TACLOBAN CITY – Robinsons Place Tacloban is now back to its full operation close to eight months after super typhoon Yolanda that incurred the mall developer nearly P300 million losses.

The Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC) formally reopened its 38,000 square meter Tacloban mall on June 28, two months behind the target reopening timetable. “We initially targeted to reopen April, but it was so hard for us to bring all construction materials. It was a logistical nightmare. However, it gave us more time to concentrate on total rehabilitation,” said Arlene Magtibay, RLC’s senior vice president and general manager for commercial centers division. During its reopening, only 40 of the 180 tenants resumed their business, but RLC expects that most tenants will reopen their branch inside the mall by fourth quarter in time with the Christmas season.

“Rehabilitation of the mall is practically 100% complete. We are happy that majority of tenants committed that they will come back to Tacloban soon. In the next few weeks a lot more will open,” Magtibay added.

Robinsons Supermarket and Department Store reopened in a compressed area on December 19 last year or six weeks after the storm struck. The mall had very limited shopping hours and only used generators until January when power distribution utilities restored the electricity. With its full operation, mall hours starts at 10 a.m. up to 9 p.m.

In its latest disclosure to the Securities and Exchange Commission, RLC reported P297.20 million losses due to the typhoon’s fierce winds, storm surges, and looting incidents. The calamity significantly contributed to the reduction of interest income by P89.5 million during the first quarter of 2014. “When Yolanda struck, there’s a lot of uncertainty given the magnitude of destruction. However, with the encouragement of local government, we initially reopened, offering pre-typhoon level of prices despite high operating costs. This is our way of giving back to the city’s loyal patronage. We are here to stay,” Magtibay said. Leading the reopening on June 28 were top RLC and Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. officials led by its President and Chief Operating Officer Robina Gokongwei-Pe wearing white shirts carrying an inspirational message “Tindog (stand up) Tacloban.”

Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez is optimistic that the full reopening of Robinsons will encourage other entrepreneurs to reopening their business. “This gives us hope that the city will rise up soon after the typhoon. Robinsons will spur economic activities.” (SARWELL Q.MENIANO)