Art for heart’s sakeBy Conrado R. Banal III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Finally, somebody in the government cares enough to do something about the absolute lack of urban planning in this country, covering particularly the congested location we call Metro Manila.
From what I gathered, Vice President Jejomar Binay, as chair of the UTDC, or the Urban Triangle Development Commission, gave a briefing last Saturday to business groups on the so-called Quezon City central business district. Look at that—the VP is working even on a weekend.
Anyway, my info was that Binay told the business groups that the UTDC was creating a comprehensive master plan for the 250-hectare area in the northern portion of EDSA. Again—that is not just a master plan, it is a “comprehensive” master plan.
In the business sector, they are saying that urban planning is now more imperative than ever because Metro Manila is turning rapidly into “mega” Manila, extending all the way to nearby provinces, namely Cavite, Bulacan and Laguna, or even as far as Quezon.
For the sake of the boys at the Palace, the UTDC came about through an executive order issued during the cute administration of Gloriaetta, known as EO 620, precisely to develop a prestige address CBD in Quezon City. From what I gathered, Binay directed in particular those companies with offices at the prospective CBD to put their development plans on hold for the meantime. Apparently, he wanted them to synchronize their own plans with the urban master plan.
In effect, Binay wanted the CBD to become a one-stop location for anybody who would want to put up any business in this country, housing the government offices that would have anything to do with permits and such. He also plans a network of roads and all features of a modern urban area.
From my end, I can thus sense that Binay wants the new CBD as a prelude to other features of a well-planned urban area, such as housing (since the government owns huge portions of the land in the CBD) and transportation systems.
The planned CBD triangle, for instance, is right smack at the path of two light rail systems—the existing MRT 3 on EDSA and the $1.6-billion LRT 7 line being pushed by San Miguel. By the way, San Miguel already awarded a contract to the DMCI-Marubeni combine for the construction of the new LRT, although San Miguel up to now is still waiting for final government approval of the project. The 22–ong LRT 7 runs between the new CBD and San Jose del Monte (Bulacan) along main roads called North, Elliptical, Commonwealth and Quirino—thus hitting the crowded Fairview and Batasan areas—estimated to carry some 300,000 passengers a day.
Real estate companies are said to be looking at new projects along or near the route of the new LRT, which holds a lot of promise since it will be the first line going out of the EDSA-Taft loop. Word goes around the stock market, for instance, that a huge aggressive real estate company that belongs to a highly diversified conglomerate was interested in a 300-hectare property of the listed ATN Holding, which is in Rodriguez (beside the Fairview and Batasan area). Languishing in the market for the past five years, as its price went from as high as P12 a share to about P2, ATN was said to have been suffering from a long-drawn fight among its major stockholders. Word now goes around that the stockholders have already called a truce.
Apparently, the objective has something to do with that precious 300-ha property, perhaps the only remaining undeveloped land of such a huge size in the entire Metro Manila, which fortunately for ATN will also benefit from the new LRT 7 project.
* * *
“Green Art: An Environmental Advocacy” (available at National Bookstore) is the title of a newly published coffee-table book showing art pieces owned by former SSS chair and president Carlos Arellano, who, as an avid art collector, reportedly owns close to 3,000 art pieces. It is the fifth in the series of books known as “collection of ageless art,” or CAA, in artistic circles, and it features so-called green 3-D paintings of various artists, including certain celebrity artists like Cesar Montano (watercolor painting of colorful bamboos) or Vicky Zubiri (watercolor of carabao-drawn cart), who happens to be the mother of former senator Miguel Zubiri.
Anyway, it seems that Chuckie Arellano has enough pieces in his art collection to introduce here what has been done abroad for the longest time: use art pieces as assets of a publicly listed company. Surely, the concept can help artists and collectors alike. The more interesting aspect of it, nevertheless, goes more than just aesthetics because it can also serve a financial tool. It is a fact that the law allows both corporations to deduct from their taxable incomes, well, the “appraised value” of the art pieces that they acquire.
Why do you think all those banks and all those large companies (including those owned by the government) have turned their offices into absolute art museums with their vast collection of paintings and sculptures? I happen to know that one bank, for instance, which has more than a hundred pieces of paintings in its collection, bought a painting by the Filipino hero Juan Luna. From what I gathered at that time, the piece was given a valuation of P130 million. Guess how much the bank paid for it—only P30 million. In effect, that single piece of art brought the bank a P100-million, well, “effect” on its taxable income. That was big.
The heart of the concept is that works of art can be another investment vehicle since art pieces hardly go down in value, unlike real estate, for instance. Look, we say that some art pieces are “priceless.”
The problem in art pieces as investments is the absence of liquidity. They are hard to sell when you need the money. That problem will have an answer in the listed company with art pieces for assets. It can provide the liquidity, thus helping serious art collectors unload their pieces in no time. In the process, I believe that it can also help struggling Filipino artists.
Short URL: http://business.inquirer.net/?p=74589