ROBERTO “Bobby” del Rosario, whose core business was fishing, has every reason not to be bothered by any property burst that might come in the country as he land banks and develops properties for use in his future businesses.
He soft opened Fisher Mall supermarket (called Fisher Foods) on Tuesday right at the problematic 2.4-hectare Pantranco Bus Co. property, which he bought for close to a billion pesos in recent years. Of this property, he developed only half for the five-storey Fisher Mall with reservations for other future projects in the hospitality industry.
He also bought another property in Malabon where he is putting up a second Fisher Mall. Construction is ongoing in this future mall, 66 percent the size of Fisher Mall 1 sitting in a 1-hectare property. The new mall is located along C4 Edsa Extension in front of Malabon City Square Mall.
In addition, del Rosario has put up a ship repair facility called Nautilus 1 right outside the Navotas Fish Port for the repair and maintenance needs of his fellow fishing businessmen. And he is putting up Nautilus 2, this time inside the Fish Port complex, which his peers are pleasantly anticipating as it gives them shorter turnaround time. Nautilus 2 is being eyed for launch early next year.
Del Rosario told The Manila Times that he buys properties only from the earnings and profits of his companies. He shies away from borrowing from local and foreign banks as this would be a nagging concern in his operations and would stress him physically.
“I have always—and this is what I teach my children—lived within my means so that I won’t bother myself with issues about loans and repayments,” del Rosario said.
Though he would not clearly say how much it took to put up Fisher Mall, the country’s only certified-green shopping mall, along Roosevelt and Quezon Avenues in Quezon City, some have estimated the development and construction costs to be not less than P1 billion. The mall itself was designed and executed by the world-renowned urban planner, Architect Felino Palafox Jr., who also writes a column for The Times.
Pursuing a dream
He said all his ventures have revolved around his dream of bringing low-priced fresh and live fish to the masses, since they “are the most sensitive to price fluctuations in food.”
“We keep pursuing our dream of delivering this kind of service to the community and generating employment for the communities we operate in,” del Rosario said.
He recalled that his first boat was acquired for P50 from his uncle, an Australian submarine chaser (World War II vintage) and this was beefed up shortly after by another antiquated fishing boat, again acquired P50 from his uncle.
Through diligence, hard work and thriftiness, he said, “we were able to grow our fleet to 100 fishing boats of varied sizes which are operating mostly in Palawan.”
He said the whole month of November, his Irma Fishing Co. lost a lot of money after Super Typhoon Yolanda “because of the undercurrents that drove away the fish.”
He said that his mission of bringing fish to people of Malabon, next-door neighbor of the Navotas Fish Port, who can’ t even buy fresh fish at wholesale prices on retail markets.
Irma Fishing is able to supply Metro Manila markets fresh fish year-round because it operates its fleet even at a breakeven just to keep the employees earning even during the lean fishing season of October to February.
Del Rosario said that he noticed that his fortunes are getting better after he deliberately shifted his fishing methods from trawler (an ecologically hazardous technique as it scrapes the seabed) to purse seiners (which makes use of strong lights to attract the fishes in the ocean to the nets), and found that his small contribution to benefit the environment was actually his blessing as well.
During his largely-fishing days, he also went into ice production (Fish Port Ice Plant) supplying the vendors of the Navotas Fish Port (he supplies 70 percent), then to landbanking, shipyard (Nautilus 1 and then Nautilus 2 by January 2014).