Biz Buzz: Ortigas’ new calling | Inquirer Business

Biz Buzz: Ortigas’ new calling

/ 01:15 AM October 20, 2014

If there’s an artist in every family, the landed Ortigas clan has Fernando “Nando” Ortigas, who recently found a new calling in film production.

The businessman shared with Biz Buzz his long-time “secret” desire to produce films.

When a great script falls on his lap at the right time, he said, he will jump at the opportunity.


The show biz “secret” is now out. Ortigas has set up a film production outfit called Artikulo Uno Productions in partnership with co-writers/producers Ed Rocha and Jerrod Tarog.


“We’d like to create intelligent entertainment that will help reverse the dumbing down of our local audiences,” Ortigas said.

Artikulo Uno’s first movie offering is “Heneral Luna,” which is coming out in the second half of 2015 starring actor John Arcilla. Ortigas read the script sometime in 2013, decided to get involved, and the rest is history.

“As far as budget is concerned, we’d like to spend money in a way that would make the audience come out of the movie saying, Gee, that was a damn good movie! or in Tagalog, ‘T–%$&#& (expletive), ang galing nating Pinoy gumawa ng pelikula. (We Filipinos are so darn good in making movies),” Ortigas said.

Asked why he chose this theme for his film production debut, Ortigas said: “I found it really interesting how, if Heneral Antonio Luna got his mandate, the course of Philippine history would have changed. A question that comes to mind as I read the script is: Why are we Filipinos killing our own heroes?”

Did he provide creative input to Heneral Luna? Ortigas said that, other than a few suggested numbers (inside joke) and dialogue lines, a producer’s job is to give the director the tools to come out with his vision. The producer should not interfere in that vision, he said.

Having been bitten by the show biz bug, Ortigas later got involved in other film projects, such as “K Na, The Dreamweaver” which won two prizes in the recent Cinemalaya Film Festival—best production design and jury prize. He also joined Philippians Film Productions’ project “Bonifacio—Ang Unang Pangulo,” starring Robin Padilla and Daniel Padilla. It was an entry to this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival.


What’s more, expect Ortigas to make a cameo appearance in both the Luna and Bonifacio movies.

“I know my acting limits and that’s as far as I’m willing to go with a career in front of the camera,” he said.

But long before all these, Ortigas already had a taste of Hollywood. His claim to fame was a three-second appearance in the 1979 American epic “Apocalypse Now” (set during the Vietnam War period and featured the late Marlon Brando), which was shot in Baler, Aurora. That film also served to catalyze the surfing culture in the area.

Doris C. Dumlao

Caesars Palace wants in

If you think the much vaunted Pagcor Entertainment City project is getting a bit crowded of late, you have another think coming.

Another gaming industry giant is apparently interested in entering the fray and taking a slice of the pie, which is hoped to one day rival casino revenues of Las Vegas or Singapore.

Biz Buzz learned that no less than US casino giant Caesars Palace is looking to set up shop here, and help Manila give Macau and Singapore a run for their money.

So serious is the group in this venture that Caesars CEO Gary Loveman and president for international development Steven Tight reportedly met with President Aquino when he was in the United States last month. It was, said the Biz Buzz source,   at that meeting that the potential project was brought up.

Caesars Palace is a top global brand and, as such, it is exploring the possibility of a hotel-cum-casino paradise right next to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport—a stone’s throw away from the Pagcor mega development.

And, just to make things more interesting, it might even help find ways, with foreign experts’ assistance, to improve the world’s worst airport (or fourth worst, according to the latest ranking, if you want to be strict about it).

Everything could be up and running in less than four years, or from the time of government approval, our source tells us.

What are Caesars’ chances? P-Noy was apparently open to the idea during their meeting.

But will the four casino-hotels in Entertainment City welcome competition from a major global player? Perhaps they should. After all, global gaming powerhouse Macau blossomed when the big names from the US came in, starting with Sands. It was not on the global gaming radar screen for decades when it had only local casinos.

