The Voice of Business in Northern Mindanao honors one of its pioneer visionaries in Cagayan de Oro during its general assembly today.

The highlight of the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc.’s (Oro Chamber) 2nd General Membership Meeting and Induction of New Members held virtually via zoom was the unveiling and dedication of the Guillermo D. Luchangco Hall at the Oro Chamber building along P.N. Roa Sr. Avenue in Upper Carmen.

Oro Chamber President Ruben A. Vegafria (center left) and Pueblo de Oro Development Corporation Vice President & General Manager Chrysler Acebu (center right) led the unveiling of the GUILLERMO D. LUCHANGCO HALL at the Oro Chamber Business Development Centre on June 21. Also in photo are Oro Chamber Executive Director Luthgarda Mutol (left) and Program Director Querittes Queja (right). (Photo courtesy of PDO)

On April 20, 2006, Pueblo de Oro Development Corporation (PDO), represented by its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Guillermo D. Luchangco, donated to the Oro Chamber a 2,800 square meter lot located at Pedro N. Roa Avenue, Pueblo de Oro Township, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.

The Deed of Donation was executed and signed by and between Mr. Luchangco, as the DONOR, and Mr. Ruben A. Vegafria, then President of the Oro Chamber, as the DONEE.

Groundbreaking for the future Oro Chamber Business Development Centre (Oro Chamber Photo)

On June 7, 2006, the ground breaking for the Oro Chamber building was undertaken with Messrs. Luchangco and Vegafria, with notable personalities in attendance including then PCCI President Donald G. Dee, then Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Vicente Y. Emano, then Misamis Oriental Governor Oscar S. Moreno, then Cagayan de Oro Representative Constantino G. Jaraula, PCCI VP for Mindanao & MinBC Chair  Romeo J. Serra, PCCI Regional Governor for Northern Mindanao and chairman of the Mindanao Business Council.

The construction of the office building began in August 2007 during the presidency of Engr. Elpidio M. Paras, and was completed and officially occupied on June 2, 2008 during the term of President Rodolfo L. Meñes.

“Oro Chamber is among a few chambers in the Philippines which owns its own building and office. It stands as a living testament of the Oro Chamber’s past and present officers, trustees, staff and members, whose hard work, loyalty and dedication brought us to where we are in the chamber movement today,” said current president Vegafria, now serving his third term as Oro Chamber chief executive. “Today, Oro Chamber building stands with pride in the middle of Cagayan de Oro’s landscape and is popularly now known as the Oro Chamber Business Development Centre.”

On March 9, 2021, Pres. Vegafria authored a resolution unanimously approved by the 2021 Board of Trustees during its regular monthly meeting “To Grant Honorary Lifetime Membership to Mr. Luchangco, and naming the Board Room as the “GUILLERMO D. LUCHANGCO HALL” in recognition of his generous contribution and meritorious act of support to the aims and objectives of the Oro Chamber.

At a time when Cagayan de Oro was still a sleepy town in the early 1990s, Mr. Luchangco recognized the potential global competitiveness of Cagayan de Oro and chose to locate its biggest residential/commercial investment in the country here.

“Pueblo de Oro Development Corporation did not just throw a dart at the board when selecting Cagayan de Oro as an investment site; we actually did a thorough study,” Mr. Luchangco said during his testimony during the Cagayan de Oro Business Forum held 12 February 2013 at the Grand Ballroom of the Intercontinental Manila.

Mr Guillermo D. Luchango champions Cagayan de Oro City during the CDO Business Forum in Makati in 2013. (RMB photo)

“This study showed that Cagayan de Oro offers many attractions to businesses in terms of economic prospects, availability of quality human resources ready and willing to work, infrastructure and accessibility. It is, pardon my English, a damn nice place to visit or to invest in or to live and work in.”

The taipan said the group had to put a lot of study into the choice of location for the 360-hectere Pueblo de Oro Township, which was the largest single project the company has undertaken to date so they had to be careful in selecting the site.

“First of all, it is the business and educational center of Northern Mindanao,” he noted. “As recently as 2012, the National Competitiveness Council ranked it the Number 1 City in the Philippines in terms of Overall Competitiveness.”

Coming from a Spanish phrase that translates to ‘town of gold’, Pueblo de Oro is a haven for work, business, recreation and leisurely living all rolled into one location.

“What struck me first and foremost was what a nice place Cagayan de Oro is,” Mr. Luchangco noted. “I have never yet met a person who visited the city and then said he didn’t like it. I myself call it “Marlboro Country” because of the rolling hills, the river down below and the sea along its northern edge. And yet, it offers the amenities of an urban area, so what you have is an enjoyable lifestyle. You have beautiful countryside but at the same time, you too can live in a city, one which does not have as much hustle and bustle as over-crowded cities like Manila. And the people are in general friendly, which is why it is known as the City of Golden Friendship.”

