments or townships offer a master-planned community that is self-contained. This phenomenon in the property space incorporates residential, commercial, entertainment, cultural, and even industrial uses that mutually support each other.

Aseana Holdings' Delfin "Buds" Wenceslao talks to Lamudi on the details that go into building new cities

The evolution in the national capital's real estate industry has given rise to the emergence of mixed-use developments, such as Bonifacio Global City, Ortigas Center, and the Makati CBD, among many others.

Being in the traditional prime locations in the metro, these bigwigs have been at the forefront of the township scene in the country. But one district southwest of Manila has been inching its way to the top: Aseana City.


The New Complete City
Sprawling across a 204-hectare reclaimed land along Manila Bay in Parañaque, Aseana City is in the center of what is turning out to be the country's entertainment and resort hub. It plays host to the Philippine and Amusement Gaming Corporation's (PAGCOR) Entertainment City that's currently composed of three multi-billion-dollar gaming complexes: Solaire Resort and Casino, the City of Dreams Manila, and the newly opened Okada Manila.

Add the neighboring Mall of Asia development to the mix and Aseana City has what Delfin "Buds" Wenceslao, the young chief executive officer of Aseana Holdings, calls entertainment and tourism anchors.

"We have a lot of tourism-related industries here because we're here in the Entertainment City. So we have a good mix of people and even if you walk down the city you won't see just one nationality; you'd see very different nationalities because again of the entertainment anchors that we have in the MOA areas and the Entertainment City. And you have international people who are working there, who are also living in the city."

Naturally, the district has a large inventory of hotel rooms. Okada Manila recently chipped in 903 rooms into the stock where Red Planet is also a key contributor. Hundreds more will be added into the supply as Ayala Land's Seda Hotel and Thai brand Hop Inn are set to finish construction in the next two years. The combination of luxurious and more affordable accommodations, Wenceslao says, proves that Aseana City can cater to a wide range of clients. "For something to be economically sustainable, you need to have a mix of affordable products for everyone."

The mixed-development in the Bay Area is also poised to attract more visitors. Aseana Square, a two-story food and commercial complex, was recently launched to be the next stopover pick for the 240,000 vehicles that pass through the district. The 25 retail and commercial units in the new strip were quickly leased out. Ayala Land is also scheduled to complete by 2018 its 9-hectare Ayala Aseana Mall—which will be the property giant's largest shopping mall.

But it is not all fun and games; Aseana City has also become a location of choice to conduct business operations. With the construction of the new 14-story Aseana 3 office building, more business process outsourcing (BPO) firms are expected to troop into the center. As it is, Wenceslao notes, a huge slice of their offering has been eaten up by BPOs, "Right now, for the tenant base of Aseana City, 30–40 percent of Aseana is with BPOs."

But what is a township without living spaces? That is why in 2016, Aseana Holdings launched its 170-unit Pixel Residences that is expected to generate Php1.5 billion in sales. This, says Wenceslao, completes the whole self-contained model of the community. "I think for any 24/7 city, it's important that people live where they work. One, it decreases traffic. It improves the retail viability of restaurants, banks, all of these services."

"When we launched our first residential project in mid-2016," he adds, "we were expecting to sell out in two, three years but we got sold out in 6 months. But if you look at the numbers, it's not that way in other parts of Metro Manila and definitely in the Visayas and Mindanao. So, what do I attribute that to? I give that to Aseana's location."

Metro Manila's New 'It ‘ Address
"When you're in real estate, everything is about location," Wenceslao says. But it sure did not hurt to have a scenic backdrop to the development. "[Aseana City] is in front of the water, which is Manila Bay. So traditionally, even in other cities across the world, properties in front of the water have a premium to it."

Aseana City is also at the center of the Duterte government's big infrastructure push. In the middle of 2017, the NAIA Expressway was completed, making the burgeoning Parañaque business district easily accessible to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the Metro Manila Skyway. The Southwest Integrated Terminal and the LRT Line 1 Cavite extension, likewise, will make the area a gateway to the budding towns and cities south of Metro Manila.

This excites Wenceslao for the midterm and long-term prospects for the development. "Having gone through several cycles, what we've established is that, in the end, whatever we build here, in the next five to ten years, will have its share of demand just because of the location."

And with land bank starting to be depleted in other major business centers, Wenceslao believes they have another card up their sleeves. "If you look at the big land mass that's substantially undeveloped yet, this is probably the reason why a lot of the developers even from the Fort, Makati, the big names, are starting to come here."

The New Business Center
Numbers and findings of various consulting firms support the Wenceslao successor's bullishness.

A Leechiu Property Consultants study shows that most of the major cityscapes in Metro Manila will be fully developed by 2018, so much so that there will be little land left for future construction activities. The Bay Area, however, is an exception. With a huge mass of open spaces left, Leechiu places the reclaimed land as one of the most important districts moving forward, with office stock projected to double by 2021.

By the estimates of Colliers International Philippines, the value of land in the Bay Area has surged by 30 percent annually in the past 5 years and is now priced at Php200,000 to Php250,000 per square meter. While that is a significant jump from the cost of reclaiming what used to be a water district, it still has a cost significant advantage than most established business centers. Colliers pegs the cost difference at 40 percent.

In the residential segment, the Bay Area also outperformed the more popular CBDs. According to Santos Knight Frank, the average sale of units in the district as of October 2017 increased to 70 from an average of 50 units the year before. This is a wide lead over Makati's 17 units, BGC's 14 units, and Ortigas' 13 units.

But Wenceslao isn't getting ahead of himself. He says it's all part of the cycle; you just have to know your niche. "So what you would find, basically, are just CBDs originating from Makati slowly mushrooming around these areas. So once this area gets filled up, maybe that's when the reclamation projects further south becomes viable, further into the bay. It won't necessarily replace but it will just be different. This area will be more entertainment, tourism-related, while that area which is Fort and Makati will be the traditional CBDs."

The Next Generation City
At the core of townships and mixed-developments is a clear masterplan. For Wenceslao, being environmentally sustainable has always been on the drawing board. "We've integrated that into our masterplan that's why we have our own public transport system. We encourage people to use public transport more than their own private vehicles. Our public transport is actually eco- friendly."

And they're taking it one step further, literally, by advocating walkability. "Our sidewalks are unnaturally large. The sidewalk in other cities is 2 to 3 meters, whereas we have 8 to 10 meter sidewalks. We've made sure that several areas are specifically exclusive for pedestrians, you can't put up signage there or tables or obstructions."

Wenceslao and his team are walking the talk as they require structures within Aseana City to have a provision for a future skyway link. This serves as a contingency plan should sidewalks within the district become too occupied in years to come.

It's all about following an ongoing trend worldwide where driving cars is no longer the norm, says Wenceslao. "We have to remember," he explains, "a hundred years ago people built cities that were dense, where people are closer to amenities because there really weren't cars. And the cars came, and people said, ‘We don't need to live near where we work or where we play because you can drive wherever.' But what we've seen from the current urban planning trends is that people are going to reverse that already."

The young Wenceslao and the team behind Aseana Holdings are also cultivating, not just profit, but a real sense of community in the area. "We're not just building the roads, the buildings that we're putting in," he adds, "we're making sure that there are schools here, make sure that there are health centers. Right now, we're actually looking for a hospital to probably put in Aseana. We also made sure that we've allocated areas for parks and sidewalks, public spaces. So these are the things that we're focusing on also. We're not just focused on building the private, profit- making products; but we also make sure that the public space is there."

For the team behind Aseana City, it is all about making the impossible dream happen. And for Buds, there's no better way to seal the deal than by looking into the future, "For us, we don't anymore plan for what's now but for what the city will be ten years from now." That, after all, is the point of building next-generation cities.

What They Said During The Outlook
"When you're in real estate, everything is about location," says DELFIN WENCESLAO, CEO of Aseana Holdings. "But it sure did not hurt to have a scenic backdrop to the development. [Aseana City] is in front of the water, which is Manila Bay. So traditionally, even in other cities across the world, properties in front of the water have a premium to it."

What's Old Is New Again

What it takes to revitalize an old but iconic part of the city
Legacy real estate developer is sparing no expense to revitalize the iconic Greenhills Shopping Center

New cycles and trends come and go, whether it be in places, things, styles, and in this day and age, even mobile apps. At times, it does not even take an entire year for something new to come along and create a buzz. But while a lot of the fads are short-lived, some things have stood the test of time.

Such is the case of Greenhills Shopping Center. Who would have thought that Metro Manila's first ever shopping complex would still be the mecca that it is after over three decades since it opened its doors in the 1970s? It has become a landmark destination not just in San Juan but in the entire Metro Manila, what with the wide array of items available in its malls, be it toys, clothes, furniture, hardware and even pearls.

But having been in the business for over 30 years, Greenhills had to go through some facelifts to withstand competition especially with the rise of other entertainment centers in Pasig, Makati and Quezon City. Its Greenhills Theater, which houses two cinemas, was renovated in 2002 and was reopened as the Greenhills Theater Mall. The iconic Vira Mall also had to adapt to the calls of the times and was redeveloped into V-mall back in 2005. But while the complex has gone through leaps and bounds to evolve, Greenhills still managed to retain its old charm and nostalgia.

As it holds on to its reputation as a shopper's paradise for bargain and rare finds, the Ortigas & Co.'s legacy project finds itself in an interesting position. Greenhills Shopping Complex is now going through another phase of redevelopment as it tries to complete the live–work–play experience in the estate. This is all part of the property developer's bigger strategy of revitalizing its existing estates.

Revitalizing Estates
It seems as though all things are working out for Ortigas & Co. as it embarks on improving its developments. Thomas Mirasol, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the 86- year-old firm, expressed optimism for the future of the property player's estates.

