Aboitiz-led West Cebu Estate’s industrial expansion to boost Balamban labor force

The year was 1993. The Aboitiz Group and Tsuneishi Holdings from Japan ventured together in the faraway city of Balamban, Cebu to establish West Cebu Industrial Park.

It was planned to house a large shipbuilding facility, now known as Tsuneishi Heavy Industries (Cebu) Inc.

Years later, it became home to several companies from the maritime industry, such as Australia’s Austal Philippines and American-owned Advanced Catamaran Composites, turning Balamban into a first-class municipality and the shipbuilding capital of the Philippines.

Now, three decades later, Aboitiz InfraCapital Inc. (AIC), the infrastructure arm of Aboitiz Group, celebrates 30 years of what is now known as West Cebu Estate by transforming the shipbuilding park into a 540-hectare mixed-use development.

AIC is set to spend P800 million for its upcoming 39-hectare industrial expansion, up for completion in 2025.

“Today, as we commemorate the past, we also look to the future with optimism. (This expansion) will support the everyday needs of the estate, and of the growing population in Balamban,” Rafael Fernandez de Mesa, president of Cebu Industrial Park Developers Inc. and senior vice president for economic estates of AIC said in a media briefing last May 25.

(From left to right) Atty. Abdullah Alug, PEZA Zone Administrator, Anton Mari Perdices, Chairman of Cebu Industrial Park Developers Inc, Asec. Lynn Moreno, Assistant Executive Secretary, Office of the President, Rafael Fernandez de Mesa, President, LIMA Land, Inc. and Cebu Industrial Park Developers, Inc., Senior Vice President for Economic Estates, Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc., Gwendolyn F. Garcia, Governor of Cebu, Alex Binghay, Former Balamban Mayor, Cosette V. Canilao, Aboitiz InfraCapital President and Chief Executive Officer, Yasuaki Seto, President, Tsuneishi Heavy Industries, Ace Stefan V. Binghay, Mayor of Balamban, and Ceferino Rodolfo, Undersecretary for the Department of Trade and Industry.

The industrial expansion includes a mix of companies and  the development of a four-hectare commercial district called the West Cebu Exchange, which will include retail shops, offices, a transport terminal, a supermarket, basic services, and a communal park.

“This expansion will attract investments and generate new jobs, potentially increasing the working population from 14,000 to 30,000. As we grow, we remain committed to exceptional service, raising development standards, and prioritizing sustainable and intelligent growth in the countryside,” de Mesa added.

A catalyst of socio-economic progress

During West Cebu Estate’s 30th anniversary celebration at the Brisa Del Mar Hotel, AIC president and CEO Cosette Canilao reiterated the company’s commitment to the economic development of Balamban and its neighboring cities.

“As we go along our journey of becoming the Philippines’ first techglomerate, we remain committed to expanding and transforming our West Cebu Estate, along with our other economic estates in other regions, into future-ready, master-planned developments. We will make sure to maximize being part of the bigger Aboitiz group by leveraging the synergies and capabilities within it,” she said in her welcoming message.

In a special message, Tsuneishi Heavy Industries (Cebu), Inc. president Yasuaki Seto expressed his satisfaction over the services and assistance the AIC has provided to West Cebu Estate in the past 30 years.

“Looking back, when Tsuneishi had just started its operation here, it was difficult to receive orders from customers. However, now, we have received many orders from loyal customers around the world,” he said.

“We were able to expand our business and, through this achievement, we are recognized as one of the biggest in the world. We couldn’t have done this ourselves.”

Boosting balamban and beyond

On behalf of the municipal city of Balamban, Mayor Ace Stefan Binghay looked back on how Balamban progressed for the past 30 years and how it became a first-class municipality.

“People were dependent only on agriculture and some employment from a neighboring place in Toledo City as a main source of income. For the past 30 years, the town experienced a great leap in economic and social aspects. This, we will credit to AIC Economic Estates with the assistance of West Cebu Estate, which they chose to establish here in Balamban,” he said.

Cebu governor Gwendolyn Garcia said the West Cebu Estate has transformed into the “beautiful pearl” of Balamban.

“Those of us to whom the reins and responsibilities carry on, we count ourselves lucky because we can look further ahead, beyond 30 years where we stand on the shoulders of those great men that came before us.” she also said.

Future plans

De Mesa said that AIC is doing investment promotion missions in other countries like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, as well as potential locators from across industries, who all have shown interest in the planned industrial expansion.

At present, West Cebu Estate has 11 locators from medium to heavy industries, which include some of the biggest shipping firms in the country.

Moreover, to align with the estate’s global sustainability standards, West Cebu Estate includes in its vision some environmental initiatives, such as the construction of vertical garden structures, the transition to solar power, implementation of solid waste management solutions, and an ongoing progress towards BERDE-District Registration.

“AIC puts sustainability at the forefront of its growth strategy,” said AIC vice president for Cebu operations Cyel Auza.

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For more information, please visit aboitizinfracapital.com or e-mail [email protected]