The work of nation-building never stops.
And for San Miguel Corp. (SMC), one of the country’s largest and most diversified and profitable conglomerates, not even the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic should get in the way.
Its history is so intertwined with that of the Philippines that it believes that it has the moral commitment to push ahead with key multibillion-peso investments needed for the country to reach its full potential, even if it has not been spared by the adverse effects of the pandemic that still has the country firmly in its grip.
After all, the conglomerate behind beloved brands such as the iconic San Miguel Beer and Ginebra San Miguel sees that while the negative impact of the pandemic has been considerable, it is nevertheless temporary.
“The economic impact of the pandemic, while significant, is momentary and temporary,” said Ramon S. Ang, SMC president and chief operating officer, “In fact, after the lockdown, all our businesses already registered strong and sustained recoveries in the succeeding quarters.”
Once the country’s vaccination program gains momentum, the Philippines should be able to quickly run up the road to recovery and SMC will then be in a strong position to benefit from the inevitable rebound.
“While there is still uncertainty in the future, at least until we fully solve this pandemic, we know that continued investments in job and growth-generating projects is critical to our country’s recovery and long-term stability and resilience,” Ang said.
“Our company vision is to lead efforts to deliver on national goals, and help set the pace of progress in our country. Our corporate slogan is to make the world better for Filipinos. I believe both describe well our aspiration of making the Philippines succeed and improving the lives of our countrymen. These are the things that inspire and drive us and make us passionate about our work,” Ang said.
SMC, for example, completed last year the last section of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway that will help boost agriculture, tourism and trade in central and even northern Luzon.
Before the year ended, it also soft-opened the 17.93-kilometer Skyway Stage 3 project, finally linking northern and southern Luzon and bypassing the perennially congested Edsa, thus easing the movement of people and goods across the National Capital Region.
With Skyway 3, travel from the north to south expressways will just take 30 minutes, from around three hours previously.
“For 2021, we will even go bigger,” said Ang.
The conglomerate has also started work on a 1.2-kilometer road that will connect the 18-kilometer Skyway Stage 3 to the ongoing 8-kilometer North Luzon Expressway connector project, a second elevated expressway that will further link the northern and southern parts of Metro Manila. This will run from C3 all the way to Sta. Mesa in Manila.
As if these were not enough, SMC has committed to further decongest Metro Manila by investing in the Pasig River Expressway project that will link the east and west sides of the metropolis.
The proposed project is a 19.4-kilometer, six-lane elevated expressway along the banks of the Pasig River that will complete the north-south, east-west link, connecting R-10 in Manila, Edsa and C5, thus decongesting Rizal, Cainta and Marikina.
If all goes well, the massive project can be completed as early as 2023.
SMC has also revealed major rail and road network projects to be incorporated into its massive P740-billion airport project in Bulacan that promises to be a game-changer in the country’s infrastructure development program.
These proposed road expressway projects include the New Manila International Airport Expressway, East Metro Manila Expressway, Calamba-San Pedro Expressway, Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 7 Road, Bulacan-Tarlac Expressway, and Bataan-Bulacan Expressway.
Complementing these are proposed railway transport modes such as the MRT7 Katipunan Spur, MRT7 Airport Expressway-West Line, MRT7 Extension Project and the MRT7 Airport Expressway Southeast Line, all of which have been granted “original proponent status.”
“These projects make up the massive infrastructure network that will not only make the airport easily accessible from Metro Manila and various points of Luzon, but will also further unlock the economic potential of so many of our provinces. Taken together with the airport, travel and trade in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and outside the country will be easier and more efficient,” said Ang.
“This is part of our commitment to invest more in our country and help our government and our people build back better,” he added.
At the same time, SMC is also looking to build a 200-megawatt solar farm on its 2,500-hectare Bulacan property, to help power the airport, as it expands efforts to sustainably transition to cleaner energy sources.
“Our new Manila International Airport project will be our biggest investment in the country at P740 billion. I believe this is the biggest ever by any company in the Philippines. This will create millions of jobs, and that is what we need to build back better. Apart from the jobs it will generate, it will open up a lot of growth opportunities for our country. We will be even more competitive as a tourism and investment destination in the region. It will also make air travel better and more affordable for more Filipinos,” Ang stressed.
Indeed, while many other companies are holding back on their investments, SMC is doing the opposite as it is betting big on the country’s inevitable recovery, thus staying true to SMC’s identity as a partner in nation building.
“We have always said we are here to help build our country, to make it stronger, more competitive, to make it a better place to live in for our people. That is a long-term commitment, and that is also why we invest so much in long-term solutions to problems we have. For us, during this crisis, we shouldn’t hold back on investments. In fact, this is the time we need to do everything we can to help out,” Ang said.