MANILA, Philippines - Lesley Anne Santos was at the peak of a successful career in sales and marketing when she decided to take a break from her job as IBM’s ASEAN Retail Manager in 2012. “I was handling six countries and I was traveling almost every week,” Lesley recalls.
She felt it was time to start a family with her husband Jed Santos, a businessman whom she married in 2008 “But having been used to the dynamic pace of corporate life, staying at home did not sit well with me,” Lesley relates.
In 2013, Lesley and Jed opened Nova Schola along Mabini Ave. in Tanauan City. Lesley is the school administrator while Jed is managing director. They offer basic college courses such as education, accounting, IT, psychology and entrepreneur- ship, aside from high school and graduate programs.
“Our goal is to make world class education accessible and affordable — especially to the people of Tanauan since Jed’s mom hails from there.,” Lesley says. “Education is a social enterprise and not only about profit - which makes it very challenging.. yet more fulfilling.
“We go to the school three to four times a week. Otherwise, we work remotely, from our home,” Lesley shares. Home is an elegant three-bedroom condo unit at The Grove by Rockwell, located along C5, near Ortigas Ave.
The school is just a 90-minute drive away from the condo.
“It is conducive to work here because you can see the greens outside,” Lesley says as she gazes out from the wide glass windows of her condo and balcony overlooking the Great Lawn community area.
Lesley and Jed have been residents at The Grove since 2014. The Grove is a 5.4-hectare property with 75 percent open space and six residential towers. With their interior design consultants, Julia Uy Cea and Arch Ong of Uo2 Architects Inc., they transformed their 208-square-meter condo space into a comfortable home that reflect their personality and lifestyle.
“I’ve been collecting Starbucks mugs since 2010 and I have almost 100 pieces to date ,” Lesley relates, “so the design team built shelves specifically for this purpose.” Lesley had other items such as miniature models of towers and other mementos. Things she’s picked up from her travels, and they found a place on the shelves as well. “My husband says I am a collector of collections,” she laughs. They love to travel. The designers created an accent wall with patterns depicting waves and owing terrains representing their travels.
Condo living is nothing new for Lesley who started living in a condo early on to be closer to her workplace, since her parents’ house was on the other side of town. Someone who is used to living in a house with a garden and a lot of open space might find it difficult to imagine being boxed inside a condo. “But here, we don’t feel that at all. The space is airy. It’s like living in a regular house.” Lesley says.
“We know that Rockwell gives a lot of priority to security and safety. Whenever we travel, we just lock the door and we feel confident everything is safe,” Lesley observes. The sense of exclusivity is something that appeals to her, at the same time that a sense of community among the residents is encouraged.
Events where the residents are able to interact and get to know each other are organized particularly during special holidays such as Christmas and Easter Day. The Retail Row, which features restaurants, a coffee shop, a supermarket and other service establishments, is there for the convenience of residents at The Grove.
“We also like to take advantage of the amenities of The Grove because these fit our lifestyle,” Lesley says. “We don’t have to go anywhere else. If we want to go to the gym, it is right here. And the pool is available every day.” There’s a lap pool and a kiddie pool as well.
There’s an indoor multi-purpose court as well as outdoor tennis courts, basketball and volleyball courts. “My husband plays badminton so I wish there was a badminton court also,” Lesley says. Jed was a National Youth Champion in badminton. One time, Lesley was looking for a coach to teach her badminton, and friends recommended Jed. That was how they met.
A love for sports is something they share. There is a space in their condo which Lesley calls her husband’s “man cave,” where all of the sports equipment is stowed. They also do wakeboarding, scuba diving, and road cycling.
Lesley is presently getting professional training in swimming. “We have a nice expansive pool at The Grove so it’s very conducive for us to use it.” She already knows how to swim but she wants to learn the right form, the right breathing, and the different strokes. “It’s for my own personal fitness,” she says. There is this eagerness to learn and a drive towards excellence that seems so natural for Lesley. “My husband calls me a nerd,” says Lesley, who graduated from high school at The School of the Holy Spirit and college from the University of Asia and the Pacific.
It’s the same high standards that she sets for herself that she has come to expect from the place where she chooses to live. “I don’t settle for anything less,” she says. She appreciates the attention and commitment to service by the condo property management that caters to the residents’ personal needs.
“That’s really what made us happy here,” Lesley says. “The Grove fits our lifestyle. Finally, we have found a place where we can live permanently.”