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January 2013

Members and Friends:

          I am in Paris today, negotiating a business deal, and it is a typical winter day in Paris - cold, dreary and wet.  How I wish I were in Balesin instead! 

As many of you know, we have just completed the first major holiday season  for members and their guests in Balesin, and I must say that, based on the comments of members and guests which I insist on reading individually, our aviation services, our villa accommodations, our sports and recreation facilities, and most especially our food, passed with flying colors. 

My entire family came from all over the world and spent the whole two weeks on the island and were thrilled with it and that is not only because they were obviously biased!  The last time we were all in Balesin was in 1976 and my daughter Anna searched through her old photo files and produced the pictures at the end of this letter.

In fact, my wife stayed an extra week, not through her choice but because she forgot that she was no longer a teenager and was apparently doing acrobatics at the pool and had a nasty cut on her leg, which had to heal before she could travel.  She made good use of the extra week though by putting our French and Italian F&B staff on rigorous lessons on the proper preparation and presentation of French and Italian cuisine.

          I must say that Monica, who has lived in Tuscany for the past 23 years, and is in fact Italian, prepares excellent pasta dishes which she demonstrated with pleasure to our chefs (including Chef Edo San, believe it or not!).  But her real specialty is French cuisine.  In the more than 50 years that we have been married, we have tried countless French restaurants, both bistros and 3-star Michelin guide restaurants all over France. 

In fact, while in Paris last November, she bought a fishhead grinder to make real Soupe de Poisson as a result of which, during various food tastings the last few weeks on Balesin, I swear that the Soupe de Poisson was in fact better than any I have tasted in Paris or elsewhere in France!

Working closely with Mabel Martinez, our F&B Director, they have now perfected a typical and authentic French menu.  Thus, in mid-January, I authorized the opening of St. Tropez.  

I have had the pleasure of hosting a number of small dinner parties there and I must say that my guests were all praises for our authentic French bistro food.  St. Tropez is now open for business with its 52 hotel-type rooms and suites and wonderful restaurants on the Ground Floor, facing the swimming pool and the ocean.  For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, I should let you know that not only do we serve excellent crepes and the delicious tarte tropezienne but also of course authentic French food.

A Second BAe Jetstream 32

          Before I digress any further, I want to let you all know that we have acquired our second British Aerospace Jetstream 32 (19 passengers), identical in every way to the existing one that we have.  The Australian owners will be delivering it to us in a few weeks after they complete the various touchups that we requested.  Thus, we will now have a fleet of 4 aircraft:  2 BAe Jetstream 32s and 2 Cessna Grand Caravans.  Thus, our aviation capability, again of course, weather permitting, will soon be a total of 250 passengers a day.

Holy Week Holidays

          As we look forward to the many reservations we are now receiving for the Holy Week holidays, we have now increased our club capacities dramatically and also by the time we have the Holy Week crowd, we expect to have more than 200 rooms and villas available for our members and their guests.  While we will of course endeavor to accommodate you on your preferred village on such busy periods as the Holy Week, we may not be able to give you the specific villa or the specific village you prefer, but certainly because of the number of rooms available, you will not be denied a villa accommodation. 

While on this subject, I should also state that we have to manage our aviation flights in such a manner that we do not end up flying 2 or 3 people in the 19-seater Jetstream.  So for many members and their guests who prefer the twin-engine BAe Jetstream, there are times when you may have to take the Cessna Grand Caravan.   Personally, I prefer the Cessna Grand Caravan myself since I find it to be a far more comfortable flight.

Activities Calendared for the Holy Week

          Joanna Duarte has prepared a calendar of activities at Balesin for the Holy Week which I have enclosed at the end of this newsletter.  Since school holidays will be upon us by that time, we expect that a number of families will have their children with them, and therefore have given attention to family type activities.

Construction Again in Full Blast

          Shortly after the New Year holidays, we restarted all construction work at the Costa del Sol, Toscana and the Mykonos beach villas.  We are now going at full blast and we expect to complete them in two months, maximum three.

Phuket Family Suites

          I should also let you know that while inspecting Phuket one day, I noticed that the Lamon Bay side had not been taken into account and I have now asked that about 5 family-type villas, i.e. two suites connected by a common deck with a plunge pool, be constructed facing Lamon Bay on the West.  This will give you a dramatic view of the sea, and a family of as much as 8 people can enjoy each of the family villas.

