For more than four decades, Dr. Walter William Bendaña Brown, ingeologist and geochemist had been a successful businessman. He led the mines and quarries, the palm oil farming, energy and real estate businesses of A Brown Company, Inc. (ABCI). The company is known in northern Mindanao, especially in the cities of Butuan, Cagayan de Oro and the province of Bukidnon, mainly thanks to their real estate developments.
While he thrived in the southern part of the Philippines, A Brown’s roots are actually located 1,400 kilometers away, in another scenic mountainous region – Tanay, Rizal in Luzon.
“It’s a homecoming for me,” Dr Brown shares of returning to Tanay after more than 30 years away. “At the same time, it’s a chance for me to use the experiences I’ve gained over the years. My land holdings here (in Tanay) are in fact land passed down four generations ago. Thus, I felt a sense of responsibility to the community that nurtured my early years. I felt the need to give back and do something for the good of my hometown.
Tracing roots in Tanay, Rizal
The Bendañas are an influential clan in Tanay, Rizal. Dr. Brown’s grandfather, former Tanay Mayor Simeon R. Bendaña, served the municipality in the 1940s.
“Most of the land here was set up by my grandfather as early as 1937. And I acquired additional properties. We actually have the largest area of contiguous land with trees planted by me, my father and my son-in-law,” recalls Dr Brown.
During the COVID-19 surge, Dr. Brown had the opportunity to spend more time in Tanay, Rizal, and noticed the growing potential in his hometown. Armed with practical experience, knowledge and a genuine love for his community, he urged the local Chief Executive to maximize land development in the mountainous barangays.
Bringing success home
A Brown pioneered the master-planned mixed-use community concept in northern Mindanao. Now the company is looking to develop more properties that follow the concept of healthy, eco-friendly, low-density communities.
Xavier Estates in Cagayan de Oro leads the company’s flagship projects, the first planned residential community in the region and the most sought-after residential address in the city as it offers prestige, convenience and security.
Coral Resort Estates at Initao, Misamis Oriental overlooks the tranquil waters of the bay and is the premier residential resort in the area. West Highlands, is a residential community next to a golf course. It is located 289 feet above sea level and overlooks the city of Butuan.
“I started in Cagayan de Oro. It was my first foray into real estate on my own. I wanted to create housing estates and residences for families. We are family oriented, so family orientation is something I have from my background,” Dr. Brown shared.
It’s true that A Brown’s projects in Northern Mindanao exude that family vibe with properties that showcase healthy, eco-friendly, low-density communities with an emphasis on city, mountain, agriculture, golf, resort and lifestyle developments.
“I’m in business not just to make money but also to create jobs and opportunities for people,” he added.
Armed with successful projects and decades of experience in business ventures, Dr. Brown brings his expertise to Tanay, Rizal to build the economic and tourism capacity of the municipality.
“I’ve always been of the view that the land should be conserved and eventually developed, otherwise there’s no point in conserving it, leaving it there unattended and unmanned,” Dr Brown said. “So when the opportunity arose to develop it, I felt it was my duty to launch it.”
Vision for Tanay
“One of the things we’re going to bring here is to secure this area because I know a lot of people here don’t feel safe with these large areas,” Dr Brown said. “We have a commercial development and it will be unique. We are also creating opportunities for workers to have their own home there.
Among the company’s projects is a 300-hectare mixed-use development in Tanay, Rizal which will include a high-end residential estate, themed restaurants, cycle paths, villas and low-cost and social housing. A Brown’s project will present a perfect blend of modern urban living and natural surroundings.
Dr. Brown is proud of Tanay’s potential as the next Rizal hub, the gateway between Metro Manila and the provinces of Laguna and Quezon. Much like him returning to Tanay, Dr. Brown aims to provide other Tanay residents with the opportunity to maximize the property assessment values that will be generated once real estate developments in the area take off.
“It’s a place to stay, where you, you have everything you need, and yet you have good weather, fresh air, and you have enough of it, you have enough space to breathe. You don’t have to worry about wearing a mask to protect yourself from pollution,” Dr. Brown enthusiastically described. “We make sure to play with the natural topography,” adds Paul Francis Juat, Vice President of A Brown.
A Brown’s Rizal project
When A Brown launched its first development in Tanay, more than 60% of the pre-sale lots had already been sold, mainly because residents could see the development unfolding rapidly. Adelaida Mountain Residences (AMR) is the company’s latest project in Rizal, which will include a residential estate and commercial areas surrounded by nature. AMR is a planned, gated community that has approximately 40% open space for the enjoyment of its owners. Future residents will reside in all four phases of the property, all with different things to expect – something of a community surrounded by trees, birdsong throughout the day, a fresh scent of morning breeze at a scenic river landscape along a boardwalk. A pavilion overlooks the entire property and serves as the main amenity of the development. Being between 400 and 500 meters above sea level, the weather in the region remains relatively cool, with the temperature 4 degrees Celsius lower than that of Metro Manila. It is also far from major fault lines. Finally, the property also aims to have its own reliable water source.
Home renovators in Tanay and investors interested in the area can expect a quick return on investment, good value for money and top-notch security. With the development of A Brown in the area, land values will certainly appreciate. Other developers take notice, but A Brown has the first mover advantage.
The company is also preparing to launch its second planned community, Epic Mountain Estate (Epic), this year. Epic is billed as the company’s more upscale residential development intended to cater more to Manila residents and investors looking for a vacation or second home surrounded by nature. Nestled in the mountains, untouched and well maintained, Epic bets on the raw beauty of nature as one lives among century-old trees. The forests remain green and protected, and the fresh air and the chirping of birds welcome visitors to the development, as it promises to only develop up to 30% of the land area and then leave the rest untouched.
Epic Mountain Estate also serves as a bird sanctuary. A little further is the Epic shopping area, where a restaurant, hotel, condominium and other attractions are about to be built. Surrounded by unparalleled nature, with front row seats for a sunset that never gets old, it’s the perfect destination to foster the best that life has to offer.
“We call ourselves pioneers, so we go to areas where people haven’t been. We want to be the first to act in these areas,” Dr. Brown noted.
After 40 years of investment and success elsewhere, Dr. Brown is back in Tanay, ready to invest in the land he calls home.
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