PHILIPPINE REAL ESTATE and RELATED NEWS in and around the country . . .

Federal Land to build posh hotel in Taguig

FEDERAL LAND, Inc., the property arm of the Metrobank Group, will build a P15 billion six-star hotel building in Fort Bonifacio as it lures travellers and companies from cramped Makati to the emerging central business district of Taguig.

The amount will form part of a P27 billion and P30 billion investment of the company in the next four years, Executive Vice-President and General Manager Luis E. Icasiano told BusinessWorld.

The 66-storey hotel building will sit on top of a grade-A office occupying part of a 25-hectare property, the first of its kind in the country. Construction will start in the first half.

"We are now expanding our portfolio from just residential and office buildings. We want to take advantage of the real estate market, which is still up. We are trying to build another hotel, which will be a world-class type," Mr. Icasiano said.

He said the company is finalizing the contract with a well-known hotel brand. "It will be another premier development that will add prestige to the city of Taguig. We want to create a landmark, as our chairman calls it. He wants to create an impact in that part of Metro Manila."

Federal Land has asked global design firm Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, Inc. (HOK) International Ltd. to complete the master plan of the northern part of Fort Bonifacio.

It will cover a 10.4-hectare property owned by the country’s largest lender, Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company (Metrobank), and two lots covering 15.3 hectares of state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

Mr. Icasiano said there would be a high-end residential tower that will carry the name of the hotel, as well as a convention center, sports club and retail components. "It is a mixed-use development. We plan to make the main avenue similar to Orchard Road in Singapore where you have retail [outlets] on the side," he said.

Federal Land has launched four other projects worth P15 billion. One of these is the Grand Midori Makati, which will rise on a 3,900-square meter property owned by Metrobank. The high-end twin tower residential condominium will be located along Legaspi St.

Its other condominium projects are The Midtown Garden Mansions in Paco, BayGarden Club and Residences in Metropolitan Park along Roxas Blvd. in Pasay and Marquinton Garden Terraces.

A nine-tower residential complex that will occupy 2.9 hectares, The Marquinton Garden Terraces is the newest gated residential project inside Federal Land’s mixed-use development in Marikina City. This will be located along Sumulong Ave.

Federal Land is promoting its projects abroad, targeting income-rich overseas Filipinos. It is specifically focusing on Europe, with the US credit crisis continuing to drag sentiment in the world’s largest economy. The company opened an office in Milan, Rome last year.

"Focusing on Europe is a natural tendency... We plan to open more offices in Europe," Mr. Icasiano said. He added that they are looking next at Barcelona and London.

The Philippine real estate sector is expected to thrive amid a global economic turmoil as back-office outsourcing and offshoring compensate a projected growth shortfall in the call center segment.

Mr. Icasiano cited the need to have a healthy balance between end-users and investors. He noted that unlike in the US where there had been speculative property buying, the market for overseas Filipinos is strong.

"There is no heating up of the industry. As long as overseas Filipinos are investing in Manila and lending rates are low, that will benefit the industry," he added.


Europe beckons to Philippine outsourcing services

Vol. XXI, No. 177 [ Business World Online ]
Thursday, April 10, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

THE PHILIPPINE business process outsourcing (BPO) industry should focus on markets outside the United States if it is to corner 10% of the global BPO market by 2010, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) yesterday said.

ECCP Executive Vice-President Henry Schumacher said the Philippines should start setting its sights on other large and dynamic markets such as Europe to expand its global reach.

"The Philippines has successfully invaded the US, but Europe is a huge market. India is everywhere, the Philippines isn’t. We have to go out and sell the Philippines as a good offshoring and outsourcing destination," he told reporters in a press briefing.

He stressed a lot of work needs to be done if the country is to achieve a 10% global market share in two years, as stipulated in the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPA/P) Road-map 2010.

Data from the European IT-Service Center Foundation showed that local BPO’s share in Europe’s $40-billion industry was just 1.2% as of 2007, while European accounts made up 10% of the $5-billion local industry revenues.

"We have to tap the European market next. There are huge opportunities for the Philippines. As the European market grows, we can grow with them," European IT-Service Center Foundation Business Development Manager Stephanie Weber said.

For his part, BPA/P Chief Executive Officer Oscar Sañez said the Philippines is ready to take advantage of opportunities in Europe. "For one, their currency is more stable. It’s important to see predictability and stability in this area. Also, there are studies saying the US economic recession will not have a significant impact on Europe," he said.

Issues on transparency and corruption, however, continue to discourage foreign investments, Mr. Schumacher said. The country should also offer more attractive incentive schemes to convince investors to come in, he added.

Ms. Weber, for her part, said lack of positive news is a big factor in the decision-making process of prospective investors. "We have to put the country in the radar screen of these foreign companies. I think the biggest threat to investments is the Philippines’ reputation [corruption issues, coup attempts]," she said.

To promote the Philippines as a prime BPO and IT location for European firms, the government and the private sector have formed TeamEurope, an initiative aimed at providing information on business opportunities in the Philippines and Europe through its Web site, The group is composed of the Board of Investments, ECCP, BPA/P, European IT-Service Center, British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions, and the Commission on Information and Communications Technology. — Bernardette S. Sto. Domingo


Belmonte confirms plans on VMMC property: Golf course out

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:01:00 04/10/2008

' No intention of changing hospital '

MANILA, Philippines—The grizzled military veterans got a little emotional as word spread that the Quezon City government plans to turn the Veterans Memorial Medical Center compound into an upscale residential area.

“It makes us sad because this is the only hospital where we get free treatment,” a 54-year-old retired Air Force lieutenant on Monday said as he waited for his turn at the state-run hospital’s dialysis center.

“Where else could we run to if this is demolished, especially now when prices are going up and we only get a measly pension?” said the outpatient, who asked not to be named.

“I agree completely,” said retired Army T/Sgt. Luis Lipardo, another kidney patient seated nearby.

An unsettling “rumor” that the 54.9-hectare VMMC property would be “sold” for commercial development had been lately making the rounds at the hospital and on the blogs kept by some of the interns.

Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte confirmed City Hall’s plans to “transform” the VMMC—but maintained that cash-strapped retirees like Lipardo need not worry.

