GMR-Megawide faces challenges in Mactan airport expansion

Delays in the relocation of Philippine Air Force (PAF) structures within the proposed site of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) new terminal could put off the project’s completion by 10 months, an executive of GMR-Megawide said recently.

There are currently 17 Air Force structures scattered throughout the 110.9 acres (44.9 hectares) that span the total area of the Mactan airport expansion project, added GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation chief executive advisor Andrew Acquaah-Harrison.

One PAF building that serves as base terminal for military flights that land in Cebu sits right on the middle of the MCIA Terminal 2 footprint, which has an area of 5.4 acres (2.2 hectares), he further said.

“Under the concession agreement (with the Philippine government), the property was supposed to have been given to us by December 2014,” Harrison said. GMR-Megawide was awarded the contract to undertake the Mactan Cebu International Airport expansion in April last year.

Although a contractor has been picked to undertake the replication of PAF facilities in another area of the Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base and given the signal to proceed, Harrison said the project timeline was for anywhere from 100 to 300 days.

Andrew Acquaah Harrison
GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation chief executive advisor Andrew Acquaah-Harrison updates journalists on the progress in the work on the Mactan-Cebu International Airport new terminal.

Interim solution

According to him, PAF officials continue to reject their proposal for the Air Force to use the nearby MIP (Most Important Persons) Building as a temporary terminal so GMR-Megawide could already start work on the project.

The consortium, he added, is working with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA), and other stakeholders to find solutions to the problem so the new terminal can be completed and opened by February 2018.

Consortium executives had met several times with PAF and MCIAA officials since November to discuss the interim solution but reached no agreement.

He said he understands that the Air Force wants to ensure its operations wouldn’t be compromised, especially if it has to mobilize air assistance in times of catastrophes, but it can still achieve this even if it transfers to the MIP Building.

“The MIP solution is reasonable. There is sufficient area on the (Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Force) apron for half to be occupied by PAF (aircraft) and the other half to be used by the consortium (when it starts work on Terminal 2),” Harrison pointed out. The airport apron is where aircraft are parked, unloaded or loaded, refueled, or boarded.

Cary Santiago design
NEW UNIFORMS. The new uniform of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport staff was designed by Cary Santiago.

Terminal 2 challenges

It would take GMR-Megawide, according to Harrison, only two weeks to redraw its plans once PAF agrees to its recommendation so it could proceed with the work on the terminal and ensure that Air Force operations continue.

Harrison said MCIAA general manager Nigel Paul Villarete informed them recently that Air Force officials were interested in another meeting to discuss the consortium’s suggestion but no date has been set.

“We have certain options under the concession agreement but we don’t want to get into that. We want to open the new terminal on time. We need this capacity,” he added, citing the current terminal was built to cater to an average of 4.5 million passengers but is serving 7 million per year.

Mactan-Cebu International Airport expansion
AIRPORT PROJECT. The area enclosed in red is the Terminal 2 project while those bounded in blue line is the total project area.

Another challenge faced by the consortium is the delay in importing materials needed for the Mactan airport project.

Harrison said the project, as a public-private partnership (PPP) initiative that is worth over P1 billion, can import duty-free materials for three years. Two months after submitting documents so it could avail of this incentive, he added, GMR-Megawide still has to get approval from the Bureau of Investments.


Tsuneishi launches its 1st ‘eco-ship’ in Balamban

Tsuneishi Heavy Industries (Cebu), Inc. (THI) launched in December a premium class vessel that features higher fuel efficiency and a design that reduces wind resistance.

THI said in a press statement that the SC-220 is its first “eco-ship.” It is a 58,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT) bulk carrier that features the higher fuel efficiency design of the TESS58 and the new Aeroline technology for reducing wind resistance.

THI TESS58 Aeroline launching
LAUNCHED. The SC-220 launching ceremony last December at the Tsuneishi Heavy Industries (Cebu), Inc. Slipway No. 2 in Balamban, Cebu. (Contributed photo)

The ship is designed for low fuel consumption. It also has a technology that collects exhaust heat from the generator engine that is then converted into energy for the auxiliary boiler. It is also equipped with TOP-GR (Tsuneishi Optimized Propulsive Gear) propellers for lower vibration and higher propulsion efficiency.

