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18 May 2008

Universal Studios To Rise in Manila (Philippines)

Cannot help but get excited on this featured article, which I happen to dig from our office broadsheet archives. It got me so engrossed, from the title alone, and had me spending my post luncheon break reading the entire article with unstoppable delight.

The article originally came out in 7 April 2008 issue of The Philippine Star and was written by Zinnia De La Peña

Over the weekend covering week 20, I started browsing the net to find related discussions or posts mentioning the same just to verify how hot the news has become.

It was not a surprise, though, to see fellow Filipinos blogging about it on their sites. Among the few that I came across are enumerated below:

1. Universal Studios Theme Park soon to Rise in RP by Sikat ang Pinoy
2. Universal Studio Philippines from TimogForum
3. Universal Studios Theme Park soon to Rise in RP by Angat ang Pinoy
4. Universal Studios Theme Park Soon to Rise in Manila Bay Philippines by Byahilo
5. Universal Studios Manila by Docgorio
6. Universal Studios by Manila Bay Casinos
7. Universal Studios Theme Park Soon to Be Here in the Philippines by Jessie Simbulan
8. Universal Studios Theme Park in RP? by Mc Dy Happy Meals
9. Universal Studios theme park soon to rise in RP by Living in a BackPack
10.Universal Studios Manila & Manila Eye by Kegler747

Here goes the original article:

Universal Studios Theme Park Soon to Rise in RP
By Zinnia De La Peña
Monday, April 7, 2008

The arrival of a Universal Studios theme park in the Philippines is creating a huge buzz after the Genting Berhad Group secured the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.(Pagcor)’s nod for its proposed project within the Las Vegas-like Bagong Nayong Pilipino-Manila Bay Integrated Tourism City.

Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer Efraim Genuino said the Genting Group has committed to develop 35 hectares of the 90-hectare prime reclaimed land facing Manila Bay into a world-class tourist destination.

Genuino said the Genting Berhad Group is planning to invest $3 billion in the Manila Bay Integrated City, the Philippines’ biggest tourism development project.

The Genting Berhad Group owns the Genting Highlands Resort in Malaysia and holds the exclusive development rights of film giant Universal Studios in Asia. It has teamed up with its subsidiary Star Cruises and Alliance Global Inc., the listed investment holding firm of retail tycoon Andrew Tan, for its proposed project in the $15-20 billion casino resort complex along
Manila Bay.

Genuino said the Genting Berhard Group’s proposal includes the development of leisure and entertainment facilities including a theme park, state-of-the-art theaters, amusement and cultural centers, retail and gaming center and hotels.

Universal Studio’s movie-theme Hollywood park has 13 attractions based on movies including Shrek, Jurassic Park and The Terminator. Excluding its restaurants and theaters, the theme park alone draws about four million visitors a year.

Besides Hollywood, Universal Studios has other parks in Orlando, Barcelona and Osaka, Japan.

Another investor group, Aruze Corp. of Japan is planning to put up an integrated resort featuring a hotel with 2,000 standard rooms and 300 VIP suites; a major oceanarium targeted to be the world’s largest; theaters, a sports arena, a Holy museum and a giant ferris wheel similar to the London Eye to be known as the Manila Eye.

The Aruze Group is likewise infusing $3 billion in capital for the development of 40 hectares of land in the Manila Bay Integrated City.

Genuino said Aruze, a leading gaming machine maker known for its ties with the popular Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas and Macau, may start development of its project in the second quarter this year which may take two years to complete.

Other groups whose project concepts have been approved by Pagcor include Bloomburry Investments Ltd. of Australia which will develop 15 hectares of the reclaimed prime land, and the SM Investments Corp. (SMIC).

Bloomburry plans to build a hotel, sports arena and other tourist attractions.

Genuino said SMIC has yet to hatch a plan for the Manila Bay Integrated City but said this would be a unique concept.

Tessie Sy, SMIC vice-chair, said that aside from developments within the Mall of Asia complex along Roxas Boulevard, the company may work on something in the future to further promote the tourism estate.

SMIC, together with international hotel firms Carlson Hotels Asia Pacific and Accor will develop and manage a 350-room hotel in SM Bay City, which will be located near the SMX Convention Center.

Meantime, two administration congressmen supported yesterday the Integrated Tourism City, saying the nation should rake in billions in potential income from the project instead of growing grass on reclaimed land.

“We also need jobs. We have 430,000 new college graduates a year, but not all can be absorbed by existing companies,” Palawan Rep. Antonio Alvarez, House trade and industry committee chairman, said in the midst of reports that Catholic bishops are opposing the plan.

Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing said he would prefer “that we grow money instead of grass on reclaimed land in Manila Bay.”

Alvarez said the Pagcor project would put the country in a position to catch a portion of China’s increasing spending on gambling.

“Due to China’s growing affluence, its 1.3 billion people are spending $70 billion in gambling bets a year, according to one estimate,” he said.

He said the gambling revenues of Macau, a Chinese territory, increased by 47 percent to $10.34 billion last year and have exceeded those of Las Vegas.

He said the Pagcor project could also prevent rich Filipinos from going to Macau or Las Vegas and would allow them to “just spend their money here.” - With Jess Diaz

Above all this agitated press release, I simply hope the plans will materialize immediately and be transformed to the desired outputs, just like the Manila Ocean Park (MOP).

Side Trips: If this will materialize, it can no longer be said that Universal Studios Singapore , which is expecting completion by 2010, is “one-of-its-kind theme park in Asia” as Universal Studios has promised that this will be the only park it would have in Southeast Asia for the next 30 years.

Universal Studios South Korea The park would become the sixth Universal Studios theme park in the world, and the fourth in Asia, after Universal Studios Japan and the future Universal Studios Dubai and Universal Studios Singapore. It is projected to open in 2012.

Photo credits:

11 May 2008

Untimely Demise of Spotplex

Few days ago, while browsing my blog,
I noticed that one of my installed widgets was missing. GRRR! You can just imagine what my initial reaction was. But wait, can you guess which I am referring about?

It was Spotplex widget for Most Popular Post which suddenly disappeared. It saddened me since I just had it up and running for quite a while. If my memory serves me right, I had it installed only early part of April 2008. Still hopeful, however, I headed over to the site and inspected what happened.

Surprisingly, this is what I untiringly got from the site

Dear Spotplex users,

We regret to inform you that Spotplex is going offline. This was a very hard decision for us and we are sure you will miss the service as much as we do.

If you are interested in our assets or in knowing more on the shutdown of Spotplex, you can reach us at

Thanks for your support.

The Spotplex Team


Note: If you have embedded a Spotplex tracking code on your site, please remove it. You might get an error message if you still have it beyond 5/9.

Too bad, there is nothing much I can do but to rest my case.

It was unfortunate, though, since I have not made any review yet concerning this tool. It is always my routine to test first the corresponding functions of any tool that I get to add on my site before making any recommendations or review. Sad to say so, I will not have that opportunity any longer.

My sincerest condolences to Spotplex for the untimely demise of Most Popular Post widget.