Even the stars wait to shine in the night

Published August 21, 2022, 1:00 AM

by Jules Vivas

Ayala Malls gathers its merchants in its bid to redefine the post-pandemic mall experience

STRIKE A POSE Fernando Zobel takes a selfie with partner merchants, media guests, and Ayala Malls executives

The social and economic impact of the ongoing pandemic has been devastating with the dramatic loss of human life everywhere. It has exposed, perhaps even amplified, the challenges of food systems, the world of work, and public health.

For once, there was a bigger threat other than ourselves. This indiscriminate enemy does not recognize religion, culture, customs, and social status—a great equalizer as people would say.

With adversity, however, comes growth. The silver lining to Covid-19 is that it has reminded us of our humanity. To survive we need each other and at the core of being human are optimism and compassion. It taught us the significance of cooperation and empathy, as well as listening, caring for, respecting, and helping one another.

AYALA EXECS Ayala Land president and CEO Bobby Dy, Ayala Land chairman and Ayala Corporation president and CEO Fernando Zobel, Francis Kong, Ayala Malls president Christopher Maglanoc, and senior vice president, group head commercial malls, commercial offices, hotels and resort and ALI Capital, Junie Jalandoni

Armed with these lessons, Ayala Malls commemorated its Merchant Appreciation program not with competition in mind, but with camaraderie. It has been Ayala’s tradition to acknowledge partner merchants for their stellar innovations and outstanding practices for 23 consecutive years.

This year, the Philippines’ most influential retail stalwarts were whisked away from the city to the relaxing summer getaway at Seda Lio in El Nido, Palawan.

Aptly themed “Constellations to Tomorrow,” the two-day affair served as a healthy networking environment where exemplary business owners got to broaden their horizons with one of the largest shopping mall retailers in the country. It served as the night sky that interconnected the merchants, the stars of the occasion.

“We highly value our good connection with our merchants and consumers. We want to fortify it further by continuing to provide them only the best of things and holding to their expectations,” explains Ayala Malls president Christopher Maglanoc. “This ripple effect can lead to great changes and improvements that would help elevate Filipino lives even more in this new post-pandemic world.”

The darkness isn’t so bad when you’re surrounded by the warm light of the stars—Sahil Shyam

The engagement included merchant-focused activities designed to educate effective business practices and reinforce values. A highlight of this year’s powwow was a talk led by one of the most respected business speakers in the country, Francis Kong. Titled “Bigger Bolder Business,” the session zoomed in on the current state of the market and how entrepreneurs could navigate today’s social and economic uncertainties.

PARTY LIKE ITS 2022 The evening ended with a grand party by the poolside

 “The pandemic has been hard on all of us. The last two years have been very, very difficult. At one point we thought [that] maybe the malls might have a permanent disruption—that things wouldn’t come back to how they were. But today what we’re seeing is the malls have come back in a big way,” said Ayala Land president and CEO Bobby Dy, adding that while foot traffic continues to increase in the malls, there is still an ongoing need to improve due to the changes caused by the pandemic. “Our malls team has been working very hard to ensure that we keep up with the times, to ensure that we make the necessary changes together with all of you so we continue to provide our customers with amazing experiences.”

“[Bobby Dy] came to me very early on in the crisis and said ‘Fernando, how do we play this? Do we stick to our interests but we’re going to really hurt the merchants or do we share the pain together?’ and of course, I said, ‘Let’s share the pain together,’” recalled Ayala Land chairman and Ayala Corporation president and CEO Fernando Zobel. “It was really welcome news today that people still enjoy the mall experience. But it needs to be different. It needs to have technology in it. It needs to have more choices. It needs to have digital combined with the physical. And so we need you to tell us how that needs to transform and what’s the role we can play in it.”

The climax of the gettogether was a poolside party replete with fireworks, balloons and streamers, strobe lights, cocktails, music, and beautiful people.

VISIONS AND MISSIONS Rosemarie Andres of Candy Corner Philippines, AyalaLand Hotels & Resorts Corp. president and CEO Javier Hernandez, Ricardo Andres of Candy Corner Philippines, Ayala Land Malls area head for north operations and head of cinemas Charmaine Bauzon, and leasing manager Luke Lee

Around 200 industry leaders were in attendance at the glamorous event. Seen were Rustan Commercial Corporation president Bienvenido III Tantoco, Primer Group president and CEO Jimmy Thai, Lucerne president and managing director Ivan Yao, Noble House Distribution Enterprise Inc. operations manager Jan Andrew Naval, Anthem Group managing director Ericson Lee, to name a few.

Also present were Rikki and Beng Dee of Foodee Global Concepts, Ana Lorenzana De Ocampo and her husband Jay Jay de Ocampo of Wildflour, Milka Romero of Sushi Nori, Xandra Ramos of National Book Store, Cecile Zamora of Pepper Lunch, Roxanne Farillas of Plains & Prints, actor-entrepreneur Marvin Agustin, and more.