Carlomar Arcangel Daoana
Portrait of a businessman
as an optimist
Barack Obama calls hope as a “belief that there are better days ahead”.
Ambassador Jose Antonio, chairman of Century Properties, believes
in the great potential of the Philippines by creating Century City, a
resounding statement of excellence to the world. Carlomar Arcangel
Daoana sits down in a one-on-one with the man whose aspiration for
the country is as large as the “city” he is creating
Photography by Francis Abraham
Jose Antonio looks like any typical businessman. Wearing a suit and
glasses and with his hair combed slick to the side, he readily cuts an
intimidating figure, talks with the assurance of someone who knows an
industry inside out and effortlessly recites the numbers that can make
or break a project. But despite his formal demeanor, Mr. Antonio is a
maverick, with tricks up his sleeves. The result of his non-conventional
approach to business has resulted to starting developments that ease the
Philippines to the company of architecturally-savvy countries.
How can you explain the determination of Mr. Antonio who, during the
height of Asian crisis, managed to pull off a luxurious condominium
development whose unit cost $1M a piece? The Essensa East Forbes,
designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei, remains to be the
most-awarded residential structure in the country. Ever the challenger, Mr.
Antonio is at it again, this time creating a self-contained community called
the Century City.
The brand that is Makati
Though Mr. Antonio could have easily set-up Century City in the
sprawling vicinity of Bonifacio Global City, he was still attracted to the
brand that is Makati. When the opportunity came to develop a sizeable
parcel of land located at Kalayaan Ave. cor. Makati Ave., he wasted no
time in securing the said property.
“I believe that a brand is a powerful tool to position any project or any
product,” Mr. Antonio explains. “If you have the brand, it goes a long way.
Makati is the highest branded city in the Philippines. We thought it was
a stellar opportunity for us to win a bid and be able to develop Century
City… where people can have their place of work place or residence a
place to shop.”
Located in what is now considered the Modern Makati (MoMa), Century
City is a P40-billion missed-use development that will feature exclusive
residential towers, corporate office buildings, a recreational club and an
organic lifestyle and entertainment complex.
Just like in their other projects, Century City is headlines by an
international designer, Jon Adams Jerde, founder of The Jerde Partnership
International, whose design philosophy , dubbed as “placemaking,”
restores the “authentic urban experience that is often lost in the process
of modern planning.” Embodying this philosophy is a string of wellknown projects that includes the Universal City Walk in Hollywood, the
Cybercentre in Hong Kong and the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
The collaboration with “starchitects” is pivotal for Century Properties.
“Modesty aside,” says Mr. Antonio, “we’re trying to do this at Century
City because we believe in the gentrification of that area, gentrification
meaning, it’s the upliftment, the improvement in the expansion of the
Central Business District.”
When they announced that they would develop the area and revealed the
masterplan, prices of neighboring properties exceeded a hundred thousand
pesos per square meter, Mr. Antonio remarks. “People are waiting and
hinging on our development so that their properties also improve in value.
And understandably so, because once you have all the conveniences there,
then if you are a house block away, you actually become energized too.”
Bringing sexy back to the city
The First project to break the ground at Century City is the Gramercy Residences, a New
York-inspired high-rise residence which boasts of a unique structural complexion. “Hyperamenitized,” Gramercy boasts of a Sky Park with three-storey waterfalls, three types of
pools (multi-level infinity pools, lagoon pools, a children’s pool), a designer café and
restaurant, a health club and a garden within a reflecting pool.
The second condominium to emerge is the Knightsbridge Residences whose bespoke
interiors evoke “the spirit of cool Britannia and the global flair of Modern Makati.” Just
like Gramercy, Knightsbridge offers fully-fitted and fully-furnished units, a trend started by
Why is Century Properties bringing Western influences to our shores? “Well, it goes bacj to
the very notion of Century City,” Mr. Antonio says. “We’d like to be an international place
and focus the attention to the public to other great cities in the world and put them altogether
inside Century City.”
For Mr. Antonio, it is important that the “city has to capture the imagination” not just of
visitors but also of its residents, just like how he was smitten by New York the first time
he set foot on it. The city that never sleeps has actually inspired him to make Century City
a vibrant community 24/7 and proclaim to the whole world that Manila, just like the other
great capitals of the world, can be sexy too.
