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BIZ BUZZ: Paradise found

/ 04:25 AM June 15, 2022

Filipinos will likely have a new island resort playground by next summer, thanks to one of the richest Filipinos’ new thrust into the leisure and resort sector.

Biz Buzz learned that the conglomerate that this businessman now owns and controls acquired an undeveloped island off the southern tip of Palawan and has been quietly laying the groundwork to transform it into a world-class resort founded on sustainable environmental practices.

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The sprawling island used to be owned by the former head of the conglomerate. We hear he sold it to the firm as part of his estate planning activities before he passed away.

In any case, the company has now set in motion a comprehensive plan to make the island—straddling the Sulu Sea to its southwest and the South China Sea to its northeast— into the country’s new beach paradise.

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People who have been on the island swear that the location rivals the beauty of Boracay, Balesin or even Amanpulo.

And the best part is that this conglomerate head has vowed to make the beauty of the island accessible to anyone who wants to visit it.

This will not be an exclusive island resort for millionaires or billionaires the way Balesin or Amanpulo are, but open to the public like Boracay or Bohol, we’re told.

In fact, to prepare for this, the conglomerate completed a few months ago the work on a 3-kilometer runway that was designed and built to international specifications, meaning that tourists will be able to fly to it from Manila (one hour by jet, and slightly longer by turboprop) or even from Hong Kong, Korea, Japan or Singapore.

The conglomerate is also building a 250-room hotel to accommodate local and international tourists.

Around 95 percent of the island will be maintained as a flora and fauna wilderness, off limits to people, except for a contingent of Philippine Marines who are stationed there as part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Command defenses.

As for the beaches? This island—whose name starts with a ‘B’—has two 10-kilometer stretches of pristine white sands on its eastern and western sides. Whoa.

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—Daxim L. Lucas

Binay’s council of (business) elders

Business activity around the country understandably took a back seat in the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the situation is slowly changing for private and public sector leaders of the business community now that the COVID-19 crisis seems to be on the wane.

Nowhere is this more palpable than in the country’s financial capital, Makati City, where Mayor Abby Binay recently convened the Makati Business Development Council (MBDC) to assist the city government in charting its long-term economic development strategy.

First created in 2003 under the administration of former Vice President and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, the MBDC gathers representatives from the business sector and discuss business-related matters.

Since then, it has provided the city’s leadership with inputs on investments and business-related concerns, and developing sustainable plans and promoting inclusive growth.

The MBDC is now led by Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president George Barcelon; Foundation for Economic Freedom president Calixto Chikiamco; Makati Business Club chair Ed Chua; Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines president Michael Guarin; Stratbase Consultancy Inc. chief executive officer and managing director Dindo Manhit: Employers Confederation of the Philippines president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr.; former Labor Secretary Marianito Roque; Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines president Shinichiro Shimada; American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Frank Thiel; and Korean Chamber of Commerce Philippines president Hyun Chong Um.

Mayor Binay—who also chairs the group—said last week during MBDC’s first meeting since the start of the pandemic that she was confident the group would help develop innovations and initiatives that will spur business growth, raise the city’s competitiveness, and secure Makati’s stature as a premier investment destination.

“As we reconvene, we are tasked with facing the challenges of recovery and renewal in the coming years,” she said in her remarks during the opening meeting. “The MBDC will be playing a critical role in providing advice and guidance on programs and initiatives that will help businesses in Makati to restart, rebuild and grow.”

During Mayor Binay’s term, Makati joined with industry leaders through public-private partnerships to promote better connectivity, mobility, resilience and sustainability in the city.

Among the city’s successful projects are the Makatizen Card, the first multipurpose ID in the country that can be used to send or receive money, and the Makatizen App, the first digital citizen app that allows users to report crimes, emergencies, and community concerns.

Also in the PPP pipeline are two infrastructure projects—the Makati Life Medical Center and the Makati Subway. Speaking of which, work on the Makati Subway was delayed, obviously, due to the pandemic. But work has resumed in recent weeks with the site where the first tunnel boring machine will be positioned now being readied. The first phase may be operational in three years.

—Daxim L. Lucas INQ
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