All in the Family
At Cebu Landmasters Inc., family is more than just sharing a last name. The genuine concern and mastery at addressing their catered market’s needs has turned Jose Soberano III’s homegrown company into a real estate developer that is building communities throughout the Visayas and Mindanao region.
With its modern glass façade and a strategic location on one of Cebu IT Park’s main avenues, Park Centrale is a building that unsurprisingly merits a few second looks. The sleek structure is home to several businesses, including BPOs and homegrown companies—including that of Cebu Landmasters Inc.
As the company behind Park Centrale and many other developments in Cebu, Cebu Landmasters Inc. occupies what is arguably the building’s prime space—the topmost floor that include an outdoor deck, large windows throughout the offices, and access to the rooftop that enjoys views all the way down to the Mactan Channel on one side and the hills of Busay on the other.
The company’s location now seems to be a proper representation of the company’s growth—in the past 12 years, Cebu Landmasters has grown from its first office in Labangon with a team of two people, to its current roster of 170 full-time employees housed in one of the premiere office addresses in the city.
At the heart of it, though, is Jose Soberano III, who had started the company after working with the Ayala Group for 23 years and seeing an opportunity to create his own development in Cebu’s countryside. The President and CEO wanted to cater to the housing needs of the middle-income bracket, particularly in areas close to his hometown of Pinamungajan on the Western side of Cebu, which led to the company’s first development, the San Josemaria Village in Balamban. “There was an opportunity to provide affordable, quality homes to the very hardworking employees in the shipbuilding industry in Balamban,” he shares. “This was a niche market, as we were one of the first to bring gated subdivision living to this part of Cebu.”
The humble beginnings have led to considerable success with over 25 developments to date, and at the heart of it all remains Joe and the passion that drove him to the business when he started. These days, though, he shares it with his wife Marose, the company’s Executive Vice-President of Finance, and children Franco and Joanna, who have each contributed to what the company is today.
“We had to talk them into it. Thankfully we succeeded,” Joe says lightheartedly when asked how he had gotten Franco and Joanna to join the team. “My children were well-placed in their previous careers, and it was something they could have easily built themselves and be on their own. However as a dad and CEO, I did my share by giving them a good option and making it an interesting business for them to be part of.”
“Since we were young, we were always exposed to our family business, but not particularly groomed or required to work for the company. My parents would always say it should come from us, it was up to us when or if we wanted to, or were ready,” shares Joanna Soberano, the company’s Vice-President and Marketing Director. With that in mind, she took up a bachelor’s degree—and later graduate studies—in Marketing Communications at the University of Asia & the Pacific. She then pursued a corporate career, taking on marketing and brand management roles in Nestle for seven years. “I was part of a Nestle international program in marketing as the delegate of Nestle Philippines, where I had expatriations in the headquarters in Switzerland and Thailand.”
On his part, the oldest child Franco Soberano had originally wanted to be a lawyer after his studies at the Ateneo de Manila University, where he had taken up Management with a major in Legal Management and minor in Finance. “Eventually I became very fascinated with the world of business, so the new dream was to climb up the corporate ladder and become an executive of a multi-national corporation,” Franco recalls, sharing that at the time, Cebu Landmasters had still been a young venture.
Their parents’ drive and the company’s eventual growth, though, inspired Franco to eventually join their ranks. “As I saw how my parents worked hard to grow the business, how well they took care of the employees and professionalize the business, it became an easier decision to join the family business,” he says, now serving as Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer.
For Joe’s part, Franco and Joanna came onboard at an optimum time. “This is a critical stage of the company’s push for growth and expansion, and we need all the help we can get. My plans for them are clear—they are the next to lead this company, and I have no doubt they will be excellent leaders as they already are.”
“We listen very carefully to the beat of the market, and we always internalize what is valuable to our customers.”
In fact, both Joanna and Franco plays vital roles in the company’s operations—for his part, Franco directs and manages day to day operations that include business development, project management, marketing and sales, documentation and property management. “Park Centrale will always be my ‘baby’ project,” Franco admits, although he has been involved in all of Cebu Landmasters’ projects since. “After my studies in New York,” where he’d studied Real Estate Development in Columbia University, “I was given this special project as I had recently learned about office design and development in Manhattan. Every little detail in the project, even the smallest piece of tile we ordered for the project, I can still remember—and in real estate, it helps a lot to be very meticulous and hands-on.”
Joanna had been in the company for less than a year, but she’s already spearheaded many improvements in the company’s marketing, establishing a competent team and developing strategies for branding and promotions. The company’s new slogan, “We Build With You in Mind,” is her brainchild.