His love for the Big Apple has been immortalized when Century Properties set up its first
off-shore condominium development, the Centurion. “Its location is actually the most
expensive in New York,” he says. “We’re near the corner of 5th Ave. and 56th St. That area
is called the Theater District because you have Broadway there and Central Park. We also
got a very celebrated and legendary architect I.M. Pei to design that project.”
Still a good time to invest
With the global economic meltdown, it’s just understandable that people will hold back their
hard-earned money and wait for better times to invest. But Mr. Antonio clarifies that the
Philippines is in a better position to deal with the crisis.
“The industry itself is not levered, is not borrowed,” he says. “Most of our buyers pay cash.
Very few people go on financing. And because of this people can hold on. They’re not forced
to liquidate their holdings which spells a crash in other markets.”
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, adds Mr. Antonio, has instituted reforms that include
building up the capital base and the equity to cushion the country from such economic
downturn. Because of this, “our banking system is just the nucleus of the financial industry.
It’s quite strong as opposed to the other parts of the world where investment banks are
levered 30:1, which actually breaks a new rule in finance where the healthy company should
have 2:1 ratio.”
Despite the political noise, says Mr. Antonio “the year 2007 was the highest in the history
of our goal: 7 ½ percent. We must remember, a growing country with 90 million people and
2.3 percent growth rate and we add roughly 2 million people a year. So that becomes an
opportunity and a challenge. An opportunity because you have a bigger market, a challenge
because a country must be able to give opportunities to its citizens.”
The sons also rise
Mr. Antonio is married to Hilda Antonio. The couple is blessed with four sons–John Victor,
Jose Marco, Jose Roberto and Jose Carlo–all of whom are helping in the family business.
Mr. and Mrs. Antonio must have done something right. All of their sons graduated with top
honors from the prestigious universities of either Wharton or Stanford. Before working for
their father, they had to battle it our in the corporate arena of New York in order to imbibe
real-life situations and hone their business acumen in the busiest financial district in the
More than knowledge, Mr. Antonio emphasizes the importance of wisdom, which is
something that “you’ll learn through experience by listening to the right people and
following what they’re doing.”
Needless to say, the father is proud of their manifold accomplishments in their relatively
young careers. “I’m inspired by their hardwork, their ability to absorb business situations,
they’re adaptability and the fact that they contribute their own ideas.”
Born to succeed
Though no doubt it’s the combination of determination and hardwork, with a dash of luck,
that has brought Mr. Antonio to where he is now, he credits the people who have believed
and patronized the projects of Century Properties for his success. “You might have the best
ideas in the world but if it’s not absorbed by the public then it won’t give you justice to go to
the next,” he muses.
He is happy that they have shared in his vision to create landmarks that can compare to other
developments in the world. For him, the Philippines is well-equiped to become world-class
and “there’s no reason why we cannot be competitive, at least be equal, of not better with
other cities in the world.”
Finding a silver lining in every dark cloud that looms over his life and profession is what
has made him soldier on through the years. “You cannot excel in anything if you’re not an
optimist. How can you sell a product when you say ‘Hey this will not sell.’ You have to have
faith in the market, in your customers, in yourself.”
Mr. Antonio, with complete faith on himself and the world, says that he is subservient to the
logic of the future but not without the audacious hope that continues to rage his heart.
A face of New York
Whether you’re a young professional, raising a family, or would simply
want to enjoy life’s simplest pleasures, you will surely have a place at The
Gramercy Residences, one of the newest condominiums in Makati.
The first residential building inside the heart of Century City, the Gramercy
Residences is named after Manhattan’s fenced-in private park, Gramercy
Park. This envisioned community whish is part of a sprawling development
on 3.4 hectares of prime lot along Kalayaan Avenue, is being made a reality
by pioneer developer Century Properties. Some of Century Properties; list
of premiere developments include Essensa East Forbes, South of Market,
Grand Soho Makati and Soho Central. The newest addition will be The
Knightsbridge Residences, also located in Century City.
Century Properties’ 22-year record is complimented by world-class and
award-winning master planner Jon Adams Jerde of Jerde Partnership.