“The residential area will be built where the golf course is,” Belmonte said, referring to the 18-hole course sprawled around VMMC’s cluster of buildings.

“But we have no intention of changing the hospital,” Belmonte explained in a Philippine Daily Inquirer interview on April 4.

Best economic use

It’s a matter of “putting the best economic use” for properties “that have been lying fallow,” Belmonte said, referring to plans to recast the VMMC property—as well as the adjoining 100-ha North Triangle and 100-ha East Triangle areas—into a “commercial business district.”

The envisioned urban makeover would cover a total of 250 ha.

“The presence of the TriNoma (mall) has already transformed North Triangle, and we will continue to put the best economic use for [those areas],” Belmonte said.

In the case of the VMMC, City Hall plans to convert the 37-ha golf course into a row of condominiums. “Gains” to be made from that conversion will go to the VMMC, Belmonte said.

Together with Vice President Noli De Castro, Belmonte co-chairs the Urban Triangle Development Commission created by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to speed up the transformation of the VMMC and the North and East Triangle areas into a “mixed-use urban community.”

The VMMC was constructed in 1955 by virtue of a US Congressional act providing for the medical needs of World War II veterans. In 1982, a presidential proclamation transferred ownership of the property from the National Housing Authority to the VMMC administration.

Over the last five decades, the facility has extended services not only to veterans but also to their dependents, as well as a limited number of Philhealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corp.) members. (From 2001 to 2003, its presidential suite served as the detention quarters of deposed President Joseph Estrada as he faced trial for plunder.)

No objections

Former Defense Secretary Fortunato Abat, president of the Cavalier Association of Veterans, said he didn’t mind “commercializing” the golf course if it would add to the veterans’ pension fund and if the hospital would stay.

“The veterans should realize that (release of their) pension funds is dependent on the availability of funds. If there are no funds for the purpose of benefits, the release is often delayed,” Abat said in a phone interview. “Better that there should be a source of funds for the pensioners.”

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, himself a veteran who had served in the Armed Forces of the Philippines for more than 20 years, agreed.

“If it’s going to generate more funds, why not?” the senator said in an interview. Biazon proposed, though, that the revenues should be used for the construction of similar hospitals for veterans living in other parts of the country.

Biazon also stressed that the present VMMC should stay “where it is.”

Regional medical centers

Retired Brig. Gen. Rodrigo Gutang, president of the Alliance for the Amelioration of Veterans and Former Policemen and Reserves, said the revenues could also be used to build regional medical centers in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

“The perennial dream of veterans to have regional medical centers has remained a dream. And this development could probably make this dream come true,” Gutang said during a Senate hearing on March 14.

The hearing, called by the Senate defense committee chaired by Biazon, sought to assess the impact Quezon City Hall’s development plans would have on the VMMC.

The Senate inquiry was launched after protests greeted reports in early March that the VMMC property was up for sale.


A group of VMMC employees, reportedly joined by some of the patients, staged a lighting rally shortly after “Korean businessmen” were seen touring the hospital and taking photos of the property, according to information reaching Biazon.

Curiously, Belmonte denied any knowledge of any Korean investor interested in the VMMC development at this point.

Rumors that the property was up for “demolition” had since spread.

But according to Defense Undersecretary Ernesto Carolina, these rumors were merely started by some VMMC employees who live in shanties in the adjacent North Triangle area, on fears that their homes will be demolished very soon.

Carolina, who also serves as acting administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) which oversees the VMMC, said the government had no intention to sell the hospital property to anyone.

“It’s not just a matter of us not allowing it; it’s against the law. The law provides that the government should take care of the veterans,” he said in an interview.

The undersecretary clarified, however, that the Department of National Defense and the Quezon City Government were still holding talks regarding the latter’s development plans and have not agreed on anything specific.

3 DND conditions

The DND had been invited to be part of the venture, Carolina said, but Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro set three conditions:

That the plan should result in a more modern, better equipped VMMC; that if VMMC is to be relocated, it should still be within the 250-ha area eyed for development; and that there must be “reasonable sharing of the revenues.”

“If that is acceptable to the Quezon City government, then why not?” Carolina said.

He disclosed that the VMMC golf course currently generates a monthly revenue of P500,000. The money mainly goes to the maintenance budget for the entire VMMC property.

If developed into a high-end residential area or upgraded into a first-class golf course, it could earn up to P50 million a month, Carolina said.

That amount could be used to maintain a really “modern hospital,” he said

Philippines eyes adoption of Canadian housing finance system

By Cynthia Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:40:00 04/09/2008

MANILA -- The Philippines will explore the Canadian housing finance system in a bid to create a system for securitization of housing mortgage in the country, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Quoting a report from the Philippine Ambassador to Canada Jose Brillantes, the DFA said on Wednesday that a senior level delegation from the National Housing Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) visited Canada from March 17 to 19 and met with officials of Canada Mortgage and Housing Finance Corporation (CMHC).

The department said that the NHMFC was tapping CHMC’s expertise and experience in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and as the leading provider of liquidity in Canada’s housing markets, a role similar to the one envisioned by NHMFC.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Finance Corporation (CMHC) is Canada’s national housing agency, and premier provider of mortgage loan, mortgage-backed securities, housing policy and programs and housing policy research. It has globally recognized expertise in housing finance, mortgage funding, capital markets policy, business development and new products, strategic planning, international housing policy and evaluation and legal and default management.

DFA Spokesperson Claro Cristobal said that during the three-day workshop-meeting, the officials of both housing agencies discussed and exchanged views on all aspects of securitization, its evolution and development, challenges, market analysis, funding, legal infrastructure, risk management, among others.

The members of the Philippine delegation came from the Department of Finance, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), National Housing Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC), and Home Develoment Mutual Fund (HDMF). They included Undersecretary Jeremias N. Paul, Jr., Lucille P. Ortille, lawyer Joseph Sison, Gonzalo A. Bongolan, lawyer Romeo S. Quimbo, laywer Rene N. Carreon, Daisy S. Dulay, lawyer Daniel Q. Lacuata, Rosabella C. Jose and Virgei A. Paz.