"The company is in a unique situation in that we are centrally located in the heart of Metro Manila and we have a very, very huge land bank that is ripe for development."

Mirasol adds that this is unique in that most of the areas around the estate have already been redeveloped almost completely; and those developments have happened fairly recently. "So, the way we see it, there's not a lot of opportunity for other areas around us to change over the next, say 20 or even 30 years."

And with property giants SM and Ayala already onboard the Ortigas group, there's very little room for doubt that the developer is going to up the ante for its existing Metro Manila assets.

The Masterplan
First on its revitalization blueprint is the redevelopment of Greenhills Shopping Complex, essentially cementing its footing as a full-fledged mixed-use development. The company has earmarked Php60 billion for at least five phases of improvements to Greenhills, with the first two already amounting to Php10 billion. The makeover is set to take at least 10 years to complete.

It is all about completing the offering of Greenhills, according to Jenna Belardo, Business Development and Marketing Manager of Ortigas & Co. "It's been there for three decades already [and] it's really time for rebuilding or revitalizing our current estate, so that's about 16 hectares in San Juan. And we needed to give it a fresh look; we're building a new mall; we're building new terminals for our commuting public. We're making everything better for them. You know, in development, you don't stop; you just keep improving on your offerings."

In the initial phase of the facelift, there will be a sequel to the successful 53-story Viridian residential condominium; this is the 55-story Connor Tower, which will stand tall on the intersection of Club Filipino Avenue and Eisenhower Street. Over 200 units in the tower will be allotted for serviced residences to cash in on business travelers and expats as well as tourists.

Together with Connor in the first stage is the establishment of a new office building targeted for business process outsourcing (BPO) firms. A new mall is also set to widen the offerings of the existing bazaar. In it will operate a new department store to boost the complex's retail component. Cinemas and a new boulevard will also be part of the mall's portfolio.

Staying true to something that Ortigas has been known for, Belardo said the new additions will include parks and outdoor spaces, which according to her is a major component of their estates.

Uplifting Other Estates
The whole revitalization game plan, however, is not limited to Greenhills Shopping Complex. Ortigas & Co. also has big ambitions designed for the expansion of Frontera Verde and Capitol Commons, both of which are in Pasig.

A capital outlay of Php60 billion has been designated for the enhancement of Frontera Verde. In a briefing for the company's plans, Ortigas & Co. president and chief executive officer Jaime Ysmael outlined the initial uplift for Frontera Verde, which may include mall and hotel components.

Belardo said that the improvements on the 16-hectare asset at the prime corner of C5 Road and Ortigas Avenue will provide the complete experience for its residents.

An initial Php5 billion, meanwhile, has been set aside for the expansion of Capitol Commons. In the 10-hectare estate will soon rise two expansions of Estancia Mall as well as supermarket Unimart. This will help expand the reach of Capitol Commons, which has so far been hitting the upper end of the market. An upscale residential building is also set to be completed in the Ortigas property, said Belardo.

Belardo is also bullish that the construction of the Metro Manila Subway will add to the allure of Capitol Commons. "The subway is supposed to be coming along Meralco Avenue, [and] that's supposed to help the community of Capitol Commons. They don't really need to get cars. Nowadays, it's more convenient to commute or walk to your office. That's what we're trying to promote." This, she said, should help decongest the city, something that has been part of the advocacy of Ortigas & Co.

Sustaining Communities
All these redevelopments should lead to sustainability, said Mirasol. There is, of course, the environmental aspect to that. "We're looking at recycling water, looking at very efficient lighting, very efficient cooling, looking at solar panels."

But more than going green, Mirasol sees a bigger picture to the redevelopment of these assets. "There's also sort of the economic sustainability, which is building for a community that will by itself not only support its own development over the long term but actually spill out its benefits to the surrounding communities," he explained, "and by doing that, we can almost help spur the revitalization of a much broader area rather than just the estate that we're developing."

While revitalizing these prime properties may be no walk in the park, Mirasol has high hopes that it is not going to be an impossibility either, especially given the infrastructure boom in the country. "There's a renewed interest and I think focus on infrastructure development both from a national government perspective and from local government perspective." He said that this is a welcome change: "That's great news because we cannot have development without infrastructure. The other thing is that the economic growth of the country is making redevelopment of older areas much easier simply because the business opportunities are there."

"When you put all of those things together, and our redevelopment as a sort of a catalyst, that just kicks it off and we do foresee a sort of regeneration of not only the estates that we're developing but everything around it," he added.

Making Use of Tech
In order to make such good progress, the property developer is making sure to tap the latest advancements in technology. Mirasol clarified that this is no longer just limited to providing speedy and reliable Internet connection, which he described to be "a given." This time around, he said, it is all about enhancing the shopping experience.

"We are seeing opportunities for technology in parking management, in traffic management, in security and actually in engaging our shoppers and the people who live in the community in a way that we have not been able to do before."

"Having more things that is interactive as you walk around the community or as you walk around the mall, you can get all sorts of information, you can get advice, you can sort of earn points as you, for example, walk from one part of the mall to the other. Those points can be convertible to either benefits or some kind of rewards," he added.

It is all about utilizing data-driven consumer insight, said Mirasol, something that will benefit the organization as well as their clients. "We will know who comes in to our buildings; we will know their shopping habits and by doing that we can sort of curate experiences for them and give them suggestions on what they can do or should do or might want to explore."

"We're still at the very tip of understanding how we can leverage existing technology to make a much better community experience," he admitted.

But like how this plan to curate consumer experiences will help Ortigas & Co. come up with better services and offerings for their retail businesses, he acknowledged that online platforms that allow easy access to leasable properties will help the company on the residential side. "I think what we're seeing is consumer behavior is they go to platforms first. Lamudi is one good example. Those kinds of partnerships are for us are not only important right now but could actually be critical in the future. People find new places through platforms like that and reputations can be made and broken on those platforms depending on what the consumer says."

This, he said, is the future, not just for real estate but "for pretty much everything in business."

While competition remains stiff in the metropolis, Mirasol is confident that Ortigas & Co., banking on everything in its arsenal from location to land bank and a more aggressive use of technology, is bound to "build for the future in a way that will sustain us for the next foreseeable future."

What They Said During The Outlook
According to THOMAS MIRASOL, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President, Ortigas & Co., creating a new city is easier from a planning and execution point of view. "Especially if you do it on the side where you are all alone. As an example, let's take a look at Nuvali—it's a great development... we were able to draw that city from scratch. The implementation was much easier because you can plan its development in phases in such a way that no one is disturbed. But trying to revitalize a city in a way it's almost like overhauling an engine of a car while that car is still driving down the road, so it's a little bit tricky.”

We know that the lifestyle and the landscape are actually changing, said RENEE BACANI, Vice-President and General Manager, Shopping Centers Division, Ortigas & Co. "We're quite quick in addressing and we're reviewing the masterplan very well and also the bigger needs of our customers and their behavior, because of the changing landscape, that's why we're also changing the social spaces of Greenhills."

According to JOJO ALIGAYEN, Head of Planning and Construction at Ortigas & Co.: "Coming from an older generation, things were different, but what we see moving forward is we need to design for what the market needs-we need to adjust and we need to adapt. And what makes it equally difficult is the fact that we're revitalizing something."

Greenhills was an existing entity and we had to do a surgical approach on that, said SIEGFREDO LOPEZ, Associate Vice-President at architectural firm CallisonRTKL. I think of it as one of those puzzles where you take out one piece and move it to the other side, and that was the biggest challenge because we couldn't just tear down buildings. So the masterplan is always evolving—everything has to be adaptive [and] it has to be flexible.

A New City on the Rise

Located at the crossroads of two important arteries in Central Luzon and right beside Manila's second international gateway is a mixed-use development like no other

The massive eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991—touted as the 20th century's second largest volcanic eruption—may have directly resulted in the closure of the Clark Air Base, one of the United States' largest military installations in Asia, and subsequently led to the near collapse of the local economy of Pampanga and much of Central Luzon. In the many years that followed, however, the area has experienced considerable rebuilding and revitalization, thanks largely to government efforts and massive private sector spending.

One of these private entities banking on the promise of the Clark Freeport Zone is Clark Global City Corp. (CGCP), a wholly owned subsidiary of Udenna Development Corp. (Udevco), whose Pampanga project—the eponymous Clark Global City—is redefining real estate development in Central Luzon.

Located at the crossroads of two important arteries in Central Luzon and right beside Manila's second international gateway, Clark Global City is a touted as a next- generation mixed-use development

In a presentation at The Outlook by Lamudi held in November 2017, CGCP chief executive officer (CEO) Michael Russell shared his company's plans for the 177-hectare estate sitting within the Clark Freeport Zone, why its location is its best attribute, and what they have already built so far. According to Russell, he's proud to call the 177- hectare development the next-generation mixed-use township, and it is not difficult to see why.

A New City on the Rise
Clark Global City sits at the crossroads of Central Luzon in Pampanga Province's Angeles City. “We're right at the intersection of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic–Clark–Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), at the only interchange between those two logistics arteries. “With the opening of the Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway (TPLEX), Pampanga and the rest of Central Luzon has been vastly opened to the rest of the north.

Which brings Russell to real estate's other important adage. “We always say in real estate ‘location, location, location' but I think we should also mention ‘throughput, throughput, throughput.'” This, said Russell, is what they intend Clark Global City to eventually epitomize.

According to Russell, the development's current masterplan provides for an approximately 5.8 million square meters of floor space. “So it has every aspect, from office to retail to residential to institutional.” However, the project's most important aspect would be infrastructure.

Aside from being at the intersection of two major arteries, Clark Global City is also directly adjacent to the Clark International Airport, which is being groomed to become Metro Manila's second international gateway.