Jerde’s team has been responsible for the Universal Citywalk in Los
Angeles, Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Roppongi Hills in Tokyo and the
2006 award winner for Best Masterplanned Community, the Zlote Tarasy in
Subdued contemporary design merges with bold animal prints and rich dark
leather to created the perfect pad for the adventurous frequent traveler.
Enjoy the comforts of living in an inviting contemporary style.
Enjoy exclusivity not just 24/7
A fusion of urban design and landscaping, the Century City will be an
ecosystem of ultra exclusive highrise residences, state-of-the-art corporate
office buildings and recreational and entertainment areas.
Expected to become one of Makati’s tallest towers upon completion, The
Gramercy Residences will be a 60-storey residential structural icon with
its one-of-a-kind concept. With options for fully-fitted, fully-furnished and
fully-serviced units, moving in will be as simple as checking-in in a hotel.
Residents may choose from six savvy interiors to fit their unit, whether
it be a studio or bedroom units with maximum of three bedrooms, with
or without loft. Furthermore, each studio or bedroom unit also enjoys a
balcony view of the metropolis.
And whether you prefer a glamorous or a green escape, residents will
not be disappointed. Quite literally, in Gramercy Residences, one is
but an elevator button away. Aside from the surrounding commercial
establishment, nested vertically halfway is the Skypark, An urban haven,
Skypark’s amenities include three-storey waterfalls, multi-level infinity
pools, and the widest viewing deck to enjoy a 360-degree view of Metro
Manila for a romantic star gazing.
Black and gold merge to create a strong sense of character in this desing, given a
further edge by retro-classic furniture, carved mirrors and high-gloss finishes.
This elegant living space combines modern design with contrasting neutrals and
tones and touches of old world furniture.
On the other hand, first-rate indoor amenities include a fitness and
health club, THX theater and a DVD library, a library/book club and a
conference room with global communication equipment.
Gramercy’s location makes it a prime choice for the condominium buyer
as almost 90 percent of the units have been sold. To date, Makati is also
home to exclusive villages, four historic churches, over 100 educational
institutions and the finest commercial and entertainment centers. As the
epicenter of Philippine social, cultural and financial ctivity, Makati boasts
of a total of 62,878 establishments including 461 head offices of banks,
over 30 major IT companies and 27 contact centers.
Century City, including Gramercy Residences, will be under the Century
Properties Management Inc., said to be the largest private property
management in the country, ensuring residents of a prime real estate
investment not only 24/7, but all year long. –Felicisimo Tejuco Jr.
Neutral shades combined with dazzling silver, reflective light fictures and funky
artwork makes this pad truly stylish and unique.
The Gramercy Skypark will feature an infinity pool with majestic skyline views.
When it comes to condos, the best units are usually sold out before they even break ground and chances are, you are simply buying
a concept (read: imaginary building) before they turn into tangible objects many years later. Therefore, you will need a good
imagination, some research and asking around to at least serve your years of financial slavery some purpose and give your money
a sense of object. Jose Marlo Avinante has already done half of the work for you by listing AREA’s top highrise picks based on
research and good imagination.
The Knightsbridge Residences takes its name after the historic and most
expensive neighborhood in London. It’s the luxury, prestige, central location
and rich history of the Knightsbridge that has inspired the creative team of
Century Properties to develop a highrise that would be the confluence of
old-world Europe and cool Britannia.
The lavishness and stature of this global landmark is recreated in Century
Properties’ grandest community development yet, the Century City.
Being located within Century City means you are just a short walk or an
elevator ride away from everything you need—retail stores, dining and
entertainment facilities, banks, pampering services, relaxation and recreation
amenities and more—all of which are just located at the lifestyle and
Entertainment Center. And because Century City is located at the heart of
Makati, the country’s premier financial and commercial district, you are
guaranteed easy access to major banking establishments, hotels, villages,
shopping centers, coffee shops, restaurants and schools.
Residents of Knightsbridge are given access to large designer convergence
areas that effectively multiply the dimensions of your home. With hypersized common areas that serve as “expansions” of your unit, the building
is transformed into a vertical village that nurtures community and
interconnectivity among residents.