BIZ BUZZ: The greening of San Miguel

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Whenever, San Miguel Corp. announces a mega project—of which there have been many in recent years—it is almost always attacked by its critics using a host of environmental issues.

Never mind that these environmental issues are bandied about with little basis, easily remedied or sometimes outright false, the attacks usually gain traction in the press and the country’s largest conglomerate usually has to spend months fending off bad publicity.

This time around, however, the group is taking the initiative and has chosen one of Metro Manila’s longest running environmental challenge to prove its point that its green credentials are legitimate.

This week, San Miguel revealed it would double its budget for the rehabilitation of the heavily polluted Pasig River to P2 billion over a five-year period. The project will be executed in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, other national government agencies and Metro Manila mayors.

Just how ambitious is this project? Let’s simply say that all previous attempts to clean and beautify the river that cuts across Metro Manila have failed.

And now San Miguel wants to make this the largest ever river rehabilitation project in the country, according to San Miguel president Ramon Ang.

“Decades of pollution and compounding problems that have rendered the river biologically dead since the 1990s are too significant and complex to overcome—even for the best-intentioned advocates and organizations,” he said.

“We hope that with the resources and technical know-how that we are bringing into the effort today, along with the continued support of our national government agencies and local government units, we can all make a bigger difference,” he added.

The company is targeting to remove some 50,000 metric tons of waste from the Pasig River per month, or 600,000 MT of waste per year, using advanced and specialized equipment, which the company has already acquired.

The project is actually the company’s second major river rehabilitation initiative. Its ongoing P1-billion cleanup of the 27-kilometer Tullahan-Tinajeros River, launched last year, supports the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay.

Of course, the conglomerate isn’t simply doing this because it’s feeling especially charitable (although its charity has been undeniable, especially since the outbreak of the pandemic).

The reason is obvious: San Miguel plans to spend P95 billion to build the Pasig River Expressway (or Parex) that will connect Metro Manila from east to west through a 19-km elevated tollroad that will be built on the banks of the river.

Let’s say that again: it will be built on one side of the river and NOT over the river itself.

Of course, the conglomerate’s many opponents, business rivals, some government officials and other sectors who simply can’t imagine that a corporation can do something good while making money in the process, won’t stop there. But they’ll have to think of another line of attack this time around.

—Daxim L. Lucas

Aeta family care

Beyond its COVID-19 pandemic intervention projects, the group of tycoon Enrique Razon Jr., through Solaire Resort & Casino’s philanthropic arm Bloomberry Cultural Foundation Inc. (BCFI), has set aside resources to aid marginalized communities.

The group recently broke ground for five Pagsasarili Family Care Centers that will be built for each of the five Aeta sitios located within the municipalities of Mabalacat, Pampanga and Bamban, Tarlac—sitios Calapi, San Vicente, Sto. Nino, Burog and Marcos Village, all within the Sacobia Mountain. These family care centers are all scheduled to be completed in a year.

Clark Development Corp. (CDC) will handle the operation of the centers in partnership with O.B. Montessori and the local government units of Mabalacat and Bamban.

The centers are intended to be one-stop multipurpose structures where Aeta residents may avail of social services such as day care education, livelihood trainings, feeding program and health services. The centers will also showcase Aeta culture.

In line with one of BCFI’s pillars on the protection of the environment, all the centers will be equipped with solar panels and rain harvesting capability to support the centers’ water and power requirements.

BCFI executive director Filipina Laurena said: “[These] one-stop multipurpose [facilities], which will make social services accessible to our Aeta brothers in mountainous or far-flung marginalized areas are, perhaps, a first of its kind. BCFI welcomes the opportunity to be part of this worthwhile endeavor in partnership with CDC.”

“BCFI and the [Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.], under our cultural heritage program, will continue to pursue projects that will help the government in the delivery of basic social services for the uplift of indigenous peoples. Prior to this project, we also had a solar electrification project, which benefited 11 Aeta sitios in Capas, Tarlac,” added Donato Almeda, BCFI president.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Last bottle standing

It seems that not everyone is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that has shuttered thousands of businesses and left millions of Filipinos without a job.

There remain a lucky few who can afford to shell out a mind-blowing P488,000—enough to buy a car—for a single bottle of The Dalmore 35 Year Old Single Malt, hailed as the Supreme Champion at the International Spirits Challenge 2020 Awards.

The Philippines was allocated just eight bottles of this prized tipple, and so far seven have already been sold with just one waiting for that discriminating buyer who may want to add this award-winning single malt to his or her collection.

The local buyers were described as C-suite captains of industry who are all fans of The Dalmore, coming from the banking and finance, luxury retail and gaming sectors.

So what makes The Dalmore 35 Year Old Single Malt so special?

Well, it is described as a “masterpiece of time.”

To create this, master distiller Richard Paterson selected three cask styles: the Distillery-run ex-bourbon barrels, a 30-year-old oloroso cherry and a rare 1970 Port Colheita pipe.

“When it came together after a long maturation, the result is everything he imagined it to be. The nose is exceptional with aromas of roasted Colombian coffee and oranges, which give it an explosion of delight. Taste is refined, elegant and flawless with flavors of tangy thick marmalade and roasted chestnuts and raisins. Finish is mango drenched in aged port wine, marinated plums and rich pineapple,” the tasting notes say.

Given the bragging rights that come with owning such a rare bottle, it may just be a matter of time before the last bottle is taken despite the eye-popping price tag.

—Tina Arceo-Dumlao


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