The Philippines: Revving Up For Recovery

The country is on track to regain its momentum as its industry leaders ready their businesses for further growth.

Skyline of Bonifacio Global City

The Philippine central bank governor, Benjamin Diokno, in a recent speech affirmed that the country’s economy remains robust, characterized by strong fundamentals that include low interest rates, a strong currency, record gross international reserves, low debt ratios, stable inflation and improving employment figures.

Public infrastructure projects, agriculture and high technology are driving the economic recovery. Among the services sector, domestic tourism is poised for a rebound, led by the Department of Tourism’s efforts to ensure the careful reopening of top local destinations. “We hope that this will soon make way for greater inter-regional travel,” says Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo- Puyat. “But visitors from all over the Philippines can now enjoy some of the world’s best islands at their safest and most tranquil.”

A diverse range of industries, from food manufacturing to financial services, continue to stay buoyant. The business process outsourcing sector (BPO) also remains optimistic, with increased demand for outsourced health-related services encouraging some BPO companies to expand. The pandemic has prompted greater work flexibility in the sector, with almost 70% of its labor force now working from home, according to the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines. This means multi-use developments, such as those offered by Alveo Land, remain attractive for both tenants and investors. “Our projects offer dynamic configurations that balance residential, lifestyle options and workspaces,” explains Alveo Land President Robert Lao. “They can easily adapt to the demands of the new normal, where convenience and innovation are key.”

With crises also come opportunities, as seen in the dramatic rise in digital banking during the quarantine period. Increased financial digitalization has enabled greater access to financial services and quicker capital turnaround, thus accelerating income growth. By strengthening their e-commerce operations, companies such as SM Investments Corporation are evolving with the circumstances while positioning themselves for a post-recovery future. “Even across different platforms, we’ve managed to keep our brand front and center,” says SM President and CEO Frederic DyBuncio. “This assures our customers that they can count on us, whatever the situation.”

The Philippine central bank expects GDP to bounce back and grow by 6.5% to 7.5% in 2021 and 2022. The Asian Development Bank also expects growth to accelerate in 2021 with effective fiscal support and monetary policies keeping the economy on track. JPMorgan Chase is even more bullish on the country. In August, it increased its 2021 growth forecast to 9.5%, which would be among the strongest in the region.

Southeast Asia may have seen a decrease in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first half of this year, but the Philippines managed to buck this trend. The central bank reported FDI net inflows increased for the fourth consecutive month in August, expanding 47% from a year earlier, while net equity capital investments rose by 33%. This show of confidence by investors demonstrates the country’s sound financial management, effective pandemic control efforts and unshakeable resilience.

SM Investments Corporation: Adapting To The New Reality

The group rolls out initiatives to help local businesses bounce back from the pandemic while prioritizing the safety of its employees.

SM stores offer safe and convenient ways of shopping with options for pickup at designated counters or home delivery.

As Covid-19 hit businesses across the Philippines, SM Investments Corporation (SMIC) and its companies acted swiftly to strengthen resilience among its partners and communities to boost their response to the crisis.

“In aid of reviving economic activity, SM has undertaken many programs for micro, small and medium enterprises [MSME] across the group such as through marketing campaign support and by waiving fees to help our MSMEs sustain their operations as well as credit support and improved cash access to our many banking clients across the country,” SMIC President and CEO Frederic DyBuncio said when the company released third-quarter earnings in November.

By the end of June, SM malls waived 11 billion pesos (US$221 million) in rent for tenants affected by the economic downturn. In July, it launched “Kasamang SM,” an initiative to help businesses impacted by the pandemic to recover. It also teamed up with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Association of the Filipino Franchisers to roll out “BUYANIHAN” a nationwide campaign encouraging shoppers to buy local.

“We continue to adapt, innovate and build our capabilities to respond to the new realities. It is crucial for us to continue to be here to serve our customers and stakeholders with new and enhanced solutions for their convenience and safety.”

– Frederic Dybuncio, President and CEO, SM Investments Corporation

To help meet the demands of the country’s healthcare sector and support families affected by the coronavirus, SM contributed more than 300 million pesos (US$6 million) to equip Philippine hospitals with ventilators, medical supplies and personal protective equipment. It also built emergency quarantine facilities for Covid-19 patients and transformed the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Metro Manila into a mega swabbing facility to support the government’s efforts to expand testing capacity.

To ensure the safety of its workforce and customers, SM has conducted Rapid and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) Covid-19 testing for its employees and agency workers across its businesses.

