The Flying High Reghis II-A A +A
By Max Sangil
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
NOWADAYS he is flying high. He is considered by the country's business community as the “wonder boy of Philippine industry”. That has been his dream since he was young -- to soar high in the sky as an aviator like those American pilots in nearby Clark Air Force Base.
His name is Reghis Romero II, known to his peers as R2. But his family members and closest friends call him Ody, short for Audie. It was his mom, Clesilda Magdangal, who gave him that nickname because she was a big fan of Hollywood actor Audie Murphy. His father, the late Mr. Bonifacio Romero, gave only Reghis as the name of his first three sons, but distinguished by a number. Ody is second to the eldest.
R2 got his good looks from his father, who was our school principal at St. Catherine Academy in Porac. He must have inherited the perseverance and passion for hard work from his dad, as well as his being caring too. I should know because Mr. Romero was my teacher in English, and at the same time our school principal from 1st year up to graduation. Despite my being a school problem, l was his favorite student. He told me so when he sought for me, and he was in a chauffeur-driven brand new Mercedes, a gift from his number two son, Ody.
Before Mr. Romero's death, he was lucky enough to have seen his second son rise to prominence. Reghis ll became an accomplished developer and builder of major infrastructure projects in the country. His prominence was further boosted by the development and reclamation of the 79-hectare Smokey Mountain in Manila. A business writer said that R2 successfully turned around a symbol of poverty to a picture of development and progress. He was listed in the 18th edition of the Chronicle of the World Human Achievements of the Marquiz’s Who's Who in 2001.
Just in any success story, Ody was a shoe shine boy in downtown Angeles when he was barely 10 years old, and became a waiter at the International Hotel, the Suarez-owned hotel in Clarkview near the Clark perimeter fence. He had so many dreams in his youth. He wanted also to become an ambassador aside from being a pilot, that's why he took up Foreign Service and then Economics at the University of the Philippines and then took his Master’s Degree at the University of Asia Pacific. He all hurdled these in 1973, a year after the proclamation of martial law when there was much uncertainty in the country.
A few years after his graduation, he started to look for work and landed a job as a detail man at the United Laboratories. He didn't like the job but he stayed for one year, because his sons Michael and Nathaniel were already in school. After a year of motoring to hospital after hospital in different provinces, he quit the job and landed a marketing management position at Hydro Concrete Pipes Inc. He stayed in that company for 12 years. That company provided him the experience in construction business. It served him well in the future years.
The construction industry suffered a slump in 1984, months after Senator Ninoy Aquino was killed at the Manila airport tarmac. He quit his job and started his construction company and named it R ll Builders and took in small jobs. It was in September 8, 1988 when he officially registered his company. He purposely timed it with the birthday of Virgin Mary. The first job he considered big at that time was a P5-million land development project in Dasmariñas,Cavite. From then there was no looking back for him.
He won over DMCI and San Jose Builders in the bidding of the P6.6-billion Smokey Mountain project. He introduced bond flotation and housing mortgage takeouts at the time when it was not yet a common practice of big companies. It was his dedication to finish the work with quality that became the trademark of R ll Builders. His son Mikee, who is president of Harbour Center and a franchise holder in the Philippine Basketball Association, and architect son Nikki, who's handling the condominium business of the company, share the same passion of their father and grandfather. They remain humble, and humility is still embedded in their hearts and minds.
As a tribute to his father, Ody has been sending scholars to different colleges and established and subsidized the Bonifacio Romero Foundation High School at the EPZA resettlement in Pulung Maragul, Angeles City. But more than anything, it was, according to him, his devotion to Mama Mary that carried all throughout his life. If you want to catch Ody, make a stake at the Baclaran Church, and chances are you can see him there on a Wednesday.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on September 05, 2012.