Macau now has more than 40 casinos and revenues of around $40 billion annually, dwarfing Las Vegas’ roughly $7 billion.

Macau Sands opened in 2004 and others followed. Each casino resort has since spent big bucks to market the city and bring in the big players and tourists. The result was a bigger pie for everyone to fight over.

Should Caesars make it here, an initial 20,000 new jobs would be generated, according to initial estimates. It also expects to eventually bring in up to 3.5 million tourists and gamblers a year, which is more than half of the government’s target arrivals of 6.8 million in 2014.

So, the more, the merrier? Definitely. Daxim L. Lucas

Never-say-die DOTC

It seems the Department of Transportation and Communications is convinced that Universal LRT Corp.—the consortium backed by San Miguel Corp. (SMC) that will develop Metro Rail Transit Line 7—remains “indifferent” to the final location of a controversial railway common station in Quezon City.

For those who have just emerged from a break in reading the news this past six months, that’s the station the DOTC wants to locate near the Ayala group’s TriNoma shopping mall, instead of the adjacent property near Henry Sy’s SM City North Edsa.

The transfer was halted—for now—when the SM Group sought and got a restraining order from the Supreme Court, which said that the DOTC breached a 2009 agreement by moving the MRT-7–MRT-3 Light Rail Transit Line 1 joint station nearer its rival mall operator.

The high court has yet to rule on the case, but Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya reiterated that a Trinoma common station was really better for commuters. He also insisted that Universal LRT was OK with the DOTC decision as long as MRT-7’s traffic numbers would not “drop.”

We know by know that letters exchanged last month between DOTC and Universal LRT and SMC officials—reported by Biz Buzz earlier—painted a rather different picture. The letters revealed that SMC rebuffed DOTC’s request for the conglomerate to stay “neutral” on the common station’s location.

The consortium further noted that altering the configuration would represent a “material breach” to the MRT-7 concession agreement, which called for the joint station to be located near the SM Annex in North Edsa.

In response, Abaya suggested that the MRT-7 concession agreement itself could be renegotiated given that it was signed before the LRT-1 North Extension project (which completed the LRT-MRT loop). Abaya cited potential contract breaches.

The entire issue, of course, has to do with passenger traffic. And while Abaya said a third-party study by a Japanese consultant showed that MRT-7’s numbers are “slightly better” with the Trinoma configuration, we hear Universal LRT isn’t yet willing to take that at face value.

There was even a suggestion on whether the DOTC was willing to guarantee that traffic improvement, our sources say.

In any case, we can be sure to hear more of this issue in the weeks to come. Miguel R. Camus

A family affair

Leading global business school International Institute for Management Development (IMD) has added a feather to Ayala Corp.’s notable cap when it presented the conglomerate with the prestigious IMD-Lombard Odier Global Family Business Award.

Ayala Corp.—among the oldest and biggest family-controlled conglomerates in the Philippines—became the 19th awardee as its “exceptional standards show just what family businesses are capable of,” Thierry Lombard, managing partner of Swiss private banking group Lombard Odier and chair of Family Business Network International, said in a statement.

According to IMD based in Lausanne, Switzerland, Ayala Corp. was recognized during the 25th Summit of Family Business Network International in Dubai “for its excellence, integrity and contribution to nation-building.”

For seven generations, “Ayala Corp. has provided numerous lessons for other family businesses, in particular the importance of long-term vision, a broader social awareness and an ability to adapt,” noted IMD president Dominique Turpin.

For their part, Ayala Corp. chair and chief executive Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, as well as president and COO Fernando Zobel de Ayala, were quoted by IMD as emphasizing “the company’s belief in contributing to national development.”

JAZA and Fernando also believe that “family unity has been crucial to the firm’s long-term success,” IMD said.

Ayala Corp. joins the high-profile roster of previous prize winners, which include family-owned firms Barilla, Bel Group, Firmenich, Hermès, Lego, Merck, Odebrecht and S.C. Johnson. Ben O. de Vera

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