Two sides of the same coin: Loving and living in the Philippines

I would like to start this column by congratulating Iris Gonzales, the former editor of this newspaper’s Property section, for her new position as the Philippine Star’s Business editor. I also thank Iris for taking care of my articles and sharing with me some tips and suggested topics to write about that would pick our readers’ interest.

My congratulations also go to her successor, Pamela Imperial, for taking over this section that has provided me space to share with you for several years now my thoughts on the latest developments in architecture design, sustainability, and the real estate industry. 

I wish you all the best as you embark on your new roles, Iris and Pamela!

In her maiden column as our editor, Pamela wrote about the directions that this section would be taking for the year and beyond. She said: “We hope that through our stories, and our features on different properties, developments, and businesses, you, our readers, can discover more about what you believe—in the way you live life, in how you want to invest, and in what you love about living in our beautiful Philippines.”

An aerial view of IDC’s first green project the Primavera Residences in Cagayan de Oro.

Pamela’s parting line has put me into retrospection and asked myself: “Aside from ItalPinas Development Corporation (IDC)—the company that my business partner Atty. Jojo Leviste and I built in 2009, what do I love about the Philippines, and about living in the Philippines?”

Aside from the fact that we are celebrating Love Month in February, the question has become more meaningful because this year, it has been 17 years since I first set foot in the Philippines. (I first visited the country as a tourist back in 2007 and two years later, I relocated to start Italpinas, whose 15th anniversary we just celebrated last month.) 

As an Italian who fell for this beautiful archipelago many years ago, I can say that there are simply too many things to love about this country that is rich with abundant biodiversity, stunning forests and beaches, and welcoming cheerful Filipinos. 

Indeed, I was among the many tourists who exclaimed WOW! Philippines (the Department of Tourism campaign at the time) when I and my friends explored prime tourism spots on my first visit such as Boracay, Cebu, Baguio, and Subic during our month-long stay. I immediately felt at home that I knew I would not mind settling here for a long time, or even for good! I have been to other Southeast Asian countries as well but the vibes that the Philippines has to me is short of something magical. 

Perhaps, because both Italians and Filipinos share a similar culture we have so many things in common. Our passion for family, love for vibrant celebrations, and an appreciation for good food—these cultural threads weave us together in a beautiful tapestry of shared experiences. I am quite sure this is also what most Pinoys residing in Italy feel. 

Every time I have the opportunity, I always tell friends and acquaintances abroad to visit the country and see for themselves why it has been called the “Pearl of the Orient.” 

I guess it is easier for foreigners to fall in love with the Philippines when one is coming here as a tourist. But for those of us who are here for the long term, you may ask: “What is there to love about living in the Philippines?”

Well, aside from enjoying what the country has to offer, I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue my passion for architecture and merge it with my advocacy to create something special and make an imprint in the progressive scene of Philippine architecture and development. 

To those who read this column regularly, I have often said that our mission is to provide unique, innovative, sustainable real estate products that exceed the expectations of our customers, business partners, and stockholders. Sustainability and alignment with nature have been IDC’s guiding light in every project and in every community that we develop. 

While I spend most of my time in Makati, it always interests me more to take a broader view of what the Philippines has to offer. As often as I can, I drive to our family home just a few hours outside the city as the place reminds me that there are so many sides, and so many different kinds of energy in the Philippines. 

It is this vibrant energy that one can find anywhere in the country that inspired IDC to focus on emerging locations in the Philippines such as Cagayan de Oro City (CDO). As a start-up company back then, we committed to providing our property developments to customers in the area. 

For example, there were Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from Northern Mindanao who wanted to own condominium units but because of a lack of real estate developments in the area, they resorted to buying a piece of property in Metro Manila. 

From this opportunity, IDC’s first green project was born—the Primavera Green Residences, which is the first eco-friendly residential building in CDO. And the rest, they say, is history. Fifteen years later, we have gone out of CDO and established our presence in Batangas (CALABARZON). We are also looking forward to exploring Palawan, and Bukidnon. Watch this space as I will be sharing more details of our upcoming projects soon.

As we move forward, IDC is committed to promoting green living through our property development projects that combine sustainable features with elegant Italian-Pinoy design, offering residents a comfortable and environmentally conscious lifestyle. 

Hopefully, through the range of products that we offer for our clients, there will be more reasons for Pinoys (and foreigners alike) to #lovePhilippines and love living in the Philippines.