Tuesday July 17, 2018

From sleepy town to boom town

MORE than 20 years ago, there were only a few opportunities for trade and employment in Barangay Buanoy in the southwestern Cebu town of Balamban.

From being a fourth-class municipality, Balamban became a first-class town with a total regular income of P301.9 million in the same year, according to data from the Commission on Audit.

From a few stores, more than 1,300 business permits were renewed in 2014 and 242 new business permits were issued by the local government. The number of business permit renewals rose to 1,327 in 2015.

Among the fast growing barangays are Buanoy and Arpili, where the West Cebu Industrial Park (WCIP), the economic zone that hosts Tsuneishi Heavy Industries, Inc. (THI).

Charlie Ombao, THI factory support department manager, said that in 1994, he had to go to the Poblacion or town center to buy a beer. He was among the first employees of THI and worked during the construction stage of the shipbuilding firm.

Due to labor migration, Balamban’s population grew to 70,000 in 2014, almost double that of 1995, a year after THI was established.

THI has 11,260 employees and 760 of them are direct hires. THI hired qualified residents from Buanoy and from other parts of Balamban, as well as those coming from neighboring Toledo City.

Residents like Jamaica Quimod could not imagine how their lives would have turned out if THI had not invested in the town. Quimod’s mother found a job at K & A, another locator at WCIP.

Jamaica got a scholarship from the Tsuneishi Foundation to study civil engineering at the University of San Jose Recoletos. She graduated in March 2016 and began working at THI shortly after as a field engineer.

Quimod says that with THI, she sees her dreams becoming into reality. “I want to study further, build a house for my parents, and visit places around the world,” she said.

Last year, THI built 20 vessels. It received 15 orders that are scheduled for delivery this year. (PR)