Five weeks ago, when we were planning STAR Property Report’s first anniversary issue with the theme “OUR CITIES,” it looked very different, our country looked very different. We had only three cases of coronavirus; the Department of Health said we were a “model country,” that they had things under control. Then the truth started to unravel as foreign travelers who had come from the Philippines tested positive for COVID-19 in their home countries.
As government tested more Filipinos, the number of cases jumped from three to 193 in just a week. My team of writers scrambled to re-angle their stories as some interviews were cancelled and the streets became quiet. But we felt that it was also very important to keep a positive note in this special issue — because while the virus has gripped us in a lockdown and curfew, real estate and tourism are still two of the country’s top drivers for economic growth and may very well be what will get us back on our feet after this crisis.
In this special issue, we examine our top cities, how they’re changing, growing, the direction they’re taking for a more sustainable future, and the developer making these possible. Maan D’Asis Pamaran writes about the economic losses of the tourism and hospitality industries due to COVID-19. Ching M. Alano on real estate trends for the year, gleaned from industry experts at a press briefing just over a week ago, and about the rise of a township in Davao. Paulo Alcazaren on the commercial and historical significance of Makati. After this lockdown, Dolly Dy-Zulueta says we can eat our way through the country to help local tourism and businesses. Marga Manlapig on how Cavite and Laguna, two provinces nearest Metro Manila, are evolving with estate developments. Susan de Guzman on our collective dreams for Manila, now led by dynamic Mayor Isko Moreno. Allain Dumon Fonte on whether Cebu is becoming the next Singapore in terms of property investment. Joyce Reyes Aguila on Quezon City, led by Mayor Joy Belmonte-Alimurong, on how the city has become a tech and business hub. Giselle Kasilag on Pasig at the center of progressive populations and led by an equally progressive Mayor Vico Sotto. Rivka Nagtalon on sustainability and sensitivities. Atty. Raymund Matelino on real property taxes across Metro Manila. Ali Sawadjaan on Primehomes, Rose Ong on home quarantine. And myself on the Garcia brothers of TransPhil Real Estate who are redefining townhouse living, and home style purveyor Ferdie Ong on bringing three iconic fashion furniture brands to Manila.
Keep these sections, save them for the time this lockdown is over and things get back to normal, when our cities are humming with life and laughter again.
Yes, these are difficult times for the country and hopefully they will be over soon. People will be investing again, supermarket shelves will be fully stocked again, consumers will be traveling and buying goods, and businesses will be opened again.
And we can all literally step out of our homes and start fueling our economy, our local businesses and tourism — as we Filipinos have always done.