SUBIC BAY FREEPORT - Last year, this group of businessmen-friends simply wished to have a relaxing place in this free port where they could have late night dinners after long days spent in business meetings and conferences.
Last week, they opened a 70-room hotel and resort complete with a poolside bar and a 24/7 restaurant where they can dine even at very late hours.
This is the Subic Grand Harbour Hotel, the first business venture that members of the Metro Olongapo Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (MOCCI) have established as a joint project in the Subic Bay Freeport.
Among the personalities who graced the inauguration of Subic Grand Harbour Hotel last Thursday were Sen. Paulo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto Garcia, and Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino.
MOCCI President Aurelio "Bong" Pineda said the project began as a felt need among local businessmen last year.
"We wanted to relax and dine after meetings, but couldn't find a suitable place at the Freeport. So I asked my colleagues, why don't we just put up our own place where we can have what we want?" recalled Pineda during the inauguration.
"We (in the MOCCI) believe that Subic remains among the top favorite destinations for local tourists. That is why we couldn't find a place to go to last year, as the restaurants and hotels were full of customers almost all year round," Pineda said.
Having made the decision to build their own place, members of the MOCCI chipped in their resources to open the Subic Grand Harbour Hotel in the free port.
Sen. Aquino IV, who cut the ceremonial ribbon during the inauguration, lauded the partnership among businessmen-friends, saying the project "is a true testament of friendship".
Aquino also noted that the local government of Olongapo City is throwing its full support behind MOCCI, even as members of the group had chosen to put their business inside the Subic Freeport instead of in the city.
For his part, SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia expressed his appreciation of MOCCI's confidence with the direction taken by the Subic agency under his administration.
"With the new grand hotel, we are now more confident that we have your trust to lead Subic Freeport towards a brighter future, brighter than how we performed last year," said Garcia, referring to the SBMA's record-breaking accomplishment of achieving a net profit of P1.2 billion last year, the highest in the 21-year history of the SBMA.
Garcia added that the Subic Grand Harbour Hotel project would also serve to boost efforts by the SBMA to promote Subic as a year-round tourism destination. (30)
Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino (3rd from left) and SBMA Chairman Roberto V. Garcia lead the opening of the Subic Grand Harbour Hotel, along with MOCCI President Aurelio Pineda (left) and SBMA Chief Operating Officer Joven Reyes (right).