Compounding the current boom in real estate are major entertainment developments in the Manila Bay area, all set to create lucrative assets that will generate further investment and local employment opportunities for the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — If you think Bonifacio Global City has had a big impact on the lives of individuals and businesses in Metro Manila, then wait until you hear about the billions of investments pouring in at Manila Bay.

In the recent Asia CEO Forum presented by PLDT Alpha Enterprise, Aseana Holdings, Inc. Chairman Delfin J. Wenceslao delivered an exclusive executive briefing on Entertainment City Manila, wherein the construction of four mammoth casino facilities is currently ongoing. Each colossal complex represents more than $1 billion of direct investments and will include hotels, upscale shopping districts and world-class entertainment venues.

D.M. Wenceslao and Associates, the company where Wenceslao sits as chairman, is the company behind the Bay City reclamation project that started way back in 1989. “Our mandate then from the government was quite simple—we were to create assets, generate income, create employment opportunities and attract more investors to the Philippines,” Wenceslao shares.

Today, the Bay City development is home to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) complex, the SM Mall of Asia complex, and, in the coming years, will see the rise of the Las Vegas-themed Pagcor Entertainment City and the Aseana City, a mixed-use development that sits on 220-hectares of reclaimed land.


The Reclamation Process

According to Wenceslao, when his company signed to do the reclamation process in 1989, it ended up a most difficult job. “When we signed the contract in September, a coup d’état was launched against the government of President Aquino. Naturally, investors deferred their investments, delaying the project for almost five years,” he shares.

Eventually they started on the project, partnering with the Jan De Nul Group, a company from Belgium that executes dredging, reclamation and marine-related work. “The company is one of the largest in terms of fleet—they have, today, around 60 dredgers operating around the world. They did the Hong Kong Airport and they did Dubai,” Wenceslao says.

The reclamation process is quite simple, says Wenceslao. “The reclamation phase starts with what is called a Trailer Suction Hopper Dredger, a vehicle whose purpose is to suck sand from under the sea, load it on the vessel, and bring it into the reclamation area where it is either pumped or dumped into the area, or reclaimed using a spray-pontoon,” he explains. The vessel that went to the Philippines, he says, has a capacity of around 20,000 cubic meters per load. “Imagine and compare this to a dump truck that carries a load of 15 cubic meters. That’s how big these vessels are,” he shares.

After initially putting in the land, Wenceslao’s company contains it using a structure that contains harbored rocks from Quezon and Bataan. “This prevents the reclaimed area or the sand from going back to the sea. After that, we have a phase called Consolidation Phase, wherein we either wait for the land to naturally settle down or we accelerate,” he informs.

Once the reclaimed land settles, the necessary infrastructure is put in. In Bay City’s case, they created the Macapagal Boulevard, Asean Avenue (the area leading from Roxas Avenue all the way to the sea), and J. Diokno Avenue, which leads from the SM complex to Pagcor Entertainment City. Wenceslao also reveals the creation of the LRT 1 Extension Project and the NAIA Expressway Project. “The LRT extension will be from Baclaran Church leading all the way to the Zapote area. The construction period will last roughly four to five years, assuming that they can bid out the project by next year,” he shares. The NAIA Expressway Project, on the other hand, entails “putting elevated roads coming out from the airports leading to the Bay City area and the South Expressway. This is important,” Wenceslao emphasizes, “because aside from the traffic improvement, the idea is to enable tourists to have a seamless access to the Pagcor Entertainment City.”


The New Vegas

According to Wenceslao, Aseana City is ideally located right smack in the middle of all the action. “If you’re facing the sea, on our right is the MOA development; in front is the Belle Group Development; and on our left is the Pagcor Entertainment City,” he informs.

Wenceslao adds that the total investment of Pagcor City is estimated at $4 billion. “Our own development (Aseana City) is another $3 billion over the next five years. Our mandate at the beginning was to create assets, generate investments and employment, and produce taxes for the government. So far, we’ve produced over P4 billion in taxes to the government; employment opportunities in Aseana is expected to be around 50,000 to 70,000 figures in the next two to three years because the hotel casino projects by themselves will generate a lot of job opportunities in the area. At the rate we’re going, we can comply with the mandate,” he confidently says.

According to Wenceslao, a number of companies have already committed to locate in Aseana City. Current locators include the DFA Passport Plaza, S&R, The King’s School Manila, Solemare Parksuites and Ford Motors. Alphaland’s Alphaland Bay City is one of the much-anticipated projects in the area, which will include an exclusive marina. The Tune Group of Hotels, Subaru and the Blue Leaf Events Pavilion are also set to rise.

Published September 30, 2012 in the Business Agenda section of Manila Bulletin