THE business empire of the Philippines’ richest man, Henry Sy, whose diverse business is rooted in the retail industry, is bent on boosting another sector—education—by donating more buildings to established schools across the country.
Sy’s umbrella firm, SM Investments Corporation, turned over on Tuesday a newly built nine-story building to the new University of the Philippines’ Professional Schools satellite campus in Bonifacio Global City on Tuesday.
Named Henry Sy Hall, the school building donation to the country’s premier school was the latest made by the SM conglomerate—and several more are in the offing.
Hans Sy, the retail tycoon’s second son and president of SM Prime Holdings Inc., said the building for U.P. cost more than the P400-million development budget earlier allotted for the project when it started construction in 2014.
SM Prime is the SM Group’s property arm, as the conglomerate made property development as one of its core businesses, aside from retail and banking.
It was not the first time SM donated a building to a university.
Sy cited, for one, the Henry Sy Sr. Hall at the De La Salle University in Manila as one of the firm’s endeavors in pushing its advocacy for education.
The 15-storey building for La Salle, which started construction in December 2010 and turned over about two years later, was estimated to cost P1.4 billion.
The young Sy said the SM Group is looking to do more similar projects at least in the near future.
“We are in the process of signing some agreements,” he said. “Right now, Miriam College is already there. We have a little more, but this is just an initial, including the auditorium of Sacred Heart in Cebu. The others are still small ones, but there are also big ones that are going to come out soon. So far, this [UP-BGC] is the biggest.”
The Henry Sy Foundation started building a new innovation center or art, science, and technology laboratory at Miriam College campus in Quezon City in August 2015.
For some time now, the SM Foundation has been donating new and refurbished buildings for various schools across the country.
Meantime, the new U.P. satellite campus spans a total floor area of 12,000 square meters and will house 29 classrooms.
Other facilities of the building include three computer laboratories, a study area called learning commons, faculty lounges, an auditorium, a moot court or venue for simulated court proceedings for law students, a multipurpose hall, discussion rooms, conference rooms, office spaces, and an executive lounge.
Sy said SM constructed the building, excluding laboratories and other facilities.
“We did everything, all the fit out, except for the furniture or the laboratory equipment—that one we just don’t want to make mistakes with it,” Sy said.
“It is with great pride that we turnover today the Henry Sy Sr. Hall to the highly esteemed University of the Philippines here at BGC, “ Sy said in the Tuesday morning turnover rites.
“The building carries no less than my father’s name whose prime advocacy is education.
He worked hard and sacrificed so much early in his life just to be able to receive formal education. He wants the same for every Filipino.”
The new UP campus will offer post graduate studies, such as the UP College of Law’s evening Juris Doctor Program and the Cesar E. Virata School of Business’ MBA and DBA classes, which will start by 2017.
Other programs offered in the new campus include classes under the College of Engineering, School of Statistics, School of Urban and Regional Planning, School of Labor and Industrial Relations, and the College of Architecture.