CIPC’s role in Cebu’s economic growth
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Freeman) - June 24, 2013 - 12:00am

For our special presentation on our talk show Straight from the Sky tonight, we bring you updates and perhaps the most important message that we’d like to impart to our televiewers… the importance of the Cebu Investment Promotion Center (CIPC) to the economic growth and development of Cebu.

With us tonight is my good friend, Mr. Joel Mari Yu, Managing Director of CIPC, who will help remind you of how Cebu grew through those 19-years with thanks to the great effort of CIPC for the simple reason that foreign direct investments (FDI) do not just come into a country because we have to compete with the other nations for FDI’s. That’s the role of CIPC in Cebu’s economic growth. So watch this very interesting interview on SkyCable’s Channel 61 at 8:00PM tonight with replays on Wednesday and Saturday same time. Replays can also be seen on MyTV Channel 30 M-W-F.

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Perhaps you may ask why are we bringing back CIPC on our talk show. After all, we’ve had the CIPC at least three shows in the past 13-years we’ve been doing this show. But we know what’s the problem with us Cebuanos; we are like most Filipinos… a forgetful lot. So in a way, this show is to update you about foreign direct investors in Cebu and their impact on our economy.

CIPC is already 19 years old and they have been in the forefront of the many great things that have happened in Cebu. If you look back, for instance, the AsiaTown IT Park… it wasn’t there 10-years ago! Since 1983… Cebu already had the Mactan Export Processing Zone 1, but it only had a few locators. Today, we have MEPZ 1 & II and the West Cebu Industrial Park (WCIP). On monthly salaries alone FDIs contribute some P1.6 billion pesos direct from their companies abroad. There’s another P1.6 billion for operating cost of these facilities, which means foreign money coming to the shores of Cebu.

If you didn’t know…those huge Manila-based shopping malls that opened their doors here in Cebu didn’t come because we Cebuanos had a great economy. Truth is Cebu’s economy started to move only when our good friend Mr. Anos Fonacier unleashed Cebu’s tourism potential and constructed the Cebu Plaza Hotel (now the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel) and Tambuli Beach Resort and the rest was Cebu history. Soon small beach resorts sprouted all over until the big players came like the Shangri-La’s Mactan Island Resort & Spa and soon Cebu’s tourism industry matured. But we were only on second gear. Cebu was ready for the next phase of its growth.

The next big leap for Cebu happened sometime in 1989 when then Gov. Emilio “Lito” Osmeña sold the 54 hectare Club Filipino Golf Course to the Ayala Corporation. It awakened Cebu’s real estate potential. Before the sale of the Province-owned Club Filipino property… real estate prices in Cebu were so cheap not because of lack of value, but low demand for land. 

Finally, the industry that brought Cebu to the world map of the information technology (IT) was  the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry way back only in 2003. Soon Cebu became an emerging destination according to the Tholons Survey… the most respected IT analyst that looks into the various players in the IT industry. A couple of years ago, finally Cebu arrived as a BPO destination together with Manila, Chennai, Hyderabad, Calcutta and the rest of the world was just amazed.

Just go around the AsiaTown IT Park and aside from the tall buildings housing the BPO industry… you will see a lot of support industries like restaurants, cafes, massage parlors or bars that service the IT sector which has truly made Cebu, just like New York City… a city that never sleeps.

Today, the BPO industry has some 250,000 direct employees. Add 200,000 indirect employees working in the service industry and this is the principal reason why the skyline of Cebu changed so rapidly. Cebu in the past had the 12 storey Luym Building as Cebu’s tallest building for years and it was toppled only when Cebu Plaza Hotel was constructed. Today tall buildings are now commonplace in Cebu City.

While we laud the CIPC for a job well-done, more so that it is privately-funded with support from our LGUs. Unfortunately, our politicians do not always appreciate their work. Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City were once major contributors to CIPC. So when the ugliness of politics sets in… the LGUs withdraw their support to CIPC.

These politicians do not realize how valuable CIPC is to Cebu’s growth that more than 50 LGUs have already tried to copy what CIPC is doing in Cebu. So call this a word of caution, if not a warning to our politicians…that you will only realize the value of CIPC if and when we lose it. How do we lose CIPC? When LGUs no longer give funds to keep CIPC from operating. It would be a great economic meltdown or disaster for Cebu!

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Email: vsbobita@gmail.com

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