“NAIA has served Metro Manila very, very well over the years, but it is time that there's a relief now for the airport,” said Russell. NAIA sits on a 440-hectare parcel on Pasay and Parañaque in southern Metro Manila, and it has two intersecting runways that cannot accommodate next-generation aircrafts. As of 2016 figures, NAIA is rated at 36 million passengers a year and it is not implausible that the airport is handling close to 40 million passengers as of this writing. “So every single one of us, if you're sitting in an airport in Palawan or elsewhere in the Philippines and often times when your plane hasn't even arrived, it's because it has not landed in Manila yet. It is because of over-congestion.”

According to Russell, the outstanding thing that the Duterte administration has done is that for Clark to become a prioritized gateway. “What the Philippine government is doing is that it's adapting a twin-airport model to better serve a vast metropolis of more than 20 million people.”

Space will not be an issue in Clark, said Russell. At 2,400 hectares, the airport itself is more than five times the size of NAIA, it was one of the 18 global gatepoints for the maiden voyage of the Airbus A380, and it was listed as an alternate landing site during NASA's Space Shuttle program. This, according to Russell, is the asset of the Philippine government that Clark Global City happens to be adjacent to.

But aside from expressways and an airport, the government's rail project will immensely benefit the region as well. This includes the planned cargo rail that will connect Clark to Subic, and the $300 million Malolos–Tutuban North Rail.

“Remember we're located 35 minutes gate-to- gate from the deep-water port of Subic so it's not just air, it's not just rail, it's not just the premier logistics arteries but we have an expressway that connects Clark with Subic.” This will surely provide a boost to Central Luzon's regional economy, which according to Russell contributes almost 10 percent to the country's GDP.

As testament to Clark's attractiveness as a viable alternative location to Metro Manila, plenty of major players have been pouring investments to the area over the last few years. “In December 2015, the SM Group brought their Radisson Park Inn to Clark, and they brought in 154 keys, with plans to expand the property in the future.” Another notable property brought into Clark recently is Taiwanese brand Midori, which according o Russell is already running at an occupancy rate of 93 percent. Other projects currently under development include Donwang Investment's Hilton and the planned $100 million redevelopment of the old Mimosa campus by the Filinvest Group.

What the New City Will Look Like
The 177-hectare mixed-use development will be divided into four zones: Aeropark, Business Park, Town Center, and the Logistics Park.

The Aeropark will be home to research and development, as well as IT centers, BPO campuses, and educational facilities, while the Town Center will host retail establishments and other commercial establishments. The Business Park, on the other hand, is where prime spaces will be located, along with complementary retail, pocket parks, and residential spaces that can support a true live, work and play environment, while the Logistic Park is master-planned to house several warehousing and distribution facilities. According to Russell, businesses doing light manufacturing can also operate out of this zone.

One of the projects already completed within Clark Global City is phase 1 of West Aero Park, 143,000-square- meter, LEED-certified, Grade A office tower, which is now home to BPO offices and other traditional corporate locators.

Clark Global City is also designed to be modern, livable, and disaster-ready, and it can accommodate multinational corporations like airline companies, business process outsourcing firms, healthcare industries, and transportation facilities. More notably, it will offer a solution to some of Metro Manila's pressing problems such as overpopulation, traffic, and airport congestion.

“I think that will be the biggest legacy that we will have as a developer: changing the lifestyle, driving economic growth of Central Luzon, and decongesting Metro Manila. That will ultimately be our legacy, as a good corporate citizen here in the Philippines.”

What They Said During The Outlook
“I think that will be the biggest legacy that we will have as a developer: changing the lifestyle, driving economic growth of Central Luzon, and decongesting Metro Manila,” said MICHAEL RUSSELL, CEO of Clark Global City Corp. “That will ultimately be our legacy, as a good corporate citizen here in the Philippines.”

How to Build 7 Million Affordable Homes

How do we solve the Philippines' 7.9 million housing backlog?
Estimated at 7.9 million housing units, is the housing backlog still solvable?

As the country's economy continues to enjoy a bull run despite geopolitical challenges, there seems to be no signs of slowing down for the Philippine real estate industry. Think-tanks agree that the local property market is still brimming with opportunities as it basks in the nation's sustained growth.

Fitch-owned BMI Research recently reported that the country's property sector is poised to expand at a yearly average of 9.8 percent by 2026, making it one of the most vibrant in Southeast Asia. It forecasted that both public and private investments in real estate would continue to buoy the market. The group also noted the surge in residential construction permits, with over 30,000 issuances in the second quarter of 2017, a 24 percent jump compared to previous years.

One of the country's main economic drivers—remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFW)—will still serve as a boon for the housing industry. Year to date, money sent home from abroad have already reached $20.8 billion, a 3.8 percent improvement from the year before. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas projects remittances to hit the $28 billion mark by the end of 2017. In addition, JLL expressed optimism that the Philippine peso's depreciation against the dollar would actually encourage OFW families to buy residential units.

But while everything seems to be heading up north for the industry, there is a weak spot that needs to be addressed: the country's widening housing backlog.

Bridging the Gap
If the status quo remains unchanged, trying to find a home may require tough luck for millions of Filipinos. That's how Atty. Christopher Ryan Tan—CEO of housing developer Hausland and Fiesta Communities and former president of the Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines—put it.

Tan, citing a government study, noted that the housing deficit in the country is estimated to reach a staggering 7.67 million by 2022. “In other words, in the eyes of the government, that's how many households would direly need housing provision or housing units. And that is a huge number,” he said.

But that gap may rise or fall as housing needs in the country is a “moving target” as Tan aptly described. “Both the government and the private sector like us would produce but also, population grows and migration happens and so definitely, we will see that moving balance move forward.”

Given the government's peg of the housing shortfall in the Philippines, Tan is aware of the daunting task ahead both for the private and the public sectors, especially since according to him, there's only an actual production of less than 200,000 housing units annually for the past five years. “It's somewhere between 168,000 and 190,000 a year,” he approximated, “so when you do the math, considering that population grows, it seems that you would not be able to catch up. So that's really a huge problem.”

The battle, however, is not yet lost, assured Tan. “That's the challenge now, how really to meet the housing need and to be able to do that, you need to produce on the lower end.”

Defining Affordable Housing
Homes not valued more than Php3 million are classified as affordable housing in the Philippines. Government agency Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) outlined the bracketing for the low-income segment based on price range and ceiling.

In the agency's categorization, units sold for more than Php1.7 million but not exceeding Php3 million are considered low-cost housing. Those that sell for Php450,000 up to Php1.7 million are classified as economic housing, while homes under the socialized housing group are those with a selling price below Php450,000. Together, these three groups comprise the low-income market, which, according to Tan, eats up the lion's share of the country's residential market in terms of production.

“That is the majority in terms of the number of units,” he explained, “but when you look at it in terms of the value or in terms of prices, it's the reverse. You would find that the much expensive housing units, in terms of value, when you convert the total amount of loans generated by the housing sectors, majority are still cornered by the high-end.”

In the Philippines, living spaces with a price range of Php3 million up to Php6 million are labeled mid-cost and those that are sold for more are tagged as high-end. And while these units enjoy a positive response from banks in terms of loans, Tan says it's not the same for the lower income segments, especially those under socialized housing.

“The toughest really is in the socialized housing segment or those housing units not sold more than Php450,000,” he lamented, “because not many banks would be willing to lend at this level. The reason for that is that this segment is perceived to be the least capable of paying and the highest risk.

“But that is the greatest need if you ask me where production has to be accelerated. So it seems that both ends don't meet.”

This, for Tan, poses one major challenge for the government: “We need the government to come in because if private banks would be hesitant to provide financing for the low-end market, the government's role really is to increase available funds for financing for that segment.”

Building for the Masses
Socialized housing as a means of alleviating the need for shelter is not a novel concept. Republic Act 7270 or the Urban Development Housing Act, also known as the Lina Law, was etched into law in 1992 exactly for that purpose. The legislation provided a framework for the government's strategy of providing homes for the masses.

It defined socialized housing as property developments undertaken by both public and private players that are intended for the underprivileged and the homeless. The law, which covers houses and lots, also outlines the need for long-term financing and more liberal conditions on the payment of interests under the Unified Home Lending Program.

One of the major key points of the law, however, is the provision requiring private property players to allot 20 percent of development projects to socialized housing, whether it be in total area or cost. The dedicated area for mass housing may be within the same city or municipality.

This has been reduced to a minimum of 15 percent for subdivisions in the latest amendment to the law, which is stipulated in Republic Act 10884. It also now includes condominium projects with a required 5 percent allotment for mass developments.

While the law is well intentioned and should give the low-income market in the property space a boost, much of the gap in housing remains within the confines of the mass housing segment.

In 2016, the Center for Research Communication of the University of Asia and the Pacific in partnership with the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA) released a study entitled “Impact of Housing Activities on Philippine Economy.” Data gathered from 2001 to 2015 showed that there was a surplus of over half a million units for the mid- and high-end categories. This is a sharp contrast to the shortage posted by the segments under affordable housing, which hit a little below 5.9 million units.

Time to Reclassify
In order to get out of the miry pit, Tan suggested that one major step should be taken. “We've been saying, and probably, this is part of the solution, when you actually look at the market, there may be a need for us to redefine our classifications in the sense that most of the government's help particularly on the lowest level—socialized housing—is way below the efficiency of the market.”

In order to get out of the miry pit, Tan suggested that one major step should be taken. “We've been saying, and probably, this is part of the solution, when you actually look at the market, there may be a need for us to redefine our classifications in the sense that most of the government's help particularly on the lowest level—socialized housing—is way below the efficiency of the market.”

