Today, January 7, 2013, is my late father’s 86th birthday. Born in 1927, Ramon Cuervo, Jr., is well-known in the real estate circle and is considered as one of the pillars of the real estate industry in the Philippines.
Why was Ramon F. Cuervo, Jr. a visionary, trend setter, pioneer, and a pillar in the Philippine Real Estate industry?
He was a founding father of the Asean Valuers and Appraisers (Philippines). He was also the one responsible in having the Philippines recognized in the prestigious international organization based in Europe known as Federacion International of Real Estate Associations (FIABCI). He was also known to be the first in global marketing and forming international alliances and partnerships.
He was one of the founders of the Philippine Real Estate Board, the father of condominium concept in the Philippines and packaged the first condominium project, and started the first Time Share project.
Pappy, as what we fondly called him, was a man of integrity, prestige, and of international recognition. A respected appraiser and exemplary consultant with insights for projecting the future, he started selling real estate properties in the 40s and started developing residential subdivisions in the 60s.
My father back then was a very loving father and husband aside from being a realtor. He is a hardworking family so that he can provide well with generosity his 13 children.
A graduate of BS Commerce from Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Pappy got a job as an accountant at Everett Steamship Corporation after the World War II.
Harry Stonehill, a popular American during that time, introduced Pappy to my mother, Montserrat Calero and the two tied the knot two years later.
Pappy built his first home for us at 604 General De Jesus Street, Little Baguio, San Juan. Later, in 1964, he sold our 3 bedroom home to Mr. Lim at a discount of P120,000. That home is still there and is known for selling siopao, kikiam, and other Chinese delicacies.
It was my mother who convinced Pappy to join the F. Calero Realty Company, a real estate company owned by my grandfather, Federico (Pipo) Calero. He was also a pioneer in the real estate industry and co-founder of the Manila Board of Realtors, the first Realtors® of the Philippines and of Asia.
It was in this moment that my father jokingly said, “The secret of my success was to marry the daughter of my boss.”
Back then, the F. Calero Realty Company was one of the leading real estate brokerage companies and holds the exclusive real estate sales of the Ortigas-Madrigal real estate companies. During this time, Manila was on the verge of development towards the eastern section.
Such developments includes the Ortigas and Madrigals developing subdivisions in Mandaluyong and San Juan, Tuazons developed the New Manila, and the company of the Bernasconi’s, St. Louis Realty, developed Cainta, Pasig,and Antipolo.
Pappy worked both as a salesman for Mandaluyong Development Corporation of the Ortigas family and reporting for work at the F.Calero Realty at T.Pinpin Street in Escolta. I use to tag along with him to the Ortigas office, which was a huge old wooden house of three or four levels. It has 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. My uncle, Tony Calero, who is the son of Pipo Calero, was the one who baptized Sta. Lucia to what is popularly known as Little Baguio.
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.
In 1960s, Pappy represented the General Development Corporation at a large public New York listed, Florida USA developer. He introduced international real estate selling by promoting developments of Florida USA. These are successful vacation homes known as Port Charlotte and Port Malabar, both located in Florida.
He also ventured on his own. He partnered with Gabby Ambrosio; Atty. Engracia; Engineer Ben Binuya to form the Perpetual Investments Inc. and together, they ventured into real estate development and sales.
It was during his visit to California, USA and Madrid, Spain that he learned the condominium concept of real estate holding and he applied it in the country by, with the help of his friends in Congress, drafting the condominium law otherwise known as RA 4726 which was approved in June 1968. He also applied the time-sharing concept of vacation villas in Baguio.
In 1967 my father incorporated RF Cuervo Inc. This time he acquired his knowledge and further education in real estate and appraisal. The company was involved in subdivision development, sales, leasing and brokerage agency, corporate services, property appraisals, real estate consulting and building management.
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.
In 1973, Pappy together with Hermilandro “Dodo” Mandanas and Far East Bank, John Fernandez, formed the first Real Estate Investment Trust, known as the Far East Real Estate Investment Trust. Unfortunately, the REIT Law was never approved by the Senate. And up to this time it is not properly understood or appreciated by the BIR.
In 1980, due to the large demand for property appraisals, Pappy and I invited some investors to help us establish Cuervo Appraisers, Inc. (CAI). CAI has since become the premier and most respected Appraisal Company in the Philippines. It has also been the leading appraisal company in the Philippines in terms of Clientele, Gross Revenues and Market Share since its inception on July 11, 1980. The company is the choice of banks and other financial organizations, local and foreign investors, government, and private institutions for valuation requirements.
Due to political stability and dramatic economic growth in the Philippines in 1993, there was a substantial increase in real estate business opportunities. RFCI and CAI spearheaded the creation of an integrated property services company – Cuervo Far East, Inc (CFEI) to expand services to foreign markets.
CFEI was associated with Richard Ellis from 1996 to 1998. The association was dissolved when CB Commercial decided to buy Richard Ellis Worldwide in 1998.
There is no doubt that Pappy possessed a brilliant mind and had a vision being skillful in creative concepts and innovations get possessed pragmatically and practical, down to earth solutions to real estate related problems, sales or appraisal.
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.