November 11, 2014
To: Balesin Members and Friends
Almost exactly one year ago, super typhoon Yolanda smashed into Central Visayas, mostly Leyte and Samar, and caused indescribable destruction and suffering to many of the people there. Alphaland was one of the first to respond to helping out in this tragedy, and I am quoting hereunder excerpts from three “updates” that I sent out during the month of November last year. We are very proud of the modest but effective contribution that Alphaland made during this tragedy.
Just a quick update to keep our members and friends informed:
First, the destruction caused by Yolanda in Tacloban and Samar have been incredible, and we have decided to mount our own efforts through the use of our planes for the next few days. Using our own planes to reach airports that have so far been inaccessible, we will be able to deliver 6 to 8 tons of relief goods, mostly canned goods during the next few days.
In addition to Alphaland’s own contribution, many of our employees, not the least of which are our pilots, have volunteered to mount this relief effort to very specific areas which really need help. If any of our members would like to participate in this effort, please call Debbie Ledesma at Reservations tel nbrs +63928.559.7791 or +63999.885.6704 and let her know.
We shall be flying to Tacloban and Samar during the next three days, but this should not affect our already confirmed flight schedules.
Secondly, although we had winds of up to 150 kilometers in Balesin on Friday night, we had no damage at Balesin, except that our banana plantation was wiped out.
I would like to share with you a report which I have just received from Mike Asperin, SVP of Alphaland Corporation, and CEO of Balesin Island, who has spearheaded our typhoon relief operations, using our own aircraft, during the past week. Mike has had almost no sleep during the past week and our relief efforts would not be as successful were it not for Mike.
Mike has been ably supported by many Alphaland personnel who are too many to mention here.
As of November 17, 2013, 2pm, Alphaland Relief Operations has flown 32 flights, over a total of 20,244 nautical miles/37,492km. We have spent PhpP1,900,569 for plane fuel which has been donated by Alphaland and its management.
We have dispatched a total of 62 tons of relief goods.
We’ve reached 7 major destinations distributing food packs to over 15,000 people:
- Guiuan, Eastern Samar
- Northern Cebu – Bantayan, Sta. Fe, Madridejos and Bogo City
- Northern Palawan – Malawig, Buenavista, Tara, Turda, Bayang, Banuang Daan, Cabugao, San Jose, Decabobo, Culion, Galoc Island, Bulalacao, Marcilla, Marupu, Canimango, Kabu and other affected areas in Coron town
- Kalibo, Aklan
- Ormoc, Leyte – Capoocan, Caregara, Albuera, Merida, Isabel, Palompon, Baybay and Hilongos
- Roxas, Capiz
- Tacloban, Leyte
- 14 doctors to Ormoc who went on medical mission (treatment of upper respiratory tract infection, surgery caused by flying debris and GI sheets, anti-tetanus vaccinations), treating over 1,000 patients;
- 15 medical personnel (8 doctors, 5 trauma recovery professionals, 2 nurses) on rotation basis to Guiuan, who conducted medical missions in the different sitios, covering 368 patients
- 6 man SOS French team composed of doctors and engineers
- UN calamity assessment personnel
- 17 man “Spirit of Delta 2013” US emergency, rescue and response team
- Red Cross personnel
A total of 187 individuals have shown up at the hangar to volunteer to assist in sorting and packing the relief goods.
In addition to the overseas friends of Mr. RVO who have donated a total of US$120,000, we’ve had over 615 local donations, the biggest donors being:
The Generics Pharmacy
Victory Christian Fellowship
Chris Po/Century Canning Corp
Ateneo de Manila
RED Humanitarian Aid
Philippine Red Cross
Chiang Kai Shek School
DAPD Law Office
Standard Insurance Company
Typhoon Haiyan Relief
Sir, I would like to give special thanks to the pilots, both employed by Alphaland and others, who have been flying almost nonstop this past week, many to hazardous destinations.
Capt. Mapagtapat Ongchangco, Jr.
Capt. Nomer Christopher Lazaro
Capt. Serafin Belleza III
Capt. Romel Cadingan
Capt. Ritchie Dumapias
Capt. Rico Ganzon
Capt. Dickenson James Mangahas
Capt. Ferdinand dela Rosa Torres
Capt. Juan Ernesto Mendoza
Capt. Sailesh Limbu
Sir, we have been informed that the usual relief goods channels, i.e. the Red Cross and the various government agencies, have now been able to get their act together and the relief goods are now flowing efficiently to the various points in the Visayas. For this reason, we plan to wind down our operations during this coming week, but make sure that all relief goods that have been delivered to us reach their Visayas destinations. We therefore request that our various donors discontinue their sending of relief goods to the Alphaland hangar at this point.
