BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
“Strong-willed, persistent, kind, generous, a visionary, a trailblazer, a man of his word.”
These are just a few of the characteristics that describe lawyer Simplicio “Sammy” Palanca, the founder and chairman of the Bacolod Real Estate Development Corporation, who established the 250-hectare port reclamation project of Bredco in Bacolod City, and who spearheaded other projects in the city.
Palanca, 98, who passed away peacefully in his hospital bed Saturday, was considered by his nephew, Bredco president John Alonte, as his mentor.
“I learned a lot from him and he opened a lot of opportunities for me,” Alonte recalled of his uncle, whom he also described as the epitome of generosity. He was always willing and able to help anyone who approached him and that he has not seen him turn anyone down.
Alonte said his uncle was strong-willed and would find a way to get things done. He had encountered a lot of challenges but managed to overcome them.
Rolando Corona Jr. said that, aside from being a visionary, one of his grandfather’s traits was persistence. He had the guts to start the reclamation project in the 1960s even before the creation of government agencies that govern reclamation projects, like the Philippine Ports Authority, he added.
The Bredco reclamation project was most probably the first reclamation project in the Philippines in those days, he said, adding that Palanca was ahead of his time, and had always pioneered several businesses, despite never having travelled overseas.
The reclamation project had a multiplier effect and benefitted many people in Bacolod and Negros, he added.
Corona said Palanca liberalized the shipping industry. Foreign vessels that used to dock at the Pulupandan Port before now prefer to dock at the Bredco Port because it is in the heart of Bacolod City.
He said the entrepreneurial spirit of his grandfather led to the development of low-cost housing projects and the golf course in Barangay Bata in the 1960s.He also opened the Palanca Brothers Studio and operated carnivals.
Palanca was also a distributor of Getty Oil and operated a bus company, the Victorias Royal, with 125 units. He wanted to do things and believed that success will just follow, he said.
Corona recalled his grandfather telling him that he had engaged in different businesses except manufacturing.
Alonte said his soft-spoken uncle was a man of his word. “He fulfilled his commitments,” he added.
Bacolod Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran extended his condolences to the family of Palanca, whom he considers a very generous man, a man full of vision, and the father of Bredco.
Palanca also established the “Atty. Simplicio Palanca Seaport Terminal at the Bredco Port, and also envisioned the Magikland Park, the first outdoor theme park in the Visayas, that was constructed on a four-hectare lot in Silay City.
As a philanthropist, he donated the P70-million Medical Arts Building of the Bacolod Adventist Medical Center, and also founded the establishment of Bac-up or police precincts in Bacolod City.
Fondly called by his friends as “the old man by the sea,” Palanca was also instrumental in building the 7-storey Pope John Paul II Tower at the Reclamation Area, that earned him a Papal Award from the Diocese of Bacolod.
He was one of the recipients of the “Ang Banwahanon Award” in 2017, aside from other recognitions for his exemplary contributions to Bacolod City and the Negros economy.*