Today, 7-Jan, we celebrate the birthday of my late father – Ramon F. Cuervo Jr. My father, Pappy, as we fondly call him, is known as one of the pillars and pioneers of the Philippine real estate industry.
At the age of 21, he graduated BS Commerce from San Juan de Letran and got a job as an accountant at Everett Steamship Corporation after the Second World War. An American G.I. also popular in the Philippine business circles at that time, Harry Stonehill, introduced my father to Montserrat Calero. The romance was almost instant and within 2 years they got married.
This was when my mother convinced my father to join the real estate company of Federico (Pipo) Calero – a pioneer and co-founder of the Manila Board of Realtors. “The secret of my success…” my father would jokingly say “… was to marry the daughter of my boss…”, then the F. Calero Realty Company was one of the leading real estate brokerage companies. They hold the exclusive real estate sales of the Ortigas-Madrigal real estate companies.
During this time, after World War II, is when Manila grew and developed towards the east. Huge estates like that of the Tuazons developed what is now New Manila. While the Ortigas group with Madrigal started subdivisions in Mandaluyong and San Juan, while St. Louis Realty of the Bernasconi’s – developed areas of Cainta, Pasig, all the way to Antipolo.
I recall my father working as salesman for Ortigas family and reporting to work at the F.Calero Realty at T.Pinpin Street in new Escolta. Also, I used to tag along to the Ortigas office known as Mandaluyung Development Corporation located at Shaw Blvd corner Princeton. The Ortigas office was a huge old wooden house of three or four levels and there I would see several subdivision maps and plans of residential developments as well as their industrial sector situated along Hi-way 54 (now EDSA) and Pasig river.
Sometime in 1947, the Ortigas developed what was called Sta. Lucia Estates. Tony Calero (my uncle) – son of Pipo was the one who “baptized” Sta. Lucia to what is popularly known as Little Baguio.
Our first home was built by my father sometime in 1950 situated at 604 General de Jesus Street. This house is now owned by Mr. Lim and still resides there.
My father became a successful salesman by focusing on a specific clientele. The elderly women most of which were rich widows – my father would say that since by nature he was shy and soft spoken – he found that these buyers were attracted to his youthful face and smooth approach in selling.
By 1960 my father then became very successful. In 1964 he ventured on his own. His partners then were : Gabby Ambrosio; Atty. Engracia; Engineer Ben Binuya. This way a corporation was formed as Perpetual Investments Inc. They ventured into real estate development and sales.
In 1967 my father incorporated RF Cuervo Inc. This time he acquired his knowledge and further education in real estate and appraisal.
Travelling extensively all over the USA and Europe, he introduced International real estate selling by promoting developments of Florida USA under General Development Corp. These are successful vacation homes known as Port Charlotte and Port Malabar.
Pappy, likewise introduced the condominium concept of real estate holding which he learned from California and Madrid, Spain. With friends in congress and senate, he helped draft the condominium law otherwise known as RA 4726 which was approved in June 1968. Aside from the condominium concept, time-sharing of vacation villas in Baguio.
Being a practical and man of vision, my father always made plans for a strategic fallback position should real estate fall bad. He used to tell us at the dining table the food we have is thanks to the farm that he was managing in Calamba, Laguna. The farm had a piggery and poultry. Aside from agriculture, my father ventured into the fishery business. I recall my grandfather Ramon and him building a ship in Navotas called the Stella Maris. It was a 20 ft long fishing vessel but with 2 cabins. It was equipped with top of the line communications system and was radar capable. It was also powered by 2 marine engines.
Parallel to his development in subdivisions such as Laguna Hills; Villa Arca in QC; Lakeview subdivision in Calamba and Immaculada Concepcion in Laguna. My father together with Emmanuel Pelaez, Kaimo, and the Baretto family developed a tourism oriented subdivision resort known as Villa Pansol in Los Banos.
By 1973 my father together with Hermilandro “Dodo” Mandanas and Far East Bank, John Fernandez, formed the first real estate trust (writ) known as the Far East Real Estate Investment Trust. They pioneered the BUY1-USE ALL concept with developments in Baguio, Roxas Blvd, Tagaytay, and Matabungcay. Unfortunately, the writ law was never approved by senate. And up to this time it is not properly understood or appreciated by the BIR.
There is no doubt that Ramon F. Cuervo Jr. possessed a brilliant mind and had a vision being skillful in creative concepts and innovations get possessed pragmatical and practical, down to earth solutions to real estate related problems, sales or appraisal.
How is this so? Once I asked my father the reason for his success and with a gentle affectionate smile he told me that “…with 13 demanding children, a father had no choice but continue rowing the boat to provide for their needs….”. Having a large cheerful family was his motivation.
No doubt a loving husband, an exemplary father, a pious gentleman made my father a strong pillar built on the foundations of human values and a strong faith.