MANILA, Philippines - Fisher Mall could well be referred to as the mall that galunggong built.
The newest mall that will soon open in Metro Manila, Fisher Mall, a project of Irma Fishing, was not constructed overnight. It took years to build its foundation that was literally shouldered by a fisherman who labored hard and honestly to realize an ambitious dream.
The Del Rosario family which owns Irma Fishing is now considered as the country’s largest galunggong supplier. The family is proud of its roots and humble origin. From one wooden fishing boat, Irma Deep-sea Fishing Inc. now has over 100 vessels going out to sea to haul the best catch everyday.
With their new venture, they hope that instead of fish in the sea, they will catch a sea of customers to shop, dine, and spend precious family time at their mall.
To introduce their venture ahead of its soft opening in the last quarter of the year, the company decided to sponsor and launch their new mall both to the retail industry as well as to the public at the forthcoming 22nd National Retail Conference and Stores Asia Expo (NCRE). The event is organized by the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) and slated on Aug. 7- 8 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
“Why become a sponsor right away? We want to show that we are truly serious about our business and we’re not a fly by night venture. We are here to stay,” said Ray del Rosario, the 28-year old president of Mallers Management Corp. which will operate Fisher Mall. Del Rosario also considers joining the PRA a boost for Fisher Mall because there is an opportunity to learn from other members that have been in the retail business for many years. Such knowledge, he said, is invaluable.
Del Rosario could very well be the youngest to head a major shopping and recreation development in the Philippines to date. What he may lack in experience and wisdom, his father, Bobby del Rosario, can very well supplement.
After all, the elder Del Rosario’s hands were the ones that carefully steered Irma Fishing from the treacherous waters of being just one of those small fishing operators to become one of the major players in the Philippines’ local fish trade industry today.
Ray said that his father is his idol. He was the reason why Ray took up Economics at Pepperdine University in Malibu after finishing a business administration course at the Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, California.
The younger Del Rosario also said his father always imparted to him and his brothers many life’s lessons which they now employ in their lives and form a major part of their mall business’ policies.
A main source of inspiration for Ray is his wife, Sasha, who has been a constant pillar of support ever since they first met in International School Manila.”I really don’t think I could do this without her” said Ray.
Fisher Mall understands the needs of SMEs starting up in retail. “We understand the SMEs, because we know how it is to be a start-up,” Ray shared.
Some of the amenities mallgoers will be treated to at Fisher Mall includes five all-digital theaters that showcases a 1920s “throwback”-themed cinema lobby. Aside from showing the modern blockbuster movies, it will also regularly feature classic films.
This facility will be complimented by a “Venice Boardwalk”- themed gaming arcade. Of all the projects within the mall, Del Rosario is most excited about this one since he used to work as a game tester in the United States while studying at Santa Monica College.
Del Rosario said the arcade space will occupy a 2,400-square meter area that would showcase the “sum of all his (my) experiences in the United States.” Santa Monica is a seaside area in California where there are many stores alongside a boardwalk by the beach.
He added that there are also spaces allotted for fashion-forward trends by up and coming designers, as well as small retailers. He added that while their mall will also feature many foreign brands, there will be several slots made available in their designer gallery for Filipino designers at the Fisher Fashion Store, the anchor department store of Fisher Mall. This will be under the helm of Moleen Del Rosario, wife of Ray’s father, Bobby. Special services such as personal shoppers and style consultations will be made available for all customers.
Apart from these, the Del Rosarios will make sure their customers will be pampered. All their restrooms have piped in music just like in hotels.
One of the mall’s anchor is the Fisher Supermarket. Del Rosario said his younger brother Obby will head this business unit and his main goal is to make fish the cheapest source of protein in the Filipino diet.
Through Irma Fishing, Obby said they intend to supply fresh fish to Fisher Mall’s supermarket at very competitive prices. This is doable because Fisher Mall is only 20 minutes away from “Bulungan avenue” in Navotas where all of Metro Manila’s fresh seafoods are delivered and sold.
Obby said with fewer “pass on” costs, the fish that consumers will get will not only be fresh and sweet but also very affordable. In the Philippines, pass on costs of many food products are the main reason for higher food prices.
“Our customers will be able to taste the difference,” Obby assured.
Despite the number of malls in Metro Manila, Ray still considers it’s now the best time to bring in another mall into the mix. He said the good housekeeping that the Aquino administration did for the country is one of the major reasons for the country’s transformation from the “sick man of Asia” to a rising tiger economy.
Del Rosario also said that given the track of the economy, jobs are increasing and further growth of the country’s middle class is a given.
“We have to look at the economy. We have been given two credit ratings upgrades in succession and this has been great for us. We have a robust economy and we have a growing middle class. We want to cater to that,” he added.