Brillantes hosted a dinner for the delegation at the “Tahanang Rizal," the ambassador’s Official Residence, which was also attended by embassy officers and staff. A reception in honor of the Philippine delegates was also hosted by Pierre David, Executive Director of CHMC International.

PSBank eyes modest earnings

Thursday, April 10, 2008 [ ]

The Philippine Savings Bank is likely to post moderate earnings growth this year owing to declining demand for housing loans.

In a press briefing, Pascual Garcia, PSBank president, said the bank’s profits may grow moderately by 15 percent this year from P1.018 billion last year.

This will be driven primarily by lower demand for consumer loans, consisting of housing, auto, small businesses, and personal loans.

Consumer loans are expected to grow 17 percent this year, lower than 24 percent last year, as housing loans showed weak demand from middle-income market, particularly overseas Filipino workers.

“The first quarter performance is slightly weaker than that of the first quarter last year,” Garcia said. “We’re not as strong as [we were] last year. The banks have become very competitive [in providing consumer loans],” he added.

Moreover, slower demand in real loans was attributed to strong peso, high inflation and world economic slowdown. The peso will continue to appreciate on the back of strong remittances.

The pickup in real-estate lending was driven mainly by OFWs as mortgage loan rates dropped to an affordable rate of 8 percent.--MARICEL E. BURGONIO


New domestic airport seen next week

04/10/2008 [ ]

The Old Manila Airport will no longer be an old airport as its expansion and rehabilitation will be completed on April 15, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) announced yesterday.

MIAA general manager Alfonso Cusi said the Mania Domestic Airport (MDA) will sport a new look that can accommodate a bigger number of passengers even during peak hours.

He added MIAA and Cebu Pacific have jointly started the expansion of the MDA which will be completed on April 15.

“The expansion of the domestic airport facilities will increase its seating capacity by 66 percent and ease passenger congestion, especially during the peak season,” he said.

The domestic airport was built in 1948, serving all local airline flights, except Philippine Airlines and Air Philippines, which use the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 for international and domestic flights.

The improvements include placing canopies in passenger queuing and loading areas and making the facility’s interior more spacious for the easy and convenient movement of passengers.

The seating capacity at the pre-departure area of the domestic airport will increase by 66 percent with the addition of more than 500 seats.

Cusi said a new arrival area will be opened and five new baggage conveyors instead of the present three conveyors were constructed.

The flight check-in lobby and security check areas were expanded and more boarding gates, holding areas and restrooms were constructed to double the capacity.

Cebu Pacific will relocate its cargo receiving area to pave the way for the new arrival area.

Although the project is a joint effort by the MIAA and Cebu Pacific, all other airlines that serve the domestic routes wil continue to operate at the domestic airport, Cusi said.

“It will not be the exclusive use of Cebu Pacific unlike the NAIA Terminal 2 where Philippine Airlines has the sole right to use it,” he added. Conrado Ching


GK to build 80 houses in Minalin

Thursday, April 10, 2008 [ ]
By Raymond C. Garcia

MINALIN -- The Gawad Kalinga (GK) will provide houses to a number of indigent families in Barangay Sta. Rita here.

According to John Ramos, GK regional director, there will be a total of 60 to 80 houses that will benefit the poor families in this town that will be categorized by the Minalin Municipal Government.

He also said payment will not be in monetary unit but the efforts of the people will be counted as their payment for the houses that will be built.

When asked why the GK intends to build houses in Minalin, Ramos said it is the only municipality that is ready for the construction of houses in the province, adding that it had furnished his office with the legal and pertinent papers and documents needed for the construction.

"It was the LGU (local government unit) that initiated it. They (local officials) were the ones who asked for the houses in aide of their constituents," he said.

Ramos added that it is also a way of putting the informal settlers in this town in proper and decent place.

The GK official also said the site is very much accessible, as it is near the Municipal Hall, school, church and market.

"We also considered the beauty of the place. I mean, the place is very beautiful and the people are ready to help us build their future homes. After all, it is their way of payment rather than asking them to pay in terms of monetary unit," he said.


Calulut folk decry housing project

Thursday, April 10, 2008
By Ian Ocampo Flora

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Residents of Barangay Calulut here are opposing the expansion of a low-cost housing project in the area, saying it poses a threat to their safety.

The folk are particularly restless about the construction of a housing project, allegedly by Baque Construction.

Residents complained that the project has crouched on the perimeter of the river here, posing a possible danger to them and their properties in case of heavy rains.

In an earlier conference with villagers, this city's "flood czar" Marni Castro said the project has been encroaching the side of the river and claimed abandoned lands as part of the housing development.

He added that the construction of a similar bridge falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and that any alteration of the river should first consider various flood risks.

Concerned villagers said Baque Construction is owned by certain Ofelia Tan, who was able to have the abandoned lands -- which are part of Sapang Balen -- titled and include the said lands as part of the project.

Sun.Star learned that the construction company was able to bag resettlement housing projects from the defunct Mt. Pinatubo Commission several years ago.

Castro, on the other hand, added that the village housing project is intended to be sold to the government to accommodate informal settlers who will be affected by the North Rail project in Mabalacat town.

He said the residents are also particularly concerned with the seeming "railroading" of the construction without the knowledge of the people.

He said they are worried about the security of the barangay with the arrival of the "newcomers" and the migration's effects to the ecology, particularly waste disposal.

Residents said if they only knew about the construction's "true nature," they initially opposed it.

The villagers have agreed to sign a manifesto urging the City of San Fernando Government to look into the issue. They said they are definitely opposed to the project's portion along the vicinity of the river.

The 45-hectare development is 88 percent complete. It features single unit houses.

While Castro assured the residents that the City Government "will not condone" river encroachment and alleged titling of public lands, development works continue unimpeded here.


8 Clark firms to spend P11.5B for expansion

Thursday, April 10, 2008 [ ]
By Reynaldo G. Navales

CLARK FREEPORT -- The Clark Development Corporation (CDC) has announced that eight firms in the Freeport will be pouring in about P11.5 billion for their respective expansion projects.

In a press statement, CDC Marketing Department manager Raffy Galvez disclosed that industrial, electronics, tourism, and commercial firms here are implementing expansion projects with a combined amount of more than P11.5 billion.

