Negros Occidental

A Negrosanon’s journey from being food crew to real estate CEO

Reymund Titong

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A Negrosanon’s journey from being food crew to real estate CEO

SUCCESS. Nabaja Land Corporation CEO Jurry Nabaja.

Jurry Nabaja

Jurry Nabaja climbed his way from cleaning tables to becoming a real estate CEO. Here's how he did it.

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Growing up in an underprivileged family can present significant challenges that hinder one’s ability to pursue their aspirations and achieve their goals in life. 

44-year-old Jurry Nabaja, a native of Isio village in Cauayan town, Negros Occidental, had also faced immense challenges in his life as he fought his way out of poverty.

In an interview with Rappler, Nabaja said he had to overcome enormous challenges while growing up in a family of eight. Despite losing his father at the age of five, his mother bravely took up the mantle of providing for the family as a tailor-turned-fruit vendor. 

“Sang una, ga lakat ko sa eskwelahan nga gutom kay wala man kami kalan-on sa balay. Gina-ubra ko, mabaligya ko ice candy para maka-kwarta ko bakal pagkaon,” he said. 

(During my school days, I often went to class hungry because there wasn’t enough food at home. To support myself, I sold ice candy to make money for meals)

Nabaja was fortunate to have been awarded a scholarship from 4th grade through his third year of college, allowing him to pursue a degree in civil engineering.

“Even were underprivileged, I was able to receive a scholarship from an international non-profit organization since I was in the 4th grade until 3rd-year college at West Negros University, now known as STI-West Negros University,” he said. 

Nabaja said that his scholarship was discontinued during the later years of his college journey, prompting him to pause his studies and seek work opportunities. He worked as a crew member of a fast food chain in Manila from 2001 to 2002 and spent an additional two years in Brunei.

After four years, he returned to the Philippines, continued his studies at the university, and completed his engineering degree two years later. 

From humble beginnings, Nabaja now serves as the chief executive officer of seven companies, which he says have more than 400 employees nationwide. 


After graduating from college, Nabaja secured a position in a call center company in Manila in 2007 and later became its operations head, where he excelled until 2017.

While working at a call center, Nabaja met people who encouraged him to enter the realty business. He then served as a land developer’s marketing arm for its properties and built his first business, the Casa Quatro Realty Corporation. 

“When an acquaintance introduced me to the realty business, I saw its potential, and it was when I decided to establish Casa Quatro Realty Corporation in 2018 using my hard-earned money from working in a call center company,” he said. 

Nabaja started learning about the business gradually. In 2020, when the coronavirus disease was at its peak, he established his second company, Nabaja Land Corporation, which deals with land development.

Nabaja said he collaborated with a landowner in Pililia, Rizal, who helped the person sell a 19-hectare property. He divided the land into 40—to 60-square-meter parcels and sold them to nearly 1,700 buyers. This allowed him to pay for the entire property and gave him additional capital to start selling land and properties on top of my ongoing commission from his realty business.

“During the peak pandemic, each square meter of land was 4,000 per sqm, which was 40-50% lower than other subdivisions’ prices at that time, which attracted Filipinos from different walks of life, including overseas Filipino workers (OFW), to buy the property,” he said.

“In a mere six months of launching our business operations in 2020, we successfully closed six subdivision deals, each consisting of thousands of units. What’s more impressive is that these were achieved despite my limited experience in the industry at that time,” Nabaja told Rappler.  

Nabaja said, “Even though I didn’t have enough money, my risk appetite was strong then.” His starting capital was “my commission from selling property units of other property developers amounting to more than a million pesos.”

Taking a flyer

According to Nabaja, he utilized the connections from his previous job in the BPO industry to encourage people to buy his land properties in Rizal in 2020. As a result, the sales of these properties increased even during the peak of the global health crisis.

“Each square meter of land during the peak of the pandemic was at P 4,000, which is 40-50% lower than other subdivisions’ prices at that time, which attracted Filipinos from different walks of life, including overseas Filipino workers (OFW) to buy the property,” he said.

“La Rosa Homes currently has six construction projects underway in Pililla, Baras, Tanay, and Montalban, all located in the province of Rizal. Additionally, we have a project in Caticlan-Boracay and a new 27-unit small-pocket subdivision in Antipolo City, whose price ranges between P4.5 million to P8 million,” Nabaja told Rappler.

Nabaja lamented that he had not borrowed or loaned any money from banks. Instead, his income, which was used as his starting capital, was from selling 19-hectare land in Antipolo City and commissions from selling properties of other developers.

Nabaja said that construction of the properties under the Nabaja Land Corporation began in mid-2022, and the turnover of some properties is expected to happen in the fourth to last quarter of 2024.

After successfully starting his first two businesses, he established five more: the Nabaja Foundation, Nabaja Builders, Isio Printing Services, KapeLonggo Restaurant, and the Shalum Security Agency.

Faith and hard work

Nabaja, who grew up in a religious family, said that his life’s journey was shaped entirely by his unwavering faith in God Almighty, whom he regarded as his steadfast companion through all life’s challenges and triumphs.

“Sa tanan ko nga desisyon kag plano, naka-sandig gid sa pagpangamuyo kay siling ko, He is the reason why I am still here fighting for my dreams,” he said. 

(Every decision and plan I make is grounded in prayer because He [God] is why I am still here fighting for my dreams).

After triumphing over poverty with Nabaja’s unyielding hard work, he gives back to the community through his foundation.

Now, he plans to build a strip mall and call center company in his hometown in Cauayan, which for him would generate employment for thousands of residents of the southern Negros Occidental town. –

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