In a quiet section of Panay Island in Western Visayas, small fishing boats dock along an 11-kilometer stretch of fine black sand overlooking a symbolic islet called Mantalinga, a historical plaza slowly becomes thick with vehicles and pedestrians crossing the street, public markets exude a frenzied atmosphere, and the sky paints a glorious yellow-orange glow across the horizon— a city awakens.
Heading for inevitable progress without compromising its old world-charm and natural attractions, Roxas City in Capiz Province is the ideal melting point between past and present. Supported by its aquaculture and agriculture industries, the advent of a major real estate boom, and massive tourism rebirth, Roxas City is slowly transforming the economic landscape of Panay Island, consequently securing its position as one of the emerging cities in the Philippines.
THRIVING SEAFOOD INDUSTRY
Named after Manuel Acuna Roxas, the last President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and the first President of the Third Philippine Republic, Roxas City is hailed as the Seafood Capital of the Philippines. Strategically located east of the northern coast of Panay Island facing the Sibuyan Sea to the north, Roxas City offers a myriad of succulent seafood delights ranging from shellfish and squid to different varieties of fish, the most prevalent of which is mangagat or red snapper. Roxas City is also home to the elusive queen of the shellfish family measuring about 4 to 5 inches called angel wings or diwal in the local tongue. Available only for a few months every year, diwal has an off-white outer shell that open up and resemble the wings of an angel when cooked. This special type of shellfish is one of the major come-ons for tourists and locals alike in the city, and can be cooked and presented in multiple ways: grilled, baked, or steamed. Although diwal can be found in other areas in the Philippines, it is only in Roxas City where it is harvested in great abundance when it is in season.
The Seafood Capital offers some of the most affordable seafood dishes and products. A bucket of steamed oysters can be ordered in one of the open-air restaurants lined up along Baybay Beach for as low as 40 pesos. A plate of about 20 pieces of baked scallops costs roughly 120 pesos. A serving of fresh seaweed salad with cucumber and tomatoes go for as cheap as 50 pesos, and one order of buttered shrimps that can satisfy a group of two to three costs less than 200 pesos.
The richness and diversity of marine agriculture in Roxas City makes it the Seafood Capital of a country with more than 7,000 islands to its name. The moniker can also be attributed to the perfect balance of fresh and salt water present in the province, which is highly conducive to nurturing a wide variety of seafood products. With aquaculture as its major industry, Roxas City is home to one of the richest and largest fishing grounds in the country. A quick aerial survey would show a significant portion of the total land area of the city is made up of fishponds. As testament to its thriving seafood industry, the city supplies various seafood products like oysters, scallops, and crabs to Metro Manila and other parts of the Philippines, as well as to various countries all over the globe most notably Japan, Taiwan, and as far as the United States of America.
GATEWAY TO NORTHERN PANAY
Roxas City is the capital of Capiz, a province in Panay Island that is connected to all the other three provinces namely Iloilo, Aklan, and Antique. Its advantageous location makes it an ideal jump-off point to several tourist destinations in the region. The world-renowned Boracay Island in Aklan can be reached in as little as two hours and a half by land from the city. Emerging tourist destinations Sicogon Island and Gigantes Group of Islands in Northern Iloilo are just roughly three hours away by land and sea travel combined from the city.
Romblon Province, tagged as the Marble Capital of Asia, and Masbate Province, known for its white sandy beaches, spectacular dive spots, and annual rodeo festival, are accessible by ferryboat from Culasi National Port in Roxas City in about five to six hours or so. There are also several Roll-On, Roll-Off (RORO) cargo and passenger shuttles going to Culasi National Port from Batangas Pier and Manila North Harbor.
With a new and improved integrated transport terminal located inside a township development called Pueblo de Panay, Roxas City is conveniently connected to other parts of Panay Island via vans, multicabs, and Ceres busses.
Major airline companies Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, and the newly acquired CebGo, formerly known as TigerAir Philippines, service the recently renovated Roxas City Domestic Airport with one flight each. With the prime function of delivering seafood products to various restaurants and hotels in Metro Manila, most notably the seaside restaurants near the Mall of Asia complex, Philippine Airlines operates a dawn flight everyday. With three daily connections to and from Metro Manila, Roxas City is easily accessible from the Philippine capital in as little as 45 minutes per flight.
SEAT OF PROGRESS AND CENTER FOR GROWTH
Competitive business climate, superior quality of living, a wealth of talent, stable aquaculture and agriculture industries, continuous increase in Overseas Filipino Workers remittances, aggressive tourism campaigns, and a major real estate boom all make Roxas City a center for growth in Northern Panay Island.
Both the cost of doing business and cost of living in Roxas City remain relatively low. The city has a reliable, robust, and well-developed system of road network. Busses, multicabs, tricycles, and other public utility vehicles ply the main streets of the city on a daily basis, making it convenient for locals and visitors to go around the different towns in Capiz and nearby provinces in Panay Island.
Apart from its accessibility, Roxas City has a favorable environment for businessmen in various sectors to grow their respective enterprises. Roxas City has stable telecommunication facilities. Wireless communication is provided by Smart, Globe, and Sun, while landline is provided by PLDT and Globe. Capiz Electric Cooperative services ample electric supply all over the city, while potable water is supplied by Metro Roxas Water District. There are about 30 banks in the city, including a branch of the Central Bank of the Philippines.