Galvez said five of the eight firms are tourism and commercial-related, two are into electronic manufacturing, and an industrial firm.

"The employment potential of these expansion projects has a total of 4,765," Galvez said.

According to him, Clark's tourism thrusts would be propelled further as Widus International Leisure Inc. will spend P1.5 billion for the construction of another 5-Star hotel, casino, convention center, and water theme park.

The Fontana Development Corporation, on the other hand, will enhance its leisure park by building corporate housing and luxury villas, 1,000-room hotel, and expansion of its convention center for P1.5 billion.

Stotsenberg Leisure Park and Hotel Corporation will invest P500 million for the construction of its administration offices, warehouse, and drivers lounge.

Asialuxe Philippines Inc. will pour P200 million for the establishment of various housing and tourism projects inside the Freeport.

On the commercial front, Southeast Asia's mall giant -- Premier Central Inc. -- will embark on a P500-million expansion work for SM City Clark.

In the electronics and manufacturing industry, two Japanese firms have also embarked on similar endeavors. Nanox Philippines Inc. will pour in P150 million for its Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) manufacturing project, while SMK Electronics Philippines will spend P100 million for the manufacture of touch panel glass and similar devices.
On the other hand, Yokohama Tire Philippines Inc. is spending P7 billion for its expansion projects.


Stop SM hotel over pine stand, councilor urges

Thursday, April 10, 2008 [ ]
[ Baguio City ]

THE Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) should not allow Show Mart Investments Corp. (SMIC) from further destroying the lungs of the city.

This was the plea of Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda over the reported plans of SMIC of building either a hotel or condominium on the pine stand adjacent to the Baguio Convention Center.

Tabanda called on the GSIS management to maintain the mini forest and keep it as one of the city's breathing spaces in the central business district.

The councilor joined the bandwagon of those opposing alleged plans of SMIC of putting up a hotel or condominium in the area.

Although admitting that the city cannot dictate on the GSIS on how to make use of its properties, Tabanda said the city could prevent the supposed construction, using its Zoning Ordinance as basis.

"We cannot prevent GSIS from doing what it wants with its property, but we can invoke local ordinances (to stop any development in the area)," she stressed.

She said if development in the area does not conform to zoning regulations, the city has the right to control construction activities. The lot is designated as an "institutional zone," which only allows government activity in the area.

Former mayor Braulio Yaranon also called on Baguio Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. and members of the City Council to be on guard over SMIC's reported plans. Similar to Tabanda's argument, Yaranon said GSIS may sell the land, but forested area must not be touched.

"The area should be preserved. It's a bigger forest than what we have in Burnham," Yaranon said, adding that the area is not supposed to be used for commercial purposes.

Several members of the City Council filed separate resolutions opposing the reported plans for the put-up of a building there, claiming this would upset the city's ecological balance.

The pine stand was man-made when former First Lady Imelda Marcos ordered the sprucing up of the area for an international chess match in 1979. Since that time no construction was allowed over the area by the National Government. (RO/SB)


Tons of garbage threaten up-for-rehab Bulacan river

By : Troy Gallardo
[ ] April 10, 2008

“Is there no hope?”

Bgy. Saog Chairman Froilan Angeles asked in despair barely two months after the launching of a project aimed at saving the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando River System which has caused shame and infamy to the Philippines when it was named one of the 10 dirtiest rivers in the world.

Angeles, one of the local officials headed by Bulacan Gov. Jon-jon Mendoza who attended the launching in February, reacted after seeing tons of garbage in a dam located in Prenza II, Marilao, Bulacan, that could spill into the already polluted river system anytime now.

The much-hyped launching, spearheaded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and local government units in Bulacan, was seen as a prelude to rehabilitate the river. It declared the river system as a water quality management area, where studies on water quality and extent of the rehabilitation work shall be conducted.

Mayor Epifanio Guillermo of Marilao was shocked yesterday when he saw the garbage floating in the water in Prenza Dam. Guillermo conducted ocular inspection in the area after learning about the “garbage invasion.”

He said he immediately sent investigative team to determine the source of the garbage which “suddenly appeared in the area.”

The local government unit has been conducting beautification project in the area by turning it into a mini park.

Municipal agriculturist Hilario Francisco said the wastes coming from the other end of the mini-dam that holds water coming from Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, are not only threatening the water system but also endanger several farmlands, which obtain water from the dam. He said they were forced to close the irrigation system supplying water to farmlands because of the extent of the pollution.

On Feb. 20 this year, a multi-sectoral group, headed by the DENR, the local government and some civic organizations visited the Marilao River at the launching of the project.

In his message, Environment Secretary Lito Atienza said he wanted to rehabilitate the river, which has been identified by a New York-based environment group as among the 30 dirtiest places in the world.

Earlier this month, residents living near the Marilao River woke up to the stench of a chemical waste floating down the river. Several men, believed to be responsible for the drum of alleged toxic chemicals found in the river, were held for questioning.

Garbage reportedly coming from a relocation site in Bagong Silang finds it way directly into rivers in San Jose del Monte and Meycauauan cities and Marilao especially during high tides and strong rains. Creeks leading to Bulacan carry the wastes.

Household and factory wastes in Bulacan were also being blamed for the deteriorating condition of the river.

Angeles said at least 200 dump trucks are needed to haul the wastes from the dam.

“We have been watching our own people and using all available threats to stop them from polluting our river, but there seems to be no stopping other people from the other end of the dam from disposing their garbage improperly. This is very unfortunate,” Angeles said.

‘Save Ifugao terraces’

By: Bernadette E. Tamayo
April 10, 2008 [ ]

SEN. Edgardo Angara wants to formulate a 10-year Cordillera Terraces Master Plan for the preservation and restoration of the world-renowned Ifugao Rice Terraces.

He filed a bill identifying measures to preserve and bring back the natural grandeur of the Ifugao Rice Terraces, which was placed in the World Heritage List in Danger in 2001.

The major components of the 10-year Cordillera Terraces Master Plan are the restoration of the area’s terraces, the protection and maintenance of ecological balance, the rehabilitation of the age-old irrigation systems and massive reforestation.