“The price ceiling for the lowest end is Php450,000 but that is only good for a house and lot outside of Metro Manila. But the highest need can be found in the Philippine capital. No developer would be willing to put up a housing unit for Php450,000 because the logical and market-dictated development should be multi-story development due to the price of land.”

“Even the government agencies tasked to produce, particularly the National Housing Authority, the real cost to their housing units in NCR falls close to Php1 million already,” Tan added.

Tan also noted that Metro Manila residents are less hard up compared to those in the provinces, “The purchasing power of the minimum-wage earners in Metro Manila is way above the other regions. But since our policies are designed in that way pegging it at Php450,000, we end up with a massive shortage of housing units, affordable for our low-income segments.”

Should price ceiling be adjusted for socialized housing, Tan said that this would provide an encouraging environment for developers, “When you correct the price ceiling in that way, you accommodate the location where the highest need is. The rest of the country, we let market forces play.”

One More Hurdle
Other than the need to reclassify categories, there is one threat looming for the sector. Included in the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) package of the Department of Finance is the lifting of the value-added tax (VAT) exemption for low-cost housing. This is set to affect all three segments. Colliers International projects that this will lead to an increase of as much as Php384,000 to the prices of low-cost housing.

While acknowledging the benefits of the tax reform especially in pushing the country's infrastructure program, Tan expressed fear for a possible slowdown in the property market. “We expressed this concern because that would mean that low-income housing would have to bear an additional 12 percent of the purchase price if VAT exemption would be removed.

We have expressed our concern in Congress and we're saying that unlike a typical consumer good, housing is also partly consumption, partly investment. It is still best not to tax the housing units for the low-income earners because today the huge housing need is still growing and we don't see it reducing.”

“We're hoping that our senators would see it our way. It's a policy debate actually, but we are the practitioners on the ground and we can tell everyone that it will be more difficult, more cumbersome for our buyers, the low-income segment, to have access to affordable and decent housing.”

Other Reforms
Tan also relayed that it might be high time for a government program encouraging financing for rental schemes. This, he said, might result in an uptake for mass housing. “If there's a program for mass housing, probably a financing for rental housing, so that developers would be encouraged to produce rental housing and recognize these as socialized housing compliant not only as in the mechanism we have today, then I think that has a bright future.”

“I'm a believer that you cannot all have selling houses as a main driver. Rental will play a major role,” he admitted, “the context really is that it's expensive to buy our homes right away and we see this as a solution particularly for the poorest of the poor segments that barely or can't even afford to buy housing as a starter home.”

In this day and age, Tan acknowledged that technology should be taken advantage of, not just in the way that properties are produced but more so in accessing data points and reaching the market via online platforms like Lamudi.

“I'm a believer of the concept of the marketplace. And the marketplace is making it convenient for both the producers and the buyers. This kind of platform actually brings the marketplace to the online sphere, not only for the buyers to search where the projects are but also for us to really look for the buyers where we are at.”

Ultimately, while all these adjustments may not be enough to solve the 7.67 million housing backlog by 2022, Tan beamed that if these reforms and policy changes are made using proper levers, then the property sector might just be able to “clear some of the roadblocks.”

What they said in The Outlook
According ATTY. CHRISTOPHER RYAN TAN of Hausland Development Corp. and former president of the Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP), the industry operates in a unique framework called the price ceilings: “When the price ceiling is pegged lower than the efficiency of the market, the net effect will always be a shortage, which we see today.” He added that the government really has to come up with a spending strategy to subsidize and address affordability, because [in housing], there will always be a price tag.

The housing backlog is basically an urban housing issue, according to MARCELINO MENDOZA, president of OSHDP. “When you look at the experience of other countries, it is really a backlog at the lowest 20 percentile of the population. And this is the portion [of the population] that cannot afford to purchase a home, so this is solved in other countries through some kind of subsidies. We're quite disappointed because the budget now [for housing] is only Php4.7 billion, compared to the previous years' Php13 billion.

“The government is now initiating negotiations with local government units and national government agencies to open up their public lands or government-owned lands for usufruct and for utilization by a private entity through a PPP project, said ATTY. LLOYD CHRISTOPHER LAO, CEO of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board. This will actually lower the cost of houses since land will be free.

To address the housing backlog, first we have to look at the present situation and the limitations of the present programs, said TERESITA BAUTISTA, Vice-President for External Affairs of the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders' Association. The problem lies with the devolution of power to local executives. The system is really perplexing. There are so many landowners who are willing to go into development, but once they see how tedious the process is, they get turned off.

For the part of the Pag-IBIG Fund, ENGR. ELMER TUGADE mentioned that the Fund has several initiatives to make financing more available to homebuyers. “Last year, we inked a partnership with the BCDA to provide funds for the construction of rental housing units in Clark Green City. We also signed an agreement with the University of the Philippines to provide assistance for the development of their rental housing units for their employees. We are also open to various arrangement, not only for rental, but also for usufruct. A one-size- fits-all strategy like acquisition of properties may not be suitable.

No Housing Bubble to Burst

The Subdivision and Housing Developers Association on the Philippines' residential real estate landscape and why a housing bubble is unlikely

Time and again, experts and think tanks alike have raised the red flag over the possibility of a housing bust crippling what has been so far a stellar momentum for the Philippine real estate industry.

While no one would ring the alarm that the property space is already floating inside a bubble, warnings have been made that manifestations are starting to show. An analyst from international debt watcher S&P, for instance, was quoted in Interaksyon as cautioning that things are “looking frothy at this point.” Professor Enrique Soriano, meanwhile, of the Ateneo de Manila University alerted back in 2015 that “there are little frosts coming out.”

Simply put, a housing or property bubble occurs when developers build more on the back of rising demand, only for that appetite to decrease and stagnate once supply has been boosted. This results in a rapid decline in prices that ultimately leads to the bubble bursting.

The likelihood of that happening soon is something that members of the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA) are shrugging of. The group's president, Christopher Narciso, who also happens to be the chief operating officer (COO) of property developer ACM Landholdings, alludes to the sense of overbuilding in the country to the staggering amount of construction activity in recent years.

“You have to remember, we haven't seen this amount of development, amount of construction in ever. You just go to the area in the Mall of Asia Complex, in Aseana, Makati, [or] here in Bonifacio Global City, I mean you count the number of tower cranes moving around,” he said.

Narciso explained, all this building activity will not yield an oversupply. “That gives us a sense, are we overbuilding? But if we look at the numbers, we're not.” By numbers, he was referring to the country's housing backlog, which is currently pegged at almost 7 million units. According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), 2,600 residential units have to be built every day to narrow the gap and erase the backlog. To this, Narciso admitted, “We're not even achieving the capacity in producing the right number of homes to even make a dent in the housing backlog.”

And while Mega Manila and nearby provinces are abuzz with construction activities, Narciso was quick to point out that “there's much more development that's needed.”

Jeffrey Ng of Cathay Land, also a member of SHDA, dispelled the picture of the country's property sector slowing down due to the formation of a bubble. “Everyone says the economy will continue to do well in the next 5 years, so definitely there won't be a housing bust. There's a lot of take-up for offices, residential condominiums, and house and lot units so the vacancy rate is still pretty low. I don't think that there will be a bust soon.”

Another SHDA member, Dennis Lim of mass-housing developer 8990 Holdings, discounted the probability of such a crisis. “We're not even considering that. For as long as financing is available, and for as long as there is a housing backlog, we will have a business,” he said.

Evolution in Residential Offerings
The housing business, in fact, has evolved so much in recent years that it has practically and technically altered the property landscape of the Philippines. One only has to take a quick glance at the Metro Manila skyline to know that there's little resemblance to how the metropolis looked from 20 or even 10 years ago, what with the proliferation of residential towers.

A peek, not just in these condominiums but in house and lots as well, will reveal a more obvious change, according to Narciso. “In and around Metro Manila, and outside—in the regions, I think from 10 or 15 years ago, you could see the shift in terms of floor areas. I think space has become more compact with different developments, whether it be condominiums or house and lots. This is to address the affordability as well as the increase in costs of both land and construction over the last 10 to 15 years,” he explained.

For 8990 Holdings, which has been a mass subdivision developer from the onset, the calls of the times also brought about much-needed adjustments in their portfolio offerings.

“In the last few years, what we've seen is that condominium-living is becoming more acceptable. For so long, we've had these sprawling subdivisions all over the country,” said Lim, “but lately, we've had very strong take-up for condominiums in places that you wouldn't think condominiums would be acceptable.”

He picked out 8990 Holdings' Deca Homes in Marilao, Bulacan, as an example. While the 14- hectare development still has townhouses as a key offering, it also has medium-rise buildings with over 3,700 units. “Because of the land prices, we're forced to do that. Had we built our traditional townhouses or single-attached homes, we would have priced it so high nobody would have been able to buy. We're in the mass housing [development] so that is what we want to do; that is what we want to continue doing. And wherever there is land available, we'll just take a look and see what product will fit, what we can afford, and what the market can afford.”

8990 Holdings also recently braved the already-crowded Metro Manila market but not without a unique selling proposition to tap a growing number of renters in the capital. “It has only been in the last 2 years that we've entered the Metro Manila market. Our first development is technically not mass housing because it offers one of the smallest, or if not, the smallest spaces available in the market with 13 square meters. But we're not marketing this as a primary home but as a halfway home. Surprisingly, it was sold out so there is a market for that.”

Up north of Metro Manila, Gian Carlo Valerio of Pampanga-based Solana Land Development exclaimed that Central Luzon is finally closing in on the race with its counterparts in Southern Luzon like Laguna, Cavite, and Batangas.