The ship also has a Fresh Air Intake System (FAIS) that boosts engine fuel efficiency. The SC-220, according to the company, will be delivered this March.

“Our shipbuilding business led by Tsuneishi Shipbuilding is continuously seeking ways to build ships that are competitive in quality, price, delivery lead time and with an eco-friendly performance. We are building Tsuneishi flagship products, and therefore we are united to deliver excellent ships. Tsuneishi Heavy Industries has maintained and always will have ‘Only the Best, World-Class Tsuneishi Quality.’” — Akihiko Mishima, THI’s new president

THI said it delivered two vessels last January 9 and 22; a 82,000 deadweight metric ton type Kamsarmax bulk carrier, SC-226 M/V Capricorn Trader, and a 58,000 deadweight metric ton type Handymax bulk carrier, SC-231 M/V Kellet Island respectively.

M/V Kellet Island is en route to Hongkong, while M/V Capricorn Trader is bound for Singapore for bunkering then cargo loading in Australia. Both ships are owned by Japanese nationals.

THI, a joint venture between the Tsuneishi Group and Aboitiz Group, has delivered 191 ships since it started building vessels. IT delivered 20 ships in 2014. This year, THI is set to deliver 18 ships.


Cebu keeps 8th rank in 2015 Tholons outsourcing list

Cebu remains a competitive player in the business process outsourcing (BPO) or business process management (BPM) space as it keeps its eighth rank for the third straight year in the 2015 Tholons International Top 100 Outsourcing Destinations Report. (Download PDF of full report here)

Tholons also put Cebu in eighth place in 2013 and 2014.

Cebu and Manila, which remains in second place, are the only Philippine cities in the top 10 of the Tholons list of preferred outsourcing destinations worldwide. The others are mostly Indian cities, with Poland and China making up 9th and 10th.


Tholons, an advisory company on global outsourcing and investments, released its report on December 2014. It ranks cities based on several categories showing their outsourcing readiness, including quality, availability, and skills of workers in the BPO industry, operations cost, infrastructure readiness, and cost of living, among others.

From seven, the number of Philippine cities in the Tholons top 100 outsourcing list rose to eight with the entry of Metro Clark for the first time at number 98, a Newsbytes report said. The others in the list are Davao (69th), Sta. Rosa, Laguna (82nd), Bacolod (went up seven notches in the rankings to 86th place), Iloilo (91st), and Baguio City (95th), Newsbytes added.


Cebu Yellow Submarine now operates from Hadsan

Although it had highly controversial beginnings, the Cebu Yellow Submarine continues to operate in Lapu-Lapu City and is one of Mactan Island attractions.

Instead of the JPark Island Resort and Waterpark (formerly Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa), the underwater vessel operated by the Cebu Yellow Submarine and Undersea Tour Corp. now docks at the Hadsan Cove Beach Resort in Barangay Agus.

cebu yellow submarine
The Cebu Yellow Submarine can accommodate 50 people and go down to a depth of 35 meters.

I was one of those who were on the first few voyages of the Cebu Yellow Submarine when it first opened in March 2013, shortly before its operations were suspended by the Lapu-Lapu City Government upon allegations that it had destroyed corals in its underwater tour path.

Cebu Yellow Submarine executives settled the issues with the City Government and were permitted to continue doing business in Mactan.

Mactan underwater tour

The tourist submarine brings guests to a depth of 35 meters and takes them on an underwater tour of Lapu-Lapu seas. Guests sit facing the portholes or glass windows that provide them a view of the different fish species and other underwater scenes.

I don’t know if he is still the operations manager but Anelito Gabisan, when he first introduced us to the Cebu Yellow Submarine, said it was the first of its kind in the Philippines.

Since it was a new type of vessel, Gabisan revealed it took them almost a year of working out licenses and safety certifications before they were issued a special permit to operate by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) on March 26, 2013.

A view of the underwater world can be seen through the Cebu Yellow Submarine's glass portholes.
A view of the underwater world can be seen through the Cebu Yellow Submarine’s glass portholes.

The permit had to be based on the international safety certification issued to the tourist submarine by the Korean Registry of Shipping. It allows the submarine to head 500 meters out to sea before going down to a depth of 35 meters, Gabisan added.