“The Ifugao Rice Terraces is known worldwide as the 8th Wonder of the Old World and the country’s prime tourist destination. They are the living testament to the Ifugaos’ mastery of watershed ecology, terrace engineering, and water distribution. Unfortunately, the condition of the terraces has continuously deteriorated,” Angara said.

“The terraces of the Cordilleras are truly a rare engineering achievement and the Philippines is racing, nay, scrambling against time to save them from deterioration,” he stressed.

The Ifugao Rice Terraces and Cultural Heritage Office cited several factors causing the deterioration: loss of bio-diversity due to bio-piracy, unregulated hunting and indiscriminate use of new technology and introduction of new species; reduced farm labor due to increasing out-migration of farm labor force; erosion and siltation due to destruction of watershed; land use conversion and abandonment of rice terraces due to damaged rice terraces; and insufficient irrigation water supply, limited income from rice farming, shift in values and priorities of the people, unregulated land use and physical planning.


Sy group consolidates hotel properties

Vol. XXI, No. 176 [ Business World Online ]
Wednesday, April 09, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

SY-LED property holding firm Shoemart, Inc. has formed SM Hotels Corp. as it consolidates its hotel assets and takes advantage of the rising demand for investment grade tourism-related projects such as hotels and resorts.

Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay City

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved the articles of incorporation of the new company, with an authorized capital of P1 million.

The authorized capital stock of SM Hotels will consist of 10,000 shares with a par value of P100 apiece.

Corazon P. Guidote, vice-president for investor relations of listed holding company SM Investments Corp., told BusinessWorld the Sy group is consolidating its property assets under one property group called Shoemart.

The latter, a subsidiary of SM Investments, which will eventually have four divisions: residential and commercial development, tourism and hotel operations, Ms. Guidote said.

SM Investments has interests in four areas: shopping malls, banking, real estate development and tourism.

"SM Hotels is a legal vehicle. We are considering the most efficient way of reorganizing or injecting property assets into our property group," Ms. Guidote said.

She added that the Sys want to put their hotel assets in one company and create a distinct business group. "It will be easier for investors to see what we are doing."

Under SM Hotel’s articles of incorporation, it will operate and maintain clubhouses, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, refreshment parlors, cocktail and music lounges, amusement and entertainment outlets, and sports and recreational facilities within the hotels and resorts it may acquire, own or lease.

Shoemart owns 99.8% of SM Hotels, subscribing to 2,495 shares worth P249,500. It has paid P62,000.

The children of mall magnate Henry Sy, namely Henry T. Sy, Jr., Elizabeth T. Sy and Harley T. Sy bought one share each worth P100, along with SM Investments Executive Vice-President Josefino C. Lucas and SM Investment hotel investment group Senior Vice-President Merril F. Yu.

Mr. Yu, an international hotelier with over 20 years of experience in Asia, North America and Oceania, earlier said SM Investments had lined up three projects this year worth P5.65 billion.

These are the P650-million expansion of the landmark Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay City, a P2.6-billion hotel in Cebu City next to the SM City Cebu mall, and the P2.4-billion upscale Radisson Hotel and Regent Hotels & Resorts within the SM Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City.

The P2.8-billion five-star hotel in Cebu will be carrying the Sofitel brand after SM Investments signed a contract last year with European hotel management firm Accor to operate the 400-room hotel. It will open by the end of this year, Mr. Yu said earlier.

Sofitel is Accor’s high-end brand. The European leader in hotels and tourism, Accor operates over 3,800 hotels with 450,000 rooms in 90 countries.


Senate environment committee sets on-site probe of hanjin high-rise development

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 [ ]

Senate environment committee sets on-site probe of Hanjin high-rise development Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Chairperson Senator Pia Cayetano will lead an on-site inquiry on the controversial construction of two high-rise condominiums in the middle of the Subic Bay Freeport rainforest on April 25.

Cayetano said the public hearing will seek to determine whether existing environmental laws and regulations were violated when the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) allowed South Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Ltd. to put up two high-rise buildings for the housing of its staff right inside the Subic Bay Watershed Forest Reserve.

The inquiry intends to come up with remedial measures to prevent similar incidents in the future, she added.

The Subic Bay Freeport has a sprawling land area of 13,600 hectares, why did the condominiums have to be built inside a protected rainforest? The SBMA should explain.

“I hope the parties involved would be willing to appear and answer all criticisms being raised about this project at the Senate probe,” she added.

She noted that at least three crucial issues would be tackled by the inquiry.

“First, we’d like to review the propriety, or lack thereof, of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between DENR and SBMA. This supposedly gave the latter full autonomy over matters concerning the environment in Subic, including the 10,000-hectare protected watershed.”

“Second, we’d like to look into the Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued for the so-called twin towers of Hanjin. Who were the people who approved it and what was their basis? How were they able to reconcile their decision with the project’s potential impact on the biological diversity and productive capacity of the watershed? Are the mitigating measures they recommended in the ECC sufficient, and are these being complied with?”

“Third, we want to verify certain claims that the coverage of the watershed had been vastly reduced from 10,000 hectares (as originally set aside by Proclamation No.926) to only 8,000 hectares, and whether this had a bearing in justifying the construction of the condominiums inside a so-called ‘development zone’ within the protected watershed.”

Among the resource persons to be invited include Environment Secretary Lito Atienza, SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga and Ecology Center Chief Amethya dela Llana-Koval, Hanjin President Shim Jong Sup, Bantay Kalikasan Managing Director Gina Lopez, environmentalist groups and local communities to be affected by the project.


Senate environment committee sets on-site probe of hanjin high-rise development

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 [ ]

Senate environment committee sets on-site probe of Hanjin high-rise development Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Chairperson Senator Pia Cayetano will lead an on-site inquiry on the controversial construction of two high-rise condominiums in the middle of the Subic Bay Freeport rainforest on April 25.

Cayetano said the public hearing will seek to determine whether existing environmental laws and regulations were violated when the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) allowed South Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Ltd. to put up two high-rise buildings for the housing of its staff right inside the Subic Bay Watershed Forest Reserve.

The inquiry intends to come up with remedial measures to prevent similar incidents in the future, she added.

The Subic Bay Freeport has a sprawling land area of 13,600 hectares, why did the condominiums have to be built inside a protected rainforest? The SBMA should explain.

