Iloilo electrified by Mega World development plan
THE SOUTHERN BEAT  - Rolly Espina () - October 23, 2007 - 12:00am

Bacolod is still reeling from an almost one-week revelry that Masskara has become over the years. But, I went to Iloilo over the weekend and encountered an infectious electrical expectation over the future prospects of the city.

In short, as Mayor Jerry Treñas pointed out to me, by January, the Mega World will start putting up the first projects it envisions for its Business Park in the sprawling site of the former Iloilo airport. Mega World bought the center for P1.2-billion, winning the bid from three others.

It was apparent that Ilonggos were thrilled by the prospects of the Business Park and what it could mean for the city, especially in terms of jobs.

For Mayor Treñas, the first consideration are the many work opportunities from local construction workers. And, later, the many IT employees that could be given work.

Lorenzo Coloso Jr., a local businessman, poured out ideas while conversing with Treñas. And the conversation rambled to a lot of other development projects, including the still to be inaugurated flyover (still unfinished) and several others.

Even Francis, younger businessman brother of Mayor Jerry, was just as impressed by the picture of Iloilo’s immediate future as outlined by Treñas.

“That, plus your future city hall, represent your legacy to Iloilo,” chortled Coloso. Treñas, incidentally, is on his third term and is no longer eligible to run for mayor in the next election.

The city is not called upon to put up a lot of infrastructure for Mega World, Treñas observed. The area has already been built up. The only problem are the squatters who need to be relocated. But, as pointed out by the Iloilo mayor, Mega World has already its planned relocation site and has completed plans for the resettlement of the illegal settlers.

The major problem is power. Mega World, Treñas said, needs about 36 megawatts by next year to power its development program.

That’s the reason why Treñas and the city’s Sangguniang Panglunsod have tagged the possibility of a coal-powered plant as the source of the power needs of the ambitious program.

Actually, based on the development plan of the Mega World, Iloilo will have thousands of Ilonggos up for employment in the near and far future. And Treñas disclosed that investors have already been lining up in droves for inclusion in the project.

Iloilo will by the near future really be the regional capital of Western Visayas,” was how Coloso put it to Treñas during our visit to the Iloilo City mayor.

That explained the giant expectations one can see on the faces of the hundreds of visitors who crowned in front of Trenas’ office at the Robinson’s mall where he holds office. Incidentally, his office at the mall is rent free. And one can immediately appreciate the business wisdom of Robinson’s management in giving him free the office.

I shall write later about the P350-million eight storey city hall that Iloilo is now constructing. These are mind boggling developments in the Queen City of Western Visayas. No wonder that Mayor Treñas was grinning all the time that we were discussing the prospects of Iloilo City.

Consular corps cite Bacolod Masskara

The recently-concluded Masskara festival of Bacolod certainly was a major success. Not only were there more foreign attendants, but it also won the accolades from the consular corps. This is the group representing the different foreign embassies in Manila.

They particularly highlighted the impressive accommodation of foreign diplomats, said former congressman John Orola Jr.

Wednesday, Orola said, he and Mayor Evelio Leonardia have been invited to attend the consular meeting in Manila to receive the recognition of the group.

Several of the foreign diplomats said they are willing to bring their staff to visit Bacolod. These were mostly consular officials from the United States, Ukraine, Lebanon and Mongolia who had witnessed the street and arena dance competitions.

The last days of the festival saw the staging of the first Electric Masskara Festival along Lacson Street.

A lot commented on it as a startling innovation that turned the area from 5th street to North Drive into a party strip with the crowd dancing in the streets to live bands until morning.

German seafood processors and traders were conspicuously among those who joined the street revelers Saturday evening to Sunday morning.

Among the most impressed was former governor Daniel Lacson Jr. So with banker Benjie Gonzaga who said that many of his friends Friday and Saturday attended the Masskara Festival at the party strip Friday and Saturday.

Many, who shied away from the Bacolod Plaza crowd, opted instead to join the fun at the Electric Masskara Festival strip.

Seven bands provided by Smart, Coke and San Miguel kept the crowd dancing on the streets until way past midnight Saturday.

Festival director Eli Tajanlangit received raves from many city officials and the participants for his handling of the “best Masskara ever.”

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