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Turning 85 is a Blessing

09/13/2012 | By: Emil Jurado, Manila Standard Today

Last month I spent a weekend at an island paradise called Balesin.  I flew in a Cessna Grand Caravan for a 26-minute flight from the domestic airport.  It was raining cats and dogs in Manila and I was hesitant to leave, but I could not disappoint my host, business tycoon Bobby Ongpin who is a former student at the Ateneo.

Ongpin is now the chairman of Alphaland, the developer of Balesin.

I reached Balesin and landed on its concrete runway good enough for international jets.  The sky was bright and clear.  Ongpin told me that the weather pattern in Balesin is two to three months later than that in Manila.

Balesin is a 500-hectare paradise with more than 7 kilometers of white sand beaches.  It will be ready for members, guests and visitors by Christmas. There will be 240 villas.

The island resort has themed villages inspired by the renowned destinations of Mykonos,  St. Tropez, Costa Smeralda, Bali and Phuket.

In fact, the island now has a Bombardier Q400 owned and operated by Philippine Airlines Express (formerly Air Philippines) to ferry members, guests and visitors. Ongpin is also a member of the board of PAL and San Miguel. The 72-passenger plane is for the growing number of members, guests and visitors to Thailand. Ongpin said: “My friend and partner Ramon Ang, now president of PAL, who loves Balesin Island even as much or more than I do, has been kind enough to assist in this arrangements.”

In fact, this month, and on to the Christmas season, there will be international flights to Balesin form Hong Kong, Japan and even from the US. Name it and  Balesin has it, even a small chapel for churchgoers.