Is Davao defying the impact of the global downturn?

May 20, 2009 3:13 am 

By Aurelio A. Pena

DAVAO CITY, May 19 — If you're commuting daily from Lanang to Bajada and back, along the long stretch of J. P. Laurel Avenue, you’ll get the impression that this bustling southern city of Davao seems to be defying the full impact of the global downturn.

Why am I saying this? Deep beneath my skin, I can feel the vibrance, the breathless anticipation and the excitement of how Davao’s future will look like five to ten years from now. It’s all there before your eyes when you take a commuter jeepney along Bajada to Lanang. Philippine investors are pouring in millions of pesos in this city right in the middle of the global crisis!

You can see and feel the frenzy in the ongoing construction of the Abreeza shopping mall and property development joint project of Anflo Management and the Makati-based Ayala Land at the bend of the Bajada highway in front of the Redemptorist Church.

You can see the clearing going on by the SM Property Development group at the former Lanang golf course, hidden by the thick shrubs and foliage of lush trees near Damosa — which, by the way, has its own, new shopping center called “The Gateway”.

If Damosa feels threatened by another big SM shopping mall along Lanang, right at its doorsteps, tree-lovers like me also feel threatened that the beautiful greenery at that former golf course in Lanang will all be gone. You can’t stop progress when Henry Sy’s architects and construction people will swoop on and cut down all the trees, bulldoze all that beautiful grass and turn that huge tree-shaded area into a concrete jungle.

If you’ve gone to all the SM shopping malls in Makati, Manila, Mandaluyong, Pasay, Cebu, etc, etc, that’s how all SM malls look like: a giant monolith of grey concrete with huge areas of cemented parking areas. All grey, no green spaces.

Of course, no one knows yet whether the new SM shopping mall in Lanang might turn out to be a totally new design that will finally respect fully-grown trees to the point of preserving them and protecting them right where they are, even if the mall structure itself will still emerge as the usual block of grey monolith.

Fact is, I’m still crossing my fingers on the Abreeza mall project of Anflo and Ayala group, whether or not they’ll turn out another commercial building that refuses to blend with the environment. I cannot deny that I’m impressed by the Ayala Center project in Cebu where the mall has a beautiful park with lots of trees and a big lagoon that makes it such a nice place to relax on Sundays. You can see lovers seated under the trees beside the lagoon, whole families having a picnic under the shades and some, just reading books and listening to birds with nests on the trees.

The new opening of Robinson’s Cybergate shopping center along Bajada the other week didn’t generate the kind of excitement whenever an Ayala mall or an SM mall opens in any major city of the country. And it didn’t care less about preserving trees because that area was already barren when they constructed that small building, dedicated it seems, to provide more renting spaces to call centers and other ICT companies now mushrooming all over this city.

For all you know, that’s also the same reason why the Anflo-Ayala group and SM are jumping into the cyber space ventures because more and more call centers and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) facilities are set to invest millions in Davao City in the next three to five years down the road.

Yet, even with all these hundreds of millions of pesos in investments now pouring into Davao City for all these malls and ICT buildings, we’ve not given up wishing that these guys who are building all these structures will try to blend them with the cool, green environment of this southern city. (PNA)

DCT/AAP/lvp

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