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Newsmakers

Alice & Jacqueline Eduardo: Two for the road

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
Alice & Jacqueline Eduardo: Two for the road
Building the future continues for Sta. Elena Construction despite the pandemic.

For the country’s “Woman of Steel,” there is no “ceasefire” from building. As soon as safety protocols allowed construction activity in the country to resume, she was out amid the cranes and the backhoes again, whether in the Entertainment City that she built almost entirely, or the new 60-hectare township she is building along C-6 in Taguig City.

“I’ve always wanted to build a city where the standard of living for residents is above average, a city within a city that looks and feels like Singapore, where life isn’t perfect but the quality of life sets a standard in the Philippines,” says Alice G. Eduardo, president and CEO of Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corp., who also built ports and airports, power plants and houses of prayer, highways and Skyways.

Two weeks ago, I accompanied Alice and her hardworking daughter Jacqueline during a site visit to the township and beheld a sprawling expanse of land overlooking Laguna Lake, and bound by BGC to the west, Antipolo to the east and C-6 to the north.

Alice promises the completion of a six-lane road within the property in six months — the concrete evidence of her resolve to build the future. That afternoon, with a hardhat, a safety vest, face shield and mask, Alice held office under the sun, the fresh lake breeze her air conditioner, pointing out priorities in the plans being laid out to her by her engineers.

‘Woman of Steel’ Alice Eduardo and daughter Jacqueline visit the site of their future township along C-6 in Taguig.
Photo by Joanne Rae Ramirez

One of the country’s best dressed, Alice traded her stilettos that afternoon for working shoes as she trod the dirt roads of the project. And she was thoroughly in her element.

“I will never do something that I don’t like doing, or don’t have a passion for doing. I’m never half-hearted when I take on something,” she says.

“I have to be there. My architects and engineers, the crane and the backhoe operators, have to see me standing where the project is. That has always been my style. When I was starting out, some friends were telling me, ‘Alice, maybe you have to delegate.’ I know how to delegate, but I want also to have my personal touch in all my projects.”

With the author.

* * *

The 60-hectare township, which is part of the 400-hectare development in the booming area, will include a five-hectare park lined by low-rise buildings, so the park will be visible to all. The township will be 15 minutes away from Makati and around five minutes from the Bonifacio Global City. There will be a Skyway exit and a subway stop near the township, so it promises to be very accessible.

Building it from the ground is no walk in the park but Alice is determined to get the project off the ground with Jacqueline’s help.

Alice believes a city’s success begins in its planning. And if a city or a township is planned well and sustainably right from the start, it will afford its residents the quality of life they only dream about.

“It will be comfortable, not so luxurious. It will make them feel, ‘Ah, we’re so special here.’ It makes you feel safe, you feel clean, you feel the air, you feel the trees, you can breathe well.”

“This is going to be my legacy,” vows Alice, who was lauded by Forbes Asia as one its “Heroes of Philanthropy” for 2018. “I just want to be a businesswoman with a heart.”

Alice credits her daughter, Jacqueline, for the township’s vision. A millennial, the eldest of Alice’s three children is very hands-on in Sta. Elena, and is the chief executive of the project.

“I was very excited when it seemed that it would be a sustainable community where the streets are not congested. You could walk around. One of the plans of the architect was you could go from one area to another without using cars, you could walk to it or bike to it,” says the statuesque Jacqueline, who graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University.

Alice giving pointers to her architects and engineers.

I asked Jacqueline, who was with her mother during our site visit, “What do millennials look for in a community?”

“I noticed that we’re beginning to look for a more sustainable, healthy lifestyle. That’s why I also miss trips abroad, when we just walk around and just explore the city.”

Because Jacqueline works closely with her mother, a renowned builder, I asked her what she admires most in the latter. Her methodical mind? Her tenacity?

“Her kindness,” answers Jacqueline in a heartbeat. “To be kind, I think, that’s the first thing. To get along with everyone, almost everyone. Not to get into any drama. And then everything else will follow.”

Kindness is a secret to success, indeed. And that is etched in steel.

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