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How a Defeated Congressional Candidate from Cebu Turned to Entrepreneurship and Built a Property Firm Now Worth Php8.1B

January 5, 2018

When Jose R. Soberano III retired from Ayala Corp. after 23 years of working as project manager at regional subsidiary Cebu Holdings Inc., there was nothing more that he wanted than to serve Cebu province as its congressman.

“I’m the type to be influenced by politics in a way. I think one of my advantages in Ayala was how I connect very well with politicians,” Soberano recalled in an interview with Entrepreneur Philippines.

So in 2001, he ran for a Congressional seat as representative of the third district of Cebu province, using his retirement money for campaign expenses. Unfortunately, he lost to a member of a prominent clan in the Queen City of the South.

With nothing to do while waiting for the next congressional elections in 2004, he noticed that many of the employees, including supervisors and executives of Tsuneishi Heavy Industries, a ship building and repair facility in the town of Balamban, Cebu, were living largely in rented rooms or houses though they were earning enough to afford homes of their own. Tsuneishi was a Japanese company and paid higher than usual salaries in Cebu.


Sensing a lucrative business opportunity, Soberano bought land near the Tsuneishi facility and built 200 residential units, using excess funds from his wife’s fashion accessories and home décor exporting business. He made sure the houses were affordable, pricing them as low as Php500,000. He called the residential subdivision San Josemaria Village, after Josemaria Escrivá, the Catholic priest who founded the religious organization Opus Dei (God’s work), of which Soberano is a member.

The project was a big success and the housing units sold like hotcakes. “When I introduced it to the market, it ran out immediately,” said Soberano. “So I built it as fast as I can.”