Ongpin moves on from finished Balesin project

Posted at 02/02/14 1:42 PM

MANILA – (UPDATED) Controversial tycoon Roberto Ongpin bid an emotional "goodbye" to investor-members of his exclusive international island resort in Balesin, Quezon Saturday night.

The 77-year-old real estate and mining magnate announced that his work on the multi-billion resort haven is over and he has to move on to other projects.

Ongpin is ranked 14th in the Forbes list of wealthiest Filipinos with US$1.3 billion in net worth.

Ongpin stunned guest artist Martin Nievera and some 400 members of Balesin when he suddenly took the microphone from the singer at the end of his Chinese New Year show and announced his "retirement" from the resort after nearly three years of constructing the island resort in Lamon Bay, Quezon.

Like his earlier mega-resort project Tagaytay Highlands, Ongpin said he was fulfilled in seeing the final construction of the Italian, French, Greek and Asian sections of the island.

Ongpin, rarely given to emotional display, was also visibly taken by Nievera's rendition of "What a Wonderful World" and called the Kapamilya artist the best singer of the Philippines.

Nievera was chosen to open the new show series of Balesin topbilling OPM artists in a bid to attract more local and foreign investors.

Atty. Mario Oreta, president of Alphaland Inc., clarified on Sunday night that Ongpin is not leaving Balesin.

"He was just waxing sentimental that after three years, his magnificent obsession is almost completely done but he is not giving up the chairmanship of the island even as he focuses on other projects of Alphaland," Oreta said.

Ongpin, Alphaland's chairman and CEO, is expected to focus on his new baby, the P2-billion Marina Resort and Yacht Club at the Manila Bay reclamation area near Solaire.

Aside from the P4-billion members-only Balesin Club, Alphaland's portfolio includes a range of high-end developments including the three-tower Alphaland Makati Place, a new mountain resort club in Baguio and a P10-billion 500-hectare Boracay gateway, which will be timed with the expansion of the Caticlan Airport.

Ongpin, previously the Trade minister under the Marcos regime, was earlier charged by the Ombudsman for graft and irregular banking practices as the alleged beneficiary of behest loans worth more than P600 million under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for acquisition of shares of Development Bank of the Philippines in Philex Mining.

He has denied the allegations and the case is pending in the courts.