Thursday, January 18, 2007

Indoor park at Benpres building

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, January 18, 2007

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Indoor park at Benpres building

IN most buildings you see the sign, “If you are going one or two floors up or down, please use the stairs.” Some enterprising building administrators would even add, “It is good for your heart.” Yet, unless it is an extreme emergency, nobody bothers to take the stairs.

Most building stairs are dark, dank or dry and hot, dusty, downright stinky, sometimes seemingly dangerous, the flooring and steps are unfinished or slippery, and gives you the feeling of claustrophobia.

I have been to many buildings—high-, medium-, low-rise—and, like all others, I would rather take the elevators, no matter if I have to wait and ride with all types of people. At least I will only endure those noisy and smelly types for a few minutes.

Of course, at the train stations, the best way up and down are the stairways. I don’t know if they are trying to discourage people from taking the elevator. The ride takes a few seconds, but those elevators are really hot, malodorous, super slow and utterly uncomfortable.

Now, there is one building where almost everyone, save for those with health or deadline problems, love to take the stairs. This is the Benpres Building on Exchange Road at the Ortigas Business Center, Pasig City.

There are a total of 10 flights of stairs passing through the six floors, mezzanine and basement. The steps and landing are fully carpeted in verdant green so it is easy on your legs and feet even if you are wearing stilettos or carrying a load.

There are planters and piped-in music. It is well-ventilated and well-lighted. The walls are painted in the sweetest of green and off-white. It is like walking in the park.

You wouldn’t want to walk hurriedly because, “On display are reproductions of black and white and colored prints from the collection of the Lopez Memorial Museum. These prints date back to the 19th century and were taken from Flora de Filipinas of Fr. Blanco, Tipos de Manila and periodicals such as Ilustracion Filipina and El Oriente. Images such as these serve as documentation of the natural and human resources of the Philippines, and the ways of its people.”

Going up and down the stairways is akin to walking through an outdoor museum or a park. There are beautiful prints of flowers, trees, birds and early maps of Manila, Southern Luzon and Asia, The picture of the elegant Haring Ibon or Philippine Eagle dominates the landing between the fourth and fifth floor. One of my favorites is Escenas Campestres del Pais showing ladies doing the laundry at the creek.

This is part of the Environment, Safety and Health (ESH) Program of the Lopez Group of Companies. It is a toast to the elegant spirit of the Filipino, accentuates our hardiness and patience as a people and promotes wellness among the present occupants of the building. It also gives the employees and visitors of the different Lopez companies housed in Benpres a place to simply stand, take in the scenery, think, contemplate, relax, recharge, and, maybe, escape the stresses of work even for a few minutes. Nagmumuni-muni baga. You don’t have to go out under the elements and pollution.

It is an original idea of VP Carrie Lopez, the project head of ESH initiatives, among others, of First Philippine Holdings Corporation.

When you ascend the staircase in the morning to go to work, climbing somehow jolts your adrenaline and boosts your energy. After work in the late afternoon or early evening, the descent gives your body a shake after many hours of sitting still in front of your computer and time for a final review of what went on during the day and what you intend to do first hour next morning. A friend said that it was while descending the stairs that he remembered it was his wedding anniversary, giving him time to get a gift for the wife.

(Moje consults on business excellence and talent management. Her email addy is

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