Megaworld changes the city’s skyline with The Mactan Newtown, a township development that brings the company’s Live-Work-Play concept to Cebu, appealing to it-couple Anna Igpit and Glenn Soco, who talk about dealing with the demands of their lifestyle and how an easygoing outlook works for their five-year relationship.
It had been a cloudy afternoon in Mactan, with a few clumps of dark clouds still looming after the heavy downpour earlier in the day. Thankfully, the sun made its appearance just as Anna Igpit and Glenn Soco emerged to pose for this issue’s cover photo. The two converse as the team gets ready, jokingly picking at each others outfits—Glenn’s a sharp suit and Anna in an intricate Cary Santiago creation. As the dress’ train flutters in the ocean breeze, the couple poses against the dramatic backdrop of the now streaming sunlight bouncing off the façade of One World Center, the first building in Megaworld’s The Mactan Newtown. As the company’s first large- scale project in Cebu, The Mactan Newtown is the chance for locals to enjoy the Live-Work-Play concept that Megaworld pioneered in the country. “We have always recognized the growth potential of Cebu and felt that now is the best time to do something here of this scale,” says Megaworld Cebu Properties Inc. president Noli Hernandez. It’s an instinct that proved true, with BPO companies opening in One World Center by the first quarter of the year and the first residential clusters of One Pacific Residences and 8 Newtown Boulevard almost sold out less than a year after they were launched. “The market reception to the project is, to say the least, overwhelming.”
Perhaps Megaworld’s track record worked in their favor, having created a string of successful township communities in Metro Manila that began with Eastwood City in Libis. “As the country’s first Cyberpark, Eastwood City brought together the first BPO companies in one location and in the process gave birth to the BPO industry in the country,” Noli shares. To make it a truly dynamic destination, though, condominium towers were constructed around the property with lifestyle amenities of retail stores, restaurants, a park and cinemas interspersed among the buildings.
From there, the company continued on to create other world- class communities. They are in fact the largest developer in the Fort Bonifacio area, with an aggregate property of 106 hectares from the Forbestown Center, Uptown Bonifacio, McKinley Hill and McKinley West. “In McKinley Hill, we tweaked the formula of Live-Work-Play and added the Learn component with the integration of learning institutions such as the Chinese International School, the Korean International School, as well as the Enderun College,” Noli explains, showing the projects’ adaptability. In Newport City, the Play component is upped through Resorts World Manila, which includes the Marriott Hotel, the Maxims Hotel and the acclaimed Newport Performing Arts Center.
In the case of The Mactan Newtown, the components are in full swing. The success of 8 Newtown Boulevard and One Pacific Residences has paved the way for other residential projects, all of which will host a variety of wellness-oriented amenities, such as One Pacific Residences’ wall-climbing facility and aqua gym, although other retail and dining amenities will soon be opening on the site. Breaking ground for Two World Center is in the works, while the first week of the year saw the grand opening of McDonald’s in One World Center—a modern outlet of the fastfood favorite that boasts the largest seating capacity in Cebu and colorful graphic art on the walls.
“We have been very fortunate to have been given full support by the Lapu-lapu city government, as well as the warm and enthusiastic reception by the people of Mactan,” says Noli, though he admits that, like all other projects, the actual development of the property posed its own development and construction challenges. Its promising start has given way to possible expansion. “As it is, The Mactan Newtown is already poised to offer a complete community experience. But having a beachfront property will be a great addition to the development, and we are currently pursuing that tack.”
It’s the kind of lifestyle that would appeal to today’s career-driven and on-the-go personalities. “Most of our residents and buyers come from a fairly young demographic,” says Noli. “It’s business owners, executives, entrepreneurs and upward mobile individuals who are looking to be at the center of a cosmopolitan lifestyle.”
The concept certainly appealed to Anna and Glenn, who made their own inquiries on the property in between takes. “I love the setting because it’s near the beach, and I love the beach,” Glenn admits. “Convenience is very important, and Newtown has all the amenities and features in one place.”
Anna agrees, “It’s very appealing, especially if you’re career- oriented and you want to be in a place where you get both worlds. You’re near the beach but at the same time, when you step out of your unit, you get to eat out at restaurants or shop at good stores.”