“The best part about working in the family business is first the industry we are in. We are in the business of building homes, uplifting lives and communities,” Joanna shares, revealing a little bit of the mindset behind the slogan. “Homes are people’s hopes and dreams, a major decision point and life milestone. To make it happen for them the way they envision it, to make their hard-earned money count, guiding them through every step, that is our job.”
It’s understandable then, that Joanna feels the project’s new brand Casa Mira best represents what Cebu Landmasters wants to do for the Filipino family. “It’s a brand that we will be expanding this year as our economic flagship brand,” Joanna shares. “This is particularly meaningful to me because of how it delivers a Mira-cle to home-seekers, one that is in a beautiful community with amenities, well-located and priced only at P5000 a month. It gives opportunities for many people to have a home they have always wished for.”
As one of Cebu Landmasters’ highlight projects for 2017, Casa Mira features a development of townhouses, and has launched in Naga and Linao in Southern Cebu. The next year will see the brand expanding to Guadalupe in Cebu, and to the neighboring provinces of Iloilo, Bacolod and Dumaguete. “It’s about giving ‘more for the Filipino family,’” Joanna adds.
Casa Mira isn’t the only thing Cebu Landmasters has in store for the year—2017 is set to be the company’s biggest yet, with expansion in four new cities in the Visayas and Mindanao region (Davao, along with the locations for Casa Mira) and ten new projects on the way. This is already following an already major departure from their original purely residential projects, with Park Centrale being their first venture into commercial and office spaces. “It was part of our strategy to diversify our product lines, and support the growing demand for Grade A BPO and corporate offices,” says Joe. “When we completed the building in 2015, our spaces were all filled up in less than three months. This really is a testament to Cebu as being a favorite business or BPO destination for its world-class talent pool.”
Cebu Landmasters to continue on the thread of diverse products, their other projects of the year including the Baseline Center, a mixed-use lifestyle destination that brings together office spaces and residential condominium The Citadines by Ascott to a landmark Cebu destination; and the Latitude Corporate Center in Cebu Business Park, which is “Masterfully Crafted for Great Businesses.” Their newest projects pre-selling this month are the New York-inspired 38 Park Avenue in IT Park, which is set to open for pre-selling this month; and their very first venture in Davao City—the Mesa Tierra Garden Residences that will feature tranquil and green living spaces.
The experience in the real estate industry has brought about a development process that centers always on the customer—their projects’ future residents. “As a very first step, we pursue the best location. Whether it’s for a high-end project or an economic one, we will strive to offer a location that will give our buyers the best possible experience and value appreciation for the long-term,” Joe explains. “And we listen very carefully to the beat of the market, and we always internalize what is valuable to our customers.”
The forward-thinking approach means Cebu Landmasters is not just in the construction of residential or commercial structures. “Even after a project is completed, we are still very much part of the developments and see to it that projects are nurtured for the long-term,” Joe continues. “Our customer service will begin from the time you meet a CLI employee, and will continue well after you moved into your home.”
The company feels this is a strength that comes with being a homegrown company—one that is already the biggest local housing developer in Metro Cebu, with an 11% market share second only to real estate giant Ayala Land at 17%, and followed by Filinvest at 8%, based on the 2016 CBRE study. “Truly knowing the market—the needs, wants, real demand which comes with being closer to the people—we are able to render service that is hands-on and personalized, execute with speed, and deliver projects of good value,” Joe says.
“As a family business, we will always endeavor to grow across generations–the vision is always long-term.”
– Franco Soberano
That knowledge of the market comes in handy, especially in the face of a growing industry that now includes many developers coming in. “Competition is always welcome as all players will try to raise the bar, and our buyers will benefit from the improved standards,” Joe shares. “For homegrown real estate companies, it will always be a special responsibility to look after our fellow Cebuanos, so we will adapt to new competition, but at the same time we will drive new innovations as we will continue to know Cebu best.”
Cebu Landmasters’ success might be something attributed to this almost intimate association to their market, but it’s not all that surprising when you consider the group behind it shares a familial connection. “As a family business, we will always endeavor to grow across generations—the vision is always long-term,” Franco says. “The best part about it is that I’m able to journey with those dearest to me. We are also able to grow an extended family, as our executives and employees become very much part of the family.”
“We push and learn from each other everyday,” Joanna adds. “The challenge for a family business is to always strike a good balance between work and family. But I am lucky to have a family who puts us first, and one that keeps a professional, trusting and encouraging environment in the office.”
