Doing business with integrity and passion

“THE most important things for me have always been honesty, integrity, dedication, and sincerity. These are the things that will help you in any business and undertaking. People will know who you are and will only lend you something if you have these qualities. That’s how I grew my company to what it is today. We were not rich but friends and business colleagues have helped me along the way because of–one word —integrity.”

This is how Architect Antonio A. Turalba, Sr., founder and chairman of the Active Group of Companies, summed up how he has stirred the company to where it is now. Active Group has been in real estate for 48 years. Its monumental project is the Mount Malarayat Golf and Country Club, a 200-hectare unique land development in Lipa, Batangas, combining features of a world-class golf course, the amenities of a deluxe resort hotel, and the exclusivity of an upscale gated community.

Turalba graduated from the University of the Philippines and placed fifth in the 1970 licensure examination for architects. For years, he was widely recognized and admired as an environmental planner, holding the distinction of being the first private sector representative to the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council in 1978. He is a Fellow of the United Architects of the Philippines, the country’s leading association for architects, and is a past president of the Chamber of Real Estate Brokers Associations (CREBA) and Rotary Club of Makati East. He is a recipient of the UP Alumni Association Award in Architecture (1989) and was named “Outstanding Professional in Architecture” by the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) in 1996, among other accolades.

The amiable CEO credits his entrepreneurial successes to his experience as a young boy of 13 already engaging in the buy and sell business. He said his father, a native Ilocano, had trusted him to engage in and manage the family’s business.

Turalba admits there is nothing he could ask for. He said he is most happy with the 20th anniversary of Mount Malarayat this year; it was celebrated with two-day festivities on October 19 and 20. It teed off with member-guest tournament on the 19th and a family carnival fair on the 20th at the country club lawn area with lots of entertainment, games and food carts. Capping the festivities was the awarding ceremony highlighted by a sumptuous dinner especially prepared by equally iconic in-house Chef Billy King held at the club’s main ballroom, Laurel Hall.

From residential development to golf & country club

Active Group boasts of a long list of real estate development of residential subdivisions, office buildings, residential condominiums and memorial parks. How did it get involved with the golf and country club?

“When my group was offered the property, we readily saw its potential as a golf course. The cool climate and topography made it ideal for golf. The quality of the soil and the constant source of water made it easy to maintain, and the breathtaking backdrop of Mount Malarayat made it all the more special. Being architects, we took full advantage of what the site [featured] and, as a businessman, I converted it into a business venture.

“We did not need to do any major interventions or alter the landscape in any way; all we did was work with what nature had provided and improve on it. But we really invested a huge amount of money in the landscaping, the sand and the drainage to make it an all-weather golf course. In fact, the sum of money can already go towards building another golf course,” Turalba said.

“The investment definitely paid off. We’re proud to call Malarayat the first all-weather course in the country. Other courses that came after us may claim to be all-weather courses, but Malarayat was the first. You can play even after a heavy downpour. The well-constructed drainage system that lies beneath the course has made this possible. The result is that members and guests can play on the course in mere minutes after a downpour. Walking on the course after the rain will not leave a single patch of mud on your shoes. In the long run we were able to save on major repairs. It has been an all-weather thing all for 20 years,” he stressed.

Having to fund the development entirely by the Active Group proved to be the biggest challenge for Turalba. He said they were almost done with construction when the Asian Financial Crisis hit in 1997.  There was no way out; Turalba had to open the golf course in 1998 even as they faced the tailend of the financial crisis.

“To have Malarayat be the way it is now was the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced. So I will just let others speak for the success of our project,” Turalba said.

A family of realtors & architects\The Active Group of Companies began as a partnership between the husband-and-wife team of Turalba Sr., and Maria Cristina Valera-Turalba, when they set up their own architectural design firm in 1970. More than 40 years later, the company has grown into a multi-billion-peso real estate conglomerate that has built town houses, buildings, condominiums, subdivisions, and resort & leisure communities and continues to grow as a dynamic and formidable player in the field of quality real estate development.

At the core of this continuing success is a vision that inspires the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of the Active Group of Companies: that of delivering a quality of life that goes beyond shelter. It is a vision that continues to build not only homes, but also creates better lifestyles and communities for the Filipino.

The patriarch of realtor and architects also made sure that his children got exposed to the company at a young age. “They’re also supported by some of the best and most experienced people I know. I want to make sure that the quality of our work remains at its highest level even without me being directly involved. Only my youngest child didn’t follow in my footsteps and is now a physician in the United States,” he said.

Giving back to the community

Every year in January, in honor of the chairman’s birthday on January 17, Mount Malarayat Golf and Country Club hosts The Chairman’s Cup – a golf tournament open to members and their guests.

January 27 of this year marked the 20th Chairman’s Cup—which also kicked off the year-long festivities to celebrate the 20th year milestone of Mount Malarayat Golf and Country Club.

Some 248 participants made their way to the championship golf course which benefited the Turalba Foundation, in partnership with De La Salle Lipa and Hilario and Febres Foundations. From this endeavor alone, the foundation raised half a million pesos to subsidize 70 scholars to attend high school and college.

From the previous 19 Chairman’s Cups, 79 scholars have already graduated from this program.

“Our scholars, many of them working in Manila or abroad, attend either the club’s anniversary or the Chairman’s Cup to share firsthand their heartwarming experiences benefiting from the scholarship. It has become a normal thing that people come to me to say thank you because their family has benefited working in the club or their children either graduated or are incumbent scholars,” Turalba said.

For young people out there, the chairman has this advice: “Whatever your profession, do it with passion and you’ll go places. Always share. It gives you misery and problems if you don’t share. You must be happy, you cannot go forward if you are not truly happy with whatever you are doing.

“Do not be in a hurry. Everything has its proper time and places. You fall hard and easily when you are in a hurry,” the chairman concluded.