It’s understandable that accessibility and convenience are factors both Anna and Glenn appreciate, considering their own lives are mostly spent juggling various work commitments and time for each other. “He has his own thing and I do too. We never reached a point where we told each other what to do,” Anna says. Glenn adds, “There may be issues that we have to deal with from time to time, but we move on in any situation. We make our respective careers a priority, and we work it out so both our worlds compliment each other.”
It’s an arrangement they manage to work out, as both their worlds are flourishing on their own. Born in Bohol, Anna Igpit was part of various pageants before she was crowned Bb. Pilipinas-World in 2006. She went on to represent the country in that year’s Miss World pageant in Warsaw, Poland, being
the first Boholana to compete in an international beauty competition. Currently, her charm for public speaking is put to good use as a host, whether its for various social events or her GMA 7 Cebu show Istayl Nato. She is also one-third of the Wicked Sisters, an events planning company that produces occasions with, in their own words, “a wickedly inventive slant.”
On his end, Glenn Soco is the man behind many successful businesses, first of which is the janitorial services company that he took over from his parents in 1995 and expanded to provide a full range of manpower services, and the Global Power Skills Development Center, a TESDA-accredited training facility for marketable skills. He also started Coffee Dream in 1996 to give the coffee-drinking lifestyle a local twist—the chain uses 100% local beans and products, and promotes small businesses by selling items like cassava cookies, ginamos paste and local tablea. His business endeavors are partnered with a strong sense of corporate social responsibility, supporting causes such as providing day care centers to barangays, helping cancer-stricken children and promoting sports development. “I like effecting positive change in the lives of people, whether it’s in business, social work or sports. I think I’ve always had the heart for public service,” he says, alluding to his plans of running for public office. “Even in our business, providing employment gives a different fulfillment. Those are simple joys that are hard to quantify, and I hope it reverberates in my organization and outside it.”
Individually formidable in their own right, together they are one of Cebu’s power couples, the kind of people whose very presence earn excited greetings, second glances and the occasional hushed comments from observers—even when dressed down for the more casual interview over coffee on a sunny morning. “People can get really interested in us,” Anna admits. “They see the little things we do and interpret it in their own way. I can get very affected by it, but he’s very practical and doesn’t get into it, so that rubs off on me.”
Without the camera and the black tie attire, the two have the easy cadence that shows off their five or so years together. They exchange looks and teasing comments as they talk about their early days. “I wasn’t attracted to him at first,” Anna laughs, though she remembers a few romantic gestures that eventually won her over. “One thing I won’t forget is when I was based in Manila. I was at Starbucks in a mall, and someone from Coffee Dream was suddenly there carrying a huge box of flowers for me.” Glenn’s take is shorter, and elicits a laugh from his girlfriend: “She just charmed me to death. That’s it.” The couple was introduced by a mutual friend, though they didn’t exchange numbers until two years after. “There wasn’t any formal courtship. We don’t even have an anniversary,” Anna shares. “There’s really no pressure. Our relationship’s not normal.”
The rapport is candid, with a common sense of humor that epitomizes how comfortable they are with each other. “No comment. You have the floor please,” Glenn jokes when asked about their plans for the future. “Well, definitely stay together. Like any relationship, you want it to end well,” Anna answers, to which he interrupts laughing, “What do you mean end?”
Taking on a more serious tone, Glenn explains, “In relationships, you don’t have to think too far ahead because it applies a lot of pressure on the both of you. Not everything can be made out objectively, or that it has to be this or that. Relationships can be very simple and very easy, that’s where maturity sets in. I think there’s something that works with us for us to make it to five years. It’s common that you have problems every now and then, and it’s about what works for you. Sometimes you don’t even need to talk about it, and everything will just be resolved in its own time.”
Next to him, Anna laughs, “It’s relationship advice from Glenn Soco.” Considering how well it’s worked out for them, it’s probably sound advice to take.
by Shari Quimbo photography Jan Gonzales sittings editor Katsy Borromeo production manager David Jones Cua fashion stylist and art director Michael Sanchez hair and makeup Romero Vergara and Ramil Solis assistant Jessie Egos shot on location at The Mactan Newtown