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Biz Buzz: Ortigas in ‘Heneral Luna’

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Biz Buzz: Ortigas in ‘Heneral Luna’

/ 07:02 AM September 23, 2015

When businessman Fernando “Nando” Ortigas told Biz Buzz last year that his film production outfit called Artikulo Uno Productions (a partnership with co-writers/producers Ed Rocha and Jerrod Tarog) would like to create films that would make the audience come out of the movie house saying: “’T –%$&#& (expletive), ang galing nating Pinoy gumawa ng pelikula. (We Filipinos are so good in making movies),” he wasn’t kidding. With historical biopic “Heneral Luna,” Ortigas and partners succeeded in creating intelligent entertainment and earned the right to compete at the Oscars for a chance to wow the international audience.

As promised, Ortigas made a cameo appearance in the critically acclaimed film (which reportedly cost P80 million to produce). He could be spotted during the Spanish dinner party scene where President Emilio Aguinaldo walks in and kisses the hand of an elderly lady. He is the Kastilaloy-looking man beside this lady. A long time ago, Ortigas also made a three-second appearance in Vietnam War-dated American epic war film “Apocalypse Now,” which was shot in the Philippines.

“To constantly hear applause in different theaters at the end of the film, as the credits roll, is for us a reward that’s beyond our wildest dreams when we first ventured doing this film. Many of us ask ourselves, when was the last time we heard an audience applaud at the end of a film, Filipino or otherwise, in so many theaters?” Ortigas and Rocha said in an open letter to supporters.

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Ortigas and partners got the name for their production company, Artikulo Uno, from the infamous war-time military rule, which states that all men who refuse to follow orders will be shot without the benefit of a trial in a military court. Rather than a reference to Luna’s bad temper, this could be more of a tribute to Filipino heroes who were killed not by the enemy but by their own comrades. In the movie, the death of Luna and Paco Roman was depicted similar to how Luna’s older brother, the famous painter Juan Luna, did the “Spoliarium,” where soldiers drag the corpses of the treacherously killed heroes).

Meanwhile, a mid-credit scene hints of a sequel to the historical biopic as it showed the young Gen. Gregorio del Pilar assembling 60 of Luna’s best soldiers to launch an offensive attack against the Americans. Another high-quality film is thus in the pipeline if ticket sales do well.–Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

‘Still friends’

If you have to end something, then end it cleanly and quickly lest the relationship spiral to the point of no return.

This maxim can apply to relationships and also to sale transactions, as GMA Network’s Felipe L. Gozon learned following the failed negotiations to bring in San Miguel Corp.’s Ramon S. Ang as an investor in the broadcast giant.

“In sale transactions, don’t allow negotiations to take longer than the time reasonably required to consummate the deal,” Gozon tells the Inquirer.

The Gozon group and Ang were in prolonged share sale discussions that deteriorated into a bitter dispute between the two corporate leaders that ended up in court.

Fortunately, both Ang and Gozon—through the efforts of a common friend—settled out of court, with Ang getting back his P1 billion for the GMA shares from Gozon, who, in turn, received a “substantial” amount from Ang.

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The Department of Justice also dismissed the complaint filed against him by Ang, a move welcomed by Gozon.

No additional details of the settlement are forthcoming as both parties agreed to keep the details of their settlement confidential.

On the question on whether they are still “friends,” Gozon said “yes.”

Gozon also said there was “clearly no basis for the charge of estafa”—much less syndicated estafa—as there was “absolutely no deception or fraud” employed by the Gozon group in the sale transaction of their GMA shares to Ang.–Tina Arceo-Dumlao

Speaking of which…

Lawyer Felipe Gozon’s declaration that he received a “substantial” settlement in exchange for returning Ramon Ang’s P1-billion deposit for the scuttled negotiations to acquire GMA Network got us curious.

We asked around what exactly “substantial” meant, and ended up finding some very interesting insights about the back-and-forth talks between both camps.

One thing Biz Buzz found particularly juicy was a long exchange of e-mails between the Gozon and Ang camps detailing what looked like new conditions imposed by the former every so often—something the latter cited as the reason why acquisition talks collapsed.

For example, Gozon wanted to remain chair and president of the television network for two years after the sale of his stake. There would also be no disclosure on related party talent contracts where Gozon personally had vested interests. Most importantly, the Gozon side also wanted to terminate anywhere between 500 and 800 GMA Network personnel (admittedly, a rather unusual precondition for selling, which Ang was not inclined to agree to).

Anyway, getting back to our main topic, Gozon supposedly asked for—and received—a settlement amount from Ang in exchange for returning the P1 billion in earnest money.

How much? The sum of P20 million, representing the interest that the deposit earned while it was held by Gozon’s account.

Substantial or loose change? Who knows? Anyway, what’s a few million pesos between billionaire friends, right?–Daxim L. Lucas

Ayuntamiento as tourist spot

The Department of Finance plans to privatize the restored Ayuntamiento de Manila building in Intramuros—currently being occupied by the Bureau of the Treasury—to boost tourism in the historic walled city.

Three financial regulators, meanwhile, will move their operations to a P4.8-billion modern facility within fast-rising business hub Bonifacio Global City in Taguig by mid-2018.

Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima told senators on Tuesday that the DOF wanted to “move the Treasury away from Intramuros.” The Treasury’s office will be transferred to the proposed P4-billion new DOF building to be built also within the central bank compound.

Purisima said the Ayuntamiento would be of better use for tourism purposes and the promotion of the historical area. “It’s not appropriate as an office.”

Asked if the building will be converted into a hotel, the finance chief replied: “We haven’t made a decision.”

Separately, Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran told Biz Buzz that the Insurance Commission, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Securities and Exchange Commission would move to a soon-to-rise building to be called “Financial Regulators’ Center.”

Groundbreaking will be in January next year. The construction period will be two and a half years, Beltran said.

Last Monday, the DOF, IC, PDIC, SEC, state-run Bases Conversion and Development Authority and Land Bank of the Philippines’ wholly owned subsidiary LBP Leasing Corp. signed a memorandum of agreement for the construction of the Financial Regulators’ Center. The facility will rise on a 5,000-square-meter lot currently jointly owned by IC and LBP Leasing.

Last September, BCDA, IC, SEC and LBP Leasing signed a separate MOA that facilitated the sale by the BCDA of the property along Lawton Avenue to IC and LBP Leasing for and in behalf of SEC.

PDIC later on “expressed its intention to likewise locate its national office in the financial center,” according to the DOF.

Insurance Commissioner Emmanuel Dooc earlier said that IC had wanted a 21-story, “green building” with an area of about 1,000 square meters per floor, on top of six or seven floors of basement parking.

The existing, more than one hectare IC compound along United Nations Avenue in Manila, meanwhile, might be sold upon the agency’s transfer to BGC, according to Dooc.–Ben O. de Vera

Email us at bizbuzz@inquirer.com.ph. Get business alerts and a preview of Biz Buzz the evening before it comes out. Text ON INQ BUSINESS to 4467 (P2.50/alert).

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TAGS: Artikulo Uno Productions, Ayuntamiento, Bureau of the Treasury, Department of Finance, Felipe Gozon, Fernando Ortigas, film production, Financial Regulators' Center, GMA network, Heneral Luna, Ramon Ang, settlement amount, Tourism
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