40 Under 40: Meet the new breed of game changers in Cebu (Business)

“SunStar Cebu: 40 Under 40” is a campaign by SunStar Publishing Inc. in celebration of SunStar Cebu’s 40th anniversary. The campaign identifies and recognizes 40 Cebuano individuals no older than 40 years old who have greatly influenced and contributed to their respective fields of expertise.

On the days leading up to the anniversary on Nov. 25, these individuals will be featured in separate lifestyle articles that cover each category—from Tech & Innovation all the way down to Business. A special publication release will be scheduled on Nov. 23 covering all categories and honorees.

Today, Nov. 20, meet the seven candidates who pursued ventures that focused on Cebu’s business industry.

Each candidate in this category has their fair share of contributions in the betterment of Cebu. From real estate industries to shipping industries and more, these game-changers proved that inclination toward community progress is imperative in the overall headway of our country.

Franco Soberano, 36 | Executive vice president and chief operating officer (Cebu Landmasters Inc.)

“I’ve always advocated for responsible planning and development. I was influenced by my graduate studies in New York where developments are very consultative, and must respect the community and the public space.”

Franco has been in the real estate industry for over 12 years. Franco shares that being part of Cebu Landmasters Inc. gives him the chance to pursue a hands-on type of leadership. He claims that real estate needs real passion and sincerity and Franco has just that and more; his role is to ensure his team embraces the immediate needs of the clients and is oriented with what is necessary to keep the community together.

As the executive vice president and chief operating officer, Franco instills good values on his team and also at the same time, enhances the team’s professionalism so they are able to grow and excel as individuals.

On top of his responsibilities in the company, Franco advocates for responsible planning and development, having been influenced by his graduate studies in New York.

In Cebu Landmasters, the developments are both customer and community-centric—it is a type of development that aims to improve not just privately but also public spaces and infrastructure surrounding it in the entirety of Cebu.

As he, along with the company, carries the namesake of our province, Franco shares that he feels fortunate to be carrying the flag of Cebu as his company is now present in over 16 key cities around the Visayas and Mindanao.

Chase Cokaliong, 33 | Vice president for fleet operations and HR manager (Cokaliong Shipping Lines)

“Cokaliong Shipping Lines provides transportation for both passengers and cargo. Because Cebu City is in the center of the Philippines and a major hub of the country, we connect the islands for Filipinos, especially those in the Visayas and Mindanao.”

Chase has been hustling all his life. He dedicated 13 years of his life working at Cokaliong Shipping Lines. Currently, as the vice president of fleet operations and as an HR manager, he oversees all operations and makes sure that everything runs smoothly and without delay.

Chase also ventured outside the shipping industry and established StorageTown. The mogul’s new business introduces a brand-new industry in the province of Cebu. Chase shares that in establishing StorageTown, he had a vision in mind to provide efficient storage to Cebuanos; to give Cebuano families more space in their houses, or businesses more room to grow.

Aside from his ever-growing business ventures, Chase also enjoys arranging giveaways. Anyone who’s from Cebu has heard of Chase’s Instagram giveaways. He shares that it started out as a fun way to help other people, especially after the pandemic and the lockdowns. However, it became something bigger. It became Chase’s way of helping local businesses and to be able to give back to the community.

May Leuterio, 27 | Operations officer and international property manager (Filipino Homes Inc.)

“Our company takes part in Cebu’s success by contributing to the real estate in Cebu and all over the Philippines in ways such as engaging with our clients and potential investors, especially our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). With more investments, bigger, brighter and a lot more job opportunities are offered to more Filipinos.”

May has been exposed to the workings of the real estate industry for years. She practically grew up in the industry and learned the craft of salesmanship along the way. For May, it had been an awakening experience to witness Cebuanos’ dream of owning a home come true.

Additionally, May shares her company’s contribution to the real estate industry not just in Cebu but to the entirety of the Philippines in ways such as engaging with clients and potential investors, especially OFWs—in giving them homes that become the stepping stone for them to fulfill the quality of life they dream of.

Working for Filipino Homes Inc., May asserts that it helps provide more job opportunities for Filipinos, apart from its success in bolstering the real estate landscape in Cebu.

Besides May’s full-time occupation, she enjoys food, photography and travel. She is fond of exploring different types of cuisines and reviewing them for culinary companies and food businesses to use in their posts to attract more patrons/customers.

Patrick Manigsaca, 28 | Operations manager (AppleOne Properties)

“Our businesses have impacted Metro Cebu and the Cebuanos in areas such as real property, hotels, construction and healthcare.”

As a long-time tycoon, Patrick has been immersed in his family’s ideals of putting Cebu and the Philippines in the forefront of their business endeavors.

Patrick asserts that the biggest contribution his company has provided the Metro is bringing forth one of the world’s best hotel brands in the Metro: Sheraton Cebu Mactan Resort. This helped place Cebu by adding more international level accommodation in its arsenal and on the same account strengthened Cebu’s steadfast hold in the tourism industry.

