Iloilo City: “Tiger Economy” and Ignition Point for the Visayas Region

Last February 21, 2014, I wrote about decentralization of Metro Manila, spreading of government agencies into different parts of the country, and today’s article will focus on the booming city of Iloilo.

We know that Iloilo is one of the places that were hit by the super typhoon Yolanda. And investments will be a big help for the city to rise again.

The City of Iloilo is a highly urbanized city of Panay Island in the Philippines. In the 2010 census, Iloilo City had a population of 424,619 with a 1.8% population annual growth rate.

Every fourth weekend of January, Dinagyang is being celebrated, dubbed as the “Festival of Excellent Folk choreography”. It is a colorful display of street dancing and story-telling. The festival traces its roots as a thanksgiving celebration in honor of Senior Sto. Niño, the child Jesus. Today, it has grown to be one of the Philippines’ most spectacular religious and cultural festivals.

Dinagyang Festival Photo source: fufsblog.blogspot.com; www.myiloilo.net

Dinagyang Festival
Photo source: fufsblog.blogspot.com; http://www.myiloilo.net

Last March 13, 2014 I read in the news paper BusinessWorld written by Daryll Edisonn D. Saclag, that around a hundred billion pesos’ worth of investment projects in Iloilo were pledged to tap the province’s economic potential.

“We’ve been investing and committing approximately P2 billion a year over the last two years, and we feel that this level of commitment can be sustained over the next five to 10 years. That is the amount of capital that we are allocating for the development of Iloilo City,” said Antonino T. Aquino, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of property developer Ayala Land, Inc., at the “Iloilo means Business” forum in Makati City.

(left)Fort San Pedro, (right) The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles Photo source: www.aroundcebu.com;vigattintourism.com

(left)Fort San Pedro, (right) The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles
Photo source: http://www.aroundcebu.com;vigattintourism.com

The company plans also to embark on a major tourism project in northern Iloilo, similar to what they’ve done in El Nido, Palawan-Ayala Land in 2010 entered into eco-tourism agreement through a partnership with the Ten Knots Group for a 60% stake El Nido Resorts.

Edgar J. Sia II, CEO of Injap Investments, Inc. also committed to build more commercial establishments in Iloilo.

“On top of the pioneering, ongoing, and recently completed projects of DoubleDragon [Properties Corp.] in Iloilo, we are pleased to inform you that the company, through its subsidiary CityMall Commercial Center, Inc. (CMCCI), will soon roll out five city malls in Iloilo, with a total project cost of P1.4 billion in the next two years,” said Mr. Sia at the same event.

CMCCI is 66% owned by the 50-50 joint venture of Injap Investments and Honeystar Holdings Corp., chaired by Jollibee Foods Corp. founder Tony Tan Caktiong, and 34% owned by SM Investments Corp.

“Iloilo is not only a great place to expand your business. It is also a highly conducive place to start your business from scratch,” said Mr. Sia, who also founded fast food chain Mang Inasal.

Kevin Andrew L. Tan, first vice-president and head of the commercial division of property developer of Megaworld Corp., said: “We are going to invest P35 billion over the next 10 years as we convert the old Iloilo airport in Mandurriao district into a master plan community complete with luxury residential condominiums, office buildings, tourism and retail establishments, Iloilo convention centers, and sports facilities, among others.”

“What attracted us in Iloilo is its vast economic potential,” said Mr. Tan, adding: “We have always kept an eye on Iloilo given its inherent strength and strong qualities and its enormous potential to become a premier investment destination.”

Dion Ugbebor, CEO of IntraCare, Inc., said the company “plans to bring first class hotel and hospitality accommodation” in Iloilo worth P150-200 million.

Palm Concepcion Power Corp. (PCPC), Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC), Dream Engineering Co., Ltd., Energy Renewables Asia, Inc., and NV Vogt Singapore Pte. Ltd., meanwhile, pledged to build power plants in Iloilo to ensure enough supply in the province and in the Visayas.

PCPC Executive Chairman Walter W. Brown said the company plans to build two power plants worth a total of P24 billion and expected to be fully operational by 2016 and 2018.

Islas de Gigantes in Carles, Iloilo Photo source: www.beachresortphilippines.net

Islas de Gigantes in Carles, Iloilo
Photo source: http://www.beachresortphilippines.net

“We are also constructing on behalf of NGCP (National Grid Corp. of the Philippines) a 42-kilometer power line so that the whole province of Iloilo will be properly supplied. We also initiated talks with NGCP to improve supply lines between Cebu, Negros and Panay so it will be fully stable in the next 2 years,” said Mr. Brown.

Francisco C. Sebastian, GBPC Chairman, said his company recently broke ground on a 150-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant that will supply 30% of the capacity to Iloilo and the balance to nearby Kalibo City and Guimaras province and it is expected to be completed by June 2016.

Dream Engineering Chairman Youn Pyo Hong said his company is putting up a waste-to-energy power plant in Iloilo City worth P1.35 billion. He also said that the company is interested in linking the island of Guimaras and Iloilo City via cable car.

Energy Renewables Asia President James Buskowitz committed to build a P1-1.2-billion worth 6.5-MW photovoltaic solar power plant while NV Vogt Director Nikesh Sinha said the company will be investing P2.5-3 billion in the next three years to put up a 5-10-MW solar power plant.

These projects came as Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog

Bulubadiangan Island, Concepcion, Iloilo Photo source: mybeautifuliloilo.blogspot.com

Bulubadiangan Island, Concepcion, Iloilo
Photo source: mybeautifuliloilo.blogspot.com

invited the business community to invest there, citing the province’s young, highly educated workforce and reliable infrastructure.

Mr. Mabilog also asked investors to take part in government projects, mainly in education, tourism, services, and agro-processing.

Some of the projects include a food processing plant, fruit processing plant, fish processing plant, sugar mill, the University of the Philippines Visayas Community Enterprise Center, sports academy, medical complex, various markets’ redevelopment, and a retirement village.

Given the chance, I would like to set up a business in Iloilo, aside from BPO’s, I want to be involved in a tourism oriented type of business and I would like to offer marine foods like “talaba”, shrimp, squid etc. to the tourists.

By boat, Bacolod City is 45 minutes from the Port of Iloilo. By land, Bacolod City is approximately 3 hours from Iloilo City via Dumangas route. Our next article will focus in the province of Bacolod.

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