AGANA, Guam (PhilAmPress) – Top Filipino businessmen’s invasion of the United States territory Guam seems to be no end.
After former Health Secretary Alfredo Bengzon and his Medical City built a $240-million medical center in this Guam capital for Filipino Americans from the island and the US mainland, Taipan Lucio Tan is now starting to build his second mall here, called the Tumon Bay Mall after its location, the top tourist spot Tumon Bay.
Already, Tan, who controls the Philippine Air Lines and the Philippine National Bank, among others, is operating his first mall in the US territory, called the Micronesia Mall.
In fact, the Lucio Tan group is now also expanding their first mall to add more space for the mall’s main tenant, the Macy’s department store.
A report from columnist Vic Agustin stated the mall expansion and the construction of a second mall was the conglomerate’s preparation for the transfer of some 5,000 US Marines from the American military base in Okinawa island in Japan.
The Tumon Bay Mall,it was learned, was actually an unfinished shopping center and condominium project that the Tan group won in a public auction in December 2010 after its Korean-led investors defaulted.
Tan-owned subsidiary Grandview bought the property, an unfinished shopping center and condominium project site, for $20.5 million at a public auction in December 2010, Guam Department of Land Management records show.
Seoul-based Shinhan Bank and other investors took a huge loss when the $60 million mortgage on the Tumon Bay Shopping Center and condominium project defaulted, government records showed.
Forbes magazine ranked Tan and his family the Philippines’ fourth- and the world’s 369th- richest in 2015, with a net worth of $3.7 billion from businesses that include cigarette and beer manufacturing and Philippine Airlines
Guam is a US territory which shares history with the Philippines. Both Guam and the Philippines were first “discovered” by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan under the Spanish flag and colonized for over 300 years by the Spaniards.
As a Spanish colony, Guam was ruled from the Philippines and Mexico and was an important stopover of Manila galleon ships.
Both Guam and the Philippines were ceded by Spain to the United States in 1898 by virtue of the Treaty of Paris.
While the Philippines eventually gained its independence from the US, Guam remained a US territory until today and its residents are considered American nationals and those born here are automatically US citizens.
Being a US territory, Guam continues to have a representative in the US House of Representatives, although the Guam congressman, while they can file bills and resolutions and join in debates, could not vote in the chamber just like the Philippine Represenative when the Philippines was a US Colony for over 50 years.
Due to its shared history, Guam is home to many Filipinos and Filipino Americans. Latest US census showed that the Filipinos and FilAms constitute 26 percent of the territory’s population, which is the second biggest group in the island after the native Chamorros who compose 37 percent of the population.
Inter-marriages between Chamorros and Filipinos resulted to the election of officials of Guam like governor and territorial congressmen and senators of Filipino descent.
Bengzon’s 130-bed Guam Regional Medical City (GRMC) is the first Filipino-owned hospital in United States (US) territory. It officially opened early last year and Guam officials led the guests during its opening.
Majority owned and operated by The Medical City (TMC), GRMC is the latest addition to TMC’s growing network of hospitals and clinics in Pasig City, Clark Freeport and others, including the malls. Its latest addition is in Dagupan City in Pangasinan, the home province of Bengzon.