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Building Heroes

By Johannes L. Chua

TEAM READY The Property Management Team of The Brilliance Tower in BGC

TEAM READY The Property Management Team of The Brilliance Tower in BGC

In a crisis, heroes emerge from all sectors of society, each one doing his or her part to make society function and survive for the time being. The health pandemic saw doctors and nurses at the frontline of an invisible war, and jobs which some considered mundane and ordinary—delivering food, picking up trash, manning a grocery—became essential services, making lives easier and convenient for the majority.

Unknown to many, an essential service is also provided by property and facilities management specialists. They manage buildings, office spaces, villages, and communities, making sure that each and every inch of space under their watch is secured from intrusion and protected from an unseen viral threat.

Moreover, these professionals have to make sure that the spaces they manage are functional and ready, especially as the wheels of the economy are now starting to turn.

“Property and facilities management professionals are among those on the frontline, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of tenants, homeowners, and visitors. They are the first line of defense in many properties, implementing sanitation and security protocols. They also extend technical support, which is needed especially in extraordinary times such as the pandemic,” said Rick Santos, chairman and CEO of Santos Knight Frank, the country’s largest integrated real estate service company, which manages 20 million square meters of property space.

“Our property and facilities management teams have braved every working day to provide needed services to keep hospitals, retail, commercial, residential, and manufacturing facilities running,” said Santos. “They stepped up and became ‘heroes’ of the pandemic, and will continue to be of service as the new normal enters.”

Guardians of buildings

Maricor Torres, 32, has been a building management system (BMS) operator at Philam Life Building in Makati for five years. Since day one of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), she has opted to stay on site even though some of members of the property management team have been on a work-from-home arrangement.

BUILDING GUARDIAN Maricor Torres, building management system operator at Philam Life Building

BUILDING GUARDIAN Maricor Torres, building management system operator at Philam Life Building

“I want to ensure the overall safety of our clients and tenants here in Philam Life. This situation is an opportunity for me to maximize my skills and use this pandemic as a lesson on how we can better manage the building,” Torres says. She adds that they have started strictly implementing health and safety measures onsite to “protect everyone, especially the vulnerable.”
“I find fulfillment in what I do, and every waking moment is a blessing,” she says.

This is also the same sentiment of Gregory Tibayan, 25, property manager of The Brilliance Center, a 15-story building in BGC. Like Torres, he also insisted on staying onsite, never leaving the building under his watch during the ECQ.

“Due to the lockdown, the building has been on partial operations. I decided to stay, not because it was difficult to shuttle between my office and my home in Mandaluyong, but because I wanted to set an example to my team. In times of crisis, we have to be present in all situations, boost everyone’s morale, go the extra mile, and ensure security and peace of mind for the workers, tenants, and property owner,” Tibayan says.

His team at The Brilliance Center is prepared to face the challenge of the new normal. As such, he continues to be motivated to deliver excellent service. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, but our team’s goal is to always make sure everyone is healthy and safe.”

Property and facilities management teams have braved every working day to provide needed services to keep hospitals, retail, commercial, residential, and manufacturing facilities running. They stepped up and became heroes of the pandemic, and will continue to be of service as the new normal enters.

Helping hand of a village

The poor communication signal in Tagaytay City did not deter May Nicomendez, 27, to fulfill her responsibility as property assistant of Highland Properties, Inc., a company which owns several residential properties and condominiums.

Although she lives in the area, she decided to go to work earlier during the quarantine to get ready way before the sun would rise. At Tagaytay Highlands, she makes sure she is ready to assist residents’ and homeowners’ various concerns, from securing quarantine passes and monitoring the entry of guests to strictly ensuring that health protocols are followed.

“I love my job in property management. I get to learn a lot of things, especially during this crisis,” says Nicomendez. “Amid the fear and dread brought about by Covid-19, the best thing we can do is to maintain a hassle-free operation every day and minimize the risks of that virus ‘entering’ our properties. Even after working hours, I continuously monitor the properties remotely, as any need from residents to visitors can arise any time.”

Stewards of a hospital

Hospitals have become the battleground of the pandemic. This was also the situation at Cardinal Santos Medical Center in the early days of the ECQ. Behind the army of medical practitioners are the teams that make a hospital functional and “moving.”

Corwyn Zapanta, 52, facilities manager, and Engr. Karl Dulguime, 24, shift engineer, are just two of the dozens of individuals who have helped Cardinal Santos Medical Center survive its most challenging experience ever.

HELP AT HAND Engr. Karl Dulguime supervises ventilation works inside Cardinal Santos Medical Center

HELP AT HAND Engr. Karl Dulguime supervises ventilation works inside Cardinal Santos Medical Center

Zapanta’s work is very crucial as he is in charge of coordinating with suppliers, organizing the budget, and managing the logistics of his team. On top of that, he has to ensure that everyone’s morale and mental disposition are high, which is a very difficult thing to do during a pandemic.

“Of course, it was really hard at first because of the constant fear, internal panic, and homesickness of my team,” Zapanta says. “I make sure I’m always available to talk to them, to guide and to encourage them, especially during this difficult experience. I always tell them, matatapos din ito (eventually, this will pass)!”

This encouragement he passes on to people such as Dulguime, who is only a month into his role as shift engineer. This “baptism of fire” saw him supervise important facilities and operations at the hospital at its most crucial time.

Dulguime is one of the acting leaders of his team who managed the installation and fabrication of isolation tents, acrylic glass boards, alcohol dispensers, and repainting jobs. He led his team in organizing designated areas at La Salle Greenhills to provide more spaces for persons under investigation (PUIs) and persons under monitoring (PUMs). They also converted shower rooms for the use of healthcare workers staying in the hospital.

“At first, I was nervous for myself and my team because there were times we couldn’t avoid entering the rooms of Covid patients. Lakas ng loob lang talaga (It’s really just a lot of courage), along with extra caution and keeping in mind what we’re trained for,” Dulguime says.

Since the hospital’s manpower was overloaded, he, together with other shift engineers, volunteered to do leg work such as fixing leaks, basic carpentry, and other repairs. He keeps in mind that everything will soon pass, and looks forward to joining his wife and three-month-old son in Boracay.

As the new normal brings with it new challenges and adjustments, we will see more heroes like them emerge from other sectors. They leave the comfort of their homes to fight an invisible enemy at the “gates” to ensure that people like us are safe and shielded from disease and worry.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/06/01/building-heroes/)

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