The Big Move: T1 welcomes Gabriela Merino as Pre-Construction Head

Discovering new frontiers is not unknown territory to Gabriela Merino. After completing her studies in Spain, she brought her architectural expertise to Southeast Asia in search of exciting projects and opportunities.

“I love traveling and I enjoy working and living in multicultural environments and facing new challenges every day,” she shared.

Gabriela made her way around the world by collecting inspiration from different cultures and creating her professional portfolio. A certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and already greatly experienced in high-end Hospitality, Residential, and large-scale Retail projects, Gabriela is now widening her skillset to Commercial, Corporate and Industrial requirements also.

Taking the Big Step

Gabriela later joined T1 Project Management after finding its diverse project portfolio and variety of services offered as a new learning opportunity and a challenge. She liked that the individuals she works with get to take on different roles and they all learn through their collaboration.

“I am inspired by the leadership of the company formed by a group of talented entrepreneurs that are full of motivation and knowledge,” she added when asked about the company’s leaders. While Gabriela loved their passion for always seeking new ways to develop themselves and their business, she finds greater satisfaction in the sense of belongingness from being surrounded by a supportive and encouraging team.

Pre-Construction as the bigger challenge

Now stepping into the role of being the T1 Project Management Head of Pre-Construction, she wanted to put much emphasis on its crucial role in the industry. “Pre-Construction is the time to thoroughly assess and plan to identify and mitigate risks associated with constructing a project.” Gabriela stated. “They say you finish a project the way you start it, so we want to start each and every project well.”

Programme and Budget are the two most important areas in the Pre-Construction planning stage. Gabriela noted that planning the timeline and pining down the cost of each project component should be accurately addressed for successful project delivery.

Gabriela’s overarching vision is to keep the team growing and to build on each other’s strengths. Gabriela wants to ensure that the team “reaches its full potential by providing a complete range of premium project management services and innovative solutions to our valued clients.”

UnionBank partners with T1 to inspire, innovate amid COVID-19

The UnionBank of the Philippines strengthens its position as a leader in technology and banking in the country. Inspired by their commitment to bringing excellence and honing talent, the Aboitiz-led company has successfully inaugurated The UnionBank Innovation Campus, the first in the Philippines.

Designed to be the organization’s bedrock for the creation and incubation of solutions for banking, financial technology, and other industries, the one-hectare facility held its digital groundbreaking ceremony last May 26, Wednesday.

“We’re excited for the campus because it’s a dream come true for the entire organization and it’s also a testament to the commitment of management and the board of directors to innovation as a major strategic thrust,” UnionBank president Edwin Bautista said during the virtual groundbreaking ceremony. “This is also consistent with the Aboitiz group’s focus on innovation as a pillar for growth moving forward,” he added.

T1 was tapped to collaborate and partner with UnionBank as the official project management and quantity surveying firm. With the shared vision of pushing forward development, sustainability, and innovation, the Philippines’ leading project services company was successful in delivering excellent results in time for the groundbreaking ceremony.

According to UnionBank, this innovation campus is expected to be completed by the middle or third quarter of next year. It will also operate as a hub for blockchain, artificial intelligence and other new technologies that will revolutionize the Filipino’s way of life.

“Working with UnionBank was a pleasure and a boost for T1. “We are very proud to be a part of this milestone. T1 aims to collaborate with companies who stand for positive change and innovation in development in all sectors, not just construction. Working with UnionBank is inspiring,” Ivan Deinla, Senior Project Manager expressed.

Bautista added that this innovation campus is a testament and affirmation for the Filipinos who are going through a hard time because of the pandemic. He expressed that companies like UnionBank continue to invest and vet for a brighter future for the Philippines. Despite the current lockdown restrictions, Bautista said the bank was starting to build the campus for the future when it would be safe again to interact with more people in the new normal.

Typical Pitfalls in Construction Project Management and How to Avoid Them

By: Luz Arceo – Project Manager

While every project has its unique aspects, many functions and requirements remain consistent and are made by default. Managing a project brings the need to identify which activities are to be subjected to certain standards to ensure quality work and to provide uniformity. The demand for foresight is perhaps one of the most important aspects of project management to minimize mistakes and the waste of resources.

However, there can still be a lot of circumstances where things could go wrong. While pitfalls are common in construction, there are ways and risk mitigating strategies to avoid them:

  1. If You Can’t Explain It, The Team Won’t Understand It

A key component to a successful project is starting the project well. Though it may sound like a lot of hard work in the beginning, defining the goal of the project and being clear with the requirements reduces confusion, limits the probability of redesign, and create a launch platform around which your project team can gather. In T1, we create a Design Brief that covers all aspects of a project. This is done in collaboration with the client’s team, taking consideration their specific requirements. Having a Design Brief is a great starting point for a great working experience and a smooth sailing project management.

  1. Get your Ducks in a Row (Perform Due Diligence)

It might surprise you to learn that many projects start well in the beginning, but only to be stalled by the discovery of land ownership issues or zoning problems, or boundary issues, or access issues. We recommend clients to invest in performing a Due Diligence per project to know the scope and limitations, as well as prepare for all the needed documents prior to construction.

