Spotlight

Time to Make a Change

Succession, Legacy, and I.M. PEÑA Builders
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Ayala Heights House
An Asian Modern Industrial designed masterpiece.

There is a saying that we are our father’s sons. There is a sense of identity in any type of work—be it a craft or discipline—that persists across generations. What the father has begun, the son will finish, so to speak. But what happens when that son hones his own skill and redirects the path? What do you do with a legacy? 

These are questions that Isaiah Michael Peña has contended with since he started I.M. PEÑA Builders in 2016. A multi-disciplinary firm that focuses on architecture, I.M PEÑA Builders also offers construction, enginering, interior designing and finishing, and remodeling. Their mission states their intention “to create an astounding experience through the structures [they] build.” I.M. PEÑA Builders are builders you can trust, which is a testament to their commitment to excellence, empathy towards their clients’ needs, and willingness to deliver personalized masterpieces.

Now There’s a Way 

The scion of seasoned architect Michael T. Peña, Isaiah is the first to say he’s not an architect. He studied Nursing, but one can’t really shake off that love for the blueprints and buildings so easily. Architecture was in his blood, even if it isn’t on his diploma. Wanting nothing more than to spread the word of the patented Peña architecture, Isaiah decided that onwards and upwards were the right ways to go. 

Back in the day, the Peña-led MTP Architects was a humble architecture firm. A small team with skyscraper dreams. But the need for engineers, project managers, and foremen cannot be stressed in such a process-heavy industry. Even as a young man, Isaiah could see that there was a piece missing. Burning with ideas and a desire to help and improve his father’s business, Isaiah decided that expanding into construction was the right thing to do.

This makes sense. The Peña name in architecture was wellestablished and wore its laurels with pride. There would be no shortage of clients, both new and returning, looking for excellent, high-end projects. Peña’s architectural discipline was a firework set to ignite and all it needed was a single spark: construction. 

Moving into construction would elevate the company to a higher level. It would help distill the artistic vision of Michael T. Peña’s designs and intimately translate them in the third dimension. Operations would be centralized, ensuring that clients would be led through each step of the design and construction phases. It just made sense. “When the client meets us, we will be able to assure an astounding experience.”

Koi Pond. Combination of woods and water softens the ambiance.

An isometric view of the masterpiece. It shows the rolling
terrain of the land.

Same Old Story 

So Isaiah took courses to give him the necessary confidence and experience to enact his plans. After taking leadership and business classes, he psyched himself up and set a meeting with the board. But like iron going through tempering, Isaiah’s vision for a more competitive company had to go through fire. The Peña patriarch wasn’t so supportive of his proposal at first. Maybe he was set in his ways. Maybe he was contented with the way things were. Expanding and rebranding were the furthest from his mind.

But what others may see as a setback, Isaiah saw as a challenge. He was ready to move the business to a higher level. He saw the horizons beyond the skyline, and he will not relent—even if it means forging his own path. After resigning from MTP Architects, Isaiah started I.M. PEÑA Builders. Not your typical construction company, I.M. PEÑA Builders is a continuation of the legacy started by Michael T. Peña. It’s the materialization of his inspiration—the arm to his brain. Catering exclusively to build the designs of the patriarch Peña—“personalized masterpieces” as Isaiah coined them—I.M. PEÑA has seen rapid growth in just the past 2 years. 

Bedroom of Ayala Heights masterpiece. Ceiling in Finwood, acoustic wood slatted walls, teak wood door panel and bamboo wood floor planks.

Pool area in composite panel flooring, ceiling in Finwood varnish in natural tone finish.