“I hope the parties involved would be willing to appear and answer all criticisms being raised about this project at the Senate probe,” she added.

She noted that at least three crucial issues would be tackled by the inquiry.

“First, we’d like to review the propriety, or lack thereof, of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between DENR and SBMA. This supposedly gave the latter full autonomy over matters concerning the environment in Subic, including the 10,000-hectare protected watershed.”

“Second, we’d like to look into the Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued for the so-called twin towers of Hanjin. Who were the people who approved it and what was their basis? How were they able to reconcile their decision with the project’s potential impact on the biological diversity and productive capacity of the watershed? Are the mitigating measures they recommended in the ECC sufficient, and are these being complied with?”

“Third, we want to verify certain claims that the coverage of the watershed had been vastly reduced from 10,000 hectares (as originally set aside by Proclamation No.926) to only 8,000 hectares, and whether this had a bearing in justifying the construction of the condominiums inside a so-called ‘development zone’ within the protected watershed.”

Among the resource persons to be invited include Environment Secretary Lito Atienza, SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga and Ecology Center Chief Amethya dela Llana-Koval, Hanjin President Shim Jong Sup, Bantay Kalikasan Managing Director Gina Lopez, environmentalist groups and local communities to be affected by the project.


Baguio Teachers Camp turns 100

[ Manila Bulletin Online ] April 9, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — The Baguio Teachers Camp (BTC) based here, the country’s premier training and convention center for teachers and students, marked its centennial anniversary last April 6 by implementing restoration and rehabilitation work on its facilities to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Established on April 6, 1908, BTC started as a series of tents operating as training areas for the American Thomasites, the pioneering teachers who founded the country’s public school system.

It is now a 23-hectare land with permanent lodging facilities such as halls and cottages and is home to several offices, including the National Educators Academy of the Philippines (NEAP), the training arm of the Department of Education (DepEd).

The BTC has hosted thousands of families, students, and teachers and has been the site of hundreds of meetings, seminars, and conventions.

The DepEd has deemed it necessary to upgrade the BTC’s facilities in order for it to continuously function as an excellent venue for training and recreation for the next 100 years.

DepEd Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya, the head of the special task force assigned to oversee the conservation and rehabilitation efforts at the BTC, said he was ordered by Education Secretary Jesli A. Lapus to develop a master plan that will make the BTC an ideal training and vacation haven for educators, students, government employees, and the people.

P500-million IT, tourism projects receive perks

Vol. XXI, No. 176 [ Business World Online ]
Wednesday, April 09, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

THE BOARD of Investments (BoI) has granted tax perks to two Filipino companies with combined investments of nearly P500 million to put up a new information technology (IT) firm and a tourism-related project, respectively.

Documents from the BoI showed Electronic Network Cash Tellers, Inc. (Encash), which focuses on software development, invested P223.6 million to provide Philippine rural banks a proper, secure and flexible automated teller machine service through a new banking software application called Savant. The Savant application software provides a centralized, multi-branch, Web-based, online system with account balance updates performed in real time. The software is Web-based to eliminate the need for expensive communication services and is centralized, supporting multiple branches with a single relational database.

The Go Green Adventure Tours, Inc., meanwhile, invested P250 million to operate an eco-tourism project in Nasugbu, Batangas, which will start operating this May. It will provide tour packages to local and foreign tourists that include outdoor activities such as sky diving and deep sea diving, wind surfing, snorkelling, and mountain treks, among others. — BSSD


Guidelines set for govt,private sector joint ventures

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 [ ]
By Darwin G. Amojelar, Reporter

THE board of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on Tuesday approved the guidelines covering government and private sector partnerships, paving the way for the investment of a Chinese real estate firm in a prime lot at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Augusto Santos said the NEDA board has approved the guidelines for all negotiated projects that government agencies and private sector firms will undertake as joint ventures.

Santos said the approved guidelines will pave the way for the development of the $2-billion project at the Bonifacio Global City proposed by Chinese real-estate giant Shimao Property Holdings Ltd.

“With the approval of the guidelines, the [Shimao] project may push through,” he said.

Besides developing a property in Taguig, the Chinese firm is also planning a 500-room resort with two towers in Calicoan Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

Earlier, NEDA announced 10 priority projects that will be implemented through public and private partnerships. These are the Operation & Maintenance (O&M) of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx); the 300-million-liter water per day (MLD) project of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) worth P5.20 billion; the 50-MLD Wawa River Project worth P1.95 billion; and the Department of Energy’s Power Capacity Requirements for the Luzon Grid of 1,950 megawatts (MW) from 2010 to 2014, Visayas Grid of 820 MW from 2011 to 2014, and Mindanao Grid, 850 MW from 2009 to 2014.

The 10 projects are included in the updated P2.06-trillion worth Comprehensive Infrastructure Investment Program, which identifies the government’s major infrastructure projects to be implemented from 2007 until beyond 2010.


NWRB prohibits deep well water extraction in Metro

[ Manila Bulletin Online ] April 9, 2008

The National Water Regulatory Board (NWRB) is issuing a regulation prohibiting extraction of water from deep wells as groundwater condition in Metro Manila has become extremely critical.

The NWRB order will amend Resolution 904 issued way back in 2004 which covered the same prohibition but only in certain Metro Manila towns and cities.

Diane Dulce F. Garing, Manila Water Company Inc. (MWCI) marketing manager, said the new order will cover this deep well construction ban all over Metro Manila and Rizal towns.

The ban on water extraction from deep wells has become essential considering contaminated groundwater’s critical effect on human health and the environment.

Severe water extraction from groundwater is also causing salty water’s (seawater) intrusion into groundwater and also the very destructive land subsidence.

Dr. Fernando Siringan and Dr. Carlo Arcilla of the University of the Philippines-College of Science indicated that "too much use of groundwater by typical households and establishments—not global warming—was the bigger reason why metropolis is sinking."

This is why certain local government units (LGUs) like Quezon City and San Juan had voluntarily issued limitations on the water extraction from deep wells.

NWRB is no longer processing permits for deep wells. Those that have been constructed illegally are being issued cease and desist orders.

