A Response to Conrado Banal’s July 20, 2011 Column Entitled “The Ride of Negros Occidental”

Dear Philippine Daily Inquirer,

I would just like to express my sullen  response to the editorial column of Conrado Banal III in your daily paper. I admire Philippine Daily Inquirer for reporting news fair and square but this column of Mr. Banal got not only me by surprise but the people of Negros Occidental as well. I belong to an organization called Skyscrapercity Bacolod, a conglomeration of forum members in the forum website SkscraperCity.com hailing from the Province of Negros Occidental. As an organization functioning primarily as an unofficial tourism and investment watchdog of the whole province, we have been following the process of the entire bid when it was not yet in the news and still considered a “hearsay” at that time. We knew for a fact that SM Prime and Ayala Land, Inc., with Robinsons Land as well as some hearsay goes, have been interested in the Capitol lot for years already.

It was  in the middle of this year during the waning months of summer that SM Prime came up with an unsolicited proposal to develop not the whole 7.7 hectare land but only 3.6 hectares or just the property that is directly behind the Provincial Capitol. Contrary to Mr. Banal’s pre-supposition that an SM Mall will be built there, the proposal only includes the “required” convention center, hotels, residential and BPO buildings. Just for the information of the reading public, there is already a big SM Mall just a few hundred meters from the Capitol lot site that opened almost half a decade ago in the Reclamation Area. It would be a business blunder to open up a mall that directly competes with your own established mall. The SM Prime proposal is splendid with PhP2.5B investment for the province and the people of Negros Occidental thought that SM Prime would already get the lot.

According to law and the regulations set by the Commission on Audit, government property set for sale or lease must undergo a bidding process which the interested companies would submit their official and final proposal for the designated Bids and Awards Committee of the province to deliberate. Last July 7, the Province of Negros Occidental proceeded with the bidding process as planned. Lo and behold! Only Ayala Land, Inc. submitted their bid to the Province out of three bidders expected. SM Prime which has bathed itself in pride in their media hyped proposal to the Province did not submit their bid  even though they were informed beforehand that they must submit their final proposal for bid. Because the law requires three bidders to participate in a bidding of government property, a failure of bidding was pronounced by the Bids and Awards Committee of the Province with another bidding scheduled a more than a week after for the companies to prepare.

The next bidding was this time participated by both SM Prime with their finalized version of the unsolicited proposal and Ayala Land, Inc. with their previously unopened and unchanged proposal. When both proposals were opened and scrutinized, Ayala Land, Inc. outbids SM Prime by PhP4B with their PhP6.5B proposal which not only includes the development of the entire 7.7 hectare property but also the improvement of Provincial Capitol facilities, beautification of the Provincial Lagoon and the adjacent area Wildlife Park occupied by Negros Forest, Inc. This is in contrast to the claim of Mr. Banal that Ayala Land, Inc. is only interested with a smaller portion of the land. In fact, it is SM Prime that is interested with only a small portion of the land. The proposal of Ayala Land, Inc. is clearly a grander one which will not only develop the lots but they also bothered to restore the Lagoon and Wildlife Park which is considered a heritage of not just the City of Bacolod but also the Province of Negros Occidental.

With regards to the floor price, it has already been set by COA regulations long before the bid was submitted. The almost PhP24,000 per sq. m. sale by Ayala Land, Inc. is clearly way above the PhP19,500 per sq. m. floor price by COA as compared to SM Prime’s less than PhP19,000 per sq. m. Even without the ceiling price regulations set by COA, the second bidding process is still a failure since there were only two companies which is one less for the bidding to be considered a success. Even if we will allow the bidding to push through, SM Prime is already beaten in all sides by Ayala Land, Inc. Since two biddings were deemed failed, the law now allows for a negotiation to commence a week after which the two bidding companies were informed beforehand. Instead of joining the negotiation, SM Prime instead opted to file a case and a TRO in the Regional Trial Court. Even if the Province was threatened with a case and a TRO, the Governor still will welcome SM Prime in the negotiations. The Regional Trial Court did not grant the TRO and deemed the case lacking in grounds, so the negotiations were pushed through. It was only Ayala Land, Inc. that went to the scheduled negotiations and because of the absence of SM Prime, common sense together with the merits of law would already tell us that it is but proper that the lot be awarded to Ayala Land, Inc.