SM responded to the Covid-19 crisis with donations of essential medical supplies, equipment and PCR tests to hospitals nationwide.

Finding Solutions

SM has moved quickly to adapt its businesses to the new reality with innovative solutions to better serve its stakeholders.

It widened its diverse range of essential and nonessential products available online through its shopping site, ShopSM, and The SM STORE, which can be found on popular ecommerce platforms. SM also tapped communities on Viber to provide content and shopping options for its retail products and services through the instant messaging app.

SM introduced mall fulfillment services such as “Take Out and Delivery” and “Personal Shopper” to deliver takeaway and other products to customers. “Call to Deliver”—The SM STORE’s branded service—allows customers to order essential items by telephone from select stores. Through these services, SM promotes store and restaurants located in its malls.

SM expanded its customer access channels this year, offering innovative solutions to better serve the needs of its stakeholders.

Meanwhile, SM Supermalls has partnered with local governments to launch Wheels-On-The-Go and SM Riders Program across Luzon island. The programs tap job-seeking construction workers, repatriated overseas Filipinos and tricycle and jeepney drivers as delivery drivers and personal shoppers.

“We continue to adapt, innovate and build our capabilities to respond to the new realities. It is crucial for us to continue to be here to serve our customers and stakeholders with new and enhanced solutions for their convenience and safety,” DyBuncio says.

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The Philippines: Turning Tourism Around

Covid-19 may have hit the tourism industry hard, but the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT), through its marketing and promotions arm Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines, has a plan to help the industry recover. 

The Philippines’ natural beauty and diverse points of interest have driven its tourism industry to be one of the strongest con­tributors to the country’s economic prog­ress. In 2019, tourism contributed 12.7% of the country’s GDP and employed 13.5% of its total workforce, providing 5.7 million jobs. However, with global and local travel crippled by the pandemic, the sector has been facing unprecedented challenges.

Chocolate Hills, Bohol (Photo by Beautiful Destinations)

Staggered for Safety 

There is cause for cautious optimism though, with the number of new cases and infection rate steadily decreasing over recent months, approaching that of other Asian destinations such as Japan and Malaysia. DOT and TPB are thus planning ahead for the country’s gradual and safe reopening to both domestic and foreign tourists. Several major tourist destinations are already welcoming local visitors, albeit under strict health and safety protocols. The current roster includes Anilao in Batan­gas, Baguio, Bohol, Boracay, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte. These locations have dem­onstrated both effective control of local transmission and adequate infrastructure to handle the influx of tourists under the new normal. It is the DOT’s hope that they can lead the way for other destinations to eventually follow suit. This staggered approach allows local government units to learn from successful examples and develop effective travel schemes tailored to their sit­uation, while prioritizing health and safety.

These reopened destinations continue to be vigilant to prevent the possibility of contagion within their borders. Health checks are rigorously performed on all visitors seeking entry, and local govern­ments are ensuring that protocols such as the wearing of masks and personal sanitation measures are consistently followed. Small steps, to be sure, but instrumental to reviving tourism. In Sep­tember this year, the Philippines became the 100th destination to receive the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Safe Travels Stamp, proof to travelers that the country has adopted and implemented internationally recognized protocols for health and hygiene.

Boracay Island (Photo by Eric Beltran)

Inspiration for Recovery

DOT and TPB’s plan is centered on eco­nomic recovery and taking care of tourism stakeholders. It is geared towards four key goals. The first is to secure livelihoods and provide adequate social services, which not only involves protection and capacity-building for tourism professionals but also adequate assistance for affected travelers and the dissemination of vital information to prevent the spread of the virus. The second is to sustain business operations by extending financial support to tour­ism-related businesses. This also calls for policies supporting financial and corporate solvency and encouraging investments in the tourism sector. The third is to develop appropriate infrastructure and policies to establish quality standards and protocols relevant to the new normal. The fourth is to enhance marketing and product develop­ment. The launch of tourism bubbles and green corridors will help kick-start local tour­ism and create useful products for the new normal as well as promotional campaigns reflecting changes in the industry.