“The best part about working in the family business is, first, the industry we are in. We are in the business of building homes, uplifting lives and communities.” -Joanna Soberano
This environment is one that has carried Cebu Landmasters Inc. through its 12 years of success—the genuine concern and desire to improve their customer’s lives has become a backbone to a business that’s only going to reach new heights.
photography Dan Douglas Ong stylist Blaq Mafia makeup Arnauld hair Jesse Egos
EXCLUSIVE: Never Been Released Behind-the-Scenes photos of Zee Lifestyle’s Emerald Issue Cover Shoot
We celebrate the strength and resilience of womanhood in this year’s Mother’s Day by looking back at these never been seen before behind-the-scenes shots of Zee Lifestyle Magazine’s Emerald (20th Anniversary) Issue cover shoot featuring the “Leading Women” of Cebu.
To celebrate the 20 beautiful years of Zee Lifestyle as the ultimate source of lifestyle news in Cebu, we handpicked 12 strong and stylish women of Cebu from every age group. These women show us that independently building one’s strength of character and living one’s passion knows no age. From the beginning, Zee has always been empowering women, providing the Cebuanas a platform to express their beauty and confidence, share their passions, engage in economic and political participation which yields to viewing women with equality and respect that we deserve.
photography Jan Gonzales
creative director Melo Esguerra
art director Doro Barandino
sittings editor Shari Quimbo
beauty director Romero Vergara
makeup Arnauld, Janice Barillo and Nicko dela Peña
hair Jessie Egos and Jake Arias
fashion styling Clint Potestas
production assistants Patty Taboada and Katrina Labra
locale Marco Polo Plaza Hotel Cebu
Twelve women, two sets and one afternoon. That is how the Zee Lifestyle team decided to celebrate the title’s 20th anniversary issue—with a challenge that, in some ways, is one of our biggest productions yet.
The idea came along when publisher Eva Gullas and editor-at-large Melo Esguerra were discussing a cover story that would best represent the magazine’s history. From commissioning artistic depictions on Cebu to playing with the anniversary’s emerald theme, no idea had stuck until Melo suggested putting a series of women who had already been on the cover of Zee, again on the cover all together.
Coming up with the list of names, of course, was no small feat. Our covers from the last 20 years have included several strong personalities—from philanthropists and politicians, to actors, and names to soon watch out for, our pages have seen them all. The challenge, then, was to come up with a list of women who had been driving forces in their respective fields when they had first appeared on the cover, and remain as powerful players even today.
With input from editors, both past and present, we rounded up 12 women from different age groups, fields and industries, who are all strong and passionate at whatever it is they do—Amparito Lhuillier, who remains the doyenne of Cebu society as a picture of elegance and class with her continuing efforts in business and social causes; the always-stylish Marguerite Lhuillier, herself an example of sophistication in all her efforts, whether business or otherwise; Margot Osmeña, who as a Cebu City Councilor has spearheaded many urban projects directed for the betterment of living in the city; hospitality mavens June Alegrado and Alice Woolbright, who are deeply involved in the rise of their brands, Bluewater properties and Beverly Hotel, respectively; Christina Garcia Frasco, the current Lilo-an Mayor advocating impressively progressive efforts in the area; former model Fiona King, now a major player in homegrown real estate with projects like Bloq Residences; the fitness enthusiast Danessa Onglatco who has espoused wellness with the opening of Yogahub; restaurateur Carla Yeung-McKowen who is behind the city’s hottest dining outlet, The Pig & Palm; designer Mia Arcenas, whose signature resort wear and accessories are representative of Cebu’s laid back lifestyle; Kym Maitland-Smith, who juggles efforts in swimsuit design through SOLTI Activewear and is building awareness for the vegan lifestyle; and Kryz Uy, whose online presence was a strong one even before fashion blogs were on anyone’s radar.
An impressive bunch, for sure. These women properly embody the characteristics that Zee Lifestyle looks for in one who makes the cover—beauty, yes, but also elegance coupled with individuality, and always a strong drive to succeed in whatever efforts they are directed.
This, it turns out, was the fitting tribute to the years Zee has been Cebu’s premier lifestyle bible, as well as a sign of the things forthcoming. Our 12 cover stars may have been on our pages before, but if their current efforts are any indication, our pages will continue to see more of them in the future. And as continuing purveyors of what Cebu has to offer, Zee Lifestyle will happily be seeing them in the years to come.
(This article had already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s December 2016 Emerald Issue, “Leading Women” on pages 140-155.)
