July 11, 2014
To: Balesin Members and Friends
The month of June has been an extremely busy one for me. The final settlement agreement with the Ashmore Group, which we signed on the 5thof June, has required me to focus on quite a number of issues to assure that Alphaland Corporation (which will be a slimmer, but more solid corporation, and which will remain under my full control) will continue to operate efficiently.
There has been quite a bit of confusion with regard to the specifics of the settlement with Ashmore and so, in order to clear the air, I am providing you at the end of this update a link showing the disclosure which was submitted to the Philippine Stock Exchange which details the settlement. I think it is important that all of our members have a full understanding of the settlement so that a lot of the uncertainties and confusion which have been in the media for the last several months are cleared up once and for all.
I am also relieved that a significant issue (the case filed by DBP regarding the Philex transaction), which has also had a lot of media attention in the two years since it was filed, was finally quashed by the Sandiganbayan. Again, I am providing a link at the end of this update to a column written by my friend and respected columnist, Emil Jurado, which puts this issue in its proper perspective so that all of you can understand what Emil says is my “Resurrection”. I do hope, however, that one day, Emil will realize that my middle name is not Valdes but Velayo!
Upsurge in Sales
As a result of the elimination of these uncertainties regarding my person, I am pleased to report to you, who have been concerned about the final resolution of these issues, that we have seen a significant jump in the overall sales of Alphaland. From a total of Php34 million in May (the month before), our sales for our three projects: Balesin Island Club, The City Club, and the residential units at Makati Place, have jumped more than fivefold in June, to Php194 million. I guess the settlement of these two major uncertainties has understandably given comfort to you, our members and friends.
The Balesin Royal Villa
In my last update to you early last month after several months of silence, I mentioned that the patronage of Balesin Island Club has more than tripled as compared to last year. This is primarily a result of the fact that Balesin is now complete with its 300 villas in seven themed villages. I also mentioned that I have decided to do one last project, the Balesin Royal Villa, which I described in my last update as follows:
“The Balesin Royal Villa will be composed of 14 magnificent suites, 4 superior ones on the second floor (with an elevator) with a floor area of more than 200 square meters each. They will have their own private decks and will have a magnificent view of the Lamon Bay and the mainland beyond. On the ground floor, there will be ten 100-square meter villas, all connected to the Main Living Room with its opulent furnishings. There will be two pools, one as big as the pool in Phuket, and the other one like the pools in Bali with bubblers. The huge Deck is also accessible to each villa on the Main Floor from their own private decks.
The Balesin Royal Villa will be perfect for weddings, anniversary celebrations, and family clan gatherings. They can also be booked for private lunches or dinners for as many as 70 to 80 people.
As usual, you can count on Rico Sison to create another masterpiece at the Balesin Royal Villa.
We broke ground last week, and are targeting to have the project completed by September. We will keep you informed of the progress of the construction and other details about this magnificent and opulent Royal Villa in the coming months. “
I should let you know however, that we have had to move the completion date to mid-October because there was a two-week shortage of rebars, which prevented us from maintaining our original schedule of September. Quite a few of you who have been here in the last two weeks and have taken a look at the construction site have an appreciation of the magnificence of the structure, and are very much looking forward to its completion. Several members have actually made reservations already, even at this early stage. I am also providing at the end of this update the elevations and the architectural plans drawn by Rico Sison’s group and photos of the surrounding beach areas, which are the best beaches on the island.
As a result of the tripling of our members and guests on the island as compared to last year, we have also decided to acquire a larger aircraft. We are presently negotiating the acquisition of either an ATR 42 (48 passengers) or an ATR 72 (78 passengers). We will thus have the ability to carry as many as 500 people to the island on a daily basis. We are therefore also thinking of disposing of our Jetstreams, which carry only 19 passengers, but we do intend to keep one of our two Cessna Grand Caravans which have proven to be a very reliable aircraft.
With our AOC (Air Operations Certificate) issuance expected sometime this month, we will then be able to have regularly scheduled flights to the island, instead of the present uncertain and therefore problematic scheduling and reservations operations.
New Operating Systems
We have also finally gotten the show on the road on our POS and automated reservations system and you can expect that within approximately 90 days, the recurring errors which have undoubtedly annoyed members and guests will be a thing of the past.
We are also now able to focus on our new projects. The first of these will be the Alphaland Baguio Mountain Lodges, where we are doing serious development planning and will be launching before the end of the year. These will be log homes, similar to those we built at Tagaytay Highlands many years ago, but will be spread over a total area of 70 hectares, as compared to the 6 hectares that we used at Tagaytay Highlands. Many of our members are keenly interested in this project because in two years’ time, the extension of the North Luzon Expressway will reach Rosario in La Union, which is the entrance point to Baguio. Thus, the travel time will be cut to only about three hours instead of the current seven hours. We are planning to have about a hundred mountain lodges, where you can experience a real winter-like atmosphere, because our Baguio site, which is on the fully cemented Ambuklao Road, and which is only about 10-15 minutes from Baguio City and yet has escaped the unplanned and unbridled expansion of Baguio (which has been a great concern to many), is at 5,000 ft elevation, as opposed to that of Tagaytay, which is only about 2,000 ft.
We plan to have at least three model houses from which you can choose and reserve a site within the property for your unit. We are presently doing the site development planning and will be able to inform you of the cost of the units, which will not be unlike the costs of the units at Tagaytay Highlands, but will have many more amenities and certainly a much more superior ambiance.
There are several other projects which we are presently evaluating and about which we will inform you in due course.
Butanding Sightings at Balesin
During the last week, I am told that there have been several sightings of Butanding (whale sharks) right off Balesin Island where Phuket Village is located. This has brought quite a bit of excitement to the staff and our guests who were present during that week, and all of our Club’s boats were kept busy by our guests watching the butanding. This visit of the butandings is a very good sign, because it shows that the marine life around the island has begun to recover (although obviously, we are unable to predict if the butandings will visit regularly). These butandings, which are usually seen primarily around the Bicol peninsula, feed on plankton and are quite playful and friendly. They are huge sea animals, some measuring as much as 10 meters long and are actually a protected endangered species.
Decorum of invited guests
My attention has been called to the fact that the increase of patronage by members and guests at the Club has resulted in occasional incidents whereby either there has been damage caused to the villas or improper decorum and behavior at some of our villages. I have to remind our members to please be more discreet and discriminating in inviting their guests to make sure that they do not disrupt or destroy our beautiful Balesin Island.
The Return of Johnny Velasquez
In closing, I am delighted to inform you that my favorite singer, Johnny Velasquez, whom many of you know as the golden-voiced leader of the Spirit of ‘67 which performed for several years at Conways at Makati Shangri-La, has been persuaded to do a performance at Balesin on Saturday, August 16. Johnny has quite a bit of a fan group, and I would advise that you make your reservations now for that weekend.