When the Aboitiz group acquired Cotabato Light and Power Company some 83 years ago, part of the package was a facility that was and still is part of the fabric of the Cotabato community – the ice plant.
While everyone at Aboitiz Group knew by heart the pillars of the group – power, food, land, banking, and infrastructure – many have lightheartedly wondered whether it should add a sixth leg: ice-making.
“We have customers who have been buying ice blocks from us for many decades. Cotabato City is far from the sea so we need ice to keep fish fresh as they come into the city,” said Jerry Baisac, an ice plant employee for 30 years.
Many ice plants have come and gone in the last eight decades but Cotabato Ice Plant – as it is formally known – still stands with its four employees today, churning out 37 tons of ice daily, serving its community alongside the power distribution business.
Cotabato Light currently serves more than 40,000 households within its franchise area, which covers Cotabato City, as well as parts of Datu Odin Sinsuat and Sultan Kudarat municipalities in the province of Maguindanao. Its ice plant may serve fewer customers, but it remains modestly profitable and also gives deep meaning to the community where it stands.
“The ice plant represents what we in AboitizPower have always stood for. We could have just stayed with power distribution because we are experts there. But the community needs the ice plant, so we kept it for the sake of the community,” Cotabato Light COO Ben Arkoncel said.
Somehow, the ice plant has helped businesses and the community grow. In the 60s, the plant had a daily production capacity of 15 tons, which increased to around 70 tons in the 1990s, until it reached 120 tons.
The facility currently manufactures ice blocks weighing between 10 kilograms and 160 kilograms, perfect for those from the fishing industry who need to preserve their products until these reach the market and households eventually.
Mike Katog, a resident of Cotabato City and one of the ice plant’s regular customers, explained how the company helps him sustain his fishing business.
“Malaki talaga ang tulong ng ice plant sa amin. Nagpapasalamat talaga kami dahil mayroon kaming napagkukunan ng ice upang mapanatiling sariwa ang aming mga produkto (The ice plant is really a huge help to us. We are thankful because we can keep our products fresh with the ice you produce),” Mike explained.
“Our service and support to the businesses and economic growth of Cotabato City go a long way back. With the ongoing developments in our region, we will remain a valuable partner of the people of Cotabato in advancing their businesses and our communities,” Arkoncel said.
Close to two generations of Cotabateños have seen the work Cotabato Light has done for the community. The company vows to continue providing excellent service to its customers and stakeholders for more generations to come.