BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
The visionary, who established the 250-hectare port reclamation project of the Bacolod Real Estate Development Corporation (BREDCO) that has greatly transformed the economic landscape of Bacolod City, turns 98 today.
Lawyer Simplicio Palanca not only provided the gateway to the city and the province through the reclamation project, which created job opportunities and generated millions of pesos in tax revenues, but also realized his lifelong dream of establishing a port of international s in the area.
His foresight, strong will, and determination made it possible for him to realize the establishment of the state-of-the-art seaport terminal, the “Atty. Simplicio Palanca Seaport Terminal” at the port area.
As founder and chairman of BREDCO, Palanca envisioned many years ago and spent the prime years of his life in realizing the reclamation project in 1961 despite his critics calling it a highly ambitious project.
As a visionary, he also envisioned the Magikland Park, the first outdoor theme park in the Visayas, which was constructed on a 4-hectare lot in Silay City and is designed to accommodate 3,000 visitors a day. It showcases amusement rides based on Negros folklore to attract patrons in the Visayas.
Magikland Park is a member of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.
As a philanthropist, Palanca donated the P70-million Medical Arts Building of the Bacolod Adventist Medical Center. The building houses 56 doctors’ clinics, a pharmacy, and physical therapy service.
Even in his hospital bed, Palanca continues to have dreams and make them work.
Fondly called by his friends and critics as “the old man by the sea”, Palanca also funded the establishment of Bac-up or Police Precinct in Bacolod City.
The philanthropist was also instrumental in building the 7-storey Pope John Paul II Tower which is now one of the landmarks of Bacolod. The pilgrimage site stands at the exact location where St. Pope John Paul II celebrated the holy mass in 1983.
Palanca’s contribution to the construction of the tower has earned him a Papal Award from the Diocese of Bacolod.
Palanca has also been a recipient of various recognitions because of his exemplary contributions to the Bacolod and Negros economy, but chose to remain humble.
He was one of the recipients of the “Ang Banwahanon Award” in 2017, which is a prestigious citation given to citizens of Bacolod in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the city.
Palanca has also been instrumental in uplifting the lives and economic well-being of many Bacolodnons through scholarship programs he has provided to poor but deserving students. Many of his scholars have graduated from premier schools in Bacolod and are now gainfully employed.*