Our Own Produce

          Those of you who have been to the island recently have noticed the row of greenhouses along the side of the airstrip.  This is our latest project in which I am intensely interested, since we intend to produce all organic vegetables, fruits, and also fresh water fish.  This project should be fully operational before the end of February and thus, we will be self-sufficient in our vegetable and fruit supply, all organically grown.

          On the northernmost point of the island, we are developing a saltwater crustacean farm so that we can produce our own oysters, clams, shrimps, lobsters, and crabs.  Additionally, we are preparing a number of fish cages to grow our own saltwater fish species to augment the increasing demand for various types of saltwater fish that we catch around the island.  

New Facilities

          As the visits of our members and their guests continue to increase, we have decided to add two more service facilities.  First is a Departure Area right next to the existing Welcome Center.  We have found that on certain days, the Welcome Center cannot efficiently accommodate arrivals as well as departures and so we are constructing a separate Departure Area with a capacity of 50 passengers.  This Departure Area should be operational by mid-February. 

We have also decided to construct a second Clubhouse Inn on the north side of the Clubhouse where our supervisory staff, pilots, nannies and other personnel can reside.  All of these will be air-conditioned, and the existing Clubhouse Inn, which we will now call the South Clubhouse Inn and the new North Clubhouse Inn, can accommodate more than 150 persons.

Petanque

          In virtually every town square in the South of France, particularly in Provence, petanque or boules as some call it, is played with intense competition among the locals.  In almost all available little plots of land, they create a petanque court and play with such ferocious competitiveness practically the whole day.  We have therefore decided to create a petanque on the beachfront side of St. Tropez Village so that you can enjoy this very simple but very traditional sport in the South of France which requires dexterity and skill.  Those of you who have been to St. Tropez Village recently must already have noticed the petanque court that we have prepared near the beach.

Ifugao Village

          Many of you have noticed with great amazement and admiration the intricate carvings in almost all of our villages in Balesin.  We have been fortunate to have a group of some 50 carvers from Banawe who actually live on the island and do their carving with great enthusiasm and admirable skill.  We have now decided, to the great delight of these Ifugao carvers, to build a permanent Ifugao Village where they will live and do their carving and sell their wares to our members and guests.  They are all priced very reasonably and it will give the Ifugaos a steady source of income.  In addition, I know that this will be a favorite attraction for our members and guests, as they can actually observe the expert Ifugao carvers at work.  This Ifugao Village is now nearing completion at a 2-hectare plot in the middle of the forest not far from the Sports Center. 

Nirvana

          After much soul searching and inspiration, my design partner, Rico Sison, has created a unique and private hideaway for our members in St. Tropez Village.  This is located on the Main Floor of the hotel and which we originally planned to call Buddha Bar, but we have since learned that this name is copyrighted so we decided to call it Nirvana instead.  So next time you plan to have pre-dinner drinks or after dinner tete-a-tete in St. Tropez Village, don’t forget to check out Nirvana, which is now operational.

Dive Spot

          We have been fortunate to have among our members a group that is very keen on diving as a serious sport.  Regrettably, through the years, a lot of cyanide fishing was allowed in many areas around Balesin Island and this has of course destroyed the coral and the natural sea vegetation.  However, recently, we have been in serious discussions with a number of groups to resuscitate the coral and sea vegetation around the island.  Most recently, a group of members has discovered about 200 meters from the Nusa Dua Bar in the Bali Village, a cliff wall which has been able to survive previous onslaughts and remain to be a most interesting dive spot.  We are now in the process of interacting with this group, so that they will operate this dive spot as another feature for the Balesin Island Club members.

Screening Room

          In the Main Clubhouse, not far from the elevator that goes to the Ground Floor, we have now an area that we call a Screening Room.  It is designed as a private living room with a large screen but with comfortable divans rather than movie theater seating.  With a capability of about 20 persons, small groups of friends and their families can enjoy watching their own collection of private movies and golden oldies.  We are now constructing this and it should be operational in a few weeks’ time.

A Token of Appreciation for Our Members

          I have always believed that Balesin is impossible to describe in words, nor even in the most elaborate brochures.  You have to see it to believe it.  Obviously, our members feel the same and they are very proud of the Club and on the average have invited 10 guests each time they come to the island.  Many of these guests end up becoming members, and as a token of our appreciation to the members who bring guests to the island who later become members, we have decided to henceforth reward our members with an extra villa night during the year in which they bring a guest who then decides to become a member.  We are very proud of what we have done in Balesin and we are pleased and appreciative that our members are too, and so we thought that this simple token of our appreciation would be welcomed by our faithful and most appreciative members.

