The Philippine Star
Kevin Tan opens ‘dinagyang’ mall in Iloilo
Iloilo’s Dinagyang dancers perform at the opening of Megaworld’s P2.2-billion Festive Walk Mall, the real estate giant’s 17th mall in the country and its biggest outside Luzon, yesterday. The mall is located at Iloilo Business Park, a new township expected to boost employment and tourism in Western Visayas.
In true Ilonggo fashion, newly appointed Alliance Global Group Inc. (AGI) CEO Kevin Tan opened yesterday Megaworld’s P2.2-billion Festive Walk Mall to the beat of the city’s religious and cultural festival Dinagyang.
Located at the Iloilo Business Park (IBP), the real estate giant’s 72-hectare township in Iloilo City, the mall’s festival theme was set against the high-energy of Dinagyang, which celebrates the arrival of Malay settlers on Panay island and the city’s devotion to Sto. Niño.
Touted as Megaworld and the region’s most beautiful mall, Festive Walk adopts the city’s art, culture and the celebratory nature of Dinagyang, voted as the Philippines’ top festival for three years in a row.
Festive Walk, which is Megaworld’s 17th lifestyle mall in the country, is expected to boost tourism in Western Visayas, the administrative region comprised of Iloilo, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras and Negros Occidental with a combined population of seven million residents and four million annual tourists, excluding Boracay island.
Tan’s father, Megaworld founder and now chairman of AGI Andrew Tan, successfully won the bid to develop the old Mandurriao Airport after it was decommissioned in 2007. The old runway now serves as the township’s main road, called Megaworld Boulevard.
The younger Tan opened the mall with Iloilo City Mayor Joe Espinosa and other local officials. “We’re building not just malls but destinations that promote tourism,” Tan said. “The mall extends our passion for the arts and culture, and is the only mall in the region with an integrated contemporary museum, the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Arts (ILOMOCA). ”
The P110-million, three-floor museum has a stunning collection of 148 works of art – ranging from Joan Miro and Marc Chagall to Philippine National Artist Arturo Luz and Ilonggo artist Rock Drilon – on loan from a native Ilonggo, New York investment banker and art collector Ed Valencia.
Tan said the mall also draws on the thriving art scene in Iloilo, home to young and established artists. “With ILOMOCA connected to the mall, we see arts and culture as integral elements in our mall development in Iloilo. Our plan is to make Festive Walk a venue to showcase the best of Ilonggo artistry and cultural prowess, and we are bringing art technology into our mall soon. In the beginning, when I discovered Ed’s massive collection, I told him we would build a museum where he could hang part of his collection, and then it evolved into a contemporary museum. He wanted to give back to the community and so did we.”
Festive Walk Mall is surrounded by BPOs that employ 12,000 people and Tan said they are studying mall operating hours to cater to this segment. “Some of our malls operate until midnight and we introduced 24-hour cinemas on weekends.”
Festive Walk Mall has two anchor supermarkets in Festive Market by Savemore and Marketplace by Rustan’s, seven state-of-theart cinemas, a food hall, transport hub and an open deck and dog park on the third level. Its annex building will have a government center (LTO, Philhealth and Bureau of Immigration) and Medical City.
Megaworld is investing P35 billion over the next 10 years in developing Iloilo Business Park with commercial buildings tailored for BPOs, residential condominiums and prime lots for companies to build their headquarters in the Visayas.
Tan said, “Personally, the reason I love Iloilo is because of the people. From a business point of view it’s because there’s an enormous amount of graduates coming out of the province every year. A lot of major schools are here, which creates a very big domestic market. It’s the kind of environment where BPOs can thrive.”
Prior to his appointment as CEO, Tan headed Megaworld Lifestyle Malls. Despite e-commerce becoming popular in the country, Tan sees bigger expansion ahead for the mall industry. “I think there’s definitely going to be a merging of the two. E-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores will continue to thrive together. Neither will exist without the other. Online retailers are investing now in physical stores, and retailers are also investing to create their own e-commerce platforms. There’s a lot of cross expansions. There’s also definitely more emphasis on the customer experience. As for the malls – from the way the merchandise are displayed to what you see visually, what you can touch and what you can feel when you enter the stores – that’s how we see the retail business evolving.”
Metrobank and Union Bank are building their regional headquarters there. “What you see in Iloilo is the template for our succeeding developments. We are committing to invest heavily not just in Iloilo, but also in other parts of the country where we are present, like in Davao, Cebu, Bacolod, Pampanga and many more.”
Iloilo is seeing unprecedented real estate development in recent years. Festive Walk Mall won this year’s Philippine Property Awards’ Best Retail Architectural Design while Iloilo Business Park won Best Township Development.