From the beginning, the bidding process was clear and open since the Governor himself took the unnecessary step of informing the media regularly of any new developments before, during and after the bidding. Mr. Banal’s analogy of comparing his baranggay with the Province of Negros Occidental is all but fallacious. When it comes to the bidding of suppliers in which the government is the buyer, the “cheaper is better” rule of the thumb applies but when it comes to companies that will be pouring an investment to the government, that is is entirely a different story. When someone buys the house you are selling, which is more beneficial: a higher payment or a lower payment? Clearly the higher payment will be better. A PhP6.5B investment would be a bigger and better banana compared to a meekling PhP2.5B investment. Even the slowest learner among grade school students would actually know that for a fact too. This PhP6.5B investment and Ayala Land, Inc.’s reputation for world class infrastructure would surely benefit the Province of Negros Occidental that’s why all sectors of Negrénse and Bacoleño society like the Chambers of Commerce, the City Government of Bacolod, small retailers and even fisherfolks to farmers supported the Governor and Ayala Land, Inc. with full force. Besides, an Ayala Mall is what Negrénses have long been dreaming even before SM City Bacolod opened its doors. While SM City Bacolod ignited a real estate boom in the city, the presence of an Ayala Mall would triple that effect.

I hope this matter has been clarified not only with your honorable daily newspaper company but also with the loyal readership as well. It is my humble prayer that this letter be published as a response so that the loyal readers would have another perspective of the issue since I myself know that your company values balanced views. Even though my fellow Negrénses deplore the apparent insult that Mr. Banal have thrown upon the people of Negros Occidental through his column, rest assured that the Negrénse populace would still read Philippine Daily Inquirer with its reputation balanced and fair news.

Sincerely yours,


in behalf of Skyscrapercity Bacolod, Inc. (Manila)


About Mark Mayo - Magallanes

MARK MAYO - MAGALLANES – blogger by passion, cook by hobby, student by life, theater actor by fate, writer by work, and Christian by grace. Part Filipino, Chinese and Spanish by blood, he is proudly 100% Negrénse. His love for his home Island of Negros, heritage and lifestyle has led him to write much about it and full-time, all-time. View all posts by Mark Mayo - Magallanes

27 responses to “A Response to Conrado Banal’s July 20, 2011 Column Entitled “The Ride of Negros Occidental”

  • George Martin

    Super obvious that this project was laid out in favor of ayala, as there are no ayala malls here in bacolod. It would have been better if SMX was brought here because we lack a convention center and they also have the experience.

    • Mark Mayo - Magallanes

      Look at the proposal of Ayala and its a more splendid work. Experience does not translate to quality. Look at SM Blue Residences, it is being constructed above West Valley Fault! SM may have the experience but certainly, there are some questionable acts too.

      For your information, this project was not laid out in favor of Ayala. Au contraire, the wind was blowing for SM but they did not move consciously and wisely. FYI, this Ayala Mall in the proposal will be the second Ayala Mall in Metro Bacolod after the one being built in Ayala North Point so that “absence-of-ayala-mall-so-they-are-favored” contention is invalid.

  • mark yu

    Hahaha! Biased ka!

    • Mark Mayo - Magallanes

      In what way am I biased? I am just stating facts as someone who is looking at the developments closely. I was one of the people who pushed for SM to have the Capitol lots already and if possible with no bidding UNTIL Ayala presented their plans.

      Au contraire, the article I am answering to is heavily biased towards SM. If there is someone more biased, it would be the honorable Mr. Conrado Banal III. You would think I am biased if you have not heard the collective sentiments of the Negrénse alta sociedad de intellectuales.

  • mark yu

    Don’t you think there is truth in what Conrad Banal said knowing that he is putting his paper’s rep on the line? It’s called investigative writing. And the baranggay he was referring to was freaking figure of speech mr. Conyo! And what alta sociedad de intellectuales bullcrap are you talking about? So you’d rather side with a dirty politician who won’t admit his mistake and “under the tables” rather than an investor who already invested so much in our city.

  • I am Sugar

    In response to Mark Yu’s statement: “Don’t you think there is truth in what Conrad Banal said knowing that he is putting his paper’s rep on the line? It’s called investigative writing. And the baranggay he was referring to was freaking figure of speech mr. Conyo! And what alta sociedad de intellectuales bullcrap are you talking about? So you’d rather side with a dirty politician who won’t admit his mistake and “under the tables” rather than an investor who already invested so much in our city.”

