The Path to Paradise: How Erick Manzano’s Story Brought Us the Future of Leisure Estates

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The Landco Pacific CEO Erickson Manzano has etched his name in the annals of the country’s real estate industry. Today, he’s telling us the captivating tales that made him, the principles that ground him, and his mission of building the luxury estate of your dreams

Photo by Kieran Punay of Studio100

Expectations can be tricky. When you hear the title, “CEO of top real estate development company,” you immediately think: daunting, towering men in three-piece suits. When you hear of coming to an unfinished site for an interview, you imagine hard hats and cement. In visiting Landco’s marquee development in Calatagan South Beach (CaSoBe) and sitting down with the stern, yet jovial chief at the company’s helm, I should have thrown all expectations out of the window. What were once anxieties were subverted to immediate bliss the moment we caught a glimpse of the sky meeting the sea as we arrived. By the time I was having the chat of my life with the man they call “Sir Erick”, all worries completely vanished. Was it the charm of the sea that brought me solace? Or was it the fervent message of optimism and the endless gifts of wisdom that the equally-charming Erickson Manzano was able to share?

The story of two pioneers

Landco Pacific distinguished its pioneership after masterminding the country’s first upscale beachside residential development from a vast peninsula of nothingness and rough roads in Punta Fuego back in 1995; effectively awakening the country’s luxury real estate market. These gargantuan feats were what Manzano asserted to be the benchmark that his management aims to continually surpass. Fortunately, the 50-year old executive has more than just a couple of tricks up his own sleeve, as he shrugs that he was built with the pioneer gene himself with his history in the industry.

“We’re basically just trying to build on that tradition and this pioneering DNA.”

Erick Manzano on the genes that tie him and Landco together
Photo by Kieran Punay of Studio100

Erickson Manzano is not a man who regularly reminisces. Luckily, he was able to bless us with the aspirations he formulated during his younger years, cherishing a few role models that have kept his admiration, and a couple of companies to have offered his dream job.

Erick’s first great paragon was no other than his own father, Engr. Jun Manzano. The now-retired structural engineer of 80 years of age was actually the man who would influence Manzano to take up Engineering in his earlier years in order to build a successful career. To say that this advice had helped Erick’s career would criminally understate the incredible career that the younger Manzano has garnered under his belt. Manzano’s second role model would arrive a little later in the form of the man behind Metro Pacific Investments. Today, leading tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan not only stands as one of Erick Manzano’s role models, but also his boss as one of the partners of Landco Pacific itself; the very company that Manzano once dreamt of working in as an MBA student.

Manzano asserted that he was only able to grasp both of his biggest career dreams in his hands after leading as the chief innovator in each of the who’s who of companies listed under his star-studded curriculum vitae. He honed in on his 10-year tenure with Ayala Land, which culminated with the country’s first sustainable eco-city development with Nuvali in Santa Rosa, Laguna, to be his finest achievement before Landco. This treasure trove of experiences seems to have garnered dividends for Manzano in the form of irreplaceable wisdom and a trusty instinct. Luckily, the man was able to bestow us with the adage: “you, and me, are the accumulation of every boss we’ve ever worked for, all of our experiences, [and] every meeting we’ve ever had. I’ve been to several companies and I’ve learned a lot from them, [both] good and bad.”

At the driver’s seat, the 50 year old has set the company’s roadmap towards the cosmos. Manzano asserted that just as his forerunners had built an empire atop of an endless void in Punta Fuego, his administration is also hellbent in making its own mark. With the once-empty paradises of Calatagan South Beach and Club Laiya now looking like the modernized landscapes of your dreams, how did Manzano and company do things differently? Let’s find out.

A breath of fresh air

I feel that these new Beachtowns we’re developing will be our generation’s Punta Fuego.”

Erick Manzano on Calatagan South Beach and Club Laiya
Photo by Kieran Punay of Studio100

Manzano confides that before he could even lay his first brick, he had to first rebuild Landco from within. As chief executive officer, Manzano immediately understood that corporate culture would be the most critical factor towards the company’s success.

To the seasoned executive, this meant shaking up the 30-year old company’s roots by attempting different methods of execution. This meant taking on the role of a fair but firm leader; a pursuit that entailed taking out those that didn’t fit the new culture, and recalibrating all business processes top-down altogether. This meant prioritizing the principles of integrity, harmony, and excellence over anything else. As Manzano shared this profound accolade with us, he couldn’t help but express his profuse gratitude and pride for the team he has painstakingly assembled, as well as cherish the fruits of his tough choices; a culture founded in “openness, and learning and helping each other out. “If you’re the boss and your team can tell you [that] you’re wrong, that’s healthy,” Manzano proudly shares.

