Pueblo de Panay: On a mission to develop the countryside

Much more attention has been given to the importance of countryside development in recent years in a bid to spread the benefits of the country’s economic growth.

But for one Roxas City, Capiz-based company, the goal of developing the countryside has been embedded into its foundation for decades now.

“We sincerely believe that the mission for more inclusive growth is best addressed by developing the Philippine countryside,” Pueblo de Panay Inc. (PdP) said.

The company, which recently bagged the Best Masterplanned Community in the Philippines for 2022 by Lamudi, emphasized that many of the Philippines’ financially-disadvantaged families still reside in the countryside.

“Our plan is to expand our business presence in more areas in the country. There are opportunities to expand in essential and emerging industries. We believe that we are equipped to navigate the local terrain, and we have the track record to unlock the huge untapped potentials of our provincial towns and cities,” the company said.

Just like its goal of inclusive growth for the country, PdP’s humble beginnings are a testament to what homegrown companies in the countryside are capable of achieving as its Pueblo de Panay flagship township development in Roxas City is now considered one of the largest real estate developments in Central Philippines.

Receiving the Lamudi award are marketing manager Kathy Arcenas, sales director Jomar Urbano, COO Lex Lavin and manager Thea Obamos.

“It was in 1992, thirty years ago, that I started working on our family’s new venture in housing development. It was pretty much a start-up enterprise,” said PdP president and CEO Jose Nery ‘Bub’ Ong.

Ong said it took about ten years of putting in the right system and structure before the company could say that it already acquired the capability to undertake large-scale projects, such as its flagship township development.

Source of pride

“We wanted to brand our flagship project to be a source of pride for the people and community that we do business in. Not only was this the right thing to do marketing-wise, but we felt that this was our humble way of showing that a countryside-based, homegrown brand could have world-class aspirations,” Ong said.

Barely eight years old, the Pueblo de Panay township is a 670-hectare mixed-used Filipino-inspired township, which was master planned by Surbana Jurong, a Singaporean government-owned institution responsible for the infrastructure of urban renewal and development.

The township seamlessly integrates various components through designated areas for residential, commercial, medical, educational, and light agro-industrial zones. It also hosts the 7.4-hectare PEZA-accredited Pueblo de Panay TechnoPark, now the workplace of more than 1,500 employees.

Currently, the township has foot traffic of about 55,000 a day, returning to almost pre-COVID levels.

Lessons from the pandemic

PdP said the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of countryside development.

It explained that the pandemic exposed the challenges of having concentrated most of the country’s industries in the National Capital Region, which led the country’s leadership to push for development in the provinces and secondary cities. It helps that Roxas City, in its campaign for more IT-BPM investments, has also been identified by the Department of Information and Communications Technology as one the Philippines’ 25 Digital Cities.

“Such a policy presents a great opportunity for us to host several types of industries, and we believe that our synergies with vital local stakeholders will be a great advantage for progressive companies looking for their next investment destination,” PdP said, adding that more livelihood opportunities in the countryside will lessen the need for people to migrate to, and further congest traditional metropolitan areas.

Future expansion plans

In line with its mission of pursuing countryside development for more inclusive growth, PdP is planning to build more township and mixed-use developments in the Philippine countryside starting with projects within Panay Island, which has a population of 4.5 million.

The company said it aims to provide more inclusive growth through better homes and residences for the country’s working class, as well as self-contained and integrated developments that will deliver either onsite job opportunities or are better integrated with existing hubs through affordable and safe public transportation systems.

“In Metro Roxas City, we will push for more inclusive growth through mass housing; aggregates production; integrated warehousing and logistics; supply chain and cold chain infrastructure to provide value-added support to the local agri-fishery industry; quality and accessible private education; and the expansion of its Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) park,” PdP said.

It identified secondary or tertiary cities and municipalities with high growth potentials as among the target areas for expansion.

“I, our family, and our team have been working incredibly hard for more than three decades now. One thing I learned is that: although one’s vision might change as we take on greater challenges, our mission and values should remain steadfast,” Ong said.

“I am still driven by the desire to help develop the Philippine Countryside, and with that in mind, yes much more needs to be accomplished,” he also said.