    ^^ I Believe it was SM who for a long time neglected Negros and Bacolod for that matter. I am not against SM nor in favor of Ayala, but theoretically and HISTORICALLY speaking, Ayala has been loyal to Negrenses for over 15 years since they have INVESTED a LOT in Negros and put our Province in the Philippine Map as one of the Few places in the Philippines to have a PREMIER DEVELOPMENT like AYALA NORTH POINT. For decades, it was SM who neglected Bacolod as a potential site for business since they only brought us SM City Bacolod last March of 2007. It was them who did not believe in the Negrense Buying Power not when Bacolod become a Hot seat for Investment by Leaps and Bounds. Even Robinson’s Bacolod wholeheartedly trusted Negrenses that even during the Asian Financial Crisis, they never were scared and backed their project off Bacolod. During those times when Negros was at its lowest and is struggling with the effects of AFC, only AYALA and ROBINSON’S pushed through with INVESTING humongous amount to drive the Negrense Economy stable thus making Bacolod and Negros Occidental special to the Business Community Today. For me, not being against SM or being a Pro-Ayala, it is but rightful for BACOLOD and NEGROS OCCIDENTAL to deserve an AYALA MALL and I believe since I am also one of those people who keenly followed the whole process regarding the Bidding, that AYALA in good faith, legally and morally won the BID. Be it SM or AYALA, the important thing is that, this will SURELY and DEFINITELY be a big boost to Bacolod and Negros Occidental’s Economy and can provide THOUSANDS of JOBS to Negrenses.

  • markangyu1982

    “For decades, it was SM who neglected Bacolod as a potential site for business since they only brought us SM City Bacolod last March of 2007”

    Check your history kiddo! They were here since the 90’s, remember La Botica?

    How can you say that Ayala won the bidding? The government stopped the bidding because there wasn’t a floor price and just handed it over to Ayala.

    • I am Sugar

      Really? There wasn’t a floor price… then it should be you who should check history @markangyu… and for your info, even before SM were interested of the Capitol Lot, AYALA already is trying to negotiate that Lot from the Province. But during that time, AYALA just wants the province to OFFER IT PUBLICLY since they know that they cannot do anything about the property if the Provincial Government is not interested to lease it to potential investors until the SM Proposal came out. Thats where AYALA went back to their drawing boards to come out with a Plan to counter SM’s proposal. And after the FAILURE of BIDDING last July 7 (wherein only AYALA Showed Up) the Provincial Government then issued ANOTHER FLOOR PRICE for the basis of the BID…

      And as far as I am concerned, LA BOTICA was never SM and SM never were LA BOTICA. Its just like Watson’s to SM. And Yes I can remember VERY CLEARLY SM SUPERMARKETS here in Bacolod, but have they TRUSTED NEGRENSE CONSUMERS in good faith enough? They brought us Supermarkets only and put those in a NOT SO STRATEGIC PLACES reason why it did not became successful wherein during those times, LOPUES and GAISANO are still leading the Pack… How dumb can they get? From the early 90’s then bringing the business back in Bacolod just in March 2007? How many years was that??? I am not against SM but I want to make my point clear, my dad is one of the facilitators of the SM Land Deal in Reclamation back in 1991 and they acquired that lot back then. I know for a fact that the PLAN of CONSTRUCTING SM CITY BACOLOD is in the pipeline already (1991-1992) in fact, Bacolod is poised to have the first SM City outside Manila but was disregarded because they preferred Cebu than Bacolod. Then the plan was to construct SM City Bacolod in 1993-1994, then it disappeared out of nowhere again, until such time that my dad already resigned to his post as a public servant. Then the plan continues back in 1997-1998 but they were dumbfounded during the Asian Financial Crises (This was the time that the AFC slowly changed the world economy until 1998-1999). Only Robinsons pushed through with their plan to construct a mall back in 1997. Uniwide never pushed through as well but for the fact that Uniwide already has the structure for the Mall-to-be, we never find any for SM.

      And a Negrense like you, I think we should be happy for this development instead of clamoring over the issue. If you were to be given a gift, which would you choose? A Timex Watch (SM) or a Tag Heuer Watch (AYALA)???

      Mi uno sentimos, amigo 🙂

  • mark yu

    in fact, Bacolod is poised to have the first SM City outside Manila but was disregarded because they preferred Cebu than Bacolod. ”

    Have you heard about red tape? The one we use in christmas gifts?

