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ENSURING SMOOTH SAILING FOR MYC

Marco Tronqued leads the Manila Yacht Club as a young commodore dedicated to growing the Philippine boating industry.

By Fraulein Olavario

PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIEL SORIANO

At 37 years old, Marco Tronqued powers up on wavy seas and chases lofty dreams.

The president (or commodore) and chief executive officer (CEO) of the country’s world-class speedboat manufacturer, Tronqued Boats, also steers the Manila Yacht Club (MYC) as its commodore or chief officer, the youngest in the exclusive club’s 95-year history.

Tronqued, whose love for boating and penchant for powerboats he inherited from his father Ildefonso, is no stranger to the MYC as he has been frequenting the club since 2006. He was elected by the general membership of close to 400 as one of its nine directors in 2019 and 2021. And in December 2021, Marco was elected by his fellow directors to take on the presidency.

“I basically grew up in this club. I’ve been here for a good 16 years already, and I’ve seen it all in terms of the members. Some of the members who are way more senior than I am have actually become close to me,” Tronqued says. “I’m quite familiar already with how the club operates and what is needed for it to move forward. So, I believe I fit in easily and quite well because of the long experience that I’ve had so far with the club.”

With the club’s main objective of promoting sailing and yachting in the Philippines in mind, Marco puts a premium on enhancing the club’s facilities and building more floating docks.

Located in Manila Bay along Roxas Boulevard in Malate, Manila, the MYC has a rich history dating back to its founding on January 20, 1927. It was the first “Manila International Airport” at the time when there were no airports in the Philippines, and the Americans, who took over in the 1900s, built the breakwater and landed their seaplanes at the site.

The club suspended operations during World War II from 1941 to 1945 and resumed operations in January 1946, a year before allowing female membership in 1947. MYC co-hosted the Interport Regatta with the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in 1952 and represented the country in the yachting events in the 1960 Olympics. It has been providing continuous training and support for the Philippine Navy (PN) and national teams to the Olympics and Southeast Asian Games since 1977. In 2006, the National Historical Institute (NHI, now the National Historical Commission of the Philippines or NHCP) installed an institutional marker in the storied club’s building, making it a national historical landmark. Tronqued thus sees the need to rehabilitate the club’s facilities while preserving the original façade of the historic building. Meanwhile, the floating docks or berths, where yachts and boats are moored, were built by the MYC in the late 90s to early 2000s. Halfway into his term, Marco has already started the construction of new floating docks. “My intention is to build these new docks to generate better cash flow for the club and be able to make the club move on further with other projects for its betterment also. So, it’s that and the rehabilitation of the facilities. That is my main thrust because if we’re able to create new docks and improve the marina, which are the primary purposes of having a yacht club, then you’re able to grow the community, have more boaters come in, have newer, better boats, and have more facilities,” he explains.


GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY

The young yachtsman also looks to continue the non-profit organization’s efforts to give back to the community. For one, some of the club’s members have undergone reservist training and have participated in rescue operations as the MYC was commissioned by the Philippine government as the 201st Naval Affiliated Reserve Squadron. “We had a lot of volunteerism that had occurred during [Typhoon] Ondoy, wherein we volunteered our rubber boats to the affected areas. Even our fellow member, [former Energy] Secretary [Jericho] Petilla, was known to have rescued more than 80 people, if I’m not mistaken, with his jet ski in Marikina,” Tronqued says. “We have a lot of documented rescue efforts if we are called upon by people who know that we have boats. As much as we can, we volunteer these vessels for flood rescue within the close proximity of Manila.” Moreover, the MYC also serves as the 101st Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA) squadron, a supplementary coast guard squadron consisting of MYC members with powerboats and yachts as well as air assets. The squadron is headed by Marco’s brother, PCGA Capt. Marlon Iñigo Tronqued. They have generated from their own resources more than Php 3 million worth of donations in kind, such as drinking water, canned goods, and rice, which they turned over to the PN and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for distribution to the families affected by Typhoon Odette in December 2021.



Aside from extending support to various government agencies, including the Philippine National Police (PNP) Maritime Group, Bureau of Customs (BOC), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), PN, and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), which may from time to time need a facility to launch and service their boats, the MYC also does its share in protecting the environment. Under the leadership of the late former Commodore Robert Joseph, the MYC built a water sewage treatment plant near the club’s premises to help clean Manila Bay.