Isaiah cites three lessons from his parents that he’s carried all his life. These aren’t simply pieces of advice. They’re ways to see oneself, to interact with others, and to take control of your resources. In a way, the lessons all boil down to showing respect, and how respect can go far in any business or industry: 

a. Respect your work. “Don’t be tired of doing good—in due time, you will reap your harvest if you don’t give up,” Isaiah muses. Any business requires elbow grease, and a startup like I.M. PEÑA Builders requires that the founding members be the hardest workers in the room. If you are doing good work, then do not tire of it, advises Arch. Michael T. Peña. Hard work bears fruit, and fruit ripened with sweat and patience is made that much sweeter.

b. Respect your worth. Quality work will attract quality clients. Let your work be your own advertising. If the work speaks excellence and class, then like-minded clients will find you. “Our marketing team defines our brand and draws the right type of client.” Once you find them, show them that they deserve you as much as you deserve them. 

c. Respect your money. Scrutinize not just your company expenses, but also your personal ones. Be a good steward of money—save for yourself and spend for others. Give back to those who made it possible for you to earn in the first place. Be humble and value others more than yourself and your gain. 

These lessons have made their mark not just on I.M. PEÑA Builders but on Isaiah himself. And now 110+ people strong, I.M. PEÑA Builders are reaping the fruits of their labor. Faith in himself and his mission has allowed him to collect engineers, interior designers, foremen, and construction workers. However, now that he’s gotten the gang together, Isaiah and his team can finally get started.

Dining Area. A high ceiling with mixture of aluminum composite panels and Finwood plus a skylight design. Walls in laminated finish and floors in Italian tiles

Lanai Area View. A breathtaking panoramic view of Antipolo, Marikina and San Mateo mountain ranges.

Lanai Area. A high ceiling with long span of Finwood and flooring in Italian tiles.

Harder to Ignore 

In the whirlwind of two years under their belt, Isaiah and his team have seen many a project that required their personalized touch, but one of their favorites was a renovation of an old building in Intramuros. Reviving not just the walls and the foundations, I.M. PEÑA Builders restored spirit of the 40s Spanish-style colonial building. “To restore an old building is something really priceless,” Isaiah muses. In the breakneck rush of modernity, something gets lost in the annals of history. I.M. PEÑA Builders found this and brought it back to the present day, using materials and designs that fit the essence of the building. From the roof to the custom-made mouldings and balusters, almost everything was painstakingly recreated.

Living Area. Mixture of artworks put depth of colors of aluminum and wood finish surfaces

Another project they are proud of is the remodeling of Michael T. Peña’s house. Improving and updating the Asian tropical contemporary style of the building to a be more industrial and modern, I.M. PEÑA Builders have definitively proved their worth to the patriarch Peña. A four-storey house graced with panoramic views, the I.M. PEÑA Builder touch is a sleek redesign. 

There is symbolism in this situation, like a passing of the torch. Or a tacit acknowledgement from the father who now sees your value. Or the horn of a herald announcing the arrival of one Isaiah Michael Peña. So what do you do with a legacy? What if you don’t possess the required inclination or interest in the craft itself to carry it on? The example Isaiah Michael Peña and I.M. PEÑA Builders shows that the answer is simple. Redefine your legacy and make it your own. When it comes down to it, we are all our fathers’ legacy. He may have his work, or his reputation, or successes, but the true bearer of his triumphs is his child. Our fathers live through us in our faith, our dedication, and how we hold on to the things they’ve taught us. Isaiah Michael Peña knows this well, and now his father does, too. D+C

Close-up of furniture and collections of vases from different countries.

Living Area. A high ceiling with mixture of aluminum composite panels and Finwood plus a skylight design.

Office Area. Wood and aluminum elements plus a view of the Koi Pond makes the ambiance unique for meetings.

Main Kitchen. A high-end German modular kitchen in Ashstone Quarts Surface countertop.

A view of living and dining area from the 2nd floor.

Lower GF Dining Area. Ceiling in flat white paint finish with shadow lines, walls in castle white paint finish and floors in bamboo wood planks.

2nd floor lounge area in aluminum composite panel ceiling design plus skylight lightens the whole area.

Lower GF Garage where all the car collection is stored. Tiles in Italian finish, walls in bricks designs and ceilings painted with recessed accent.

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WORD: John Duanan
IMAGES: Estan Cabigas + I.M. Peña Builders

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