Monday, September 20, 2021

Sangil: A glimpse of Mekeni and Porac

YESTERDAY, July 17, was the birthday of Felix M. Garcia, the founder of the highly successful meat processing company Mekeni Food Products Inc. Today, he is 92 years old. He was a former public school teacher like his late wife Medicia Santos. I remember him dropping by at our house in some instances because he is friend of my late brother Benjamin, who was also a public school teacher like him. He has five children, all boys. All obedient and well-disciplined. That teacher’s discipline helped the Garcia family to succeed in their business enterprise, the Mekeni Food Corporation.

The meat processing factories are all spread in a 26-hectare family property in Barangay Balubad, Porac. It started there in the mid-80s, faced challenges like the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991 and the Asian crisis of 1997. It survived all these, and today, it is one of the largest meat processing companies in the country with business interests in certain countries in the Middle East and in the United States. It romped with several awards over the years. First place winner in processing plant category in 2003, most environmentally responsible corporation, three years in succession as the best meat processing plant, grand slam winner for the best meat processing plant, etc. etc. Mekeni is also ISO certified.

I got a plateful of stories about my hometown when I had Mekeni’s President Pruds Garcia in my Ch. 3 one-hour show Trending Max. We both journeyed back in time. Stories we both have recollection on once upon a time in a monastic curious little town.


The once lethargic town is experiencing business growth never experienced before. Presently, some 3,000 hectares are being developed by giant property developer Ayala Inc., so the Poraqueños are thumping their breasts and have the belief that in 20 years or less, Porac will be the biggest city in Central Luzon. I can’t but agree with them since the entry of Ayala Land Inc. in Porac, and is currently developing a large portion of the 3,000 hectares. And every development indicates the rise of a metropolis. A liveable, work and play community. Not in my wildest dream I could have predicted this to happen. It is the construction of the SCTEX that made it happen. It unlocked the value of Porac. Even the Henry Sy family already made its presence in the town.


Leaders today learned to have a vision prepared for the future of their communities, compared to past few generations of leaders our country had. Sorry to say but many or maybe all weren’t forward-looking. Look at our towns and cities today. They are no longer liveable because there was lack of vision among the leaders of yesteryears. There are no railways working anymore, here in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Bangladesh, considered one of the poorest countries, looks better. This country has a railroad system.

The ride from Tutuban main station in Manila up to Damortis in La Union, making stops in Malolos and Angeles, are only memories now. Even the now MacArthur highway has become so narrow and government only started the expansion during President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s watch. Too late, those trees planted by the late Pampanga Governor Rafael Lazatin lining up a portion of the road stretch are too beautiful to be cut.

And I always emphasize in my talks in some gatherings to think how many presidents of our country came from the central and northern Luzon, say Elpidio Quirino, Ferdinand Marcos, Ramon Magsaysay, the two Macapagals and the two Aquinos. How many speakers of the House of Representatives came from central and northern Luzon? What happened to their advisers? There was never a national strategy drawn and if ever there was, it was not implemented.

Almost all streets in Metro Manila are clogged. The main arteries, like the Epifanio De Los Santos (EDSA), Quezon Avenue, Roxas Boulevard and the other secondary roads are virtually park areas. Too stressful driving around Metro Manila, any time of the day and night. Driving from Pampanga going to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is one thing everyone wishes to avoid if only they can.

Government policies have their consequences. It is absurd, ridiculous or it may be said that it is downright atrocious for governments failing to fully utilize early on the Clark International Airport despite the air traffic congestion. The Duterte administration launched ‘Build, Build, Build’ and everyone hopes that this program will succeed with speed.


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