Elegy for a Kagay-anon Uptown Pioneer
One of Cagayan de Oro’s pioneers who built up Uptown Cagayan de Oro has passed on, but his legacy lives on in the township he helped establish which perfectly embodies the city’s trailblazing spirit, and his various engagements in civic society organizations where he was a well-respected voice.
Rodolfo Luciano Meñes was born in Magalang, Pampanga, but grew up in Sampaloc,. Manila. He was a true-blue Atenean who got his grade school to college education at the Ateneo de Manila (University). He got his MBA degree from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and spent his entire career in real estate.
He started with Bancom, the Philippines’ first investment bank during the 70’s, where he was responsible for landmark projects such as Harrison Plaza and Cebu Reclamation. While working at Bancom, he married Celine Ongpin in 1981, whom he met while working with Jose T. Pardo.
Rudy next moved to Greenfield Properties, the United Laboratories real estate company managing EDSA Central, and later to San Miguel Properties, and Legacy Homes.
In June 1995, he joined the Investment Capital Corporation of the Philippines (ICCP) and moved to Cagayan de Oro to help establish the Pueblo de Oro Township.
At a time when Cagayan de Oro was still a sleepy town in the 1990s, ICCP recognized the potential global competitiveness of Cagayan de Oro and chose to locate its 360-hectere Pueblo de Oro Township in an area which had hitherto been brush and pastureland.
In tandem with ICCP visionary Guillermo D. Luchangco, Rudy and the PODC team brought in key investors foremost among of which was SM City Cagayan de Oro, the first SM Supermall in Northern Mindanao, and the anchor locator for the Pueblo de Oro Business Park.
Another pioneer at Pueblo Business Park was Concentrix Philippines (which started in 2005 as Link2Support), the first ever call center in Cagayan de Oro. Now renamed Concentrix, it has expanded the original 2,500 square meter facility with 250 seats to over 2,000 at present.
Still another pioneer locator in the Pueblo Business Park was the Primavera Residences condominium, the first project of Filipino-Italian joint venture Italpinas Development Corporation in Mindanao established in 2010.
Two of the city’s leading educational institutions have also moved into the Township: Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan now expanded with its XU Basic Education Complex with the Pre-school, Junior High, and Senior High Schools (Academic Track and ALGCIT), and Corpus Christi School grade school and high school Pueblo de Oro Campus.
“Besides his awesome work in the company that assigned him to be in Cagayan de Oro, he also spent an extraordinary amount of time for the local advocacies we have in the chamber, in industry, in promotion such that today you see from what used to be a ranch barely fifty years ago, you see the uptown area is already known as Pueblo,” shared Engr. Elpidio M. Paras, former Oro Chamber President. “We used to just hunt birds around this place, and now it has been transformed. This is the legacy I believe that Rudy leaves us.”
“Rudy joined Pueblo de Oro Development Corporation on June 1, 1995 as Vice President and stayed with us until his retirement on November 30, 2012, at which time he was already a Senior Vice President,” recalls Mr. Luchangco. “However, he remained connected with us as a Consultant until May 26, 2015, a testament to our regard for his contributions to our Company. Thus, Rudy spent 20 years with us.”
Barely two decades and six years on, the Pueblo de Oro Township has grown into a self-sufficient 400-hectare township with no less than sixteen residential communities, a burgeoning business park, top educational institutions, world-class all-weather golf course designed by renowned architect Robert Trent Jones II, and a bevy of other business establishments that has made it a truly, self-sufficient central business district, leisure and sports hub in one, helping make the Uptown area the new Makati of Cagayan de Oro.
A Well Respected man
But Rudy’s contribution in making Cagayan de Oro one of the Philippines top ten highly urbanized cities extended far beyond his professional role in Pueblo de Oro.
“A born leader and civic spirited, Rudy joined Orochamber, Promote CDO Foundation and Rotary,” said Ruben A. Vegafria, PCCI Region X Governor, during a testimonial in a requiem mass sponsored by the Oro Chamber. “These are the organizations that cemented our long friendship and mutual respect for each other. Like me, he was a bit of a serious/reserved type of a guy and that probably explains why we both find pleasure in the company of like-mended fellows like Elpie Paras, Ralph Paguio and the late Ghaye Alegrio.”