In the process of bringing in international brands in the province, Patrick believes that his company’s initiatives contribute to nation building and putting Cebu distinctly in the radar of globalism. Patrick shares that the encompassing nature of AppleOne Properties Inc. allows the company to help Cebuanos in a wide-range of undertakings. From health care, construction to the tourism industry, Patrick’s aim to ensure Cebu’s success blatantly manifests itself in his and AppleOne Inc.’s effort to cater to the Cebuanos’ immediate needs.

Patrick is also passionate about the green movement. He studied and lived in Australia for a while and has been influenced in wanting to preserve the environment. Patrick organizes and donates to causes that help protect our natural resources.

Jiaan Gesalem, 27 | Chief operating officer (Dragon Fireworks, Jonie’s Sizzlers + Roast and Grand Taishan Construction)

“Being in different industries allows me to be involved with all sorts of crafts from building roads and structures, to customer service, and events as well. I believe that our family businesses have created a lot of job opportunities for the Cebuanos and a means of living.”

By profession, Jiaan is a licensed civil engineer but is currently involved in three industries. His family is actively involved in all three industries as well, giving the Gesalem name an avenue to explore all sorts of crafts.

Primarily, Jiaan contends that in establishing Dragon Fireworks, it is able to level up the merriment Cebuano people are used to. With Dragon Fireworks, Cebuanos don’t have to go abroad to witness world-class fireworks displays.

Apart from being involved in the fireworks industry, Jiaan also dabbles in the food industry, serving classic Filipino meals to the Metro with Jonie’s Sizzlers + Roast. Lastly, as part of his profession, Jiaan directly involves himself in the construction industry with Grand Taishan Construction. Jiaan shares that Grand Taishan Construction contributes to the growing demand for construction in Cebu.

Additionally, Jiaan believes that his active involvement in the three industries helped strengthen the workforce in the province and became a direct means of living for Cebuanos. “In this industry, it’s all about helping each other in the private and public sector for the betterment of everyone in Cebu.”

Jiaan surmises that being in his position allows him to have influence over people. With this, he continues to work tirelessly to have a positive impact towards others, especially his fellow Cebuanos.

In his spare time, Jiaan devotes himself to religion, standing firm in the belief of his passions being an outflow from above.

Tracey Liu, 29 | Head of Supply Chain (Primary Group of Builders)

Being part of a group of companies providing diversified solutions gives Tracey a deeper appreciation and wider perspective on the business value chain. She has been with Primary Group of Builders (PGB) for three years, starting out in 2019 after a brief stint in Manila. “PGB offers diverse products and services that are integrated to strengthen each other’s competence—from construction, real estate, logistics, health and lifestyle, and human capital.”

With PGB’s understanding of the crucial role of the supply chain process in its commitment to provide lasting solutions, Tracey is running their supply chain group, covering critical tasks of procurement sourcing, warehousing and logistics.

“I see to it that our team and our procedures stay agile as we focus on serving our affiliates, understanding individual company needs, and being proactive about the factors that may affect their nature of businesses. The end goal is to help them ensure their operations run smoothly and ultimately deliver promptly quality and great value products and services to our clients.”

Tracey also shares PGB’s socio-civic involvements through its foundation. It runs a technical vocational school for construction, hospitality, and caregiving services courses, along with a senior high school under the same track.

“The aim of the foundation is to bridge the gap in the academe through a more hands-on program that helps scholars acquire relevant employable skills, and get them decent-paying jobs.”

PGB aspires that in the long run, human capital initiatives like these will elevate further the technical-vocational profession in the country and even alleviate poverty.

As technology advances and Metro Cebu rides on the wave of progress, Tracey stresses her aim to focus on applying tech-forward solutions at work, integrating applications for renewable energy and collaborating with and empowering local suppliers and service providers.

Outside work, Tracey enjoys the great outdoors and physical activity. She inclines herself with adventures like scuba diving and traveling.

Gio Visitacion, 27 | Founder and president (The Good Cup Coffee)

“The brand is so committed to live, breathe and execute its vision to share great coffee experiences to as many people as possible. We are extremely grateful that Good Cup continues to serve and deliver roasted coffee to thousands of customers globally that grew during the pandemic.”

Gio has been in the coffee industry for four years while juggling being a DJ on the side. In immersing himself not just in the craft of coffee but the art of it as well, he observed that the regular patrons of The Good Cup Coffee transitioned from being coffee enthusiasts to being café owners. In his aid in proliferating third wave coffee in the Metro, Gio is ultimately gratified in bringing forth a niche but celebrated culture. The Good Cup Coffee brought in an influx of tourists in Cebu just to try out the renowned coffee chain.

Amid the onslaught of the pandemic, Gio’s company offered free coffee to all frontliners to give back to them as well as providing coffee and free water to all linemen and frontliners after the devastating ravages of Typhoon Odette.

Gio shared that his company takes pride in shaping young talents to grow and succeed in a job they could be proud of. Gio asserted that it has always been his goal to showcase the warmth of the Cebuano hospitality and service pairing well with high quality coffee that is homegrown.

In his spare time, Gio still finds time to learn more about the art of coffee to master it in all of its glory while giving a platform to farmers and producers who grow coffee locally.

These inspiring individuals prove that passion and grit go a long way. On top of that, love for the community and dedication toward achieving the common good is one of the formidable factors of succeeding in whichever path one chooses to take.