PROPERTY giant Megaworld Corporation is positioning the just unveiled welcome marker, the first Las Vegas-style signage in the Philippines, as an iconic landmark and tourism attraction of Bacolod City.
The groundbreaking rites of the marker along the Bacolod–Silay Airport Access Road yesterday was graced by Megaworld’s top executives led by senior vice president Jericho Go and local officials.
Go said this will be the first time for the company to construct a city’s official welcome marker similar to that of Las Vegas.
“This is not just a milestone for the people of Bacolod City but also for Megaworld,” Go said, adding that “we are excited to have it in Northill Gateway.”
Megaworld has partnered with the City Government of Bacolod for the development of the Bacolod Welcome Park, a tourism spot integrated within the 7.5-hectare Northill Town Center that forms part of the 53-hectare Northill Gateway township.
The park will be highlighted by the 7.2-meter welcome marker that will greet both incoming and outgoing visitors as well as locals of the city, which is a gateway to other destinations in Negros Occidental.
The design of the marker features colorful masks illuminated at night symbolizing the world-renowned MassKara Festival of Bacolod City.
Inspired by the fabulous welcome sign in Las Vegas, entering visitors will be greeted with “Welcome Bacolod City of Smiles” and “Thank You for Visiting City of Smiles” signage for those leaving the city.
For his part, Megaworld senior assistant vice president and head of public relations and media affairs Harold Geronimo, who was also at the groundbreaking rites, said “the construction of the park will be shouldered by the Megaworld at no cost to the city government,” he said, adding that the firm is finalizing the memorandum of understanding with the local government which counterpart is only the illumination of the marker at night.
Aside from the marker, there will be a visual representation of the Bacolod City Government Center, which is also an iconic landmark of the city.
The company said since the park is “seamlessly integrated” into the Northill Town Center, visitors will have access to souvenir shops, retail stores, cafes, and restaurants within the commercial complex.
The construction of the Northill Town Center is expected to start by the end of the year. Part of the plan is also to build a church, supermarket, cinemas, parks, and water features around the town center, it added.
The Northhill Town Center will also be closely accessible to Forbes Hill which is the company’s first upscale residential village in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Earlier, Megaworld announced that it is investing at least P35 billion for the development of its two township projects in cities of Bacolod and Talisay.
Aside from the Northill Gateway, the company is also gearing up for the development of the 34-hectare Upper East township project in Bacolod City.
It is a mix-use development project located at the eastern side of the city that used to be the Bacolod-Murcia Milling Company compound.
“This is our way of contributing to the development of the city’s tourism industry,” Geronimo said, adding that Megaworld envisions to support the country in its push to further boost tourism.
For Mayor Evelio Leonardia, the location that hosts one of Megaworld’s development projects in the province is the best spot for something that is very iconic.
Leonardia said the concept of Megaworld for the welcome park will not only be parking lots but in synergy with various amenities and activities which tourists could probably do while they are here.
“This is going to be a new symbol of Bacolod City,” he said, adding that “this is going to be the only welcome park in the Philippines, and that will be an advantage for us in Bacolod City.”
The groundbreaking is simultaneously held with the city’s commemoration of the signing of the 80th year of the signing of Bacolod City Charter.
Leonardia said they hold the activity yesterday because for the local government this is a symbolism that Bacolod, on its 80th birthday, is opening its doors and welcoming the rest of the world to the city.
“This is not just about a welcome sign, this is in preparation and anticipation to the projection that tourism is going to be the biggest industry in the world,” the mayor added.
Leonardia also thanked Megaworld and assured that the city government will work closely with the company to see to it that the project becomes a big success.
He then revealed that the completion of the park construction, including the marker, is targeted in October during the MassKara Festival celebration, or within the year.
"We are inclined to do our part, by shouldering the cost of electricity which will be consumed in the Bacolod Welcome Park," the mayor said.