SM Seaside City ushers new beginnings for Cebu!

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

All roads in Cebu City leads to the much awaited and newly opened SM Seaside City at the South Road Properties (SRP) which had a formal blessing last Thursday afternoon with no less than his eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and his excellency Archbishop of Cebu Jose Palma officiating the Holy Mass. On hand to cut the ribbon was Mrs. Felicidad Sy, wife of Mr. Henry Sy and Hans Sy, president of SM Prime Holdings Inc. with Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III. In his speech, Cardinal Vidal recalled the times if yesteryears when he would visit Mrs. Sy in the SM Store in Avenida Rizal in downtown Manila.

But the new SM Seaside City is for us Cebuanos not just another shopping mall that we can be proud of, that when we have visitors coming we’d be taking them to SM Seaside City, as it will be one of Cebu’s “must see” tourist destinations. If you were playing golf at the Alta Vista Golf & Country Club, you’d think that the SM Seaside City is a huge luxury vessel that just docked in the pier in Cebu City. But from the air as you arrive from Manila, SM Seaside City looks like a huge alien spaceship that landed at the SRP. The edifice is circular and I reckon that it is one of the biggest, if not the biggest SM store in the country!

Mind you, the opening of SM Seaside City also marked a new beginning for Cebu because the SM Group has already brought in 77 Hybrid air-conditioned buses to ply certain routes within Cebu City. Cebu has just waited too long for that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to materialize.

At the way the government bureaucracy is dragging its feet, I don’t see the BRT operating in Cebu City in the next three years. But the private sector won’t wait for the BRT and so SM will have to push through with its new buses and I dare challenge the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to grant these buses its approval or we just might file cases against these useless national government agencies because those 77 Hybrid buses are already here waiting to start operations.

During the inauguration of the SM Seaside City, I learned (but did not yet see it) that they brought back the Ice Skating Rink inside this fabulous Mall. I also got hold of new information… first that the group that brought you the Manila Ocean Park in Luneta is also opening one in Cebu. This is a tourist destination that Cebu direly needs.

Lastly, I heard that SM would soon be constructing the ARENA at the SM Seaside City just like what they have in the Mall of Asia! When SM does this…. (I hope they’ll build a bigger one than that in MOA) Cebu will finally have the right place to hold those concerts that are only happening in Manila. Kudos to the Sy family and the SM Prime Holdings for the opening of the SM Seaside City. You make us Cebuanos proud of SM!

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Two weeks ago, just before I left for Osaka, I saw a news headline that screamed,…”STL Operators Cheat Gov’t of P50B, says NBI.” This is something that we’ve already written about in this corner sometime ago because we have heard the horror stories that the so-called “Small Town Lottery” (STL) was conceived with the singular purpose of getting rid of the jueteng or numbers game or here in Cebu we call it “Masiao.”

I never doubted that STL operators have cleverly used the legal STL to freely operate their jueteng operations without need to hide unlike what they did in the past where being raided by the police was an everyday occurrence. Of course the old jueteng lords always had “police” protection. The same is true here in Cebu where Masiao operators hide under the umbrella of the STL. In short, the STL did not replace the jueteng or masiao; it merely provided a legal cover for that illegal numbers game to flourish.

Because the STL is already legal, we haven’t heard the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) say anything against it. Alas, this kind of scheme, which was born out of a noble plan, has failed miserably to curtail the evil of the numbers game. This gives a true perspective of that old proverb that declared, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions!”

This is the challenge that we should drop in front of Pres. Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino  III to immediately put a halt to all STL operations and order the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to dismantle these operations and declare STL operators that continue to run their stalls as illegal. But then we go back to the good old cat and mouse game of catch!

In a sort of way, you can add the STL as one of the massive failures of the Aquino regime, which has only caused a grave embarrassment to the people who do not have any need to play the numbers game. But since I arrived from Osaka, I haven’t heard of any Presidential order from Malacañang to stop the STL simply because the Aquino regime is always in denial of any bad news and also it is because God has taken away even his little understanding.

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