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Preserving the past, building the future

Article - June 4, 2012
Cosmopolitan condominiums and historic communities come to life
Vertical integration has given Quezon-based real estate developer New San Jose Builders Inc (NSJBI) a distinct edge over the competition and contributed to a track record of providing quality projects that meet the lifestyle needs of the modern Filipino since 1986. Enhanced quality and time control from having its own construction company has enabled NSJBI to not only complete projects in shorter timescales, but also offer housing units at more affordable prices. Its innovative approach to real estate development offers Filipinos a wide array of choices and methods of owning quality homes in various communities.

The 100 per cent Filipino-owned company’s previous focus on low-cost housing has widened to include middle-income residential developments to reflect changing market demands. Providing Filipino families with residential complexes that encourage active lifestyles and wellbeing, NSJBI’s latest two projects – Victoria de Manila 2 in Manila and Victoria Station 2 in Quezon City – make it the first and only company in the country to provide its residents with a world-class sports centre. Facilities include badminton, basketball, tennis and squash courts, a billiard and table tennis hall, a shooting range and an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

“Our main business is housing. We have already built almost 50,000 units,” says Jose Acuzar, Chairman of NSJBI. “However, we are now focusing on housing and tourism.”

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is a living museum and one of NSJBI’s most unique projects. The one-of-a-kind heritage resort in the countryside takes visitors back in time to experience Philippine architecture, customs and traditions dating back to the 18th century.

In 2003, Mr Acuzar began selecting old and decaying mansions and buildings of architectural value from across Luzon and carefully relocating them to the new community he was intending to recreate on 400 hectares of land in Bagac on the Bataan Peninsula. Each stone-built and wooden-stilted property has been painstakingly disassembled, transported and rebuilt brick by brick, beam by beam, and in the process fully restored to its former glory.

Mr Acuzar does not regard Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar as a commercial project, but one “for the country, for the children today and tomorrow. They have to physically see the culture, use it for education, and learn about the past from this.” Heritage conservation works in the Philippines get little or no state funding and the project has so far saved 27 neglected buildings of note from further ruin.

Cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages impart real feelings of nostalgia, while enthusiastic tour guides show a genuine passion for the project when explaining the history behind the buildings to visitors as they wander round the estate.

Managed by the Genesis Hotels and Resorts Corp, a stay at any of the various accommodation options, which include studios, suites and split-level apartments, is a unique experience. Reconstructing the past at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar has not been at the expense of modern conveniences, as each building comes luxuriously appointed as part of its rehabilitation. Conference and banqueting facilities are also available at the resort, as well as special wedding packages. The museum and gallery offer a detailed glimpse into the past with various artefacts and items on display.

The village opened its doors to the public in 2010 and has created a wealth of opportunities for Bataan residents, who directly make up 100 of the 120 employees at the site.