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It’s a blue world

The chief divulged that this new direction allowed Landco to unearth a frontier of new opportunities that it could never perceive before. As a developer whose reach spans as north as Cabanatuan to as south as Zamboanga, the proud CEO proclaims that they have been able to consistently establish and maintain only top-tier, upscale developments wherever they go, sticking to the heritage of Punta Fuego.

Photo by Kieran Punay of Studio100

One might be eager to ask something along the lines of: “What exactly makes Landco the Forbes Park wherever they go?” If Manzano himself heard you, he would bring you to CaSoBe itself if he hasn’t had someone hand you a brochure already, proclaiming: “If you talk about any development or a subdivision, you have roads, drainages, electrical lampposts, manhole covers, sewers, open areas, it’s all the same. What we’re trying to do is think how our customers would enjoy these elements and to improve on them, which goes back to our pioneering DNA.” As he explained, he pointed towards the pavement outside, maintaining that all of the roads in CaSoBe had a cool blue color. The CEO cited a global survey he read of back in 2015 that found blue to be the world’s favorite color. He questions: “Maybe, it’s because it’s the color of the sky? It’s the color of the sea? It’s a calming color, you know? So kung titignan mo, kunwari, I’m having a beer here, I’m working with my laptop here. I could see yung blue ng sea. I could see the blue [in the road]. That’s what we’re trying to do: we’re bringing in that calming color into the entire development, ‘di ba? We think of these little details because these are important, because we know our clients will see it.”

If you think the attention to detail stops there, guess again. The impassioned Manzano described to us in the most precise detail the endless tidbits, nooks, and crannies that made the container van-built Crusoe Cabin we were bunking in so special. Whether it’s the plastered driftwood outside the cabins that he explains was brought in to make the cabin derelict from the outside, the cozy three-star interior that was meant to surprise unsuspecting visitors, or the keeping of the enchanting Talisay trees surrounding the beach line, it is clear that no detail was ever nurtured without the utmost thought. Manzano gives us the quip: “It’s a necessity to have manholes, but why can’t that be artsy? 

Photo by Kieran Punay of Studio100

Beyond aesthetics, the tenured engineering master also make the most extensive use of his construction prowess in order to establish viable, decades-lasting infrastructure to each of Landco’s developments; a field he believes he is the smartest in the room at. From the sewage systems designed for decades of full occupancy, the streamlined organization of titles for each purchasable lot in the development’s residential-commercial area—the farthest of which is a mere 250 meters away—up to the vast Wi-Fi coverage encompassing all corners of the 15-hectare property, it seems that almost every possibility has been mapped out to a tee. 

Manzano professed that a major contributor to his work has actually been his ultimate passion for travel. From taking the container van bars of Tulum, Mexico as his prime inspiration for the Crusoe Cabins, down to arranging the arching lamp posts of the CaSoBe center to look like the ribs of a whale carcass, the 50-year old doubles down that his great journeys have been instrumental for the visual makeup of his projects.

“If there’s one thing I could say about myself, [it’s that] I’m quite well traveled. I mean, how many people do you know that have been to Antarctica? I’ve been to all seven continents, so it helps a lot sa job.”

EricK Manzano on his travels

On building perpetuity

With Landco firmly soaring towards only the highest perches, the man behind the take-off gave us a glimpse of the vision he wishes to bring to reality in the near future: that whatever beautiful location your foreigner friend goes to in the Philippines, there is a great Landco development ready for them. Manzano cites that the biggest thing keeping him grounded towards achieving this goal is that he and his team are able to see the fruits of their labor whenever they pay a visit to any of their collection of prime developments.

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Photo by Kieran Punay of Studio100

Manzano also understands that once this grand vision is achieved, the gains will go beyond the Landco’s reaches, and perhaps revolutionize the entire way the country conducts real estate altogether; a trickling effect which will bless each and everyone of Landco’s investors. He reiterates that unlike the projects of his competitors, Landco properties offer the power of freedom when it comes to building the beach house of your dreams, and setting up shop for the best entrepreneurial pursuit you can think of—with sensible limitations, of course.

If I could dare to set anyone’s expectations for when they pay their first visit to any Landco property, it is to expect to be blown away. From the grandest concepts, down to the tiniest detail, this iteration of the 30-year old company is building the lifestyle of your dreams, and they are leaving nothing to chance. When asked what set Landco apart from the run-of-the-mill real estate developer, Manzano assured that the market has always valued brands built with passion and heritage more than anything, adding:

“If you look at luxury watches like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, they’re all over 100 years old. Kami, Landco, we’re one of the oldest major real estate developers in the country. We build with passion and we have that heritage. The proof of the pudding is that Punta Fuego, over the past 25 years has appreciated by over a thousand percent.”

Erick Manzano on Landco’s heritage

For more information about Calatagan South Beach and Club Laiya, you may pay a visit to Landco’s official website here, or you may follow the company’s Facebook pages for the latest updates.