Dr. Andrew L. Tan’s speech during Iloilo Business Park ceremonial launch and Iloilo Convention Center inauguration
His Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III, Senate President Franklin Drilon, Honorable Secretary Mar Roxas, Honorable Secretary Greg Domingo, Honorable Secretary Rogelio Singson, Honorable Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Honorable Congressman Jerry Trenas, Honorable Governor Arthur Defensor, Honorable Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, local officials of the province and the city of Iloilo, friends, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
First of all, I would like to officially welcome you all here at Iloilo Business Park, Megaworld’s 72-hectare integrated urban township development and the official home of this world-class Iloilo Convention Center.
Years ago when we were still conceptualizing the development of Iloilo Business Park, our original plan was just to build a community that will mostly cater to the growing BPO industry. Back then, we planned to build several BPO office buildings, residential condominiums, malls and commercial centers that will cater to those living and working in the township, and a hotel with a few rooms just enough to serve the local and foreign expats of the BPO companies.
A year later, the plans have somehow changed when Senate President Frank Drilon and a group of people from the local travel industry opened up the idea of building a convention center to help Iloilo’s tourism industry. So when the Senate President requested for an area where a convention facility may be built, we carefully studied the plan and later decided to support the noble project by donating a 1.7-hectare lot within the township where this convention center stands today.
It was only then that we decided to revise the township’s masterplan. We saw the need for lodging facilities for the guests and visitors of the convention center. Thus, we upgraded and expanded the original hotel plan to accommodate more rooms and amenities, and this is now the Richmonde Hotel Iloilo. In order to further support the convention center’s success, we have also decided to invest more by putting up a second hotel. This time, it is a renowned international brand hotel that can attract not just local conventions but also international conventions. This is the Marriott Courtyard Hotel, which is set to open next year with more than 300 rooms.
Richmonde Hotel Iloilo, which is also officially inaugurated today, has 149 spacious rooms and is proud to be Iloilo’s premiere business hotel today. The hotel’s interiors were designed by world-renowned firm Gettys, the same company that designed international hotels like The Peninsula Hong Kong as well as Marriott Hotel Manila.
Just recently, Richmonde Hotel Iloilo won a prestigious award as a “Highly Commended for Best Hotel Interior Design” at the 2015 Philippines Property Awards.
Indeed, we see exciting times ahead for Iloilo Business Park. Next year, we will also finish the construction of the Festive Walk Mall, our biggest lifestyle mall outside of Luzon. We will be bringing in renowned local and international retail brands to Iloilo.
We are also set to open The Street of Festive Walk, which will be the longest retail and dining strip in the entire Visayas and Mindanao.
At present, we already have three major players in the BPO sector that have chosen Iloilo Business Park as their home in Western Visayas: StarTek, Reed Elsevier and Transcom. In the next five years, we will be completing around 100,000 square meters of additional office spaces that can generate approximately 40,000 jobs in the BPO industry.
In the next five to seven years, we will also see residential condominiums rising in the township, including The Palladium, which will be the tallest residential tower in the whole of Panay Island. By 2022, we expect our residential population to reach around 5,000.
Towards the side of the historic Iloilo River, we are also building Iloilo’s future commercial and financial center, where banks such as Metrobank and Unionbank are set to establish their regional headquarters and offices.
We envision this township to be Iloilo’s central business district and a center for lifestyle and tourism of Western Visayas. In the next five years, we hope to generate around 250,000 direct and indirect jobs for Iloilo, not just in the BPO sector but also in our hotels, malls and commercial centers, residential buildings, transport, security, construction and even here in the convention center.
We hope to encourage future graduates of Iloilo to stay in this beautiful city for work instead of going out to search for greener pastures. We also hope that those who have decided to work in Manila, Cebu or even abroad, will go back to Iloilo, be united with their families and loved ones because they have already found job opportunities here. This is the idea of reverse migration that our townships hope to achieve and contribute to the community and to the country.
We thank the people of Iloilo, led by Senate President Frank Drilon and its local officials, for welcoming us with open arms to your wonderful city. Senator Drilon’s passionate and inspiring leadership has greatly helped Iloilo and the entire Panay Island move forward as a successful model of regional economic development.
We also thank President Aquino and his administration for supporting our projects and visions.
Megaworld will always remain committed to helping the country succeed towards economic progress. Thank you.