“I think after Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1992, a lot of the investments happened south of Manila instead of north of Manila. I think Central Luzon is in a place where it's catching up with the massive investment that went south of Manila. Especially right now, everyone's talking about Clark Green City, that's a big thing,” said Valerio.

In San Fernando, a new skyscraper is also set to rise. “They're introducing high-rise buildings which I think from 5 years ago, you'd never even talk about that. So you're coming up with 30- story buildings right there in San Fernando,” Valerio beamed as he thinks about the prospects for development in the city. “It's interesting to see how Pampanga is going to evolve especially in the next 4 or 5 years that they're pumping and leveraging.”

More Liberal Financing
But more than the towers, skyscrapers, and mixed-use developments, what kept the engine running for the residential segment is the evolution of the country's financing scheme for housing.

According to Narciso, the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s was the turning point that led to a more sound financing terms for residential estates. “I think one word to capture the difference, really, in terms of home financing, is discipline. After the Asian financial crisis, a lot of discipline in terms of regulatory provisions have been instituted by the BSP, by the banking institutions, and other financial institutions,” he said.

The region's economic meltdown in 1997 led to a string of currencies weakening in a number of Asian markets as a result of Thailand devaluing its local currency relative to the U.S. dollar. What started out as a financial turmoil with marked declines in the stock market and reductions in import revenues also disrupted the political balance in much of East Asia. But the crisis also led to much-needed reforms.

In the Philippines, the BSP took on massive changes in the banking sector to aid in the recovery. This, said Narciso, trickled down to the property sector. “This cascaded down to the practices and policies of different residential developers in terms of their framework and the structure of the buyer's equity vis-à- vis the balances that have to be taken out with the different financing institutions. The discipline in terms of providing accurate appraisal values and, of course, determining the true paying capacity of the buyers, all of these have come up after the Asian financial crisis.”

One of the clearer manifestations of the reforms that were carried out, explained Narciso, is in the principles now utilized by developers in preparing financial statements. “Because of the different regulations put in place, including the Acceptable Accounting Practices that have been adapted both internationally and locally, the housing or residential development business in fact has one of the most intricate accounting recognition styles. Nowhere do we need to provide percentage of completion and a certain level of actual collection of equity before a developer can actually recognize a particular sale as revenue,” he said.

These days, banks are also more liberal with their lending terms, especially for housing. Solana Land's Valerio noted how bank financing now comprises 60 percent of his firm's market.

“These days, banks can give you guarantees within 5 days,” Valerio added. “So if an OFW comes home, looks at your house, sees that it's ready for occupancy, they can just go to a bank, get an approval, and then before they go back overseas, they can already move their family into the house. It's that efficient these days with banks.”

Cathay Land's Ng also noted how the more open terms of lending institutions is a boon to the housing industry. “Banks also are quite liberal these days in lending long-term probably even up to 25 years for house-and- lot packages and they're only asking for 10 or 20 percent down- payment and this has been a big boost to homebuyers.

“Hopefully, this liberal lending, the banks have been very aggressive in consumer finance so hopefully this will go on for the next few years,” he said.

Pag-IBIG financing, however, is not to be left behind. For Solana Land's clientele, 30 percent still make use of government financing. “It's a bit segmented so when you talk about socialized housing, it's still a market segment that is dominated by the Pag-IBIG Fund especially, since they can offer as low as 3 percent interest rate for minimum-wage earners,” said Valerio.

For 8990 Holdings, around 80 percent of customers still seek loans from the Pag-IBIG Fund. “We have good relations with the Pag-IBIG Fund. With long payment terms, low interest rates, very good appraisals, buyers actually prefer Pag-IBIG. There are areas in our country where they actually don't like in-house financing because interest rates of Pag-IBIG are low,” said Lim.

Riding the Internet Wave
Just like every other industry, the real estate sector in the Philippines has also adapted to the fast- changing tides of the Internet as more homebuyers go online for their property hunt. “I think we've already been affected by the Internet of things when it comes to real estate marketing and selling. I know for a fact that the top brokers and in-house sellers of different companies have already resorted to this mode of marketing and selling. And over the years, the buyers that have been sourced from online marketing have steadily increased over the last, I'd say, 5 years,” relayed Narciso.

He also exclaimed that there has been a noticeable drop in billboard and newspaper ads for property players. “I think developers have realized that a more targeted and specific approach in terms of marketing and offering sales has been achieved through online modes,” he said.

Solana Land, for one, even had to set up a full digital marketing team to cope with the trend, as more and more potential buyers inquire online. “You won't believe these days, people buy a house through social media. They don't even have email addresses…so that's actually how we generate a lot of sales,” narrated Valerio.

This, he beamed, is also in line with their goal of reaching out to Filipinos abroad. “Being able to access them while they're still overseas and then basically inviting them over to your developments when they come home, you need to have that conversation even before they come home,” he added.

But more than selling, going online allowed property players to access data points, according to Narciso. “You could see a lot of brokers, in-house sellers, and even developers coming up with more online or electronic modes of marketing and selling and then this is coupled with better data gathering as well. I think the benefit of doing online marketing and selling is that they get to have immediate business intelligence and data gathering through the same modes,” he explained.

Given the evolution in the real estate industry and how the Philippine market has been effectively coping with all the changes, Narciso allayed any fear of a housing bust as, according to him, “fundamentals are pretty sound.”

What they said during The Outlook
The one word to capture the difference [between now and the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s], in terms of home financing, is discipline, said CHRISTOPHER NARCISO, president of the Subdivision and Housing Developers' Association. “After the Crisis, a lot of discipline in terms of regulatory provisions have been instituted by the Bangko Sentral…and this cascaded down to the practices and policies of different residential developers. The discipline in terms of providing accurate appraisal values and, of course, determining the true paying capacity of the buyers.”

Central Luzon is in a place where it's catching up with the massive investment that went south of Manila [after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991], said GIAN CARLO VALERIO, vice- president of Solana Land. “Especially right now, everyone's talking about Clark Green City, that's a big thing. But then, even in cities like San Fernando, they're introducing high-rise buildings, which I think from 5 years ago, you'd never even talk about that. So it's a very different market; it's interesting to see how Pampanga is going evolve, especially in the next 4 or 5 years.

“Lately, we've had very strong take up for condominiums in places that you wouldn't think condominiums would be acceptable,” shared 8990 Holdings General Manager for Luzon DENNIS LIM. “We have a mid-rise condominium development in Bulacan and the take up is surprisingly good. Had we built our traditional townhouses or single-attached homes, we would have priced it so high, nobody would have been able to afford. We're in the mass housing so that is what we want to do, that is what we want to continue doing.”

On the issue of the housing bubble, Cathay Land president JEFFREY NG said that everyone says the economy will continue to do well in the next 5 years, so definitely there won't be a housing bust. “There's a lot of take up for offices, residential condominiums, and house and lot units so the vacancy rate is still pretty low. I don't think that there will be a bust soon.”

An Ever-changing Landscape

Lamudi takes a a quick look at the Philippines' ever-changing condo real estate market
A quick look at the Philippines' ever-changing condo real estate market

In the 1980s and the 1990s, there were only a handful of places in Metro Manila where one can find a condo property. These places include Legaspi Village, Salcedo Village, and Apartment Ridge in the Makati central business district; Ortigas Center n Pasig and Mandaluyong; and a few pockets in Greenhills, Manila, and Quezon City.

During that time most condos were seen as the abode of the rich; after all, these properties' target market are well-heeled buyers, which is why most of these apartments are huge with each tower offering perhaps only a hundred or so units.

Although many of Metro Manila's condo properties today (and a good number in other key cities such as Cebu and Davao), particularly in the prime areas of Makati and Taguig, still target the high-end and luxury markets, a good number of developments now are intended for mid-range buyers, particularly in the areas just at the fringes of established business districts.

One example is SMDC's Mezza Residences in Santa Mesa, Quezon City. When it was launched, it was quite unheard of for condo developments to have more than 500 apartments, let alone thousands. And it was just for the first phase of the project. Another followed, which featured roughly the same number of units. This project basically changed the way Filipinos look at condo properties, said Jojo Romarx Salas, a real estate consultant and former director for research and consulting at local brokerage firm Pinnacle Real Estate Consulting Services. “When these smaller-cut condos in multi-tower developments came, condos suddenly became more affordable to a huge segment of the homebuyer population.”

Basking on the success of its first project, SMDC went on to launch scores of other projects. According to its website, the Sy-owned property developer has 32 projects in varying stages of development, and four condos under its upscale brand SMDC Premier.

SMDC is just one of the players who saw this new trend. Consunji-led DMCI Homes also dipped its hands on the condo development bandwagon with its Asian design–inspired, no-frills projects that have become quite ubiquitous in Metro Manila, including its first project Lake View Manors Residences in Taguig. The developer later on introduced Hampstead Gardens Condominium in Santa Mesa, Manila, and Mayfield Park

Residences in Pasig—projects that target mid-end market composed primarily of OFW families, newly-weds, and employees of the then burgeoning BPO sector. But over the last few years the company later on acquired properties in more prime locations, such as Guadalupe Viejo in Makati, Taft Avenue in Pasay, and E. Rodriguez Avenue in Quezon City.

New, Alternative Locations
Over the last few years, record GDP growth and strong macro-economic fundamentals have a created a new crop of condo buyers in the Philippines. Metro Manila's skyline has been drastically changed, to say the least; areas that used to an idle government property—for example, Quezon City's North Triangle—are now being converted into fully fledged mixed-use developments peppered with condo developments targeting a wide range of property buyers.

