A scion of the banana-growing Floirendo family is redefining the real estate sector in the Davao Region by combining housing and commercial developments with agriculture.
“With our agricultural heritage through our sister companies, what we are trying to do is also see how we can find our niche and how we can differentiate ourselves from a lot of developers that are already doing business in Davao,” says Ricardo “Cary” Floirendo Lagdameo, the chief development officer of Damosa Land Inc. which is the real estate development arm of the Anflo Group of Companies.
“We are a part of the Anflocor Group or Antonio Floirendo Corp. We are better known for our agricultural businesses. That’s what Anflocor has been known for since the 1940s,” Cary, who has been in charge of Damosa Land and Anflo Industrial Estate over the past six years, says in a briefing in Makati City.
“Technically, we started the business in 1949. The name Damosa actually stands for Davao Motor Sales. It was my grandfather’s [Antonio Floirendo Sr.] first business way back after the war. It used to be a car dealership. Over the years, when we stopped selling Ford vehicles in the 1980s, we slowly transitioned it into a real estate business. It really took off around the early 2000s when we started with some roperties in Davao,” he says.
“We started in the commercial and leasing businesses. We had commercial strips, we had offices and then over the last five to six years, we really grew the business and included residential projects, industrial parks, hotels and offices. We are proudly homegrown. We won’t say we are the biggest real estate company in the region, but we are known for a lot of firsts. We were the first for example to put up a PEZA-accredited IT park in 2007 in Davao City. It is called Damosa IT Park. We have several locators there,” says Cary, a 42-year-old father of two.
“We have the only agro-industrial park which is now operational. We also have a master-planned township which is predicated on agriculture. So these are some of the projects that we find interesting,” he says.
Damosa is developing Agriya, an 88-hectare township in Panabo City, Davao Del Norte with agriculture as the main theme. Its sister company Tagum Agricultural Development Company Inc. operates one of the largest and highest-yielding banana plantations in the world.
“Agriya is an 88-hectare township but the main theme is agriculture. We have residential, institutional and commercial components, but as much as we can we put agriculture into the project,” says Cary, a former investment banker who graduated from Ateneo de Manila with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in 1999 and took his MBA at Columbia Business School in New York in 2008.
“It is a self-contained, master-planned project. It will be the first of its kind in Davao del Norte and we would like to think in the Philippines. We will also be teaching students and children how to do backyard farming, how to do composting and basically how to live a sustainable life,” he says.
“Everything that has to do with agriculture, we are trying to put into this project. If I am not mistaken, we are probably the first and only one that is doing something like this. For us, it is kind of in our blood, in our DNA which is agriculture. That’s where we find our niche,” he says.
“Speaking of agriculture, even our industrial park is actually an agro-industrial park. So all of our locators there, in one way or the other, are involved in agro-processing,” says Cary.
Damosa’s other projects include the 63-hectare Anflo Industrial Estate beside Davao International Container Terminal in Panabo, Damosa District, Damosa IT Park, Damosa Business Center, Damosa Gateway, Damosa Market Basket, Topaz Tower, Microtel Wyndham, Microtel Gensan, Seawind DamosaLand Condominium, Damosa Fairlane, Lanang Aplaya Resort, Valley High, McPod, Anflocor Offices and Naturetainment.
Under Cary’s leadership, Damosa has successfully achieved an annual revenue growth of more than 500 percent from 2013 to 2018. Cary and Damosa received various awards such as best residential development in Davao for Damosa Fairlane in 2017, best condominium development for Seawind in 2018, corporate excellence award in 2018, executive leadership team of the year in 2018 and best office architectural design for Damosa Diamond Tower in 2019.
Damosa is set to inaugurate the 15-story Damosa Diamond Tower, the tallest office building in Davao, by the first quarter of 2020. “The architecture or exterior of the building is actually predicated on agriculture as well,” says Cary.
Meanwhile, Damosa is investing between P3 billion and P4 billion in the initial phase of Agriya covering residential, agri-tourism, an agricultural school and a commercial strip. “The next phase keeps on evolving depending on how the first phase would do. We would be spending more in the second phase if the take-up for the first phase is good,” says Cary.
“Right now, we are planning to do mostly house-and-lot selling. If the take-up is good and the price is good, there is even an opportunity to build something more. All our projects, across the group, are financed internally,” he says.
Agriya will host the UP Professional School for Agriculture and the Environment, an agricultural campus to be run by UP Los Baños. It will also open an agri-tourism park later this year. “With our residential lots, we are encouraging our homeowners to grow all different kinds of produce for backyard farming,” says Cary.
He says the take-up for the residential component has been strong so far despite the project’s focus on the high-end market. “We are happy with the turnout because this is the first of its kind in Davao del Norte. We position the residential portion as more of high-end than what is being offered. Lately, we have been able to sell in the price range of about P15 million to P16 million [per house and lot]. It translates into about P15,000 to P16,000 per square meter,” he says.
Damosa’s homebuyers include business owners, executives of the big multinationals in the area, executives of Anflocor’s business partners and locators in its industrial parks. “We try to really tap the market that is within our own reach,” says Cary.
“This is just some of the examples of how we integrate agriculture with real estate,” he says. “Basically I guess the common denominator with all of our projects is we really are a Mindanao development company. We have our roots there.”