Cebu Yellow Submarine schedule

Cebu Yellow Submarine operations at Hadsan Cove start at 9 a.m. Guests interested in booking a tour may call the Cebu Yellow Submarine numbers – 0915-7207000, 0999-7147000, 0933-7197000, 032-5149306 – for reservations or inquiries. Cebu Yellow Submarine rate as of July 2014: Adults (P1,300), Kids 4-12 years old (P900). Kids who are three years old and below ride for free.

Jun Kim, who was the general manager way back in 2013, said the vessel can accommodate around 50 passengers and operate for eight hours during the daytime.

He assured that the vessel is very safe, having undergone stringent inspection by the international accreditation group Korea Registry of Shipping.

The submarine can undertake immediate resurfacing during emergency cases without any ill effects on its passengers, and this was shown during our underwater tour.

Business News

SuperCat Cebu transfers to Terminal 1 in Pier 1

2GO Travel inaugurated on Thursday a ticketing office within Pier 1 in Cebu City for SuperCat fast crafts plying the Cebu route.

The move makes it easier for passengers to book trips on SuperCat vessels travelling from Cebu to destinations like Manila, Tagbilaran in Bohol, Ormoc, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Romblon, and Masbate, a company official said. Noone needs to go into debt while travelling – but occasionally expenses creep up on you, especially if you are having a good time, or travelling with your friends. In Sweden, we got lå to keep some travel money until we flew home.

Business Food

Pancake House brings high-end resto Maple to Cebu

With the number of Cebuanos who dine out growing fast, the Max’s Group, Inc. believes the Cebu market is ready for its upscale American restaurant Maple.

Maple serves American comfort food and its dishes are inspired by South American flavors which carry a lot of spices, said Bernadette Lee, chief operating officer of the Pancake House Group.

The Salmon Catch dish at Maple. It can be grilled, pan-seared, or blackened and comes with orzo pasta and Texas summer veggies.
The Salmon Catch dish at Maple. It can be grilled, pan-seared, or blackened and comes with orzo pasta and Texas summer veggies.

She added that Maple Cebu dishes are the same as those served in the Manila branches as they haven’t changed anything in the menu.

Since the restaurant caters to an affluent and upper middle class clientele, Pancake House Group marketing director Ruby R. Bautista said Ayala Center Cebu was the appropriate choice of location for the first Maple branch outside of Manila.

Maple, which opened in Cebu last month, serves breakfast beginning at 7 a.m. It is operated by Pancake House, which manages restaurants like Pancake House, Le Coeur de France, Yellow Cab, Dencio’s, and Kabisera and was recently acquired by Max’s Group, Inc. It is located at the ground floor of Ayala Cebu’s The Terraces.

Maple Cebu

Lee said the restaurant’s name was inspired by the maple syrup, which is the springboard of a high end pancake house.

The Maple Burger is juicy grilled beef patty that comes with American cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, onion rings, and maple-glazed bacon.
The Maple Burger is juicy grilled beef patty that comes with American cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, onion rings, and maple-glazed bacon.

Their group, which already operates the Pancake House chain, decided to create a more upscale restaurant and named it Maple, explained Bautista.

The Pancake House and Maple menus, however, only have one thing in common and that is pancakes, Lee cited, adding 95 percent of the dishes are different. Bautista said a lot of Maple’s dishes are flavored with the maple syrup.

Since Maple is a new concept in Cebu, people are flocking to the restaurant in droves.

“We realize this will normalize after a few months. Our patrons love our food. This city is growing closer to our heart and we really want to make this work for Cebu,” added Lee.

If the market can sustain a second location, Lee said they may open another branch in the nearby island of Mactan.

Select clientele

There are, however, no plans yet for a Maple outlet in another part of the country.

“We like to keep Maple as exclusive as possible. It caters to a very select market and we’re keeping it quite small,” she pointed out, adding they’re concentrating on growing the other restaurants in the chain such as Max’s, YellowCab, and Pancake House in international locations.

Maple bestsellers include the dinner roast, prime rib tapa, spaetzle Jambalaya, eggs Benedict, Maple salad, and pancakes.

In Manila, there are only three Maple outlets, said Lee. The first one was opened at the San Antonio Plaza Arcade inside the exclusive community Forbes Park in Makati City back in 2012. The two others are in the Shangri-la Plaza Mall and CommerCenter in Alabang.

