Thriving Bacolod sees brighter future
The highly urbanized City of Bacolod holds a rich history that is deeply rooted in its bustling sugar industry.
For centuries, this particular industry had largely shaped Bacolod and its neighboring cities in Negros Occidental, which saw the rise of families to affluence—all becoming well versed in the arts and culture, and having a strong affinity for the sophisticated and finer things.
Today, the Negros Island remains the country’s biggest sugar producer and bulk of Bacolod’s local economy continues to rely on this industry.
But times are changing.
Roberto L. Montelibano, chairman of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), explained that although the sugar industry continues to account for the bulk of the island’s economy, there are new industries emerging and thriving.
In fact, small portions of the vast sugarcane plantations that used to define the landscape of Bacolod were being developed for other agricultural, livestock or commercial uses.
But this does not seem to bother Montelibano, who in fact, waxed optimistic about the massive and highly lucrative opportunities that can be tapped within Metro Bacolod (which covers the cities of Bacolod, Silay and Talisay). The diversification of the Bacolod economy, he said, could also benefit the Negrenses.
“I am optimistic. I want to see new industries come in so that the affordability of things can be sustainable. We need to create opportunities (for growth and job generation),” Montelibano said in a recent interview in Bacolod City.
“The younger generations are reinvesting in other industries. Like in the case of my family, we used to own a sugar mill but we sold it and moved to something else. I invested in trucking and in dairy,” he said.
New growth opportunities
Some sugar millers, according to Montelibano, are going into the power generation business, while the cities in Negros have seen the entry of many business process outsourcing firms (BPOs) in recent years.
Bacolod City was even identified as a center of excellence by the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP).
According to Montelibano, prospective investors can also tap growing opportunities in construction, livestock farming, dairy production, bulk water supply, light manufacturing, and real estate developments among others, in Bacolod.
There is a great demand, he added, for housing in the whole province, but the real estate industry in Metro Bacolod comprises only a marginal portion of its local economy.
And as with any other location, there are also hurdles that need to be addressed by the government such as infrastructure and the lack of adequate industrial or economic zones to cater to a growing demand.
Nevertheless, the potential is there, Montelibano stressed.
And the diversification of Bacolod’s industries bodes well for its residents who are benefiting from what continues to be a thriving, dynamic economy.
“We have to progress to create more job opportunities,” Montelibano added.
Riding the growth wave
And such a bustling economy is one aptly recognized by property giant Megaworld Corp., which is bringing its pioneering live-work-play township concept to the province.
One notable project that Megaworld is bringing to Bacolod is the 15-hectare Forbes Hill, a highly exclusive, upscale residential community, replete with all the trappings of the high society. This ultra luxurious project—reportedly the most premium development to date in Bacolod City—will be part of a bigger township that is the 53-hectare Northill Gateway.
And there is a good reason why Megaworld Corp. is betting big on Bacolod.
Rachelle Peñaflorida, VP for sales and marketing at Megaworld, explained in a phone interview that they are putting up what she claimed to be the most upscale and most premium project in Bacolod as they seek to cater to the affluent families of Negros and neighboring provinces in other regions.
“Forbes Hill is the first ultra high end residential development in Bacolod,” claimed Peñaflorida. “We are seeking to enhance the lifestyle of residents. To begin with, there’s a limited number of lots that we will offer to ensure exclusivity and low density. We will have 24-hour security for the gated community, as well as a huge fountain that will serve as a tribute to the grandeur of the city. We will have a clubhouse that will be exclusively for the use of the residents.”
Peñaflorida also pointed out that Forbes Hill offers unparalleled convenience as everything will be accessible—from the retail and food establishments, leisure and recreational amenities and institutions. It is also near the Bacolod-Silay Airport.
“When they go out, everything is nearby. They can readily enjoy local or international cuisine right within the township and that will save time from having to travel. At the Northill Town Center, we will be having locals and traditional brands of Bacolod available. We will have the right mix as we know that the locals of Bacolod are very proud of their heritage and their brands,” Peñaflorida said.
“In that way, our residents at Forbes Hill will still enjoy their typical local lifestyle but one that will be enhanced by our township,” she added.
So far, the Negrenses seem to have warmly welcomed Forbes Hill, which is close to 50 percent sold out, said Peñaflorida, who noted that their clients weren’t only from Bacolod, but also from Davao, Cebu and even from Manila.
That’s besides the fact that the average price at Forbes Hill could go as high as P18,000 per sqm with lot sizes ranging from 449 sqm to 861 sqm. Some buyers, she disclosed, would even buy two to five lots.
“The weather and environment in Bacolod City is different,” Peñaflorida explained. “The quality of life is good that’s why a lot of people are considering to live and/or retire in Bacolod City.”
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