Friday, December 30, 2005


Last month, I waved my "naughty finger" at the Sy family for their nouveau riche ways and for the construction of SM Baguio, perhaps the most culturally insensitive real estate act ever done on Philippine soil since Miguel Lopez de Legazpi burned down Raha Soliman's bamboo city back in 1571. But now I stand corrected. That distinction will now be shared with the Gokongwei family and the JG Summit group for the monstrosities that they unleashed upon Metro Manila. So in keeping with my current project of twitting Philippine taipans for their unsavory acts and/or investments, I shall now reprimand the Gokongweis in second person, so that I cannot be accused of saying things I wouldn't say to their face anyway. So here goes.

Dear Gokongweis,
After a recent visit to your mixed use developments of Robinson's Place, Pioneer Place, and Robinson's Galleria, I have come to the conclusion that they are the finest examples of how NOT to do a commercial development and that they are the UGLIEST buildings this side of the South China Sea without a doubt. And inasmuch as I admire your family for their hard work and talent for making lots of money, I'm afraid to say that other than that, it seems that your family has done very little to improve the local social condition, especially if we look at your real estate investments in Greater Manila as an example. For starters, the designs of the aforementioned malls are as interesting to look at as a plastic fork. With a look that is a cross between a Barbie Doll Coffin and a pile of pink shit, "tourist attraction" is not the word that comes to mind but more "depreciable real estate". First of all, the construction materials you use for them (specifically Robinson's Place and Galleria) are alarmingly substandard. It only takes one look at the crumbling parking ramps of Robinson's Place, the cracks on the concrete walls, and the greasy stinky sweatshop conditions of Summit Media in Galleria to make one wonder how much you scrimped in order to keep your profit margin up. Moreover, these buildings are also culturally and socially insensitive to the neighborhoods that surround them and one does not have to look further than Robinson's Place Malate to realize this. Your desecration of the beautiful Assumption Convent in Pedro Gil (Herran Street) is an act that can never be forgiven by Malate old-timers (Jeezus, you used the old chapel for meat storage) while the insular nature of the mall not only alienates the surrounding areas but have also contributed to the demise of Malate as a whole. Long time institutions next to you (like Alda's Pizza Kitchen on Adriatico and El Solidaridad Bookstore on Padre Faura are dying/dead due to the strain that the developments have put on traffic, water usage, garbage, and SEWAGE. Don't forget that the area you are building on now was not designed for the density of the development you forced upon it (thousands of new toilets draining raw sewage into a system designed for a third of that will not be a pretty scene I tell you). Robinson's Place is a SARS plague waiting to happen. And now with the construction of One Adriatico Place beside it, I pity any investor who buys a unit there because he will soon realize in a few years, that he has paid for a chokey, smokey, waterless, shit filled slice of hell. Literally.

And Kitty, if you are reading this, please pass this along to your cousins, hopefully they can still change the direction of things. If not, tell them to expect lawsuits and/or irate letters in a few years by unhappy unit owners. And i'll give you a free hint as to which direction they should go. Ask the Ayalas for a clue. Serendra and Greenbelt are the antitheses of everything the Gokongweis are doing. GOSH. Even the Ortigases are planting trees on their properties in Greenhills for crying out loud. They should get with the program. Being contented about becoming the third best of anything is not smart business, it's PATHETIC.

Photo: the graceless charm of Robinson's Place Malate.

Next: I pick on the Martels about Harrison Plaza, and the Gos for Grotesquo.