SAN SIMON -- A vast unproductive open field located in Barangay San Pablo Libutad here will soon be developed into a multi-billion peso business park by Global Aseana Land Development Corporation.
The 120-hectare property located along the stretch of Quezon Road here is once a fertile land cultivated by local farmers until Mt. Pinatubo erupted and lava flowed down in 1991, said San Pablo Libutad village chairman Reynaldo David.
After the eruption, David said the rice field became river-like and farming seemed to be infeasible, since most of the seedlings planted do not bear fruits and only results in capital loss.
"Dati manasik la deng kabalen ku, sasabyan da tatabla la mu potang kayi makamal pa ing gamit ortelanu. Ala nala rugung auuli mang pera o pamangan kareng pamilya da (Residents in our barangay used to cultivate the farmland but they were saying that they are only breakeven and the expensive farming materials add up to their expenses. Sometimes they do not even have food or money to take home to their families)," David said.
Recently, the Municipal Council here finally approved the reclassification of the land from agricultural and residential to industrial through Municipal Ordinance 17-0014, which will allow the development of the said property.
According to Global Aseana 2 Legal Consultant Elmo Triste, the industrial park will house a mall, a business product outsourcing (BPO) office, fast food stalls and other business establishments.
It is foreseen to generate 250,000 job opportunities for Simonians and residents of nearby city and municipalities, Trista said, while assuring that at least 75 percent of the job employment will be exclusive for Simonians.
Triste also said the major development is expected to bring in P88-million monthly or billions worth of income to the local government here through tax collection alone.
The Global Aseana 2 Business Park is the second investment of the Global Aseana Land Development Corporation in San Simon after the Global Aseana 1 Industrial Village, which now serves as warehouses of national and multi-national companies and employs thousands of Simonians and Kapampangans.
Asked why they invest in San Simon, Triste cited its strategic location, which is a crossbone of major thoroughfares, such as the Quezon Road, MacArthur Highway and North Luzon Expressway, as well as the San Simon- Baliwag access road.
"There is no other location that can ever have the same advantage as San Simon, especially that it is only less than an hour away from Manila and major ports in the country," he said.
Meanwhile, Triste also addressed the supposed flooding woes the development might cause to its vicinity, particularly the speculations that it covered some major and vital waterways, particularly the Cabalantian Creek.
Contrary to claims, Triste said they were the ones who solved the flooding, as it unclogged the waterway and constructed an architectural design called "box culvert" and underground drainages that made all tributaries functional.
"Wala kaming tinakpan na ilog o daanan ng tubig dahil may mga ginamit kaming (We did not cover any river or waterway because we used) strategies aside from the effective underground drainages we designed. Actually, we helped resolve the flooding problem because we need it for our business," he said.
Mayor Leonora Wong, for her part, said the new investment in the town will be beneficial to the residents here and will further boost the economy of San Simon.
She said the billions-worth of income to the local government will be translated to poverty reduction and economic growth programs, including social, economic, infrastructure and environment programs.
Wong also noted that the additional employment opportunities will further uplift the lives of Simonians, especially the families whose livelihood are solely dependent on a family member who is a minimum wage earner and works outside of the province.
"This investment will play a major role in the economy of San Simon. Aside from the business itself, which is foreseen to attract other investments, the BPO and the malls will also provide decent jobs with decent incomes to Simonians of all ages while, at the same time, being together with their families," she said.