Megaworld disturbs the environment and the peace in Baguio

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Ma. Isabel Ongpin

THE news from Baguio City as of May 10 was that the Suntrust 88 (owned by Megaworld) wall that has reportedly collapsed and been rebuilt five times, has collapsed for the nth time. And the next-door neighbors now reveal that the wall has fallen more than five times, more like 10 times. As a result,the Gibraltar Road in front of the property is in effect a goner. What is left of the road has nothing supporting it, so even one-way traffic is dangerous on such empty and eroded foundations. And of course, the project is atrociously delayed.

Now the barangay chair and his officials are complaining too. Before that, it seems they had been lured to give the barangay clearance based on the usual Megaworld promises that not only do not materialize but turn the neighborhood into a hellish area of broken culverts, severed sewage lines and destroyed roads.

I was in Baguio this weekend and the reality was a dire environmental disaster. Now neighbors, concerned city residents and environmentalists are up in arms over what Suntrust 88 has wrought in the neighborhood.

One concerned person went on Facebook to denounce Suntrust 88 for its environmental compliance certificate (ECC) which the Facebook contributor called “all lies from the start.” Among them, that no trees would be cut, and that an unbelievably minimal amount of water would be needed for more than 400 units. Incidentally, not even half of the units will have parking space. Despite this absence of parking, the front part of the condominium will be a commercial area, of course. This will mean more vehicles competing for street space in the already crowded Mines View area. But then every inch has to be made to pay.


A neighbor living in a 24-unit condominium nearby pooh-poohed the water consumption estimate that Suntrust 88 put in its ECC, saying their 24 units use about the same amount estimated for the 400 units. He is also wondering whether soil tests have really validated the construction of what seems to be a12-story building (Baguio City zoning allows only up to 7 stories).

And so it goes. Letters written to Megaworld, the owner of Suntrust 88, remain unanswered. No repair of the damaged road or culverts have been undertaken. Relatives of City Hall officials are scurrying around trying to convince the neighborhood to accept the planned highrise and the barangay to stop complaining.

Some of the affected residents want a hearing convened by the city council regarding the building permit, the water and the parking viability but there is no support from City Hall. Local government has failed its residents here.

The whole mess is destruction of environment, public roads and a grievous disturbance of the peace. From the results, it would seem Megaworld pays its public relations gofers more than they pay their engineers and architects. It has won a so-called “unprecedented’ back-to-back award as the Best Developer two years in a row, plus a slew of other titles that make one wonder what the judges were thinking, doing or smoking. Or, perhaps they have not visited the Megaworld universe, just seen its plans on paper where they look best, not the reality that is on the ground. They should survey the clients. Who’s fooling who?

An architect friend explained the situation as the hypnotic spell of the profit figures that Megaworld produces as publicized repeatedly by their hard-working PR staff. If you make so much, you must be so good. Also, that they have found the uncanny and clever formula for the market, making people accept their standards (bad) against what their (the customers’) money should really buy (good or at least better).

I spoke to the seller of the property who seems to be suffering seller’s remorse. He used to live in the property and is appalled at the sinkhole it has been turned into. I asked whether he had accepted some units as part payment (a Megaworld ploy) because if he did, he will have serious remorse long into the future. I know a Megaworld partner who went through that. The last word about doing business with Megaworld – it was a mistake.

Caveat emptor.

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4 Comments

  1. I agree with Nacky. Megaworld Corporation is a Cheap Property Company. I bought a condominium unit in a large scale condominium project in Cainta. Fronted by its offshoot Empire East Land Holdings Inc. it was in fact Megaworld Corporation who had been responsible for establishing such Project, but seeing numerous violations of law, in its advertising, selling, alterations, development, even in construction.

    The paperwork trail shows extensive deliberate actions resulting in numerous violations of laws, including, but not limited to PD957 the subdivision and condominium buyers protective decree, RA4726 the Condominium Act, RA6552 the Maceda Law that protects buyers paying by amortization payments, the National Building Code and the Local Government Code.

    All is fully documented through the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), the problem therein lies, in that HLURB only punishes for violations of law through fines, and further, issues its approvals even after numerous and deliberate violations of laws and procedures!

    I would further discover that many government agencies and offices would be manipulated, and indeed would even help and support the illegal establishment of the Project. I could find government offices issuing their approvals after development, construction and even occupancy of parts of the Project ……….not as required, before!

    It made a mockery of laws, rules, regulations and procedures, when a developer can secure governmental approvals after failing to secure such before hand!

    The problem, as it can be seen at Baguio, is that government agencies, offices and public servants can be manipulated in the interests of a developer, where laws, rules, regulations and procedures for the protection of the public, this country, its lands and its environment now takes a back seat to corporate gain in the alleged interests of this country and its economy.

  2. I hope this Megaworld debacle is a wake up call to Baguio City officials, jolt them from their ‘indifference’ and avert another environmental catastrophe on the other side of Gibraltar Road- in Outlook Drive. Villar family’s Vistaland is building a humongous 12-story condo project in a narrow strip of land, literally ‘by the ridge.’ Very similar topographic conditions as Megaworld’s project. City Hall and barangay officials are washing off their hands this early, alleging that permits came from Imperial Manila for the project.

  3. Megaworld is in aggressive expansion mode, they are trying to buy Companies to add on what we called cheap portfolio like suntrust,geri to name a few. They want to be called no. 1 township, bpo and landlord..blah blah blah given that they are find behind Ayala Land success having said that Ayala Land is not kind of Company who claiming such Superlative press release. Definition of Sustainability is not working and not unknown for Megaworld because they cant really compete with Ayala Land and SM. They obviously copying Ayala Land and even SM they are a type of Chinese that even the last opiece of Land they want to build concrete building and they dont want to make these piece of land to be sustainable. Obviously Megaworld is paying much these award giving body like to recent award they got as Property Developer of the Year for the second time. But sorry to tell that they are not qualified or fit to get the award. They will be known as Cheap Property Company as always!

    • Herminio Gonzales on

      Can we reveal/expose these award winning bodies for what they really are? I live in a condo in Ortigas Center where more and more buildings are being built by one of the Taipans and this land developer flaunts to be an awardee of prestigious award giving bodies for their condominium projects. Reality shows the opposite: a high rise residential building at the heart of Ortigas Center where elevators are often out of order, where water and sewer pipes often leak, where building maintenance is highly inadequate and, worst, where second hand smoke is a rampant problem due to: a) lack of respect for the law and health of neighbors by mostly foreign occupants who are condoned by the leasing unit owners and building administrators (as confided by an official of Bgy San Antonio which covers Ortigas Center); and b) absence of will of developers and the local government to protect the health of condo dwellers, especially those in the lower floors, who inhale poisonous second hand smoke from mostly BPO workers (working in the nearby building built by the same Taipan family) who treat the sidewalks as a big smoking area and the environment as their ash tray.