Diving in Anilao, Batangas (Photo by Robert Yin)

“The DOT and the TPB continue to look for safer and more accessible ways to encourage more people to travel. As we coexist with the virus, we need to strike a balance between ensuring the safety and wellness of everyone, and reviving our tourism industry for the benefit of those relying on tourism to survive,” says Philippines Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

For now, most travel in the Philippines will remain domestic. But the DOT and TPB are preparing to promote numerous local destinations internationally in the coming year. On top of these, another reason to be upbeat about Philippine tourism’s recov­ery is the country’s recent accolades at the Asia leg of the 27th World Travel Awards in November. The award-giving body cited the Walled City of Intramuros in Manila as Asia’s leading tourist attraction, with the Philippines also bringing home citations as Asia’s leading destination for beaches and diving, while the DOT was recognized as Asia’s leading tourist board.

Baguio Burnham Park (Photo by Dakila Angeles)

The Meetings, Incentive Travel, Con­ventions, and Exhibitions/Events (MICE) sector of tourism was especially affected this year, with most large events cancelled, postponed or shifted online. But it is antic­ipated that hybrid events, or contained, limited-scale gatherings can safely be held at several local destinations with low risk of transmission. Health checks and protocols are proving to be effective so far, boding well for carefully organized incentive tours and engagements. With a continuously improving pandemic response, promis­ing medical breakthroughs and a rejuve­nated economy, prospects are bright for a Philippines tourism renaissance in the coming year.

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Alveo Land: Standing Strong

The innovative property developer reimagines business hubs across Metro Manila and beyond with first-in-class projects that blend residential, commercial and lifestyle concepts.

For close to a century, Ayala Land has been at the forefront of real estate devel­opment in the Philippines, skillfully navi­gating both economic highs and lows. As its subsidiary, Alveo Land has blazed trails into key markets and locations with inno­vative projects targeting savvy investors and rising companies.

Stiles Enterprise Plaza is Alveo’s flag­ship office-for-sale project in Circuit Makati. The 29-story building serves as a focal point for Ayala’s thriving new central busi­ness district (CBD) with its exclusive river­side location and views. Stiles Enterprise Plaza’s dynamic setup appeals to startups, creative professionals and entrepreneurs by offering inspiring workspaces that are adaptable for various pursuits.

Alveo Financial Tower, Alveo Park Triangle Tower and Gentry Corporate Plaza

Gentry Corporate Plaza is a landmark two-tower development in Makati’s Sal­cedo Village. Located at one of the coun­try’s most prestigious and cosmopolitan addresses, the project merges residential, business and lifestyle concepts into one dynamic multi-use structure.

Alveo Financial Tower is Alveo’s flag­ship office development in the Makati CBD. Its location on Ayala Avenue, the CBD’s main artery, offers seamless con­nectivity to key areas throughout the city. The 49-story tower is adjacent to Ayala’s established City Gate development, a bustling mixed-use hub.

Rising at an auspicious corner of Boni­facio Global City, the 28-story Alveo Park Triangle Tower is expected to stand as another iconic landmark in this world-class CBD. The tower completes the Park Trian­gle District, a mixed-use development that integrates premium residential with retail, and complements its progressive work­spaces with appealing lifestyle options.

Strategically positioned where key transport corridors and economic hubs converge, Ayala Land’s Arca South in Taguig City is an up-and-coming central business district that could soon rival other CBDs for accessibility and stature. Tryne Enterprise Plaza is a three-tower office development that will underpin the emerging district. Offering choice office spaces for sale, the flexible configurations appeal to businesses with an eye on future expansion or reinvention.

Broadfield Estate

Further afield, Ayala Land is opening up a new economic hub with Broadfield, an expansive estate in the Calabarzon region just south of Metro Manila that is easily reached via the Metro Luzon Urban Beltway. This emerging growth center is sur­rounded by burgeoning communi­ties and industries and boasts some of the fastest-appreciating land val­ues in the country.

Broadfield’s masterplan reflects a careful focus on sustainability and quality of life. Verdant spaces are interwoven with walkable and bike-friendly streets lined with hip retail and dining outlets. With commercial lots for ownership on offer, Broadfield easily attracts investors and entrepreneurs looking for a healthy environment amid abundant business opportunities in the South.

Alveo’s office and commercial properties have the distinct advantage of being man­aged by Ayala Property Management Cor­poration (APMC). APMC’s commitment to the highest standards of building manage­ment has been proven across generations as its expert property maintenance and ser­vices adhere to the strictest building guide­lines. This ensures peace of mind for inves­tors and efficient operations for tenants.

“Beyond just the physical structure, design and amenities, we have always been aware of the value of first-rate management and maintenance teams to uphold the value of our developments,” says Robert Lao, Alveo Land President. “Even during extraordinary circumstances, Alveo makes sure that our communities enjoy the utmost safety and convenience under our care.”

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