In the 2004 resolution, NWRB decided to revoke water permits for deep well water extraction only in eight Metro Manila critical areas. This included Guiguinto, Bulacan; Bocaue and Marilao, Bulacan; Meycauayan, Bulacan; North Caloocan; Navotas West; Quezon City; Makati; Mandaluyong; Pasig; Pateros; Parañaque; Pasay, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa; and Dasmarinas, Cavite.

These critical areas were identified by the Consultants for Engineering and Science and Technology (CEST) study as early as in 1994, according to Bolet Banal, Quezon City Councilor and groundwater ordinance author.

CEST also indicated that physical and chemical qualities of water in these areas had critical level of lead which causes renal disease and nervous system damage; manganese which stains clothes; skeletal and dental fluorosis-causing fluoride; kidney and brain-damaging mercury; Alzheimer’s-causing aluminum; thyroid brain-damaging cyanide; cancercausing arsenic; and male reproductive tract-toxic boron.

Banal said that a significant 29 percent of Metro Manila’s towal water usage is from groundwater. This consists 33 million cubic meter (MCM) from water concessionaries, 310 MCM from private deep wells, and 14 MCM from shallow wells.

Aside from damage to human health, lead-filled water also destroys equipment (causing rusty and corroded pipes). Since untreated groundwater extracted through deep wells contain metal and other mineral deposits, this can destroy storage tanks, pipes, and other facilities.

Flooding is also a cause of ground water extraction. Floods take longer to subside in Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela due to unregulated pumping of underground sources.

Other adverse effects of excessive ground water extraction are ground deformation causing fissures and enhanced fault lines, increase in high tides in certain areas, increasing flood depths.

Garing said MWCI is now partnering with LGUs in the enforcement of the NWRB prohibition as part of "helping people contribute to environmental protection."

‘Hanjin condo aboveboard’–SBMA

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 [ ]
By Anthony Bayarong, Correspondent

South Korean firm complied with Freeport regulations, was not given preferential treatment

SUBIC BAY Freeport: Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Administrator Armand Arreza on Tuesday said that he is open to any inquiry or investigation regarding the controversial 22-storey Hanjin Condominium.

He also stressed that the construction could no longer be stopped even if some senators and environmentalists over the weekend made an issue out of its construction, even demanding an investigation.

The Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) also sought to cancel SBMA’s power to issue Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC) but Arreza was quick to say that in order to do that DENR has to amend the law, specifically the RA 7227 which allows SBMA to issue ECC and other permits to locators.

“If they want to do that and remove the issuance of ECC from us they must first amend the law,” Arreza said while stressing that under the circumstances, the condominium development has been regarded as the “best use of land” for the former assembly of weapons area left by the US military in 1991.

“This area was previously used for conversion of second hand vehicles, which is more of an environment risk. Under our current zoning guidelines, the Cubi-Triboa area is a residential area, and is better suited to the environment,” Arreza clarified during a press conference on Tuesday.

Arreza said the $20 million condo project was built on a pre-existing developed area and will have a state of the art solid waste and wastewater treatment facility.

“All lands in Subic are protected, but in varying degrees. Under our management plan, this area may be used for residential purposes and the core ecological zone, which are the no-touch, no development areas are more than 2 kilometers away,” Arreza explained.

He also explained that the two condo units, one with 22-storeys and another with10 storeys will be used by Hanjin officials and staffs.

“All rules and regulations were complied by Hanjin, so it is rather unfair to say that they were given special treatment in this project,” Arezza said.

He also explained that the trees that were cut during the construction of the units were non-prime species of trees and that Hanjin has replaced them with a ratio of 1:25.

“This only shows that the 3-hectare land being developed by Hanjin was already cleared and flat way before the construction began,” Arreza said.

He added that based on their study, no wild mammals and no threatened, endangered or rare species of plants have been identified within the project site and there are no indigenous people residing in its vicinity.


Tagaytay Highlands developer more than doubles profit on new project

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 [ ]

THE developer of Tagaytay Highlands told the Philippine Stock Exchange on Tuesday that its profit last year more than doubled as gross sales value surged due to brisk sales of its latest real estate project.

In its disclosure, Belle Corp. said its net income jumped by 118 percent to P332 million year on year, as gross sales value more than doubled to P1.5 billion from P684 million in 2006. Net revenues from operating sources at end-December grew by 7 percent to P622 million.

The company attributed the growth to the “favorable market reception” of Belle’s newest upscale residential project, Lakeside Fairways, as well as the continued lot sales in Plantation Hills at Greenlands and The Verandas at Saratoga Hills.

“The robust economic outlook for the Philippines and the relatively stable political environment were major contributors to the strong performance of Belle during 2007, as well as for the whole economy. We continue to be bullish on the high-end property market in the Philippines for 2008 despite the recent slowdown in the US economy,” Willy Ocier, Belle vice-chairman, said.

The company’s farm lots subdivision, Plantation Hills, was completed in 2005 with the fourth phase done during the first quarter of last year. The latest phase of the project called The Ranch, will be launched this year.

Development for The Verandas started two years ago and was completed in December, while Lakeside Fairways, a lots-only subdivision at the south of the existing Tagaytay Midlands golf course, was introduced April last year. At end-December, the first four phases of Lakeside Fairways were 86-percent sold. Revenues from Lakeside Fairways lots pre-sold last year will appear in Belle’s books this year.

The firm’s operating expenses, including depreciation and amortization, grew by 10 percent to P143 million year on year due to higher project activity. This led to an income of P257.6 million from real estate operations or 25 percent higher than previous year.

Equitized net earnings from associated companies rose by 37 percent to P72.2 million and these came from its 36-percent owned associate, Highlands Prime Inc., as well as from its 34-percent owned associate, Pacific Online Systems Corp.

Interest expense dropped by 9 percent to P223.1 million on the back of lower interest rates. Due to the appreciation of the peso against the dollar, Belle earned P166.1 million in foreign exchange translation gain last year or almost 88 percent higher from its dollar-denominated debt of about $22 million.

Total assets grew by 2.5 percent to P9.51 billion while cash and cash equivalents increased by 10 percent to P63.3 million year on year. Receivables rose by 27 percent to P431.6 million due to its new projects.-- Likha C. Cuevas-Miel


$20-M medical and wellness center inaugurated in Subic

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 [ ]

SUBIC BAY Freeport: A $20-million medical facility was inaugurated here Tuesday by Dr. Solita Monsod, who will serve as chairman of the center.