The city has about five credible healthcare providers including The Health Centrum Medical Tourism Park. Competent educational institutions including a branch of UP Visayas produce thousands of high quality graduates every year.
DIVERSE TOURISM PORTFOLIO
The Seafood Capital of the Philippines and its delectable culinary specialties are just one of the many things that make it an attractive destination. To this day, the beautiful and enigmatic birthplace and ancestral home of former President Roxas can still be visited by special arrangement with tour operators along with other notable tourist sites like the Panublion Museum, the old charming bridge built in 1910 overlooking the historic Panay River, and Baybay Beach, which has the best and finest black sand shoreline in the country.
Roxas City is part of a province overflowing with natural beauty and majestic eco-tourism attractions. Mostly known for a type of translucent mollusk shell used for making accessories and home decorations like lampshades and windows called placuna placenta or capiz, Capiz Province is home to beautiful long flowing rivers, verdant mountains, fertile plains, relaxing beaches and islets, enchanting waterfalls, and unique cave systems.
The province also boasts of numerous picturesque centuries-old churches. Roxas City is just fifteen minutes away from the town of Panay where the 18th-century Santa Monica Church comfortably rests. Declared by the National Museum in 2011 as a National Cultural Treasure, Santa Monica Church houses the largest Catholic church bell in Asia called the Pan-ay bell made out of 70 sacks of gold and silver coins donated by the townsfolk in 1878. The Panay bell measures seven feet in diameter and five feet in height. It weighs 10.4 tons.
The city celebrates two major festivals every year with grandiose albeit historically accurate performances and parades: the Sinadya sa Halaran in December and Capiztahan in April. The Sinadya sa Halaran Festival commemorates the Feast Day of the Immaculate Concepcion and the Capiznon’s spirit of bliss and gratitude, while the Capiztahan commemorates the foundation of the second civil government of Capiz.
Roxas City is experiencing a significant shift in the real estate industry, most notably with the development of Panay Island’s first and only “city within a city” aptly named Pueblo de Panay. A township development measuring 400-hectares big with multiple zones, Pueblo de Panay is a commercial, industrial, residential, educational, and leisure and lifestyle hub that promotes sustainable practices in property development. Only 50% of its surrounding open spaces and greeneries will be converted into structures in order to retain the natural attractions of the area such as its rich river system, pristine lakes, diverse flora and fauna, and scenic hills and mountains, which offer a commanding view of Sibuyan Sea on a clear day.
Owned and managed by Pueblo de Panay, Inc. (PDPI), a subsidiary of veteran real estate and property developer Sacred Heart of Jesus Prime Holdings, Inc., the commercial-business hub would not only foster economic growth in the region, but also cultural, historical, educational, and culinary advancement. As a proponent of countryside development, the homegrown investors are committed to develop Pueblo de Panay into a world-class, multi-faceted township, sought-after travel and leisure destination, and progressive commercial-business district.
At present, at least two hotels are already operating in the area (Hotel Veronica and Urban Manor) together with a 24/7 commercial and entertainment complex called Punta Dulog. Retail giant Robinsons Place has also recently opened in the township along with the new Roxas City Police Station and the highly improved Roxas City Integrated Transport Terminal. The township is also home the first world-class cold storage facility in Capiz Province. Other places of interest include El Circulo Convention Center, hilltop restaurant Café Terraza, CHILD’s Academy, and national government offices.
Considered as the largest contiguous development in the region, Pueblo de Panay is expected to bring in tourists and investors to Northern Panay Island in the next three to five years, boosting economic activity in the region. Situated in a vast sea of gently rolling greens, it covers portions of three barangays and spans the major expansion areas of Roxas City. It is connected to two of only three highways of the city (namely, Lawaan and Sibaguan) via at least eight entrance and exit points. Its nearest point is less than two kilometers aerial distance from the old town center (Pueblo de Capiz), where the Old Spanish Church, the Capiz Provincial Capitol, the Roxas City Hall, and other important city landmarks are located. With its superior multi-lane road infrastructure and as host to the new Roxas City Integrated Transport Terminal, Pueblo de Panay is highly accessible to the two Congressional Districts of Capiz, Northern and Central Parts of Iloilo, Province of Aklan, and Northern Antique.
RISING IT-BPM SECTOR
A seven-hectare lot inside Pueblo de Panay has recently been declared as a Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Special Economic Zone (ECOZONE) under Proclamation No. 1034, making it the first Information Technology – Business Process Management (IT-BPM) Park in Northern Panay, Western Visayas, Region 6. This important declaration is essential in achieving the goal of creating a bustling IT-BPM industry in Northern Panay, which could boost economic activity and generate a significant amount of job opportunities in the region. Under Republic Act 7916, otherwise known as the “Special Economic Zone Act of 1995”, certain privileges are granted by the national government to the business-owners and investors operating inside the ECOZONE. The law provides special tax incentives and holidays to business establishments operating in the ECOZONE.
With its strategic location inside the Pueblo de Panay township development, the PdP TechnoPark is envisioned to jumpstart an IT-BPM industry that puts a premium on work-life balance. The TechnoPark will rise in the IT Zone of the township, close to the Educational and Leisure Zones.
The seamless marriage of its colorful past, current advancements, and exciting future developments make Roxas City an excellent area to build and expand a business.