Relief goods at the Alphaland Hangar
November 15, 2013
I also would like to share with you a video which has been addressed to me by John Diksa, the Head of the SOS French Team, but which should really have been addressed to Mike and to all Alphaland and many other volunteers.
(Herewith is the link: https://vimeo.com/79632674 or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBsi4EywdvQ)
I cannot help but admire, with the greatest gratitude, the 24/7 dedication of the many men and women who participated in this relief effort.
Thank you to all you good Samaritans!
The month of November will go down in Philippine history as one of the “cruelest” months ever. Not for Balesin island, but for the poor people of Leyte and Samar and the rest of the Visayas. I know that as I write this, the people in the affected areas continue to suffer and need help, and I hope and pray that we can all get our act together to alleviate the indescribable misery of the typhoon victims.
In several previous “mini-updates”, I have already informed you of the modest efforts that Alphaland was able to contribute. We fortunately had the unique capability, with our four smaller aircraft (2 Grand Caravans and 2 Jetstreams), so that we were the first to reach previously unreachable areas such as Ormoc, Guiuan in Samar, Coron in Palawan and others.
I dropped by the Alphaland hangar at about 10:00 pm on one evening the week after the typhoon and was amazed to see the Hangar Lounge filled with volunteers. I was even more amazed at the mountain of relief goods in the hangar that had been sent to us by many donors, too many to mention here.
But I would like to give special mention and commendation again to our Island CEO Mike Asperin for his managing the relief operations so efficiently, together with the able assistance of Marco Diaz. Mike was even interviewed by CNN and Marco was prominently featured in Facebook.
I am fully aware that our efforts were modest compared to the massive relief efforts that followed. One might say our Alphaland relief operations were only a “drop in the bucket” but I am sure that that “drop” helped many people in need of urgent care. I must not forget to commend our medical staff at Balesin for their many medical sorties to the affected areas and our staff pilots who were flying almost non-stop everyday with very little rest. We are proud and thankful to all of them.
In all, I estimate that in addition to the many donations that we received in kind and in cash from many members and friends, Alphaland itself spent about Php10 million in our relief operations. We also effectively lost about 10 days of our normal construction activities but I am sure you will agree that it was all worthwhile
The Balesin Royal Villa
Earlier this year, when I conceived the idea of creating the Balesin Royal Villa, I had no clue that it would come out to be as majestic and as magnificent in every way. Today, we are about a week away from completely finishing the Royal Villa and already, many hundreds of our members have visited the site, although it is still mostly a construction site. But one cannot help but appreciate the grandeur of the structure and the villa facilities. Consisting of almost 2,000 square meters of regal opulence and framed by the background of the Lamon Bay sunset, the Balesin Royal Villa, with Rico Sison’s inimitable touch, has now put the final punctuation mark on Balesin Island, and I must say that it can only be an exclamation point!
I will not, because it is impossible for me to do so, attempt to describe the grandeur of the villa to you. You can only see it in order to really appreciate it. Even today, with still minor construction activities going on, small tour groups have already been allowed inside the villa and there is total unanimity in the admiration for this “magnum opus” of Rico Sison. The construction has been ably managed by the Island CEO, Mike Asperin, and we finished it in record time. You really need to see it to appreciate it.
We will be accepting reservations beginning the weekend of November 28, and the formal inauguration will be marked by a cocktail party hosted by the undersigned and my partner, Babes Oreta, on Saturday, December 13. All of you who are on the island at that time are cordially invited to attend. For reservations and information, kindly contact GM Aris Alcuaz at Email address: <firstname.lastname@example.org> or Tel. No. +63 908 899 5606.
I am travelling in Europe as I write this, and I will write you in more detail when I get back early in December. In the meantime, I am enclosing some of the photos which I receive daily from Mike Asperin, and which I think will give you a feel for the grandeur of The Balesin Royal Villa.
RVO Balesin Update November 2014 Photos
The entrance to The Royal Villa at daylight.
The entrance gate of The Royal Villa at night
Picture of The Royal Villa at night
The Royal Villa shining in all of its glory at dusk
One of two warrior statues on the front lawn of The Balesin Royal Villa.
A close up of the façade of The Royal Villa
Main fountain under construction
View of the entrance driveway from the porte cochere of The Royal Villa
Carved entrance doors to The Royal Villa
The Grand Staircase
View of Lamon Bay from the deck of The Royal Villa
View of the sunset from the deck of The Royal Villa
One of the ten suites at The Royal Villa, each with 120 square meters.
In addition, there are four Maharlika suites (200 square meters each)
with its own private elevator on the second floor.
Veranda of one of the ten suites facing Lamon Bay.