Despite the developments, residents and guests can still go horseback riding in its 40-hectare urban rainforest in the midst of the 400-hectare township. (PDO)

But the taipan wasn’t content with merely locating Pueblo de Oro in an area which had hitherto been brush and pastureland. He tirelessly championed the location as the future growth area of the city and cajoled leading businessmen to locate their enterprises there.

Foremost among these is SM City Cagayan de Oro, the first SM Supermall in Northern Mindanao. The mall was the anchor locator of the Pueblo de Oro Business Park and opened on November 15, 2002 with a total gross floor area of 87,837 square meters on a 5.2 hectares land.

Besides bringing in for the first time ever to the region the likes of the SM Store, SM Supermarket, Cyberzone, SM Appliance Center, Ace Hardware, Toy Kingdom and SM Cinemas, it also lured service centers, specialty stores and restaurants.

Another pioneer company which located at Pueblo Business Park was Concentrix Philippines which started in 2005 as Link2Support, the first ever call center in Cagayan de Oro. Now renamed Concentrix, it is now a wholly owned subsidiary of SYNNEX Corporation, and has expanded the original 2,500 square meter facility with an initial 250 seats to over 2,000 at present.

“Mr. Guilly was very supportive of our entry into Pueblo de Oro Business Park,” recalls Junar Amador, former country manager of Link2Support who now has his own business. “He helped us get the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) accreditation we needed and generally gave us a free hand but full support in helping us get established in Cagayan de Oro.”

The Pueblo de Oro Business Park is both a PEZA and IT registered park. (PDO)

Indeed, it was Mr. Luchangco’s 2002 meeting with members of the Cagayan de Oro business community, LGU, and academe that inspired the City Government to declare the City as an IT Hub with incentives for the IT sector, Having blazed the trail, other local and national BPOs have followed suit and located in Cagayan de Oro, like Cleversoft, Syntactics, Arriba Telecontact, Support Zebra, Logic Base, Red Lemon, Innovuze, Azpired, and Envizion, in addition to several others engaged in the IT-BPO sector which has helped make the city one of the  Next Wave Cities in 2016.

Another pioneer locator in the Pueblo Business Park was the Primavera Residences condominium, the first project of Filipino-Italian joint venture Italpinas Development Corporation in Mindanao established in 2010.

The Italian designed Primavera Residences is one of the pioneer locators of the Pueblo de Oro Business Park. (IDC)

IDC has since acquired several more lots at the Pueblo Business Park which are now being developed as Primavera City.

“Guilly was very influential in helping us reach a decision to locate our first project in Pueblo de Oro,” said Ar. Romolo V. Nati, executive chairman and CEO of IDC. “He convinced us of the vast potential of Cagayan de Oro and was very professional in dealing with us.”

The growth Pueblo de Oro was spurring in the Uptown Cagayan de Oro area also convinced two of the city’s leading schools to expand Uptown. Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan’s 12.8-hectare campus (including a hectare donated by Pueblo de Oro), will fully integrate XU Grade School into the XU Basic Education Complex along with the Pre-school, Junior High, and Senior High School (Academic Track and ALGCIT) by School Year 2022-2023. Another leading educational institution, Corpus Christi School, has also opened its Pueblo de Oro campus catering to grade school and high school.

Barely two decades and six years on, the Pueblo de Oro Township has grown into a self-sufficient 400-hectare township with no less than sixteen residential communities, a burgeoning business park, top educational institutions, world-class all-weather golf course designed by renowned architect Robert Trent Jones II, and a bevy of other business establishments that has made it a truly, self-sufficient central business district, leisure and sports hub in one.

Pueblo de Oro Township today. (PDO)

Mr. Luchangco, however, is not finished with his dreams for Pueblo de Oro. “When we first started, I wanted to build a township you would not be ashamed of even if you go to Europe. We are in-between two major malls – Gaisano and SM – and have the perfect position and ability to continue developing along Pueblo-Laguindingan road. We’re really going to enhance the value of the area,” he added. “The Uptown area can be the new Makati of Cagayan de Oro. We have projects in development that will make people want to come up, and we want to make people excited about it.”

Indeed, if the history of the Pueblo de Oro Township in the past 26 years is any indication, the growth of Cagayan de Oro has been spurred by Mr. Luchangco’s vision, and Kagay-anons can expect more developments in the years to come.

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