According to Lee, the number of dining establishments operated by Max’s Group Inc. after acquiring the Pancake House Group is now close to 500, making it the biggest casual dining company in the country.

Pancake House Group executives (R) Bernadette Lee, chief operating officer, and Ruby R. Bautista, marketing director.
Pancake House Group executives (R) Bernadette Lee, chief operating officer, and Ruby R. Bautista, marketing director.

Maple menu

Maple’s breakfast food that is served all day includes pancakes, Belgian waffles, and French toast. In its pasta list are: Spaetzle, farfelle, linguine, and agli olio. It also serves soups, salads, burgers as well as club and ciabatta sandwiches.

For the main course, there’s salmon served with pasta and vegetables, pan-seared crab cakes, fish tacos, fried or grilled chicken, baby back ribs, rib tapa, and chicken steak.

Diners can choose to order their wines by the glass or bottle.

Desserts can either be apple pie, skillet-baked chocolate cookie, sundae, or bread pudding.

Business News

Rustan’s Supermarket opens in new Ayala Cebu location

Rustan’s Supermarket opens today, August 9, at its new Ayala Center Cebu location with 2,800 square meters of space and special grocery offerings.

Olives on display at Rustan's Gourmet to Go section.
Olives on display at Rustan’s Gourmet to Go section.

The new Rustan’s store, which is at Basement 1 of Ayala’s expansion wing, displays its items by categories: poultry, meat, seafood, dairy, grains, pasta and the like.

Rows and rows of local and imported ice cream.
Rows and rows of local and imported ice cream.

“Rustan’s Supermarket is really a lifestyle and you can see it in the way we display and sell things. We don’t only sell local but we’re heavy on imported goods,” said marketing manager Selina Selma-Romualdez during a media tour on Friday.

Casale Paradiso products can only be found at Rustan's Supermarket, according to the store's marketing manager.
Casale Paradiso products can only be found at Rustan’s Supermarket, according to the store’s marketing manager.

According to her, there are many items at the store that can’t be found anywhere else. She cited as example their assortment of Italian brand Casale Paradiso’s products that include the risotto or rice varieties, polenta and cous cous, zuppa or soups, choices of salt, pasta and aromatic mixes.

The new supermarket features a delicatessen section and bakery. It also has shelves for cereals, baby care, pasta and noodles, cheese, yogurt and other items.

The wine and spirits section has a consultant (shown in photo) to help you choose.
The wine and spirits section has a consultant (shown in photo) to help you choose.

One innovation that Rustan’s has brought to its new supermarket is the presence of a consultant at the wine and spirits area. So if you’re confused over which of the top brands to pick, you can always get help from the wine consultant.

Romualdez said they will be carrying more imported items, adding the yogurt section will soon display products from the US and New Zealand.

Gourmet To Go offers prepared healthy salads and sandwiches.
Gourmet To Go offers prepared healthy salads and sandwiches.

Another special offering of Rustan’s Supermarket is the Gourmet To Go area, which ready to eat healthy sandwiches and salads. There are pre-prepared Russian and Greek greens, pasta with pesto, hummus, spinach dip, and quiches. Available sandwiches include hot ham and cheese, chicken galantina, seafood, deli sub and prosciutto with arugula.

Yesterday’s soups of the day were salmon n’ corn chowder and cream of wild mushroom.

Olive oil and special pasta.
Olive oil and special pasta.

At today’s opening and up to August 18, Rustan’s is providing big discounts and buy one take another one offers on many products.

Check out the new Rustan’s Supermarket at it’s opening today and avail of the special opening offers.

Business Places

Imperial Palace rebrands to JPark Island Resort Cebu

By June 1, Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa will start being known as JPark Island Resort Cebu (JPI).

The move is intended to create a common brand for existing and upcoming products and services of Philippine BXT Corp., resort owner and operator, and in recognition of its Korean and Filipino owners, said Reno Bacolod, director of external affairs, during a press conference earlier today, Wednesday.

“The change in brand is due to the (company’s) impending growth, a welcome growth, and one we are looking forward to,” said senior resort marketing and sales manager Angela Emphasis.

She added that the use of Palace in the resort’s name limits any expansion to hotels and some of the plans in the pipeline entail the building of facilities without accompanying accommodations.

