Speech of President Aquino
at the Mactan Newtown grand launch

Lapu Lapu City | February 20, 2013

His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
At the Mactan Newtown grand launch

[Delivered in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, on February 20, 2013]


Pnoy Speech during the launching of Megaworld CebuThank you. Good morning. Please sit down.

Secretary Jose Rene Almendras; Dr. Andrew Tan; Mr. Kevin Tan; Rep. Mel Sarmiento; executives, officials, and staff of Megaworld Corporation; local government officials present; honored guests; mga minamahal ko pong kababayan:

Maayong buntag kaninyong tanan.

Just a little more than six months ago, I was in Binondo, Manila, for the inauguration of a top-class mall named Lucky Chinatown—a project of Megaworld Corporation. Today, I have the pleasure yet again of being with Dr. Tan and the employees of Megaworld as they launch an even more ambitious project, in the form of the Mactan Newtown. I have noticed that Megaworld’s name is popping up quite often in the list of projects that I am inaugurating, but there is no problem with that. At the rate you are investing in the country, I will be more than happy to join you for more inaugurations like this one. [Applause]

I’m told you have major operations in Iloilo. Perhaps in my lifetime you will come visit us in Central Luzon also—I will not object. [Laughter]

I am told that this complex will not simply be a mall or a residential area. The vision is to develop another Eastwood City, which was one of Megaworld’s early successes in township-type projects. This is your first such project outside Metro Manila, and the people from around here can assure you that you’ve made the right choice. If there is any place where you can replicate your success in such projects in Metro Manila, it’s here in Cebu. The workers you will find here are skillful, creative, light-hearted, while possessing an unshakeable pride in the quality of their work.

Since assuming office, we have made a point to make it easier for companies to set up shop here, or to expand, as you are doing today. We are making sure that we provide competitive incentives to those investing in our priority sectors; and we are making sure that the keys to success in our country are hard work and innovation, and not simply a willingness to connive with crooks.

Projects like this are valuable checkpoints for us—showing that, indeed, we have made progress. We are extremely thankful to companies like Megaworld—for nourishing the Philippines towards becoming the next Asian Tiger, by actually opening their checkbooks to make serious bets on our country. Nothing says confidence like ten billion pesos in investments. Nothing says confidence like planning to complete up to fourteen buildings in the span of less than three years.

Right now, it is election season again. So once in a while, you may see those opposed to our reforms in the newspapers and on TV, asking: Is this economic growth truly being felt by our people? Undertakings like this allow me to point out how strange those viewpoints are—because these projects are helping to grow the economy in ways that can be felt by ordinary people. Once this is completed, many of the businesses that will be established here will create tens of thousands of jobs for the local community both direct and indirect.

For example, part of this complex will include a hotel, which will help us provide the rooms to reach our revised target for domestic and international tourists. Our revisions are a result of some very good news I received from our Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez, which I am really excited to share with you. In 2011, we recorded 37.5 million domestic travellers. Just to put this number into perspective, this already surpassed our original 2016 target of 35.5 million domestic travellers. Given this very positive growth in domestic travel, Secretary Jimenez and the DOT have raised the 2016 domestic tourism target to 56.1 million travellers. By then, we expect that we will need more than 37,000 additional rooms in our destination clusters, which includes Cebu.

Suffice it to say: we fully intend on sending more guests to hotels in Cebu—guests who will be riding in your boats, buying your dried mangoes, and eating your famed Cebu lechon. So, to Megaworld: If you have some extra space here after all your buildings are done, you cannot go wrong with building another hotel.

Across all sectors, our administration, in the coming weeks, months, and years, will continue giving you reasons to invest in the Philippines and to stay in the Philippines—and so will the Filipino people, as they always have. We will maintain the business environment that has led to investments like this. The world has recognized an upward trend in our country’s prospects. They are convinced that not only is it indeed more fun here; on top of the fun, the Philippines also actually works: It works in terms of a talented, creative, loyal labor force; it works because of an environment that allows entrepreneurs to thrive; and it works because of a newly revitalized society that has bought into a system where justice reigns, with everyone pulling together to achieve the common goal of equitable prosperity. You now have a government that is committed to keeping it that way. I am hopeful that this complex can be finished ahead of schedule—hopefully before July in 2016—so that I can pay another visit to this beautiful place during my term, and if that isn’t possible, perhaps I can do so as a regular tourist and I can spend a lot more time here.

Again, congratulations to Megaworld, thank you. Good day.