Ongpin’s new yachting haven challenges MYC

11/18/2009 | By: Ray Eñano, Manila Standard Today
A proposed marina near the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City will literally make the 1920s era Manila Yacht Club obsolete. Alphaland Corp., the upstart property company of investment banker Roberto “Bobby” Ongpin and partner The Ashmore Group, is in an advanced stage of planning the development of a world-class marina and yacht club in the area.

The grapevine said Alphaland will introduce a new concept in yachting once it completes work on the project, which is part of its ambitious Alphaland Bay City complex.

Alphaland plans to purchase its own yacht fleet, initially around 10 to 12 units, for time-sharing with clients in its bid to increase the market for yachting enthusiasts in the Philippines. The grapevine said some young tycoons and senior executives in the Philippines were having a hard time joining the Manila Yacht Club as members because of its snobbish tradition.

Alphaland plans to offer the new market an alternative yachting hobby, without shouldering the expensive maintenance cost associated with yacht ownership.

“Owning a conventional yacht is like maintaining a costly mistress,” a source joked. “Most tycoons use their yacht for two weeks to one month at the most in a year. And yet they spend millions of pesos for maintenance.”

“Alphaland, by owning a yacht fleet, will shoulder all the maintenance and crewing costs. It will charge a flat fee to those wishing to time share the yacht for two or three weeks in a year,” the source said. “It’s much smarter and cheaper financially to time share because you don’t worry about the maintenance expense. It’s no different with time-sharing a condominium unit in Florida. Two weeks in a year and it’s all yours.”

Bay City vision

The marina and the yacht club will be at the centerpiece of the 32-hectare Alphaland Bay City, where construction is set to begin in 2011 and be completed by 2015.

Alphaland said the centerpiece would be surrounded by “a sweeping boardwalk lined by outdoor cafés and boutiques, overlooked by five-star hotels.” Low-rise commercial buildings will be backed by medium-rise residential buildings and later by high-rise skyscrapers. Globally renowned urban planner Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum is doing the master plan for the project.

Alphaland, among others, has also teamed up with the Shangri-La Group of Malaysian tycoon

Robert Kuok, a close friend of Bobby, to develop the country’s first six-star hotel and a residential condominium in Fort Bonifacio.

Boracay sands threatened?

The controversy over the leveling of a hill beside the Caticlan airport in Aklan province to make way for the extension of the Boracay runway continues.

A legal expert said the plan was unconstitutional, citing a provision that compels the state to “protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced ecology in accordance with the harmony of nations.”

Froilan Bacungan, a former dean of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines, aired his opinion after hearing the warning of a land form expert of the Environment Department that the beaches of Boracay would disappear if the hill was leveled as required by the Caticlan airport upgrade project.

Ricarte Javelosa of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau warned of micro-climate change in the tourist island. He cited the Boracay-Caticlan Zone of Micro-Climatic Convergence, where low and high energy environments converge generating mild surface currents and breezy waves highly conducive to the deposition of Boracay’s white coral-rich beaches.

Javelosa said the long shore currents of Amihan and Habagat converge at Caticlan Point. The convergence generates “rip currents,” which are great transporting agents of white sand toward Boracay Island.

He said leveling the hill would trigger local climate change in the area that would eventually lead to erosion of beaches along Boracay and drying up of Lupo-Lupo Lake.

“That particular hill is a climate barrier that deflects and converts strong monsoon winds into gentle breezes that swirl and loiter along the beaches of Boracay and Caticlan, while replenishing it with fine white sand from eroded coral surfaces of Caticlan,” said Javelosa.

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