SIR GORDON WU, the man behind the most groundbreaking infrastructure projects in China and Hong Kong recently visited Manila to share his most valuable insights with the Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corp., or FastCat.
An engineering graduate of Princeton University, he is the founder of Hopewell Holdings Ltd. (where he continues to be chairman and managing director), one of Hong Kong’s largest development businesses that specializes in power, expressway, property and hospitality. In 1997 he was awarded Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George by the Queen of England.
Sir Gordon has been an advocate for the construction of Asia’s biggest bridge project linking Hong Kong, Macau and China’s Zhuhai City, which received support from the People’s Republic of China in 2003. He developed China’s first superhighway and five-star hotel, and was the innovative engineer who built the 122-km superhighway connecting Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
The Hong Kong mogul has also made developments in the Philippines in the 1990s, having built the Navotas Power Plant, and during former President Fidel V. Ramos’s term, Sir Gordon built the Sual Power Plant and Pagbilao Power Plant. As a passionate business pioneer, he believes that the Philippines deserves better infrastructure comparable to our neighbors in the continent.
“During Sir Gordon’s visit to the Philippines in 2011, he rode ferries, vans and public transportation to actually experience how we, Filipinos, live and determine what will help improve the interisland transportation system,” FastCat CEO Chet Pastrana said. “He envisioned a six-lane superhighway and an efficient ferry service using midspeed catamaran ropax.”
“I am amazed by his passion. He travels with no fuss,” Pastrana said. “Sir Gordon really wanted to experience what the Filipinos go through every day. On his most recent visit, he’s taking a look around again to see how he can help our country prosper through infrastructure.”
With his years of experience and expertise in the business of infrastructure development, there are many notable lessons one can learn from him. “Infrastructure means you can do something more efficiently,” Sir Gordon said. “For instance, if we have good highways, you can really save a lot of fuel and time. A nautical highway system and a land superhighway system are very important. If you have a good superhighway system you can probably go from Manila to Davao in probably 10 to 11 hours. And you can even transport goods from Mindanao to Manila in one day’s time.”
Since the Philippines is an archipelago consisting of several islands separated by deep waters, Sir Gordon also said, “I think one efficient way is the use of ferries. In order to really solve Philippine infrastructure there needs to be really good superhighways and good complementary ferry routes.” Knowing the efficiency of FastCat, Sir Gordon told Pastrana and Executive Vice President Mary Ann Pastrana the catamarans were a good decision, because of their suitability to the Philippines and their efficiency.
“A catamaran is basically two hauls running together. It runs on a displacement speed that will get you to your destination faster,” he said. “Filipino boats are usually long and narrow, and they are not stable, that is why there is an outrigger. Another is safety. It’s very difficult to overturn a catamaran. A boat sinks because it rolls over. A catamaran has a wide separation so it will be difficult to tip-over.”
FastCat has been committed to providing every passenger trips that are FerrySafe, FerryFast and FerryConvenient. Since their successful fleet modernization program in 2010, they have been recognized by the international community for making great efforts in modernizing the sea transport system in the country. Sir Gordon himself also recognizes FastCat’s efforts. “I think FastCat cuts down a lot of time,” he says. With FastCat opening up new routes and with their vessel design, a 4-hour trip can be cut down into two-hours.
Sir Gordon helps business leaders by sharing his ideas on how to improve infrastructure and with his expertise, company’s like FastCat gain even more knowledge on how to enhance and modernize the country’s roads, highways and transport systems and ultimately will be able to help raise the living standards of every Filipino.