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May 16, 2017

May 16, 2017

Dear Members and Friends:


I am pleased to inform you that we have a new General Manager at Balesin Island Club. He is Clemente “Dado” Enrique Jr., PMA class of ’83. Dado was elected the “Baron” of his PMA class and spent many years as a Scout Ranger in the military, serving mostly in Mindanao and the Visayas. He also has a Master’s degree in Business Management from the Asian Institute of Management, and has spent many years managing a number of business enterprises. We are all pleased to welcome him to Balesin Island Club.

“General” Dado

Dado, whom I have nicknamed “General” not so much because of his military rank but because he is now the General Manager of Balesin, will be reporting to Mike Asperin, who will continue to be CEO of Balesin Island. Mike has been overloaded for many months now since we accelerated our Baguio Mountain Lodges project, and in his position as Chief Operating Officer of Alphaland Corporation, Mike simply could not spend enough time at Balesin. We are all happy to have a new GM at Balesin.

Great Summer Weather in Balesin


I spent the last weekend in Balesin and enjoyed the beautiful summer weather. Our “Fun in the Sun” promotion has attracted quite a few members and guests to the island. Our two ATR 72’s have been busy flying the morning flights from Manila to Balesin and back, Clark to Manila and back, and the night flights which have now become very favored by our members and their guests.

As we predicted, the congestion at NAIA has not improved, so we have focused on improving our facilities at Clark. The passenger traffic to Balesin is now almost equally divided – a third from Manila, a third from Clark, and a third on night flights. Night flights, which allow our members to enjoy the entire day at Balesin, are getting more and more fully booked and we have now begun to offer them on a daily basis.

Comfortable Water Supply

Even the dry summer season has not adversely affected our water supply. With our storage capacity having been expanded to 130,000 cubic meters and considering our daily consumption of 400 to 500 cubic meters, we can go for almost a year without a single drop of rain and still have enough water to service all of our needs. Last year, when our water storage capacity was only 50,000 cubic meters, we were down at some point in the summer to only 12,000 cubic meters and I was praying for rain every day. Now, no longer!

Balesin Private Villas


In my last update, I announced the construction of our first Balesin Private Villa. This is much like a smaller version of the Balesin Royal Villa. It is on 6,000 square meters of land on one of our nicest beaches facing Lamon Bay, between Rico’s Hideaway and the Balesin Seafood Shack on the northwestern part of the island. It will have eight large villas and each will be connected by a central facility on two levels, with a living room and dining room on the upper floor and billiards and karaoke facilities on the lower floor. A large T-shaped swimming pool will be facing the villas, and all villas will have a full view of the beach and the sea beyond. Those of you who have been to the island recently have seen the construction which is now going on full blast and which we expect to complete in late June or early July.

We also intend to build two more models of the Private Villa, i.e., one on a 4,000 square meter lot with six villas and another on a 2,000 square meter lot with four villas, also facing the beautiful beach of Lamon Bay, and each with their own private pools.

These private villas will be available for sale to corporate and large family groups, who have been waiting for this for a long time. The private villas will all be maintained and serviced by the Club.

At the end of June, when the first Private Villa is completed and our members have had a chance to actually experience its magnificent ambiance, we shall announce more details of the costs, the location and the availability of each. Presently, we plan to build only 6 private villas: 2 of eight bedrooms, 2 of six bedrooms, and 2 of four bedrooms each.

Enjoying M/Y “Obsessions”

The super yacht “Obsessions,” which arrived in Balesin toward the end of last year, has been kept busy with charters by our members who want to go island hopping or enjoy a sunset cruise. Especially these summer days, with the seas being particularly calm, the singular luxury of this 140-foot yacht which can accommodate as many as 50 for a sunset cruise, can truly be appreciated.

Our New Projects


Our aquaculture projects have also kept apace. Our delicious Balesin crabs have become very much in demand and we are in the process of increasing our production capacity of these crabs by at least tenfold, to about 1,000 crabs per week.

Our table grapes project continues to make progress and you should be able to enjoy them by Christmas time.

A few days ago, my sister-in-law, Maribel, sent me some seeds of her favorite melon from Almeria, Spain and we immediately sowed them last weekend. I am told that these melons weigh between one to two kilos each and are delicious. Hopefully, a few months from now, we shall have our first harvest.

Baguio Project


Turning now to our Baguio Mountain Lodges project, after almost two months, Mike Asperin has been able to untangle the regulatory knots, and we have completed the first model unit. I was there two weekends ago, and I am proud to say that Rico Sison has once again outdone himself. The pine logs from Finland are clearly superior to those of the U.S.

The first completed log house will be available for viewing by this coming weekend and those of you who want to view it, please contact either Mike Asperin (+63917.777.8887) or Jojo Manalo (+63918.918.6085) to schedule a visit and experience the charm and unique ambiance of these lodges.

We now have some 600 workers and 15 contractors involved and when we hit our stride by the month of July, we will complete 8 to 10 lodges per month. The Clubhouse, which was originally designed to be only a steakhouse, has been tripled in floor area and will have a capacity for sit-down dinners for 40-50 people, and in addition will have four guest rooms where visitors can actually spend the night in great comfort. The schedule is to complete this by the end of June, but Baguio weather is getting to be unpredictable so it may be delayed a week or so.

Alphaland Corporate Tower

The other major development that you should know about is that the third tower (Tower 3) of Alphaland Makati Place on Ayala Avenue Ext. in Makati, where The City Club and The Residences are located, will now be an office tower instead of the originally planned hotel. Tower 3, which is already constructed and will only require the installation of elevators and air conditioning systems, will be the most desirable office building on Ayala Avenue Ext., with a total of 25,000 square meters of rentable space.

In the two weeks that we have put it on the market, we already have 13 groups who have viewed it, and 2 groups would like to lease the entire building. The Alphaland Makati Tower is the only building in the Makati CBD that has underground parking space for 1,000 cars, and will be directly connected to The City Club and the shopping mall.

Aegle Wellness Center

Now, just a quick word about the Aegle Wellness Center. In the year and a half that it has been in existence, Dr. Ben Valdecañas and his great team at Aegle have developed a growing and enthusiastic group of followers both at The City Club (at the 6th floor), and the impressive facility in Balesin.

As you know, Aegle’s approach to wellness is unique in that we do not just pamper the senses, but we insist on thorough medical diagnostics and analysis before programs for exercise, diets, and supplements are tailor-made for each individual. Since I placed myself in Dr. Ben’s care, I have lost 35 pounds, 3 inches around my waistline, and have never felt healthier in my life!

New Mykonos Restaurant at The City Club

Finally, I would like share that we had a fun evening on Tuesday last week for the inauguration of the Mykonos restaurant at The City Club, which my daughter Anna and I hosted. For some time now, we have been bombarded with requests from our City Club members to replicate at The City Club our Balesin Greek restaurant with its superb Greek food, and we finally succumbed.

It was a little bit of a tight fit as all 45 invitees attended (with the exception of one person who was invited but was out of town). Fitting them into a restaurant meant for only 35 persons was not the easiest thing. But our Executive Chef Mark Biddle again came through with flying colors and many of the guests told me how much they enjoyed the Greek food. In fact, a few enjoyed it so much that the party lasted until 2:00 am and I was exhausted!



ROBERTO V. ONGPIN
Chairman