Since March 16, my friend Gen Agulto has been quarantined in her studio unit inside a condo along Taft Avenue. She couldn’t go back to her parents’ home in Iloilo, so she just did what other condo dwellers did—survive. And she did survive at her own pace, adjusting one day at a time and finally realizing how lucky she was to live in a condo.
“I appreciated the fact that it is safe and secure, which are very important these days,” Gen says. “I’m lucky that I was able to purchase this unit in 2015, so I don’t worry about rent. The condo residents have also become closer during the pandemic. We even have a Viber group that makes ‘pasabuy’ when you want something in the grocery or market.”
As more people are stuck indoors, indefinitely as it seems, a condo unit that is considered a “refuge” becomes a space to ease one’s anxiety, to fulfill one’s newfound routine, and to relieve stress for those in a work-from-home setup. So why does condo living make sense in a pandemic? Manila Bulletin Lifestyle asks some prominent condo developers in the metro to find out.
1. It provides utmost convenience
One of the major concerns during the lockdown was movement from one place to another, especially if it is for essential tasks. Thus, a condo that has a convenience store, laundromat, a bayad center, etc. on its ground floor provides a big relief to residents.
This is true, according to Thomas Mirasol, general manager of Federal Land. According to him, the developer noticed that this convenience provided “assurance and peace of mind to condo dwellers as they know that they can find anything they may need nearby, especially in the case of an emergency.”
“Our modern condos are built within masterplanned communities to address the advantage of convenience. Townships, like Federal Land’s Metro Park in Bay Area, and Grand Central Park in North Bonifacio Global City, have essential establishments such as supermarkets, banks, hospitals, pharmacies, schools, shopping centers, offices, and transport stations nearby,” Thomas says.
2. It has spaces for physical and mental health
Condominiums have spaces that provide residents with a bit of a breather with their green and open spaces. Residents who live in properties with wide open spaces can safely do their exercise, walk, or enjoy the fresh air. A plus would be if a condo has a nice roof deck or leisure amenities (which must be regularly sanitized).
“It became a welcome break for residents to have a place to move around and not feel trapped in their units,” says Thomas, citing the themed gardens of Federal Land’s The Grand Midori in Ortigas. “Its Zen garden provides a calm sanctuary. Since no one knows how long this pandemic will last, it’s ideal to have an extra space to shake off cabin fever.”
3. It promotes a green lifestyle
One of the hobbies people turned to during the pandemic made them “green”—indoor gardening suddenly became not only chic but essential as plants have multiple benefits, primarily for easing stress and cleaning toxins from the air.
“In the past few months, there has been an increased desire to have more greenery in confined spaces such as condo units, showing once again how nature can provide a sense of calm, especially at a time of uncertainty,” says DMCI Homes senior landscape manager Alexis Valiente. “But it is more ideal if a condo itself is built with nature in mind.”
Alexis shares that DMCI Homes has built a condo property like this called Kai Garden Residences, a Japanese architecture-inspired project set to rise in Mandaluyong City. “It aims to bring solace and inspiration to residents with its variety of plants, flowers, and trees set around a verdant Japanese garden.”
To make the landscape distinctive and authentic as a typical Japanese garden, the developer plans to utilize the Philippine equivalent of popular Japanese flowering trees such as the iconic cherry blossom and the Japanese maple trees as part of the project’s vegetation.
“Even with the anxiety caused by unforeseen circumstances, living in a condo where vibrant trees and shrubs are all around, residents can be assured of a restful seclusion while enjoying access to the conveniences of urban living,” Alexis says.
4. It prioritizes safety and security
For years, condo developments have touted their safety and security protocols as a selling point. Now, it is tested each day ever since Metro Manila was declared under ECQ on March 16. Since a condo building has shared facilities and compact spaces, a developer’s property management team has to be on their toes, 24/7.
This was proven by Vista Residences, one of the country’s top leisure condominium developers, who worked with Globalland Property Management, Inc. to implement an extensive health and safety protocol to ensure the wellbeing of their residents.
“Our residents, tenants, and employees’ health and safety are our utmost priority,” says Elizabeth Kalaw, chief operating officer of Vista Residences. “More than just providing top-notch amenities, excellent views, and convenient locations, it’s also our responsibility to do what we can to ensure the safety of the whole community. It was one of the ways we helped our country over the past six months.”
Aside from following DOH and WHO protocols, such as physical distancing, enforcing of mask wearing, and availability of hand sanitizers and alcohol dispensers ever since day one of the ECQ, all its condo buildings are cleaned and sanitized regularly, assuring each resident that the spread of the virus should be the least of their concerns.
5. It helps to be nurtured by a community
In the past, residents of a condo would not know who their neighbors were. But with more time spent at home, it is inevitable to cross paths with neighbors or to find like-minded people who share your interests. This is the reason SM Development Corporation (SMDC) launched its Good Guys weekend market at the start of the ECQ.
The weekend market, which features fresh produce directly from displaced farmers, also became a venue for residents to become familiar with their neighbors. In a span of only a few months, strangers have become friends as they share cooking tips, heirloom recipes, and cleaning hacks.
“The Good Guys Market is part of SMDC’s The Good Guys campaign, which was rolled out in 2019 as part of the company’s community-building program. The Good Guys brings together communities and promotes thriving neighborhoods. The weekend market has been servicing six SMDC condo properties in Metro Manila,” says a statement from SMDC. “The weekend market in our condos are not only a place to buy, but also a space to converge and say hello to co-residents.”
The pandemic, as disastrous as it is, brings a new way of life—the new normal as they say. Old norms may be broken, but new friendships are formed along the way. A condo, for instance, has been transformed from a cold, gray concrete structure into a thriving community by day and a calm refuge by night.