Close to these burgeoning mixed-use developments are standalone condo developments aimed at the mid-end market. One such location is Brgy. San Antonio in Makati City, which is just a few minutes away on foot from Ayala Avenue. This area offers condo options that can be considered bargains compared to what one will find in the Makati CBD. In fact, data from Lamudi shows that as of end of 2017, the average price of a condo in San Antonio was Php135,480 per square meter, compared to Php154,670 per square meter in Salcedo Village and Php174,190 per square meter in Legaspi Village. Another such location is Jupiter Street, where one will find SMDC's Jazz Residences. Data from Lamudi shows that the average price of a condo here stands at Php155,037 per square meter.

Taguig areas outside of Fort Bonifacio are proving to be buoyant condo markets as well, owing to their proximity not just to Bonifacio Global City (BGC) and McKinley Hill but also to Arca South, an up-and- coming mixed-use development by Ayala Land. Condos in the city's Brgy. Ususan, for instance, average Php75,542 per square meter according to data from Lamudi—a bargain compared to BGC's and McKinley Hill's Php173,730 and Php152,750 per square meter, respectively. Outside Ortigas Center, areas that offer affordable condo options include Highway Hills and Barangka in Mandaluyong, where condo prices average Php96,950 per square meter according to Lamudi, compared to the business district's average of Php114,684.

Who Are Buying?
According to Christopher Maglanoc, president of Ayala Land's affordable subsidiary Avida Land, if you look at the demographic map of the Philippines, a huge chunk of the Philippine population is composed of millennials, a market segment of formidable size and potential, and a focus market of his firm.

“I would say millennials look for two basic things: they are very value-conscious, and they are looking for convenience, which means a property close to where they work, which is why these estate or mixed-use developments are a good thing for the sector, especially in Metro Manila where traffic is really a challenge. The closer you live to your place of work, the more time you spend doing productive activities.”

Maglanoc mentioned that Avida Land is present in 12 of the 24 mixed-use estates of Ayala Land across the Philippines. “We have about 30-plus ongoing projects…among the Ayala brands, we like to think of ourselves as the first to enter the market; in terms of geographic aspirations we are more aggressive. We're willing to enter a market where we think there's a big potential for our brand and for our first-time homebuyers.”

The OFW population, too, is an important market of the mid-end condo sector. In her presentation during The Outlook by Lamudi, Lumina Homes president Estrelita Tan said that there are approximately 12.5 million Filipinos currently residing or working abroad. This translates to about 11 percent of the Philippines total population—a customer base with formidable buying potential and a focus market of many real estate developers. She added that of the 87.1 percent of overseas Filipinos originating outside of Metro Manila, 47 percent of which come from the CALABARZON region; hence, the rising popularity of mid-end condos in Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal provinces.

The High-end Market
But despite the increasing popularity of mid-end condo properties, the high-end market remains an important segment—a fact that Ayala Land knows only too well. According to Mike Jugo, Managing Director of Ayala Land Premier—the group's most upscale brand—the high-end market is not as homogenous as it used to be. “Because of the changing lifestyles…the advent of new technology, we've seen the high-end market changed in terms of level of sophistication and the level of expectations.”

Jugo added that the market in many ways is highly segmented. “When you talk about the high-end market 10 or 15 years ago, you'd probably draw a profile of a person who is in his or her 50s or 60s, full family, living particular lifestyle whether they're an entrepreneur or a successful professional or a captain of an industry.”

“However, now we don't follow normal demographics because there really isn't any. You now have extremely active 70-year- olds who are retired. You have full families that—because of the lifestyles they've chosen—are willing to live in an in-city condominium versus a villa in the south. So a lot of that has really affected the way [Ayala Land] plan things, and the way we communicate these things to our market.”

According to Jugo, a lot of thought has been put in trying to understand their market. “We continuously strive to determine what they want and what they need, and in many ways projecting their needs well into the future. And you know, if I may say something about this event as well, I think sites like Lamudi would come a long way in trying to help the industry as it tries to provide more information for developers to understand our market, this ever-changing market.

Changes Afoot
Avida Land can be considered an early adopter of the digital strategy. According to Maglanoc, about 5 years ago, the company has already anticipated that a lot of its customers will be more active on the [Internet].

“So, it was important for us to have some [online] presence. You have your websites, but now we have facilities like chat, which wasn't there before. Because now they [customers] want real-time responses. Before you can rely on a phone call or an email, but now because a lot of our customers are online, they want instant responses, they want to be able to ask questions and want an instant response.”

Another change that is gradually happening according to Maglanoc is the decreasing reliance on agents and brokers. “We're not saying that the role of brokers has been marginalized, what we're saying now is the market is more digital savvy. So a lot of the screening, the process, or scoping happens online. Before they talk to a broker or a developer, they already have a clear idea of the location they want, the projects that they want to buy into, and their price point. So a lot of the actions happen online. So we're shifting a significant portion of our resources to our digital presence.”

More Than Just Provincial Life

Why real estate players, big and small, are looking further afield for their next projects

In 2014, real estate giant Megaworld Corp. announced that it was fast-tracking the construction of office towers in its Mactan Newtown project in Lapu-Lapu City. Dubbed as the country's first cyberpark with its own beach, the 28.8-hectare mixed-use township was then Megaworld's largest outside Metro Manila, who was then in a hurry to build more offices to take advantage of Cebu's burgeoning business process outsourcing sector.

“Due to an overwhelming demand of office spaces and significant growth of the BPO industry in Cebu, we are doing a massive infrastructure push in Mactan Newtown,” said Jericho Go, Megaworld's first vice-president, in a statement. “We have received inquiries left and right from top BPO companies that are interested to set up operations in our township.”

Rapidly growing population and increasing government spending are just two of the reasons why provincial locations are the next best destinations for real estate developers

Megaworld is just one among a list of national players venturing into provincial locations for their next big-ticket projects. Ayala Land has actually done so much earlier than Megaworld, with its Cebu Business Park, a 50-hectare business district that houses Ayala Center Cebu, office towers, and several high-end condos by Ayala Land Premier and Alveo Land. Megaworld then followed up its successful Cebu mixed-use township with developments in Iloilo, Bacolod, and San Fernando (Pampanga), while Ayala Land similarly launched large-scale projects in Porac, Imus, and Davao.

One of the biggest challenges for real estate developers is finding land large enough for present development, said Jojo Romarx Salas, a real estate consultant and former Research Director at consulting firm Pinnacle, in an interview with Lamudi in 2014.

“If one can only acquire 1,000 or 2,000 sqm, that's suitable for just one building. Most developers, especially the big ones, don't like one-off projects, unless the location is very attractive. In Metro Manila, that's the challenge: looking for suitable land. Some developers are even willing to bid high, which pushes up already skyrocketing land prices in the capital.”

This may be one of the reasons why many real estate players are venturing out of the capital for their next big-ticket projects. Aside from the fact that land is prohibitively costly in Metro Manila, many provincial locations are being promoted as new growth areas, in part to decongest the capital and spur growth in these locations.

Megaworld and Ayala Land are not the only players doing so. Vista Land, via its housing subsidiary Camella, has traditionally been strong in the provinces. In her presentation during The Outlook by Lamudi event in November 2017, Estrelita Tan, president of Vista Land subsidiary Lumina Homes, said that one factor that one major factor that will create an impact to the real estate industry is infrastructure.

“The government launched ‘Build, Build, Build' to emphasize its mandate to improve infrastructure as one of the top priorities, with public spending target of Php8.4 trillion over the next five years up to 2022.”

She added that new roads, bridges, expressways, rail systems, airports, and seaports are in the works for better connectivity, which will yield robust growth not just in highly urbanized cities but also to the countryside.

“The improved infrastructure is not just focused on the greater Metro Manila area. In fact, of the Php342 billion budget of [Department of Public Works and Highways] for the year 2017, about 93 percent is allotted for projects outside NCR. As a consequence, the real estate industry will really benefit as this will create the need for more housing across the country,” Tan said.

Tan cited to examples: the 105-km Tagum–Davao City–Digos railway line, which is projected to start in 2018 and to be completed in 2022 and the New Clark City mixed-use industrial estate development coupled with the Subic–Clark cargo railway project.

Retail Also Moving Elsewhere
Lamudi research shows that there are over 200 operational supermalls, community malls, lifestyle malls, strip malls, retail podiums, bargain malls, open-air shopping plazas, and duty-free shopping center in Metro Manila alone.

One can only make a guess as to how much leasable space these add up to; supermalls alone account for almost 4 million square meters of mall retail space, while estate consulting firm Santos Knight Frank estimates that approximately 630,000 square meters of retail space will be added to the current stock in the next three years. With numbers like these, the question “Are there too many malls in Metro Manila?” is a fair one to ask, which is why a lot of the country's leading mall operators are opening up shops in the provinces.

SM Prime, for instance, opened its much-awaited SM Seaside City Cebu in late 2015, which boasts more than 470,000 sqm meters of leasable space and is currently the third largest shopping mall in the country. Not to be outdone is Robinsons Land, which opened Robinsons Galleria Cebu also in late 2015, which boasts 158,000 sqm of leasable space and is currently the developer's third largest shopping mall (after Robinsons Place Manila and Robinsons Galleria).

However, one name that's making rounds in the local media for its aggressive provincial expansion is DoubleDragon Properties—a firm headed by Jollibee's Tony Tan Caktiong and Edgar “Injap” Sia of the Mang Inasal fame, and the name behind the ubiquitous CityMall.

In her presentation during The Outlook, DoubleDragon Chief Financial Officer Hannah Yulo said that CityMall currently has a total of 64 sites in various stages of development. With 25 malls already open and 22 currently being built, DoubleDragon aims to have 100 malls by 2020. Located mostly in second- and third-tier cities and municipalities in Visayas and Mindanao, CityMall is positioning itself as a platform on which supermarkets and other retailers can ease their goods and services into various rural areas.