The George Dewey Medical and Wellness Center in Subic is among the best in the country and can be at par with medical facilities in Metro Manila, such as St. Luke’s once it becomes fully operational, said Chairman Dante A. Ang of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), who was one of the dignitaries at the event.

“This medical and wellness center when completed will have amenities such as a nursing home, a gym, a shopping cen­ter, a swimming pool, a bow­ling alley, and a billiards hall, so that visitors and patients would have extra activities when they are here,” he added.

Ang described the medical and wellness center as a “one-stop medical and wellness community.”

Operated and maintained by the George Dewey Medical College, the George Dewey Medical and Wellness Center will employ 300.

Ang said they have recruited doctors trained from Singapore and Europe.

Located at the former Cubi Hospital Complex, which is in the heart of Subic Bay, the medical facility now has 50 beds and has plans to add another 150.

Besides the amenities, Ang said the medical and wellness center also boasts of the latest equipment.

Among those who also attended the inauguration were Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Administrator Armand Arezza, Olongapo City Mayor James Gordon Jr., SBMA Senior Deputy Administrator for Business and Investments Hermenegildo Atienza 3rd, and members of the Subic Bay Chamber of Commerce. -- Anthony Bayarong


BCDA won’t bid out Taguig realty project

Vol. XXI, No. 175 [ Business World Online ]
Tuesday, April 08, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

STATE-RUN Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) will not bid out a multibillion-dollar real estate project in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig and is instead trying to convince local property developers to partner with China’s Shimao Property Holdings Ltd.

A view of Pacific Plaza from McKinley
Road at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

The Shanghai-based property developer had promised to invest $2-$4 billion in a high-end hotel and mixed-use buildings in the area as early as last year, but the government rejected its proposal in the absence of guidelines on joint ventures.

An industry source said the BCDA will wait for the guidelines to be issued by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) instead of inviting bidders for the projects to make sure the country could win Shimao’s promised investments.

The BCDA, which oversees the disposition and development of former military lands, had spoken with top property firm Ayala Land, Inc. for a joint venture with Shimao, the source said. The BCDA is planning to talk to Andrew Tan’s Megaworld Corp. as well, said the source, who wished to remain unnamed.

BCDA Vice-President Aileen Zosa declined to talk about Shimao, but said the agency would issue a statement within the week. Ayala Land and Megaworld officials could not be reached for comments.

"BCDA is taking a second look at this. If one of our local players enters a joint venture with Shimao, it will have an entirely new tact. BCDA is talking with the Ayala group if it’s willing to start exploratory talks with Shimao," the source said.

Last week, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced that Shimao was proceeding with its investments. The announcement came after she met with Shimao officials during a trip to Hong Kong for an investment conference.

Malacañang said Shimao had lined up two projects in the Philippines — a hotel complex in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig and a resort in Calicoan Island in Eastern Samar.

In March, Ms. Zosa said the BCDA was encouraging Shimao to take part in the public bidding because of its financial expertise and muscle to enhance the Bonifacio Global City. She said the government was not shutting its doors on the firm and wants it to come here.

"NEDA has yet to issue the guidelines, but this could be a fresh beginning for Shimao," the source said.

Last month, the BCDA rejected Shimao’s unsolicited proposal to develop an eight-hectare property in North Bonifacio after the NEDA failed to issue guidelines on joint ventures.

The rules would have included a Swiss-challenge process for unsolicited proposals. A Swiss challenge is a form of public procurement that requires an agency that has received an unsolicited bid for a public project to publish the bid and invite third parties to match or exceed it. — Bernardette S. Sto. Domingo


Ayala Land to build first Global City hotel

Vol. XXI, No. 175 [ Business World Online ]
Tuesday, April 08, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

AYALA LAND, Inc. is building the first luxury hotel at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig together with the Shangri-la Hotels Group as it capitalizes on the booming demand for hotel rooms in the area.

The project is part of the development of the West Superblock area, which will also feature a new premium grade office building that will house the unified Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) and a museum, Ayala Land President and Chief Executive Jaime I. Ayala said in a report.

Marivic Añonuevo, corporate business division head of the property unit of conglomerate Ayala Corp., said the four-star hotel would rise near Bonifacio High Street and Serendra.

Construction of the four-star hotel will start in 2010. It is expected to be completed a year later. "We’re also finalizing our [hotel] operator there," she added without citing investment figures. Ms. Añonuevo said the hotel would still cater to business executives since hotels aimed at this market are suffering from tight supply.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ayala said construction of the new PSE building is expected to start in the second half, making it Ayala Land’s first premium headquarters-type office building project since 1998.

He noted that land values at Bonifacio Global City had nearly doubled in the past two years, almost close to land values in some areas of the Makati central business district.

"[At Bonifacio Global City], value appreciation has been even sharper as our priming activities continue to bear fruit and attract more and more locators and land purchasers," he said.

Ayala Land will also co-develop a 7,377-square meter property at the corner of Ayala Center in Makati. The $153-million project, which Ayala Land signed with the Kingdom Hotels Group in March, is expected to kick off the redevelopment of the area.

The venture will include the development of a 300-room Fairmont Hotel, a 30-suite Raffles Hotel and 189 Raffles-branded private residences.

Ayala Land has earmarked P24.3 billion in capital expenditures this year, P10 billion of which it plans to raise through bank loans and bond issuance. Of the total budget for 2008, only 1% will go to the hotel business, which is categorized under the company’s support businesses along with property management services.

Ayala Land posted a 13% growth in net income in 2007 to P4.4 billion, while consolidated revenues inched up by 1% to P25.7 billion from the year earlier.

Controlled by one of the country’s old rich families, Ayala Land hit the front pages of newspapers last year when a section of its premier shopping mall, the Glorietta, exploded. The police blamed the incident on building administrators, but the company suspects foul play.

On top of the mall blast, one of Ayala Land’s units, Avida Land, lost a case where it had been accused of copying the modular design of a small player in the local property scene. — Lovely Nica P. Lee


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