02 May 2012

Subic’s Ayala mall opens doors to indigenous communities

As part of Ayala Malls' corporate social responsibility program, Harbor Point, Subic’s newest shopping destination, is opening its doors to indigenous groups in communities surrounding the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

The mall, which formally opened on April 26, envisions itself as a home for the different community groups in the Zambales and Bataan area, said Bobby Dy, Ayala Land’s senior vice president.

“We welcome all these groups, and we will work closely with them. We want this to be their home,” Dy said, adding that the mall’s management is in close talk with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to accommodate community events at Harbor Point.

He said the mall is planning to have community events Mondays to Thursdays. The mall is also providing business opportunities for local indigenous peoples, particularly the Aetas in this free port.

According to Armie Llamas, manager of the SBMA public relations department, Harbor Point has initially allocated a complimentary stall where Aetas from the Pastolan village in this free port can sell slippers that they have crafted. Proceeds from the sale will go directly to the livelihood program of the Aeta tribe, she added.

Llamas, who is in charge of the SBMA's outreach projects for the Aetas in Subic, as well as other community groups, said the tribe is thankful to the mall management for giving them some space in the Harbor Point mall.

She added that the SBMA is also looking forward to other programs that Ayala has lined up, especially for some opportunities for the Aetas to showcase their culture. “They do dance numbers and cultural productions, so Harbor Point can perhaps hire some Aetas for cultural presentations to give them an additional source of income,” Llamas said.

Conrado Prenilla, chieftain of the Pastolan Aeta community, also expressed gratitude for the additional income that Aeta women could earn from selling slippers at the Ayala mall.

“Marami sa mga kababaihan namin ang walang trabaho, kaya po malaking bagay para sa kanila itong ibinigay na livelihood project para po makatulong sa kanila,” he said.

Harbor Point, the latest addition to Ayala Land’s chain of shopping malls, was formally opened on April 26 by Ayala Land’s top executives, including Ayala Land chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala. The opening was also graced by SBMA chairman and administrator Roberto Garcia, and Olongapo City mayor James Gordon, Jr.

Antonino Aquino, president of Ayala Land Inc., said that the mall will strive to complement the development that is happening within the Subic Bay Freeport and Olongapo City.

“This is extremely important for us because we know that this is something that is going to be contributing to the further development of Olongapo and Subic,” he said. “We would like to be part of the continued progress that is happening in this twin development.”

Aquino also stated that Ayala Land is looking forward to be a part of Subic and Olongapo’s future towards progress. “We would like to be part of that great journey, and we would like to make sure to start today here in Harbor Point, where every day is a holiday,” he said. (FMD/MPD-SBMA)

Pastolan Aeta women sell their handcrafted slippers at a complementary stall given by the management of Harbor Point, the newest mall in the Subic Bay Freeport.