My friend Elvie who is better known as Ms. Elvira Reyes-Valmeo is the current Administrator of the First Marbella Condominium Association, Incorporated (“FMCAI”) which serves as the governing body of the first condominium building constructed in 1974 in the Philippines, the Marbella Condominium Building 1 (“Marbella 1”).
This condominium building was designed by the Philippines’ most renowned national artist, Leandro Valencia Locsin, an architect and interior designer known for his use of concrete, floating volume and simplistic design in his various projects. Architect Locsin is an avid collector, and was so fond of modern painting and Chinese ceramics. Locsin was proclaimed a National Artist of the Philippines for Architecture in 1990 by the late President Corazon C. Aquino.
An art lover, Locsin frequented the Philippine Art Gallery, where he met the curator, Fernando Zóbel de Ayala y Montojo. The latter recommended Locsin to the Ossorio family which planned to build a chapel in Negros located in Southern Philippines. However, when Frederic Ossorio left for the United States, the plans for the chapel were canceled.
Subsequently, in 1955, Fr. John Delaney of the Society of Jesus, then Catholic Chaplain at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City commissioned Locsin to design a chapel that is open and can easily accommodate 1,000 people. The chapel which was thereafter named as the Church of the Holy Sacrifice is the first round chapel in the Philippines to have an altar in the middle, and the first to have a thin shell concrete dome.
Today, the church is recognized as a National Historical Landmark and a Cultural Treasure by the National Historical Institute and the National Museum, respectively. Another of Locsin’s more prominent work of art is the Cultural Center of the Philippines which opened in 1969 and which has served as the premier institution for the culture and the arts in the whole of the Philippine archipelago.
When Marbella 1 was formally inaugurated in 1977, it stood as the most elegant residential building along President Roxas Boulevard then (formerly known as Dewey Boulevard, in honor of Admiral George Dewey). The venue provided salutary benefits to its occupants as the edifice faces the Manila Bay. Research shows that the sound of sea waves that can be heard especially in the stillness of the night alters wave patterns in the brain lulling anyone into deep relaxed state. Also, one would always sleep more soundly when nearest to a body of water particularly the sea. It is because sea air is charged with healthy negative ions that accelerate one’s ability to absorb oxygen. Negative ions also balance levels of seratonin, a body chemical linked with mood and stress.
At that time, in 1977 Marbella 1’s roster of unit-owners was a veritable listing of Manila’s VIPs and prominent personalities.
Now, about 500 residents call Marbella 1 as their HOME, except perhaps for some scores of employees who call Marbella 1 as their OFFICE. But still, Marbella 1 remains as some kind of a second HOME to them. A look at the origin of the name Marbella brings us to the city of Marbella, within the confines of the province of Malaga, in the autonomous region of Andalusia in Spain. Years ago, the city of Marbella which is situated in the southern coast of Spain popularly known as the Costa del Sol region was a world renowned international tourist destination and the venue of popular beaches in the Iberian Peninsula.
It all started in 1954, when the Marbella Club was opened as an international resort aimed at movie stars, business executives and the nobility. And the resort would be frequented by members of European aristocratic families with famous names: Bismarck, Rothschild, Thurn und Taxis, Metternich, de Mora y Aragon, de Salamanca or Thyssen-Bornemisza, thereby transforming Marbella into a destination for international jet setters.
It was bruited about then that the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia during his younger days, would frequently visit the city of Marbella and his entourage would be so used, during those trips, to spend the equivalent of FIVE (5) Million EUROS a day in the city. During that time too, the legendary James Bond actor, Sean Connery was a resident of Marbella. Antonio Banderas who was born in the nearby city of Malaga, has been a regular visitor too of Marbella. Dolph Lundgren still calls Marbella his home but that he would regularly shuttle to and from London, his first home. Indeed, the city of Marbella which was called “a pretty little town in a fertile district” enjoyed a heyday of economic prosperity then.
But the brutal effects of political intrigues and dissension as well as the corruption which plagued the city of Marbella in Malaga, Spain after it became so immersed in fleeting opulence and immorality, brought the prestige and glory of the city of Marbella crashing down. Crabbed-mentality too among its political leaders reared its ugly head, as a succession of leaders following the enmity and hatred among those leaders, caused the exchange of criminal charges and counter-charges of corruption. Eventually, a similar succession of Marbella’s leaders were convicted and languished for a time in jail as the city of Marbella stood in near bankruptcy.
Actually indeed, Marbella 1 of Pasay City, Metro-Manila, Philippines and the city of Marbella in the Andalusian region of Spain share some kind of parallelism. More than two (2) years ago, Marbella 1 through its governing body the FMCAI almost went bankrupt with only about Php 16,000.00 in its coffers. Now, with Elvie at the helm, FMCAI has accumulated a sizeable funds which has enabled it to implement the first ever major renovation of the Marbella 1 edifice. To sustain the continued prompt and regular payment of dues/assessments, the drive to continuously make the Marbella community ELEGANT once more, the current administration of Marbella 1 vowed that such thrust must never ever fade. Elegance is characterized by refined, tasteful beauty of manner, form and style.
During the term of the current governing board of FMCAI, the lobby was renovated from its previous dark and dimly-lit ambience to a bright, lively and joyful mien. Most importantly, the antiquated elevator units were replaced with brand-new lifts and a new 300 KVA generator set was procured which surely would be handy during power interruption. The halls in every floor were splashed with off-white paint and the illumination along and within the common areas were replaced by the more economical LED lights.
Among those who tremendously helped Elvie and the FMCAI are its top corporate officers for having served the Marbella 1 community sans remuneration. First in the list is the Chairman of FMCAI, Mr. Bayani Nito. Mr. Nito who is endearingly called HERO by friends (Bayani being the Filipino word for HERO), is a businessman engaged in the field of alternative medicine. Hero is a true-blue Tagalog as he hails from the historic town of Sta. Cruz in the province of Laguna, Southern Luzon, Philippines. As is standard in all associations, the Chairman is not much immersed in the day-to-day operations of the association but is focused in seeing to it that the association lives up to its goals and objectives derived from policy directions enunciated by the Board. Mr. Nito together with the incumbent President. Ms. Chingbee Kalaw have perseveringly helped in shaping the future of FMCAI via a serious goal-setting endeavor towards a scenario of reform and steadfast revenue collection. The other contributors to FMCAI’s success in bank-rolling the sustained renovation and improvement of its amenities and facilities are Ms. Fanny Tirol who is FMCAI’s indefatigable Treasurer. projects and Ms. Linda Guzman, FMCAI’s circumspect Corporate Secretary.
Ms. Chingbee Kalaw, better known as Maria Eva Kalaw is faithfully discharging the concomitant duties and responsibilities of the FMCAI Prexy. It is most expected that under the stewardship of Ms. Chingbee, with Ms. Chingbee’s “can do” spirit, the thrust towards earnest cash flow accumulation would not only be sustained but would be redoubled. This is the compelling order of the day so that the goal of embellishing, garnishing and glamorizing Marbella 1 is sustained, towards recapturing the once glorious and resplendent Marbella 1’s past.With Elvie, Mr. Nito and Ms. Chingbee at the helm of FMCAI, most especially by reason of Ms. Chingbee’s financial management savvy, the triumvirate could very well catapult FMCAI into a period of affluence and continuing beautification/renovation of the architecturally-famed edifice. But all these things cannot be achieved without the utmost cooperation and the solicitous involvement of the whole Marbella 1 community.