malls in the Philippines

Gokongweis dream big, launch ‘The Jewel’ to match Marina Bay Sands, Twin Towers, Taipei 101

Isagani de Castro Jr.

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Gokongweis dream big, launch ‘The Jewel’ to match Marina Bay Sands, Twin Towers, Taipei 101

LAUNCH. Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) officials led by its CEO Lance Gokongwei (center), RLC senior vice president Jericho Go (extreme left), Mandaluyong City Mayor Ben Abalos (2nd from left), Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos (2nd from right), and RLC chairman James Go (extreme right) lead the ceremonial toast for the cornerstone laying of The Jewel office towers and Forum Robinsons mall along EDSA corner Pioneer St. on January 26, 2024.

Isagani de Castro Jr./Rappler

(3rd UPDATE) Robinsons Land CEO Lance Gokongwei tells Rappler the Philippines will be proud of the P25-billion 'The Jewel' project along EDSA that they hope will become an architectural icon

MANILA, Philippines – The Gokongweis, one of the richest Filipino families, laid the cornerstone on Friday night, January 26, for an ambitious P25-billion property project that they hope will become an iconic Philippine structure like Australia’s Sydney Opera House, Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands, Malaysia’s Petronas Twin Towers, and Taiwan’s Taipei 101. 

With the Philippines’ nightingale Lani Misalucha singing Rihanna’s “Diamonds” and with no less than National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab conducting the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC) launched The Jewel project, situated on a 2.5-hectare property at the corner of EDSA and Pioneer Street in Mandaluyong City that used to house the now-demolished, two-decades-old Forum Robinsons mall. 

NIGHTINGALE. Filipina singer Lani Misalucha covers Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’ with National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab conducting the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra at the project launch of Robinsons Land Corporation’s The Jewel on January 26, 2024. Photo by Isagani de Castro Jr./Rappler

“It is with humble privilege that I get to share the vision behind this dream. All over the world, we see architectural icons that represent the ingenuity of a country and its people – Australia has the Sydney Opera House, Malaysia has the Petronas, Taiwan boasts Taipei 101, while Singapore has become synonymous to the Marina Bay Sands. The Philippines? (pause) Exactly. There has not been a single development in the Philippines that’s been able to stand out and keep up with such majestic structures. And with this, we present to you: The Jewel,” said Jericho Go, RLC senior vice president and business unit general manager, during Friday’s event. 

Go, together with RLC president and CEO Lance Gokongwei, RLC chair emeritus James Go, Mandaluyong Mayor Benjamin Abalos Sr., and Interior Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. led the symbolic cornerstone laying, after which an architectural model of The Jewel was unveiled. 

mall, buildings, scale-model
DIAMONDS. Robinsons Land Corp. officials unveil an architectural model of ‘The Jewel,’ a P25-billion commercial property project with four office towers and a mall. Each tower is named after cuts of diamonds: Asscher, Trilliant, Marquise, and Peruzzi. The towers will collectively be called the ATMP Towers. Photo by Isagani de Castro Jr./Rappler

The laying of a cornerstone is typically the stone from which the position of the entire structure will be determined. 

The Jewel will have four office towers, with each tower named after cuts of diamonds – Asscher, Trilliant, Marquise, and Peruzzi – that collectively will be called the ATMP Towers. 

NATURAL GIFTS. Guests watch on January 26, 2024, a video of Robinsons Land Corp.’s The Jewel project, which will have four 8-meter-high art installations – a Philippine eagle (top left), a Philippine tamaraw (top right), a tarsier (bottom left), and a butanding (bottom right) – that will serve as ‘way finders.’ Photo by Isagani de Castro Jr./Rappler

Each tower will have 8-meter-high art installations – a butanding, a Philippine Eagle, a tarsier, and a tamaraw. Go said these “proud symbols representing the gifts our country has been naturally endowed with” will serve as the The Jewel’s “way finders.”

“These impressive art pieces shall form part of equally impressive lobbies that feature 12-meter ceiling heights. From hereon, people from all over the world shall marvel at an icon that shall be synonymous with Filipino talent and ingenuity,” Go said. 

The architect for The Jewel’s design concept is Ernesto Zabarte, a Filipino who heads the retail team in the Asia Pacific region of Broadway Malyan, a global architectural firm. The company’s website describes him as a “highly skilled concept designer” who has worked in the US, Europe, Middle East, Russia, China, and South East Asia for 40 years. Broadway Malyan’s scope for The Jewel includes only the office towers’ facade, office towers’ interior design, and landscape and environmental graphics design.

UPGRADE. An image of what the new 6-storey Forum Robinsons mall on EDSA corner Pioneer Street in Mandaluyong City will look like, as bared by Robinsons Land Corp. on January 26, 2024. The mall is set to open in 2026. Handout photo

The Jewel project will include a new 6-story Forum Robinsons, replacing the old two-story mall. The architect for the new mall is Concept i, a global interior design and architecture studio.

DEMOLISHED. The old, two-story Forum Robinsons mall on EDSA corner Pioneer St., Mandaluyong City, has been demolished to make way for Robinsons Land Corporation’s The Jewel project, which will include a new 6-story Forum Robinsons mall. Handout photo

Lance Gokongwei told Rappler they expect the mall and one of the office towers to be completed in 2026, with the three other office towers finished by the end of the decade. 

When asked that most architectural icons around the world are public structures and not private office buildings, Gokongwei told Rappler that “the iconic element about it is really the design, the way it’s built to fit the city and the space.”

“So, I would say it’s not necessarily public or private, I think what’s important is we come out with a building that the city can be proud of,” he said. 

In his speech, Go said an edge of The Jewel is accessibility since it is on Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare, EDSA, which has the MRT3, and the Pasig River is visible from the project site. 

“There have not been major structures around it that could block such an amazing view. Look at New York, Singapore, London, and Hong Kong. What do they have in common? All these amazing cities have emerged along bodies of water. And this is the same vision we aspire for in The Jewel,” Go said. 

He added that The Jewel would build on the people’s “affinity” to EDSA as well as provide a “major uplift to the meaning of EDSA” by putting the “Philippines on the map of quality, iconic developments.”

In his speech, Gokongwei said The Jewel is a new chapter in RLC symbolizing “innovation, progress, and our unwavering commitment to excellence.”

“As we embark on diverse projects, we are not only transforming developments; we consistently raise the bar,” he said. “Together, we stride confidently into the future, establishing new benchmarks and crafting spaces that surpass expectations.”

The Jewel will be beside RLC’s PEZA-registered Robinsons Cybergate Center office buildings, which house BPOs, among other tenants. The area also includes Robinsons Cybergate Plaza and Go Hotels Mandaluyong. To the north are commercial buildings of SM Prime’s SM Development Corporation, Ayala Land, and the Campos family’s Greenfield District. Decades ago, this area was dotted by industrial establishments.

RLC also unveiled on Friday night the new logo of Robinsons Offices. 

NEW LOGO. Robinsons Land Corporation unveils the new logo of Robinsons Offices. RLC has a portfolio of 31 office buildings throughout the Philippines. Photo by Isagani de Castro Jr./Rappler

Gokongwei said the new logo “is a reflection of our vision for the future – a future where Robinsons Offices becomes synonymous with access to talent, premium, best-in-class, future-ready, and sustainable.”

Publicly listed RLC had a net income of P9.8 billion in the first three quarters of 2023, up from P7.8 billion in the same period prior. 

Boosted by strong consumer spending and full normalization post-pandemic, Robinsons Malls contributed 39% to RLC’s revenues as of September 2023, followed by revenues from its office portfolio of 31 office buildings. – Rappler.com 

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Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.