La Liga Henerales: Shaping History Awareness Back Again in Cebu
La Liga Henerales is a community of young talents passionately promotes historical awareness through periodic costumes carefully researched for its authenticity and accuracy and promoted as well in events and schools.
Only few individuals before were into pursuit in this historical awareness project until the age of communication where internet is convenient in the palm of our hands through our gadgets. New information travel fast and data is retrievable, yet also possess a disadvantage with the plethora of different social media platforms carried by various makers as well. In a daily basis, historical backgrounds are unearthed making its trend until now as new discoveries are released, but the idea of these information being shown and shared is as close as not valuing or commemorating to its sources leaving this information just a trend.
There is a certain community of Cebuanos that are taking a quest to rewrite and restructure what was in the past, filling the gaps in facts with further research of variable sources that are made debatable but sticks to it true cause, to unveil the truths of our heritage and our origins, as Cebuanos and as Filipinos as well.
La Liga Henerales is a Cebu-based, non-profit organization composed of a group of talented, committed and respectable individuals from different walks of life, schools and profession whose primary aim is to promote both, Cebuano and filipino culture and heritage that was depicted before in pre-colonial and colonial eras via re-enactment with costumes vested in proper research and investigation to achieve authenticity. They also push their cause on schools and other social gatherings promoting and spreading awareness about our local, and national heroes that we look up to. With these said, they also portray a closer look of the lifestyle of the past to where they perform stories, perform forgotten dances and rituals and portray their individual roles, vital in the fight of our country’s future during those challenging times, and in honor to spread awareness of the lost practices we had in those times.
Louis Kenneth Villaflor, an entrepreneur and an avid history enthusiast and costumer, founded the group on the purpose of re-educating the youth about real local and national history, he saw the opportunity to combine his favourite hobbies which is costuming and story role-playing and the process to instill the historical awareness and value among the youth and in schools, along with a group of fellow enthusiasts who shares his passion about research and history, they took it among themselves to be purposeful in the advocacy in spreading historical awareness in schools or events by wearing periodically correct costumes and sharing the stories and its value to the youth.
Behind the Garments
Meet Rodney “Pee-Wee” Senining, who has been in the fashion industry since the late 90’s, strives in concepts of avant-garde, innovation and cutting edge-fashion forward design. And also a teacher of Architecture, Fine Arts and Design of University of San Carlos, he had grown into research of books like the holy grail in the Library Resource Center and is always fascinated of the periodical times and how to preserve it; Hence, his interest had grown for the affinity of Periodical Costumes and Sustainable Fashion.
Being part of the group La Liga Henerales, he was tasked to instantly be their mentor for the young talents and as the organization is still new and developing with limited funds, resourcefulness and research were done to come up with a good output of photo shoot and was quite proud of it and still promise on the next editions of pieces to be more historically accurate. Even as teacher for Fashion Design in SAFAD, his expertise comes hand in hand with the members as he helps them do research as well. His passion and interest somehow led him with enough knowledge to key the insights of the significant periods and historical backgrounds of it.
Historical Awareness in Cebu
The strength and progress of a country is anchored on how well they know and honor its history. The means of historical awareness in Cebu is almost non-existent among the Cebuanos, although we push forward in tourism and promote beauty through sceneries and other aspects of culture yet never commemorate deeply on historical icons such as our other local heroes, and ancient cultures as well that is almost been forgotten in an urban Cebu. Nevertheless, as long as communities’ like La Liga Henerales are now evolving in a learning state by real discovery by multiple resources, this will always reflect of how we appreciate love, patriotism and honor to our country and would look forward to progress.
After the Razzmatazz and Razzle-dazzle: Post-Sinulog Thoughts
by Chrissy Grey Resaba
Buntings of red and yellow were removed from post to post. Streets were cleared and cleaned. Fireworks displays were faded in the sky. Beats of #prititit and tunes of tourism-booster Cebu tracks were being put to archive once again.
Contingents from different parts of Cebu and Central Visayas had gone back home. Party people had gone sober while some are still recovering. Traffic has gone back to normal. Businesses, as well, has gone back to normal.
However, all the fun and loud chants, smooth grooves, and frenzied choreographies are still replaying from the memory banks of the people who celebrated Sinulog 2020. The queen of all festivals in the Philippines has left again another mark of cultural and festive nostalgia to the people from all parts of the world and Cebuanos alike.
After all the razzmatazz and razzle-dazzle, let’s get to know what are these IG and FB personalities’ #PostSinulogThoughts about celebrating the newly-culminated Sinulog 2020 and how did they differentiate it to last year’s.
