The man who went where angels feared to tread and almost singlehandedly willed the creation of what has now become the booming Uptown Cagayan de Oro, recently shared his vision for what lies beyond the post-pandemic horizon.
Guillermo D. Luchangco, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pueblo de Oro Development Corporation (PDO), perked up the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc.’s (Oro Chamber) 2nd General Membership Meeting and Induction of New Members on June 22nd, in his response to the unveiling and dedication of the Guillermo D. Luchangco Hall at the Oro Chamber building along P.N. Roa Sr. Avenue in Upper Carmen, and the granting of his lifetime membership in the city’s leading business organization.
“When I first started coming here more than 25 years ago, I was struck by the beauty of the landscape, and I used to tell my associates it was “Marlboro Country”, with rolling hills framed by the mountains in the background, winding rivers and the sea. It was indeed a jewel of an urban community set in the countryside, which meant you could achieve a great combination of business and leisure without leaving home,” Luchangco said.
“Mark my words. This type of life will be the future of the Philippines, the style of community to which many will migrate post-covid. People will look for smaller, less crowded developments but those which have complete facilities to offer, like smaller commercial areas or malls, spaced out leisure and lifestyle areas, green residential villages, all far from the overcrowded public areas and congested streets and traffic jams of places like Metro Manila,” he stressed.
Luchangco described how the covid pandemic unveiled a ‘silver lining’ by thrusting the country into the new age of technology, with employers and employees realizing how it was possible for some to work from home, and how the internet made it all possible.
“Thus, in Luzon, you will see booming communities rising up outside of NCR, going both southward and now, especially with the construction of the skyway above Metro Manila that cuts travel time to the north, also towards Bulacan, Pampanga and further,” he noted.
Luchangco described how Cagayan de Oro is in a unique position to take advantage of this trend because it is already known as a regional center, with good facilities, an international airport, a major container port, a shipping port that serves more tonnage than Davao, many educational institutions and a thriving business community, all within reach of rolling mountains and hills, scenic landscape and the sea.
“And we must not forget one of its major assets, a lively and friendly population. No wonder it is called the City of Golden Friendship. Not every regional city in the Philippines can claim such attractions!” he exclaimed.
Increasing the Value Proposition
“And to put my money where my mouth is, I wish to tell you that, in addition to the billions of pesos Pueblo de Oro has already poured into Cagayan de Oro, we will now invest at least P6-7 billion more!” Luchangco disclosed.
“But while we will search for new areas to develop, we will not just do that. We will also seek to re-develop the area we are already in, in order to increase the value proposition for those who invested with us earlier. By upgrading the present area of Pueblo de Oro, the land and asset values here will also rise,” he added.
The Makati of CDO
In addition to additional investments and redevelopment of Pueblo de Oro, Luchangco also revealed how from “Marlboro Country”, he would be leading the charge to further develop the uptown area of Pueblo de Oro township into the “Makati of Cagayan de Oro”.
“Many of you will recall that in the 1950s, Makati was just a barren field, with the old Nielson tower which previously served as an airport terminal, one small apartment building along Ayala Avenue, then Rizal Theater and a supermarket. But look at it now! Rizal Theater has been transformed into the Shangri-la Hotel, Ayala Avenue is full of high-rise buildings, and land in the area is worth around P1 million per square meter!” he exclaimed.
“Now look at Cagayan de Oro’s uptown area. When I first visited here, it was a barren field. Today, it is a booming location, with SM Mall on its north side, and the new Gaisano Mall on its southern rim. SM will be developing a five-hectare condo area close to its mall, as well as expanding the mall itself. Cebu Landmasters and Portofino are also in the uptown locale. And Pueblo de Oro township sits in the middle of all this!”
Beyond the pandemic horizon
In the near future, Luchangco said Pueblo de Oro Township would not be merely building more of the same types of structures.
“Just like when I started our project years ago, and told a group of prominent Kagay-anons that I would give their city a township that they could be proud of, even if they traveled to the cities of Europe, Pueblo will now go beyond the current types of developments you see dotted around the city and build bigger, better and/or more state of the art projects!” he revealed.
Besides further raising the city’s profile a cut above the rest of the country’s highly urbanized cities and increasing its footprint as a unique destination point, Luchangco foresees how this would result in greater economic benefit to the city and increase revenues for the local government.
The City of Cagayan de Oro maintained its ranking in 2020 as the 7th Overall Most Competitive Highly Urbanized City (HUC) in the 2020 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index. The city has consistently been in the top 10 since 2013, and is one of only two cities outside the National Capital Region (NCR) to make it to the top 10 in 2020.
The Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index is an annual ranking of Philippine cities and municipalities developed by the National Competitiveness Council through the Regional Competitiveness Committees (RCCs) with the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development.
The ranking is based on overall competitiveness scores, the sum of scores on four (4) main pillars: economic dynamism, government efficiency, infrastructure, and resiliency.
Cagayan de Oro ranked 5th among HUCs in infrastructure, 6th in resiliency, 9th in government efficiency, 12th in economic dynamism.
Guillermo D. Luchangco Hall Dedication
“I can definitely say that this is indeed one of the proudest moments of my life as I am being honored with honorary lifetime membership by the Oro Chamber and with the naming of the Guillermo D. Luchangco hall in its building within the Pueblo de Oro Township. I am truly thankful to all of you for this award and recognition! And it is indeed gratifying that I am receiving it from the business community of Cagayan de Oro.” “Believe in the future of the City of Golden Friendship, and thank you, my friends, for the honor you have bestowed upon me.”