“We're not just building malls so that we build retail space; we're actually catering to a transition. We're bringing in the space for these modern supermarkets to strive, and the ecosystem of other retail brands to support this type of retail environment,” Yulo explained.

According to Yulo, the provinces are currently being served by mom-and- pop shops—family- owned shop houses and old supermarkets that could have been in operation for a long time. There are about 300–400 such stores still serving locals, and having been open possibly for decades, many of them are in need of an upgrade, which provides ample business opportunity for Metro Manila-based retailers looking to expand their rural presence.

The CityMall line is partly owned by the SM Group, which is why each mall typically contains goods and services under the SM brand: Savemore, ACE Hardware, SM Appliance Center, Watsons, Simply Shoes, China Bank Savings, and BDO. Dining options, on the other hand, are provided by restaurants under the Jollibee group.

Shops like these may already be commonplace to provincial cities, but, as Yulo noted, CityMall is not dependent on new demand.

“We don't sell any luxury items or luxury brands that you would typically try to get online. What we cater to are basic needs of people, stuff they already buy today. We're not banking on new demand coming out of the provinces. We're banking on the movement of demand from traditional to modern, so it's just a demand shift that we're catering to,” she said.

Growing Potential
There is definitely an incentive for major real estate players to venture into the provinces. According to Tan, the government gives good guidance to business expansion through the NEDA national special strategy; thus, developers can expand for the demographic base.

Three of the country's [largest] regions—NCR, CALABARZON, and Central Luzon—contribute approximately two-thirds to the country's economy. Although Metro Manila hogs the lion's share of country's GDP at 36 percent, CALABARZON (composed of the Southern Luzon provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) contributes 17 percent, while Central Luzon about 9.2 percent.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) also projects that by 2045, CALABARZON will continue to have the highest population among all the Philippine regions, while Central Luzon will grow on average 7 percent annually. On the other hand, by 2030, Central Visayas will catch up with Western Visayas to become the fourth largest region, each with 9.7 million people.

Remittance from overseas Filipino workers, too, plays an important role. According to Tan, there are currently 12.5 million Filipinos working and/or residing abroad, which translates to approximately 11 percent of the Filipino population, which are potential customers with buying capacity for housing products. Of these overseas Filipinos, 87.1 percent originate outside NCR: 47 percent from CALABARZON, Central Luzon, and the Ilocos Region, while 32 percent come from Visayas and Mindanao, data from the PSA shows.

According to Tan, buying a house is one of the primary reasons [of OFWs] for going abroad. “The motivational objective of self-fulfillment in seeing the fruit of their labor. Security of having something to leave to their kids and the trophy for all their hard work outside the country.”

Establishing provincial presence and maintaining a geographically diverse project portfolio are not without any challenges, explained Tan. She said that other than addressing the peculiarities of each area, industry issues like red tape and delays in the approvals of housing projects are some of the issues every developer needs to overcome. “Price hike in utility and rolling cost, limited finding sources for housing the poor, restrictive regulatory policies on land use, and varying requirement of LGUs across the country,” she said. “However, despite these hurdles, we need to act aggressively at faster pace to overcome the challenges and immediately build regions with buyer adoptions.”

What They Said during The Outlook
Establishing provincial presence and maintaining a geographically diverse project portfolio are not without any challenges, explained Tan. She said that other than addressing the peculiarities of each area, industry issues like red tape and delays in the approvals of housing projects are some of the issues every developer needs to overcome. “Price hike in utility and rolling cost, limited finding sources for housing the poor, restrictive regulatory policies on land use, and varying requirement of LGUs across the country,” she said. “However, despite these hurdles, we need to act aggressively at faster pace to overcome the challenges and immediately build regions with buyer adoptions.”

Casting a Green Net Wide

ULI Philippines' and The Net Group's Raymond Rufino on sustainability and building green

Gone are the days when going green was only suited for the deep-pocketed. Now, more than ever, being environmentally conscious is no longer just a matter of principle, but is also a practical and sensible option. After all, green living should mean consuming less.

With sustainable lifestyle choices coming in cheap, being eco-friendly has fast become a status symbol; and businesses are now fast cashing in on the trend. One need not go far to find proof. A quick trip to a store will reveal a wide range energy-saving products.

But it is not only the commodity space that has answered the demand; the real estate sector has been ramping up efforts to build sustainable structures and properties.

Revolutionizing the Workplace
Back when it was still perceived costly, one developer dared to take the greener route. The Net Group's (TNG) portfolio of seven office buildings within Bonifacio Global City (BGC) boasts sustainable technologies from design to construction and even up to management.

But this was not always the story. Established in 1999, TNG envisioned itself as a builder of a new generation of office buildings. In the 1990s, that meant catering to budding Internet firms.

TNG co-president Raymond Rufino recalls how the group capitalized on what was then an untapped market. “At that time, a lot of the older office buildings were not catering to these technology firms or the IT firms; hence, the name The Net Group because the major client base were really these Internet companies. Remember, back in the 1990s that was all of the dot-com boom.”

So in 2001 with President Charlie Rufino and his business partner Jacques Dupasquier at the helm, TNG completed its first installment: the Net One Center at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 26th Street. It was to be the first in a string of successful boutique IT office buildings that will dot the BGC skyline.

The company, however, took a major turn after the younger Rufino joined TNG in 2006, fresh from finishing his master's degree in Real Estate Development at New York City's Columbia University. “I really want to bring back this idea of being sustainable, being green in the way you design, build, and operate buildings; and that's how I got involved in the company.”

The proposition received a nod from TNG's head honchos, says Rufino, “and pushing this as a key business priority I was very lucky because both Charlie and Jacque supported me in this direction and they agreed, ‘Let's make this a core component of who we are as developers'. Today, we're very proud to be one of the greenest developers in the country; and our aim is to be the top green developer in the Philippines.”

TNG had made the shift to being environmentally responsive since then. In July 2013, the firm partnered with Aboitiz Power to switch its first five buildings into Cleanergy, the energy developer's own brand of clean and renewable energy assets.

But nothing screams green more than the group's two newest buildings: Net Lima and Net Park. Apart from their easily recognizable diagonal exteriors, the two towers serve as the benchmark for sustainable construction in the country. Net Park, for one, boasts a fusion of large spaces and the latest in cost-cutting technologies.

It is no wonder that Rufino is pleased as punch with the twin buildings. “They say you always get better with every project you do. So I would say I'm most proud of Net Lima and Net Park, because so much of what we learned and so much of our blood, sweat, and tears went into these last two projects.”

Both skyscrapers were flagship projects for BERDE or the Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence, the country's local green rating system under the Philippine Green Building Council (PhilGBC). Net Lima managed to get a 4-star certification, while Net Park achieved the highest possible rating of 5 stars.

It is no wonder that Rufino is pleased as punch with the twin buildings. “They say you always get better with every project you do. So I would say I'm most proud of Net Lima and Net Park, because so much of what we learned and so much of our blood, sweat, and tears went into these last two projects.”

Both skyscrapers were flagship projects for BERDE or the Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence, the country's local green rating system under the Philippine Green Building Council (PhilGBC). Net Lima managed to get a 4-star certification, while Net Park achieved the highest possible rating of 5 stars.

Spreading the New Gold Standard
Rufino may opt to take the green slice of the pie all for himself and TNG, but the sustainability advocate chose to spread the philosophy far and wide in the country.

In 2007, he helped found the PhilGBC in the hopes of driving sustainable initiatives. “I think when we put up the [Council] in 2007, we precisely wanted to focus on sharing best practices, [and] trying to educate the market about what are the successful strategies when going green.”

But it was no walk in the park. “It's been a little bit slow when we first started. It was very difficult because people did not understand, ‘What do you mean by green building? What do you mean about being sustainable?' It was a struggle trying to build that awareness [and] that education,” shared Rufino.

The organization developed BERDE as the country's green rating tool, which integrates international standards to verify and monitor a structure's environmental performance. The rating system makes use of 11 parameters, including management, land use and ecology, water consumption, energy efficiency, transport circulation, indoor environment quality, materials used, emissions, waste management, heritage conservation, and innovation.

Rufino says the process is scientific and requires commitment. “When your building gets certified as green, you've met a minimum level of performance in all of these 11 parameters. Just because you did 2 or 3 really well does not mean you get certified. It has to be broad enough because that way we look at it in a holistic way.” BERDE also follows different schemes depending if the project is a new construction, a retrofit and renovation, or a change in operation.

In 2016, PhilGBC became an established member of the World Green Building Council, placing it among the ranks of [organizations] in the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore, among others.

Rufino viewed the milestone as a boost in the group's advocacy, which is slowly gaining ground. “Over the years, we've noticed a really, really good momentum and we've ramped up a lot.”

He adds: “A lot of the new office buildings are undergoing green building certification. So whether it's BERDE or LEED, a lot of the new buildings are already undergoing that. And those who aren't, even if they're not getting certified, they're already starting to include a lot of green- building principles in the way that they're designing buildings and operating these buildings.”

Answering the Market's New Call
As the movement in the country continues to create steam, the revolution is already in full swing internationally. There is growing evidence the world over that building green is not only an answer to the planet's need for sustainable construction, but is also a response to an expanding consumer demand.

In 2013 alone, market intelligence solutions provider Luxe Research reported a markup in the value of the green building industry at $260 billion. In the United States, 20 percent of new real estate constructions were categorized sustainable that year.

The World Green Building Council meanwhile in 2016 was able to certify 1.04 billion square meters of green building space across the globe—about 10 times the size of Paris. And that is bound to increase.

A World Green Building Trends report estimates that the number of companies expecting to have 60 percent of their construction activities classified as green will double to 37 percent by 2018. This has become part of the developers' business strategy as 40 percent of the respondents admitted to being triggered by client demand to pursue greener activities.

