By By Fernan A. Gianan
Citymall “coming soon” in Virac
posted 30-Sep-2018  ·  
1,057 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

Last Saturday’s national broadsheets carried an advertisement of the CityMall group.

What was interesting about the Philippines map that occupied the center of the full-page ad was the encircled number 3 superimposed on the southern portion of Catanduanes.

The symbol, as the ad explained, means a Citymall would be “coming soon” in the capital town as part of the aggressive expansion of mall operator DoubleDragon Properties owned by “Mang Inasal” founder Edgar Sia and Jollibee founder Tony Tan Caktiong.

According to reports in business dailies, DoubleDragon seeks to have 100 shopping centers, each measuring 5,000 to 10,000 sq meters, by 2020.

As the map showed, it has already built 28 Citymalls, with 37 more under construction or opening soon. In the Bicol region, the first Citymall – intended as a one-stop shop for daily errands - would be in Sorsogon City, with four more planned in Daet, Camarines Norte, Naga City, Masbate City and Virac.

As of now, we have no inkling as to where the island’s Citymall would be located, if DoubleDragon has already secured one.

*****

It may be recalled that since the provincial government, then led by Gov. Joseph Cua, borrowed money to put up Center Mall, interest in the expanding business potential of Virac has mushroomed.

The LCC group reportedly bought a large portion of the Lim property in Gogon but nothing has come up as far as its plan to build a supermart is concerned. Just across the road, the Cua Group of Companies established the now-booming Virac Town Center that reportedly caught the eye of Robinsons Land, the property developing arm of JG Summit Holdings.

According to those in the know, Robinsons representatives who came to the island dangled a multi-billion peso offer to the Cua group to take over the VTC. Whether the Cua family will bite the tempting bait is anybody’s guess.

To a politician, the alleged purchase price is mouth-watering, but to a shrewd businessman, it would mean foregoing a lifetime of assured earnings.

JG Summit Holdings is no stranger to the island, as it operates Cebu Pacific, Southstar Drugstore and the Legaspi Savings Bank, the latter two companies bought from its Bicolano owners two years ago.

Several years ago, Robina Gokongwei, daughter of magnate John Gokongwei who is worth an estimated $4.5 billion, came here for a look-see, checking in at a local inn. Accompanied by only one aide, she visited Puraran and other popular tourism sites, after which there surfaced a rumor that Robinsons was looking for at least three hectares of beachfront property near the Virac poblacion.

Add to good news the allotment by Malacanang of P200 million in the 2019 national budget for an integrated business complex that was reportedly requested by former Mayor Flerida Alberto from the president himself.

The question that needs to be answered by next year is how the DPWH regional office would implement the project, presumably with the approval of the Laynes administration whose immediate and urgent need is have the existing public market rehabilitated by December.

Remember, of course, that the preferred site of the Alberto administration was the three-hectare lot near the EBMC that it bought for P28 million. The site has faced criticism for many reasons.

These developments augur well for the future of Virac regardless of whoever is elected in the 2019 elections, although most conscientious voters will prefer one whose priority would be to improve basic services and not lining his or her pocket.

*****

FADING MEMORY. Two men in their nineties have been friends for decades, and after going through the war together, they now just meet a few times a week to play cards. One day they’re playing together when one of them suddenly puts down his cards.

“Listen, don’t get mad at me, pal,” he says. “I know we’ve been friends for years, but I realized the other day that I can’t remember your name. I’m really embarrassed but my memory is fading fast. Please remind me.”

For three minutes the other old fella just glares back at his mate, shaking his head. Finally, he stirs.

“Look,” he says, “how soon do you want to know?”


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