Membership Prices

          On March 1, we shall recommence our policy of gradually increasing the prices of memberships and therefore, the value of the shares owned by existing members, as we complete more villas and provide more facilities.  Thus, we would like to let you know that the following schedule of membership prices of the rest of this year:

Period Covered                    Php

Present Price                         3,000,000

March 1 - 31, 2013                 3,100,000

April 1 - 30, 2013                   3,200,000

May 1 - 31, 2013                    3,300,000

June 1 - 30, 2013                   3,400,000

July 1 - 31, 2013                     3,500,000

August 1 - 31, 2013                3,600,000

September 1 - 30, 2013           3,700,000

October 1 - 31, 2013               3,800,000

November 1 - 30, 2013            3,900,000

December 1 - 31, 2013            4,000,000         

 

          In closing, I will be leaving for London on Sunday on another business deal but I will return to Balesin after about another week.  I do not think I can bear to be absent from Balesin for longer than that!

 

ROBERTO V. ONGPIN
Chairman

 

January 31, 2013


Bobby, Monica and Anna at Balesin in 1976

 


Holy Week Activities

DATE OUTDOOR SPORTS
AND RECREATIONS
ACTIVITIES
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
BUFFETS/ACTIVITIES
RELIGIOUS
ACTIVITIES
ENTERTAINMENT
23-Mar
Saturday
Yoga by the beach

Mountain Bike Tour
(8AM)

Kayaking (4PM)

Petanque (boule)
tournament at St.
Tropez

Wall Climbing 101
Equestrian Activities -
Horseback Riding
Breakfast Buffet at the
Clubhouse
Meze Lunch at the
Mykonos Taverna
Thai Lunch at Phuket
Salathiep

Happy Hour Cocktails at
Nusa Dua

After Dinner Happy
Hour at the
Clubhouse

Anticipated Mass

Blessing of palm
(after last prayer)
Trio At Mykonos
(12nn)
Acoustic Trio at
Nusa Dua (6pm)
Trio at the
Clubhouse (8pm)
24-Mar

Palm Sunday
Yoga by the beach

Wakeboarding and
Water Skiing 101
(10AM)

Sunset Paraw

Sailing (430PM)

Petanque boule
tournament at St.
Tropez beach

Kids' Basketball 3-
point Shooting
Contest
Breakfast Buffet at the
Clubhouse

Happy Hour
Cocktails at Nusa
Dua
Procession to the
church (8:30am)

Solemn mass

Blessing of palm

Holy mass (10:30am)

Trio at the
Clubhouse (8pm)
25-Mar

Holy Monday
Yoga by the beach

Archery 101 (10AM)
Archery
Competition (3PM)

Equestrian Activities
- Mini Gymkhana
Equestrian Activities
- Horseback Riding
Breakfast Buffet at the
Clubhouse

Happy Hour at
Nusa Dua
Holy Mass (6am)
Holy Mass (5am)

General Confession
(7pm)

Pabasa in the Chapel

Acoustic Trio
at Nusa Dua
26-Mar

Holy Tuesday
Yoga by the beach

Golf Accuracy
Contest (4PM)
Kids' Badminton
Tourney

Adults' Badminton
Tourney
Airsoft Target
Contest

Holy Week history
session for the kids
(with trivia and games)
in Children's area

Equestrian Activities
- Horseback Riding
Breakfast Buffet at
the Clubhouse

Happy Hour at
St. Tropez
Holy Mass (6am)

Holy Mass (5pm)

Recollection or

Confession (7pm)

Pabasa in the
Chapel
Trio at St. Tropez (6pm)
27-Mar

Holy Wednesday
Yoga by the beach

Snorkeling (8AM)
Stand-Up Paddle
Boarding 101
(3PM)

Holy Week history
session for the kids
(with trivia and
games) in
Children's area

Equestrian
Activities –

Horseback Riding
Breakfast Buffet at
the Clubhouse

Meze Lunch Buffet

at Mykonos Taverna
Lunch

Seafood Lunch
Buffet with lechon
at the Clubhouse

Thai Lunch Buffet
at Phuket

All Day Crepe Bar at
St. Tropez

Happy Hour at Nusa
Dua

Souvlaki Dinner
Buffet at Mykonos

Asian Dinner Buffet
at Bali

**cooking demo at
Nusa Dua (3pm)
Holy Mass (6am)

Holy Mass (5pm)

General
Confession (7pm)

