December 21, 2017
To: Balesin Members and Friends
As she does every year, my wife Monica descended upon Balesin last weekend. Our son Stephen, his wife Laura and our two grandsons, Sebastian and Benjamin, are arriving shortly after Christmas, and will be here for two weeks – a yearly visit to which my whole family looks forward.
Monica was speechless at all the new things she saw in Balesin. She was particularly awed by the magnificent Private Villa where her only criticism was the lack of vanity mirrors in the bathrooms (now installed). She marveled at all the living areas, particularly the Library where our Balesin family photographs (circa 1976) were prominently displayed. She was greatly impressed by the “hi-tech” elevator and loved it even if it serviced only one floor.
New Attractions for Kids
In between Filipino dishes at the Clubhouse, which she misses when in Italy where she lives, she was busy planning the activities of our two grandsons who are now 6 years and almost 3 years. Together with my daughter Anna, she hailed the arrival of the five Shetland-cross ponies and was imagining the boys riding them nonstop. Your kids will also be interested in our new bunny farm which I think Anna may enjoy more than anyone!
Shenzhen Seven-Star Bay Yacht Club
These past two days, my friend Jian Li and his partner Mo Junchao, who together own the Shenzhen Seven-Star Bay Yacht Club, have been here in Balesin with their entourage of six architects and designers.
Previously, they had wanted to buy the 8-bedroom Private Villa but upon reflection, they decided to buy a 6,000 square meter plot of land where they now intend to build a modern Chinese villa. They brought along their architect and their chief craftsman, Mr. Fu Tuanzhong, whose work in the APEC Village in Beijing is world-renowned. They showed me photographs of this beautiful structure with its exquisite wood carvings and I am passing them on to you at the end of this update.
They were of course most impressed by Balesin and have been inspired to do what I am sure will be a brilliant Chinese villa in Balesin, complete with a 150-seat Chinese restaurant presided over by Hong Kong chefs whom they intend to house in the villa. The Chinese restaurant will, of course, be open to Balesin members and aside from serving authentic Cantonese food, I am sure it will be a very big hit especially during weddings.
Through the years, members have been clamoring for a Chinese restaurant, just about the only restaurant we do not have in Balesin. I have always said that we would have to import Cantonese chefs from Hong Kong to do a good job of it. Thus, this Seven-Star project is heaven-sent. They tell me they can get it operational by about the third quarter of next year.
A Busy 2017
This year of 2017 has been a very busy one for us in Balesin. In March, we took delivery of a second ATR72, thus increasing our ability to transport more than 500 people daily to and from Balesin, especially with our lighted runway making it a 24-hour aerodrome. One of my friends who visited Balesin recently commented that we must be the only destination resort in the world with its own night-flight capable aerodrome.
We also built our first three Private Villas, which are available for sale to individuals and corporations. When you come to Balesin next, make sure you do not miss viewing the Private Villas. There are three of them (two are finished and one is about two-thirds complete), comprising 8, 6 and 4 suites. Rico Sison has again done his magic to create these new jewels for Balesin.
Our dear member and friend Pinky Tobiano has donated more of her favorite birds to the Aviary, all exotic and colorful. The Aviary has been reinvigorated with the arrival of her new donations last month. They all seem to love Balesin, and are reproducing away happily. She has also donated to us two large exotic tortoises from Central America, whose shells are a marvel to behold.
We have also decided to expand the Clubhouse. As more and more members and guests visit the island, I feel that the Clubhouse is now too small. We are therefore expanding it by about 80 square meters, widening it by 40 square meters on either side, and adding another elevator so that we will now have three from the Main Floor to the Ground Floor. This will be started immediately after the holidays and finished one month later.
Also in the offing is the realization of Executive Chef Mark Biddle’s long-standing fervent dream, a steakhouse! The steakhouse (of course to be called “Mark’s”), will be located in the unutilized area behind the Reception Desk and in front of Sunset Sweets. It will feature the fabulous steaks that only Mark can create. It should be operational sometime in January.
A Special Christmas Offering to Members
As a special Christmas offering, we have decided to reward our loyal Balesin members—who now number 1,400—with this once-in-a-lifetime offer. Each member will be entitled to invite a maximum of two friends or relatives who would like to become members but have found the cost too steep.
For a 30-day period, or until January 20, we will allow each member to nominate two individuals at a very attractive price, i.e., Php1.5 million for a Gold membership (now selling at Php2.2 million), which entitles the member to 7 free nights per year, and/or a Diamond membership for Php3 million (now selling at Php4 million), which entitles the member to 14 free villa nights a year.
As we have allotted only 100 memberships (including both Gold and Diamond) for this offer, it will have to be on a first-come first-served basis. At the end of this update is a summary of the payment plans for this special Christmas offer.
Balesin Book—Unique in the World
Last but not least, you will be pleased to know that the Balesin coffee table book Unique in the World is now available hot off the press. The first 200 copies were delivered last night, and they have now been delivered to the members who happen to be on the island. This is a magnificent book for which I have written a foreword where I said in closing: “I hope you enjoy this book, which is intended to record for posterity the unmatchable beauty of this island.” Those of you who will be here on the island during the holidays can pick them up from our Concierge c/o Luisa Banta, and those of you who are in Manila can pick them up at my 5th floor office at The City Club at Alphaland Makati Place from my secretary, Jojo Manalo.
In closing, I wish you all a blessed Christmas and a great New Year in 2018!
ROBERTO V. ONGPIN
Dinner in honor of Jian Li’s group
RVO with Jian Li (Left) and Mo Junchao (Right)
Exquisite Chinese hardwood carving by Fu Tuanzhong
APEC venue in Beijing (2016)
Entrance to APEC venue with Architect Fu Tuanzhong
Intricate carvings in APEC venue
APEC Heads of State Conference Room
Entrance to APEC venue
Balesin Coffee Table Book