“Rudy, Ralph, Elpie, Ghaye, and myself, were part of a ‘’Revolving Chair” at Orochamber and Promote CDO since we were all heavily involved in CDO and Northern Mindanao’s tourism, trade and investment promotion and managed the CDO City annual “Kagay-an Festival” for over half a decade,” he added.
Vegafria recalls how Rudy as Oro Chamber president in 2010 led a coalition of local business organizations in a one day business shutdown in protest against the tax bureau’s oppressive tax assessment collection practices which resulted in the transfer of the then BIR Regional Director.
“During that year the whole business community of Region X was having difficulties in dealing with exorbitant tax assessments with the tax bureau,” recalls former Oro Chamber President Efren T. Uy, who was president of the Misamis Oriental Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (MOFCCCII) during the time.
“Through his leadership skills, we were able to convince the different chambers of our neighboring cities and provinces to organize a coalition of chambers in Northern Mindanao. The collective act was done by having a successful one-day business holiday, the so-called “Sira Protesta”, to protest against the tax bureau. And that achievement was credited to his excellent leadership,” Uy stressed.
This was just one of the reasons why Rudy was appointed Private Sector Representative to the Regional Development Council, Region 10 from 2010-2016, and PCCI Regional Governor in 2012 – 2013.
In another instance, Vegafria cited Rudy’s key role as PODC Vice President and General Manager in facilitating the donation of a 2,800 meter lot within Pueblo de Oro Township to the Oro Chamber during his tenure as Oro Chamber President in April 20, 2006. Fittingly enough, the office building was completed and officially occupied on June 2, 2008 during the term of Rudy as Oro Chamber President .
“Oro Chamber is among a few chambers in the Philippines which owns its own building and office. It stands as a living testament of the Oro Chamber’s past and present officers, trustees, staff and members, whose hard work, loyalty and dedication brought us to where we are in the chamber movement today,” Vegafria noted. “Today, Oro Chamber building stands with pride in the middle of Cagayan de Oro’s landscape and is popularly now known as the Oro Chamber Business Development Centre.”
The two friends paths again intersected when Rudy became Rotary Club of West CDO president in RI year 2002-2003, the same year that Vegafria served as District Governor of RI District 3870.
Besides hosting a successful Rotary Discon district conference, RC West CDO also hosted the first Oro Open Golf Tournament at Pueblo de Oro Golf & Country Club, which was eventually institutionalized as an annual fund raising project of the club for many years. Not the least, he was seconded to the RC of Uptown CDO where he became its charter president.
“I remember Rudy as a kind-hearted and affable gentleman,” said Mr. Luchangco. “He was also a striking figure and loved his family and went to great lengths to make sure they were always well taken care of and protected. After retirement, he and his family continued to be associated with us through his residency in the Golf Estates of Pueblo de Oro. We will sorely miss his presence.”
“Rudy was the kindest most generous husband, Dad, and Papoo,” his wife Celine recalls. “I would test him at times, asking for his last lychee in his Buko-Lychee and he would freely give it with no tinge of hesitation (hahaha). When we would go on trips, he would offer the best seats (window seat).”
“On trips with the Oro chamber or Promote CDO, he would help the younger and more able guys with their luggage. He always gave me flowers on Valentine’s Day, our anniversary. Even when he was sick and unable to buy flowers himself, he would he would ask my daughter or son-in-law to buy flowers for me. My mother lived with us when we were in Manila up to the time we moved here to CDO. He always welcomed my Mom to every home we had, always making sure she had her own room, would drive her and pick her up when she had mahjong. He was so genuinely nice.”
Rudy is survived by his wife Celine with whom he has two children (Michelle, married to Joseph Roa Noble, and video director/editor Daniel; Melizza, his daughter from his first marriage, married to Ken Lugod Albolote of Cagayan de Oro, and six grandchildren.