“We are building more water parks in other parts of the country and some of them may be without hotels. We are looking at other kinds of properties to reach other audiences,” Emphasis revealed.

Expansion sites

Bacolod said the rebranding is intended to facilitate growth as the company is planning new projects in line with the bullish outlook for tourism in the Philippines.

He added that they are looking at Palawan and Boracay as possible expansion sites. Except say that one big project is scheduled for next year, he did not disclose any other details.

Imperial Palace will start being known as JPark Island Resort Cebu by June 1. (Photo taken from resort website)
Imperial Palace will start being known as JPark Island Resort Cebu by June 1. (Photo taken from resort website)

According to him, the new brand, JPark, pays homage to the company owners, Korean Yong Jun Park and the Uy brothers, Cebuano businessmen whose first names start with J.

The new brand symbolizes the integrity and strength of the product and its owners, Bacolod added.

He further said the JPark brand is very Asian and will continue to serve their predominant Korean market and at the same time attract travellers from other countries in East and Southeast Asia, who represent the fastest growing tourists in the region.

Better services

Other changes that come with the rebranding include better services for guests that include the latest technology innovations in the hotel industry, explained front office manager Dorinda Lim.

Philippine BXT Corporation and Imperial Palace executives announce resort's new brand.
Philippine BXT Corporation and Imperial Palace executives announce resort’s new brand.

There will be counters for free independent travellers and high-profile guests, more trainings for staff, and even paperless transactions, she added.

Although majority of resort guests are currently Koreans, sales and marketing director Myla Mohammad said they are also aggressively developing other Asian as well as the US, China, and Russia markets.

She added they are also working on getting a share in the highly lucrative Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) market.

Among the Philippine BXT Corporation’s plan is to go public, although it still isn’t sure if it would list at the Philippine Stock Exchange or pick internatinal stock markets.

Business Events Places

Filinvest starts work on Il Corso in Cebu

Imagine a strip of land dotted with retail shops, boutiques, bars, cafes and restaurants. Shaded walkways and landscaped gardens allow people to walk along the 11 connected buildings that can be found all throughout its length.

The whole stretch has a view of the sea on one side. At the far end is built a marina for boating and aqua-sports activities. Some distance out to sea but connected to the mainland is a functional lighthouse that will serve to aid sea vessels going by the area.

This is how Filinvest Land, Inc. (FLI) envisions its commercial and lifestyle strip at South Road Properties (SRP) called Il Corso when it opens by the last quarter of 2015.

According to FLI senior vice president for commercial center and retail management Joy Polloso, Il Corso will be the ultimate shopping and lifestyle destination in Cebu.

il corso cebu
An artist’s rendition of Filinvest Land’s commercial and lifestyle strip Il Corso that it plans to open by late 2015.

Il Corso – which is Italian for “the way” – will be a convergence area for family, friends, shoppers, business people, and fitness enthusiasts, she added.

The eight-hectare development, which is part of Filinvest Land’s 50-hectare master-planned community in SRP called Citta de Mare, will set aside spaces for jogging and biking. Across the road from Il Corso will rise FLI’s resort-themed residential town anchored by the Piazza, an Italian-inspired common amenity area.

Filinvest held its first concrete pouring last week to mark the start of construction work on Il Corso. A ceremonial unveiling of the Il Corso lighthouse logo also happened on the same day.

il corso cebu unveiling
Filinvest Group president and CEO Josephine Yap (2nd from R) leads the Il Corso ceremonial unveiling at SRP in Cebu City. (Photo courtesy of Humility Igaña)

A short presentation on Filinvest’s first foray into retail development showed that located in the middle of its Il Corso strip will be a central plaza with a fountain and a vantage view of the sea that can be used for big productions or intimate events.

A major feature, it added, will be a 1,000-seater amphitheater.

“Filinvest is committed to enhancing the development of the Cebu community and enhancing the lifestyle of the Cebuanos” through Il Corso, said Polloso.

Il Corso, according to her, totals 70,000 square meters in floor area but only 36,000 square meters will serve as gross leasable area. The complex will be able to accommodate around 300 establishments that will provide a dynamic array of brands in retail, dining, as well as health and wellness.

Polloso said Filinvest is spending P3 billion for the whole Il Corso development.