DREAMING BIG

Just as Tronqued expanded Tronqued Boats—which started out as his father’s passionate hobby of building speedboats for family and friends—to produce a host of larger, top-quality custom fiberglass boats, he also dreams of a booming boating industry for the Philippines. “Kung sobrang dream talaga (The ultimate dream), the best, the boating capital when it comes to the boating industry or the mecca for me would be Florida. So, Miami, the Keys, Fort Lauderdale. On the West Coast, there’s Marina del Rey, where in just one marina, you will see 8,000 boats,” Tronqued says, pointing out that the country can also look at its Southeast Asian neighbor Thailand for inspiration.

“My dreams are to have more boaters because what people don’t realize is that boating, as an industry, is sort of nation-building because it touches very much on tourism. For example, in Thailand, there are 35 million tourists, and 80 percent of the yacht owners and boat owners in Thailand are foreigners,” he explains. “In our country, we already have so many nice beaches to go to. So, all we need to have are more facilities for more tourists to be able to go and enjoy these areas. So, the more yacht clubs we have, the more we will be able to grow our tourism industry. It’s very tangent.”

He adds, “Let’s not think of yacht owners or have this notion of yachtsmen as being arrogant or rich. I believe there’s that stereotype, when in fact, [boating and yachting are] very much encouraged abroad and in other countries.” In 2015, Thailand started a campaign to become the world’s “third superyacht destination,” launching their own yacht show to promote the country as the Marina Hub of Asia and to bring in significant foreign investment through their new “Superyacht Tourism” industry. The Thai government welcomed foreign-flagged visiting superyachts to spend the winter seasons in Thai waters and offered their yachts for charter without having to pay the value-added tax (VAT) on the vessel’s value.

The culmination of their six-year campaign could not have come at a better time, when popular tourist destination Phuket lost more than THB 320 billion in revenue owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is this similar kind of boost for the local boating industry that Tronqued hopes to see from the Philippine government. “Government can help with regulation to support the maritime industry, whether it be tax incentives or support through laws. In Thailand, for example, if you go there, you’re not gonna be riding a banca (boat) to the different islands. It’s all fast boats. When I was there, like in Pattaya, I realized that the fast boats were all loaned by the government,” Tronqued cites. “It goes hand in hand with the saying ‘If you build it, they will come.’ So, if you have fast boats, marinas, if you’re not strict with having yacht clubs being built in different parts of the country, if the government will be more lenient in terms of regulation or being faster to approve these kinds of initiatives, then there will be more boats, there will be more tourists. So, it will be hand in hand dapat (supposedly), he adds.” In the United States (US), the boating industry saw a spike in new powerboat retail unit sales in 2020 and 2021, as the Americans turned to boating with family and friends to escape from stresses on land amid the pandemic. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), “Following record sales in 2020, recreational boating remained the leading outdoor recreation in the U.S. in 2021, with new powerboat sales exceeding 300,000 units for only the second time in 15 years.” The NMMA expects “strong momentum for boating and new boat sales to endure through 2022 as Americans from all walks of life explore the great outdoors and turn to the unique joys of being on the water.” Seeing a similar trend in the Philippines, Tronqued remains optimistic about the local boating industry, which he describes as “growing tremendously.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic really put the boating industry [in a position to] advance because a lot of people who have beach houses but used to not know about boats or did not go boating, were forced to go boating. So, in terms of our business—boat building—a lot of people started to [frequent] Punta Fuego, Tali Beach, and not just Batangas, but also Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, all these people got immersed in boating,” Marco says. “So, that’s a very good thing that happened in terms of boating. That’s what the pandemic has also brought, more awareness of what people can do outdoors. Boating is part of that equation,” he adds. They may have a long way ahead, but with Commodore Marco Tronqued at the helm, MYC is poised to keep sailing in that direction. “I don’t really have much concern towards the title. I like to do it because it also gives me a sense of purpose, and just the fact that I know that I’m being able to grow the boating industry in my own little way, gives me fulfillment,” Tronqued ends.

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