April 20, 2020 – Behind the speedy turnover of the World Trade Center We Heal as One Center are people who worked day in and day out to make it happen.
The Ayala Group of Companies, in partnership with the ICCP Group and with the support of the National Government and Bases and Conversion Development Authority, was able to transform the premier events place into a 500-bed center for COVID-19 patients within a span of seven days.
“When the national government asked for Ayala Land’s support, we immediately mobilized and pooled our resources to assist in the best way we can. We hope that this facility will help our country get through the COVID-19 pandemic. We are privileged to work with like-minded partners who want to do what’s best for the Filipino people,” Ayala Land President and CEO Bobby O. Dy said.
Makati Development Corporation (MDC), Ayala Land’s construction arm, was in charge of retrofitting the area. The contributions of the workers who signed up for the project were crucial in concretizing the plans.
“We are fortunate to have such dedicated employees and partners who worked over the past seven days to complete this project. They braved through these unusual circumstances to bring the facility to life, and we are grateful for their participation in the country’s fight against the pandemic,” MDC President and CEO Dante Abando said.
Setting the plan
MDC, the construction arm of Ayala Land Inc., was fresh off completing the retrofitting of the Philippine Red Cross’ headquarters in Mandaluyong into a COVID-19 testing center when it was called to participate in the WTC facility.
MDC Project Lead Jowell San Jose recalls how they met with officials from the Department of Health, Department of Public Works and Highways, ICCP Group, Manila Exhibition Center Inc., and heads of other participating companies in order to start the wheels turning for the project.
“It was on April 1 when we got the go signal to start the construction work, so I immediately mobilized my team together with the other contractors,” San Jose said in an online interview.
Building the quarantine facility was a first for MDC. Not only did they need to plan a makeshift healthcare center, the team also had to make sure it would be fit to contain infectious diseases.
With this, Architect Roland Arimado and Engineer Dennis Alejandro of MDC led the design team in ensuring they followed Department of Health design guidelines.
“Given the tight schedule, our team worked round the clock to provide the required designs,” Arimado said. “The ventilation and airconditioning system needed extra work, both during design and implementation, since the WTC facility had requirements above those of conventional health-care centers,” Alejandro added.
MDC Medical Director Dr. Michael Miranda was also tapped for technical advice to make sure the facility complied with both World Health Organization and ISO standards.
Dr. Miranda was also in charge of the workers’ health and welfare during the course of the build.
Every worker was given a complete set of personal protective equipment, complementing their usual safety gear for construction. They were also given quarantine passes for easy mobility during the lockdown, while about four to five vehicles were hired to shuttle workers to and from their homes.
“Every day we mobilized our workers. There were several nurses on site to regularly monitor their health,” San Jose said, adding that they installed a misting tent to sanitize workers and also provided them with free meals all throughout.
Workers followed day and night shifts to ensure that construction stayed on track. To address procurement difficulties because of the lockdown, MDC had to source some of the materials from inventories of existing projects.
Several partners also contributed to the completion of the facility, including additional funding from the Philippine Constructors Association, supply and installation of tables, various plumbing, sanitary, and electrical supplies and equipment, and disinfection tents from Cebu Oversea Hardware, Amici Mercantile/Scientia Inc., Lixil Philippines, Voltage Electrical, and F.R. Sevilla Ind. & Dev. Corp.
The bayanihan spirit
Despite the additional challenges they had to face, the MDC team remained steadfast throughout the project.
“I am glad I was able to make use of my profession for a noble undertaking. For an architect who wants to use his expertise to directly benefit the nation, it doesn’t get any closer than this,” Arimado said.
“The real people who did the work was our construction team. They were there for 24 hours, and yet, you wouldn’t see anyone complaining. As part of the build team, there was enormous pride and sacrifice to really build this facility that is deserving of our countrymen,” Dr. Miranda said.
The facility has now been turned over to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Health Services Command, who will serve as medical operator.