Speech of President Aquino at the unveiling of the Grand Hyatt Hotel Taguig scale model


Fort Bonifacio in Taguig CityImage via Wikipedia
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
Speech of His Excellency 
Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
Unveiling of the scale model of the soon to be constructed Grand Hyatt Hotel in Taguig
[Delivered at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City on March 22, 2011]
Great things sometimes come from the smallest ideas. I know this first hand. Our administration was built on the simple premise of good, honest governance, and from that idea sprung the foundations of the success we are enjoying now.
This small-scale model we are about to unveil today will eventually become one of Manila’s great buildings. At 66-storeys high and built on 1.5 hectares of land, it is a fitting representation of the progress that awaits our people in the near future. Moreover, judging from all the resources you must have set aside to begin construction of this massive building, it also represents your belief in your potential for success—in filling up the rooms of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, and in continuing your profitable operations here for many years in the future. In this sense, today’s unveiling is a manifestation of rising investor confidence in the country, not in mere statements or pledges, but in actual pesos and cents.
That said, I do not think this confidence and optimism of yours is misplaced. Tourists, both domestic and foreign, have increased in number in the recent years. In 2010, we had more than 3.5 million of them in the country, a 16-percent increase from the 3 million we had in 2009—and which, may I add, was a constant figure for so many years. Our visitor receipts have also risen by about 250 million dollars from 2009 to 2010. Under this administration, it seems as if this boost in tourism is going to continue further, as the second half of 2010 yielded a 21.2-percent increase in tourist arrivals, much higher than the 12% increase in the first half. And if I may me allowed: This came after the hostage crisis and several travel advisories, which were, I think were well—well not well-intentioned
In short, even before the Grand Hyatt Hotel finishes construction, a large market will already be waiting for it—a market that will continue to grow in the coming years. The good news is that the government is also doing its part in helping this market of yours grow. Your business is premised on the fact that more people will need your hotel rooms—that more people will be visiting the Philippines either for tourism or for business. To ensure that this happens, we are liberalizing aviation in this country. We will be allowing foreign carriers to come here. Aside from this, we are also fixing other problems that have prevented even more flights from coming in. We are addressing issues pertaining to our category 2 status in the USA, and the banning of Philippine aviation in Europe. I have already given the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines a year to resolve these issues. Once we do all of this, we will be clearing some of the serious bottlenecks that have prevented more visitors from coming into this country.
It is my sincere hope that your project finishes on time in late 2014 or early 2015, both for your benefit and for the benefit of the people who need the employment opportunities that it will undoubtedly redound to, especially those who have just been repatriated from the Middle East and are looking for work. Suffice it to say, I, along with many other Filipinos and tourists, am excited for this building’s completion.
If I may share with you, there are times when I like to think of this country as a building as well—one that we are in the process of reconstructing. And while it is true that it might have been left to us in a bad state, we are doing our best so that we can renovate and redesign it. So far, we have been successful in doing this. For one, we have instilled a culture of governance that is, once again, people-centered, as opposed to the “me first” mentality that prevailed in the past. We have also refocused the government’s efforts toward the alleviation of poverty, which has made life difficult for our countrymen for so long, and is the root of many of the conflicts we face.
We know that maintaining a stable economy is an integral part of tackling this problem of poverty and of inching this country forward. This is why, as a way of reciprocating the confidence you have in us, we have been offering competitive fiscal incentives to investors in tourism enterprises such as yourselves. These incentives include income tax holidays, tax-free importation of capital equipment, among other things, offered by the Omnibus Investments Code. We have likewise launched five Public-Private Partnerships for bidding just two weeks ago, which is further proof of the growing mutual confidence between private corporations and the Philippine government. And despite these breakthroughs, we remain hard at work, thinking of even more ways to encourage investment in the Philippines.
But these efforts are just one part of our state-rebuilding project. We know that there are still many things that need to be fixed, and we are hard at work on those things too. But this is too difficult a task to do alone. The rest of the Filipino people have to fulfill their own roles in our collective responsibilities, because our success in restoring our national dignity is ultimately hinged on our shared efforts.
The bottom line is this: each of us has something to contribute to the rebuilding of this nation. The things we do, no matter how small or large, have a great effect on our country. The same way someone has to repaint the walls, redesign the rooms, replace the tiles, fix the plumbing, and clean the windows in the process of renovating a building—everyone has a job to do in the challenging task of nation building. In this sense, I thank Metrobank and Federal Land, along with each and every Filipino who has remained dedicated to his job, for doing their part. I am confident that if we continue these efforts to enact change in this society, then we will be able to leave the coming generations with a strong nation that can withstand any attempt at weakening its foundations. We can achieve a country in which both businesses and the common people can live well and prosper. We can build a country that we can all be proud of.
Thank you and good day.