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2 Giant Developers Eye Panglao Recla

Target: 500 Hectares of Panglao Island’s Shoreline

The race is on to bag the lucrative contract of reclaiming about 500 hectares of the most expensive real estate in the vast shoreline of Panglao island. But there’s no doubt here that the two big time groups vying for attention of the local government have one thing in common: they try to outsmart each other in reclaiming a big portion of Panglao island’s shoreline for sale to big-ticket investors waiting in the wings. Reading like a who’s who in Philippine business and politics, the men and women behind the two groups are expected to throw in billions of pesos in good money in the biggest seashore project ever known to any Boholano. First to lay claim in the most ambitious project ever known in Bohol is the group of businessman Norris Oculam, former president of the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Believed to be fronting to a group of big name Chinese businessmen, Oculam as chairman of the board and president of Bohol Oasis Islands said his group was already granted an audience with Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in one of her recent visits in Cebu recently. With the President granting the group an audience, it was interpreted by Oculam as a go signal to go on with the project. In that Cebu meeting were Tourism Sec. Joseph “Ace” Durano and Trade Sec. Peter Favila. Gov. Erico Aumentado arranged the meeting with the Oculam group. A joint venture with the provincial government, this reclamation idea was presented to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, during its session last week.

NEED FOR MORE ROOMS

With the Panglao International Airport in the pipeline making the island more accessible to tourists, the highlight for more room accommodations becomes more evident. Oasis Islands believed that while there are areas that are still undeveloped, they are owned by several individuals, rendering the acquisition of these lands difficult. Negotiating with land owners with small land holdings is even made more complicated by the existence of multiple heirs that the buyer-investor will have to deal. This makes land acquisition a long and tedious job for investors. The reclamation idea makes it easy for investors to pour in their money where there mouths are if they deal with only one entity. That is what exactly Oculam’s group is looking at when it proposes to reclaim part of Panglao Bay .

It was gathered that the same group was informed that in the past, major international hotel chains have already come to explore the potential of acquiring properties in the province. Shangrila, Hilton, the Four Seasons have expressed interest in acquiring lands in Panglao. The Raffles Group of Hotels and Resorts had at one time considered Bohol as a prime entry point for their business in the country. Furthermore, big property developers like Ayala Land, Megaworld, Filinvest, FederaLand of Metro Bank and One Asia Development Corp, the property arm of Republic Biscuit Corp. have also been keen to acquire lands for investment.

With Panglao Oasis Islands , the idea is to package something that will totally give the investors a headache–free opportunity for their proposed commercial, tourism and even residential communities. The proposed initiative will be undertaken in a manner that least environmental damage will be created as a result of the activity. Under the reclamation plan, the area of the Panglao Bay starting at the back of the town church all the way to the shoreline of Doljo will be reclaimed in an average depth of 0.4 meters-thereby making it an ideal location for reclamation. This group is hiring the services of the Hawaii-based master planner, the WATG, a leading design consultant for hospitality, leisure and entertainment industries that has worked in 160 countries and territories across six continents With its expertise in environment and sustainable design, WATG, through its Panglao project will adopt the methods and approaches used by Sanctuary Lakes in Melbourne , Australia .

ANOTHER GROUP

The other group competing for attention in the race to reclaim land along Panglao Bay is the Panglao Waterfront Development, Inc. Just as big as the first, this group has an authorized capital of P100 million. It has for its chairman of the board a big name in reclamation projects F.F. Cruz, Sr while its vice chairman is Tagbilaran native Fernando “Ding’ Borja who was known to have earned his pile in mining nickel in Surigao. Another incorporator is Marilou J. Arroyo, said to be a relative of the First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. With Jun Lim of Lite Shipping fame holding a 10% stake in the company, is Sec. Leandro Mendoza of Transportation be far behind? According to incorporation papers, Mendoza was indeed one of the members of the board of directors. True to its big time connotation, the company is spending P7 million for the preparations of the feasibility study courtesy of the world class Palapox and Associates. In the race to get approval from the LGU, this group has already bagged a contract with Mayor Benedicto Alcala authorizing the same to conduct the feasibility study.

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