It’s not common for a real estate mogul, whose company owns 26 buildings with more than 1.3 million square meters of gross floor area, to sleep on the floor of a monastery in Korea.
But it did happen to Century Properties Group founder and executive chairman Jose E.B. Antonio during one of his photography expeditions.
“They invited me to stay overnight in the monastery. I slept on the floor. It was an experience,” recalled the businessman.
When asked how many nights he spent sleeping on the floor, Antonio exclaimed, “One night only!” before cracking up.
“But, of course, it was an honor because they don’t usually invite people to stay over,” he enthused.
Antonio has a photo of a Buddhist monk standing on a stone bridge to show for his stay in the monastery near Korea’s Jeju Island.
It was not the only time the 72-year-old mogul and self-taught photographer had a unique adventure in pursuit of his passion.
He shared he once took his family to Harbin in China during the dead of winter where they endured “minus 27-degree Centigrade.” That, aside from his expeditions in Iceland and New York’s Lake Placid—also in winter.
His passion for traveling has led him to pursue photography.
“Traveling is my passion. But Mrs. Antonio would ask me, ‘How come I don’t see any of your pictures?’ Then I decided I might as well document it,” he related.
“I started eight or 10 years ago, using my first digital camera, a Canon dSLR,” shared Antonio.
He currently uses Hasselblad, Leica, and Fujifilm cameras to capture images whenever he’s traveling. He also uses a Huawei P30 smartphone, which he claimed is “one of the best.”
When he’s not busy drawing plans to further propel his business, Antonio actively contributes entries for exhibitions to the Camera Club of the Philippines and Leica Club Manila, where he is a member.
For Antonio, photography is not just a respite from the daily grind of corporate life. He uses it to channel the passion and drive for excellence in his commercial ventures into a new field where the objectives are different.
“In photography, my objective is how to capture the moment and produce something that others can enjoy.”
Antonio shares his experiences with other people in his first solo exhibition entitled “Across the Continents: A Travelogue Series by Jose E.B. Antonio,” which opened on Nov. 21 at the newly launched Antonio Gallery at Century City Mall in Makati.
Currently mounted at the new venue are 30 photos from his adventures and National Geographic expeditions in Asia, North and South America, and Europe.
Some of his collections include rare experiences in the deserts of Mongolia; the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, 7,000 feet above sea level in the Kingdom of Bhutan; and the arresting Antelope Canyons in Arizona, among others.
His photographs of an Aeta in a river in Zambales and the freezing winter in Lake Placid, New York are also on display.
Also on exhibit are two photographs that creatively feature his association with the late architect I. M. Pei and US President Donald Trump.
“This photo of the Louvre in Paris shows the glass pyramid designed by I.M. Pei, who also designed Essensa (condominium in East Forbes),” he shared.
Another photo features the name of Trump, with whom they partnered for the Trump Tower.
Antonio said he personally selected the photos on display. Patrons can purchase the images, with each photo printed 20 times, while the limited edition will only be printed 10 times, and each master edition is only available in three copies.
“I will then sign it, write the edition, and give you a certificate of authenticity,” he said.
Proceeds of the exhibit sale and venue fees will be donated by the J Antonio Foundation to Operation Smile Philippines and Haven for the Elderly (formerly Golden Acres Home for the Aged).
Antonio Gallery on the Sky Loft of Century City Mall is open to individuals and groups showcasing their works or holding special lectures and talks.
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