Jun 052013

We congratulate Ambassador Manolo Lopez for successfully recovering the Philippines’ Nampeidai property in Japan – one of the properties acquired by the Philippine government as part of the May 1956 Reparations Agreement with Japan. We also congratulate Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario for his solid support and encouragement in the efforts to win back this prime property located in Tokyo’s shopping district.

We have been very vocal in opposing moves to dispose of our patrimonial properties in Japan – bought with the blood of Filipinos who gave up their lives fighting for this country during World War II.  It was during the term of Gloria Arroyo that the sale of these prime properties in Roppongi, Kobe and Shibuya were initiated, with the Nampeidai property eventually sold to a Japanese consortium under a 50-year build-operate-transfer scheme. It took several years of litigation before the successful recovery of the property.

The government had also wanted to sell the property located in upscale Fujimi district where the Philippine Ambassador to Japan resides to pave the way for the construction of a condominium – with plans to just make the Ambassador reside in the penthouse. While the Fujimi property was not part of the reparations agreement with Japan, it is a prime piece of property, considered a heritage site having once been the home of Baron Zenjiro Yasuda whose family founded the Fuji Group.

It was then President Jose P. Laurel who bought the Fujimi property in 1944, which has since become the official residence of Philippine Ambassadors. Naturally, the thought of disposing such a prestigious property and just making the Philippine Ambassador live in a condominium penthouse elicited loud howls of protest from Filipinos both in Tokyo and the Philippines, who called it an act of “stealing the shared cultural and historical rights” of Filipinos and Japanese alike.

As one of our diplomat friends told us, our patrimonial properties are as precious as crown jewels, and once you sell them off, they could never be recovered.

Not a Wynn-win situation

Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

It seems the chips are getting stacked against casino developer and operator Wynn Resorts whose plan to build a $1-billion casino in Everett could hit a snag due to a Federal probe it faces over an alleged $135-million donation in 2011 to the University of Macau – whose head just happens to be a government official with oversight on gaming. Wynn had earlier won a dismissal of a suit alleging that the donation was improper and meant to win a casino concession.

The probe comes on top of a legal tussle between erstwhile Wynn partner Kazuo Okada whose 20-percent stake in the company was forcibly taken supposedly because Okada had engaged in improper payments to gaming regulators. Just recently, casino mogul Steve Wynn was threatened with a lawsuit by his ex-wife Elaine, who is seeking permission from a Federal court to sell the 9.6-percent stake she obtained during her 2009 divorce from Wynn. A sale could significantly reduce Steve Wynn’s influence over the gaming firm, which could threaten the profitability of the company, insiders noted.

The way things look at the moment, it’s not a Wynn-ing streak for the Las Vegas operator – in contrast with Melco Crown Philippines (MCP) that seems to be on a roll with newest shareholder Temasek Holdings of Singapore. Temasek very recently acquired 222.2 million shares roughly equivalent to a 5.02-percent stake.

Melco Crown partnered with the Henry Sy-led Belle Corp. to develop Belle Grande Manila whose grand opening mid next year is being anticipated by high rollers from Asia. Belle Grande will have 920 hotel rooms and is expected to boost the tourism industry in the country.

Alphaland rising

Today will be the inauguration of the state-of-the-art Alphaland Tower located right in the heart of Makati’s Central Business District. Vice President Jejomar Binay who is supposed to be the guest of honor for the inauguration is out of the country, but Makati Mayor Junjun Binay will be stepping in for his father.

The 34-story building features an all-glass grand lobby with the first and second floors offered as prime commercial spaces. It has a three-story penthouse that features rooftop gardens and lounge areas, with the design for the entire structure in keeping with environmentally sustainable technologies that has earned for it a pre-certified GOLD rating with the US Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.

Alphaland Tower, developed by the group of Roberto “Bobby” Ongpin, is one of only six premium-grade office buildings in the Makati CBD district. It has a five-level basement with 480 parking slots for tenants and guests.

Ateneo “5-peat” commemorated

Tomorrow will be the book launching at the Ayala Museum of “5: Tribute to Excellence” published by the AdMU 616569 Foundation composed of members of Ateneo Grade School Class ’61, High School Class ’65 and College ’69.  The book celebrates the unprecedented 5-peat win of the Ateneo Blue Eagles as UAAP champions for five consecutive seasons from 2008 to 2012.

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Email: spybits08@yahoo.com.

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