    “Then the plan was to construct SM City Bacolod in 1993-1994, then it disappeared out of nowhere again, until such time that my dad already resigned to his post as a public servant. ”

    Very well said, now I know where your hatred is coming from. I’m not mad at SM or AYALA either, I just hate the way the government handled the situation. Goodluck and congrats to our Gov Maranon, I hope he spends the money well! And just so you know, timex is not bad but I would rather have a filipino made product…

    • Mark Mayo - Magallanes

      What is it in the handling that you hate? Didn’t the governor informed the media almost every week since the SM proposal about the developments about it? Isn’t that enough transparency already? Also, haven’t you heard of the regulation that a notice of bidding must be published in the paper. It was published and every procedure mentioned there was followed. Unfortunately, I have it in my files left in my room in Bacolod nevertheless, it is easily searchable in the archives of COA. As far as the people waiting and those insiders in the Capitol I know, every procedure was followed. In fact, it was SM that had the dark plan of rigging the bidding process. How I knew it? I reserve it to silence for now.

  • mark yu

    How come it was awarded to Ayala even though the bid of SM was higher? Can you enligthen me seniorito?

    “In fact, it was SM that had the dark plan of rigging the bidding process. How I knew it? I reserve it to silence for now.”

    Really? How? Then you should share it or keep your silence forever.

    • Mark Mayo - Magallanes

      Isn’t it clear that PhP6.5B is BIGGER than PhP2.5B. A kid from grade school would already see that as a fact! Por Dios santissima, isn’t that already clear?

      Restudy your mathematics please. Numbers in order from lowest to highest…

      2 > 2.5
      6 > 6.5

      SM’s bid is PhP2.5B in total while Ayala’s bid is PhP6.5B. Go back to school if you still can’t see that.

  • I am Sugar

    Better yet, let us just ignore the obvious ignorant here. Such a waste of time. Hatred? I never hated anyone for that matter. Its just a matter of preference so to speak. And besides, i know myself better than anyone. So there is not point in arguing with someone who is obviously not worth an argument. Basta ako, be it SM or AYALA, HAPPY guid ako for Negros and Bacolod. Anhun ta na karun ya kay ang AYALA ang Nagdaug? And regarding the BID Announcement, It was published in a NATIONAL DAILY the INVITATION TO BID THE 7.7 CAPITOL LAND a month before the Bid was made. Sa aton nga nakabalo sang mga nagkalatabo, quiet nalang ta kay we know for a fact that the Bid was done in Good Faith. Sa mga wala kabalo, better yet buy a Daily everyday para kabalo ka sang mga nagakalatabo sa Negros and Bacolod… Better yet, tika tika kamu sa SSC… 🙂

  • mark yu

    To the tagteam of Mark and the I am Sugar:

    The bid price of SM was higher though. Anyone can promise to invest Php 6.5b, its so easy to just pad the materials and the cost of labor. I’m not a math genuis or anything and not an insider or know it all like you guys but I’m just concerned that you guys are really defensive while at the same time trying to incite a boycott of SM on SSC. Are you guys protecting anyone? And what credibility and proof do you have to back your claims up? If you guys know something, then it’s time to share, unless you’re a coward. Cheers!

    • Mark Mayo - Magallanes

      The bid price was PhP6.5B! Go back to school Mr. Yu! Bidding is not giving a promise but putting stating the price! PhP6.5B is bigger than PhP2.5B! Ay nano man? Tig-a ulo? Give me an instance that Ayala paid something lower than their bid price? None! In fact, they pay extra for aesthetics and order which is an investment in itself. Look at their projects North and South, they are above standards and not just in standard or minimum standard.

      We don’t even want to incite a boycott. I will return that question to you… are you protecting anyone in defending SM? We in SSC are people who criticize what needs to be criticized but praise what needs to be praised, plain and simple. If SM does something good, we praise SM if it does something bad, we will criticize SM like what we are doing. Likewise, if Ayala does something good, we praise Ayala if it does something bad, we will criticize Ayala.

      You want proof? Read your daily newspaper everyday for details have always be there brighter than sunshine and clearer than clear. Maybe you want us to subscribe for your daily paper? Common sense, Mr. Yu, common sense. Use it now or forever be labeled an ignorant.

  • mark yu


    The Php 6.5B is not the bid, it’s the cost kiddo. SM still has the higher bid. Do I hear abrakadabra?