Get a reputable geodetic engineer and survey correctly. Make sure you have a trusted engineer with the surveyors to ensure that they cover everything, especially the hard-to-reach areas. Measure surveys against your Title. Check your title certificate: Verify who owns the land; Are they the same entity that is conducting the project? Will this be a signatory issue later? Get a reputable topographic survey and geotechnical survey and make sure all of these are done properly. Make sure survey points tie back to a formal survey reference point and make sure future surveys use the same point of reference. In essence, the Due Diligence should verify that your project can deliver what you need it to deliver without inhibitors. In case there are, due diligence allows you the chance to take necessary measures before it’s too late.

  1. Resource Your Project

When we think about project delivery, we often think about what can be delivered in house and what needs to done external to the organization. In our experience, we often find clients relying on the staff who are very able but perhaps don’t necessarily have the exact skill set required. This is because of various reasons; maybe they have been employed for a different purpose, or there was a mismatch when it comes to expectations of the job.

T1 recommends taking a frank look at your team and deciding whether they can fulfil roles and satisfy the requirements while also carrying out their existing duties. The cost of overburdening or misassigning your in-house team is only likely to appear somewhere around the mid-point of construction. By this time, you may be hearing about cost overruns and delays and wondering why you didn’t bring in a professional team in the first place.

  1. Set your Budget & Program

Set your project budget early and make sure your team understands what the budget is for. Consultants design to price brackets: they know what to put in to meet the rough order of cost. Give them guidance to avoid redesigning but don’t give them all your budget. Keep a bit back for inevitable overruns.

  1. Prepare Your Contracts

If possible, use a standard form of contract for all engagements. A supplier provided contract will be written to protect the supplier, whether that is an engineer, a contractor, or even the project manager. Try to avoid using a different form of agreement with each supplier as it will become very difficult to manage in the long run.

  1. Make Coordination a Priority

If you aren’t using a BIM, then coordination can be a major issue. Consider how the design is released and know if the architect and engineer are releasing their design on the same day, it probably isn’t coordinated and may cause design lapses in the project.

  1. Anyone can Start a Project but not Everyone can Finish it

It seems obvious, but finishing a project isn’t really straightforward. Start thinking about what a finished project means to you and your team. Make sure this is discussed with your team early, to ensure expectations are aligned.

Learn more about how you can manage a construction project better. Contact Lana Kier at or call us at 0917-860-6400 for a consultation.

Luz Arceo is one of T1’s most trusted project managers. She has been successfully delivering construction projects for over 23 years with various projects throughout the Philippine archipelago.

How T1 Women are changing the construction business

T1 Project Management’s attitude towards Women in Construction ensures a progressive mindset in the industry. T1 is a firm ally and supporter of eliminating gender inequality in the workplace, as women make up 48% of the team. T1’s women inspire and serve as role models in encouraging Filipinas to see that construction is not “a man’s world.”

Confidence and Empowerment

“I feel empowered because being a female professional in what was a traditionally male-dominated industry gives me a sense of satisfaction and strength that no matter where I am, I can always say that I made it,” Jessa Marie Cabajug, Data Controller, shared.

Kat Sarayba, T1’s Assistant Manager for Design, challenged herself to be confident and happy in her career. “It honestly took me some time to build confidence. All-in-all though, I do really enjoy the career path I chose and the industry I’m in. At the end of the day, I think that matters most.”

“I feel empowered to be living in an age where you can find women excelling in previously male-dominated industries. Proving that women belong in the boardroom, on construction sites, in I.T. – in whatever career they choose,” Lana Kier, the company’s Business Development Manager added.

In the Philippines, the idea of women working in the construction industry is becoming normalized. More and more fit-out companies, contractors, design and architectural firms are made up of highly skilled and driven women employees who work on-site and behind the scenes. While the construction industry is moving in the right direction, women share that there is still a need to address the challenges in eradicating stereotypes.

T1’s Interior Designer Rose Ruelan shared, “Especially in the field of architecture, some underestimate us, that we know less about technicalities, and focus more on the aesthetics. Though women access the same education and training available to men, so we deserve to be respected as equal.”

Working Together

Women in the construction industry take on many challenges as individuals as an opportunity to excel and mark milestones in their career and in their field. Cyrelle Brillante, one of T1’s Project Managers, focuses on communication and coordination. She said, “working in harmony with the rest of the team creates a much better environment, especially in construction.”

Though it may seem difficult at first, every challenge can be overcome. Angel Falquerabao T1s Business Assistant shares, “After overcoming all the things that I thought I couldn’t do, I realized it wasn’t as daunting as I imagined it would be.”

Richelle Reyes another of T1’s Project Managers added, “I realized that in order to change the pace, you have to be amenable to endure what is beyond your comfort zone. Embrace what you are passionate about, even if it’s not what the norm dictates.”

A Cultivating Space for Women

T1 is a progressive design, construction and project management company in the Philippines. By providing equal opportunities for men and women and hiring based on skills, talents, and dedication, the company creates a safe space where gender-based prejudice and discrimination do not exist, whilst building the most dynamic, professional and skilled team in the market.

“I feel extremely lucky just to be a part of a strong, determined, passionate, flexible, and talented team, gender is not even a consideration,” Jen Panganiban, the company’s Business Manager expressed. “I think what I feel is very much similar to all of my hard-working colleagues regardless of the gender.”

The business landscape, no matter what industry, is ripe for a change. It takes movers and visionaries to ensure the development and evolution of these fields will continue. As proven by every successful leader, it is important to foster a working environment that allows for equality and celebrates competence beyond the discussion of gender.

Join the T1 team and be a leader in the industry. For job vacancies, visit or send us an email at