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Business

The son also rises: An interview with Victor Sid Consunji

EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

Victor Consunji, the eldest son of tycoon Isidro “Sid” Consunji, takes the mic and talks about his role in the family’s sprawling engineering conglomerate DMCI Holdings.

We are in Cebu for a press briefing and I ask him what he is doing for the family business.

He talks about a plan to develop a resort in Laguna, one that could utilize the famed hot springs of the tempestuous Maria Makiling.

Sitting across the table, his father quizzes him with more questions and Vic responds diligently. It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing.

It’s easy to think that the 42-year old real estate scion would just party like there’s no tomorrow and just wait for the golden eggs from the family empire.

His nickname “Bugoy”, in fact, connotes a notoriety of sorts in Pinoyspeak. He also doesn’t look like the typical business executive, at least that day I met him. He does look a bit bugoy, with around 13 tattoos all over his buffed body.

Of course, his father is also known to break stereotypes. Sid, the chairman of DMCI, is perhaps the only tycoon in the country who can hatch billion dollar deals in shorts and slippers.

In real life, Vic is already juggling his time between running his own construction company V Consunji Inc. and fulfilling his duties in the conglomerate. He also runs extreme races around the world.

While he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Vic’s father made sure that didn’t get to his head.

In fact, Vic sheepishly admits he was forced to hustle while still in college in UP Diliman  – contracting small construction jobs – because he needed extra money.

“My dad gave me allowance, but it was hard to get it -- like pulling teeth. Sometimes I didn’t get it, or I got it very late. A lot of people think that in our family, you’re born with a silver spoon, but no you fight for every centavo.”

Why would a billionaire’s son need extra money?

“Well, I wanted to go out on dates and my dad wouldn’t fund that,” he says, then bursts out laughing.

Ah, like father, like son, huh? I tease him.

In the book the DMCI Group Story, Sid confesses that he chose to study in UP because he wanted to meet the “pretty girls in mini-skirts.”

Victor runner

As a runner, Vic is a badass. He runs the extreme, crazy kind.

He is the only Filipino to run on all seven continents. He did the North Pole marathon and the Marathon Des Sables in Morocco. He also did a trail run in Iceland.

Every time he conquers a difficult race, Vic looks for the next challenging run.

He started running just about five years ago only because he needed to lose weight.

“I ran, but I gassed out after 300 meters. That’s bad,” he tells me in an interview over breakfast.

When a friend invited him to join a marathon in Kuala Lumpur, he started training.

He finished the race. “So I tried another, and then another.”

That’s how he became an extreme race runner.

It’s not a walk -- or should I say a run --  in the park. One time, he suffered from some sort of temporary blindness after a run. In the North Pole, he got stranded on some cracking ice floe. There’s also blisters, wounds, and what-have-you.

“Where did you get the athletic genes?”

He got it from his father, he says.

“Oh don’t be deceived by his belly. He used to play rugby and other sports,” he says, trying to convince me of his dad’s athletic prowess. We laugh. I must have looked surprised.

Running isn’t just a physical thing for Vic. It further hones his engineer’s mind and spatial abilities and helps him deal with challenges as a builder.

In the race, as it is in the construction site, he constantly needs to solve problems.

“You have to be able to look at a challenge and say ‘I’m willing to go for it.’ You solve the problem one step at a time, small bits here and there, and if you solve enough problems, you get the job done,” he says.

A Consunji boy

But even at a young age, Vic liked challenging himself and isn’t afraid to leave his comfort zone – a trait which he also got from his unorthodox dad, he says.

After finishing high school in the US, he was plucked out of the States by Sid on a 24-hour notice, he recalls.

It was time for him to go home to Manila and do what Consunji boys do -- go to UP, study engineering and join Beta Epsilon.

“Engineering, Civil. Did I really have a choice?” he says in jest when I ask him what course he took.

He then put up his own company, now behind some of the well-built and uniquely designed posh townhomes in the metro.

“The father of Victor”

Sid is a proud dad to his Bugoy.

“I am now known as the father of Victor,” Sid once said in jest.

He used to be known as the eldest son of the late construction magnate David Consunji.

Of course, Sid is just his usual modest self. While he likes to joke that he is his father’s most difficult project, in reality, Sid – together with his siblings – has steered the family empire to dizzying heights. In fact, President Duterte recently tagged him to lead the country’s construction boom.

It’s a kind of modesty that Bugoy has inherited, too it seems.

While his achievements are already impressive, he says it’s nowhere near his father Sid’s accomplishments.

But hey it’s quite a start. Indeed, the son also rises.

Iris Gonzales’ email address is [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at eyesgonzales.com

VICTOR SID CONSUNJI
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