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First Philippine Holdings unveils plans for new hub
Members of the Lopez Group of Companies bid farewell to the Benpres Buiding in Ortigas which is set to be demolished this year.
MANILA – First Philippine Holdings on Wednesday launched the book “Benpres: Stories Around a Landmark” to commemorate the legacy of the almost half century old building of the Lopez Group of Companies in Ortigas.
It marked the "retirement" of the Benpres building, which opened in 1971. The building served as a hub and a home to 19 Lopez companies for over 48 years, said Lopez Museum and Library executive director Cedie Lopez-Vargas.
The establishment formerly known as the Chronicle Building used to house the Lopez group's newspaper, The Manila Chronicle. It will be demolished this year to give way to a modern establishment.
“It is coming down, but only to rise again to meet the future,” Lopez Group of Companies chairman emeritus Oscar Lopez said in a statement.
Lopez Group of Companies chairman emeritus Oscar Lopez with Lopez Museum and Library executive director Cedie Lopez-Vargas and First Philippine Holdings chairman and CEO Federico Lopez. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News.
The book, which was unveiled by Chairman Emeritus Oscar Lopez, pays homage to the past while paving the way for the future, said First Philippine Holdings chairman and CEO Federico Lopez.
“We are committed to establish a new building as a symbol of the past, present, future and to shine as a guiding light on the path that we have consistently chosen today,” he said.
“With this new structure on the rise, we will continue blazing the trails with our businesses to constantly uplift the lives of Filipinos through our distinct Lopez values,” he added.
Benpres is not just a building but a historical landmark, said veteran journalist and former The Manila Chronicle editor Vergel Santos.
Recalling the history of the building, Santos said he even witnessed anti-martial law groups sought refuge at the basement of Benpres during the Marcos regime.
Even former ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Geny Lopez made a “stopover” at the building “halfway in their escape” after being held as a prisoner during Martial Law, he said.
Benpres witnessed not just the EDSA Revolution but also the struggles and triumphs of Lopez companies including First Philippine Holdings, said former president Nonoy Ibanez.
Rockwell was also “born” in this building, he said.
PAST AND FUTURE
The 6-storey Benpres building will be demolished to give way to a modern, 40-storey or 180-meter tall tower designed to become one of the country’s most energy efficient establishments, said First Philippine Holdings assistant vice president Alberto Cailao.
Sustainability is at the core of the new development, he said.
Aside from being energy efficient, the new building will also be equipped with technology that can harvest and recycle rainwater, Cailao said.
The design was conceptualized by a New York-based firm that drew inspiration from the old establishment.
“They looked at the existing building and appreciated the vertical language of the existing building which they incorporated into the new one,” he said.
It will have meeting rooms, function rooms, co-working spaces, restaurants and even retail space.
But despite the grand plan to build a modern and sustainable building, former tenants of Benpres hope the book will serve as a reminder of the rich history of its predecessor.
As the new edifice rises, Ibanez reminded the public to remember the “fortress where many battles were fought.