“The Balesin idea: attract the world’s high net worth individuals to enjoy the most unique beach resort and nature enclaves”
ROBERTO V. Ongpin, my former High School student at the Ateneo de Manila at Loyola Heights, continues to amaze me.
Ongpin’s signature project — the Balesin Island Paradise off Quezon province exclusively for members and their guests, which began 10 years ago — is going international under Alphaland whose chairman and CEO is Bobby Ongpin himself.
It aims to be the members-only-go-to getaway for the rich, famous and the elite and their guests under the umbrella of Alphaland, a debt-free corporation which has high-end properties.
Alphaland has expanded into a a nearby 732-hectare Balesin International Gateway resort complex with freshwater, a 2.5-km runway, five 5-star hotels, an 18-hole golf course and 1,834 beach and of course homes.
The idea: attract the world’s high net worth individuals to enjoy the most unique beach resort and nature enclaves, as members or guests.
Balesin is a 500- hectare island northeast of Manila with white sand beaches, more than Boracay’s white beaches, seven themed villages, 28 restaurants, 386 villas, and unmatched amenities. In an effort to sell Alphaland’s offer to the world, TV spots over CNN will be made.
What amazes me is that Bobby Ongpin has built a $2 billion fortune literally from scratch, starting from his signature project, Balesin, just 115 kms from the country’s capital.
It extends to a portfolio of prime properties in the Makati Business District and up north to Baguio, the summer capital, the Alphaland Baguio Mountain Lodges, which has been called the “Forbes Park” of the summer capital.
Bobby Ongpin in fact wants to open membership of Balesin to high networth individuals overseas, particularly elite from Japan, China, ASEAN, Australia and beyond.
It goes without saying that Balesin will be linked by boat and helicopter to a much bigger resort on Patnunagan Island, 100 kms away, whose beach will open next December.
RVO’s Alphaland is truly the huge profitable Philippine developer of high end resorts and property projects. In fact, it is the only property developer in the world that is debt-free. And it sits on cash deposits of about P1.5 billion.
And yet, RVO says: “ While we are a long way from the pre-pandemic levels as we would like, Alphaland has continued rolling and winning ways.”
Up north, in Alphaland Baguio Mountain Lodges, despite weather problems, a record 54 lodges have been sold during the year, making a total 102 lodges already sold, with 78 finished and now occupied by homeowners.
But Ongpin is not stopping there.
He is now developing a new area north and east of the Baguio Mountain Lodges which he calls Pines Place, which will have 28 large suites, three restaurants (Spanish, Italian and Japanese).
RVO takes pride that the most spectacular element of the Pines Place will be a state-of-the-art spa. He says, “truly we have achieved what we set out to do at Alphaland Baguio Mountain Lodges: Recreating the way Baguio used to be 50 years ago.”
It goes without saying that The Alpha Suites (a complete and state-of-the-art luxury serviced apartments) continue to be the No. 1 Residence-Hotel in the Metro and remains a premier place for leisure and sports.
What Ongpin wants to do is improve Alphaland’s Aegle Wellness to make it No. 1 in the region. But, it seems he is not sitting on Alphaland’s laurels.
Yes, my gulay, I know him. He will not rest until he has achieved what he intends to do. He has built a $2-billion empire literally from scratch, and I am proud to say that he was one of my students in short pants, and now a billionaire.
Go for it Bobby, I know you can do much more!
*** *** ***
Not many people, especially the current generation, know what Ongpin did during the last years of the Martial Law regime.
As a result of the Ninoy Aquino assassination in 1983, there was a mass outflow of capital investments in the country. Even big Filipino conglomerates were pulling out their money from the country to the extent that foreign exchange reserves in the Central Bank were being emptied.
Importation was stopped and debt obligations would not be paid, resulting in the possible collapse of the Philippine economy.
Bobby Ongpin, Ferdinand Marcos’ Minister of Trade and Industry, had a plan.
I know because I was then writing columns for the Times Journal and I frequently visited him.
Knowing that Chinese Binondo foreign exchange traders had dollars, Ongpin gathered them and told them he would not hesitate to have them arrested and put in the stockade, unless they cooperated with him to act together to facilitate foreign exchange transactions.
Thus, the Binondo Central Bank was born, Santa Banana!
In fact, Ongpin dictated to the Chinese foreign exchange traders the exchange rate every day. As a result, imports continued and foreign debt obligations were fulfilled. That, my gulay, in effect, saved the Philippine economy.
The World bank, taking notice of what Ongpin did, even asked him to help the World Bank to resolve the foreign exchange problems of Egypt.
It was unfortunate that the Binondo Central Bank plan of Ongpin did not have its due recognition because events caught up with it when the Marcoses were exiled to Honolulu, and when the Cory Aquino regime came to power.
*** *** ***
President-elect Bongbong Marcos has been meeting with his economic team at his National Headquarters in Mandaluyong to attend immediately to the economic problems upon assumption of office on June 30.
Present during the meeting were nominees Secretary of Finance Benjamin Diokno, Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balikasan, DTI Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Bangko Sentral Governor Felipe Medalla and others involved in economic activities and planning to come up with solutions to present problems of high prices, the need for jobs and how to jumpstart economic recovery.
BBM, according to reports, would like his economic team to attend immediately to the ill-effects of the oil prices going up and having a domino-effect on consumer prices and transportation fares.
The Russian-Ukraine war worsened the economic problems of our country.
Another pressing problem that BBM wants his economic team to attend to is the clamor of many sectors to suspend excise taxes of gasoline and oil.
Santa Banana, these are just some of the problems challenging the incoming President and his administration. People are waiting how Marcos will solve them.
The economic team of Marcos is not yet complete. He still has to nominate his secretaries of agriculture and secretaries of transportation. He has to nominate them before he takes his oath of office on June 30.