GREEN WAS the color of Pampanga. Of vast sugarcane fields, rice paddies, vegetable gardens and forested hills.
Turned red – as it birthed social unrest and grew the communist movement. Red still, blue and white too, at the time of Imperial America’s domineering presence. Yellow – with the widow, at the time of the People Power revolution. Grey – ash-blanketed by the Pinatubo eruptions. Orange, as the phoenix regenerated, reborn from the embers of the devastation. A kaleidoscope of colors in its march to prosperity therefrom. Don’t look now but blue is starting to become the dominant color of Pampanga. SM blue that is. Soon as Punto! broke the news that SM Development Corp. had – for the grand price of P939 million – won the bid for the Paskuhan Village, came yet another announcement that the Sy conglomerate is “in serious negotiations to acquire vast tracts of lands in Porac town.” “For residential and business hubs,” said Mayor Condralito de la Cruz of the SM intentions. Adding that the MVP Group is likewise in an invest-in-Porac mode. Much earlier, SM acquired the vast Lazatin property along MacArthur Highway in Barangay Telabastagan, City of San Fernando along with the iconic Essel Supermarket which has promptly morphed to Savemore Market. The deal reportedly costing way over P1.5 billion. Buyer and seller in total silence though. Count now SM’s visible investments in Pampanga. The longest mall in the whole Philippines that is SM City Pampanga. Further accessorized with Sky Ranch, hosting the largest Ferris wheel in the country.One more mall within a four-kilometer radius from the first – SM San Fernando Downtown. Even Walter Mart, hoped to take away if only a little of the SM clientele, is now mainly owned by SM. Some 20 kilometers away, SM City Clark where sited a BPO center, and soon shall have its own hotel. Even sooner, a bowling center. Once Mabalacat City’s biggest wholesale store, the Ayalas’ Makro is now SM Hypermart. Savemore, SM’s pocket supermarket, makes its presence felt too in Angeles City and Guagua, aside from what once was Essel. And lest we forget, that SM demi-mall in Apalit. Arguably, SM is the biggest investor in Pampanga. In volume, if not in value. And, as the Porac mayor revealed, there is apparently no stopping it from infusing more. Mabalacat Mayor Boking Morales whispers too of some negotiations with SM. Truly, SM’s got it all. And still wants some more? Absent any business acumen, plain pen pushers as we are, we can only speculate over this uber bullishness of SM on the province. No, Ashley Manabat, it is not merely to bully other investors and get the Kapampangan cake all for itself. No matter that bullish, bully and bullshit grew out of the same root. SM definitely knows something in Pampanga that we don’t. That we are not even aware of. It won’t be the corporate mega-powerhouse that it is if it did not. Whatever it is we can only hope that Pampanga’s turning SM blue would not make our cabalens sing the blues.