Architect lives dream to design community-A A +A
By Mia A. Aznar
Sunday, September 16, 2012
AS an architect, it was always Augusto Villalon’s dream to design his own community. Luckily, he was born into a family that had acquired a piece of property ideal for his vision.
Villalon, who has been president of Genvi Development Corp. since 1996, said it was his grandmother Genoveva Villalon who acquired the 250-hectare property, which has remained unused for years.
While Genvi was already around in the 1970’s, Villalon said the company was limited to small-time real estate projects.
They finally decided that the property, which spans the mountains of Guadalupe, Banawa, Tisa, Labangon and Sapangdaku, has been sitting empty for too long.
“It’s a good piece of property. There’s no other property within the city of that size. It’s only seven minutes from Fuente Osmeña,” he said.
The Monterazzas de Cebu promises to be a mountain resort residential community, with residential lots, condominium units, shopping and commercial areas, office space, a school, hospital and a fitness gym and spa. They are also providing separate clubhouses for each neighborhood within the property, basketball and tennis courts, playgrounds, walking and jogging trails and picnic grounds. They intend to turn the southern part of the property into a tourist destination similar to Victoria Peak in Hong Kong.
Despite setbacks on the project due to flooding in neighboring areas and the bad publicity that went with it, Villalon feels blessed that none of those who bought lots in the project showed signs of backing out. He added that there were even buyers who pushed through with their purchase even when the cease and desist order from Cebu City Hall to stop development was still in effect. The order was lifted last August, after Genvi complied with the flood-mitigating and soil erosion control measures.
Villalon admitted that they have had to do work outside the property, including two private subdivisions, to make sure the floods do not affect the neighboring communities. They have also worked on reforestation efforts near the watershed and conducted feeding programs at a nearby school.
His vision for the community is to “uplift the quality of life” of Cebu, similar to what it used to be when he was young, where neighbors knew and trusted each other and their homes were open to everyone. He feels this has disappeared from Cebu and hopes that with this community, it can be brought back again.
“We want to be a good neighbor. We are committed to do it. It’s not cheap but we don’t want to compromise quality. We will do what it takes to do a good job,” Villalon assured.
Although condominiums were unheard of in Cebu some years ago, Villalon said it is a welcome development, saying such projects will cater to another kind of lifestyle and that it is a good thing that the choice is available for those who want it.
Apart from the flood control measures in and around Monterazzas, they also want to make sure the community is the best possible, such as making sure that the roads do not have a steep incline, the power connections are underground and the roads are wider than the standard subdivision roads.
Villalon, though, maintains that they have done their part in ensuring their property has the right drainage plan. He feels that the drainage system of Cebu is not adequate and that despite their efforts, some areas surrounding the property will get flooded.
“Everybody has to do their part. Not just us, not just the government.”
With the project now resumed, Villalon said buyers can start construction before the year ends. So far, they have approved about five building plans.
Villalon completed his master’s degree in architecture in Yale University in 1970. He also earned his PhD in humanities in Far Eastern University, Manila and BA sociology/history of art in University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA.
He has received awards for his work in architectural heritage conservation projects twice from the Unesco, the United Architects of the Philippines, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts while the City of Vigan and City of Manila also awarded him for his efforts.
Aside from the Monterazzas de Cebu project, he has also worked on the planning of Hacienda Escudero in Laguna.
Aside from professional work in the Philippines, his firm A. Villalon Architects undertakes international consultancies for private entities, foreign governments and international agencies such as UNESCO, ITC, UNCTAD/GATT, Unido, World Tourism Organization and the International Council for Monuments and Sites (Icomos), where he was a member of its executive committee until 2005. Villalon now serves as a member of the Icomos International Advisory Committee and is currently president of its Philippine Committee. He is also an adviser of the World Monuments Fund in New York City.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 17, 2012.