Why this Milan-born developer now calls Boracay home

Property veteran Marco Biggiogero is relishing his new life in the tropics

Marco Biggiogero’s family enjoys the famous Boracay sunset everyday from their home

“I fell in love with Boracay as soon as I first stepped onto the beach here in 2003,” says Marco Biggiogero, one of the brains behind the acclaimed AQUA Boracay by yoo resort residences project.

The Italian, a real estate and construction veteran, has plenty of passion for his hometown of Milan where his family’s property business is based. Nevertheless, he savours the laid-back pace of life on the famous paradise island in the Philippines.

Biggiogero entered the real estate business in earnest back in 1996 in Italy. When he relocated to Boracay in 2004 he continued to pursue his passion for the industry by developing first-class, mixed-use residential and hotel projects on the island in collaboration with partners.

He found his new home – a spacious, three-bedroom and four-bathroom attic apartment located in a residential compound called 7stones – after forming a joint venture with four partners where he became the company’s president.

With his wife and their two daughters in tow, Biggiogero officially moved in 2008. They took to the lifestyle immediately and were soon enjoying immaculate sunsets on the terrace with houseguests and friends, some travelling all the way from Italy for Christmas, holidays and other special occasions.

“It was love at first sight, They all feel like they’re really at home,” says Biggiogero of his family. “The locals here made us feel welcome from the very start. Hospitality is a major tradition in the Philippines. It is my view that no other nationality in Asia has the same warmth and kindness as the Filipinos.”

House parties are usually held at this balcony overlooking Boracay beach

To repay this hospitality Biggiogero often surprises Asian guests by showing off his cooking skills and sharing his passion for tea.

“I am used to having tea with clients and friends,” he says. “Every time I host a gathering at home I bring out my 25-year-old pu-erh tea, just to break the ice. I never get tired of seeing the stunned looks on the faces of my friends when they discover that an Italian like me can have such love for Chinese tea.”

Casual house parties – often with local celebrities in attendance – usually take place on the terrace where guests can appreciate the vista over the beach and take in the sunset.

Designed by the same Milan-based architectural firm that used to handle his family’s real estate projects in Italy, Biggiogero’s home is contemporary and cool, the perfect modern bolthole for a young family. Although Boracay is not normally hit by the super typhoons that often plague the Philippines, the entire building (like Biggiogero’s four other developments on the island) is able to withstand natural calamities through its use of super durable building materials during construction.

Biggiogero believes that the imminent unveiling of Boracay’s new international airport will be the cue for a growing flow of foreign tourists and investors. Indeed, he says he wouldn’t even dream of selling his home to move elsewhere.

“Boracay has developed its unique character due to its perfect blend of foreigners and locals living and loving the island,” he says. “Real estate prices here are more affordable here than in places such as Phuket or Bali. Investors can still aim for an optimum capital gain as well as good rental returns, especially if their investment is properly managed.”

For now, Biggiogero is focused on his latest residential venture on the island, AQUA Boracay by yoo, a collaboration between his Aqua Group Boracay and renowned UK-based yoo design studio, which also features the works of Vito Selma, an up-and-coming furniture designer from the Philippines. He says he loves Selma’s designs so much that his favourite piece in his own house is a two-piece sofa set created by the Filipino. The sofa set is the centrepiece of the 240-sqm apartment’s airy living room where his wife and children spend most of their time together when they’re not at the beach.

“I love island living and it’s the best life I can give to my children,” concludes Biggiogero. “Here they are free to run on the beach without fear or danger. I would not want to move to any other island in the world, since this is the one I now call home. What makes Boracay different is that the beach is the centre of life. And for me and my family, that’s a key element of the lifestyle.”