Singapore’s Changi Airport should modernize Cebu airport
BULL MARKET, BULL SHEET - Wilson Lee Flores (The Philippine Star) - December 23, 2013 - 12:00am

Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. —Joshua J. Marine

Despite the earthquake and typhoon calamities of 2013, plus political scandals such as the pork barrel scam and some controversies at the start of the Yolanda rescue efforts, 2014 can start with a positive salvo for our Philippine economy if the government successfully awards the contract to modernize our second biggest airport. Our international airports are the first and last places to be experienced by foreign investors and tourists.

Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, undersecretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), said the GMR Infrastructure of India and their local partner Megawide submitted the bid of P14.404 billion for the Mactan Cebu International airport terminal project, followed closely by Singapore’s Changi Airport in partnership with Filinvest Group at P13.999 billion, then coming in third place was the Premier Airport Group of SM with P12.5 billion.

The DOTC Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) is now reviewing the financial bids and will issue a notice of award on Jan. 6, 2014, Lotilla said, adding that the contract with the winning group will be signed on Feb. 6. The winner is expected to build a world-class international passenger terminal building to process eight million passengers a year in the second-largest Philippine airport after the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

I hope that, for the sake of drastically changing our international image of having bad airports and to showcase the Aquino administration’s will to build a globally competitive Philippine economy, we can please give the world’s consistently ranked No. 1 best airport operator Changi of Singapore the chance to modernize and expand our Mactan Cebu International Airport with their local partner Filinvest. 

Let us not make the mistake that former Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon claims the Ramos administration did when it turned down the 1996 bid of world-class port operator Hutchison Whampoa owned by Asia’s wealthiest billionaire Li Ka Shing of Hong Kong to modernize the former US naval base of Subic into an international seaport. Subic is now not a major international seaport for global trade. 

Since Hutchison didn’t get Subic, Gordon told me he advised a visiting Panama president to invite Hutchison to manage the Panama Canal’s Pacific and Atlantic ports. Hutchison won. The US returned control of this canal to Panama in 1999.

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A steel tycoon’s legacy of community service & charities

The Filipino-Chinese business community recently mourned the passing of one of its leaders, Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) honorary president John KC Ng, who died at the age of 74. He was a generous philanthropist who supported many charities for the underprivileged, disaster relief, and donating public schools. He was also an advocate of better Chinese-language education.

Ng was appointed the presidential adviser on the steel industry by former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada and was later appointed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the special envoy for Chinese affairs. Incumbent President Noynoy Aquino was among the leaders who visited his wake.

Though low profile, Ng led an inspiring life as entrepreneur and civic leader. He migrated to the Philippines at age 11, learned the basics of business at his father’s hardware store in Quiapo, Manila, and took over at 25. The country’s top invitations printer Ever Engraving boss Dolores Sy told me that in their post-World War II neighbourhood in Quiapo, they lived in an area which seemed to have great feng shui, producing tycoons like SM’s Henry Sy and Ng himself.

Ng successfully went into steel manufacturing with Cathay Metal and partnered with high school classmate, future tycoon Benjamin Chua Jr. for Cathay Pacific Steel. Ng diversified into realty via Cathay Land, also PC Express for computers and Euro Tiles.

Ng told me that the traditional Confucian values of hard work, perseverance, thrift, filial piety, self-discipline and non-stop studying are important factors for success. Among his hardworking children include Jeffrey Ng, who just finished serving as chairman of the Association of Young Filipino Chinese Entrepreneurs (AYFCE) and Angeline Ng Tan, wife of Lucio Tan Group president and AYFCE past chairman Michael “Mike” G. Tan.

When I was AYFCE president, one of my projects was to hold the movie premiere of the Chinese-language film Hero starring action star Jet Li and Zhang Ziyi, directed by award-winning director Zhang Yimou. When others said the project couldn’t be done due to lack of time and funds, I approached John KC Ng. The business leader shared my belief that Hero’s theme of promoting the idea of self-sacrifice for the public good was relevant to our Philippine society and he volunteered to become its biggest sponsor. The event was successfully held at SM Megamall’s biggest cinema, attended by cabinet secretaries, politicos, academics, students and foreign ambassadors.

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Lino Cayetano:  entrepreneur & soon to marry

Entrepreneurship seems to be a good option for politicians. Taguig congressman and TV director Lino Cayetano has opened his new specialty coffee shop-resto business Luna at the NAC Tower on 32nd Street in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, with friends as business partners.

Luna is a sister company of Slice, elder sister Senator Pia Cayetano’s bakery at Bonifacio High Street Central. Lino is also reportedly set to marry 23-year-old former Ateneo volleyball athlete and now Meralco marketing executive Fille Cainglet. Lino’s elder brother, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, also confirmed the news of his marriage plans.

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Use it to change & upgrade PH economy

Instead of being just a consumer-fueled economy that relies mostly on a flood of imported goods and the foreign-exchange remittances of overseas Filipino workers, the Philippine economy needs higher productivity and competitiveness with better high technology.

IBM Philippines is supporting this advocacy by recently hosting the IBM Think Forum 2013 with the theme “Enabling the Philippines to Lead in the Era of Cognitive” at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. Many leaders from the business community, government and academe attended.

IBM executive Owen L. Cammayo told The Philippine STAR the tech giant is not only a technology innovator, it is also a pioneer in equal opportunities for women at its highest corporate echelons. Mariels Almeda Winhoffer, a graduate of Assumption College, now leads IBM Philippines as its first-ever female president and country manager. In the US, the first-ever female CEO in IBM’s 100-year history, Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, also leads the $119 billion global multinational.

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Rising scion of STI & Philippine life group

Insurance tycoon and port operator Eusebio “Yosi” Tanco’s son Jaeger L. Tanco is quietly but busily helping realize his father’s vision to build up the STI Group’s nationwide chain of schools. They also jointly own the Philippine Women’s University (PWU) with the Benitez family and are also beefing up the newly acquired life insurer Philippine Life Financial Assurance Corporation.

Father Yosi didn’t spoil Jaeger and made him spend school vacations working half-day shifts. He would be tasked to do clerical duties like photocopying documents, which taught him the importance of humility, professionalism and having a work ethic.

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