Here at local shores, registration for the U.S. tool LEED is gaining traction. At present, there are 279 activities under the system with 81 projects already having obtained certification.

Just recently, Eton Properties tapped Aboitiz Power to supply its office buildings at the Eton Centris in Quezon City with renewable energy. Likewise, Arthaland sought both LEED and BERDE accreditation for the 38-story Cebu Exchange set to tower over the city's IT Park.

Even schools are pursuing sustainability. The De La Salle University for one decided to go green with its Henry Sy Sr. Hall, which is a pilot BERDE project for educational institutions.

Rufino explains that an increase in greener construction should no longer come as a surprise. “Partly because it's the market that wants it so a lot of our tenants, our locators are big multinationals who demand these kinds of features in the building, but also because it's becoming a part of legislation.” He is referring to the Philippine Green Building Code, which supplements the National Building Code under the Department of Public Works and Highways.

But apart from that, Rufino notes how different local governments are starting to employ their own green strategies. “So a lot of local municipalities have understood now that green building is so important for the sustainability of our future that they're now including mandatory requirements. So before it used to be all voluntary, but now you're starting to see, aside from the voluntary, some mandatory requirements for developers to go green.”

Case in point is Mandaue in Cebu Province, which the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation awarded as a model of a low-carbon town. In its program, Mandaue requires green building certificates in planned unit developments while structures are given property tax incentives based on the facility's sustainability. This framework—a joint project with PhilGBC—says Rufino, is very robust. “I would say the Mandaue program is probably the most forward-thinking program of any municipality in the Philippines. It's very impressive.”

Forging a Sustainable Future
Despite the seeming uptake in sustainable construction, there are still some pain points that Rufino feels need to be addressed. For one, as being green is becoming increasingly sellable, some firms only use the label as a marketing tool.

Says Rufino, “They do a little bit, which is great. But you need to show some commitment. Because if that happens, the whole public will benefit because all of these buildings will be meeting certain levels of green.” And in order to drive commitment, he believes that another weakness of the Philippine real estate industry should be addressed: the lack of easily accessible data online.

“When we start talking about the market,” Raymond explains, “the reason why a lot of residential developers haven't gone in to it is because they probably don't think that people really look for it or care for it.” The availability of such information, he says, will help steer business strategies for developers. “These kinds of information or data points will be very helpful for owners and developers to get them convinced that I need to go green and really start doing this for my projects.”

According to Rufino, this is where websites like Lamudi can come i`n. “Portals like Lamudi are a treasure trove of information left by their users. And a lot of this information may be related to their searches about green or sustainable developments—where the demand is, what they're looking for, and for how much.”

But amid the challenges that still hover over the move to shift to sustainable construction in the Philippines, a momentum has been built and Rufino says, all that is needed is to keep the wheel turning.

“When we think about the future, people will continue to come to the cities. And therefore, when we think about developing in the cities, we need to acknowledge that we're not just building for today, we're building for future generations and that's where sustainability comes in. You don't want to build a building today that's going to be obsolete in 5 years. You want a building today that's going to last for decades and that's meant to be passed on from generation to generation.”

And as for TNG, it is now casting its eyes over the possibility of building beyond BGC as it continues to play a pivotal role in planting seeds of the green philosophy elsewhere. The goal, after all, says Rufino, is for “every single major development or project in the Philippines in the future to be certified; that is my dream.”

What they said during The Outlook
A question always asked of the Philippine Green Building Council is, why is there a need for a local rating system, which is BERDE, said ROWENA RAMOS, Principal Architect at Ecotektonika Inc. “It was back in 2006 when the council invited the industry for a multi- stakeholders' meeting and to decide if we should adapt an existing rating tool or should be develop our own. The consensus was to develop our own. We would want to ensure that this is for the Philippines, it is relevant for the Philippines, and that we actually address the environmental issue and priorities of the nation.

JOHN AGUILAR, Executive Producer for Streetpark Productions and President of Realty Emporium, said that sustainability doesn't need be too technical. “You can have passive cooling within the house with just by making sure that at least two sides of your rooms have windows…making sure there is free-flowing air even if it's raining outside. So those practical things…they need not be technical, they don't need to be more expensive or complicated; sometimes it's just about going back to basics.”

JOHN AGUILAR, Executive Producer for Streetpark Productions and President of Realty Emporium

“We needed a strong differentiator so that when we enter a market that is already full of developments, we wanted to do [it] differently,” said ENGR. EDGAR SABIDONG, Senior AVP for ArthaLand Corp. “So we thought of going green…and it became a push for us. We became known as the sustainable developer, and that for us is perhaps the biggest impact that going green has helped us—establishing our name as a responsible developer.”

ENGR. EDGAR SABIDONG, Senior AVP for ArthaLand Corp

“Energy and water saving and great materials—that's only a fraction of the green equation,” said SYLVESTER WONG, Vice-President at AECOM. “Green also means healthy places; it also means walkability. We know that 30 percent of the energy consumed in the cities is from transportation, so for a building to be located well is as much as a green consideration as what it is clad with or what kind of energy it's self-producing.”


“When we think about the future, people will continue to come to the cities,” said RAYMOND RUFINO, Co-president of The Net Group. And therefore, when we think about developing in the cities, we need to acknowledge that we're not just building for today, we're building for future generations and that's where sustainability comes in. You don't want to build a building today that's going to be obsolete in 5 years. You want a building today that's going to last for decades and that's meant to be passed on from generation to generation.”

About The Outlook by Lamudi

Lamudi takes real estate data to a whole new level

What started as an analysis of onsite search and listings data for global real estate platform Lamudi Philippines has now grown into a full-fledged service. Boasting more than 1.5 million data points generated every month and approximately 100,000 properties listed as of this writing, the real estate website is taking the data-driven approach to real estate marketing into a whole new level, as it completed a survey involving 10,000 homebuyers and gathered the industry's leaders for a day of knowledge sharing, which is now compiled as The Outlook by Lamudi.

The Outlook by Lamudi, an event held in November 2017, also coincided with the awarding of the industry's best players and projects using data generated from the 10,000-strong homebuyers' survey. According to Lamudi Philippines' CEO and Managing Director Bhavna Suresh Chathambeth, the first-of- its- kind event is first an foremost a gathering of the industry's thought leaders for a day of discussion and knowledge sharing on what drive the real estate sector.

The thought leaders came from the industry's major sectors, including Anna Ma. Margarita Dy, Manny Blas, Christropher Maglanoc, and Mike Jugo of Ayala Land, who together discussed what's next for the country's mixed-use developments; Thomas Mirasol, Renee Bacani, and Jojo Aligayen from Ortigas & Co., who shared what it takes to redevelop an iconic part of Metro Manila; Hannah Yulo from DoubleDragon Properties and Estrelita Tan from Lumina Homes on property developers' strategy for provincial expansion; and Michael Russell from Clark Global City Corp. and Delfin “Buds” Wenceslao from Aseana Holdings on the details that go into planning and building new cities.

In addition, Urban Land Institute Philippines members led by Raymond Rufino, Rowena Ramos, Sylvester Wong, John Aguilar, and Edgar Sabidong discussed the current state of green building and sustainability in Philippine real estate; while members of the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association, including Christopher Narciso, Gian Carlo Valerio, Dennis Lim, Jeffrey Ng, and Rene Ledesma Jr., discussed current and future trends on the Philippines' residential real estate sector. Lastly, a mixed bag of panelists, which included Marcelino Mendoza, Atty. Ryan Christopher Tan, and John Bryan Vital of the Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines, in addition to panelists from the government and private sector, Atty. Lloyd Christoper Lao, Engr. Elmer Tugade, and Teresita Bautista, discussed the housing backlog and what steps can be taken in order to find a solution to long-standing issue.

Lamudi Philippines' CEO and Managing Director Bhavna Suresh Chathambeth

The 10,000-strong Nationwide Survey
In order to determine the industry's players and developments, Lamudi started a nationwide survey in May 2017, which involved approximately 10,000 respondents from across the Philippines. The respondents were asked questions ranging from what they deem are country's the best condominium developers, to their opinion on who deliver the best housing or subdivision projects. Other questions delve on high-end condo development, amenities, and design, among others.

Both highly esteemed legacy developers and relative newcomers were recognized as the industry's best. Ayala Land, for instance, was recognized as the Best Condo Developer and Best Mixed-use Developer, while its projects Ayala Greenfield Estates and Avida Settings Cavite were named Best High-end Housing Development and Best Affordable Housing Development, respectively.

Vista Land's Camella was named Best Housing Developer (overall and for the Visayas), while its project Camella Riverfront was named Best Affordable Housing Development in the Visayas.

Best Commercial Developer went to Henry Sy-owned SM Prime Holdings, while its very popular Novaliches project Trees Residences was named the Best Affordable Condo Development by the survey's 10,000 respondents.

Other major recipients during the Lamudi awards include Megaworld Corp. (Best Mixed-use Developer–Visayas and Best Condo Architecture), Maria Luisa Properties (Best High-end Housing Development and Housing Development with the Best Design and Architecture), Cebu Landmasters (Best Condo Developer – Visayas), DMCI Homes (Developer with Best Value-for- Money Properties), Rockwell Land (Best High-end Condo Developments for The Proscenium and 32 Sanson), and Filinvest Land (Best Mid-end Condo Development for 100 West), among many others.

The Step Forward
The Outlook by Lamudi's 2017 edition will be just the first of many similar initiatives that the global property portal is planning to organize over the coming months. With data becoming in important tool in real estate developers' and sellers' arsenal, Lamudi is in a good position to shake up the industry, bolstering its lead as the number one real estate platform in the Philippines.