Eva Psychee Patalinjug, Binibining Pilipinas Grand International 2018 @evapatalinjug
I celebrated my Sinulog with my boyfriend and some of my close friends, we decided to choose a place where it’s not very crowded where we can see the whole Cebu, talk, and chill the night away. We went to Verified Lounge – Cebu’s newest premier sky lounge – located at the rooftop of the Avenir Building. It was something new for me as the night was calm as I was away from the busy streets of Cebu. It’s definitely one way of enjoying such festivities.
Kim Covert @kimcovert
The Sinulog celebration this year has been one of the most memorable events in my life. Not only was I invited to perform a few of my own songs during the weekend’s festivities but I also turned over my Binibining Cebu Tourism crown to my successor. Last year, I was busy with work and was not able to completely grasp the events. This year’s festival was more organized which is a great success for Cebu. Many have flown in and had spent time with their families in the “Pit Senyor” spirit, others have enjoyed spending time off with friends and colleagues. It was a great way for me to start my New Year and close my Cebu chapter before I leave to the US in a week.
Alem Garcia @thealemgarcia
Well pretty much, I was still busy doing shows and events for Sinulog. But what made it different this year was the religious celebration made me believe even more that Sto. Niño is indeed miraculous and that He is meant to be celebrated. Even though you are successful in your chosen field, furthermore, everything will be meaningless if you do not have the faith.
Philip Pingoy @almostablogger
We all have a Sinulog story to tell. It may be a story of losing faith and finding hope. But what is important is our devotion to the Holy Child Jesus (Señor. Sto. Niño). This year, my Sinulog experience was very different since I am already based in the United Kingdom. Thanks to the internet I was still able to watch the mass and all the festivities in Cebu. I am in UK because I prayed to Sto. Niño. So, let us not forget the reason we celebrate Sinulog and let us continue to share to the rest of the world why Sinulog is the grandest festival in the Philippines. Pit Senyor everyone! I hope you had a good one!
Lyssa Amor @lyssaamor
Sinulog celebrates Filipinos’ acceptance of Christianity. This year, I celebrated Sinulog by hearing the word of God. I went to church which I do every Sinulog but the difference now is that I am not in Cebu. It’s my first time to celebrate Sinulog away from home because I’m currently in Japan. Although I didn’t dance the traditional Sinulog dance this year, I wasn’t able to watch the fireworks in Ayala, and didn’t spend time with my friends in Mango and IT Park. Snr. Sto. Niño will always be in my heart and I am forever grateful that our ancestors accepted Christianity and we continue to embrace it up until today.
Kevin Geniston @kgeniston
Sinulog will always be a highlight for me as a Cebuano. This year has been fulfilling as I was able to brave the crowd in the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu three times to attend the novena mass which had also become like bonding time with my family, daughter, friends and loved ones. I ended the celebration of the Sinulog festivities with a bit of the usual partying and/or clubbing.
Carlo Andrew Olano @kalamicebu
My Sinulog this year was a great mix of religious and secular activities. I was able to go to the church and somehow witnessed the Traslacion and the fluvial procession. I also went to many side events like parties, mall events, and fireworks exhibitions. Sinulog 2020 had a fantastic balance of fun, faith, and festivities.
Danna Bacolod @dannabacolod
This is the second time I spent Sinulog with Cebu Pacific. We had series of events prepared during its entire week and participated the grand parade by having a float last Sunday. I always feel excited to join Sinulog Grand Parade and see a lot of people celebrating their own way of Sinulog along the streets of Cebu. Guess it’s safe to say that I had so much fun. Even if this was work-related, I didn’t feel like I’m actually working as it was always joyful doing events like these.
Nimo Hideki @nimo_scheming
You prolly knew this already but, Sinulog 2020 was by far the most phenomenal Sinulog experience: more laidback than the previous years’. The music in every corner of the streets were still there to help you let loose and enjoy the experience. The surge of people had tested you both mentally and physically. But it was an experience you cannot miss like mingling with people from different walks of life and shouting out “Pit Senyor” to everyone. Summing up my Sinulog experience, I was able to get crazy and enjoy all aspects of the fest.
Michael Rey @michaelsomewhere
I had the most relaxed Sinulog experience this year. I did not party and preferred to witness the grand parade instead. I do think that this year’s celebration was more colorful and much safer as establishments strictly abided the rules imposed by the Cebu City Government. I was also amazed at how the festival of fashion here in Cebu has evolved throughout the years.
Now, how about you? What are your #PostSinulogThoughts this Prititit 2020? Viva Pit Senyor!
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