March 23, 2008
TO THE NORTH OR SOUTH?
I am enjoying a pleasant Easter Sunday draft beer, to celebrate my abstaining from asbstinance (it is justified somehow). I decided not to stray too far from Makati this break and instead, explore the possible sites for the future CBD of the Philippines. Both Pampanga and Canlubang have gotten an economic jump-start, so I am keen on investing further in these areas.
We left via chopper from Rockwell at around 10am, stopping briefly for drinks at Calatagan and the new NYK-TDG University in Cavite. I was with the wizened old founder of the leading consulting firm in the country, two businessmen in Shipping and Manning (one of which owns the university we visited), and a Solar Power entrepreneur. This trip was both the chance to survey the area and kick back with mojitos and wine at Antonio's for Easter Break. I have to say that I was astonished at the size of the Nuvali development, its absolutely massive. Ayala Land pegs it as “a new satellite city south of Manila, twice the area of Makati City and seven times that of Bonifacio Global City. Located in the old sugar estates of the Yulo family in Canlubang, the project covers over 1,600 hectares and has a timetable expected to span the next 40 to 50 years. The new lifestyle being introduced here is evolving, or the integration of nature and man in a harmonious living environment. It will provide the much needed relief for the highly congested Metropolitan Manila with its 15 million inhabitants.” This project has been in the pipeline for many years and has finally started; I guess Ayala was able to smooth over differences between the selling parties. It is much like Sim City. Ayala Land develops from scratch, the city of the future… ah the raw creative power… The highway leading to this development and the surrounding areas exist and are being improved, there will also be the new extension road that should ease congestion towards the San Juan, Pagbilao area. There is plenty of room to grow as it is relatively close to Manila/Makati/Alabang. Granted, the Fort and its surrounding area has not come close to being saturated, so Ayala is wise and conservative to expect the time table to run 40-50 years. Beyond the Nuvali lands is the expanse of undeveloped property under the Benitizes, basically from the South Super Expressway to the coast. If there is any chance of developing a well thought out, beautiful Filipino City this is the place to start.
Our sightseeing trip was topped off by a wholesome Antonio’s lunch with good wine to boot. Jetsetting from location to location via chopper has a decadent almost excessive feel to it, however, when you consider that you can complete your business related work, squeeze in an excellent meal, drop into the crater of Taal, and still make it back by 2pm—one realizes that perhaps it is not so much about being excessive as it is about being efficient with one’s time. Anyway, why do we work so hard if not to enjoy life!
Shifting gears and directions, I took off early on Friday to visit the other end of Luzon. The new Subic-Clark-Tarlac highway and my very “expedient” vehicle made quick work of the trip. Starbucks Valero to Subic: 1 hour and 10 minutes FLAT. I think I could have done it faster had there not been so much traffic due to the holy week break. I’ll need to upgrade to a 911 Turbo or Z06 to thoroughly stomp that time (I am so looking forward to it!).
I have always felt that the Pampanga area has been vastly underestimated and in many ways mismanaged. The area between Subic and Angeles should be the city of the future. It has both excellent sea and air ports (both special economic zones), plenty of land to develop, existing economies to enhance, and still a reasonable distance from our current CBD. Entities like UPS, Fed-Ex, APL and… the Koreans (pioneering bunch!) have all moved towards this direction. It should be in this area that the country turns instead of Nuvali. The highway will change many things, but in the end, it will wholly depend on the government who unfortunately has had a poor track record to date. We will have to see how things are going to be handled by the next administration; I hope stability will be at the forefront of their policies. From a personal point of view, I would love to hold office so close to excellent diving, beaches, rock climbing (well, closer anyway) and spelunking. Clark at one time was also my skydiving drop zone when Omni aviation was open. There is so much to do in this area and so much potential.
This will certainly be a topic to revisit, for us young businessmen; these cities give us a chance to get in a little bit early. This development and progress of these locations will be an interesting chapter in Philippine business history in the decades to come.