Pabasa in the
Chapel
Trio at Mykonos
(12nn)

Pianist at the
ST. Tropez (12 nn)

Acustic trio at
Nusa Dua (6pm)

Trio at Mykonos
(7pm)

Acoustic Trio at
the Clubhouse (9pm)
28-Mar

Holy Thursday
Yoga by the beach

Wakeboarding and
Water Skiing 101
(10AM)

Stand-Up Paddle
Boarding 101 (3PM)

Beach Volleyball/
Football/Ultimate
Frisbee

Kids' Tennis
Tourney

Adults' Tennis
Tourney

Arts and crafts:
Painting lessons
for kids at
St. Tropez

Equestrian Activities
– Horseback Riding
Breakfast Buffet
at the Clubhouse

Meze Lunch Buffet
at Mykonos
Taverna Lunch

Seafood Lunch
Buffet with lechon
at the Clubhouse

All dAy Crepe Bar
at St. Tropez

Happy Hour at
St. Tropez

Souvlaki Dinner
Buffet at Mykonos

Thai Dinner Buffet
at Phuket

**Vegetable carving
at the clubhouse
(3 PM)
Kumpisalan ng Barangay
(9am and 12nn)

Preparation for
Maundy Thursday
Liturgy (3pm)

Last Supper Mass
(6pm)

Exposition of
Blessed Sacrament
(after mass)

Vigil (until 12mn)
Trio at Mykonos
(12nn)

Pianist at
St. TRopez

Acoustic Trio
at St. Tropez
29-Mar

Good Friday
Yoga by the beach

Archery 101 (8AM)

Archery Competition
(10M)

Kayaking (3PM)
Sunset Paraw Sailing
(430PM)

Beach Volleyball/
Football/Ultimate
Frisbee

Petanque (boule)
tournament at
St. Tropez

Equestrian Activities
– Horseback Riding
Breakfast Buffet at
the Clubhouse

Seafood Lunch Buffet
at the Clubhouse

All Day crepe Bar
at St. Tropez

Thai Buffet Lunch
at Phuket

Sunset Cocktails
at St. Tropez

Souvlaki Dinner
Buffet at Mykonos
Stations of the
Cross (9am)

Good Friday Liturgy
-Veneration of the
Cross (3pm)
Trio at Mykonos (12nn)

Pianist at
St. TRopez

Acoustic Trio
at St. Tropez
30-Mar

Black Saturday
Yoga by the beach

Mini Triathlon -
Relay format (7AM)

Sunset Paraw
Sailing (430PM)

Holy Week Arts
& Crafts: Easter
egg painting, etc.
at St. Tropez

Petanque (boule)
tournament at
St. Tropez

Paintball War Games
Equestrian Activities
- Horseback Riding
Breakfast Buffet
at the Clubhouse

Meze Lunch Buffet at
Mykonos Taverna Lunch

Seafood Lunch Buffet
with lechon at
the Clubhouse

Thai Lunch Buffet
at Phuket

All Day Crepe Bar
at the St.Tropez

Happy Hour at Nusa
Dua and Mykonos
Cove Deck

Big Easter Dinner at
St. Tropez (specialties
of all european
restaurants: French,
Spanish, Italian, Greek)

**Salad making for kids at St. Tropez
Preparation of the
Liturgy (9am)

Easter Vigil Mass
(8pm or 9pm)

Blessing of Fire

Celebration of
the Easter Mass
Trio at Mykonos (12nn)

Pianist at St.
Tropez (12nn)

Acoustic Trio at
Nusa Dua(6pm)

Trio at St.
Tropez (7pm)
31-Mar

Easter Sunday
Yoga by the beach

Mountain Bike Tour
to Old Balete Tree
(8AM)

Easter Egghunt at
St. Tropez (9AM)

Egg games (egg races,
relays, etc.)
in St. Tropez (10AM)

Salsa Lessons with
Mika Santos (5PM)

Petanque (boule)
tournament at St.
Tropez

Equestrian Activities
- Mini trail ride
around the island

Equestrian Activities
- Horseback Riding
Breakfast Buffet
at the Clubhouse

Lunch Buffet with
lechon at the Clubhouse

Fiesta of Chapel

Salubong (4:30am)

Holy Mass (8am, but
if there is salubong
then no more 8am mass)

Holy Mass (10:30am,
only if there is salubong)

Baptism (permission
from parish needed)
Trio, Pianist,
Acoustic Trio, clowns


*Scuba Diving programs will be available for members and guests for scheduling