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Monday, 11 October 2010 00:00
BY RHAYDZ BARCIA CORRESPONDENT LEGAZPI CITY: As the day ends, an imposing 30-meter tall lighthouse with theatrical lighting shimmers against the night sky and the sea, transforming this city into what can be called as “the Las Vegas of the countryside.” Located within the panoramic seaside of Albay Gulf and the spectacular view of Mayon Volcano—the icon of Bicolandia, Embarcadero de Legazpi has completely changed the landscape and business climate of Bicol—specifically Albay province. Conceptualized from the Fisherman’s wharf in San Francisco, California, this project was built by 40-year-old Bicolano business tycoon Elizaldy “Zaldy” Co, executive officer of Sunwest Group of Companies within the Kapuntukan Hill or the “Sleeping Lion” with the higher peak resembling a lion’s hunched shoulders. The establishment of this multibillion Embarcadero de Legazpi completely brought back the glory of Albay after the catastrophic occurrence of super Typhoon Reming, barely four years ago, which killed more than 1,000 people and resulted to massive agricultural and economic devastation. Co opted to pour in his money to develop new economic and tourism hub along the seaside of Legazpi City port area to restore the old glory of Albay and to boost Bicol’s economy after the unforgettable disaster here. This is a mega structure project, a new recreation hub dubbed as the first world-class lifestyle and entertainment center in a bayfront developed in the countryside. According to the Bicolano philanthropist, his vision was to create an atmosphere of equal opportunity—“where the rich, powerful and underprivileged could intersperse together, creating a lively and family-friendly environment during the day and at nighttime here.” During daytime, sea travelers from the island town of Rapu-Rapu disembarked within the wharf of Embarcadero where the islanders traded their goods to local businessmen in the city. While at nighttime, the 30-meter lighthouse served as the icon of Legazpi City and a natural conduit light for small fishermen while fishing on the seas. Within the seaside, local and foreign tourists could fish using only fishing rods while watching the lighthouse’s dancing light, and other entertainment event here. This new hub offers mix of retail, restaurants, markets, and shops, convention center and a
15,477 square meter Information Technology (IT) Park, envisioned to provide thousands of business process outsourcing jobs for Bicolanos. Today, this project has completely transformed the image of Legazpi City port district from a renowned place of illegal activities into a world-class mall, tourism and entertainment destination in Bicol region. Home of Bicol’s homegrown chain of restaurants (Bigg’s Diner) and other food chains from Metro Manila such as Gerry’s Grill, Padi’s Point, Mang Inasal, Harbour Wok, La Mia Tazza Café, Pancit Malabon Express, Lots’a Pizza, Casa Nostra Bar and Restaurant, Chill Bar and famous clothing lines like Mango, F2M, Giordano, Cinderella, Adidas, Plains and Prints, Pacific Dive, Mercury Drug, Bowling Lanes, Dampa-style restaurants and many more. Besides these amenities, the place will soon offer exciting water sport events like roller blade around the waterfront promenade, parasailing, snorkeling, diving and other water sports activities. The Embarcadero project of Co envisioned to cater to all sorts of guests with a wide variety of amenities intends to offer business, medical tourism, leisure activities and entertainment such as cruise boat rides and island hopping. Co told The Manila Times that once this venture is totally completed, at least 8,000-seat call center would soon be operating at the Information Technology Park—which could provide more than 10,000 jobs. On the other hand, the shops and bistros can bring an additional 10,000 jobs equivalent to more than P500-million in job wages per annum here. “This is our way of helping out our fellow Bicolanos to alleviate them from poverty and to boost our economy,” Co said. This investment is accredited by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, while the P1.8-billion IT Park Promenade will be the first IT ecozone in the region.