    Insert sarcastic remark here… HAHA =)

    • Mark Mayo - Magallanes

      Hello! Señor Cabron, hello! The development cost is part of the the bid! Read your COA manual carefully for it states as such. The lots would cost both sides more or less a quarter of a billion to one billion pesos. What would be left of SM’s price? PhP1.5B! Ayala would still have PhP5.5B! For goodness sake, isn’t that clear enough? In the bid for FTI lots, Ayala’s bid was PhP14B while Megaworld’s is PhP10B. Their prices include sale/lease of lots and development cost and it was published by COA as their respective bids!

      Why would I read Ducky Paredes’ blog anyway? He’s not even from Negros and is utterly ignorant or lacking in knowledge of the full situation. Go to Mr. SM and get your salary already for the work you are doing here. Don’t mess with my blog here.

      • LaSalle_Bacolod

        I will very happy to see to all the investment that did invest on our beloved city…i hope this is the bigger mall in the region sothat it will gave job to all the peoples who are in need..and if ayala is the bigger mall than the sm..the business og Sm mall here is on bad shape because im sure the peoples were going shpping first on ayala before SM

      • Mark Mayo - Magallanes

        For that matter, its good that the two malls are competing for the Bacolod market. Kung tani lang, wala na lang bala black propaganda kag compete lang sila ya e. Ang himuon na lang ka SM is that they develop their reclamation area property kay dugay na nila na release ang plano, wala pa nila ginhimo. Diin na to nagkadto? Its time for them to dust off their Hotel, Convention Center and what have you proposal in 2009 and execute it samtang nagahulat pa ang Ayala sang COA audit sa Manila. Better yet, face Robinson’s Land and develop the Paglaum Property instead, also, there is the Old Bacolod Airport Property. May slices in one big pie so why grab that single piece of pie who worked hard to get it while other slices are left untouched in the tray. My two cents.

  • mark yu

    Oh we have here a whining baby… But still, it could’ve been matched by SM if they were given a fair chance. Actually, I think you have 3 more writers to write a response letter to so I suggest you get started! Correction, I’m not siding with SM so no salaaries, I just want to piss you off! The way you talk/write/insult, it just shows what kind of person you really are. Remember remember, its a small world. Haha!

    • Mark Mayo - Magallanes

      Hay nako Mr. Yu aka. OneRadiation aka. Kanding na May Bangs… you are the whining baby over here and the foolish one. Will I be affected with your fictitious statements. I will not be because we know the truth so go out there and read. Why would I react to all the writers if the answer to all their statements have already been found here. So shut up and live inside your beloved mall.

  • maricel acuña

    you guys are funny but i more in favor of mr yu, simply lang may discrepancy guid kag hilot hilot ang bidding..indi na ta magpabulag bulag…

    • Mark Mayo - Magallanes

      Indi man kamo bulag hija kay kabalo man kami sang mga gakatabo. Indi lang kami audience sa sini nga matter, insider man kami. Kamo dapat ang indi magpabulag-bulag.

      • nic

        if there was a discrepancy in bidding, are you accusing ayala of doing it? Isn’t it that 3 biddings came because of 2 previously failed biddings, it is good to see ayala winning this one, compare ayala and sm cebu, which is better? some may argue but i find ayala to be better, including those na nakapalibot sa ayala center, high rise towers and everything, i won’t comment na lang on sm sorroundings. how about ayala trinoma and sm north edsa, if not for trinoma, they will not upgrade nor improve the latter. maybe they are just filing the tro hoping to reverse the decision or to declare the 3rd bidding a failure to make sure they win the 4th bidding, if there is a need for one, knowing that a competitor that close to their mall is quite kaladlukan so to speak also knowing they have an inferior mall there in reclamation (a 1-story mall connected by a bridge and call it a city? compare it to cebu and iloilo, they have a minimum of 4 floors) i believe you mr mayo, ang tagal nang nabili ng sm yung propery, ba’t parang napabayaan, ang tagal before napatayuan ng mall, dahil sa politics? mr yu was talking about red tapes and all, was he insinuating that robinsons did it kaya sila lang ang natuloy sa pagpapatayo ng mall after the afc, or wala lang talagang bilib ang sm sa negrense that their investment went somewhere else? nice article mr mayo and nice insights too ms sugar …

        just wanna ask, ano ang ginagawa ng isang politician na supposedly malapit daw sa mga sy sa lahat ng ito? was he lobbying? now, sino nga ulit yung pumoprotekta kanino?

        nice topic though …

  • Jackie Magbanua

    This is one of the reasons why there’s big difference between journalism and blogging.

  • Jackie Magbanua

    This is one of the reasons why there’s a big difference between journalism and blogging.

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