Wil Tower Mall spells opulence.
At the entrance, two of Willie Revillame's luxury cars— a mini-cooper and Audi R8 Spyder— are on display.
Once inside the building, Louis Vuitton luggage and bags greet the guests.
Of the latter, he tells PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and YES! magazine in an exclusive “ambush” interview, “Binili ko ang mga iyan sa Singapore. That was three years ago. Hindi pa gawa talaga, nasa utak ko na lahat 'yan.”
His peg, he says, is the Marina Bay Sands of Singapore.
The TV5 host adds, “That's why, I went there with my architects, designer, sinama ko silang lahat dun.”
Willie also wants to change Pinoys’ common perception of a mall.
“Ang gusto ko, magkaroon first time ng mall na hotel ang impact para yung mga tao, after going, eating sa mga restaurants, they can have coffee, relaxing, and then, yung minds nila, nare-relax.
“Parang gusto ko, yung a place na puwede silang makapag- enjoy.”
Executing his concepts are Kenneth Cobonpue, whose furniture pieces are scattered around the lobby, and Anton Tonichi Mendoza.
Every detail is expensive! His tables alone (some of them are made of onyx) cost millions, but he requests, “Huwag nang i-publish yung amount kasi parang ang yabang-yabang ko.”
Inside his office, eight TV sets will be installed.
“Nagkaroon ako ng idea kasi naalala ko si FMG saka si Ma’am Charo, pag pumupunta ako sa office nila sa ABS, marami silang TV…”
He’s referring to Freddie Garcia, former president of ABS-CBN, and Charo Santos-Concio, the current president.
HOW IT BEGAN. But this was not his concept back in 2009, when the property held its ground-breaking ceremony.
That time, it was introduced as Wil Theater. (READ story Wil Theater)
Willie recounts that what he initially wanted was “parang MGM [Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas] na maliliit” which has a bridge connecting the building to ABS-CBN, his former network.
“Yung set ng mind ko was for the Wowowee thing, for the TFC people,” but, “hindi nagkaroon ng magandang pangyayari.”
It can be recalled that in 2010, Willie resigned from his hit noontime show after the management did not give in to his demand of dismissing Jobert Sucaldito, who reportedly insulted his contestants. Subsequently, the controversial host left the Kapamilya network and signed up with TV5.
It was May of the same year when he endorsed Manny Villar, who was then running for President.
Willie recalls, “Sabi ko, ‘Sige, huwag niyo na ho akong bayaran, sana mapagtayuan niyo ako ng [building], ito yung dream ko.’”
The theater then became a mall.
“Hindi naman ito matutupad lahat kung wala naman din si Mr. Senator Villar kasi siya naman talaga yung nag-finance ng mall, akin lang yung lupa, that's the deal during my campaign.”
THANKFUL TO ABS-CBN AND TV5. The 4,500 square-meter lot and his other properties, Willie says, are products of his “hard work” with the help of the Kapamilya and Kapatid networks
He relates, “… Ang ganda nga ng istorya kung ikukuwento ko sa inyo 'to lahat.
"After my five years in ABS, napundar ko ‘tong lupa, di ba.
“And then, after three years naman, nakapagpundar naman ako ng mga lupa din, nakabili pa ako ng eroplano… ng hotel, ang dami ko pang nabili!
“You know, yung naging buhay ko sa ABS, ‘eto, mall.
“Naging buhay ko naman kay MVP, ‘eto naman yung mga business ko na… to put up a five-star hotel.
“You know, parehong channel, kaya ang laki ng utang na loob ko, both channel, especially, ABS also kasi, that’s how I started ‘no.
“At siyempre, si MVP at Atty. Ray Espinoza na siyang kumuha sa akin.”
BLESSING/ THANKSGIVING. The blessing for what he calls the “tallest building in Quezon City” happens on July 31.
The event also serves as his thanksgiving so instead of celebrities, his employees—including “staff ko sa eroplano… sa yate”—take center stage.
Special mention to “my staff who stood by me, yung sumama sa ‘kin, lahat, until now, happy sila, walang nawawala.”
Among his friends in showbiz, only Randy Santiago and Bobot Mortiz are present.
He describes them as “mga kaibigan ko dati through thick and thin… mga taong kahit na nung mga time na hindi ko sila nakakasama, sila pa rin yung mga kasama ko na maraming changes sa buhay ko.”
Also in attendance: Tirso Cruz and wife Lynn, Cristy Fermin, Grace Lee, Joy Viado, Cacai Bautista, Mutya ng Pilipinas winners, and, of course, his daughter Meryll Soriano, who arrives with son Elijah.
Willie continues, “It’s more of blessing para sa mall and siyempre sa aming lahat… sa mga kasama ko, mas gusto ko kasama sila. Hindi ko sila nakakasama, e. Pupunta akong yate, kasama ko yung mga [staff] ko sa yate, sasakay akong eroplano, mga tao ko sa eroplano, hindi ko pa sila napagsasama.
“['Eto], Parang Christmas party!”
Meanwhile, the grand launch is slated for September 15.
“It’s going to be a fashion show, si Tessa Prieto ang pinagha-handle ko,” and it will include Gabby Lopez, Charo Santos-Concio, Cory Vidanez, and other Kapamilya executives, in the guest list, “kasi, they’re part of this, kasama ko sila dito, e, nung nagsimula ako.”
ISSUE WITH ABS-CBN. Speaking of his former bosses, Court of Appeals recently junked ABS-CBN’s breach of contract case against the comedian. (Read story about Court of Appeals' decision)
Willie says, “Na-junk daw, di ba? Hindi ko alam e hindi ko na nga inaano ‘yan.
“Parang ang feeling ko, tama na. We have to move on, di ba? Move on na tayong lahat.
“Kung makita ko si Ma’am Charo, I will embrace her, halikan ko siya. Si Tita Cory, Boss Gabby, I will thank them dahil nagkaroon ako ng ganito [mall].
But, according to some reports, he sent feelers to ABS-CBN?
“Not true! Walang katotohanan yun!” Willie answers quickly.
“Wala akong nakakausap. Hindi naman totoo na nakapag-usap… Even si Ma’am Charo…
“It’s unethical for me, sa sarili ko, if I talk to any channel right now. Hindi pa tapos ang contract ko. After October 15, then, I’m free.”
How about his contract with TV5?
“I’ll finish my contract by October 15. May negotiations kami, I have a meeting with them. Kung kukunin ba ako ng TV5, may negotiation…. Kung hindi naman, magpapasalamat ako sa kanila [TV 5 management]…”
Back to the case, “Well, sa akin tapos na yun, e. Noong lumipat na ako ng TV5, hindi na ako nagkaroon ng ano, masamang feelings sa kanila.
“I have to move on, parang lumipat ako ng ibang bahay.
“Ganun naman tayo, lilipat ka ng ibang bahay kasi mahirap na rito, hindi ka na masaya rito, hindi ka na welcome dito, maghahanap ka ng isang bahay na malilipatan.”
Back to the Wil Tower Mall, he says the building is like his "biography" as it represents all his “hard work, dedication and sincerity."
He resumes, “At siyempre, yung blessing talaga ng Diyos. And I believe na pag nagdadasal kasi ako, ‘Basta, use me.’ I wanna be of use to men not just for money.”