RP firms share lessons from recent typhoons

Posted at 11/21/09 8:48 AM

MANILA - The country's biggest conglomerates recently gathered at the Philippine Stock Exchange headquarters to discuss lessons learned from the devastation wrought by typhoons "Ondoy" and "Pepeng" (international code names Ketsana and Parma, respectively).

The twin storms, which hit Metro Manila and some areas of Luzon in late September and early October, affected companies not only in terms of lost profits but also in employee displacements and infrastructure damage.

For instance, Sy-owned SM Investments Corp. (SMIC) said "Ondoy" and "Pepeng" forced the company to temporarily close its 2 malls.

"We are committed to open only 2 months after. So SM Rosales will be opened at the end of November, and so will SM Sta. Mesa," SMIC Vice President for Investor Relations Cora Guidote said.

Despite the losses, however, Guidote stressed that the 2 storms helped SMIC improve as a company. She said "Ondoy" and "Pepeng" made companies take a second look at how they operate, giving them more room for improvement.

"I think there were lessons learned from Ondoy and Pepeng. We have old malls and new malls, for instance, in the past, old engineering put power generation and other utilities in the basement, Now, there's wisdom to put them in the roof (after the massive floods)," she said.

Aside from SMIC, Gokongwei-led Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) also shared its experience and lessons from the recent typhoons. "The RLC management team has also upgraded its management plans because of this," RLC Vice President Henry Yap said.

Ayala-led Manila Water Co. Inc. Director Frank Beaumont, on the other hand, said 8 out of the company's 19 facilities were damaged by floods caused by the twin storms. "We, as utility companies, are victims as well," he said.

For its part, San Miguel Purefoods Co. Inc.'s poultry supply was also heavily handicapped since most of their chickens died in the floods. This forced the company to import chicken parts to meet the expected surge in demand for poultry this Christmas season.

Despite facing different problems as a result of the 2 storms, all companies were one in saying "Ondoy" and "Pepeng" made them realize that preparation is key to moving their businesses forward.